Marc Alan Fishman: 2014—A Comic Odyssey
Each year Unshaven Comics has been around, we’ve declared a goal to meet. At first, the goal was simple: make a comic, and sell it at “the con”. Done. The following year? “Sell more books than we did last year.” Checkity-Check. To be fair, this has remained a sub-goal every year thereafter. In 2013, our goal was to attend literally as many conventions as we could possibly get into, and sell as much merchandise so-as to afford a trip to the glorious Valhalla of conventions, San Diego Comic-Con. Suffice to say, had we emptied out all our coffers? We would have succeeded. But, spoiler alert: We didn’t get accepted as artists for the alley at SDCC. So, we’ve wiped the tears away, and looked towards 2014. As suggested to me by Joe Olmsted, who I’ll actually talk about here in a just a bit, I’d like to share with you the conventions Unshaven Comics will be attending this year… and why we chose them.
A few caveats to start: Due to both my own new job, and Kyle’s continued day-job… vacation days were highly limited to us versus 2013. This caused us to really consider the out-of-town conventions that require an extra day of travel in order to get to. So, while we would have absolutely loved to return again to Baltimore, sadly their expansion to a three day show would mean a 5 day trip for us. Simply put? No amazing crab cakes are enough reason to expend unpaid days off in order to make the trek to Charm City. We also decided against a return to Heroes Con in North Carolina. While we enjoyed our foray into Charlotte in 2013, simply put: we left the show without profit enough to warrant a hasty rebooking. But I digress, enough with the “no-shows”!
To start off our year, as always, we kick it in our own backyard. Dan Con (http://danconcomic.blogspot.com/) in Orland Park, IL is a great indie show. With local artists and dealers, and a real sense of community, this is our third time to the show. Dan and Amy Royer really treat those that attend as family. Simply put? It’s a low-key Sunday afternoon that always makes Unshaven Comics feel wanted. As a counter-point to that? In April, we return to C2E2! Nothing makes us feel like pathetic sheep-people (sheeple?) than being jammed into McCormack’s beautifully cavernous space amidst talent that make us feel like we’ll never make it in the industry! I kid, I kid. Reed puts on an amazing pop-culture cavalcade, and we simply can’t beat the foot traffic and downtown Chicago location. It always makes our yearly “fan turned friend” dinners all the more special. Last year? We hit up Greektown. This year? I’m thinking Chinese food!
In May, we make a first-time appearance in a brand new city and state! The Midwest Comic Book Association’s SpringCon in Minneapolis, Minnesota to be exact. We’ll be looking to high five Russ Rogers for sure. We’ve heard from friends around our scene that it’s a great show, and as such, we’re game for something new. We’ve always found our first showings in a new location yield great results. When people haven’t heard of the Samurnauts? Well, it’s never a dull moment seeing them react to the pitch.
In March, May, and July, Indianapolis will play host to we Unshaven Lads. Indy is a special city, especially for me. As the city I went to college in (Go Herron Go!), the city I found my lovely wife in, and the city that taught me pork tenderloin sandwiches should be no smaller than a hubcap… it’s awesome to see the comic book industry becoming a real trend in ‘Naptown. With no less than 5 conventions running in the city in 2014, I made it a point to make it out as often as possible. It doesn’t hurt that my in-laws are also in Indy, and want to see their grandbaby. But I digress. We’ll be attending the Indy PopCon (http://www.indypopcon.com/), The INDYpendant Show (http://www.indypendentshow.com/), as well as the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo (http://www.indypendentshow.com/). In 2013, I attended the Toy and Comic Expo by myself. Due to a very cost-effective table, and two partners with good excuses to bail on me, I took a chance. While I only moved a handful of merch… I did meet the aforementioned Joe Olmsted. He and his family pelted me with so many commission requests, it took a week to complete. Suffice to say, for having one die-hard fan? I’m willing to drive 260 miles to slap them five again.
Due largely to an overwhelming level of success at it last year, We’ll be returning the Anime Midwest show in Rosemont, IL as well in July. As I wrote about it last year, the Anime crowd for whatever reason just feels like a tight-knit community (in spite of being just a sea of people), all really in a great mood to be around one another. Comic cons are not without their share of hugs and love… But trust me, the Anime show is Woodstock. Comic Cons are Ozzfest. A month later, we return to our homeshow… Wizard World Chicago. Suffice to say I’ve written enough about their shows – how to improve them, how they’ve been terrible, how we’ve crushed sales records there – if you know Unshaven, you know how important Wizard World is to us.
Rounding out the year, we will be visiting Cincinnati’s Comic Expo (http://cincinnaticomicexpo.com/) (that’s not the Cincy Con, nor the Mid-Ohio Con that surround it…). I make no qualms about it: We’re attending this show because the gal behind the Artist Alley area, Amanda Gilliam, is just a wonderfully hard worker. She approached us to attend last year, and ever since, has been retweeting our links, listening to our podcast, and generally just showing us that she really cares about her con. Truly, we take the leap of faith that it will be a good show. Good people beget great shows, and by that calculation, we’re in good hands. After that, we’ll make strides to return to the New York Comic Con. Why? Well, you read my article on that – it’s a tidal wave of business we can’t not afford to be at. And we’ll end the year with a pair of personal favorites… Detroit Fanfare and the Kokomo Comic Con. As I’ve no doubt we’ll be able to see John Ostrander at the former, and be able to meet Denny O’Neil at the latter? How could we not go just as fans? Of course tipping the scales with plenty of sales doesn’t hurt either.
Forgive the length of my musings today kiddos. 2014 is shaping up to be a fantastic journey to old haunts, new digs, and familiar territories. I look forward to the local cuisines we’ll feast on, the new fans we’ll make, and the memories that continue to make working as a comic professional truly worthwhile. Suffice to say: we had better see YOU at the show!