Marc Alan Fishman: When Unshaven Comics Took On Marvel…
…and won? Well, we won’t know that until October 13th when all our data is tabulated. But the old adage applies: it’s not so much about the destination as it is the journey that matters. In this case, the journey is that of the punk rock garage band attempting to overcome the man. But first, a little history.
Unshaven Comics partnered with ComicMix in 2013 to exhibit at the New York Comic Con. Over the course of four days, sales records were decimated. Beards were bristled with pride. New York’s con felt like a wave pool, where every few minutes, a shallow tsunami rolled past our booth, and thanks in part to a helpfully pitiful sign (“Can I tell you about my comic book?”), customer after customer soon parted ways with our book(s) in hands. Here we are a year later, and ready to return with the loftiest goal we’ve ever uttered. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At this year’s NYCC, Unshaven Comics is untethering ourselves from ComicMix (but we know they won’t be too far away… like the paternal nudgeniks we know them to be) and shacking up with Jim McClain of the Solution Squad to staff a small press booth across from the biggest and best publisher working today. You may have heard of them. No, not First Comics (Boom, roasted.). Marvel Comics. And with but a swatch of carpet between their monstrous exhibit and our little meager table? Well, it’s either going to rock like an Eddie Van Halen solo over a Flea bassline with a little drum fill from Neil Peart… Or it will suck like Courtney Love.
I’m all about transparency kiddos. Last year, Unshaven Comics sold 524 books over a four-day period. Our business plan is built around setting a goal to see 10% growth in book sales every time we return to a convention. That would mean we need to see roughly 53 more books sold. Given how sales looked at our most recent conventions, we’re very confident we can see that happen. I am a “pie-in-the-sky” kinda guy, so I’m personally looking to leave the Javits Center 800 books lighter. And because I’m not one to hedge bets, we’re packing 1,000 of them. This isn’t hubris, kiddos. This is positive thinking.
As it stands, Marvel Comics is crushing it with their movies and TV shows. DC isn’t far behind with decent love for Arrow, excitement for the Flash, and “it doesn’t suck that much” feelings over Gotham (and truth be told, I’m liking it so far). But let’s not beat around the Groot here. Marvel is in charge right now, as they should be. And to be sitting across the aisle from them at the second largest convention in the country is an opportunity me and my chiseled-chinned cohorts will face in a few days. The run-off from a “destination” booth such as theirs alone will rival the total traffic we saw on the outskirts of the far wall, back a year ago. And knowing that our Samurnauts pitch is only 30 seconds long (see Gene Ha’s video here), it shouldn’t take long for us to pitch, wow, sell, shake hands, pass over to Jim… and move to the next awesome fan.
It will also help that above our table will sit a pair of posters to catch a wandering eye. We’ve decided it’s always a good idea to make a bad impression, so we’ve made “The Hipster League” as well as the “Brovengers.” They are both worth a chuckle, and will do what we need them to do: Disrupt someone who is wandering (with or without purpose) and get them to stop and listen to what we have to say. As more and more conventioneers question how to make a show more profitable, Unshaven always takes the simple solution. In this case, make em’ laugh, make em’ laugh, make em’ laugh. After the guffaws comes sincerity and the promise that our books were made with our tongues no where near our cheeks. Much like a little company I know that promised a picky movie-going audience they’d root for a talking raccoon with a gun. Natch.
And if Marvel should be leading a rousing crowd in a fury of ear-peeling cheers for their wares, well then, we’ll hold our signs higher, and be just that much more desperate for attention. Trust me, it works.
The key to it all – as is the key to whatever success we’ve enjoyed thus far – is really in catching someone’s eye, and then being passionate about our product. Backing that up with a unique concept, and a quality product priced appropriately certainly helps too. It also never hurts to use what little attention we can garner prior to the event to help amplify our plea. So, to all my east coasters making travel plans to New York in the coming week, I have but one simple question to ask:
Can I tell you about my comic book?
Unshaven Comics and the Solution Squad will be at the New York Comic Con in Booth 1361 across from… well… I am Groot.