With many of my dear friends joining the massive tidal wave of people pouring into San Diego for Comic Con this week, it seemed like a good time to talk about why we (currently) avoid the biggest convention of them all.
When we tell people we meet that we take Harrison and his art to conventions, inevitably their FIRST response is “Oh, so you do San Diego Comic Con?”.
As most of you know, there are HUNDREDS of shows, ranging from tiny 1-day affairs in your local civic hall up to San Diego, with a lot of variety in between. The biggest show we currently attend is Emerald City Comic Con. Most of our shows are considered small to mid-range. Over the next year, we are gradually applying to slightly bigger shows. As we grow, the “safer” it feels to take that risk.
A commercial affair
San Diego hasn’t just gotten gigantic. It’s also become more of a commercial (and commercialized) show, where all the big names make their announcements for shows, movies, comics, and more. There are Hollywood celebrities and Big Name guests.
Many people in the dealer halls are there for signings and exclusives. Once they’ve nabbed what they came for, they’re off to go get in an overnight line for a panel. So there’s less of the calm wandering you sometimes get at other shows, where people have downtime to kill and accidentally spend an hour getting to know you and your art.
One of the most rewarding things we get from the shows we do is the amount of connection time and getting to know our fans and fellow creators. SDCC is a different kind of show, and for us, it’s not the right fit.
You want HOW much for a table?
Considering that we’d be lost in a sea of other artists and vendors, the price of getting a table or booth is super cost prohibitive unless you KNOW you’re going to make good sales. For 2018, booth and table prices started at $600 (for juried entry small press tables) and went up to $5850 for a Premium Island Booth.
Without any guarantee or any cushion of savings to fall back on, we can’t take that kind of financial risk. And that’s okay! I’d rather we spend less money on a smaller show and have some left over to eat and cover the hotel.
As I’ve talked about before, it’s up to each person to look at all the factors and choose the right shows for their business.
Social Anxiety + Panic Attacks
I have anxiety. It can be bad. In a packed hall of attendees rushing to get that next exclusive thing, it’s REALLY bad. The last time I went to SDCC as an attendee, my husband ended up having to be a human shield and get my sobbing, panicking self out of the dealer hall. It was not pretty.
So I know that to even make working the show possible would require being able to request a table closer to a door or exit. And we’d need extra booth help, both for the sheer volume of days and attendees, and to cover if an escape is needed by myself or Harrison (who also has anxiety which works in different ways than mine).
If you are vending at a mega-show (or, any show), remember your own self-care. For the big shows like SDCC, here’s a few more insights on self care from press and attendees, many of which can be adjusted for artists and vendors too:
- Jeff Sparkman has issues with social anxiety and offers tips that have worked for him.
- Kendall Ashley wrote up a Comic Con Survival Guide for People with Anxiety before she attended SDCC in 2017. Among other things, she stresses the importance of taking your meds and finding a safe spot.
- Kendall also wrote a follow up piece after SDCC with which gives even more advice.
- When a fan wrote in to ask Wil Wheaton about dealing with ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression at cons, Wil brought up ducking out and finding a quiet place. He also opened the question up to the readers, and the comments are full of a lot of helpful tips and information.
It’s an amazing show – for someone else!
As I said, we have many friends heading to San Diego, both as attendees and as vendors. For those vendor friends, they are at a size and place in their experience that it makes sense for them.
For those of you vending or attending, I wish you an amazing experience that’s everything you wanted and more. We’ll see you all at Rose City Comic Con.