Well, the 2009 Alternative Press Expo is over and it was a lot of fun overall, seeing all the great folks I've met over the years again, including Ben Walker, Jon Adams, Shannon Wheeler, and having a booth with the esteemed Pat Race, from Juneau's Alaska Robotics.
The convention it self was sloooow in sales, but the crowd that were there were brilliant. I expect I'll be able to post up a podcast soon from "Indie Spinner Rack" who stopped by for a remote broadcast and I was able to speak with JK Parkin from Comic Book Resources who put up a preview of our table on the site: "APE '09: A few more items for your shopping list"
He also got a hold of me and Jon Adams for a debrief after the convention was over that resulted in an article: "A report from the 'Garage-band' of Comic-Cons" Its a well done article and much more accurate the mopey comments I made after I hauled all my books and prints back to Alaska.
At the moment I finished it up this year, this is how I felt:
A.P.E. itself was great and walking around, I was amazed at the quality of all the participants. This was my fourth time in four years of being there, but the first time having a booth and by far, the amount of talent drastically increases every year. Correspondingly however, I think, based on talking to a number of people, the money made per booth is, well, not very much. One person I talked to said that it appeared to her to be the same amount of customers/attendees as when she had a booth two years ago, but that just weren't enough dollars/people floating around to support the number of booths and the vast quality and quantity of merchandise people were selling. In short, I sold a bunch of dollar mini-comics and not a lot of $4 or $10 prints.
I've grown to really look forward to A.P.E. each year, though this will probably be my last for a while since my wife and I have a baby on the way and spending a factor of ten over the amount I made at the show gets harder to justify. I started going to A.P.E. after I started communicating with Jon Adams after the first four issues of "Truth Serum" came out. At the time, I was still producing the strip and didn't know anything like A.P.E. existed. I haven't gone to any of the other conferences, like SPX or Stumptown, thought I was supposed to go to Emerald City Con this year with Pat Race (which would have been my first major comics convention), but the Alaskan Volcano mess this year stopped all the flights out the weekend of the convention. I've done a lot of shows here in Anchorage, but unless I'm flying out on a mileage ticket, which I've been able to do for A.P.E., or am staying with friends, which I haven't, it makes it impossible to recoup the costs if I was looking to make back my investment. Mostly, I look at A.P.E. more of an artist convention, rather than a sales opportunity, which I'd advise anyone who thinks of getting a booth.
Over the years, I've made some good friends some of the exhibitors and I'm constantly amazed, as I mentioned before, at the quality and breadth of the work. The only thing similar I've experienced is "Flatstock" the traveling poster artist exhibition. I've been able to draw on what I've seen and the people I've met when I stopped doing the comic strip, oddly enough, and was at a loss for what to do next artistically, which was invaluable. More specifically, earlier this year, I literally had to call on friends I made and people I met, like Jon Adams, Robert Goodin, Ben Walker, and Shannon Wheeler, to offer quotes and advise to aspirational cartoonists for the Alaska State Council for the Arts Conference.