Monday, June 21, 2010

Supanova Sydney

Last weekend saw the Sydney stint of Supanova, the huge 'pop culture' expo. I and other comic creators from all over Australia came to sell their wares to the not so interested public. Already you may note a hint of cynicism in my voice which I must apologise for. I knew I wasn't going to be getting an expo like those I attended in England but the punters here were not coming to buy comics. Everything else to do with comics outside the creation and collection of comics is the focus of this expo. TV stars of shows like Buffy, computer games, Manga (I apologise once again as Manga are comics but the comic side aren't the focus here), cosplay (a new word for me: a word to describe those who dress up as their favourite comic, TV, movie, anime, etc character) and wrestling??? All that aside Artist's Alley was a decent size and saw a decent amount of traffic and sales were close to what I expected.

I was sharing a table with Trevor Wood, illustrator of Sawbones, up near the edge of the expo opposite the 501st Legion. Jason Franks and J. Marc Schmidt were at a table to the left, Paul Abstruse and burlesque dance to the right and Burger Force and Brendan Halyday opposite. All together we made a nice little corner and boldly sold our comics, posters and drawings. Paul is a master salesman. There's no way I could do what he does, way too over the top for me, yet it works. All in all we had a successful weekend with Saturday serving some better while others faired better on Sunday. I covered my costs in terms of table rent, insurance and petrol (luckily I had a place to stay free of charge).

What it really comes down to in the end is critical mass. Australia just doesn't have the industry nor buying public to have a large expo designed specifically for comic creators. Or maybe that is what we all assume. An expo centred around comics and their creators may be able to garner enough public interest so as to make a reasonable platform for creators to make some real money, who knows. Avi Bernshaw is attempting this with Doujicon but there are conflicts of purpose in this convention and has thus far remained small. Other not comic specific festivals have been successful (checkout Bobby's Blog).

I have sounded very pessimistic in this post but I did have a really good time. Not only hanging out and catching up with my friends but the getting the satisfaction that people liked my work enough pay for it. I picked up a few local titles from some hot new talent including The Grave Shakers and a poster and sketch of wolverine from Gee Hale. Although I missed out on picking up a copy of Sgt Rock: Between Hell and a hard Place and getting it signed by the one and only Joe Kubert, I did manage, however, to give him a copy of the Dicks Anthology about which he said 'I want to spend time with this comic'. I was over the moon. A thoroughly worth while expo to attend and maybe in time we'll get a stronger position and punters will be there for us.

For Bobby's weekend click here and for J. Marc's click here.


Bobby.N said...

Nice perspective Tom.

Yes, us comics authors were really the 'kid-in-the-corner' vying for attention. But one has to at least make an appearance at these expos (even if we're a few rungs down the tier of their program)... but hey, at least we're in the spectrum somewhere.

I believe that in Australia, since the market (and community) for our more adult/purist comics material is still relatively small (and we don't have the mass of big comic names to centre an event AROUND), we're better served focussing our books at the more 'literary' events like zine fairs, book fairs, writers festivals, etc, etc. (ie. The kind of events that have the readers we are aiming for) until we create such comic authors/stars that can drive an event.

Though we still need to go to the Supanova's and Armageddon's... we shouldn't see them as the most important simply because of their size. I've found the modest events serve our material much better.

At the more literary focussed fairs & festivals, the audience will be more inclined to seek out our esoteric work because they've actually come for material closer to our books (if not precisely). In effect, we'll be analogous to the t-shirt sellers and video games at Supanova. (ie. Related material to the central program.)



Tom Bonin said...

I reckon you're right Bobby. I'm really keen to get to this book fair you attended. I've got to keep my out for something closer to home too.
I just reckon comics should fit into everyday popular culture not forced to edges.

Gee Hale said...

Hey Tom!

It was great meeting you, man! Hope to see you again
next convention! :D Read your comic, the other day and it was wicked, dude! Will be watching you here from now on! Cheers!

Tom Bonin said...

Cheers Gee.

Sorry for the delay in response. I've been a bit busy doing some building work. Too much other stuffing not enough comicing!