S.P.A.C.E after convention report:
This past weekend was the 2014 Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo in Columbus, Ohio. It was my first time going, let alone having a table at SPACE. For years I had heard about the expo, first learning about it from an episode of the old Webcomics Weekly podcast. Columbus is a very comic friendly city because of the Ohio State University comics library- who was also represented at this year’s SPACE event.
Due to pet hotel time constraints, we ended up arriving at SPACE late and having to leave it early- which sucked because it limited my available time to talk to other artists, significantly. There was also a social hour where karaoke and comics were read aloud at a local bar establishment that we also failed to get to because of the radio show commitment (not that I didn’t enjoy numerologist Ed Peterson as our guest on Saturday, he was great!) So at the end of the weekend, we didn’t feel like we had been able to completely enjoy the show since we had missed out on such things. That has been a big disappointment, but one that is our fault, not the show.
Speaking of the expo- it is probably the best run convention/ expo event that we have ever attended. Bob did a great job planning and hosting the show (although I never met him besides hearing his voice) and unlike other conventions past- there was an opportunity to buy food through the hotel and have it delivered. Apterous had a bit of wait though on Saturday for our food, it was a bad day to go without breakfast. The hotel had messed up our order, so what should have been a half hour wait for two sandwiches turned into an hour and a half.
There was a lot of foot traffic at SPACE by the general public, which was great to see! I was worried since SPACE is devoted to the little guy (or gal in my case) who doesn’t have a large publisher to back them up to distribute their work. From my experience, the general public isn’t too keen on picking up new, small talent- lucky that is the point of SPACE. It’s an event where indie creators can gather to make finding us easier for the general public, and those who love to find new talent can go to meet us. Sure, the convention wasn’t as big as other comic book conventions, but I did like how people could stop and talk to us without being pushed away for sales.
Since Miss Grey is sold and distributed digitally, I was concerned on how well it would do at SPACE. I’ve had mixed results. SPACE is largely devoted to traditional indie hand-made comics, which I attempted to make but Apterous said “no, you won’t look professional enough.” But apparently at SPACE, people were totally cool with that. Bummer on my part. I think the idea that a comic was digitally distributed scared some attendees away, someone said it was too “Sci-fi” for them to read a comic on their computer and just walked away from the table. My lesson learned- always have a few print comics available for sale at the booth! With that said, people were interested in a comic about a grim reaper fighting demons and monsters! Yay!
I did get to meet up with two comic friends while at the convention: Tim Fuller of Zombie Marge and Rodney Fyke of Peanut Butter n Jelly! I had met them at last year’s Cincinnati Comics Expo and they were here again at SPACE! Tim won second place in this year’s SPACE awards too! Congratulations!
As mentioned in a different recap of the event (by someone who had time to talk to other artists) there was a happy change in the demographics of comic creators. As he pointed out, there more than just the stereotypical “old white guy” selling their comics at the convention. It was a diverse mix of comic creators from all walks of life, which was great! However, there were still a small number of female creators, myself being one of the few who were both an artist and writer for their own series. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday I did hear a lot of surprise when I said that I not only wrote, but drew, all of Miss Grey, and that Apterous was just my “booth babe.” People were shocked. Most apparently assumed he had a hand in the creation and management of the comic (he doesn’t.) There were other women there too, Lora Ines and the creator of Prince of Cats come to mind (I know there were a few more there though). At least I can say that SPACE wasn’t a huge sausage fest like some other comic conventions I have gone to in the past- creator wise. Happy change!
So the big question is- will I return next year? Yes, I think I will. I will also put Miss Grey into the comic completion under the graphic novel category. All-in-all, it was a great event to find new talent at and I encourage comic lovers to visit it in 2015!