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[Please scroll down to see more pictures from the show!]
Twenty-fourteen was my seventh year attending Comic-Con International San Diego.  It has also been my best year in many ways.  I have exhibited all years (including for only one day my second year) in some capacity, with this being my 3rd year in the same spot with Lamp Post, my publisher.
Everyone who attends the con regularly will tell you they notice changes in the con and I started to really notice these around my fifth year.  Friends I was used to seeing had stopped going and I really started noticing the pressures of sales and the challenges from when you have four artists behind one six foot table.
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But this year was different.  Last year, I started a zombie version of my series, Heaven Forbid.  It did the and even better this year.  In fact, I sold out of the main My Gal, The Zombie products and ran out of all the promotional items.  One of the fun things about MGTZ is how it lends to merchandising.  This line includes hot sauce, eye shadow, lip balm, buttons, stickers, post cards, card cases, a soundtrack, book marks, posters, comics, and the graphic novel.  The hot sauce sells particularly well.  In fact, I sold out of all 36 of them by Friday (after only two full days of the con!).  All I had were 2 bottles which I had ripped off my sign on Saturday, and they were soon gone.  With that change, I wasn’t sure what to do.  These are not only good items on their own, they draw people to the booth.  But as Saturday continued, I decided to focus on moving more products.  I brought 30 copies of the MGTZ book and had about 10 left (I’d given a small amount to other artists, reviewers, and one publisher in particular).  I also was running low on the stencil spray painted posters I brought to give out with sales (I think there were about 75).  The paper doll activity give aways were also gone by Friday (again about 75 of those).  I started Sunday with a goal to sell out of the MGTZ books and give out all of the bookmarks and promo postcards.  A couple hours in and I had done that!  I still had many Denver Comic Con exclusive comics and decided to try to sell out of them at $1 each. I also had some illustrations I had done and wanted to move the rest of those.  These were items which I had no need to bring back.  The other merchandise I would rather hold on to, but everything else would be best to not return home.
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As the day continued, I did end up selling the rest of those exclusive comics, and even gave out individuals from my post card sets until they were gone, after which, I gave out all of my back up stickers!  What is all of that about? I am not the sort of artist who sells put of products.  I’m the kind of guy who usually can’t even give out all of his promo items for free and here I was having sold out of all my MGTZ books, con exclusive issues, last year’s Autumn Specials (I had 10 copies, gone by Sunday), and 2 kinds of hot sauce!  I’d also given away hundreds of promo items, including bookmarks, posters, activity sheets, and postcards!  How did that happen!?!  What a blessing!  I finally had a comic in which people were interested!  I spent the last bit of the con getting around to friends and enjoying things in general.  Wow! What a feeling!
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This was also the first year that I went to a party, like a real party.  Having worked as an assistant colorist on the second volume of Cleopatra in Space with my friend Mike Maihack, I was able to go to the Scholastic party, which was great!  The first person I spoke with was Doug TenNapel, who said “You made it!” and gave me a hug as I approached.  I was at a “cool” RSVP only party among artists I knew and recognized.  I was able to chat with other major players in the comics industry and relate to them as associates, especially as I too had done work for this publisher.  Mike introduced me on a few occasions, saying he wouldn’t have finished Cleo 2 without my help.  How nice of him!  Jarrett Williams of Super Pro K.O., whom I’d not seen in years, enthusiastically caught me by surprise and we had a good time catching up and such.  I saw other artists I didn’t get to chat with and the items I got at the party were great!
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On Friday night I had my usual dinner with the Antarctic Press (my first publisher) crew at Panda Inn at the nearby mall, which had many less people than in previous years.  I didn’t wait in any big restaurant lines any night and only ate subway for lunch once, since they’d raised the prices of their premade subs, which I ate for lunch every day for years.  Saturday night, I went to an informal gathering which included some of the Scholastic folks at the Marriot hotel.  I also got to meet an artist I missed meeting at the party, who was hanging out with Mike.  It is much better to meet someone in an environment like this than the con floor.
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I had great conversations with many people from a publisher for whom I am hoping to work.  Everyone with them was very supportive and while I didn’t leave with a specific assignment or anything, things look optimistic.  I waited in line to get some things signed and gave the writer my new book.  He kindly expressed he was excited about it, liked the first MGTZ comic I gave him last year, and asked me to sign this book for him there at their table, while he signed for me- how cool!
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Financially, this year was great, too.  Comics can be very hard to sell at the largest comic convention, with the most competition, where many people go for things other than comics!  But things went well on that end.  It was not the most I’ve sold at a con, but it wasn’t too far off.  What a blessing, disproportionate to my skill!   I only mention this to share how nice things were and not to brag.  I am describing my astonishment at this, not bragging. And I couldn’t have done it all without Janak (who has done illustrations in a couple of my books), who helped by covering the table for me to get breaks here and there.  My friend Aaron Ancheta also stopped by now and then, which was always nice.  Also if note was that I didn’t do any crayon sketches after Friday- while these are something I especially enjoy, we were just that busy.
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The biggest example of the good time of this con was at the airport afterward, however.  I ended up speaking with both the persons behind me in line while boarding the plane and while waiting at the baggage check.  As we discussed the con, I gave each my card.  Both responded, in completely isolated incidents, that they remembered seeing and were familiar with my work.  That is also not something that happens to me except that now, I guess it does.
I had lots of other friends, from all over the country, stop by to say hello, especially Jerrell Conner, whom I’d not seen in years, and lots of other great experiences!  This was the best experience I’ve had yet at this show!  I was so busy, I never even got to look through the convention guidebook, but I know that nothing I missed was as good as that which happened!
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Oh and I got to spend some time with Marky Ramone.   I gave him the MGTZ soundtrack and book, too.  Who knows, maybe I’ll hear from him!  There are so many other friends I got to see, whom I can’t list in their entirety here.  But, the people are the reason to attend this convention!
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