9.22.2016

There And Back Again: Cincy ComiCon

A couple of years ago I went to the bathroom.

More importantly, I did so at a comic con here in town and while I was away from my table, Tony Moore, artist extraordinaire and co-creator of The Walking Dead, walked by and gave a flyer to my girlfriend (who was watching the table) and said something about "nice colors".


The flyer was for the convention that Moore shepherds, Cincy ComiCon in Cincinnati. Well, if you want to be pedantic about it... it's actually held on the northern tip of Kentucky. But a block down the street from the convention hall lies a view of the Cincinnati skyline across the river. Close enough!


Upon investigation, the guest list and show focus was enticing. A comic con actually about comics and comic creators? That's actually somewhat strange in the current climate of cons. So it went on the short list for possible cons to hit when I decided to try to expand Mayflower's reach this year. The table was affordable and it ended up being feasible to drive to and pay for, so away we went!

It's a nine hour drive from KC to Cincy, and to avoid taking more than one day off from work we left in the late afternoon Thursday, stayed in Evansville for the night, then headed up the rest of the way through Louisville and into the Cincy area the next day. Although staying at the official hotel across the street from the convention center would have been cool, I'm not ready to spend that high of expenses and elected to stay out of town near the airport and just do a little commute in each day. The cool thing about that commute was that the way into town along North 71 goes around a big hill and then dramatically reveals downtown Cincinnati to you each day like it might have been Minas Tirith.

You couldn't drive straight into the Northern Kentucky Convention Center to unload like some cons. Instead they had a series of loading docks with cargo lifts you could back your car up to. It surprised me that volunteers were there with carts ready to help me load in - I've never had that kind of help before! There was parking right across the street from the hall that wasn't too expensive which was also mighty convenient.


The show didn't start till 3pm on Friday, which seemed smart to me, not to mention a nice cushion for those driving in. The show floor itself seemed smaller and held fewer guests and vendors than I expected. That may have been because of the food and drink area being located on the level directly above it, though.

Foot traffic picked up Saturday around midday like your usual show, and there were a number of folks who picked up Mayflower on Sunday after having had a think on it for a while, but overall there was never that magical flood of attendees that you hope for. Apparently, the larger Cincinnati Comic Expo is held only two weeks after this one, so that probably explains it. It seems that there's a schism between two vying comic cons in every big city!

On the positive side, the ratio of original comics versus everything else you might see in artist alleys was great. Looking at all the pro's portfolios was lovely, too. I wasn't able to attend any of the panels but they sounded less like your usual Star Wars vs Star Trek, and more about insight into the craft of comics.

We had to leave a little early on Sunday to make the nine hour drive back in one night. Coffee and a Discworld audiobook later and we were back home at 1am. Sales were less than I had hoped but I was able to pay for the table and half of the hotel nights at least.

I wont be able to afford to go back next year but perhaps in a few years I'd try again with more comics under my belt. If I lived in the area, I'd definitely go just for the talent brought together in one place.

Creators & Creations
  • This Off Beat Town by Jake Smith. I got really excited by the skill and style that oozed from this guy's art. Like Rumble? Then check this out for sure.


My Sketches


5x7in Enterprise (Kelvin Timeline):


8.18.2016

There and Back Again: Kansas City Comic Con

Another convention in its second year, Kansas City Comic Con is KC's newest con and a counterweight to the long-running Planet Comicon. But just because it's the upstart underdog doesn't mean KCCC isn't legitimate. In fact, even in its first year the convention felt huge, and this year was no different.


While Planet Comicon has grown into a massive media event mostly focused on enticing attendees by way of celebrities, Kansas City Comic Con seems more focused on the artists and creators of comics and related media. KCCC has been very accommodating to the exhibitor so far; you're not talked down to and your table isn't hidden away behind everyone else. Being in my own backyard as well makes it an easy choice to attend.

Last year, despite a table location that had us staring at a pillar, we made a good amount of sales, picking up a lot of followup buyers who had grabbed Mayflower #1 from Planet Comicon and needed to know where the story went in #2. It seemed like Kansas City could support two big cons.

This year KCCC was a bit slower, though that had nothing to do with the quality of the con itself. Personally, I think it had to do with Planet Comicon 2016 happening later than it normally does and thus not giving the town enough time to recharge its desire for convention-ing (there was less than three months between the two cons this year). Other factors may have been just all-around bad timing, with kids starting the new school year and other events around town. It's hard to say as there's so many factors that determine how a convention is going to turn out, for the individual exhibitor and as a whole. That's one thing that I've learned from this Mayflower Midwest Tour: I can not predict how a convention is going to go.

Hopefully next year the con finds that sweet spot in the calendar. I'd love for it to evolve, too, and perhaps focus even more on comics and creators. It may also need to downsize slightly to bring a better focus to what's there. I'd love for KCCC to gain a reputation as the more niche comic convention, distinguishing it even more from Planet Comicon and drawing in a different crowd from around the area.

While our sales were low, and at times manning the table tested our boredom-meters, it's still always lovely to link back up with old artist friends and discover new ones. Since I didn't have any commissions this time, I've included some of the art by the creators I talked to.


Creators & Creations


  • Rook City -one of Missouri's funnest comics- by Seth Wolfshorndl and Elton Gahr, has finally been collected in a trade paperback! You'll meet goth kids and real vampires, attend supervillian conventions, and more.




  • Steele VS by Scott Schmidt, whose Canadian Mountie takes on supernatural enemies, albeit in a grounded, historical-fiction world.




  • Rebecca Mayer, who taught me the difference between Orrgo and Clayface.




  • Chelsea Mann, who continues to impress with masterful color palettes in her prints and in her comics.




Next on the 2016 Midwest Tour: Cincy ComiCon, and Dodecacon!

7.15.2016

There and Back Again: O Comic Con!

Before diving into this year's show, let's rewind...

Last year, 2015's O Comic Con! felt like an experiment - an operation. It was only my second convention that required traveling to and my first con that I had to actually book a hotel for. Previously, I was able to stay with friends for a Project: Comic Con in St. Louis, and a few one-day Midwest Geekfest events in Columbia, MO were close enough to not require hotels. These were fairly simple, thrifty experiences. But traveling, staying at a hotel, and being self-sufficient away from my home (my castle), was out of my comfort zone. It was also a bigger expenditure of money and thus a bigger pressure on me to sell well at my table. And having a financially successful show can be completely hit-or-miss, often with no reason why.


The drive to Omaha from Kansas City is 3 hours, so it's really just a hip, hop, and a podcast away. The views on the road aren't too shabby either (There's actually some hills!), not to mention the town itself is cool, too. Surprisingly, Omaha actually has more quality comic shops than KC, with Legend Comics & Coffee being one of the best comic book stores that I've ever been in.

The 2015 O Comic Con! was also their first year putting on the event and, now that I've traveled to a handful of more cons since, I can say it went smoother than many shows in their third or fourth year (like the disaster that was known as Space City Comic Con). With two issues of Mayflower, we did surprisingly well, met some great artists like Tim Mayer and Artun Gökçen, and left with good memories. The operation was a success. The experiment gave me the confidence to pursue travelling to shows. And so this year we planned to travel to five conventions outside of KC, including Omaha again.


O Comic Con! 2016 was a good sequel for us. Lots of returning readers, new creators to discover, and fun cosplay to watch walk by. The location for the event seems to have already hit its capacity in year two so it will be exciting to see how it develops in 2017. The only negative we experienced was based on the fact that the row we were assigned to was facing a black curtain instead of another series of vendors and creators. This made the row seem emptier (because it was) and, as the weekend went on, less popular with visitors. Luckily, we were on the edge of the row next to the outer isle and were able to snag a number of people from that direction (I ended up shifting my banner and easel 90 degrees towards that outer isle to help). In the end, we actually sold one more copy of Mayflower than at my local, much larger, Planet Comicon, so I can't really complain! But... I guess I did anyways.


Highlights

  • Jeffery Combs (of many Star Trek roles) paused at my booth.
  • Adorable monkeys were in attendance.
  • A Q&A panel with the original Mads (Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff) of Mystery Science Theater 3000 brought joy to my heart.


Creators & Creations Discovered



My Commissions & Sketches

Thanos:


Spider-man and Spider-man 2099 sketch cover:



Iron-Man sketch cover:


...And one for fun:



Next on the 2016 Midwest Tour: Kansas City Comic Con, Cincy ComiCon, and Dodecacon!

7.14.2016

Once More With Feeling

This blog has existed before. Now it will exist again.

...Well, hopefully. If I lose it in the upper shelves of the Internet closet again, you can look forward to reading an eerily similar post to this one five years from now.

That's about how long the last version of Comic & Concept lasted: from my last year of college to the abyss of post-college nothingness that awaits you if you chose a ridiculous profession like comic book or concept artist. And that iteration of Comic & Concept will remain, but now grow no more. I toyed with the idea of revising it, streamlining it, or deleting tangential posts I no longer wanted included, but it felt better in the end to keep it the same and instead make a clean break.

The blog that now rises from its ashes will be updated more frequently and, while still documenting my art, it will also host other writings and meditations, from fiction to non, with a bit more of my brain poured into it. Maybe my heart, too.

It's taken a while to realize it, but I'm as much a writer as an artist and, like keeping a sketchbook, you must continue to practice your craft. So, I'm making this a place I'm comfortable and proud of, hence the clean break. I'm making this a place for me to experiment, learn, and unfurl thoughts long-wrapped in my mind. I'm making this a quiet conversation that you remember the next day.

I'll see you again,
Levi