This was my first time doing a show in Philadelphia and my first time participating in FAN EXPO. It was a big show, where the Artist Alley felt isolated, but still in the middle of everything that was going on. There was a stage with live music on the far end in one direction and a main stage for panels and Q&As in the other, but we were too far away to know what was going on at either one. Smaller stages were sprinkled around the venue with seating and speakers. There was one behind us, but luckily the volume level was never loud enough, and we were far enough away, that it never interfered with us talking to people at our table. A few artist booths provided their own music, which I thought would bother me, but during slow moments when we needed to keep our energy up, it gave us something to dance to.
As its name implies, FAN EXPO primarily caters to existing fandoms. Cosplayers had tables and there were many booths selling apparel, costumes and merchandise for popular franchises, but the convention still offered a place to creators like me.
Artist Alley was positioned next to the celebrity area. The television and animation celebrity list was pretty impressive, which was a big draw for many of those attending. We quickly learned to judge someone’s gate. Quick and determined meant they were going somewhere to line up for a signature and/or photo and did not have time nor interest to stop at our table. Scheduled events, panels and signings did create lulls in the day, but it’s hard to complain when you’re an unknown artist competing against David Tennent, Ron Perlman, Ming-Na Wen, Ashley Eckstein and Billy West.
On the table, we had our three current books, Sketches and Streams, Cut and Pasted, and Utopian Musings and two binders, one with panel art, the other with collages. Utopian Musings is still our best seller, which is encouraging, since I’m turning it into a comic series later this year. No one bought any artwork, but a good number of people stopped to flip through the binders, from front to back.
Like with the other recent shows, we got back what we put into it – I don’t think anyone came over to the table without us actively inviting them over. We have a quick sales pitch to walk attendees through the 3 books. I like the covers I made for each, but most people’s interest seems to peak when they hear what each story is about and see the illustrations inside. So, I think we’re doing something right, but it’s all a work in progress.
I enjoyed doing this show a lot. Tanima and I both like visiting Philadelphia and the organizers and everyone working the show were very nice. I’ve applied to do FANS EXPO Boston later this year. Hopefully, I’ll get in and we’ll have a similar experience.