In our book Make Comics Like the Pros, my co-writer Fred Van Lente provides some spectacular advice about how to work a comic book convention. This year at the New York Comic Con, I took Fred’s advice seriously and did my Artists Alley table up right for the first time. And I had my best con ever!
So here’s what I did:
1.) I’d printed up the Code Monkey Save World banner last year. But for the NYCC, I ponied up a few bucks to print a second banner featuring gorgeous Aaron Kuder/Wil Quintana art from our current Action Comics run. I figured folks who don’t know me probably know Superman, and might pause a few more seconds at the table if they saw his face. And they did!
2.) I got vertical! In Make Comics Like the Pros, Fred writes about the need to stand out in a crowded con by raising your stuff up into the field of vision of passersby. So I went to Staples and bought a few clear magazine holders, which worked beautifully for displaying single issue comics and bigger books. The three-level magazine holders in particular provided a great way to catch folks’ eyes with the titles of a variety of books.
3.) I sat down for an hour or two and printed actual labels for everything. At past cons, I had handwritten labels with prices of things. That’ll work, but I think the clearly printed labels helped make everything feel more professional and encouraged sales. The clear label over the Code Monkey Save World books reading “Based on the songs of JONATHAN COULTON” saved me from having to explain the book as often as I’ve done in the past. Multiple Coulton fans read that label and bought the book without my having to say much at all.
4.) It’s a little hard to tell from the photo, but that little black box is a portable speaker through which I played Jonathan Coulton music whenever I was sitting at the table. Bouncy music subtly encourages people to linger and buy. And multiple Coulton fans heard the music, then discovered the table and bought the book.
5.) For the first time this year, I brought a short box of single issues of some of my work-for-hire comics, which I sold at cover price. I ended up selling all but one issue of Action Comics and every issue of Storm, Doomed, and Batman/Superman that I brought. The experience reminds me of advice a friend gave me about Kickstarters, which was to have a reward at every price point. At my table, I had the $20 Code Monkey Save World and the $23 Make Comics Like the Pros books for the big buyers. But I also had a bunch of $3 and $4 comics for casual browsers who might just like a little something to remember the con by.
Click here for more, including a list of things I thought about after the fact — and will try to do for the next con — as well as some more things I learned!
Greg Pak is an award-winning comic book writer and filmmaker currently writing Batman/Superman and Action Comics for DC Comics, Turok for Dynamite, and Storm for Marvel. Pak wrote the Code Monkey Save World graphic novel based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton and co-wrote (with Fred Van Lente) the acclaimed Make Comics Like the Pros how-to book.