CHARMY’S ARMY TAKES ON SAN ANTONIO
I have been appearing at Comic Cons in Houston for the past three year, building my audience of dedicated readers for my comic strip Charmy’s Army. I have one “go-to” show… Comicpalooza in Houston. I always do very well. The last two years at Comicpalooza were amazing. I made $200 over table two years ago while this past year I did nearly three time that much! It is all about building an audience and offering things that audience wants. I know my Comicpalooza audience and I know what they want… original art.
MAKING THE MOVE
Last year was a bad year for shows in Houston. Comicpalooza is the king of all shows. No one can touch this show. Houston had two other big shows were I was able to at least make back my table fee, Amazing Houston Comic Con and Space City Comic Con. Both shows pulled out of Houston, leaving me with only one show where I could promote my comic strip… Comicpalooza. By my own rule, I must promote at at least 4 shows every year.
I decided to risk the move and take my show on the road. The first show I had on my radar was Alamo City Comic Con. I had heard some amazing feedback from vendors over the past few years. My buddies in Artist’s Alley were constantly telling me to do the show. Honestly, I was scared to death because I knew in my heart that I would bomb and lose a ton of money. With no options in Houston, I decided to pull the trigger and make the trip to San Antonio.
THANK YOU SAN ANTONIO
First off, this is an amazing city. Upon entering the parking garage for load in, I hear bagpipes. My heart sunk as I realized what was occurring. I ran, suitcases in two, to the opposite side of the parking garage.
On May 19, a San Antonio firefighter, Scott Deem, was killed and two others injured while battling a fire at a strip mall on the city’s northwest side. My local news in Houston had reported the details so I was familiar with what was going on. I had to pay my respects to a real hero. The procession was well attended and the attendance from the city of San Antonio was huge. The entire staff of the convention center stood about thirty feet from me. I was so happy to have witnessed this amazing city coming together for one of their brave protectors.
This city continues to prove itself to be the most caring and passionate city in Texas. San Antonio will always make me proud to be a Texan. Thank you San Antonio… and thanks to all the police officers and fire fighters everywhere for being our heroes.
ON TO THE SHOW
My expectations were very low. I have learned that an artist must build a following in order to do well at these shows. It took me two years and twelve shows in Houston before I lined my pockets with cash from a profitable show. That said, a profitable show meant making more money than the cost of a table.
You may also noticed that I laid claim to doing twelve shows in two years in Houston. That is correct! There were that many shows just a few years ago. Now we have only one.
I set my expectations low. Making my table back was as good as I thought I would do. Alamo City Comic Con had already played out just 7 months ago. Due to scheduling conflicts, they had to run the show earlier in the year. Attendance was less than a third of the past attendance… as estimated by the other vendors at the show. If I knew that ahead of time, I would have still paid for an appearance at this show, but my expectations would have been set to “making enough money to pay for a breakfast or two”.
So how did I do?
As with every show, I never get to meet any of the guests I’d love to see. Well, I was bound and determined to meet Guy Gilchrist who writes and inks the comic strip Nancy. He is also well known for his work on comic strips for the Muppets and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The man is a legend.
On Friday, before the show began, I saw him arriving alone to his table. I approached Guy and to my amazement he knew who I was…. and has been following my comic strip. Then, get this, Guy offered me some advice! Are you freaking kidding me????!!!!!! I was in Heaven.
I will not go into the details, but Guy offered two extremely key chunks of knowledge that will alter my course towards my dream…. syndication. After Guy dumped his knowledge upon an extremely humbled Davy…. lol…. I helped him set up his table, gave him some safety pins I had and left him to his adoring fans.
I could now bomb at this show and still feel I had a tremendously successful show.
The next day, I got to meet Tom Bancroft, but unfortunately I only managed a handshake. Like I said, I never have time to meet or mingle with any of the great artists at these shows. I really would love to though. One day I will be at the level of some of the other artists in Artist’s Alley and will get asked to play. Man, I sound like a little kid.
ON WITH THE SHOW
As I said, I did not expect to do well. I knew the show would be great, but no one knows me here in San Antonio so I expected to do very poorly. It all began on Thursday with Preview Night. I expected to do $55. Why such an exact number? I had a pre-sale sketch cover and the purchaser was coming that night to claim her treasure. Unfortunately, she could not make the show until the morning. I received a text just after the night began. No biggie… My new expectation was a goose egg. The crowd was either invisible or just not there. I do not believe in invisibility, so I take it that preview night was a bust. I packed up fifteen minutes early and went to the hotel for some much needed rest. I had been up since 5:00 am. I was correct by the way. Goose egg.
The show began with a bang. My pre-sale buyer arrived and picked up her sketch cover. The art was an amazing original pin and ink with Copic marker sketch cover depicting Charmy as Batman Beyond, who I refer to as Dork Knight Beyond. I also used this art on a button and I nearly sold out of them! I had only six left at the end of the show!!! Batman Beyond sells.
The day ran like any show on a Friday. The attendance was small, but I did get my first commission of the show! Unfortunately, this would prove to be my ONLY commission of the show. I drew a Charmy – Lone Ranger in a sketchbook. It can out great. I was getting pretty excited that the show would be insane after such an amazing start! By day’s end on Friday, I had nearly paid off half of the table. This was great for a show where no one knew who I was.
Day two was fun. I say day two because I am not counting Thursday’s preview night. We are now moving along with Saturday’s show. This will be the big day. Saturday is always the biggest day of the show.
Saturday amazed me once again. I crossed paths with Guy Gilchrist again early before the show began and we talked briefly before he gave me an original Nancy strip. In return, I gave him my best piece…. the original, inked first print appearance of Frenchy as Warrior Wench Wendy. He was so happy!!! That made my day, and the day had only started.
I was overheard my Guy’s handler when I introduced myself to Tom Bancroft. A lady asked if I was from Santa Fe. I told here that I indeed did grow up in Santa Fe, Texas. Ends up that her “nana” was my art teacher in high school! Here “nana”, Ms Chambers was also my second grade teacher when I attended Catholic school. Later she taught me art all four years of high school. Thanks Stacey Hanna for being so awesome and having an amazing “nana”. Ms. Chambers meant so much to me and my dream.
Saturday was so awesome. I had a reader and supporter of mine drive up from Houston to support me at my first ever appearance in San Antonio. How awesome is that? That is Andrew above on the left. He has been supporting me for a few years now. I cannot thank him enough and I hope he knows just how much his support has meant to me. Such a nice man.
I sold another print just a few minutes later to the young man to the right. He was super cool and was extremely interested in what I did. He also dreams of becoming a syndicated cartoonist. I told him to not only draw, but write every day. I love passing on any experience I have to share.
I also had cartoonist Richard Paul Brooks Jr pop by. He is the creator of Mr. Brooks. He stopped by to give me an autographed copy of his new book. I wish I had more time to hang out hos Richard. He is so cool. Seeing him is always a welcoming experience. I am always so nervous at these shows and he has a calming effect on me. He is a teacher by trade…. so this all makes sense to me. He gets that personality from years of dealing with crazy, wild kids. Can’t wait to see him at Bell County or Staple. I forget which he is doing. Maybe both?
The day ended up much better than I expected. I was told the crowd was less than a third of the normal Alamo City crowd. They just had the last show in October…. seven months earlier. If this was a small crowd, I cannot wait to see the normal crowd in 2018! I had made back my table investment by the end of the day and was now working on a HUGE hotel bill. I was very happy with whatever the numbers were. I felt the show was rocking the entire time. Great, very busy day!!!!
What a great weekend at Alamo City Comic Con. I needed to make well over $300 to break even today. That is more than I made yesterday and about as much as I made over the past two days. So that did not happen. As I stated before, I did not expect to even make my table back, so I was very happy.
The last day at Alamo City Comic Con was awesome. I yet had another long time supporter from Houston stop by and pick up one of my pre-drawn sketch covers. He grabbed the cover that everyone talked about…. Frenchy as Pebbles Flintstone. The odd thing about my sketch covers is that I sell at least eight per show in 2017. I only sold a few at Comicpalooza last month and no one there even seemed interested in them. Here at Alamo City, everyone looked at them and were amazed by the parody art, but only a few asked how much they cost. My prices are so cheap, yet no one seemed interested in making a purchase. I sold only two sketch covers.
What did sell at both shows were my $15 original sketch cards. I even sold my Charmy as Geddy Lee sketch card! The guy walked up and spotted it right away. “Oh wow!”, he excitedly called out, “Is that Geddy Lee? I love Rush!”. Cha-ching. There is a buyer for everything.
THE PARTY IS OVER!
I cannot wait to do this show again in 2018. It exceeded my expectations for my first appearance. I am being told I will get an email next week with a link to secure my table. My Paypal account is funded and ready for the purchase. By FAR this is the greatest comic con I have participated in. I will continue to support my new Alamo City Comic Con family for as long as they will have me.
HUGE thanks to Apple de la Fuente, Jill Shanks, every single volunteer, every single attendee I talked to, Guy Gilchrist, Mark Kistler, Stacey Hanna, Rosel Rodriguez, Brian Salinas, Vo Nguyen and everyone I am forgetting for making me feel like I truly belong on the circuit. I doubt my abilities every single day… but that is what drives me to be at the level I am at. I am my biggest critic and you all are my reasons for continuing the pursuit of my syndication dream.
I did not leave until Monday afternoon after I finally made yet another tour of the Alamo. The city of San Antonio cannot be matched. Every restaurant I ate at, every shop I visited and spot I did my site seeing at were all filled with the friendliest people. People in San Antonio are just awesome.