The road to comic-con International part 1
As an exhibitor at Comic-con International ( click here for info on my booth) I thought you all might find it interesting to see the list of things to do leading up to the largest “comic-con” in the U.S. I used the parenthesis for all the reasons I have laid out in a previous Column here.
I have a much coveted spot in the main hall. It is 10×10 ft and facing a main entrance. The first order of business would be figuring out what to feature. Just for laughs, and nostalgia, and because…oh…THEORETICALLY…this is a comic book convention; I figured I’d bring comic books. That of course isn’t going to get much traction in and of itself so these will be variant covers/ limited editions. You can’t very well just show up with a multi award nominated book lauded by many as the cream of the crop in humor publications in both writing and illustration, in the U.S. and Europe. Nope…you have to make it “exclusive” in some way, as content is a poor substitute for glitz and cheap gimmicks at this show. Fine. I didn’t get this far by fighting the ocean. Job one then is create the variant covers…which is no easy task.
Anyway, onto the list
( this includes making several thumbnail sketches , deciding on one, bringing it almost to completion, then realizing you hate it, or it won’t work for some reason, then seeing a random sketch you scribbled on the border of some page…realizing it is perfect, cursing, and starting over.)
Add logos and other non-drawn items to covers via computer
Wonder why you have the logo files in seven different places on your computer instead of one easy to find file. Tell yourself you will do that as soon as the show is over…which you won’t.
Prep interior of books for printer
Get estimates from printers
Send files to printer
Decide on display
Create framework for banners
Fill out display form for CCI letting them know the height and width
Fill out form for exclusives
Email about form
Get turned down for use of CCI logo due to content
Argue with CCI about being turned down for use of the logo due to content
Have emails go un-responded, realize you are one booth out of 6000 and they have spent all the time on you they are going to and you are probably pushing your luck/move on
Fill out form for badges
Fill out form for State of California Sales permit
Fill out form agreeing to not display adult only content
Wonder why since none of your material falls under the parameters of “adult” by CCI’s own definition are you unable to use their logo due to content.
Get plane tickets
Curse about inflated price for tickets, wonder why you didn’t reserve them months ago.
Get hotel room
Curse about inflated price of hotel, ect.
Create t-shirt designs
Realize that no matter what size breakdown you order, it will be wrong. For example if last year everyone was an XL and so you order more Xl’s, this year you will have 70 petite girls asking for women’s small.
Get estimates for t-shirts
Get estimates for posters
Mentally add 5% to cost and time-frame for everything you got an estimate for because…that’s just how business works
Send designs to silk screener
Prep print designs send to printer
Send designs to printers
Realize you forgot to fill out some form or another for Comic-con and not must admit you screwed up to the same people you where arguing with and ask for help.
Box up shirts
Box up most of display (more on this further down the list)
Box up prints and any other misc merch.
Box up any tools, duck tape, glue guns or power tools that might be needed.
Consider boxing up revolver with one bullet, for yourself should things go awry.
Decide not to box up revolver as you may decide to you it on yourself before getting to San Diego.
Box up artwork
Order another credit card reader for smart phone (because they are cheap pieces of crap that break after three uses, it is best to arrive with at least four. You will end up typing the credit card numbers in manually by Saturday anyway, but if you order four you at least get to curse and stomp on a useless piece of crap card readers four times before moving on. It’s cathartic)
Call State of California to find out why the sales permit you requested months ago hasn’t show up. find out they don’t mail them anymore and you just print it off from the webpage.
Lament that it isn’t on the cool official looking yellow paper like the old days.
Print it again on cool official looking yellow paper.
Give the shipping instructions to comic book printer, and any other vendor that is producing merch that will need to be shipped directly to San Diego.
Go to bank and get your best guess worth of how much change you will need.
Pack a secondary display and some merch. Meaning- enough of the display to seem like you have set up in case Fed-ex is late. If you are not set up and ready to go on Wednesday 5pm, CCI can boot you and replace you with someone who is waiting and ready for your spot, so it is best to have a days worth of display and product with you in checked baggage.
Get to airport on time with 100 pounds of baggage to be checked and whatever you can jam into your two carry ons.
Land in San Diego, take cab to the Convention center.
Since cabs cannot get closer than Hall A and the check-in is in Hall H3, drag 100 pounds of checked baggage two stuffed to the brim carry ons six city blocks in 80 degree sun.
Stand in line for badges with 100 pounds of checked baggage and two stuffed to the brim carry ons.
Get badges and drag 100 pounds of checked baggage and two stuffed to the brim carry ons back to Hall C booth 2200 ( roughly 3 city blocks)
Set up half assed display.
Go to Fed-ex and get everything that arrived on time.
Push everything ( by this point I have the dolly I shipped) from Hall A (again…the closest point a vehicle can get) sic city blocks to Hall C booth 2200.
Somewhere in there make rendezvous with various helpers to give them their badges. Realize you have all badges except yours at the booth…walk back to Hall C booth2200, get badges …walk back to Helpers and give them badges.
Organize display framework and attempt to assemble it yourself. Fail. Realize you now have three other people to help.
Try to explain how to assemble display. Make absolutely no sense to people who have not yet seen it assembled i.e. ” hook the elbow thing up to the pipe like the shelf in my kitchen has it” or “the…the thing…into the thing!”
Explain that you are not having a stroke.
Organize t-shirts in an order that seems user friendly to you at the time, but will seem ass-backwards to everyone else and end up being a disjointed pile of shirts by Thursday at 6pm.
Set up tables i.e. lay out books, poster, artwork, shirts, misc merch in some way so that it doesn’t look like a rummage sale.
Get on the phone with Fed-ex to find out where the rest of your shipment is.
Get on phone with printer for tracking info.
Get back on phone with Fed –ex and find out it was in fact there when you got everything else.
Go back to fed-ex and get rest of shipment
Look around at fed-ex for the a-hole who “helped “ you earlier in the day to punch him/her in the head.
Realize he/she is hiding or left and move on.
Push rest of the shipment from Hall A to Hall C booth 2200
Get extra clothes out of luggage go into bathroom and wash the anger sweat off in the sink like a filthy hobo and put on new clothes that are not sweaty from the multiple Bataan death marches from Hall A to wherever.
Push way through crowd of 100,000 people who are now clogging the path to the entrance waiting for the doors to open who do not know nor care that you are an exhibitor.
Give table one last looking over.
Realize you forgot some sort of implement or another.
Realize that there is a booth that sells them…usually in Hall Z4.
Walk to that booth, wait for exhibitor to show up, buy implement, hall ass back to your booth just in time for the flood of humanity to push into the hall.
See some grinning fan waiting for you to arrive with a stack of books to sign who thinks this is the greatest day of the year and can’t fathom why you look like you are ready to take a flamethrower to the entire hall.
That’s as much of the list as I can remember right now, I’m sure I’ll remember something I forgot to add to the list…I’ll probably remember this June 9 at 5:01pm
Having read all that, no doubt some of you are looking at specific difficulties and thinking “why don’t you just blah blah blah”.
Well, my friend, that list is in addition to my normal list of things I have to get done on a daily basis…so pardon me if I missed some obvious solution. Also, I have been doing this show for 15 years and there is probably a good, but complicated reason why I am not “just blah blah blah”.
See you in San Diego