How important is it to attend cons?

#1
Hey Guys

I've been trying to plan a couple of con appearances this year and am getting very frustrated as I travel with work and am getting a lot of clashes with cons that I want to attend.

Just wanted to know people's thoughts on: is this holding me and my comic back? In military terms I like to think of cons as "boots on the ground" and online activity as air strikes... and most generals will tell you that whilst air strikes are effective, you never win anything without boots / troops on the ground.

Has anyone on here had a lot of comic success WITHOUT con / in person appearances, or are they essential to succeed?

Any thoughts either way would be really helpful.

Cheers

Danny
 
#2
Not everyone has the same plan or follows the same path. For some people, online sales & activity is a gold mine; for others they do better at cons.

I'm the latter of the 2- right now online sales have been non-existent; cons have been where I've made my money. I'm trying to not lose faith with online activity as I've been slowly growing since I started a couple of years back.
 

AnitaComics

4-Stripe White Belt
#3
If you plan to break it to the public only, conventions are good but not mandatory. You can achieve that kind of success online.
BUT if you plan to networking, or even getting to know about the scene and the publishers, conventions are a must. People are more inclined to share details face to face, and definately prefer to work with someone they've met in person.
Plus, it's funnier than being at the computer all day!
 

Kagekabuki

4-Stripe White Belt
#4
The thing about cons, while they're great for networking, is that it's very hard to break even as an artist, especially if you have to pay for travel/accommodation. The con scene is also pretty stagnant at the moment, at least in the UK, as there are just too many events and punters are getting bored of the same setup at every con.

However, my online sales are abysmal (haven't sold a single thing on Tictail yet) so I do rely on cons for sales lmao

So, my advice would be not to go expecting to make money; you'll just be disappointed and end up beating yourself up. Go to meet new people and get your name out there, and to have fun! And try not to compare yourself to artists who seem to do amazingly well at cons; most have been at it for many years and/or are exaggerating ;)
 
#5
I think it all depends on what you want. Do you want printed copies of your comic or are you happy keeping it all online. I personally feel conventions are great for the face to face element. Getting likes and comments on your comic is great but having a face to those comments is another thing entirely. I'm hoping to get my first table this year and with that make contacts and develop friendships with other creators outside of forums and twitter.

The con scene is also pretty stagnant at the moment, at least in the UK, as there are just too many events and punters are getting bored of the same setup at every con.
I think thats more on conventions letting the same creators in -whether it's curated or not- and on indie creators submitting for a table but not having anything new to sell/promote.

There was one artist at Thought Bubble I got a comic from 3 years ago they tabled there the following 2 years and still only had the same book to sell. That table could have gone to someone who's never tabled there before or is their first time which is a shame. Obviously there are new punters every year but it is a shame that some creators will submit for tables when they know they don't have anything new to sell (prints and pins don't count)
 

Kagekabuki

4-Stripe White Belt
#6
I think thats more on conventions letting the same creators in -whether it's curated or not- and on indie creators submitting for a table but not having anything new to sell/promote.

There was one artist at Thought Bubble I got a comic from 3 years ago they tabled there the following 2 years and still only had the same book to sell. That table could have gone to someone who's never tabled there before or is their first time which is a shame. Obviously there are new punters every year but it is a shame that some creators will submit for tables when they know they don't have anything new to sell (prints and pins don't count)
Good point! That is something I'm guilty of (though not for three years) ;______; I do try and mix it up with related products though. Thought Bubble is really hard to get into, I do feel that they probably go for favourites or people they already know...
 
#7
I do feel that they probably go for favourites or people they already know...
I'd imagine they try for 75% returning and 25% for new people. Since they had to start curating it probably got harder to keep.

Thing is I need that goal to give me a kick in the butt. Having a table would force me to focus and gives me a deadline. This year I know I'll have enough content to print a trade of short stories by july/august but I'm not going to print anything if I have no table and for me Thought Bubble is the closest and most cost effective con for me giving me a better chance to recoup the money spent.

Unfortunately I didn't have much to show and sway in my favour when the applications were open. Always next year.
 
#8
There was one artist at Thought Bubble I got a comic from 3 years ago they tabled there the following 2 years and still only had the same book to sell.
I've passed on cons when I havent had any new material- except one last year, but the case was that I was setting the book up to print, but it was also still running online in its last few pages at that time. I'm doing a con this coming weekend- I have a book that I hadnt sold with this con , and new material like posters & stickers. For the next 3 yrs I should at least have a new book(and other stuff like prints and stickers) every year to sell at a con.
 
#9
In my personal research I've found that comic artists who consistently attend conventions have more successful comics than those who do not. 3-4 years of attending is about the sweet spot. That may change in the next several years, it might not. (There are also other factors to consider like the quality / universal appeal of your comic, the genre of your comic, and whether or not you also have a claim to fame somewhere else on the internet.)

I attended my first convention as a comic artist earlier this month, and while I did end up in the red because of start-up costs, they're mostly purchases I won't have to make again and can make back the difference over time. While I was there I sold out of books, got invited to ANOTHER local con, and three people wrote me afterwards and to tell me they liked my book. One even gave me a book review! I'm excited to do it again, but I'm going to stick to local conventions until I have more of a consistent audience. XD