Comic Non-Sans: What I Re-Learned at RavenCon

While RavenCon is predominantly a literary convention, there’s been a growing webcomic presence there over the years.  Along with this presence comes a variety of panels on digital art and story structure.  Nonetheless, when it comes to the dealer’s room, webcomic tables are few and far between, with the majority being novelists and then your usual collection of gaming merch and pirate outfitters.

Thus, there wasn’t much to observe by way of webcomic table setup.  Tangent Artists made a showing with rather a nice collection of prints and merchandise for sale, and there were a few webcomic print collections slid in among prose books.  Which isn’t to say I didn’t pick up a few things here and there relevant to my interests.

Firstly, free samples go quickly. I actually observed this with a novelist, who put out inexpensive (likely home-printed) but decent quality staple-bound copies of first chapters of a few of his books.  During a bit of a linger by his table on Sunday, I saw a few cases of people coming back to buy off him simply from snatching up freebies over the weekend.  Is it cost-effective?  I suppose that depends on how expensive ink cartridges are.

I’ve seen webcomickers do ashcans, but these were substantial things with a sense of weight and content to them.  I’ve yet to see a webcomicker do something like this, and I must admit I’m curious now as to how well something like that would work.

Also, don’t knock room parties. That’s where I made a lot of my connections.  And, I mean, yes I enjoyed myself as well.  I don’t mean only go and party as a means of networking.  I know a lot of people would rather feel like they’re doing something more actively productive, but the number of people I met and the number of things I learned hanging out during what I’d intended to spend as a lazy night was rather reassuring.

Speaking of reassurance, people really do like your older ugly work. By which I mean what you might see as ugly, but other people might not.  Looking at a collection of webcomics going back to about 2000, I got to see the progression of one girl’s art through a handful of books.  And when it’s not mine I’m looking at, I can see that yes, it is a very cool thing to see, especially juxtaposed with new art in the same volume.

From a much more straightforward angle, I’ve yet to ask how sales were that weekend for writers vs. artists vs. dealers.  RavenCon apparently had a large jump in numbers this year.  I imagine that, as with most cons, commercial dealers with recognizable merchandise likely came away better than original creators.  But at least by way of publicity and exposure, I could see that freebies and fliers and ashcans were on the move.

Now, how much exposure and networking translates into views and sales?  That’s another matter, and likely better addressed when I’m actually selling things at a con rather than doing improv and sketch comedy in the evenings.

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 16:34 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: , ,