Comic Non-Sans: MarsCon Wrap-Up

MarsCon is the first convention I ever attended, starting in 2000 when I was a college freshman and didn’t understand the whole “convention” thing.  I guess this makes it my Lucky 13th year attending, for what it’s worth.  It’s stayed pretty much consistently good over the years, which is saying something for a middling-sized “relax-a-con” that’s managed to stay in a smallish historical tourist town.

Kicking off this year's inevitable slew of "End of the World" themes at cons, we have a zombie apocalypse brewing

From a creator standpoint, MarsCon has never been much of a commerce convention.  If you’re the guest of honor or write for an established property, you’re likely to have more luck.  For a webcomicker or indie writer, though, your mileage may vary.  At $25 a pop for a table, it’s not as bad as, say, striking out at a bigger Artist Alley.  Here, regardless of whether I sell, I’ve always had good luck getting to know people, making connections (both with readers and fellow artists), and getting a feel for what’s popular among different age groups.

For the record, MarsCon tends to have a spread leaning toward older fandom.  This year there were a lot of teens and twentysomethings on hand — not surprising for Williamsburg, home of the College of William & Mary — but in large part, the attendees are people who have been going for quite a while, or who at least have been going to cons in general for quite a while.

This year, a few artists I’d seen beside me in Artist/Author Alley got “upgraded” to Dealer Room tables.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to ask what the standards were for this.  My assumption is it had something to do with general popularity and/or amount/type of merchandise on hand.  While the move to a bigger (and nicer) hotel next year brings with it the promise of more room for artists, authors, and dealers, I can hope that we’ll find out where the difference lies and what constitutes eligibility for an upgrade.

Granted, this has a lot more to do with better sellers than myself.

The tough part of Alley placement in recent years has been the fact that it’s around the edges of Main Programming.  That means hours are dependent upon performance times, which can be a hassle when you have a group performing midday Saturday.  (I was, however, in one of these groups, so it would have been the same for me regardless.)  This has more to do with the sheer lack of space in the hotel than anything — even panels were cramped, including two I sat that were SRO in a rather unfortunate corner room.  With all this in mind, I was very happy (as were many others) to hear that separating out and increasing our space was high on the list for next year’s plans.

It’s very hard to say whether or not I’d recommend MarsCon to someone looking to sell, as things will be different next year.  In recent years, I’ve discussed it being good for networking.  That will always be the case, and networking is essential when you’re looking for a day-to-day readership as a webcomicker.  Thus, improving conditions for writers and artists can only be a step up.  And improved conditions at a con where the con suite already serves free full meals throughout the day?  That’s saying something.

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 15:04 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Events, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics · Tagged with: , , ,