Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heroes-Con 2010 - Well.....The Good News is.....

....that it was a sensational show for the fans. I'll have to admit, going into the show, the guest list was one of the most impressive that I have ever seen. There were a ton of creators, many of whom rarely do cons - it was a feast for the fans. Creators like Mike Mignola, Bernie Wrightson and Brian Bolland - just to name a very, very few - were some of the illuminaries at Heroes-Con 2010 and believe me, there were a ton of other big names - just wanted to give you a taste.

Usually for dealers, a great guest list at a con means that one stocks up on material by these creators in the hope that fans will buy the material so they can get it signed. Well, that is what usually happens...

And, as usual, we stocked up on Hellboy, Batman: The Killing Joke, Wrightson's Frankenstein and Swamp Thing and everything else by other creators. Unfortunately, what happened is something that we did not forsee happening - the fans spent most of their money, as well as their time, at Artist's Alley.

During my three restroom breaks each day, I noticed that at least 60% to 70% of the fans at Artist's Alley and the dealer's aisles were sparsely populated. We heard that some artists were charging up to $1500 for pen and ink drawings and getting it! One dealer I spoke to said that one of his longtime regular customers who usually spends $300 to $400 dollars sheepishly went to said dealer's booth and said that he would have to wait until next time as he was out of money - he had spent his money getting sketches. The dealer told me - "What could I do - I had to congratulate the customer on their purchases - I didn't want to jeopardize a longtime relationship, that's for sure". An informal poll revealed that around 75% of the dealers had a less than adequate show and the other 25% did well by selling stuff very cheaply or doing some big dealer-to-dealer deals.

The other problem is that the room was oversold. There were dealers there that either hadn't been to Heroes-Con before or hadn't been there in a long time.

The combination of a fabulous artist's alley and an oversold dealer's room pretty much took the money off the floor. As far as your's truly is concerned, we did a little over half of what we did last year which still made us some bucks but obviously not near as much as last year.

This is not complaining in the least. Comic conventions have to have at least a "decent" guest list because that is one of the primary attractions for fans. Show organizer Shelton Drum should not have to apologize one iota for having a stellar guest list. As far as the number of dealers is concerned, it is self regulating as there won't be as many at next year's Heroes-Con. Dealers yap a lot amongst themselves and the word will get around and we'll have about three-fourths of the dealers from this year's show at next year's show. One dealer even told me that he always tells other dealers at other shows that a particular show was terrible so that they won't come to that show the next year.

Anyway, there is a silver lining to all of this. One is that we gain awareness and as one of my dearest friends and life/business coach, Harvey Smith says, "Once you become aware, you cannot become unaware". That might sound trite at first blush but take some time....a lot of time and really, really think about it.

Secondly, we have been contemplating dropping our Diamond Comics Distribitors account for sometime. If any of you folks have been to our booth at one of the big shows, you know that we concentrate on trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels. Until this past Heroes-Con, we have done very well at the shows. However, we do not do very well online even though we offer very steep discounts. We just can't compete with Amazon and eBay.

Therefore, we canceled our Diamond account last week and I feel like a ten-ton elephant is off my back. That doesn't mean the end of Walkin' Willie's Comix by a long shot! We are going to concentrate on buying collections and putting the books up on our discount site. We will continue to acquire CGC books and put them up on our main site. And of course, we will always have at least something up on eBay.

Before I close, I do want to express my appreciation to the always hard workin' and lovely Melissa who continues to make our booth one of the classiest in the room as well as her excellent demeanor with the customers, creators and other dealers - don't know what I would do without her. I also want to thank Cory and Zack - two young guys that came around at the end of the show wanting to know if they could help us load up. They were a godsend and saved this big old dumb blonde comic geek's back for sure.

Bottom Line: short term Heroes-Con 2010 was not so good - very much below average for us but long term, it might have been the best thing that ever happened to Walkin' Willie's Comix. Can't wait to see....

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