I attended the Stumptown Comics Festival in Portland this past weekend and... man, it wasn't a good experience. Personally. I know a lot of folks there had a great show and sold lots of stuff, but for me not so much.
Part of it is probably that I didn't really have any new stuff to sell. But I think a larger part of it is that the comics I write are not in sync with the Stumptown vibe. This is the only show I sell at where attendees are looking for lots of small, indy stuff. Everything I work on is pretty slick and, at least, mainstream-seeming. The art is very polished, the stories are genre and, worst of all, it's in color. I actually saw at least one person propel themselves away from my table as if mainstream comics were a disease you could catch like the God-damned SARS. It's hard to begrudge the indy folks for dominating this show; at every other show I go to, the indy crowd is relegated to a dank corner far from any of the other displays.
Anyway. Saturday I sat there fuming, really considered not even coming back on Sunday, but then I figured I just needed to change my outlook. I came to terms with the fact that I was not going to sell a million copies of my books. Sunday then became an exercise in retail therapy. I spent many, many dollars buying lots of interesting stuff. It was fun to go around and introduce myself to the folks making comics and to help support them by actually making some purchases. I spent maybe thirty bucks on comics zines and walked away with some really interesting stuff.
Other highlights of the show were attending the after-party at Cosmic Monkey Comics, which is a great store in Portland. Free beer and PB&J sandwiches. Nice. Melissa and I had dinner with Philip Simon and his partner Kate and they put us up for the night. Sunday night before we came home, we had dinner with my friends Devon and Jon, and their friends (and comics people) Mike, Miriam Libicki, and Camilla D'Errico. It was Camilla's birthday and we got the waitress at the Mediterranean restaurant we were at to bring us some baklava with a candle in it.
In situations like this, I can generally turn around a shitty situation if I can just get to a place where I realize that it's my own negative attitude that's making things so bad. So, the con wasn't so bad, but my attitude was. I recognize that.
But I still don't think I'll do the show next year.