Written by Christian Beranek and Tony DiGerolamo
Christian Beranek and Tony DiGerolamo have both been to San Diego Comic Con and lived to tell the tale. Many times, in fact. After reading a piece by Ignition’s Bon Alimagno about whether or not a publisher should attend San Diego they decided to chime in with their thoughts…
TONY D: Bon Alimagno’s recent article about why his company isn’t going to San Diego this year was pretty much right on the nose.
CB: If I had all those Vampirella comics in my office I wouldn’t leave either. But yes, great article.
TONY D: Yeah, I agree about 90% with it. SD is crazily expensive to do and for the most part, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. But there are some cost cutting measures when you’re doing something guerrilla style that will allow you to make money and contacts.
CB: Tony D and I have a survival guide we’d like to share a few pearls of wisdom from. Now, you’re not going to get the full skinny, just a taste. We’re saving the rest of the details for when our book advance comes in. Tony, when is that agent calling us back?
TONY D: It kind of depends upon what rung of that ladder in the comic book biz you currently perch. Vampirella has been around for decades, so fans expect a fairly decent sized booth. But if you’re already small, there’s some appeal of that to fans. And with the sheer number of people in attendance, you can make some sales.
CB: I stress that you’ll make some sales. The convention is mind-blowingly overwhelming for even the most hardy of attendees. In addition, SDCC used to be known for being a place you could move some books, but it isn’t a pure comic show anymore. It hasn’t been for many years. Many people are there to see actors from their favorite films, such as Twilight. And who can blame them, those vampires shimmer in the light! They’re beautiful.
TONY D: Hey CB, remember a few years ago when we didn’t have a room and we just crashed with other people we knew at the con? That saved us some serious cash. Although for a while, I thought we’d end up sleeping outside, which would probably be better than sleeping in the Anime room.
CB: We kept getting booted from room to room because of your snoring! Which brings up a good point: Bring ear plugs if you’re shacking up with a group.
TONY D: I know some fanboys that spend the whole weekend sleeping in the park so they afford to go to SDCC. Bu your main expense, other than hotel, is probably going to be travel. If you book your plane tickets a month in advance or more, you can usually save some money.
CB: Or road trip it with friends. Oh, and don’t forget booze, the elixir of Comic-Con. Remember that time we saved cash by sneaking in cases of Miller Lite into the Hyatt bar?
TONY D: And those sweet delicious doughnuts. One time I went to Gen Con and the guys from Troll Lord games brought a hot plate and all their food. They didn’t eat out once, which left plenty of money for the strip club.
CB: That was a smart move.
TONY D: And if you don’t ship your product to the convention center and instead sent it to a hotel, you won’t get charged for having the convention center staff move your merchandise. It’s more work, but saves you big money.
CB: Have to be careful, though. Sometimes those hotels will charge a handling fee. Always helps to call ahead.
TONY D: Table placement is key at any con, but especially at San Diego. One year, the guys at Kenzer had a sweet booth. It was non-stop sales because they were in an aisle that people had to go past. Like that year we were off the escalator at Dragon Con.
CB: Ah, Dragon Con… It also helps to design your booth in an effective manner in which people get the amount of info they need in the shortest time possible. ADD these days is rampant! And when they’ve made up their minds and decided to purchase something, make it easy for them to pay and move on with their day.
TONY D: But I think the real way to save money at a con is to get your publisher to pay your way. Saves you a bundle. By the way, thanks for bringing me out to the upcoming Chicago Wizard World this year, CB.
CB: Dude, you’re worth every penny.
TONY D: Or you can be like a mutual friend of ours and mooch your way into a retailer’s table. Some retailers like to have a signing at their booth if they’re big enough and generous enough. Although you might have to lift some boxes.
CB: Well, this is a very important lesson: Retailers are our friends.
TONY D: Retailers are also good about buying direct sometimes at the shows. You can sell them a block of books because they want something unusual for their store. I found that a lot of the California comic book stores are like that.
CB: I love California. It’s been good to your favorite CB. But yes, and if you have a quality book that may have been sold out at Diamond and is difficult to re-order that helps as well.
TONY D: Also, if you can get someone to watch your table while you’re running around the con wheeling and dealing. You might actually get to have a meeting with someone that can get you a job.
CB: That’s why I love having you man the booth, Tony D. All I need to make sure is that you have tons and tons of iced tea to fuel you.
TONY D: Overall, I’d recommend San Diego for publishers with a regular fan base, even if they’re small. Companies like Kenzer, DDP or even the webcomic collective we joined one year. It costs money, but the promotion was solid. I think you have to balance your promotion vs. the costs. If you can pick up 1000 plus fans at a show like that and do it guerrilla style, it might end up costing you a grand, but that’s worth it for once every three years. Not every year.
CB: I go every year but sometimes in different capacities. In the past I was there to promote Silent Devil. Now I’m there to network for Kingdom Comics and promote PopCult via a party on Saturday night. Details can be found here: http://www.popcultivator.com
TONY D: This year, I’m going to save bucks and work the Super Frat site: http://www.superfrat.com. Because even though SDCC is intense, it’s not 24 hours and it’s not 24/7. The Internet is still better.
Christian Beranek co-founded and runs Disney’s Kingdom Comics with Ahmet Zappa. CB has a first look film/tv deal with Disney/ABC via his Lead Pipe Entertainment banner. He has several projects in development around town including Dracula vs. King Arthur, based on the graphic novel he co-created. He is currently working on his first novel and an album. CB is never late for dinner and invites you to add him on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/beranek
Tony DiGerolamo is a writer for the Simpsons and the Bart Simpson comic books. He is the creator of The Travelers and webcomic Super Frat, posted at www.superfrat.com. Don’t miss his monthly comics column in KODT magazine called Lookin’ at Comics and his other deranged projects at www.thefixsite.com. Twitter him at http://twitter.com/TonyDiGerolamo. Tony D is never late for twitter and invites you to dinner.