For the past two years I’ve been peddling my wares exclusively at comic book shows, in my home state of Ohio and the 3 surrounding it (suck it, Michigan).
A friend of mine recommended trying out a craft show for a change in venue, and since I had a big hole in my schedule, I thought I’d give it a shot! New markets are always a good thing, right?
Yesterday was the first Columbus date for Avant-Garde Art and Craft Shows, and I had the pleasure of being part of the inaugural class. The show was managed by Becki Cooper, who was a freekin’ dynamo. From the first inquiry months ago to running around all day yesterday, she ran a smooth ship, at least it appeared so from the outside. Vendors were kept abreast of information, the show itself was promoted well locally, and at no given point did I feel lost in the process.
Before I get into the differences between the two worlds of craft shows and comic cons however, I want to take a moment to plug a product that saved me from a pre-show ritual that I’m not going to miss. Before every show, I have to spend an evening hot gluing. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, and hot glue is the most aptly named product in the history of language. It’s very hot, and sticks to everything. Before, “everything” included gluing myself to the products, to the newspaper underneath it, and once in a while to myself. Gluing yourself typically isn’t that bad, unless of course the glue is the same temperature of molten lava. This leads to waving frantically and swearing enough to make a sailor blush.
Bitching about this online (since that’s how problems get solved in the modern era) lead to an old friend of mine, Cathie Filian, to send me a sample of her product (also aptly named) – Hot Glue Gun Helpers. The concept is simple enough, put a product between you and the painful emissions from that death gun, but the execution is brilliant. Whatever these things are made of, I would wear a suit of it into a burning building. The thimbles (which, by the way, are obviously meant for dainty lady fingers, even the biggest one was tight on my index finger) included were perfect for moving the tiny magnets I use into position without screaming in agony. Granted, the mat and tools aren’t exactly in the manliest of colors, but even pink products can be badass sometimes. So check them out, they’ve got my perfectly healed thumbs up of approval.
Alright, now that the product placement portion of the epistle is complete, here’s what a craft show looks like from a comic con vendor’s perspective.
First off, the vendors. I’m used to a room of 100 guys and about 3 girls. It’s just the nature of the business I guess. Craft show, percentages are completely flipped around. I counted maybe six guys in the room yesterday sitting behind tables. Besides a huge downturn in the number of black tee shirts however, the general vibe from the vendors was about the same. Everyone is there trying to earn a living, but they understand the importance of the community as well. All the vendors I met yesterday were really great people, and I’d be honored to be their table buddies at any future show. I’m sure there are the pains-in-the-ass just like any other venue, but I didn’t meet them. Yet.
As similar as the vendor communities are, the paying customers were completely different. Let me start by saying that I love the comic community. They love their comics, and as an extension, they love anything that represents their favorite characters or titles. These are fans like no other, and rabid would not begin to describe some of them. As a vendor that sells representations of their heroes, I applaud this, because I understand that some of them are compelled to throw money at anything that resembles their favorite book/character. I’m not here to judge you friend, your money is as green as the next guy’s. There isn’t that emotional connection with people shopping a craft show. They see something and think it would be cute in their den, or make their eyes sparkle. A comic fan sees a representation of something that they are connected to on a spiritual level, and that’s beautiful.
There were absolutely zero cosplayers at the craft show yesterday, which is to be expected. On the one hand, this saddened me, because I love seeing the costumes at comic cons. The dedication always blows me away, and I love how someone can be completely socially inept one moment, but once they don a mask they are the most outgoing person in the world. Plus, a room full of nerds cannot have enough Cat and/or Wonder Women. On the other hand, I wasn’t subjected to the cosplayers that maybe, just maybe, should have picked something a little more appropriate for the venue. I’m looking right at you, creepy guy in the skintight body suit. Nobody needs to see that, and it’s horribly obvious that you’re not carrying any money, so there’s no reason for you to be that close to my table. And this goes for you too, Princess Leia in the “man, she’s really let herself go” outfit. Just come to the show in your civvies. Please.
I will try out some more craft shows in the coming seasons. Again, it’s nice to spread the net as wide as you can, and now I’ve overcome my preconceived fear of these shows. I pictured a room full of old women pushing afghans, but I was way off base. This is vibrant, young, creative community that hopefully someday I can count myself among. So craft on ladies, you’ve opened the eyes of this nerd, and in the future I’ll be sure to visit you again. Perhaps next time I can show you how pre-parties work on our side of the basement. But don’t worry my comic friends, I’ll be darken your doorway as well. You can’t get rid of me that easily.