I made it to SMASH this year – barely. It was cold, sales were poor, and I failed to turn up on the Sunday on account of the flu. As far as conventions go, this is usually the most fun. The fans are amazing, the atmosphere is lively and the organisers do everything they can to make sure you have a great time.
I feel I’m doing the right thing as far as the stand goes: it’s bright, attractive, and I get a lot of foot traffic past the table, flicking through the portfolio, and even the comics… but in terms of sales I didn’t do great. In fact, I barely scraped by on a handful of commissions and only three sales (1 copy of Book I which someone had seen at another appearance, and two copies of Issue 6).
It’s always a hard knock, knowing you do so poorly. It’s like all the ingredients are right, the merchandise looks fantastic… but it’s just not what people want to buy today. There’s never getting around it. Sure, I could kvetch and moan about how the stands selling posters of fan-art have customers three rows deep throwing them money, and how that’s just unacceptable, but the fact is that’s what the customers want there. Original stuff is a HARD SELL.
It’s also getting harder: two small kids; the constant hunt for work; keeping on top of household chores; trying to find time with the wife when we’re both not so exhausted we opt for an early night of watching some Netflix then getting some sleep… so when the fans aren’t exactly there, it’s easy to wonder what the point is, exactly.
As much as my profile is growing – I was recently quoted in a major newspaper article on the comic’s scene in Sydney for example – the sales of comics don’t exactly reflect that. I often think of this cartoon a friend of mine posts often:
I know my work has improved, and I know that if I keep going for just a little bit longer, it might all be worth it, but… damn if it just feels like nobody would notice if I quit for a while. I still love drawing, and on the plus side, small illustration gigs I get are usually for articles or posts with a big audience. It’s still a bit of a pie-in-the-sky dream that anything will come of this, as the market is always being filled with more talented, more eager, and more time-rich people, and the sad reality is at some point, you hit your peak, and wherever that is – small indie or big leagues – that’s what you’re gonna be remembered for.