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June 22, 2008

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Ben Towle

In the independent comics department, it's probably worth mentioning, for the sake of not casting things solely in a "doom and gloom" light sales-wise, that Top Shelf and Adhouse were (according to word-of-mouth on the floor) doing really well sales-wise.

A few more anecdotal reports:

Students from The Center for Cartoon Studies weren't moving much of anything sales-wise I hear, but were having a great time nonetheless (although probably not looking forward to the 17-hour drive home).

The Josh Latta/Brad McGinty/Pat Lewis wing of Indie Island likewise wasn't doing a ton of business either I think.

As for me, I believe I sold something in the area of 35 or so "real" books, and maybe the same number of minicomics. I'd say dollar-wise that this is a bit lower than I'd hoped for given the truly spectacular guest list and the crowd I imagined it would draw. On the other hand, I sold a small handful of original art pieces and picked up one fairly lucrative commission, which makes this year's bottom line for me the best of any year I've been to Heroes... and better than any SPX I've ever done. (Not the "bottom line" is really my main concern at these things anyway...)

Besides the challenges of doing what amounts to a small press show inside a mainstream superhero-oriented show, it should probably be noted that the economy is in really poor shape, and I think people just didn't have a whole lot of money to spend.

Also, I wasn't alone in noting the number of people who came to the show with indie folks' books in-hand, having already bought them somewhere else. A sign perhaps that with the rise in popularity of GNs, one no longer needs to seek out these books directly from their creators at conventions?

Dustin Harbin

Haw! I TOLD you guys you'd need longer! Let's see if I can find the e-mail... ah yes: "Two hours is plenty of time I think, even with the short break in-between. We wanna keep things moving along at a decent clip for the Kurtzman portion and then pretty much the entire second half is the Feldstein panel." This from Ben. I believe there was talk of a cake as well?

RE: Indie Sales. This is a question I'll be answering a lot, as so far it's the only real downside to the convention. Which normally would be GREAT, except that Indie Island is all me, so obviously I want it to really perform well. Ben is right that that AdHouse and Top Shelf did pretty well, but they've been here every year for years and years and years. Top Shelf was exhibiting here years before there was ever an Indie Island at all, so fans around here recognize Chris and Rob and Andy and are always coming back to see what's new. I think that if I can trick some of these newer faces back, they'll see a rise in sales with each trip. Not to mention that as Indie Island itself matures and has more of a national reputation, more and more people will come to HeroesCon purely for that, and the mix on the floor will be more even.

The biggest thing I can say is that I suspect that 75% of indie comics readers started out as superhero comics readers. I certainly did. It's not like one day a light goes off and you're into Huizenga all of a sudden. I'm taking a long view here, which is tricky since we don't have any money, but anyone who's been coming to Indie Island since the first one in 2005 can tell you how much it's grown in that time, which is hugely encouraging to me.

I hate that I missed the EC panels, but I heard from a lot of people that they were HUGELY entertaining. Thanks so much for being a part of them, Craig--let me know if you want to do anything for next year's show: you guys have got great ideas, and apparently know a ton of stuff about comics!

Ben Towle

I'd agree with Dustin's assessment of the indie sales issue... and the idea that in the long-term, getting indie folks to come every year is the key to sales. Certainly the fact that _I_ was selling more stuff than, say, the far more well-known Kevin Huizenga can really ONLY be explained by the fact that I've been a presence at the show for several years and that I've built a bit of a "usual crowd" of interested folks who come to see me every year.

Patrick Dean

The Kurtzman panel was great. While I had read some Mad stories from the comic-sized era earlier, I didn't read the 3-D story until college.

My God, what did Darwyn Cooke and Guy Davis say to that guy's mother?

And was I the only one there giddy to see both Brian Lee O'Malley and Herb Trimpe?

Craig Fischer

Thanks to Ben and Dustin for the frank talk about Indie Island sales. I agree that building the audience for alt-comix is a slow, almost generational process, and I also agree with Dustin that superhero readers can sometimes mutate (like a caterpillar into a butterfly?) into indie comix fans. That was my path too: I saw a superheroine holding a baby (?) on the cover of LOVE AND ROCKETS #3 (1982) and there was no going back.

To indie creators: come back for Heroes Con 2009! We love you here in North Carolina! Please?

Patrick: Jesus, how did I miss Herb Trimpe? I would've had him sign those nutty issues of HULK that tell a "Moby-Dick-in-outer-space" story...

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