Well, here we are at the Orland Park Civic Center in Orland Park, IL, home of the second DanCon comic convention. DanCon was envisioned as a convention for independent comic creators to help them get their stuff out. This year was much bigger than last year. Dan Royer worked hard to make this happen, including a cross promotion with a local radio station, including an appearance by Ben Templesmith and other fun stuff. And how did it work out?
First order of business was prep work, getting the stuff I needed to try and ply my trade. I had plenty of my small press comics and copies of my two short story collections. Eventually, the question of making a sketchbook entered my mind. Lots of artists sell sketchbooks at conventions, from all across the spectrum of talent and popularity. However, that’s other people. I work in cartoony minimalism. NO ONE is going to shell out $20 for a sketchbook of my interpretations of classic characters. Expecting otherwise would be delusional, narcissistic, or both. However, I remembered a Doctor Whooves fancomic I had drawn just for the hell of it (please note: I watch MLP-FiM because it’s cartoony and funny. I’m not a brony and I have no interest in participating in the fandom. I see too many of the same behaviors that chased me away from the anime subculture. Enjoy your community, just leave me out of it). So I printed a few up with the intent of going into my Monty Hall routine as the day went on (“Oi! Who wants to give me a KitKat for this comic?!?”).
I get to the con proper, just as a light snow is falling. What is it about me doing bigger shows and inclement weather hitting? (At DuPage a couple of years ago, the weather forecasters were saying it would be in the 70’s. Instead, temperatures dropped and a snowstorm reduced the attendance to about a quarter of what it usually was.) I start setting up. I’m usually ready to go in ten minutes. But instead, I took my time.
While everyone was getting set up, some people came around to chat. Among them was Tom Stillwell, who provides basic legal advice to small pressers and runs the web site Unscrewed, which tracks small publishers and whether or not they pay their talent on time and as they said.
My moralism about selling the Doctor Whooves comic was apparently rather unique. One person there was selling crocheted plushies (or “knitties”, as my friends and I call them) of Yoda, the Angry Birds, all sorts of stuff.
A few cosplayers turned up as well. One of the things I love about having a table at a con is the cosplayers come to you. The wife of the DanCon organizer has a Phoenix get-up, and another woman was there as Dark Phoenix. They stopped in front of my table, and I asked for a picture of them together. Another guy had a Spider-Man costume. After I got his picture he asked, “I don’t know why I bother smiling for the camera.” I told him I could see it in his eyes, which got a laugh. I also got a Hogwarts student, Nenemsis and Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, a Tigra, a pallet-swapped Link, a Heath Ledger Joker, and two Harley Quinns. I also got a Cobra soldier with a guy behind him giving him bunny ears.
This was the first con I’ve been to where I had to stay at my table to work the crowd. Every other show I’ve done, there’s been some sort of lull in the action or the attendance was small enough that I could slip away and see what else was out there. Not this time. A steady stream of people kept coming in and circulating, meaning I had to stay where I was less I miss some chance to make a sale. I managed to get out for a minute or two to say hi to the folks at Legion Studios and Unshaven Comics, but that was pretty much it until the end.
From my table, I could see the entrance to the creators room. Standing there, looking very dapper in his suit, was Ben Templesmith. And as I looked at him, I couldn’t shake one singular thought – Templesmith looked like he would make a great 12th Doctor. I went up and told him so, and he was fun to talk with. Nice guy.
And now, the con is done, and I’m home again. I did really good today.
Peter G is a comic book writer and small press creator. Besides his work on The Supremacy #1 from 2009, he also wrote and drew the web comic Stress Puppy for Hard Way Studios. He is the author of two short story collections about Hannah Singer, Celestial Advocate (which can be ordered on Amazon), with the third one coming later this year. He also a new comic miniseries, Red Riding Hood, coming soon digitally from Crystal Fractal Comics.