Since I just posted a nice long journal of Aiden meeting Todd Nauck, I felt like I should mention another encounter. I am so proud of my son. Not only is he extremely talented, amazingly intelligent as well as being a good looking young man, he is courteous, genuine and respectful as well. At the CincyCon earlier in the month, while I was at my table watching people walk by, Aiden looked around. Before the con, he asked me who was going to be there. When I told him Dave Johnson was going to be there, he said "He did Red Son didn't he. " I told him yes. But that that Mr. Johnson also had one big connection to Aiden he didn't know. He designed all the original BEN 10 cartoon characters/aliens. To give a little back info, Aiden was the exact age and kid that show was aimed at when it came out. He devoured every second of that cartoon. We bought the toys. He drew the characters. It was his life for years. Even at the too cool age of 15, I could see what the idea of meeting the person that came up with the visuals was doing for him.
He had some money in his pocket walking around. I figured he'd buy books with it. I didn't know he intended on asking Mr. Johnson for a Ben 10 character commission. When he came back to the table he was smiling ear to ear. After talking with Mr. Johnson and conveying what the characters meant to him, he asked for a commission. Mr. Johnson agreed to do him a Ben 10 sketch. And he did it for free. Now he was working that con. He could have charged Aiden whatever and if he had enough Aiden would have paid it gratefully. But no. This man did something so nice and drew my son something that meant something to him for free.
That's why I love comics and the creators behind them. Thank you Mr. Dave Johnson.
Returned to the Cincinnati Comic Expo this past weekend. After meeting Darwyn Cooke last year, I wasn't too sure if we were going to return there due to the crowds. Especially after two cons at the top of the month where we actually shopped the book at. I was way too late to get a table at the Expo, so we were just spectators. Decided to go on a Sunday with the hopes of a smaller crowd. Wrong there. And then on top of that, there was a Bengals game going on that made parking interesting. So probably won't do that again.
One of the reasons we decided to go was Aiden wanted to see Todd Nauck. Young Justice was one of the first series he ever read and Mr. Nauck is a favorite of both of ours. For months, I'd make a stance about not wanting to go through those crowds again. But seeing Todd's face on the website one weekend, made me wonder if I should ask Aiden or not. He played it off cool. He knew my feelings on the Expo. Every now and then though he'd ask me if I thought about going to see Todd Nauck at the Expo. Finally I just asked him, do you want to go and if you do, I'll let you make the call. When he answered so quick (he never does that, takes forever to get any answer out of him), I knew we were going.
Let me tell you, it was absolutely worth it. Despite: I was right in the middle of a cold and not feeling well. 3 hours there. Crazy football fans. Crowded aisles. And the little bit of fear that a weekend working a con would have made Todd a little weary and that he may not live up to Aiden's expectations went out the door as soon as we met him. He greeted all of us, made us very backward and shy guys feel comfortable. He and Aiden talked. We were part of the conversation as well. Todd is a great guy. He's every bit the nice, helpful guy you see on his Youtube channel and then more. Our only reason for being there exceeded everything we expected and more. When Aiden asked about a commission, he told him that he was only doing quick sketches but they were free. He headed off to lunch but told us if we were there when he got back he'd do it for Aiden.
We walked around a bit. I got to meet and shake Tony Harris' hand. I am a huge fan and Staman/Jack Knight is one of my all time favorites. Couldn't afford much on his table, but did get a Jack Knight print. Tony was so nice and welcoming of comments and he signed some of his comics for me.
We got back to Todd's table we talked to his wife (who was just as nice). She told us he was going to make a point to make Aiden's sketch the last one of his day. What Todd considered a quick sketch was something that would take me hours just in thinking about it. And to be honest, there wasn't that much different that the drawings he was charging for. I think Aiden's head is still in the clouds.
While we were talking to Todd, he did ask Aiden if he drew. Aiden said yes, of course. But didn't have anything to show him. What my son didn't know is I brought a book with us that had his pinups in the back. I brought the book to give to a publisher up there (yes, I'm thinking about shopping it around, that's for another blog). But when I went around that publisher's table, I guess I either chickened out, or felt they probably would take the book at face value as just a mask book and not be interested. When we went back to Todd's table for the sketch I told Aiden about it. He was too nervous about showing him. But by the end of the sketch, he asked me if he should so. I told him absolutely. Todd reacted so nice seeing all his illustrations. I was never so glad I put so many in the book.
As he was handing the book back to me, I did something I couldn't believe, I asked him if he'd like to keep it. He took it. I think at first he felt I was trying to help pay for the free sketch. But no, I wanted him to have it purely because, while he isn't on my somewhat medium sized inspiration list in the book (it would have taken pages if I really put everyone), he is there in my head. He was so cool about taking it. He even asked us to sign it, which was weird considering we were nobodies to a guy that's drawn a pantheon of the greatest fictional characters ever.
I am so appreciative of Todd for making Aiden's Comic Expo so great. And in doing so, made it so much better for me also. While we have continued to buy his books over the years, they will now have a more special meaning behind them. Thank you Todd!
Well, they're over. Both Ashland Highlanders Herocon and Cincy Comicon are in the rearview mirror. I wish I could tell you they were rousing successes. But the truth is somewhere a little lower than my expectations.
Don't get me wrong. I had a great time at both. Got to see some friends. Got to look at a lot of different comics. But the books weren't flying off my table.
I kind of expected that.
As far as the Ashland Con goes, I did better than most there. Got to sell some art, Did my first commission. But the con itself was flawed. It was a fundraiser for the Museum and that's what its intention was. I don't think they advertised it as well as they did last year. I didn't see anyone who bought off me last year which was something I was expecting. I didn't expect the same amount of sales. I'm sure some who bought it may not have liked it enough to buy the conclusion. I can respect that. Traffic was way down from last year. Throughout the con, excuses kept coming in for the low turnout. I had a few myself. But whatever the reason, it was what it was. My hope it that the organizers need to understand you just can't say you're doing a con and expect a good turnout. Those that pay for tables are not only paying for the space, but putting in our time to make a nice show. When there's not enough feet on the floor, you can't expect us to return. Something I'm considering and I know three other exhibitors are not returning.
Cincy Comicon was another story. This was a big con with a lot of comic buying people in attendance. But the amount of competition there was intense. Most cons you have a 50/50 split of comic retailers and self publishers/artists on the main floor (not even factoring in the pros who were also there taking money). Here there was at least a 75/25 split with the majority being creators. That's a lot to decide where your money goes. I understand. I'm on the other side of the table too. But I was hopeful that my 110 page full story would have attracted more readers. Truth of the matter is, those that stopped were both cordial and complimentary. A purchase was made. But on the whole, my table was passed over for whatever reason. Thought I had a nice setup. MOst of my friends were baffled why I didn't have more business. I was happy though. The very fact I made it to a con like that with this project made me happy. It was my accomplishment. My book wasn't refused because those that opened it didn't like it. I was just simply left on the shelf without consideration. That's not failure. That's just a missed opportunity. Something I hope I can figure out as more conventions come my way.
One good thing that came out of the cons is I've decided to open up to commissions. Made a lot of art in preparation for the conventions and had a good time with it. Also made me a little more secure with it. And to also get my store running. These cons weren't the end of anything, just the beginning.
Went another long spell between posts. Sorry about that. Had football programs to get done. Work now, play later kind of time for me right now. But, since there's a new round of conventions, and the first I'll be showing the whole book at, I've used every spare moment to plan them out.
To commemorate them, my table is going to look more professional. In the past, I was just there. Mostly like a deer in headlights, I'd sit there and be very happy for any interest but also kind of sad I wasn't selling the whole story.
I can't say that now. I'll have all new full color prints (of my characters and my book only) that you can pickup to help support the book. Little less the teasers of the past prints I've had on the table, and more about the book. There's one I'm very proud of (not that I'm not of the others). Can't wait to display it.
And for the first time, I'm going to have one of a kind original art on the table also. In addition to art from the book (which isn't for sale), I will have art I've been doing with the express reason of selling. These are a range of sketch card art to letter size single full figures inked, to a couple of 11x17 full size inked art. I've put a lot of time into the art, mainly because I'm not very quick with the art so I can't do a lot of commissions during the hours of the con. So I did these pre show pieces to have full stock to choose from. If you're at any of the cons I'll be at, flip through and help me keep this book going.
Below is an example of a single figure. This image will also be in the book with other art for sale.
Also, Ashland Highlanders HeroesCon attendees from last year, don't forget I will have a special 48 page comic that finishes the EMERGING FROM THE SHADOW story began in the SPECIAL EDITION (combo of parts one and two) version you bought last year. This is the only con I will be selling this version at as a thank you to all those that bought the SPECIAL EDITION. Afterwards, I will only be selling the 110 page Graphic Novel. If you attended Huntington's Tristate Comicon last year and bought those two parts from me, this is the conclusion you're after. This book is only $7 and you get a free print. Think about it. You get a certain mainstream company's book with 20 pages of story for $4. This last part is over twice that page count and not even double their price for two books.
Sales pitch done.
Hope to see you at the con!
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.