Comics Art LA Recap LA's new fest starts with a bang.
As I stepped into the gallery where Comic Arts LA was being held this past Saturday, the mood was incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Natural light flooded the room, bathing the empty white walls and tables with an otherworldly glow. The air was full of quiet possibility.
I, on the other hand, was a wreck. I was about to premiere my new comic book and be an exhibitor at a convention for the first time ever. I was feeling anxious, wondering would I sell any books, would I meet anyone cool, would people spot me as a newbie a mile away?
My fears were soon abated when I met a few of the other exhibitors. They were all super talented, and we had tons of stuff in common, like experience drawing caricatures (Rachel Dukes) and a love for West Wing (Ellen T. Crenshaw). There was even another first-time exhibitor like me (Andrea Bell)!
By the end of the day, I’d met some great people (not to mention one of my heroes, Scott McCloud), had a blast, and was super grateful to have sold about 75 copies of my first book. I’d chalk that up as a massive success.
Here are the big things I learned:
- Friends rule, people are nice.
The first folks to show up at my table were my friends Rom, Rachel, Crystal, Luke and Logan. It was so great to kick off the show with familiar faces! Thanks to everyone who stopped by – it really made the event fun. Secondly, every new person I met was super nice and excited to be there. The place was filled with a positive vibe, and the attendees were a huge part of this. The enthusiasm for the artform was palpable!
- Exhibiting is an art: hard sell vs. laid back
I wasn’t sure what technique is best for engaging the attendees. Do I sit quietly until spoken to? Do I turn up the hustle like a carnival promoter? Turns out I tend a little more towards the latter (without being insincere, hopefully). I really enjoyed handing out my “magical” stickers and candy to the folks that strolled by, striking up conversations about my comic and finding out what they were into. I met curious film industry types, green-haired rocker chicks, animation students, even a couple on date night who just happened to stumble upon the convention. Connecting with new folks was one of the highlights of the day.
- Being on for 8 hours is hell
I got a ton of energy from all the interactions, but by the end of the day, I was completely fried! I underestimated how taxing eight hours of engaging can be. On the positive side, the venue was so full that I barely had time to eat more than a bite of trail mix or a swig of water before there were new people to engage.
- But totally worth it
Towards the end of the day, someone asked me how the experience had been. I said that while I have literally no prior exhibiting experience to compare it with, I was confident that it would end up being a pinnacle experience in my artistic career. Finishing my first comic and then sharing it with such an enthusiastically receptive public was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time.
All in all, CALA was a great con and I cannot recommend it more highly. The organizers are on point, the volunteers were awesome, the crowd is incredibly diverse (for both exhibitors and attendees), and attendance was through the roof! I couldn’t be more thrilled that my comic is now in the world, and that the inaugural CALA was the place I launched it from.
If you’re interested in learning more about my comic or joining me on my journey, sign up for my mailing list, or click the “comics” tab above to check out some of the early chapters of my book.
Exhibiting at CALA Inaugural Year!
I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be exhibiting at Comic Arts Los Angeles this year. It's the inaugural year for this festival, and my first time exhibiting at a con. To say I'm excited would be an understatement! I'll have an announcement about what I'll be selling in a few days, but for now, here's a map of where I'll be sitting, and more info on the date and time. If you're anywhere near LA next Saturday, it'd be great to see you there!
A convention of independent comic artists.
Saturday, December 6th - 10am to 6pm
Think Tank Gallery - 939 Maple Ave. 90015
Free and Open to the Public