A Shop of Ideas: Conventional Wisdom

A Shop of Ideas: Conventions

A well-attended show, this year's MegaCon

Hey Fandom!!! Comic conventions are happening year around now. Everyone seems to be planning to attend his or her closest one, maybe even the big one in San Diego. Many comic shops set up at these conventions and sell their wares. Since we’re the “Shop of Ideas,” we thought we’d report how a shop can sponsor a convention and use this opportunity as an outreach tool to connect with even more comic fans. We have some first hand information on how a comic shop employee can help out a convention. Fans can even get involved as volunteers at most cons; we’ll dish the details on that too.

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“A Comic Shop” is in Orlando, Florida and Orlando’s two big conventions are Megacon and FX International. Both are great shows with twenty-year legacies. Megacon is a comic convention that has grown toward having a heavy anime crowd with costume attendees starting to rival DragonCon. Another local comic shop has a multi-year deal to sponsor that show. This year we were asked to sponsor the FX Show and help out with promoting it the way we promote our store events. The comic guest list this year is incredible, so we agreed to the sponsorship.

FX Show, http://www.fxshow.com

MegaCon, http://www.megaconvention.com/

The FX Show has been growing by leaps and bounds the last three years, especially the comic guest part. Several years ago, Marc Hammond told the show’s main guy that the comic portion of the show was lack luster and the show’s main guy said “if you think you can do better, then do it hotshot.” Marc works for an area comic shop, Acme Superstore, and over the last seven years, he’s developed an awareness and overall sensibility for the comic industry. He’s used his insight and connections to not just go after the top ten comic creators for the show, but to also focus on the new emerging talent. This is Marc’s third year with the FX Show and each year has a greater comic presence. This year the creator’s alley is five times bigger than when he started. If you’re a comic shop employee with some connections and think the convention in your town needs some work instead of complaining about it, see if you can help improve it.

Acme Superstore, http://www.acme-superstore.com/

Avatar Press is their first publisher to set up! This year they’re bringing the artist of Warren Ellis’ Ignition City with an exclusive cover of Ignition City #1 (sold at the cover price). Christos Gage will also be there promoting his new Avatar book; Absolution, and Avatar will break some news when they announce new titles. Marvel will be sending the amazingly talented Jim McCann to run the Marvel panels like Dark Reign, X-men, and Mondo Marvel, as well as sign his own book; New Avengers: Reunion. With Matt Fraction in attendance we might get new information on the upcoming Dark Avengers/X-men war! Newsarama will have coverage of the newsworthy bits with John Siuntres of Word Balloon, Todd Latoski, and maybe even me reporting.

Avatar Press, http://www.avatarpress.com/

Beyond the show room floor we have fun and even charitable events going on. First, we have the Celebrity Poker Tournament going on Friday April 17th after the show to benefit the American Cancer Society. Almost everyone’s life has been touched by this issue. Even if you don’t have a family member or friend with cancer, all comic fans were saddened by the loss of Michael Turner. The card deck being used for the tournament is composed of new art by comic artists, and the originals will be auctioned. The poker game itself is a unique way for fans and our celebrity guests to interact, and it’s for a good cause. Right after the tournament we will have the first ever Orlando Drink and Draw! The premise is simple: fans buy the artists drinks and they draw right there in the bar. Founding members of Drink and Draw will be there, including Dave Johnson. “A Comic Shop” will bring the lighting and ladies. “A Comic Shop” plans to keep Drink and Draw going in Orlando after this, partnering up with a local art gallery, art supplies store, and, of course, a place with alcohol. Saturday night’s after show events kicks off with James Marsters (Spike) performing live with his band. After that we have the Wolfpack Elite’s after party, starting with me congratulating Billy Tucci and Dan Breretan on fifteen years of Shi and Nocturnals and Joseph Michael Linsner’s twenty years of Dawn. Then it’s a wild Wolfpack party, these guys know how to throw a party. They’re the ones who did this year’s Megacon after party and their DragonCon party gets bigger each year.

Drink and Draw: http://www.drinkanddraw.com/

Celebrity Poker Tournament, http://www.fxshow.com/pages/poker.html

Volunteering for a convention can get you in for free to most shows. You can go to any show’s website to find information on how to volunteer. One thing to keep in mind is when you’re putting in your time watching the door, or doing crowd control; you have to be a professional. Volunteering isn’t just to get in free and have access to the guests; you have a job to do to make everything run smoothly. Many actual staff members for conventions were once volunteer that shined. Plus, I’ve heard that volunteering is sometimes the only way to get into San Diego Comic Con as it sells out quickly. A good reference about your volunteer efforts at a local convention could get you bumped to the front of the list for San Diego! There’s just something cool about being part of a convention in an official way, so if it interests you check it out!

Sponsoring a convention has been beneficial to us, and we think any comic retailer close to a convention should consider sponsoring. We’ve made new connections, developed new talents, and tried new things. Sponsoring a well attended convention isn’t a spectators’ sport. If you’re just paying to have your logo on things or setup a booth to sell overstock and back issues then you’re missing a big opportunity. Conventions are a chance for you to gain the attention of and entertain the people that like this genre-fiction stuff enough to pay to get in the door. Those same people might not know about your store or what new products you have to offer every freaking Wednesday. So think about what you can do with, or at a local convention. If you decide to become a sponsor or be part of a convention after-party let us know. As always we’re the “Shop of Ideas” and we want to share our ideas with you!

Courtesy of the FX Show, “A Comic Shop” is hosting Thor artist Olivier Coipel at the shop Wednesday April 15th from 4 to 8pm. FX Show is flying Olivier in from France and were kind enough to let us host a free signing the Wednesday before the big show. Tickets for the FX Show will be sold at the shop that day. It’s a great kick off the FX Show fun. To see Matt Fraction, Jim McCann, and the other hundred or so guests you’ll have to go to the real thing! We hope see you at the FX Show this year, and think about getting involved with the convention nearest you.

RSVP (Facebook), Olivier Coipel

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=54693777953

aaron@acomicshop.com or jason@acomicshop.com

“A Comic Shop” is located at 114 S. Semoran Blvd Winter Park, FL 32792 (407) 332-9636. Established: 2006

http://www.acomicshop.com

Get Caught Up:

A Shop of Ideas: How to Host a Successful Signing

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Epilogue 

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 5, Future Vision 

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Part 4, Creativity Counts 

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Part 3, Format Neutral Story Advocates

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Part 2, My Free Comic Book Day

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 1, NO MORE BACK ISSUES

A Shop of Ideas: Holiday Hullabaloo

A Shop of Ideas: Life at A Comic Shop 

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