The Valentino Family - All Authors

How Far Would Your Fans Travel to Meet With You?

Anticipation

Before the show, fans were lined-up in the lobby, waiting to trade their tickets for wrist bands. Some fans hoped to snag some of the freebies on the tables outside the exhibit hall.

James Holliday, "Seattle's Captain America"
James Holliday, “Seattle’s Captain America”

The Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show recognized they share an audience with this show and had one of the many tables in the lobby near the registration table. (The very narrow product focus of one of their sponsors, PinballBulbs, caught my attention last year.)

At opening time, when the clock struck 10, the show was still waking up. The check-in line had become blessedly short, some of the vendors were still stocking their racks, and some of the artists hadn’t yet arrived. “Artist Alley” saw the artists (“comic guests“) chatting with the early-arrivers, and some of the media guests didn’t even have lines yet.

The Fans Come Out

FabLab Tacoma's booth
FabLab Tacoma’s booth

Everything changed over the next hour. Most of the cosplayers apparently slept-in – or had to spend lots of time getting into their costumes. Some costumes were very elaborate, but some were deceptively simple. One gentleman who arrived shortly after the doors opened was simply dressed in a dark suit. He said people at previous shows (including Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon) have pegged him as representing different characters at different times. Sometimes they think he’s playing one of the suits from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Today someone remarked out loud that they thought he was cosplaying Dr. Phil.

Regardless of how simple or elaborate their costume, if you ask to take their picture, most fans will oblige. In fact, most have a pose, and many even have a catch-phrase they borrow from their namesake character. (Hot Dog Man didn’t have a line, and didn’t have much of a pose, but still: How many business brands would give anything to have fans who actively advertised their products like that?)

The Stars Come Out

Artists and authors lined rows of tables that filled the back half of the main show floor. This kind of show provides a great opportunity to show your work to potential customers – and future fans.

Mark Monlux, adding a personalized drawing to his book.
Mark Monlux, adding a personalized drawing to his book.

This also provided a chance to meet a favorite artist, talk about favorite projects, and perhaps buy a book or drawing right on the spot. Some were even accepting requests right then and there. What’s not to like about having yourself drawn by the same artist that draws your favorite comic character?

Artist Brandon Jerwa, asked how he chooses which shows to attend, shared that “I’ll come for a chair and a sandwich – but no pesto.” More seriously, he added “I love when fans come to shows to see me… pulling a wagon of things for me to sign.”

Some fans travel long distances to meet their favorites. Brandon downplayed an example of one such traveler: “A few years back, I was a guest at a big G.I. Joe celebration, on July 4th at Disney World in Orlando. This very nervous young man came up to my table and said that he had traveled from Colorado specifically for the chance to meet me. I was flabbergasted, because I think we all know that I’m not worth the trip. On the other hand, I’m sure the added bonus of Disney World was decent enough to justify his decision.”

Wrap Time

An hour before closing time, a few of the artists and exhibitors had closed-up shop, but most were still talking with fans and customers. There was already talk of “next year.”

The Jet City Comic Show bills itself as “A Back to Basics Comic Show.” They must be doing something right: The fans keep coming, and they’re adding a day to the show next year.

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