So it’s 2014, now. Has been for almost a month. And yet, we still haven’t finished wrapping up our reports on our Convention Tour of 2013. Gosh! This super-secretish Random House project of ours has really devoured our time. It’ll be worth it when you get to start seeing some of what we’re up to, but in the meantime it’s just a lot of silence from us. Anyway, let’s get back into the groove with a look back at New York Comic Con 2013!This was some sort of outdoor art installation thing. Neat place to stumble on in the middle of the night.Sokka by Comfort and AdamCouple as Jorah and Daenerys by ComfortNaruto & Hinata by Comfort and Adam
Our trip to New York actually began with a brief overnight stay in Philadelphia with Bryan and Judy Glass. We’d started them on season 3 of Game of Thrones, and made them wait for us to come back and watch the final two episodes with them. It was a grand, gut-wrenching, TV-shouting-at kind of night. We ate pizza, we commiserated over the big finale, and had a nice, relaxing evening before our trip north. Pleasantly, the trip to New York City from Philadelphia isn’t far, and allowed us to skip some of the more harrowing traffic paths. We actually showed up more or less on time and stress-free.
We were staying the weekend with our friends and Rainbow in the Dark editorial twosome Ian Levenstein and Kris Naudus in Brooklyn. Appropriately, the New Yorkiest people we know are also our couch-crash destination in the Big Apple. It seems like every year we have a big agenda for the New York trip, and this year it was the promotion of the release of the Rainbow in the Dark omnibus. It was out in the Diamond Previews catalogue, and we were in the heart of one of the greatest comic communities in the country. We spent Wednesday going on a comic shop tour of NYC, pitching our wares and trying to get some people excited.11th Doctor by AdamSomeone's Boyfriend as Daryl from The Walking Dead by ComfortChronos by Adam
Shikamaru and Temari by Comfort and Adam
Pitching yourself to strangers isn’t easy. It isn’t really fun
either, since you’re trying to find the best way to commoditize yourself. There’s something inherently uncomfortable in that proposition. Thankfully, all the people we talked to were open, friendly, and pretty laid back. It took a lot of weight off what could have been a stressful day. We had a lot of fun along the way, too - there are some awesome comic stores in that city! Be appropriately jealous, most of America. Also: amazing food. We never don’t eat well when we go to New York. Again... appropriately jealous.
Thursday was setup and preview night. When the subway stop near Kris and Ian’s place was unavailable, we took a cab into Manhattan. Despite the cost, this was actually preferable to us. At the moment, there isn’t a subway stop anywhere close to the convention center, and we’re hauling a lot of heavy bags full of our table gear. Having a cab drop us at the corner left us with a lot more energy and a lot less stress as we started the first night.
Preview night was actually quite busy this year. Last year it was mostly dead, but we did a lot of business this time around. We suspect a combination of people knowing where Artist Alley was this time, and the con selling one-day tickets for Thursday night (when all other tickets were sold out) led to the increase. We had no complaints, other than how unbelievably awful the pretzels were that we got in the alley. Jehosaphat, but those were some rotten, twisty breads! Comfort spent nearly the whole night out talking to dealers in the other hall, trying to pitch them on Rainbow in the Dark while Adam worked the table alone. It was exhausting for both of us, and a reminder of why we do everything together. Having to do this job on your own would be really, really difficult.
We got out late and grabbed burgers at Shake Shack. (Stuffed, fried mushroom burger? Yes, please.) Then it was back to the apartment for a little work and some sleep. At this point in the trip, we weren’t doing that bad, exhaustion-wise. We were actually feeling pretty good when we got up the next morning, and were thinking maybe the weariness we felt the previous year was a fluke. We would turn out to be wrong, but that’s for a little later.Grabbing burgers with Kris and IanBellatrix LeStrange by ComfortDragon Age Commander Shepard and Miranda by AdamHarley Quinn Sketch Cover by ComfortSuccubus by Adam
Friday was a long, busy day. For most, it was their first day. We racked up quite a few commissions, which was a nice surprise. Our book sales were looking up from last year, too, which was nice. Mostly, we were just happy to be working the table together after having to do long stretches of solo jobs the day before. We don’t like doing things without each other, because we’re big saps.
After another late night and some delicious vegetarian sammiches, we took the subway to the apartment and worked until we couldn’t anymore. It was really late, and some fatigue was starting to settle in. A combination of the late hour the con ended, the time it took to get food every night, and the subway ride home, we wouldn’t get back to Kris and Ian’s place until 11-12 almost all weekend. And then, we’d have to stay up longer to finish sketches, and get up really early to catch the subway and walk the long way to the convention center.
By the time we got to the con Saturday, we were starting to feel that weariness we’d hoped had been a fluke. It was certainly a busy day, but turned out to be manageable. A change in how the con was run this year was the inclusion of swipe-badges. Each pass had an ID chip in it, and you had to swipe it when you entered and exited the show. It was intended to cut down on people sneaking in or using badge treachery to fool staff. We were concerned there would be terrible bottlenecks and lines, but there weren’t. Maybe it was a miracle, but it all seemed to run really smoothly. And when we found out one estimate of just how many people had snuck into the show last year, we figured out why this year seemed so much more manageable despite having higher on-the-books attendance.Pin-Up Girl in an R2-D2 Dress by AdamGirl as Firefly's Kaylee by ComfortOC Stalker by AdamOC by Comfort
The result was a busy, but not madness-inducing, Saturday. The New York rules held true: modest print sales for a show of its size, low book sales compared to other cons, and solid commissions. It was going to be a good weekend, but not anything to blow the hinges off our ledgers.
Saturday night we finally got to go out with some of our other friends in town. NYCC is such a busy show with so many major events, and it can be very hard to find a place to eat with a large group. Those things together make it tough to get time with all the people you might want to, and we certainly had that trouble this year. But the night was a lot of fun, and we got to relax and catch up with people. The food was great Italian fare, and there was a creepy kid on a DS in the basement watching people going in and out of the bathroom. So, you know. That was a thing.
After dinner we all headed over to JHU (formerly Jim Hanley’s Universe) for the release party for Jamal Igle’s new creator owned book, Molly Danger! It was really fun, although as usual we were swamped with sketches and spent most of the time tucked away in a back corner of the room drawing. Such is our way.Sitting in JHU working on commissions. We're boring at parties. Green Lantern sketch card by Adam; Captain America and Patriot sketch cards by ComfortWonder Woman sketch cover by Adam
By the time we got back to the apartment we were feeling pretty beat. More work got done, but our hearts were barely in it. By Sunday morning, we were running on empty. We were sore, tired, and mentally drained. One more day, we kept telling ourselves. Just one more day. Make it happen!
We managed to drag ourselves into the convention center Sunday morning and muster up the energy to stay happy and smiling all day. NYCC was a mildly unusual show in that there was pretty steady business every day. Usually, one day (typically Saturday) will be your biggest sales day, another (probably Friday) will be pretty weak, and the last day is somewhere in the middle. New York was the same general amount of business all weekend. We even got more commissions up to the last moment we could safely accept and complete them before show’s end. It wasn’t bad.
It wasn’t overwhelming, though, and for a show that’s as stressful at times and hectic and hard to get into and expensive to exhibit at... you really expect it to be a bigger windfall. We do shows that aren’t half as taxing on us that make as much or more money than we do at NYCC. As we were cleaning up after the end of the show on Sunday, we joked with each other that there’s no other convention where we work this hard for this little. It doesn’t mean we did poorly
, just that you would expect gangbusters from such a high-profile, high-intensity con. New York is a good convention, and we love going, we love the people…but it ain’t gangbusters financially speaking.Superman/Batman Sketch Cover by AdamSuperman and Faora by ComfortSuperman Sketch Cover by AdamAnime Characters in Loooove by Comfort and Adam
But then, we always seem to have other big business to do in the city that makes up for it. In 2012, we had a meeting that helped land our super-secret Random House project. This time, it was promoting Rainbow in the Dark to the comic shops in town. Rainbow blew the hinges off its pre-order minimums, and part of that certainly came from us being able to shake hands and meet people face-to-face. It was good for us professionally and for our business even if we didn’t earn googly-eyed amounts of money.
We didn’t call a cab to get back this time, so we were hauling our big, bulky bags all the way back through the city and on the subway to get them to Kris and Ian’s place. We had help--Ian had to carry his own stuff (he was representing his podcast Comic Timing at the show), but Kris and our friend Marvin each took up a bit of the burden. It made it much easier, but honestly we were all so tired by that point that we don’t think it would have mattered how much we had to carry.Gambit by Adam9th Doctor and Rose by ComfortPolaris by AdamFan as Batman by ComfortFan as Green Lantern by Adam
We hung out at the apartment for a bit, ordering a really nice pizza while we waited for traffic to cool off before hitting the road. We’re really thankful for Kris and Ian; they’re incredibly gracious and helpful, they take amazing care of us when we visit their city, and we always have a great time in their company. We hope everybody out there has a Kris and Ian in their lives. Not ours, obviously, because they’ve only got so much time and they’ve gotta work for a living, but friends like
We drove that night with our good buddy Marvin to his place to rest for the night, then finished our trip home in the morning. We wish we could say we slept for days, but we didn’t have time. We had to kick our pre-order push for Rainbow into a higher gear, and we had a lot of other work on our plate that needed attending to. It would be late November before we could take a day off, and one day was all we got because our Random House deadline was looming.
All that and two more conventions to go. We’ll tell you how they went next time.
Until then, we remain-
Comfort & Adam