Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WonderCon 2012: Day 1

WonderCon 2012, our first major comic convention! We're still in the process of unpacking and recouping from all the excitement of this year's show, but we wanted to share with everyone an account of our weekend. We met a ton of great people, both comic readers and creators, and can't wait for our next show (which will be the Long Beach Comic Expo on May 12th)!

The weekend started off early on Friday morning. The show wouldn't start until 10:30am and wasn't too far away, but living in Los Angeles we know that you can never overestimate the amount of traffic. So we decided to get up at 6:30am to give us plenty of time to get there and set up. The drive was smooth, we arrived a little after 9:00am and were able to get a great parking space in the garage directly across the street from the convention center.

There was a little confusion trying to get our badges as the convention workers misdirected us twice. When we finally made it into the exhibit hall, it was a pretty cool feeling. I've been to plenty of conventions over the last 5-6 years but this was my first time seeing a show being put together. All the big company booths had workers scrambling around, laying out cables, organizing displays, and unpacking merchandise.

Making our way through the Small Press Area we realized how early we really were. Some tables had been prepped the night before, but only a handful of people were actually there working on their setups. I didn't mind being early though, it's nice having plenty of time to settle in and not have to rush to unpack. We tried different things with our table layout but eventually decided to keep it similar to how we had it for LA Zine Fest.

The doors opened shortly after 10:30am but it was slow at first and didn't really pick up until after lunch. We spent most of the day at the table, but got to meet some creators at the surrounding tables: Fon Davis (writer of Morav), Chris & Phil of the Vigilante Project, and Brian of Zombie Outlaw. There were a few no shows at the tables in our aisle and unfortunately I think that really hurt the foot traffic. People walking past the ends of the aisle would see little activity therefore have less interest in checking out the tables. It's almost human instinct to do what the cool kids are doing, and if no one is doing it, well, then it's not cool.

Later in the day, Jared and I attended the comic creator connection while Giulie watched the table. The creator connection is essentially speed dating for aspiring writers and artists. You meet in 5 minute sessions then move onto the next person, working your way down the line for 2 hours. This is my third time participating (after San Diego and A.P.E. last year), but first time without having a specific project I was trying to match with an artist. I'm already working with artists in my next two short stories, so I went in with the intention of just meeting possible artists for projects I'm still planning out. There were a lot of good artists in the room, but it was pretty tiring doing it for two hours. Exhausted, we headed back to the table for the rest of the day.

The show floor closed its doors at 7:00pm. This being our first time tabling at a multi-day show, we were a little unsure how much of our table we needed to pack up. We decided to take everything off the table and put it into our suitcases, in part because the convention organizers had come around warning us of possible roof leaks from the oncoming rain. They made plastic tarps available to exhibitors and we took them up on the offer, storing our materials underneath and then covering the entire table. In the end, the tarp wasn't necessary as the rain was never really a problem that night. But better to be safe than sorry.... I know, I'm an old man.

With day one complete, we swung by the car to grab our clothes bags before heading over to our hotel, the Hilton (also conveniently nearby). It took some effort to keep from passing out, but we eventually gathered enough energy to hail a cab to make our way over to Downtown Disney. If being tired and hungry hadn't already put me into a bad mood, the fact that the cab driver went the wrong way and charged us twice as much as it should have cost, definitely pushed me over the edge. Then add on the Disney crowds, the long waiting lines, and over priced bad food, the night was pretty much a bust. My lone saving grace was a red velvet cupcake I bought... which ended up being a little dry.

Back at the hotel, exhaustion hit like a ton of bricks. It was an awesome first day, but we still had a long weekend ahead of us. Out like a light, day one was in the (comic)books!

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