After SPX 2010, I did a rather long case study of the event going over what I learned and how I approached the convention. As the 2011 con season is already gearing up, I thought I’d do something similar with Katsucon 2011 which goes from February 18th to 20th. Now this isn’t technically a report since the con isn’t until February. But I thought I’d share some thoughts about what I’m thinking for this upcoming show.
I’ve been going to anime conventions since 2000 as an attendee, alley artist, guest, and staff so I’ve seen anime cons from all different angles. Anime cons have a weird sort of relationship with webcomics. When the scene was in its infancy, anime cons helped cultivate the young webcomics culture. They regarded us as like-minded oddities in need of a friendly haven to grow and prosper. Now that the scene has grown and everyone and their aunt on their father’s side has a webcomic, anime cons are more skeptical of us. It’s rare to see webcartoonists on any anime con guest list which is why Katsucon is a diamond in the rough for us. Each year, they have a section in their programming and guest list specifically for webcomics. The love is well appreciated. And it’s nice to see them remembering their roots. After all, Katsucon was co-founded by a webcartoonist. So here’s what I’ve got on the Katsu:
- The Artist Alley, Dealer Room Lite
The Artist Alley is now really Dealer Room Lite. I mean, sure, the Alley has always been the venue for artists to sell their work, maybe pick up a few commissions, show of their portfolio. But the emphasis has sort of shifted from unique art to crass commercialization. Everyone has these big, ugly ass PVC banners to display their latest prints. Everyone has pins or stickers or bookmarks. It’s all very much sell sell sell. This leads to the next item.
- The Draw of Fanart
Because the Alley has become so commercial, artists now cater their work to popular taste. Fanart is the easiest way to close a sale. Now some cons have instituted rules to curb the rampant fanart, but on the whole, it’s becoming increasingly rare to see original, creator owned works. The kiddies aren’t looking for new works. Their looking for their Narutos, Pokemons, Full Metal Alchemists, or whatever the hell the kids are watching these days.
It’s not impossible to sell original works at the anime con. But it helps to be popular. Celebrity goes a long way at the anime con. The kids go for what they know and if they know you, you’ll go far. Fortunately, anime con popularity isn’t necessarily the same as mainstream popularity. You can gain popularity just by being at the con year after year or hosting the greatest live art competition in the known universe or running a really good panel. You can crack the anime con popularity game with some hot blooded hard work.
- Wheelin’ and Dealin’
It’s more than possible to make a good buck in the Artist Alley, especially now that the kids are used to everyone and their uncle trying to sell them shit. But the real money is in the Dealer’s Room. Kids spend months saving up their cash to specifically blow it all in the Dealer’s Room. There’s money in them than halls. The trick is getting there. If you have the fortune of being invited as a guest, you may get a free Dealer Room table. If not, you will have to pay and they are not cheap. The cost differential between an Alley table and a Dealer table is quite large. So yeah, the Dealer room is where the money is, but it’s takes money to make money. And the popularity rule still applies, sometimes even more so.
SUPAH ART FAITO!!!!
Because I’m rolling with the Super Art Fight crew, I’ll be in the Dealer’s Room. I doubt I would have been able to afford to be down there if I wasn’t a guest of the con. We’ve got a block of tables down there which will be nice. We’ll be able to draw on each other’s strengths when it comes to tabling. We’ll also have people to watch our stuff when we need to take those much needed pee and wash-your-hands-with-hot-water-and-all-the-soap breaks.
Last year I got to face off against one of my absolute favorite artists, Jo Chen, in the final Super Art Fight bout. She kicked my ass, butt good. Her creepy clown still haunts my dreams. But I had such a great time. That’s actually the best part of conventions, meeting fellow artists. I got to pick her brain about the way she creates some of her most iconic images. Totally inspiring. This year if things work out the way we hope, I will be facing off against another one of my art heroes. Turns out I went to the same college! Of course, we all know who’s got an exclusive contract with Marvel and who’s dicking around on the interwebs. Man, I hope this works out. It should be a mess of fun!
Dah Soich Fah Moa Moneh
I’ll be bringing all the stuff I brought with me to SPX. I’ve got some Pandoom minis that need homes. Mini comics don’t do so well at an anime con, but it doesn’t hurt to take them along. I will have to get some more Totoro Daruma buttons made. Those were the best sellers at SPX which kind of surprised me and at an anime con, they should do fairly well. Buttons in general do very well at anime cons. Buttons with Totoro on them, well my friend, you best make a shit ton of them. I’ll be bringing my two prints which may or may not do so well. That’s all the old stuff.
New stuff, I’m not sure. Steve suggested that I do some print runs of the badge art I did for the con. I’ve got some left over Puppy Cow post cards that could be fun. I’m working with Jim on some Lurvaruma pendants which I hope will be ready for Katsu. Shirts do well at the anime con and of all the designs I’ve got, I think the Panda shirt might be good to bring along (Although, I think Dave might be there anyway so they’ll be at his booth. We’ll see). And there’s the possibility that a certain Puppy with a Cow Udder may be in my possession by the time the con rolls around. I’ll confirm early February just what the hell I’m bringing with me to the con. But I want to get a variety of stuff out there for the kiddies to pick over.
The con is more than a month away and I’m already freaking out about this stuff. I’ve never done well with merch, but I think it’s essential for growing ¥P. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m heading for, but who knows. We might get another gigantic snow storm that fucks the entire area and everything could just fall to shit.
If you are planning on hitting up Katsu and if there’s anything specific you’d like to see me bring or make to bring, please drop a line. That’s it for now. I’ll have a proper con report after the actual convention.