Well, I just got back from my first artist alley exhibitor appearance of the year at Tulare Science Fiction Convention this past weekend (which happens to be my first appearance at this two-year old show), and boy..........................DID I HAVE A BLAST! I'm sure you thought I'd just use that classic punchline about being exhausted-----well, I was exhausted too, but my overall satisfaction of this show completely overrides my fatigue. While the event offered free tables to artists, it was still quite the gamble to take, given the remote location of the convention (Tulare, California, a small town between Bakersfield and Fresno), but luckily that gamble paid off. Why was it so great? and what did I like about it? Well, let's review.
Before I begin my exhibitor's review of this show, I have to send a very special thanks to friend and fellow artist alley vendor Paul Jamison of superheronetwork.com, for inviting me to ride with him to the show and crash at his hotel. My Jetta wasn't in the best condition for the trip, nor did I have much disposable income for lodging. Now onto the show: Given the lack of signage and extra promotion, I was pleasantly surprised at how many people showed up for both days. Not only that, but because this was an area starving for comic conventions (among other events), it was a very appreciative crowd. Many of the customers I interacted with would return to purchase my merchandise as promised, if they didn't have money on them at the time or if they wanted to purchase other items first. That's something you definitely don't get at the bigger shows. I was also shocked at how many customers picked up the first issue of my "Cosmic Force" series, since it's usually a poor seller at shows such as Wondercon and Long Beach Comic Con. I actually sold more issues of "Cosmic Force" than my usual big seller "Damn Tourists" (though this was only by one). One person purchased the first two issues of my "Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose" series, which I thought would be the most popular of the three at a show with a family crowd. Just goes to show you that sometimes you just can't tell what people want, which is one of the reasons why I write and illustrate three different books. The show ended with yours truly being interviewed by a reporter for the Tulare Times on my experience at the convention. Just one of those things that happens at these shows that you don't see coming, but you're sure glad they happened.
So, is this a show I'd exhibit at again? HELL YEAH! All they need to improve on is better promotion, some signage (I'm looking in your direction too Central Coast Comic Con), and keep it a two day event. Too many new comic conventions seem to over-extend themselves when it comes to show dates. Unless you've built up a rapidly growing fan base like a Wondercon, there's no need to add another day. With that being said, I look forward to next year's show even if they start charging for tables at that point. Based off of this year, the experience would still be worth it.