Adventures at SDCC 2013 with Corey Brotherson and the Steampunk Syndicate – Day 2

Join comic creator Corey Brotherson (Magic of MythsClockwork Watch,Stolen, Fight or Flight)  as he gives us a front row seat at the behind the scenes goings on as a UK creator/exhibitor at the biggest geek convention on the planet – San Diego Comic Con.

Day 2

Mornings hurt.

Waking up at 7am after barely 5 hours sleep is certainly not unusual for people attending conventions of any kind, and I’ve done 18-hour days at events like E3 and gamescom, but the slightly lingering jet lag and intense San Diego heat teaming up with being on my feet and selling for hours on end make this experience far more brutal. I’ve a slight headache and my raspy voice makes Christian Bale’s Batman sound like a castrated My Little Pony. Yomi is clearly suffering too – our morning conversation is a mixture of grunts and half sentences. The most either of us can mutter is “shower” and “go”.

But, after the healing power of warm water and fresh clothes have taken their effect, we’re all suited and booted to head out once more unto the breach.


SDCC exhibitor newbie tip #2:

Visit a supermarket before you start the con. Food at the Convention Centre is expensive, although not as limited as other cons. If you’re going to be at a table by yourself, a packed lunch (and maybe dinner, too) is essential. Fruit, bagels/sandwiches, water/juice and protein bars are all great to help push you through the day.

Also, be aware that there are few ‘quiet moments’ for you to snack away from prying eyes. You don’t have to move all of your Henry VIII style banquet from the table, but try to be discreet and be prepared to have an unobtrusive place you can park your food should a customer want to talk or buy something from you while you’re gorging. There’s nothing more off-putting to a punter than accidentally spitting a Cheeto into their eye.


As promised, the show floor is busier than Preview Night. Not overwhelmingly so, but still manic. The first half an hour is almost a carbon copy of the night before, as people start galloping towards the exclusive toys section. The All-Seeing Eye of Comic-Con does not like this. Soon the All-Seeing Eye of Comic-Con declares, in a booming tannoy voice, that there is no running in the Convention Hall. I await bloodthirsty hounds to emerge from the floors and destroy the law-breakers, although there’s no sound of growling and flesh being torn from bone. Clearly this All-Seeing Eye has a lot to learn.

After attending an interesting panel on how small press creators can get coverage for their books (given these blog entries, the irony of this doesn’t escape me) and Yomi impresses at the guest table on the Digital Development and Marketing for Your Digital Comic, Web Series, Game, App or Kickstarter panel, we get into the groove of selling. Clockwork Watch and Magic of Myths are well received, both by people who knew or heard about us before and by total strangers chancing upon our table. Our ‘secret weapons’ – various props including a modelled Clockwork heart and a plush toy version of one of the main characters from Magic of Myths created by the talented Sara Dunkerton – work their charm.


SDCC exhibitor newbie tip #3:

People at American cons LOVE badges (or “buttons”, as they’re called here). Even more so when they’re free. For most of the day, our Clockwork Watch badges were constantly the subject of one question: “are these free?” And when we reply that they’re not, the response was usually a disappointed frown. One guy even cack-handedly stole a badge from our table after I explicitly told him he had to pay. So, if you can afford to get some made, do so.


Artwork is also a big draw, as Jennie Gyllblad’s beautiful watercolours on Clockwork Watch and Sergio Calvet’s dynamic style on Magic of Myths gain plenty of admiring comments even when they don’t lead to sales. And with the large number of cosplayers present, we take any opportunity to grab passers-by for a photo.

That said, wearing tweed meant we were occasionally pulled aside for a few snaps, which was a pleasant surprise. We’re also approached by one gentleman who wants to interview us for his documentary on black creators at Comic-Con. Very cool.


SDCC exhibitor newbie tip #4:

Cosplay is a big part of SDCC. However, you’ll not find many exhibitors dressing up. Naturally, this is partly because standing behind a table trying to sell for 10 hours straight is gruelling enough, but we found that if you dress a bit differently (preferably in theme with what you’re selling) you’re far more likely to grab the attention of potential customers. At the very least, you’ll be memorable. And standing out from the crowd on a personal level is the perfect way to draw someone into taking a look at your books.


Despite the size of the con, there’s a growing ‘family’ feel in the small press area which is very similar to what we’ve experienced at UK conventions. Everyone’s friendly, eager to help and some sales were made by an open willingness to support fellow creators. It really helps push us through the tiring final hours of a marathon day. There’s also the revelation – at least, to me, as Yomi seemed to be aware of this already – that there’s a massive steampunk community in San Diego, which makes Clockwork Watch a far easier sell to many customers. In fact, the superb ‘chap-hop’ rapper Professor Elemental said he’d swing by our table tomorrow to say hi and add even more to our steampunk kudos.

Now, if we could only find a way to make the All-Seeing Eye of Comic-Con to give us a shout out… time to dig out my running shoes…

See Corey’s previous SDCC posts here

Keep up-to-date with all things Comic-Con by following @GeekSyndicate on twitter, Liking Geek Syndicate on Facebook, or you can follow the personal twitter of our GS reporters out at the Comic-Con Sharlene aka lightstarangel, Christi aka @christikassity, and Mirjana aka @jayde_dragonNYC. Of course you can follow Corey’s adventures at the comic-con on his twitter feed @CoreyBrotherson 

Reporter: Corey Brotherson

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