On August 3rd I had my very first convention table. It was surreal to say the least that only a couple years back I was walking around comic-con going, ‘One day I will have a table, one day I will be a comic artist” and that day had come!
The table was at a small and local convention called Not Another Comic-Con. I had previously worked for the convention at their 2017 convention on social media so had a pretty good relationship with the owner. He invited me along and I thought why not. Now, I have a terrible but probably brilliant habit of just saying yes to cool adventures and then 1 week beforehand only then realizing what I have got myself into. I feel I live my life like this… Should I go do work experience in Italy for 2 weeks? Why not! Should I move to Paris and work at Disneyland for a while? Why not! Should I book a comic table when I really have nothing to sell or show off in any way? WHY NOT! Wait… what?
I decided to make this first table about promoting my comic ‘Being Ginger’ which was on Kickstarter at the time (and still is now! Please go support-->https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/khemmings94/being-ginger-0). I made so many free little sample booklets (which probably have so many spelling mistakes in now that I have the edit back of my book), made a few sticker packs of my favourite cartoons and still had some printed a5 pictures from when I THOUGHT I was going to have a table at a previous convention only to turn up and it wasn’t a table at all, it was just a meeting.
I decided to go alone despite people close to me wanting to join me. This was my first ever table and honestly, I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want them to see me sat there with no one coming up to my table to talk to me or buy anything. I also thought if I had the safety blanket of a friend or family member sat with me I probably wouldn't go speak to many of the other artists because, yanno, safety blankets. So there I was, on my own, carrying bags of stuff and pulling along the weakest suitcase known to man. My arms hurt, my hands hurt, everything hurt by the time I got to the convention.
I walked into the artist's hall and was instantly intimidated by everyone but smiled through it. I laughed to a fellow artist about not knowing where my table was and them very sternly pointing out the fact there were BIG ASS notes on my every table with everyone's name on in BIG ASS letters and that I am clearly a moron for not seeing it straight away. I found my table and to my surprise, I was sat opposite Simon Myers; we both did the Comic Creative Catalyst together and I suddenly felt at ease. Someone I know! Someone I can talk to! Someone who can help me talk to other people! He pretty much kept me company all day, I think he could sense how nervous I was. It was also pretty incredible watching the amount of people that went to his desk throughout the day! I mean his work is incredible so I am not suprised but still takes you back when you are sitting watching it for 8 hours.
I set up my table (I had practised the placement the night before and took photos so I was pretty prepared on how to get it all together). There it was, my first ever table. The brightest orange table cloth you had ever seen and my thousands of mini Being Ginger booklets were ready. I had snacks, pop and awkward conversations starters ready to go.
“Hi I’m Paul and I am your table buddy!”
“Oh hi! I’m Katherine and this is my first ever convention! I mean table… table at a convention! I have been to conventions before, but not with a table, I mean I don’t bring a table… hi”
My table buddy was lovely and so kind and put me at ease. Paul Williams works for 2000AD and it was a great honour to sit next to him. I liked how the convention had put smaller artists right next to the big names to help bring people to your table and so you could learn from them.
The doors opened and the public started coming in, drips and drabs. A lot of people complained about the lack of “rush” but I loved it. A family came to my table and one of the children asked “How much for the stickers?”, I was clearly unprepared for someone to buy something so just said: “1 pound for the pack of 4 I guess?”. They quickly rummaged through their purse and gladly gave me the pound and I very excitedly passed them the stickers. “Thank you!! Here please take a million Being Ginger samples! It is on Kickstarter!”. The day pretty much carried on like this for me! I SOLD STUFF. I ACTUALLY SOLD STUFF. A lot of the sticker packs went to the younger crowd who freaked out over seeing Gravity Falls and Miraculous Ladybug fan merch, and I loved freaking out with them to be honest!
I gave away a lot of my Being Ginger sample books and had many conversations about ginger hair and a lot of moms talking to me about their children who are growing up ginger! It was incredible to really talk about my book and have people genuinely excited about it and interested by it! The free sample booklets were a good idea and got people curious, because who doesn't want free stuff!
The day was slow I suppose in terms of how many members of the public were coming into the room but I often was talking to other comic artists or people coming to my table. I felt like the day didn’t stop. I imagine having a table at MCM or LFCC is very different and very intimidating with how many people are there but I am excited that one day I will have a table at one of these larger conventions.
Overall, I loved having my first table but despite it still being quite a good con for me in terms of sales I still feel I am not yet ready for a table at said MCM or LFCC. What I found at NACC was that the smaller artists, the ones which didn’t have much to sell or a smaller social media presence were not really getting the attention and sales they deserve. I would hate to spend a lot of money on a table and transportation and not have much to offer the public. I want to wait until Being Ginger is out and when my next comic which I am working on at the moment with Karl is out (which will probably be May 2020).