I took a day off from BHFT on Friday to prepare. All day. I started in around 6:00 in the morning, and finished stapling booklets around 11:00 p.m. Since I'd started preparations weeks ago, I had hopes of being ready earlier. It never works out that way.
Saturday: Last year, the offer of free postcards seemed to work rather well, and I had about 600 cards left, so I went that route again. This year, when I handed the postcard, a business-sized card went with it. The patter varied, depending on how long people would wait and how interested they seemed, but started the same: "Free postcard? It's from my webcomic, called 'Ask Dr. Eldritch,' about an ex-vampire-killer turned Advice Columnist. The larger one doubles as a birthday card, in case you know someone with a birthday. So you can send that and keep the small one for yourself. Both have the URL, so you can look it up online; there's almost 400 comics out there." If they lingered, I'd talk about using the action figures and digital backgrounds, and the advice column. I had a two-minute slideshow going on a monitor, so I could show what the comic looked like.
The game this year was Guess The Jellybeans. I had a big plastic jar, and a sign announcing that anyone who could guess the number of jellybeans would win a prize. There were eight jellybeans. Most people got the joke, although some were suspicious, as if we were trying to trick them, or felt that counting the jellybeans was cheating. Kids would zero in on the candy, but were generally willing to accept a prize instead. It worked pretty well.
My table was next to Tara McPherson's, who was one of the ten Special Guests of the show. We didn't chat much; mostly when she needed to borrow something (Box cutter? Sure. Silver pen? Got one. Pencil? No problem). It wasn't bad having a Famous Person next to me, even when people breezed past my table to get to hers. Still, she was nice, was willing to be photographed with me, and made a point of returning my pencil.
Speaking of traffic, there was a pillar in the aisle just to the right of my table. That forced the flow of people to the far side of the aisle, and as they'd come around the obstacle, their eyes would track to the table beyond mine. We countered this effect by being more vocal with our offer of a free postcard.
Do you remember when you first realized that the people you saw on the Internet were actually REAL?* I was reminded of that while talking to Chris Yates and David Malki !. Two years ago I went to my first Stumptown. I'd been reading their comics, and then there they were, in the flesh! They're a blast to talk with. I congratulated Malki ! on his five years and four hundred comics with Wondermark, and talked with Aaron Diaz, whom I had met last year. Chris told me about his car dying near Boise. Not to give anything away, but there were photos of me and Mensa the Menacer. I'm just saying.
The highlight of Saturday was when a fan made a beeline to my table, and announced that she loved my comic and her only regret was that it was just published three times a week. I thanked her profusely, and gave her an autographed booklet.
Sunday: Here's a tip: If you want some fairly uninterrupted one-on-one time with the artists at Stumptown, be there Sunday morning. It's true that not all exhibitors were there right when the doors opened at 10:00. But you can talk with the B-string types like me who are there on time, while you wait for the rockstar types to amble in. There was a trickle of attendees in the morning, but compared to Saturday, the place was nearly empty for hours.
Just for the record, I was the first to arrive on Sunday morning. I'd hoped to sleep in, but woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep. So I headed to the hotel around 8:30, figuring I'd get a good parking space and do some writing while things got going. Well, turns out the doors didn't open until after 9:00. So I got coffee and went for a walk.
That afternoon I went on a Photo Safari. I went around, trying to get photos of me with the other artist I knew from before or had met that weekend. Everyone was quite nice about it. You can see the photos on Flickr.
The highlight of the Weekend was talking to Scott McCloud. I've read his books on comics, and saw him when he came through Portland on his 50-state tour last year. He's a huge name in comics, but when I went to his table, there was just only one person there (Alexis Fajardo, giving him a copy of "Kid Beowulf"). I got to tell Scott McCloud that I really appreciated his books, as they helped me think more about telling the story visually. I said I did a webcomic, when I mentioned the name, he said he'd seen it and thought it was pretty cool. Well, that had me buzzing for the quite a while. It was awesome.
So despite being exhausted after three solid days of activity and talking to more people than I'll probably talk to for the rest of the year, I'm really glad I did the show.
*Many of them are!