Comicon 2006

San Diego this year seemed even more hectic than usual.

The crowds were massive (rumours are swirling that it swelled to over 140,000 people this year), the heat was intense and our booth was hopping. Being aligned with Capcom’s big booth was the right move for us and the sales we made are a testament to that. Our typical set up of having artists almost constantly on hand sketching and greeting the fans is always a big draw.

I felt great about repaying Howard Tayler for his kindness several years ago. Howard (the creator of the thoroughly enjoyable Schlock Mercenary) gave me a fantastic place to stay for my second Comic Con experience in 2003 and when he asked if Udon had any extra hotel space this year, I was happy to offer him up a spot.

Monday – The night before we left for the show I crashed at the Udon studio so I’d be there to grab our ride for the red eye flight time we booked. Erik’s gushing about the glory of the Nintendo DS Lite finally broke my resolve and I scoured Richmond Hill for a store that wasn’t sold out. Finding one in a Zeller’s store right before they closed, I went back to the studio and proceeded to geek out on Mario Kart and Bomberman into the wee hours before finally crashing for about an hour.

Tuesday – Zombie-like shambling our sleepy selves onto the plane after some last minute extra packing, we flew to San Diego giggling like children as a bunch of the Udon-ites played DS via wireless multiplayer. It made the flight zip by in no time.

After checking into the hotel, we split into different groups to get our booth set up done. I went down to the convention center to secure the crew’s exhibitor badges while Erik and Omar proceeded with Operation: Tables & Chairs – Comicon wanted to charge us over $1000.00 to rent furniture (8 chairs and 3 tables) for our booth, but Erik was smarter. We bought brand new tables and chairs at the nearest Staples for about 1/3 of the price.

After getting the booth all set up, we relaxed the rest of the evening and crashed out.

Wednesday – Grabbing a full breakfast, we finished doing all of our set up at the con and then got ready for the madness that is Preview Night.

Preview Night slammed into us like a wall. Tons of people came by looking for our convention exclusive products as well as sketches and signatures. Even though the con was only open for 3 hours, we did extremely well sales wise.

After the show wrapped up, Erik and I went to the Quebecor party for some sushi and drinks. Just sitting down felt amazing after running around so much. By the time the party wrapped up I was exhausted, so we grabbed a bike cab and went back to our hotel to crash exhausted again.

Thursday – The first full day of the show felt like an ordeal. Thursdays are normally light since the locals are at their jobs and what-not, but you wouldn’t have known it this year. The crowds came in thick and the place was abuzz.

After the show wrapped up we had dinner with the execs at Capcom to talk about the future. It’s going to be a crazy year. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. 🙂

Friday – More sales, more insanity. The gang next to us at Sabertooth Games were nice enough to let us use their Visa machine, which gave us a huge advantage compared to most booths at the show, bringing in a boatload of sales.

That evening I was supposed to hook up with Kandrix and Laurie for dinner, but ended up sidelined and taking care of work stuff instead. Afterwards I hit the bar at the Hyatt hotel (which is infamous at the con due to its proximity to the convention centre). I expected to meet a couple friends there, but ended up running into a pile of people and partying it up. Thankfully I was taken care of by Mike and Janet Lee after the damage was done.

Saturday – Saturday is the Comicon equivalent of an A-Bomb. Once the crowd is able to flood past the front area of the show, it’s an absolute blitz. Before the hall gets opened they have massive jet-engine-sized air conditioners making the place up like a fridge. By the time the crowds are in full swing it’s like a sauna and you want to puke from the heat. Every other day of the show I want to explore – on Saturdays I’m thankful to be behind the table.

Alvin and I dashed out after the show to head to the CBDLF Texas Hold’ Em Poker game. It’s an invite-only event and there’s a swack of major comic pros, editorial staff and major retailers who take part in it. Erik scored me an invite last year and I figured I’d try my luck again and do some networking at the same time. Last time I came in 19th out of 40 people; this year I was 13th. Not too bad.

Sunday – Sunday was pretty good -Wrapping up the show with last minute sales, saying our good-byes, getting swag and breaking down the booth. Dinner with the Udoners and Gail Simone was really nice. Afterwards I grabbed the artists and we hit a few bars for some karaoke and dancing. It was a nice release from the stress of the show.

As always, we talked to companies about opportunities and if even a quarter of the things set into motion become reality, we’ll be in good shape. More big name companies seemed to come to us this year, which was good. The overall scope of the projects we’re looking at seem bigger and more expansive, which is also good – More diversity, bigger budgets… it’s all really neat and I hope things go through.

I got congrats from quite a few people about the Makeshift book, which was flattering and cool. It’ll be even cooler when it’s physically in my hands though. Right now it just feels premature.

I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since I got back. My internal clock is a bit squirrelly and I have a lot to take care of here.

Tonight the Udon crew might be getting together for a victory dinner and a post-mortem on what we did right and what wasn’t up to snuff. Doing that while it’s fresh in our minds is always good.

I’m hoping to get some people out this weekend for a post-San Diego get together. It’s funny that the show is so big that you can’t even see the people you want to. Ideally we’ll be able to get a bunch of the Toronto comicers out to have some fun.

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