Convention Report: Mid Ohio Con 2015
My journey back to a fantastic convention, Mid-Ohio Con (now called Wizard World Columbus), was a little unique this year. In year’s previous, I would travel with my good friend Alan and his wife Tracie, and we would stay with our friends Lora and Mike Innes. This year, none of those people were attending the show. Alan and Tracie were celebrating her birthday (the show was Halloween weekend last year, so the timing didn’t work for them) and Lora and Mike are touring the United Kingdom (thanks for all the country-side photos from the land that invented the genre of Fantasy, guys!).
No, this year was different. I was on my own, and had to make my own way to the show, entertain myself during the off hours, and yes – get myself back home after an exhausting weekend of selling comics.
If that riveting intro didn’t wow you, then know this: comics were sold, and hilarious things happened. That said, let’s jump into the review of the weekend….
I got up early and went to the car rental place to pick up my economy rental – the car that would be my ride for the weekend. Thankfully I wasn’t traveling with other people, because I packed a lot of inventory (last year’s sales at this show were phenomenal, so I wanted to ensure I had enough stock to not sell out before Sunday this time).
The rental car…which I have dubbed, “Debbie.”
The drive from Chicago to Columbus is about 6 hours, but also includes a time change (Chicago is central time zone, while Columbus is eastern time zone…so it’s an hour ahead). I drove south on I-65 to Indianapolis, and then straight east on I-70 until I reached my destination. There’s not a lot to see in the mid-west, but you do pass a rather impressive wind farm. This ride also gave me a great opportunity to list to some CDs I burned years ago, but hadn’t listened to since I moved to Chicago.
Before I knew it, I arrived in Columbus (despite my GPS not working after a few dozen miles, which made the straight shot to the convention center much appreciated). Navigating the city wasn’t too difficult, so I parked the car, checked into my hotel, and went in search of dinner.
North Market – where EVERYONE must go when you visit Columbus, OH
My first year attending this show, my friends who lived in Columbus showed me the wonder that is North Market. A collection of little shops and places to eat, this shop has a wondrous variety when looking for something specific. Jenni’s Ice Cream, Polish food, smoked meats, Indian, sushi – this place has it all.
Craving some comfort food, I went to the Polish place and ordered a Kielbasa sandwich. The girl working the booth noticed my last name and asked if I was of German decent. I commented that my mother’s side was Polish, and she went back and made sure my perogies were from the bottom of the pan – buttered, warm, and delicious!
I ordered the Kielbasa sandwich with 3 perogies, because I’m part Polish…and they’re DELICIOUS
The hotel room. Pretty standard fair.
After a quick dinner, I went to the convention center (conveniently attached to the hotel I was staying in), and checked into the artist alley to drop off my things. I had brought a lot of inventory and displays with me (two walking trips worth), so I wanted to make sure I had it at my spot so I didn’t have to worry about it the next day.
I then walked around the downtown area for a bit, dodging Taylor Swift fans (she was playing a concert that night) and ultimately stretching my legs after sitting in the car for so long. However, I didn’t want to stray too far, and most of the people I knew were not arriving at the show until the next day, so eventually I went to the bar to unwind a bit, and then went back to my room to watch a movie on my iPad before falling asleep.
How to avoid getting asked for money on the streets? Dress like a bum who spent the last 6+ hours in a car
Enjoying adult beverages after a long first day
I almost never sleep on the first day of a show (it’s the excitement!), so I got up early even though the show didn’t start until 3pm that afternoon. I decided to do what I normally do the first day of a show: I went to the gym. I won’t lie, I was secretly hoping that Mike Tyson or someone famous would be in there working out, but alas they were not. I did my workout routine, went back to the room for a quick shower, and then headed downstairs to the restaurant for a big breakfast.
Post-work / pre-con first day breakfast. Because it’s probably the last meal I’ll have before dinner today
After breakfast, I went to the floor to set up my table. I was in the first row, table A51, right next to Brad Guigar (www.webcomics.com, Evil Inc) and Nate Lovett. I had plenty of time to set up, so I played with a few configurations – eventually settling on the below.
The table set up. I sold out of most of this by the end of the show
As people I knew arrived, they would swing by the table to say hi. I worked on some signs and sketch cards while I waited for the show to open, and then started selling once it did. Sales were lighter on Friday (there was another Taylor Swift concert later that night, plus school, plus people getting out of work), but attendance was still decent and I managed to exceed last year’s Friday sales.
Around 5:30pm, I went to a panel I had been invited to sit on with Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man), Barbara Slate (Betty and Veronica), and Victor Dandridge (Wonder Care presents The Kinder Guardians) talking about Writing Comics. Danny started by showing some examples of scripts and script formats, talking about the role scripts play to editors and artists, and then we opened it up for Q&A with the audience. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from all of the creators on the panel, and I found that because I worked on self-publishing and indie work, I had some unique perspectives to throw into the mix. The panel was well attended for a Friday, and the questions were very engaging – talking about working with artists, finding artists, and the process for writing stories.
The Writing Comics panel crew. From right to left: Danny Fingeroth, Victor Dandridge, Barbara Slate, and me!
After the panel ended, I went back to the floor to finish off sales before the show ended. After shutting down the table, I headed to the hotel bar (the hotel restaurant closed after a certain time, but the bar served food) and ordered a drink. I was quickly joined by Barbara Slate (from the panel), who asked to join me for dinner. Of course I said yes, because she was a really cool person, and she told me she was also treating Danny – who joined us shortly after that.
We ordered food and had an enjoyable conversation about conventions, comics, and how Danny got involved with Wizard. Danny was doing a lot of back-to-back shows, which can get exhausting, but he was excited because he got to go to new places and was seeing new creators all the time. After a few hours of hanging out, we paid our checks and went our separate ways for the night. I returned to my room to start a movie (I was too tired to finish it), and then drifted off to some much-needed sleep.
Come buy comics from this guy in artist alley
I got up earlier than I wanted to, showered, and headed down to the ground floor to grab a quick bite on my way to the floor. Saturday is the long day, and typically has the highest sales of any day of a convention, so it was going to be a doozy.
Grabbing a quick bite before the show starts
I set up and began my day of sales, going through most of my box of Albert the Alien volume 1 I had brought. Albert was a breakout success at this show last year (premiering at this con, in fact), and many fans who picked it up last year were eager to pre-order the next volume (out in November). I also had a preview of the book available, which people enjoyed thumbing through.
Around 2:30pm, I went to a Webcomics Roundtable panel lead by Brad Guigar. We talked about the changing landscape of digital comics, the use of ad blocker, and the advantages of crowd-funding sites like Patreon. We then opened it up for questions from the audience, helping them with any hurdles they had with launching or maintaining their own webcomics.
After the panel, I returned to the table to finish the day of sales. After the floor closed, I met up with my friend Dirk Manning, who was organizing a large group to go to out to German Village and get some delicious sausages. I piled into the car with Dirk and crew, and we met up with the rest of our party of 14 to enjoy a fun evening together.
Out in German Village with Dirk Manning and friends
After we were done with dinner, one of the girls in the group had started to get loopy. I made sure she made it back to her hotel okay, and then headed back to my room to finish off the movie I had started the previous night. It wasn’t long after that I fell into a deep (and much needed) sleep.
The final day of the convention was upon us, and as I packed up my room and checked out of the hotel, I realized that I was going to miss Columbus. I headed to the show floor and set up for the final day of sales.
Albert the Alien selfie!
Sunday was a bit slower this year, compared to last, but still had a lot of families and good cosplays. I was even visited by my buddy Eric Palicki, who is always good to connect with. As the day went on and attendance started to dwindle, I started to pack up a little early so I could get back home a bit earlier. After a long weekend of fun and sales, I wasn’t looking forward to the 6+ hour drive back to Chicago. I finished packing up, said my goodbye to friends new and old, and got into my rental car for the trip back.
Mid-Ohio Con was and continues to be a fun show, with lots of energy and excitement. The staff puts together a fantastic event, and the attendees are very energetic and enthusiastic to hear pitches, ask questions during panels, and yes – make purchases. I look forward to returning to Columbus again for another con soon.
Doing what I do best – selling comics!