Saying Goodbye

Sunday was the last day of our Convention. I had to say goodbye to all of my friends. It was the last day of Calgary Expo, but also a bitter end to many years of shows. We won’t be returning.

I’m severely saddened by this. But many factors have come into play over the past little while. Last year I toted about My Fandom Family and how great everyone is. I love these people. Even back in 2016 we were hoping to Expand our small business- it just won’t be happening.

Since 2016, sales at Conventions have dropped. To be honest- the sales more like nosedived. What used to be lucrative and profitable, suddenly became, “Are we going to just recoup costs?” We gave it a couple of years, but sadly no increase.

Besides our declining sales, a few other factors have also come into the decision to not return. First, my wife has started a new job. She will be working for a company full time and can’t create stock or take off time for out of town shows. So her Business will be scaled back to just online sales- no more travel to conventions. We can now use vacation time to vacation!

Secondly, our children are getting older. We do not want to take them out of school as their workload is heavier than it was when they were younger. Our oldest has entered adulthood by getting (and loving) her first job, so time off for her means she makes less money. She is now saving up for her next big purchase.

Lastly, after doing Conventions for nearly a decade, we’re a bit burnt out. So many stresses lead up to a show as well as when we are there. We also haven’t done a decent cosplay in a couple of years. There was just too much going on in life. I am hoping to take on a new hobby and just make replica movie props for myself.

Yes, I’m saddened by the fact that I put down in words the finale of our traveling business. And just like that, our convention circuit is pretty much all done. We went out with hardly a whimper. No big fanfare saying it’s over. It’s just over.

Just some hugs and handshakes to say farewell to our friends- with many a promise to stay in contact. All of the conventions were a blast, but now it is time to move on. Let the next stage of life begin.

Saturday’s Subculture Of Cosplay

Saturdays at a convention are the busiest of the days. Every. Single. Time. Today will be no different.

My Hudsucker Proxy Cosplay from a few years back.


My favorite part is all of the costumes. Saturday brings out the most creative and original cosplays.  People share their fandoms in hopes of photos and compliments.  Which they wholeheartedly deserve. The hours of work put into some of the costumes just to be worn once is astounding. 

I even love the cheap cardboard, tape and paint costumes. Budget cosplay makes me smile. It shows that fans can come in any shape, size, or artistic comfort level. Comic conventions are a place where we can all feel comfortable. Even just wandering around in a Marvel t-shirt shows off fandoms.


Time for me to go wandering and save the universe from villainous scum. We’re all fans here. Have a great Saturday Con!

Tell Me Why I Should Buy From You…


Back to back weekends of Comic Cons are finally done.  Days of being on the road are over.  Driving south, north, east and back west have taken its toll.  It’s like being a traveling salesman hitting up each convention.  New products showcased, people to network with, and complete strangers that you work hard at making them open their wallet and buy a piece of your livelihood.

Comic Cons aren’t all fun and games.  They’re mostly fun and games. But there is an air of work about them as well.  Subtly and not so subtly.  Sometimes it’s just striking up a conversation. Other times it’s working the floor trying to entice people to come check out your stuff.  When I’m at a convention, I’m always selling- only you wouldn’t know it.  

I walk around talking to other artists and vendors about what they make/sell.  I get right into what they believe is their end goal.  Not the product on their table, but their future.  I try and understand what makes their lives worth coming to these shows.  I find out about their “other life” away from the convention floor.  By the end, I haven’t said a thing about my wife’s business.  I wait until they ask what we do.

And that closes the sale. Not me forcing a product, but me being genuine as I listen to their stories. Guess what? The next time I see my fellow artists and vendors- I remember what they said to me. I ask about their families and how things are going from one convention to the next.  I’m not selling a hat.  I’m making a friend. If they choose to buy a product, that’s nice. If they choose to just hang out and talk shop, that’s great as well.  

What I sell is a sense of well being.  All it costs is a few minutes of your time.

My Fellow Convention Carnies aka Fandom Family

When you do the Comic Con circuit you make lots of friends. When you’ve done it for seven or eight years- they become extended family.

This is our sixth year at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. I laugh and enjoy the time we spend here. We look forward to seeing everyone again in person. Of course we follow one another on the various social media platforms, but there’s something to be said about the face to face interactions.

Where’s Waldo- spot the artist edition.

First is Terry.  We met him as our booth neighbor on our third time to Emerald City in Seattle three years ago. We met up again at Stan Lee’s Comikaze later that year. We told him about journeying into Calgary, so he came out last year and loved it. He’s back for more this year.

Brass and goggles!

Attic Raiders/In the Attic are the first people who introduced us to trying to get out into Comic Cons.  Bless them for pushing my wife to branch out. We have had many adventures with them. If you need Steampunk- they are the people to go to.

Cute Glass.

Bling Squared is run by a couple named Stanley and Neacol from Salt Spring Island, BC. They make the most adorable glass figures. My wife met them through Etsy teams and we share many a Con tale with them.

East Van represent!

Awesome Sauce is another artist from Vancouver.  We met them at Vancouver Fan Expo when they sat across from us about three years ago. Now they are right next to us in Calgary for the second year. They make fun stained glass and also have classes available in Vancouver on how to make them.

Mike and Lisa are two very different artists and have tables next to each other. They are married and have been doing these shows for years.  The friendliest people ever. Always worth a stop to pick up fandom art, magnets and generally cute stuff.

Two Gargoyles sit directly behind us in Calgary. These are the two funniest guys around. We sing songs, talk about old 80’s movies and generally cause a raucous.  Oh, and they sell art and comics too!  Mike is also a very amusing West Jet flight attendant with a few YouTube videos worthy of enjoying. I guess you could say viral.

Crafty Geeks are a couple of tables up from us. They sew some pretty awesome quilts and quilted pillows. They even sell the patterns for those of you willing to make your own.  Numerous fandoms are represented in their designs.

These are a small collection of our Comicon family members. We share laughs, stories, network, and talk business. It’s always great to be surrounded by like minded people.

Break? What Break?

Last week we drove from the Vancouver, BC area to San Jose for Silicon Valley Comic Con. We left on Wednesday stayed one night in Ashland, Oregon before a weekend of nerdiness.  We returned home by leaving at 05:30 on Monday to make it home by 8:30pm the same night.  We only have a couple of nights at home…


And we are leaving again tomorrow morning at 08:00 to drive through the Rocky Mountains and into Calgary, Alberta. We are going to drive straight through and should be there by 8:00pm the same day.  Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is a four day event beginning Thursday. It’s a hard go, but a lot of fun.  

It’s even harder go to have a day and a half in between traveling.  I’m on vacation from my regular job and when we return from Calgary, I’ll have six days of recovery.  My wife isn’t as lucky.  Her business is always on.  She is constantly working.  Even while selling at these shows, she is often sneaking off to email correspond with online questions.  Her business is her pride and joy and she takes it very seriously.


My wife also has ups and downs but can’t just leave it in the office.  Her studio is only steps away from the side door of our home. She doesn’t get to go on vacation as easily as myself.  But when I’m on vacation and traveling with her- I like to think that I’m alleviating some of her work load.  

And I get to hit conventions!  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy those?

Convention Carny

My favorite part about the conventions we attend? Being a Convention Carny.  And we hit quite a few conventions.


We get to be there before the show opens.  Often setting up a day in advance or sometimes only hours before the public comes in. My wife and I learn the layout of the show floor by wandering around talking with other vendors and artists.


We see all the cool stuff and have extra time to talk to everyone prior to the tens of thousands attendees flooding in.  I try and keep my cool, but sometimes my inner nerd goes all Fan-Girl.  I’ve gotten giddy over the Batmobile, Delorean, and a slew of astromech robots (R2-D2 for those who didn’t know). This show? NASA gives me a bit of a chubby.


I’m 41. Dreams of being an astronaut have long since gone by the wayside. But it’s still fun to see where mankind is going. This weekend I’m planning on attending some of the panels about space and exploration.


The coolest thing for me though was seeing the WordPress booth.  I spoke with some of the staff there.  Most were hired for the show only, not really knowing anything about the app or the website.  I’m no genius when it comes to using this app- but I spoke with them about writing a daily blog.  They accepted my knowledge and in the end- looked me up.


For a moment I was a mini celebrity to about… three people. It felt good. I never expect to have thousands of followers. I write for the joy of it. 

Tomorrow is the busy day.  Saturday.  I’ll be my wife’s “Table Tart” and try to sell her handmade hats and cosplay ears. Mostly in between the guest panels. Come out and visit us at Ningen Headwear table B24 and say hello.  Or buy something.  We like that as well!

Don’t Panic.

It’s the night before my wife and drive to Silicon Valley Comic Con.  Panic has finally subsided and acceptance has come over us. (Well me anyways.) We will have the merchandise that we have- no time to muster any more.  Hopefully enough.  Hopefully lots of sales. Hopefully a ton of fun.

Not only do we have a con this weekend, but we come back home for one day then off to Calgary for another.  15 hours driving to our first location, then back another 15 hours.  Next week is only 10 hours from our home through the Rocky Mountains to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.


I love both of these conventions.  The SVCC has so much tech that my nerd brain can hardly contain its excitement.  Astronauts, robotics, vr, videogames, actors, gamers, artists… and the cast of Sesame Street?!?  But wait there’s more! Gary Fisher photo ops! (Carrie Fisher’s dog).  That last one is a bit much.  But after the success of “Grumpy Cat” at Stan Lee’s Comikaze it doesn’t surprise me.

This is the first year that my wife and I have decided not to bring our children to a few of the shows that we attend.  It feels strange.  It feels wrong. It also feels right. It’s going to save us money.  Plus my wife and I are really enjoying our time together lately.  We need those few days without teenagers in order to relax.

My mother has been kind enough to stay with our children while we are gone. Hopefully my mother survives. (My wife and I would like to do these trips more often.) Back to packing now. It’s an early start tomorrow for us to travel most of the way south to our destination.  Off to find my geeky t-shirts and download the SVCC app for this weekend.  

Can’t forget that my 3DS needs to be charged as well!

The Big One

The Big One is happening this weekend and as usual it will be earth shattering.  San Diego Comic Con is the convention that started it all 46 years ago.  It began small and slowly grew.  Then it suddenly exploded in the 21st Century and has continued to gain popularity among movie goers, comicbook collectors, videogame fanatics, actors, film studios, media outlets, and everyone in between.  


Over the past few years, SDCC has reached a new level of importance in the entertainment industry.  Tickets are sought after by fans for access to exclusive merchandise, film previews, actor panels, and seeing killer costumes.  This weekend, most of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feed will be filled with all things COMIC CON.  Saying that I’m jealous that we aren’t going to be there is an understatement.  However, seeing it through the eyes of those who I follow on social media is probably better for getting an all around feel of the con.  It saves me from waiting 4 hours to get into a panel at the fabled Hall H.  

As much as we go to conventions to sell my wife’s hats (Check out Ningen Headwear), SDCC would have us lost in a sea of vendors that are far too big for us to compete with.  For our little business, we make sure that we sell at Conventions that have an attendance of over 70k people.  That’s a fairly big number.  Our favorite Con: Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Calgary hit over 102,000 in 2015.  Not a bad number at all.  Except SDCC 2015 had 167,000 attendees.  I’m not a fan of crowds of that magnitude.  I am quite content to be able to view everything on my cellphone and still get excited over the news that will come from SDCC.  Ok, I am still jealous of those enjoying the show.

I do love the convention circuit and get depressed if it’s been too long in between shows.  This past spring we crammed in four conventions in just over a month.  That was a tad bit overwhelming.  We are lucky that our children have been attending cons with us for so long and started at such a young age.  They are used to the crowds and what a Comic Con has to offer.  The first convention I ever attended was when I was a teenager.  I went to a Star Trek convention with a friend from school.  It was a one day event and the crowd was probably about 6000 people.  

The struggle is real.


I loved it.  The costumes were classic Star Trek and Star Trek:TNG mostly.  Same with the merchandise being sold.  There was some other Sci-Fi memorabilia and trinkets for sale.  At age 14 I only brought $20 with me.  It was hard to decide what I needed to buy.  I couldn’t afford a tricorder and forking over $4 for a Star Trek Federation lapel pin was really difficult.  Most boys my age were hanging pictures & posters of girlsor cars on their walls.  The other big purchase at my first convention was a $12 six foot tall door poster.  It was sexy in all of its glory.  It was of the Xenomorph Alien breaking through the door.  I kept that poster for years as a fond memory of that introduction into a world that made me feel like I fit in.


Now it seems that the Geeks shall inherit the earth.  It is prevalent when looking around and everything is nerd based & mainstream.  SDCC is even hosting a Pokemon GO event in the coveted Hall H this weekend.  Perhaps we shall see a sighting of a rare Pokemon!  I’m also excited about the possibility of some teaser Star Wars and Marvel movie clips.

Expect me to be buzzing with joy all weekend, even if it’s just in spirit.  Enjoy SDCC 2016!

Closer to Home

We are getting ready for Con number three of the spring season.  Emerald City Comicon has been a roller-coaster ride for us over the years.  We had a great first year, terrible second year, and a great third year.  The convention circuit is fickle.  The company that runs Emerald City Comicon changed at the end of last year’s con so we had to jump through some new hoops and re-think our merchandise layout.  Every convention is different, and each presents its own challenges.  Some conventions, we are in the Artist Alley, sometimes we end up in The Vendor’s Hall, at WonderCon we were at The Dealer Tables.  Emerald City Comicon is a great convention, don’t get me wrong.  It’s huge and fun and there’s plenty to see and do.  It has become so large in fact, that they have added an extra day and expanded the gaming area into the hotel next door.

We do this Convention because it is fairly close to home.  We have taken the kids with us, but have since decided not to.  Seattle is an expensive city to visit.  My wife and I are taking a weekend to ourselves this time around.   Today is our crazy packing day.  We’ve been home for only a week and are ready to go back out again!  I love helping my wife out with her business.  She makes her products and I do the sales (generally).  It’s a good way for us to travel, meet people and generate some extra income.

As usual, I am promoting her business.  She doesn’t like to self-promote, so I try and get her out there every chance I get.

Banner 2016

If you can, take a moment and “Like” her page on facebook & follow her on Twitter.  She shares her adventures and pictures on Instagram as well.

And if you wish to purchase or request a custom hat, contact her through her website: Ningen Headwear or through her shop on Etsy.

We hope to see everyone at one of the next couple conventions!  If you’re at Emerald City this weekend, stop by and say hello!

Faded dragon Thanks2015

One Day…

When we first started attending conventions I was excited and scared to meet celebrities.  I would look from afar and try to sneak in a photo or two, usually the backs of their heads or some shit.  That fear has since subsided and I have come to realize that they are regular folks just doing their job.  Their job just happens to be witnessed and scrutinized by the public.  However, there is still one celebrity that I wish to meet, but I am still intimidated by- Mr. Wil Wheaton.

I may never get an opportunity to meet him.  I missed a couple of chances to meet him in the past, simply because of my nervousness in meeting new people.  At the end of April 2012- the main cast of Star Trek:TNG met for the first time in two decades.  Hearing them all together on stage brought back so many memories of my early teenage years. I still hold some hope in having a chance to at least thank him for influencing my teenage years when Star Trek:TNG was first being aired.  It was also the Convention that I began to use Twitter, and he was one of the first people I began to follow.  Watching “Wesley Crusher” on screen got me through a tough time in highschool where I wished to be anywhere in the universe but where I was. Now, years later, Wil Wheaton has inspired me to get my family playing tabletop games.  Every convention we attend, my children head to the gaming area to play games.  I have been told on numerous occasions how wonderfully behaved they are as well as how surprisingly good they are at teaching new players how to play tabletop games.

It may seem strange to mention gaming, but it was when just my wife and I went to Emerald City ComiCon in 2013 and the website/YouTube channel Geek & Sundry was just starting to take off.  G&S was set up in the gaming section.  I happened to wander over there and sat down to play Zombie Dice.  I played against four other people whom I didn’t know.  They were super awesome and explained the idea of the game to me- I ended up winning the round and was given an opportunity to return the next day to play a game against Felicia Day.  I had no idea that this was going to happen.  I had never met a celebrity in the past, and winning a chance to play a game against someone like that?  Wtf!  Cool!

I knew that both Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton were at the con, but had no idea that I’d be within the vicinity of either of them.  That night I went back to my hotel room and re-watched “Tabletop” episodes on YouTube to get an understanding of what games were possibly going to be played.  The next day I showed up to play my match against Felicia Day.  Nervous as hell, I gave her a gift from my wife and I sat there and lost.  Felicia Day wasn’t holding back and seemed to enjoy the game Munchkin!

JoeLost1

I’m OK with this loss.  It’s not going to happen ever again!

After our game, she kindly posed for a photo with me.  Then Wil Wheaton came out to play a game with another round of lucky winners.  I faded back and was lost in the crowd now.  His confidence and kindness towards his opponents blew me away.  He monologued for a bit (pretty sure that was his way of dealing with large crowds, I don’t blame him) and then played his round of games.  This was the year that Geek & Sundry announced and began International Tabletop Day.  I was all over it!  We made up-cycled some trophies, set up tables, invited friends, & played games.

As the date grew near, I posted a few pictures on Twitter about what we were doing for the event.  Suddenly, it happened, the King of the Geeks re-tweeted me.  There I was, a guy in his late 30’s, going all “Fan-Girl” because Wil Wheaton shared my Tweet.

 

The Tweet that changed my preception.

Since this experience, I have gone out and met numerous Celebrities at these conventions that we attend.  All of them have been amazingly kind.  I don’t always ask for an autograph, often times I just talk to them about their past projects or upcoming shows.  I express my thanks for the work they’ve done and usually they pose for a quick picture with me or a handshake.  It’s a job & they work hard at promoting themselves.  Talking with people has now become a hobby of mine.  I guess I’m just the kind of guy that most people feel comfortable just blabbing with.  My children also love to come up to say hello to celebrities with me.  My son once told Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) that he had just met Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward).  My middle daughter enjoys cartoons from the 80’s and 90’s and really enjoyed talking with the voice talents of The Powerpuff Girls when we met them at Comikaze.

 

Learning the Twitter thing.

 

 

Anne Wheaton shared my tweet! I’m double special!

 

My daughter wanted to come with me last year to meet Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton at Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, where she (Anne Wheaton) proceeded to vandaleyes my shirt and gave my daughter some googly eyes to play with as well.

I feel that over the years, I have gotten so close to meeting Mr. Wheaton, but never quite made it there.  I’ve met his friends, family, & coworkers.  Meeting him just isn’t in the cards at this time I guess.  Perhaps when I’m 70, I’ll run into him and we will talk about the old days- when beer was beer and board games were played on boards, not drinks from a replicator or games on a holodeck.