Hometown Convention Weekend

This weekend is Fan Expo Vancouver. We attend this one every year. It’s close to home and we get to see lots of friends. It almost doesn’t feel like a “Work Convention” because of this. But it is…


With every convention we attend, there is pre-con jitters. Even our hometown con is no different. My wife gets herself so worked up before a show, she becomes sick. Then the first day of the show- she is full of energy and excited. She knows that the shows here and it’s game on. Sell hats and have fun!


My role beforehand is to help pack up and get lunches prepared. My other routine before a show is to calm my nerves with a couple of cold ones the night before. I’ll wake up in the morning and help get the kids ready for the show. My wife will go through her inventory and supplies one (or two) last time(s).


We also get our cosplay and outfits ready before a show. My son has a “pin hat” that he wears with a collection of buttons he has received over the years. It’s his pride and joy. The other routine we have is to get our Nintendo 3DS’s charged and ready to go. During the shows we have fun doing “Street Passes” throughout the weekend. 


When we get to a show, we create a plan for what we want to see while attending. Panels, celebs, games, or meet ups. There’s always something for everyone. Even a game card of “Artist Alley Bingo” comes out. At the end of it all, we have a great time.


Come by and see us! We will be waiting with craziness and fun. You know, for kids.

Best Day of the Summer

Here we are about a third of the way through summer.  So far, so good.  We’ve enjoyed most of our freedom, with only a couple little bumps along the way.  Bumps being: not having a perfect and fun experience all the time (Yesterday’s Grumpy Bums is a good example). For the most part it’s been a great beginning.

And today is the day of all days for our summer.  Or most peoples that we associate with’s summer.  SDCC Exclusive Movie Trailer Day!  *MUPPET FLAIL*

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I’m Ready to enter the Oasis.

First one was a trailer for a film that I am super excited to see. I read the book ages ago, and it still hits me in the nostalgia feels as I reminisce about it. Ready Player One has tons of Easter eggs fitting into the 80s motif.

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This Halloween: Season 2 of Stranger Things

My family is super excited about Stranger Things Season 2. Again, this one has mid 1980’s written all over it.  I’ve put $50 in quarters into Dragon’s Lair over my days…

Finally for my excitement was the newest Thor: Ragnarok trailer.  The MCU always pleases our family.  This one looks no less fun.

There are plenty of more trailers that have also come out, but these three top my list.  San Diego Comicon is the only Con that I have on my bucket list that I need to attend.  One day I’ll be in Hall H.  One day….

 

Four Day Weekend


Time to start my four day weekend.  It’s not a holiday weekend, it’s a weekend away with my wife.  At our first Convention of the year!

I’m super excited about going to Seattle tomorrow.  My wife has a booth again at the Emerald City Comicon.  So even though we are working, we are still getting our geek on.  Lots to do and see.  Plenty of “Convention Carny” friends to meet up with as well.  Hopefully some great food and a bit of romance for my wife and I.  Especially because we are KID FREE ALL WEEKEND!!!


I have finished packing and need some sleep.  If I can.  It’s like adult Christmas for me.  I don’t know if I can sleep.  It will be a nerd haven of friends, making money, food, drinks, board games, videogames, panels, photos, and so much more.  If you happen to be at ECCC stop by 

I shall update daily from my fun filled weekend! 

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!

Adapting to the market

I love hitting Comicons.  The people are fantastic, the artists are talented, and the energy is high.  Every con we attend, I wander around checking out what merchandise is popular and what is falling off.  

Being in sales, especially if it’s your own handmade product that you’re selling, isn’t always easy.  Besides making great products that people want- there are constant changes and adaptions that need to happen in order to make money.  


This is our sixth year in the artist alley at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.  My wife started here with her handmade fleece hats and Perler Bead art that our children helped make.  A year later my wife added Cosplay animal ears and cut back on certain styles of hats.  The third year, she dropped more hats from her display and added headbands.  Last year, she began phasing out Perler Beads. This year, she dropped the Perler Bead art completely and focused more on headbands and hair clips.  She still sells foxes, cats and dragon style hats at this convention.

The reason for dropping products come down to four major factors:

  1. The market (convention floor) is saturated with similar items.  Often if another vendor or artist sees that you are selling numerous quantities of an item, their greed kicks in and they start to steal your ideas in hopes to take a piece of that pie.  When people have stolen my wife’s ideas- often they aren’t making as nice a product, and charging much less in hopes to just make a sale.  It’s even more disappointing when the people who steal the ideas and market cheap knock offs are your “convention friends”.  We’ve begun distancing ourselves from a couple of these people in the social circle of the convention circuit.
  2. The products don’t suit the city.  We found certain colors/styles of hats are more popular than others.  For example, panda hats don’t sell in Calgary and on the flip side, Rainbow Dragons sell out in Seattle, Vancouver and San Jose.  My wife even accounts for the previous year’s sales and adjusts accordingly, but sometimes the hats are still just that popular, that she sells out.
  3. The products just aren’t selling.  This reason is pretty much a no-brainer.  If something isn’t selling, stop dragging it around thinking it will sell one day.  There could be no reason whatsoever for why it’s not selling.
  4. Even products in the artist alley can become “last year’s model”.  My kids made a bunch of Perler Bead keychains based on Minecraft back in 2012 before there was anything toy related for sale.  They sold like crazy!  But the next year, the “Chinese import” vendors flooded the market with everything Minecraft.  This year, good luck giving away anything Minecraft related to a kid.


The challenge of making money and still enjoying what you do is tough.  The economy took a slump a couple of years ago, and is slowly climbing back out.  This is both in Canada and the USA & it shows at the conventions.  I’ve been speaking with my fellow convention carnies regularly about sales.  I don’t sugarcoat how we are doing- good or bad, I tell the truth.  (When it comes to trying to be successful, knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are is extremely beneficial.)  I’ll talk about other cons and describe the hardships as well as windfalls we experienced.  Sharing and discussing the business with like-minded artists/vendors can help both parties become successful by branching out.  It also helps to learn what to expect at a new convention that you’ve never attended before.

The convention circuit is in its own way an ecosystem.  We all talk.  We all share.  We all enjoy it.  We all want to succeed.

The Changing Face of 2d Art


There are some amazing artists out there.  Some people and their art become famous and recognized around the world. Other people and their art never make it past the drawing board (so to speak).  Comicons are my favorite place to find one of a kind pieces and purchase from artists who may become the next Stan Lee or DaVinci.  Art is all about personal taste.  But once in a while, something just grabs you and you need to own it.

I was wandering around Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo before the doors opened looking at all the artwork.  One artist caught my eye, so I stopped to check it out.  As I was about to leave, one of the staff came rushing up with a few people and was all excited telling her companions that they needed to check out the art & the artist’s computer tablet as well.  This intrigued me, so I stayed for a moment longer, and I’m glad I did.

Not only was his art really good- but the artist himself created an app that brings the art to life when you looked through your screen at it.  The artist is utilizing augmented reality and it brings his art to life.  Fantastic selling feature!  It’s bringing how people view art into a whole new genre.  I have seen others try it a few times over the past couple of years; but never to the detail and care as this.  

Check out their website for more info at DPI Studios.  I hope to see more of Jaysin’s art as well as more artists adopting this idea.  

To quote Monty Python, “I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.”

SWAG

Swag.  Conventions are full of vendors giving away swag.  But the term has lost it’s meaning these days.  

  
The term “SWAG” originally meant “Stuff We All Get”.  It was coined a few years ago for the Hollywood elite when “Swag Bags” were given out at events and they had exclusive Louis Vuitton and Cristal Brut merchandise inside.  The term and the merchandise has trickled down to those of us who barely afford a ticket to Comicon, and have come to realize that “free” means “advertising”.  The SWAG being offered these days is a leaflet or bookmark promoting whatever the artist/vendor is selling.

  
I understand it.  Advertising is only a part when it comes to making money on any venture a person starts out on.  Working for my wife at these cons, I have seen it all.  I’ve even come home with it all.  No, I’m not coming home with a $2000 piece of jewelry in an LV satchel.  I’m talking more about free buttons, free lanyards, free bookmarks, free crap.  My kids love getting free stuff.  I’m done with it.  I walk the con floors and have to say “no” when someone wants to hand me free SWAG.

However, there are people who walk the halls of the convention floor, and stockpile whatever free stuff they can.  Even business cards.  At the end of the day, I guess the term SWAG holds true, but the value isn’t there anymore.  

Perhaps the term should be “Shit We All Grab”.

Geek or nerd.

I’m a bit of a geek & a bit of a nerd.  I’ve grown up knowing that’s who I am.  These past few weekends have been great.  Now we are hitting the road to return to our regular lives (just for a week, then more geeky times).  Here’s some quick highlights of my adventures diving deep into dorklandia:

 

Apple Infinite Loop


 

Googleplex. I found it using Google maps.


 

Silicon Valley’s first ComiCon


 

Disneyland’s Season of the Force.

 

A tall nerd hanging out at the Nerdist.

 

Best highlight of our trip- I met the king of nerds at the end of our visit.  The magic of the Internet finally had some physical locations and real people this trip.