Unshelved comic strip for 7/31/2007

The Kommandant's Girl

This week's Unshelved is made possible by Mira Books, publishers of The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff. This acclaimed historical romance was recently nominated for a 2007 Quill Award. It's about a Jewish librarian in World War II Poland who masquerades as a Catholic to survive and ends up in a complex relationship with a German General. Please consider buying it for your library, book store, or home.

Comic Con 2007

I don't know why the other hundred thousand or so people were at Comic Con International 2007, but I was there in to meet our fans, catch up with my friends, sell some stuff, and see a lot of cool stuff, and maybe learn something. And so I did.

  • Our Fans. There's still a rumor that Unshelved is a comic strip for librarians, but as our readership broadens it really consists of "people who think we're funny", or as I like to put it, "people with excellent taste." Comic Con is where we see this first hand, with folks from all professions, ages, genders, and Star Wars/Star Trek affilliation (yes, you can only pick one) walking up and falling in love with the strip.
  • Our Friends. It's not often we get to see our fellow cartoonists, so it was nice to catch up with Scott Kurtz and virtually the entire line of Blank Label Comics creators. We had lunch with Terry and Robyn Moore, where I tried to convince Terry to teach me how to draw hair. I met and bonded with David Malki (fortunately we found a solvent and were eventually separated). I also met Jeff Jacques who occasionally features a university library. And at the airport I finally got a chance to chat with the otherwise-mobbed Jerry Holkins a.k.a. Tycho, who is a profoundly well-spoken and thoughtful gentleman if ever there was one. Oh, and I managed to get a few minutes with up-and-coming superstar comics writer Dan Slott, with whom I attended high school many, many moons ago. Still a great guy.
  • Selling. As I implied in a previous post, this year was by far our most successful in terms of sales. I attribute this to a broader line of books and merchandise, as well as the mad selling skillz of the lovely Jana, who graced our booth we her delightful presence.
  • Cool Stuff. There is so much cool stuff to see at Comic Con that I had to resign myself to seeing only a small fraction, and buying an even tiner fraction. The best artists on Earth are there, which used to intimidate me but now only inspires.

  • Learnings. I'll devote a separate post to learnings about Comic Con itself. But I spent a lot of the con walking around seeing how other creators make a living (or try), and left with a few dozen ideas that we'll bat around and maybe put into practice over the next year.

Every year I wonder if we'll go back. It's an expensive show, and so despite our record sales we still didn't make any money. But we got the word out to a lot of folks who will get the word out even farther. And professionally there's no better way for me to spend my time. So we re-upped, just like we always do. See you next year

Taking it Easy at Comic Con

Don't worry, this is the last of my posts about Comic Con 2007. Probably.

Past Comic Cons have been somewhat taxing so I was determined that this one be relaxing. It was. Here's how I did it:

  • Local Support. Our friend Drew was kind enough to take delivery of 13 boxes of our books, drive them to the con, and wheel them right up to the booth with an industrial-strength 4-wheel dolly (which several cartoonist friends then proceeded to make similarly good use of). Afterwards he helped us break down the booth, drove us to the airport, and sent the remaining few boxes back to our HQ. Drew, did you ever know that you're my hero?
  • Booth Help. We brought Jana, our store manager, to run our booth. This freed Gene and I to talk with our fans and, in my case, draw. Not that we didn't sell stuff, we definitely did, but the whole vibe was different. I never felt like I needed to stop talking to someone in order to sell to that person behind her. The downside is that help costs money - airfare, hotel, meals, and wages - but it was well worth it.
  • No Parties. None. Not one. We had a few nice meals with friends, but I was determined to avoid the creeping sleep deprivation that has characterized every other Comic Con I've attended. As a result I woke up bright and early every day, and never had that walking-dead thousand-mile stare that is prevalant by the last couple of days. Besides, I hate parties.
  • Eat Well & Exercise. I consumed mostly nutritious foods, walked everywhere, and generally took good care of my body. Jana and I even did a little workout at the airport while waiting for our flight. When I got home my back didn't hurt. Nice.
  • No Pretense. Comic Con is a networker's dream, but I am not a networker. The truth is that I don't like everybody, or even most people. In the past I have tried to manufacture congeniality with professionals with whom I don't have a real connection, and I hate it. This year I stopped trying. I felt more authentic than I have in years.
  • Soak It In. More than I have in years, I really tried to swim in all the creativity and entrepreneurship that is everywhere you look at Comic Con. Instead of feeling competitive I instead admired and did my best to learn from all the talent around me. It was refreshing and inspiring.

Everyone's different. Our friend and business strategist Jim loves to network, and was out until 3am at parties almost every night. So your mileage may vary. But for me, this was my favorite Comic Con, or conference of any kind, in years.

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