I was at the Comica Comiket yesterday at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. I’d written about the last Comiket a little while ago and this one was far better. There was much more aisle space, more room for exhibitors too, with room to manoeuvre around your table so you didn’t have to crawl about on your hands and feet if you needed a comfort break.

It was a fairly long day and the amount of visitors fluctuated during the day, occasionally quiet and occasionally manic. I did OK sales-wise, but other people said it was very quiet for them.

After interviewing John Allison a few days ago, I had conventions at the forefront of my mind.

Bearing in mind that Thought Bubble is coming up soon, here’s a quick ‘How to be a good visitor to a comics show’.

1. Reading. Don’t read entire comics without buying them. This is the thing that infuriates the people sat behind the table the most. Comics are best read in a blanket fort by torchlight. Remember this, it’s important.

2. Buying. We don’t expect everyone who stops by the table to buy something. It’s fine to stop by and browse without any obligation to buy. (remember point 1 though)

3. Chatting. People behind the table don’t mind chatting. Contrary to what you may have learned from the Simpsons or Big Bang Theory, most of us are socially capable of sustaining a conversation. That said, if it’s busy and there are other people browsing the table, let us talk to these people too, they might want to buy something.

4. Drawing. Most people don’t mind drawing in the front of a book that you’ve bought, but if you are requesting anything complex or difficult, be prepared to pay for it if the artist wants.

5. Cosplayers. Be aware of your surroundings. Knocking someone’s hard work onto the floor with your bulky homemade keyblade is a sure way to raise eyebrows and tempers alike.

6. Non-Cosplayers. Let the cosplayers have their fun. You may not understand or like it but you were young and had fun once long ago probably with a hoop and stick or some jacks or something. It was a long time ago.

I don’t want to do a similar list for exhibitors; a lot of it is common sense, but here’s some tips that come up regularly.

Deodorant - don’t take aerosol deodorant. It’s essentially a weapon at close quarters. Take some nice discreet roll-on stuff if you have to.

Antibacterial hand stuff - You spend a lot of the day handling money and shaking people’s hands. If you don’t want to get ‘con flu’, you’ve got to kill them germs dead.

Gimmicks - Having a hook to get people to your table is all well and good, but bear in mind that the people around you have to put up with this all day long and may plot your demise if it’s a bit incessantly full-on (read musical acts, costumes, smelly food & drink, dangerously elaborate and precarious table-structures etc)

Flavours” - Different shows have different flavours. You pick up on this over time, but if your autobio screenprinted poem comics don’t seem to be selling at Kapow or MCM or if your fantasy manga superhero title isn’t shifting units at a small press expo, then you may be at the wrong show. Look at the exhibitor lists or ask on twitter and make a judgement as to whether your work seems like a good fit for that show. If it isn’t it might be worth giving it a try on the offchance anyway, but otherwise, give it a miss and cut your losses.

Is there anything else I’m missing? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Update;

Joe Decie writes;

Relax - There’s no need for all the hard sell, desperately trying to convince someone to buy your comic ain’t cool daddy-o. A smile or some chit chat is a far better approach.

Don’t take it to heart - Not everyone is gonna want your comics. Some people will pick them up, then realise they’re not what they’re after. That’s fine.

Rob Cureton writes;

Also don’t stand in front of someone’s table for 20 minutes having a conversation and blocking the view for potential customers

Craig Conlan writes;

The only thing I’d add about deodorant is to actually WEAR some. Catching whiffs of BO is never nice and it only encourages the idea of the stinky basement-dwelling babyman cliche that hinders us all.

Anything else anyone wants to add?

Update pt 2!

Lizz Lunney writes;

Don’t stand in front of someone’s stall blocking it with a giant suitcase if you’re waiting to get a signing at the next table.

Douglas Noble writes;

Be kind to your neighbours - don’t start trying to sell your comics to people standing at the table next to yours and don’t let your customers block your neighbour’s tables.

Joe List writes;

There is a limit to how many people can stand behind a table. Three is probably the limit.

Matthew Craig writes;

Ye only have so much energy t’put into th’day; when it runs out, even th’best pitch can start t’sound desperate. Pace yerself. Also, standing up works for me. Eye-level with the crowd. Seated, I find it all too easy to get lost in my own slouch.

And finally, Zainab asks;

It would be nice if someone could do a post from a customer’s perspective.

I completely agree. My problem is that I’m in too deep at this point. Given that we’ve got Thought Bubble coming up this weekend, we’ve got a really great opportunity to try and find a convention first-timer to help us answer these questions. SO. If you fit this bill - First time convention visitor visiting Thought Bubble this weekend, keen to give us an honest appraisal of what it’s like to be a visitor at one of these things, use my contact form or twitter to get in touch and I’ll prime you with questions that we’d like answering.