Thursday, May 26, 2016

Planet Comicon 2016 Aftermath

This is going to be a long one. Heads up.

A whirlwind of a weekend! So many people, so many creatives, so many comics and so much merchandise. There really was something for everyone at this show.

I went over to Bartle Hall late in the afternoon on Thursday to get my credentials and ran into CW Cooke and the Artisan Rogue himself, Mario Mora. We had a great conversation about other shows and just kind of caught up with one another for a few minutes. Luckily I got to see each of them briefly during the show too.

I was set up in aisle 1700 in Artists Alley with Holly Messinger on my left and Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward on my right. Ellie Ann was at the other end of the row and James Young was across from us with Anita Young.  It's always my perception that I'm the least draw in the row and in this case that was absolutely true, but I did well. I moved nearly all my books and did a couple of Velocity Stories on commission.

As is normal during a comic convention there are thousands of people who are there for one thing, whether it's the celebrities or to cosplay or to see a particular creator. So a lot of folks wandered down the row (usually on one side or the other) and 90% of them responded when greeted by any of us. I suppose that someday we'll see more people actually looking for new science fiction or fantasy at comic cons but for now there's a good mix and it gets better every year.

I've lost count of how many times I've done this show over the years (once or twice before it moved over to Bartle and four times since then) and at the risk of sounding too repetitive, it gets better every year. Last year I paid for dinner and drinks on Saturday night. This year I paid for all the stuff I bought and dinner and drinks. If you're a writer or creator looking for a fun show with great folks, this is the show of the early con season to do.

All those years I went to cons before I set up as a creator, I saved a lot of money to buy all the stuff I want and a little more for one of those gems that just appear. Having creative tendencies I checked out as many vendors as possible at those shows and talked with a lot. Nowadays Planet is so big you'd have to spend all day of all three days to talk to all of us so I understand the "I'll just buzz through Artists Alley and see what stands out" attitude. I wish it was different but that's the nature of things now.

I digress.

There's so much to do and I had a pretty full schedule of panels to host. The first on Saturday was a science fiction panel with Kevin J. Anderson, Todd McCaffrey, the aforementioned Ellie Ann and Brian W. Peterson. The room was full and we started off with half the panelists arriving late but that didn't stop good questions being asked. Once we were at full strength, the speed picked up and we heard a lot of great advice and stories. Wonderful stuff.

My next panel was with horror writers D.J. Butler, Quincy Allen, Mario Acevedo and Dan Wells. Another full room. I was confused when I went in because the panelists were already there and waiting to see if there was a host. Once I got settled we got started and there was even more great advice for writers and fun stories. You really should have been there.

Panels on Sunday were just as good if not as well attended. The webcomics panel featured Yale Stewart, Rick Burchett and my friend Chris Grine. The audience was interesting and one segment seemed set up to ambush the panelists because they asked their question and left immediately. The wrestling with art and comics panel was filled with absolute joy about wrestling and both Mike Kingston and another friend in Rob Schamberger made the panel FUN.

I managed to buy stuff that I'd been looking for like the treasury-sized Superman vs. Shazam. I got Holly's novella that she debuted at the show. Snagging a copy of Cecil Miller's first novel was a highlight and he hung out for a while too. Melissa Lytton stopped by and I bought a paper copy of her debut novel, too. She hung out with me and offered a lot of knowledge about current events and marketing ideas. I'm still processing all that. I also found Ed Bickford and got to talk to Travis Fox a little after he gave me his latest Foxymoron collection.

So back at my table between panels, I met a lot of cool people who were complimentary and bought books. I did a couple of Velocity Stories and gave the owners of them dramatic readings. They left my table smiling.

The crowd itself was fairly diverse. I saw people of all stripes and didn't hear about any con-goers misbehaving. There were a couple of incidents that I was made aware of, one of which I think was resolved. The other I don't know and it's not really appropriate to talk about specifics but these things happen at shows. I wish they didn't but it's the mark of a well-run show that there are systems in place to respond to incidents large and small.

I did get to spend a little time talking to Mario Acevedo after our panel and had a couple of wonderful dinners with friends. One of the big things I got was a copy of Josh Cotter's new book Nod Away. It's so lush and dense that it looks a little intimidating. Until you start reading it. Gang, this is top-notch comics. Go get it.

All in all, it's a great show. I hope they keep working towards more inclusion and diversity in the guest lists. I'd like to see more promotion of Artists Alley too, but that is unlikely. That may fall to us.

My show was very different from yours. As a creator I don't get to see a lot of it though this year I saw more than I have in recent years. If I missed you (and there were a lot of you I missed!) I'm sorry. Let's see if we can connect during Kansas City Comicon in August.

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