Well, I’m back and ready to sleep in my own bed, but I thought I’d give a quick report.
Basically, in terms of sales and books moved, this was the worst APE in a long time. Looking through my records, the last time I made so little was in 2003. This show was s-l-o-w. People just didn’t come up to the table. And I only saw about three repeat customers from previous years. I wasn’t the only one in this boat. All the other exhibitors I talked with were shocked at how little they were selling. But it’s not just about sales. It’s about showing your work to people. Yet there just didn’t seem to be as many people. There were long lulls when the foot traffic would die down, sometimes for hours on end. I felt that most of the time, the people walking the floor were exhibitors. I guess we’ll have to see how the attendance stacks up to previous years when the numbers are released.
And yet, this was one of the most fun APEs for me in a long time. Yes, I still question the point of it all (and I suspect I always will), but I came away from this APE feeling happy instead of depressed. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact I talked to more people. Ironically, a lot of the artists I have befriended over the years weren’t there or only there for a moment: Lark Pien, Derek Kirk Kim, and Gene Yang. Maybe this gave me less of a crutch. I did talk with people I know, like Thien Pham and Rina Ayuyang. Yet most of the show I talked with the exhibitors around me. Unlike the last APE I exhibited at (in 2010), my neighbors were not solely recent art grads selling art. Everyone around me actually created comics. And they were a diverse group, both in age and home base. So they were interesting to talk with. And perhaps the slowness of the show gave us more time and more reason to commiserate. Whatever the reasons, connecting with my neighbors made the show more fun.
So maybe I didn’t gain many new readers, but I felt a little more connection to fellow comics artists. And in the end, that’s not the worst use of a weekend.