SPACE 2016

20160410_173031bIt’s been quite a while since I wrote…no wait, it was just last month or so, wasn’t it? Okay, scratch that line and let’s start over again. It’s been quite a while since I took myself on a road trip to an out of town comicon/comic convention. Being that we’re an indie review site, I thought that SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) would be a perfect fit. It was known to be small, but passionate which to me was a great fit for someone just getting out there.

Since I seem to be a bit rusty at this, I’m going to go back to a style of event writing that I used to use. Why? Because I like it and because it sum things up in tidy little packages and who doesn’t like those? Ready? Let’s go!

The Good:

1) SPACE is all about the indies. You won’t find big vendors or publishers here. This means that everyone shares the same passions and are really about helping one another improve.

2) Location – Location/parking can make or break a show and I was pleasantly surprised that the location was easy to find and parking was easy as well, not to mention free!

3) All ages – And by this, I don’t mean that the show is all ages friendly (which it is), but that I saw/talked to folks from age 11 on up selling their comics and talking about their passions.

4) Food trucks! – Okay, I never got the chance to actually go outside and snag food but I love that there was something available that wasn’t just the standard hot dog/pizza fare that you often see at shows. It must have been popular because the one (out of three) food trucks that showed up on day 1 shut down early because they ran out of food! On day 2, there were 3 trucks so even more options! Next year, I need to stop for lunch.

5) Friendly faces – Too often there are grumpy folk behind the tables, but not at this show! Okay, I saw some tired faces but heck, I had one of those too by end of day Sunday! Seriously, nearly every single person that I stopped and talked to was smiling and excited to be there. It made doing my job an absolute pleasure.

The Bad:

1) The panels – I love, love, love panels! However, the panels at this show are geared mostly towards the exhibitors and that is a problem when they can’t leave their tables to actually attend the panels. For example, I actually did a panel (with Varian from Last Call Comics and Chad from Sinister Undertone Comics – awesome folks!) and including the videographer, there were only 5 people able to attend. All of them either came up to me at the show or have emailed me since saying it was the best panel of the weekend. My suggestion? Add in some con-goer type panels and do a panel like ours (What not to do in indie comics) after hours so folks can attend.

2) Outdated technology –  While I love this show, the internet side of this is badly outdated. I saw absolutely nothing on social media platforms such as Twitter. In fact, I couldn’t find a Twitter handle (or hashtag) for the show. The Facebook page wasn’t much better. You guys know I tend to be fussy about these sorts of things, so it makes me sad when I see a convention that doesn’t have its own domain and just looks outdated. Luckily, none of these are complicated fixes if they know folks who can handle them! Social media and a professional representation of your brand matters! Unless you’re paying someone to run your site/social media (like some pay me 😉 ), this is essentially free marketing and should be used to get those faces through the door. Even if you have to pay someone, it can be extremely cost effective and worth the investment. If your site/social media look bad, people are more likely to write you off.

3) Entry – While the signs led you right to the parking lot, once you got inside the door, there was nothing to guide you the rest of the way in. To your left, there was a hallway and directly in front of you was the door to the convention. I think it would go a long way to making a day at the show a positive experience to have someone there greeting folks as they came in. This would also alleviate confusion to those who arrived early but weren’t sure if they could just go in and if you gave the greeter a simple clicker, they could get a better estimate on number of attendees.

The Summary:

SPACE is a great show. The flaws that I pointed out are incredibly easy to fix and I’m truly hopeful that they will be. Heck, if they emailed me, I’d be happy to give them a hand or at least a few tips. My diagnosis of this convention? If you love indie comics, are interested in comics, make comics, want to make comics, or just need something interesting to do during a weekend, check out this convention. The books will be good, the food will be different, and heck, you might even bump into your favorite reviewer! Just look for the girl with the homemade press badge (sadly, SPACE doesn’t acknowledge their press with badges) and the smile! I’d say look for me in artist alley, but this whole show is artist alley…so a bit like coming home for me.


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