2019 marks the year I did FIVE conventions between late August and late October— four comic shows and one Anime Convention (First one of those I’ve been to in many many years, and as a non Anime fan it made for an interesting blog post soon to come). I thought it might be interesting to show you the experience from the inside.
Con#1- Wizard World Chicago August 2019 This is a comic book show, but since it’s got Wizard in the title it means it’ll also have a mix of State Farm Insurance, Fortune Tellers and pretty much anyone who is willing to set up and hawk their wares at a trade show. Last year they had a Strip Club advertising it’s superhero strip show with a Little Person dressed as Roger Rabbit— if I hadn’t already had a serious distaste for strip clubs this certainly would have been the final coffin nail for me.
WW Chicago marks the ONLY show I do as a Comic Book Vendor. Every year for the past six I’ve rode shotgun to the show with #2 son getting a large collection of valuable comic books halfway across the country— which takes us about a day and a half. The fates have aligned themselves in such a way that this may be my last show which is both sad because I enjoy the trip but good because I am so damn busy it’s hard to take the time off.
We left the homebase around 9 in the morning but we had to make a pitstop along the way to check out a potential collection of comic books from the 1930s that they had been contacted about and were ready to buy. When we got their the owners had done a nice job of taking them down from the attic and setting the boxes up in a comfortable family home not too far off the highway. We went through the boxes but unfortunately it was all Pulps and no comics, so it was not an immediate buy. The Pulp Magazines were in excellent condition for their age but Pulps hold virtually no value in comparison to comic book from the same period in the same condition so off we headed.
After a huge mistake of stopping at Burger King for lunch we decided to press on and drive right to Chicago in one day because it would make setup the next morning easier. Unfortunately the hotel we had reservations at was booked solid so we had to stay about a half hour south and we checked in around 2am. We got a solid seven hours of shuteye and then arrived at the convention hall about 10am— the boss’s suitcase was already at the empty booth space we were assigned so his flight was earlier than we expected. We unloaded the van and headed out to check in at the Convention Hotel and park the van. The girl at the desk didn’t seem to understand that we were driving a tall Ecoliner type of van which wouldn’t fit in the regular parking garage she pointed us towards, but eventually we found the oversize parking and landed the van for most of the weekend.
Back at the show setup is always an interesting time. Dealers are unboxing their merchandise and setting up, and comic dealers and the people who have passes to get into for setup do a lot of buying from each other. More BIG deals are made during this time than any other. The hall is virtually empty and looks something like an Airport hanger as the various vendors start to arrive. At these shows as an artist we usually arrive about an hour before showtime, it doesn’t take anywhere near as long to setup as an artist as it does to setup display racks and about seventy boxes of comics on a multitude of tables. But the biggest thing I learned from this is if you’re a comic book buyer of vintage books and you’re spending serious money this is the time you should get in. Either set yourself up as a dealer or offer to help another dealer setup so that you can be on the floor and buy during the frenzy of setup.
Next; The Show Opens