September 22nd was Jet City Comic Show, a small, one-day show a short ride away in downtown Seattle.
I spent most of August totally burnt out from Otakon and most of September was a fervor of unreasonable work deadlines, so other than some half-hearted recounting/verification of inventory, I did pretty much nothing to prepare for JCCS. I really didn’t know what to expect anyway. Other than what’s on their website, I couldn’t find much about the show online. I actually thought it was a first-year show because of the lack of general information, but 2012 is apparently JCCS’s third year. No details (especially regarding attendance) is usually a cause for concern for worryworts like me, but JCCS was such a low-risk venture as a local (especially coming on the heels of Otakon) that I really didn’t think much on it.
It’s whatever! Let’s just go and have fun or something, geez.
This report is a relatively manageable 1,853 words.
The show’s public hours are from 10am to 6pm, exactly an eight hour day, though exhibitor setup started at 7am. My roommate was nice enough to drive and drop me off at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall at roughly 7:45am. The show occupied what I guess could be considered the basement level of the building, though because of the hill, the lower level was not actually underground. There were two wide flights of stairs leading down from the street level, but thankfully, the entrance was also handicap accessible so I could roll my two suitcases down a crazy spiral ramp to get to the doors. There were 3-4 staffers at a table checking people in. Check in was a very quick and painless process, though it always kind of makes me nervous when they don’t ask for ID. <_< I could be anyone, man! My Artist Alley table came with two badges and two lanyards, but no event program (sigh).
Probably half the exhibitors were there when I arrived, but there were only a handful of other artists. The single-room show floor was almost entirely vendor booths and tables. I think there were panel rooms at the top of a staircase, but I never actually went to look. It took me over an hour to set up, mostly because of the eight foot table, but I’m not complaining. Chatted with a few artists in that time, but while more and more dealers were showing up and setting up, most artists seemed to be taking their damn sweet time? A shame, as I’m usually more inclined to browse artist stuff.
I had less than an hour between finishing setup and the doors opening, but it was a small enough space that I got to make my way through the dealers’ area several times. At least two people mistook the parody tokidoki/Loki shirt I made for myself as a real one, including a dealer selling actual tokidoki shirts. :O In talking with a movie poster vendor, I found out that the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin apparently commissions artists to make these really freakin’ awesome limited edition posters for various movies they screen… why did I never know about this? I wish I’d gone to the Drafthouse more when I had the chance. The guy had Iron Man 2 and Akira posters, among other things, but being out-of-print and enormous, they were pretty pricey.
In the final minutes before show time, I snagged Funko Pop vinyl figures of Batman and Iron Man ’cause hey, two for $10! That is a fine deal, I say, and that might have been the most exciting part of the day for me.
The morning was slow. A glance across the room at any given time showed far more vendors milling around than actual attendees. It was easy to tell when they came up to my table because only vendors had badges — since it’s a one day show, all attendees just got wrist bands. It was almost an hour before I made my first sale (to another artist). Because sitting idly always makes me sleepy, I kept myself entertained by doodling and wrestling with the terrible cell reception, which was, shockingly, even worse than it was at the Baltimore Convention Center. It was so bad I couldn’t even send or receive text messages, much less think about doing anything fancy like checking email or getting Square to work. T-mobile really isn’t the best of carriers to begin with but come on — we’re in the middle of downtown Seattle and we’re not underground — what’s the deal? :|
As with most comic cons I’ve attended, the percentage of people cosplaying was much lower than at anime cons, and with JCCS’s sparse attendance, that meant not very many cosplayers at all. Most were kids under ten in store-bought costumes (I’m getting the impression that there isn’t an officially licensed kid-sized Loki costume — WHY NOT??), but here and there there were still some pretty impressive ones, like that Hawkeye. :O And this Phoenix.
The very small and sad-looking platform which was to serve as the stage for JCCS’s two costume contests was right in front of my table, and watching them more or less confirmed the small overall attendance of the show with a very tiny number of contest participants. The first contest was a general one, I think, and I’m not really sure if anyone actually won or if it was just a chance for everyone to take pictures?? The second one was steampunk-themed, and surprisingly, I think there were more entrants to that show? Never really knew what was going on though.
In the afternoon, things picked up ever so slightly and I got to do a small handful of commissions, including a pony OC for Jer from SICAGA, who was running a group booth in the dealer’s area. Also did three commissions, including another pony OC, for a really sweet cosplayer, though I wasn’t familiar with the character she was cosplaying. I’ve lost count of how many ponies I’ve drawn between A-kon and now, but they’re still stupidly fun and I’m far from being sick of them. <3 Bring me all your pony OCs, guys. I want to draw all of themmmm. (Season three starts soon, wee~!)
Those commissions were really the only exciting part of the afternoon though. By 4pm, with still two hours to go, it was painfully obvious that there really wasn’t much going on. About half the people wandering around were vendors, and the other half were attendees that had been there most of the day and who were clearly done shopping. And so, I eventually just got up to make my own rounds of the Artist Alley — this hasn’t happened in a long, long time. I was able to keep my table in my line of sight most of the time to keep an eye on it, but for the most part, I was confident my neighbors and fellow vendors weren’t gonna steal my prints, and there seriously weren’t many attendees around at all.
Honestly, it’s a damn shame that there weren’t many attendees at JCCS because there were a lot of nice artists and vendors. Claire Hummel (Shoomlah), Natalie Nourigat, and Erika Moen were there. There was a good mix of artists who’ve done work-for-hire gigs for large companies, indie artists and webcomic artists with nice-looking books, and illustrators and general artists. Everyone was pleasant to talk to and the consensus across the board was that the show was well-attended by vendors, but not so much for anyone else… was it a lack of advertising or what? I suppose word on a new show travels faster amongst convention vendors than amongst the general populace? But if JCCS is in its third year already, how were the previous years? Were they better attended? At the very least, they can’t have gone too poorly. No word on a con is much better than a negative word for sure.
I traded a colored chibi Hulk to this guy for a nifty ink drawing of Loki, picked up an ACEO of the Tenth Doctor from the guy manning the Comicsmith’s Guild table, got a neat poster from Mark Monlux, grabbed a handful of business cards, and then it was pretty much time to go. A pretty muted ending to the day, but I guess it’s good I got to chat with some people instead of being tied down to the table the whole time.
I don’t really think I’m disappointed with how JCCS went, but it was still kind of frustrating? It wasn’t a bad show at all, but it definitely has the potential to be better. I liked the location a lot; the layout of things was good; the staff were all really nice, and the whole thing was well put together… there just weren’t many people there, which is really pretty surprising as a one day show in the middle of a large city. The only numbers I could find are from JCCS 2010, which had a “projected” attendance of 2000, but I don’t believe that for a minute. Presumably, JCCS did not shrink between 2010 and 2012 because when was the last time you heard of any show shrinking? And there definitely weren’t 2000 people at JCCS 2012.
My perception of numbers isn’t usually that great, but I have a lot of other conventions to compare to. EXPCon 2009 was a painfully slow three-day anime con in St. Augustine, FL — they had an official attendance of 2,200. Anime Overload 2 and 3 had ~800 and ~1000 attendees respectively and both shows were pretty casual/relaxed. The slowest convention I’ve ever been to was Delta H Con 2010, which had an astounding 285 attendees over three days. There was also STAPLE! 2011, which is probably the closest to JCCS genre-wise, and they had roughly 300 people over two days? I’d peg JCCS’s activity levels as better than both Delta H and STAPLE!, but lower than EXPCon and AO, so I think ~500 is probably a reasonable attendance guesstimate. And ~500 isn’t bad for a show that was definitely very comics-focused and low-key. It seems that most attendees enjoyed this and benefited from the lack of crowds and chaos.
In any case, I’ll definitely be back. Even if it could probably do with some more advertising, the show was well-organized, the staff was responsive, and the atmosphere was positive. Also: I really like one-day shows and think there should be more of them in general. Besides, JCCS is so damn close and convenient, I can’t really think of a reason not to go back. If it’s slow again on the attendee side, I think that just means I need to spend more time actually talking to other artists and making friends or something. <_< I’m still pretty bad at that.