Con Report: Jet City Comic Show 2014

The con season for me ended this year with Jet City Comic Show, November 8th in Tacoma, WA, and while the show has always been a slow one for me, it was still a quieter end to the season than I’d have liked. Oh well!

Fake Lemonade Stand @ JCCS 2014.
Fake Lemonade Stand @ JCCS 2014.

This report is 1,225 words long.

After an exceptionally busy October, Xib and I were both pretty much running on auto-pilot for JCCS, so it was fortunate for us that JCCS hadn’t changed much between this year and last and that we didn’t need to do any prep ahead of the show at all. We left Seattle around 7am, got to Tacoma around 8, and parked in the convenient $10/day parking garage with the elevator that went straight up to the fifth floor of the Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, where the show was being held.

Things were still pretty quiet when we got there. Badge pick-up was straightforward, as it’d always been, but since it’d slipped our minds to request tables near each other, Xib and I were fairly far apart. In fact, I was pretty far away from everyone I knew that was there, but that’s how it goes, I guess.  The exhibit space for the show had expanded again too — this year there were 100 Artist Alley tables (up from 80 last year) and 90 Dealer’s booths (up from 50 last year). Especially considering the fact that at least half the AA tables were split between two or more artists, that’s a lot of vendors for a small, one day show…

They provided vendors free coffee during setup!
They provided vendors free coffee during setup!

The show didn’t open to the public until 10am, so we had plenty of time for a leisurely setup.

After seeing her at approximately a dozen other shows in the area, I finally sort of said hello and introduced myself to Jennifer of Dancing Heron, because she was tabling adjacent-behind me. Other than that, my circuit around the room before the show opened was mostly to say hi to friends, including Laura, Dordji, Hannako, Tony, Unicorn Empire, AJ, Errow, and Tara, and to grab a few business cards.

There was a table providing free coffee to vendors at the far end of the room too, which was a lovely surprise. Since it was conveniently near a bunch of friends… I might have hung around for two refills of my thermos.

Not sure who these guys were cosplaying, but they looked cool!
Not sure who these guys were cosplaying (uh, presumably characters from Dragon Age?), but they looked cool!

The show opened at ten to a light crowd. The huge exhibition hall and wide aisles gave everyone plenty of space to move around and browse, but unfortunately, as was the case last year, no one really wanted to browse.

I entertained myself through the slow morning by doodling various characters and scenes from my NaNoWriMo project, but at no point did things really pick up. There were people around, but none of them stopped for very long, and not many people circled back once they’d passed through… More than once, a kid would stop at my table, only to be shooed along by their parents, who noted “we have all these other tables to go through too.” It was apparent that the size of the hall was intimidating and that attendees felt like they didn’t have time to give any table a proper look. :(

I had one commission the entire day, and I think a majority of my sales went to other vendors — as in years past, only vendors were given badges; attendees were marked by wrist bands, so they were easy to tell apart.

We closed down at 5pm. I didn’t get to talk to a ton of people post-show, but I think the consensus was that it was slow all around, and a handful of folks mentioned that they probably wouldn’t return. Bummer.

Pencil sketch in sketchbook commission.
Pencil sketch in sketchbook commission.


My feeling at the end of the con was that I probably did about the same as last year, but when I ran numbers, it turned out that this year was down 17% from last year, which had already been down 14% from 2012. For 2015, JCCS is growing to a two-day convention, and their prices are for vendor spaces are doubling accordingly.

I don’t think I’m going to go.

It’s a huge shame because JCCS is a very well-run and organized show — I have no complaints whatsoever about the folks who run it — and Tacoma’s not a bad commute from Seattle. It’s probably a great show for attendees, especially those who’ve never been to a convention before or who have small children. There are tons of vendors and the guests JCCS brings in really appeal to the older, nostalgic family crowd. Jet City Comic Show is a good show, but in the three years I’ve gone as a vendor, I’ve never done well, and I think I need to stop being stubborn and stop doing stuff that obviously isn’t working.

I wish JCCS the best of luck with their continued growth, and I hope vendors that do return for 2015 do better than they have, but for now, I’m out.

No idea who this kid's cosplaying, but that beard was great.
No idea who this kid’s cosplaying, but that beard was great.

A big issue for me is still probably genre/crowd/audience stuff — as I’ve said before, comic con crowds have never been my best.

Bellingham Comicon was a huge fluke in an otherwise consistent pattern. JCCS, ECCC, RCCC, even Comicpalooza — all these shows had a crowd I couldn’t seem to jive with. Things might change when I get some books done (though they will probably be picture books and not comic books), but aside from those I’ve already committed to for the 2015 season, I’m probably not going to seek out any other comic cons for the time being.

JCCS badge.
JCCS badge.

The 2014 convention season was a super stressful and hectic one for me, but what a learning experience it’s been! Fifteen shows is the most I’ve ever done in a year, but I feel like I’ve improved significantly in many areas, and it’s encouraging to know that I can handle this much. It’s weird thinking that it’s already been six years since I started doing this stuff though.

But I guess now’s a good time to mention that moving forward, I will probably not be writing any more extensive con reports. They take a ridiculous amount of time and effort and at this point, I feel like many of them have gotten repetitive and unnecessarily cumbersome. Not counting this report, this year I’ve written over 60,000 words worth of con report! Insane, man.

Because I’m an obsessive record-keeper, it’s likely I’ll still do some kind of recap or summary post for shows, especially ones I’ve never been to before, but I’ll likely stop writing the play-by-plays. All of the details were mostly for me, anyway, since I have a bad memory, but now I kind of have Twitter as my journal and the long reports just aren’t needed? I’m sure most readers are more interested in the “overall” sections anyway, yeah? We’ll see what happens, I guess. I’m hoping to write more pen/supply reviews though!

As always though, thanks for reading.

I’ll be returning to Austin for the new year to spend the first weekend of 2015 at IKKiCON, January 2-4th! It’ll be my fifth year vending there, and I’m looking forward to seeing old and new friends alike. :)