Normally, I write about shows right after I do them– but in the case of Calgary Expo, I had to get ready for a week-long vacay to Orlando right afterwards, so I didn’t get a chance to register my thoughts until now!

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is, and continues to be, the best show I’ve ever done.  This show is the example to follow for any trade show in this genre; the organization, the execution, the follow-up: other shows should really take note.

CCEE attracted roughly 95,000 people this year, slightly down from last year’s 103,500 but this show has an amazing turnout every year.  This means traffic, more people seeing our work and a constant influx of potential new fans– fabulous.

One of the things I love is that, upon renewal, my table is in the same spot every year in Artist’s Alley, which means it has become a “regular spot” for fans of Two Gargoyles Comics to find me! That’s extremely helpful in a show this size– it’s large in there, and navigating back to a table after the initial look-see of the whole floor can be challenging. Kudos, CCEE.

Also, the organizing staff are really involved: Mary-Ann, the lady in charge of Artist’s Alley (and half a million other things) had a contact number printed on the back of our Exhibitor’s badges so we could contact her to resolve any issues, which was super convenient (like when another vendor started snagging people from the middle of the alley and lining them up in front of their table, blocking other vendors. That’s a no-no, folks)!

There was a moment of self-doubt (welcome to the mind of the indie comic creator!) when sales seemed dismal on Thursday and Friday– two days of slowness had me worried. I shouldn’t have, because sales picked up on Saturday and especially Sunday! It put me back on track to do as well as I had last year which, while not necessarily showing growth, is at least stable– and factoring in the lower attendance, I’d say that’s not bad at all!

Annoyances: Folks taking pictures of prints instead of buying a print. Jeremy had the most hilarious “Trump – Truly Outrageous” print this year, and if all the people that stopped to take a photo of it had bought it, it would have paid for his entire trip to Calgary. It’s hard to begrudge fans their admiration of one’s work, but when all that interest generates no cash sales, it’s kind of like “working for exposure”– something no artist ever wants to do. It’s a hard game to play– one wants people talking about one’s work, certainly! But if no one is buying it, then one is soon OUT of work.

This year, I felt more social media-savvy than before. Crossposting to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr simultaneously helps keep my audience engaged, and thanks to Mike Rieger telling me about a neat-o app called IFTTT, I was able to push ONE button and then get back to engaging in the real world instead of trying to juggle being on my phone vs. being present and “in the moment” with people who were walking by my table. It’s definitely something I feel takes some practice to master, which is one of the reasons why I love having Jeremy man the table with me- there is always someone to talk to who can help you with any questions you may have if I happen to be momentarily tapping away on my phone.

I made more of an effort to connect with other indie creators this time around; Chapterhouse Comics is rapidly becoming, in my opinion, the go-to folks for Canadian comics- Richard Comely’s Captain Canuck, Canada’s flagship hero’s presence is its crown jewel; I also spoke with Andrew Thomas of Auric of the Great White North and informed him that he is my archnemesis; his publishing, social and regular media, and Kickstartering game is way above mine and is therefore worthy of emulation (my archnemesis-ness is solely based on my jealousy of his awesomeness).

Although the physical rigours of the show itself are tiring, the inspiration of being surrounded by other creators is worth the price of admission; admiring their work, getting inspired to try new things both in my own work and in practical applications like upgrading my table display, realizing I need to put together a press package– (seriously, the Calgary Metro News did an entire article about Calgary creators AND I WAS NOT IN IT. That’s on me. It’s not enough to create stuff and then show up to represent it– you’ve got to let people know you exist. Still smacking my head for this one).

After all this glorious immersion in pop culture (during which I celebrated my birthday!), it was time for a vacation– so a couple of friends and I split to Orlando for a week to enjoy Universal Studios and Disney, which we did, most wholeheartedly to the point of blissful exhaustion. Now I’m back home, recuperating from the vacation but all the more recharged in my resolve to increase the awesomeness level of Two Gargoyles!

With your help, I know we can get the recognition increase that great comics like Thunder, Spectrum, Gloaming, Twilight Detective Agency and Diaperman deserve!

Onwards and upwards,

Michael