To SPACE…No More!

It’s been just over a week since I got back from SPACE so I’ve had time to rest and reflect on the experience. In case you’ve never heard of SPACE the small press & alternative comics expo, it’s been an annual event for the last 16 years held in Columbus, Ohio. It was the first comic show that I worked as a creator.

Back in ’06 Janet & I rented a car and drove through the desolate wasteland that is Indiana to the buckeye state and spent two nights there for the one day show on Saturday. It was held at some masonic hall with really creepy photos of past members on the walls. Cerebus creator Dave Sim was there.  My first book, Complicated Hair #1 was all I had literally on the table. No cloth, signage or promotional items, just a lot of excitement and determination. We ended up selling probably less than ten books but we did meet some really cool people. Moreover, now I felt like a professional comics creator because not only have I written & drawn a book and had it printed but I finally get to be on the other side of the table something I’ve wanted to do my entire life.

The next SPACE trip was 2013 and that was my first road trip to a con since the “06 show. I didn’t have really high expectations but expected to do much better this time simply because I had four other books and other things like sketch cards & magnets. To my surprise my sales were similar to the first trip!

The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin' interior and loaded with options that I didn't figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael,"does it feel like we're doing 90"?
The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin’ interior and loaded with options that I didn’t figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael, does it feel like we’re doing 90?

So now to the latest trip. I decided to give SPACE one more chance. Plus my friend Michael who accompanied me on the last trip wanted to see the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. We did see the museum and I’ll recount that experience in a future entry. I was worried that we couldn’t set up the day before but setup went smoothly Saturday morning. There seemed to be decent attendance but it was well after noon before I got a single sale. By the end of the day I was ready to slit my wrists. In my limited experience doing comic shows this was one of the worst days ever.

First sale of the day around 12:30.
First sale of the day around 12:30.

Sunday we roll in about half an hour late full of a good Bob Evans breakfast. Since I’m selling next to nothing I took a few minutes to look around and check out the other artists. By the time I finally got to my table I’d accepted the reality that it was all a loss and was having a conversation with one of my neighbors that had a table literally in a dark corner when Bob Corby the show’s organizer appeared at my table.

Harvey Pekar's widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
Harvey Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he's doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he’s doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple'a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that's almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple’a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that’s almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!

Bob is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. This show is a labor of love for him. So Bob tells me that a spot just opened up in the main room. Apparently somebody got sick and left early and the spot that was open was the first table on the right as soon as you walk in. This has to be what they had in mind when somebody came up with the saying”closing the barn door after the horse is gone”. I kindly accepted Bob’s offer and moved. At the very least the energy was better at the new table since for the first time I got some not so friendly neighbors. The new spot was prime and right next to the front door which made for easy load out.

Without knowing I had booked the room at the same Best Western Janet & I stayed in my first time in Columbus. How fitting to come full circle with this SPACE experience. This will be my last SPACE experience. Even though it’s a wonderful idea and the people are awesome, for whatever reasons it’s never been a good show for me. Maybe it’s a regional thing. The cartoonists and fans of Columbus are very lucky to have a show like SPACE. There is no show that is equivalent to it in Chicago which really sucks when you consider the size of this city and the talent here. Sure there’s CAKE but that’s a curated show that’s difficult to get in for some people whereas SPACE is first come first in. I wish everyone involved well but I shall not return.

 

4 Replies to “To SPACE…No More!”

  1. Well it’s nice to read your sentimental experience of the first SPACE show you went to (with me), to finally be on the other side of the table at long last. That explains why you gave SPACE three tries. Well I can’t wait until you have a great show at the Wizard World Comicon here in Chicago, in 23 days…..August 20-23, 2015!

  2. Lorenzo,
    Sorry you didn’t do well. I was disappointed too that we didn’t increase attendance this year. We are making plans to increase the traffic in the smaller room for next year and the venue has a list of problems from this year that they will attend to. I got mixed answers when it came to sales. Some people did great other not so much. Frankly, I didn’t have a great weekend when it came to sales of my comics. I understand the expense of traveling and don’t blame you. I stayed relatively close to home this year because of all the $$$ I lost when the original venue closed. We’ll keep working at it and hope you can give us another chance in the future.

    1. Bob, I know that you work extremely hard on making SPACE happen and my only regret is that we don’t live in the same state 🙂
      Usually I never say never but one reason I was so definitive in my declaration of not returning is my wife Janet and I plan
      to move to the west coast within the next year or so. Who knows, the time may come when I’ll be able to fly across the country
      whenever the urge strikes me. If that ever happens I wouldn’t mind spending a weekend at SPACE since it has such a great community
      vibe and Columbus is a pretty cool place.

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