I’ve got out of the habit of reporting on events as they are often little more than “I sat at a table and sold things and talked to nice people” which doesn’t always make for an exciting read, especially if you don’t remember to take any photos. However, the MCM Expo is an event that has made me stop and think on both occasions that I’ve been there.
Although it’s very well organised (and many thanks in particular for the warm welcome that the comics village organisers provided) it’s an event where comics are only a part of a much bigger show. And if I was a teenager who liked dressing up with my mates, I suspect I too would breeze past the strange people selling bits of stapled-together paper on my way to something far more interesting, interactive and sparkly like a cosplay parade, wrestling demo or a new game/tv show launch.
I sold as much as I had at the last Expo I attended and, thanks to a bit of cost-cutting, I increased my profit which was very satisfying. However, most of my comics sales went to other creators and my sales to the ‘public’ were primarily my prints of superheroes/TV characters. It will come as no surprise that a run of a print of Totoro sold out pretty quickly on day 1 and a hasty overnight reprint run sold out by lunchtime on day 2 (hope Studio Ghibli aren’t reading this).
And I suppose this is what makes me pause for thought. If people aren’t here for the comics (or at least my comics) then why should I be here? It’s lovely to see someone buying one of my pics but that’s not really why I’m sitting there all weekend (and Friday, if I’d wanted). Is it to keep my profile visible and make sure I’m seen on the convention circuit? Is is to nerdwork with industry types and make connections?
Thankfully, one of the many nice things about MCM Expo is that it’s cheap enough for exhibitors to attend without having to ponder these things too hard (if I lived some distance from London it might be a different matter). As my bus home scooted across a rainy Tower Bridge I decided I was overthinking things, and should be grateful that comics are included at all. It’s a really enjoyable weekend, great for people-watching and catching up with friends and making new ones (along with committing the usual faux pas of forgetting names and faces, which I managed rather too spectacularly in one particular instance).
And I did enjoy myself, thanks primarily to the good company of my table-mates Cliodhna Lyons and Joe Decie, who made the times of quiet trade much more bearable with their chat and good humour (my contribution to our collaborative Hallowe’en giveaway comic below), and to the generous and good-spirited small/medium/large press stalwarts of Sarah McIntyre, Gary Northfield, Timothy Winchester, Warwick JC, Garen Ewing, Dave West and Colin Mathieson, Anna Jay, Neill Cameron, Luke Pearson, David Lando, Joe List, Claude Trollope-Curson, Will, Lou and Nikki, Jess Bradley and others (phew!) who I chatted to, drank with or just admired from afar.
The moral is: sometimes, it’s just nice to get out of the house for a bit.