Yesterday’s post featured a quick run down of my weekend exhibiting at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in Columbus, Ohio. Today, I’ll go into a bit more detail, because everyone wants to read 700 words about my table set up. Right?
A Comic Fellowship
There’s safety in numbers, and savings in numbers. I rode down to SPACE with fellow comic pals Ryan Claytor, Jay Jacot, and Jason Struz. Additionally, Ryan, Jay, and I split a hotel room with Matt Dye. It was a weekend of bonding, jokes, and general goofiness.
It also helped the five of us were all near each other in our table assignments (SPACE lets you request your table neighbors), which allowed us to watch each other’s tables during bathroom breaks and such.
A highlight was when I explained Jay’s Tao of Snarky to a visitor while he was away. Explained, that is, in the loosest sense possible. “It’s got…lizard people…and…a noir detective…in space?” I stammered, as Ryan watched from the side and coached me like a teacher directing a middle school play. “It’s on another planet. And hilarity ensues. Except there isn’t any hilarity. Maybe.”
Jay, having a great sense of humor, found the anecdote hilarious and threatened to have me write the introduction to the next Snarky book.¹
My table layout changed a bit since the MSU Comics Forum. Here’s what I did in February.
And here is what my table looked like at SPACE.
I spent a lot of time reading up on table layouts the week before SPACE.² Bringing my own tablecloth³ helped (hooray for bright colors), as did fixing my signs.
I kept experimenting with my layout on Saturday and on Sunday: switching stuff around from one side to the other and so on.
I noticed visitors to other tables liked picking up the comics to read, so I took some out from my rack and laid them on the table. This also made it easier to explain the minis too, since they were right in front of me. I also whipped up new price signs, going for color and stand-ups.
I will overhaul my layout again, using what I learned over the weekend. It seems there is an advantage to using a ‘less is more’ approach. I heard some artists say they don’t really bother with a lot of signage, since no one reads it anyway (in their experience).
It reminds me of something I read about web design: if you remove an element, it makes the remaining elements ‘louder’ to the visitor.
I like simple when it comes to pretty much everything,† so I will keep this in mind for next time (or just have Stephanie help me, because she’s the one with years of retail experience).
Hip to Be Square
I picked up a Square credit card reader after many of my creative pals advised me to do so. It came with a rebate, so the reader itself was free. I didn’t get a chance to use the credit card feature at all, but as I wrote yesterday, the Square Register app was very handy for tracking cash sales.
You can add items to your library in the Square app, like say a mini-comic. During a sale, I just tap the name and the price is added—I can even add notes to the sale, so I could track which specific comic (or sketch card) sold. Square only takes a fee when I run a credit card (2.75% of the sale), so there isn’t a cost to use the app for cash sales. It never hurts to keep records (I also kept a back up tally in my trusty notebook).
I recommend giving the Square Reader a try. You only get charged the 2.75% fee when you run a card, so there isn’t a monthly or yearly cost if it just sits and collects dust.
I Might Buy That For a Dollar
Did I sell as much as I hoped? No. I hoped to at least make back what I spent on my table (around $60, I think), but only took in $18.
Am I upset or disappointed? No, of course not. $18 is better than zero dollars, and the amount I took in is a bit misleading, because of how it was all marked up (it was probably $16 profit, honestly). I sold eight mini-comics (including a 4 for $3 combo), a sticker, a sketch, and a sketch card. I also traded one of my sketch cards with another artist. Heck, the single sketch card I sold covered the cost of my new watercolor paint kit, so I call it a win.
This also does not include the many, many Clattertron cards I gave out to visitors to my table.
SPACE was only my second show. I was a first-timer there and just one of many, many exhibitors (seriously, SPACE is big). Experience is the best way to learn, and I learned plenty at SPACE. It was well worth my time and money.
Tomorrow Tuesday: The fun stuff—what happens when you share a weekend, a car, and a hotel room with comic folks.
¹ Which I would totally write, and begin with “I never read Tao of Snarky, but—”
³ I bought my tablecloth for $10 at Party City. I decided against a plastic tablecloth, as they can (in my experience) easily rip and tear. It took me a few places to find a real cloth tablecloth for under $15.Become a Patreon patron for as little as $1/month to get rewards and more content!
Daniel J. Hogan is a geeky cartoonist and writer living in Michigan. Daniel is available for freelance writing and cartooning commissions (Contact Daniel). This post contains affiliate links, unless it doesn't.