Agents of GUARD Invade Long Beach Comic Con
This weekend was a combo of “firsts” for this humble writer, who is sometimes known as Agent Bobby: not only did I attend Long Beach Comic Con for the first time, but this particular con also bore witness to my first ride in the famous “Artist’s Alley.”
That’s right. Much how Clark Kent can doff the glasses and become his alter ego, I too became a different version of myself: B.C. Johnson, writer, swashbuckler, profanity enthusiast. I still wear glasses, though. I need those glasses or else my eyes don’t work.
While normally I would be barred from such an event due to my laundry list of crimes against humanity (see the infamous “dolphin slap” scene in issue #17, Dear Readers!), I sneaked in under the radar through the timely heroics of one Nathan Schulz! A fellow agent and writer, Nathan Schulz has been attending, volunteerizing, and exhibitorating at cons for years now, often peddling his delicious “Shrouded City” comic (with art by Amy Watson) to unsuspecting passersby.
He and I shared a table this year, to better absorb the devastating financial barrage. He, pushing his awesome urban-fantasy comic that combines Lethal Weapon and Buffy into a mouth-watering gumbo; Me, begging folks to buy/read/look-at my “Deadgirl Saga,” which is also a combination of Buffy and some other thing and a food metaphor.
While I was prepared for the indifference of others and the boredom of myself, what I was not prepared for would change me. Transform me, nay, even alter me into something I could not predict or control . . .
HOW DID IT GO?!
I can’t really pay off that last line, I just wanted to make sure you stayed for this section.
It went great! Sure, boredom was had, and indifference, too, but so was a heaping drum-ful of goodtimes! As a virgin attendee to Long Beach Comic Con (and a somewhat irregular attendee of San Diego Comic Con), I didn’t quite know what to expect. San Diego Comic Con – sometimes just referred to as “Comic Con” or “the Cradle of Rocsatchlipotl (God of Enthusiasm and Unfortunate Hygiene)” – is a damn shit show. It’s a hoot, don’t get me wrong, but San Diego deals in a special brand of madhouse exhaustion. It’s too big, it’s too loud, there’s too many people; in short, it’s rad with an asterisk in bold.
THE PLAYERS OF COS
I wondered if Long Beach Comic Con would have the same quality cosplay: It does! While I did see about 200 Harley Quinns (or a “Puddin’ of Harleys,” as is the correct nomenclature), I saw tons of variety, and not a single half-assed costume on the floor. Screen-accurate future-Marty McFly with pink hoverboard worn by 9-year-old kid? Perfect. Brendan Frasier Mummy character? That’s the kind of niche enthusiasm I want to see. Mary Poppins / Yondu mashup, with fin signed by Michael Rooker? Magnifique!
Armored Green Lantern, shitloads of Jedi, street-clothes Teen Titans, Molly Weasely + Death-Eater, Ned Stark, Cersei and the Mountain (and Arya), a wight, multiple Kylos Ren, dozens of Reys, an entire Thmyscira of Wonder Women, 9-foot-tall Optimus Prime (with 9-foot-tall Megatron in hot pursuit), Voltron paladins (in and out of armor), Links, Pikachus, Black Canaries, and a SHOCKING amount of Ravens. And more. Many, many, more. And William Shatner. Not a guy dressed as Kirk, I mean also William Shatner was there. And I saw him. Analysis: he looks very much like William Shatner.
THE SALES PITCH
I came into Long Beach Comic Con with respectfully low expectations regarding how many books I would sell. And by low, I mean zero. It is a comic convention, after all, and rolling up with a stack of not-short young adult paranormal suspense novels isn’t exactly on-brand. Plus books are heavy. Plus they’ve never heard of me. Plus books are heavy.
I’d done a physical-booth-table-begging-people-to-buy-my-book adventure before, but it was at a children’s book festival, more specifically the young adult section of the children’s book festival. Ground zero, you’d think, for people out to buy young adult books. It was hot, it was outdoors, and my chair kinda sucked. I don’t remember how many books I sold, but I do remember it wasn’t many.
So, again, how much could I really expect from con?
APPARENTLY A DECENT AMOUNT
Apparently a decent amount. I sold around half the books I bought, even if a good chunk of that was to friends of mine I DON’T CARE IT COUNTS LALA. I handed out a buttload of postcards, bookmarks, other bookmarks, and maybe even sold a few ebooks to folks who didn’t want to schlep three not-terribly-tiny paperbacks around.
It’s such a strange thing, begging strangers to come check out the work you’ve spent years making. It’s almost impolite: “Oh, I don’t wish to bug you, you’re clearly a busy person, but I keep my heart on that table over there if you want to briefly peruse it.”
Luckily I had veteran con-man Nathan Schulz to guide me as mentor and sales-wingman. When I was too nervous to say anything to a juicy mark pausing in front of my booth, Nate would always sweep in to extol the virtues of my chicken-scratches (and consequently help sell a few books along the way).
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Absolutely! Spend a weekend hanging out with Agent Justin, Agent Earl, Agent Nate, Agent Sarah, Agent Jamal, Chris Kawagiwa and his wife Tina? And a million more people I met whose names I don’t remember because I’m a human garbage dump? I’d hang out with them in a hot, squishy second!
The book-selling might not always go so well, but it felt great just to be sitting at that table, signing the occasional book, pretending to be an author for even a little while.
LBCC was ten times more chill than San Diego Comic Con but honestly just as fun. I highly recommend it for anyone who has no desire to punish themselves with the gruesome pilgrimage that is SDCC.
Oh, here’s a picture I took with Prompto Argentum!