The Staple! Independent Media Expo was March 3rd in Austin, Texas. It is a small convention for independent comic creators, and we were one of the exhibitors this year pushing copies of Like That upon comic-loving Austinites. This was one of the more interesting events we've done in terms of wide variety of consumers. It is also the first time Christin and I have gone outside the state of Louisiana to sell the book. Austin is seven hours from Baton Rouge so we had a pretty good little road trip. We left Baton Rouge on Thursday night after work and arrived in Austin around 1:30 AM Friday morning. Staple was only a one day show on Saturday so we had all day Friday to check out why the Austin 6 think this city is so much better than Baton Rouge. It didn't take us long to see a major difference. Austin is way ahead of Baton Rouge in many areas including a much livelier downtown, but that's a rant for a different day.
The expo started at ten in the morning, which was probably too early for the type of crowd that would be interested in independent comics. However, this gave the exhibitors a chance to see what other fellow exhibitors had to offer. I received an overwhelming positive response from the other comic creators who found not only our process intriguing but also were impressed by the overall production quality of our graphic novel. I ended up selling a good number of books to other exhibitors.
The crowd really got going in the afternoon, and it was an interesting one indeed. Austin is a huge college town, and we got exactly the type of crowd I was expecting. If you are familiar with Baton Rouge and LSU, you would refer to them as the "State Street" crowd: artsy, hippy, vegetarian types. There's nothing wrong with that crowd. They are certainly fun to talk to. It's just that most of them didn't bring a lot of money. So although we did well with sales, we didn't do as well as I thought we would. There was another type of expo-browser that was rather inspiring: the aspiring comic creator. They, like the other exhibitors, were the most fascinated by the process used to to create Like That. I like to think that it gives them hope that even if they can't draw, there's no reason why they can't make comics.
The overall experience was great. The road trip was fun. Austin was a great place to hang out. We got to go to one of the biggest and best comic book stores I've ever been to. And Staple! was a good show for us. We got to meet a lot of cool people. It reinvigorated my creativity and made me want to find even more shows to do. I think the next show we'll do is SPX in Maryland in October, but I'm going to try to find more shows to do in between.