I arrived back to the Flesk office feeling positive and energetic after a week exhibiting at Comic-Con International in mid-July. This is in contrast to the last three years in which I felt concerned that the show was shifting more toward pop culture genres that veer away from popular comic, fantasy and illustration art forms. Television, film and the gaming companies still managed to make a large and loud presence. This year I focused on looking past their hulking presence and saw that Comic-Con is still about comics and the creators I enjoy.
The Comic-Con program guide and commemorative book focuses on comics; the guest list focuses on comics and many of the panels focus on comics. Case in point: Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni and Jim Silke were all special guests this year and treated very well. When I asked for a panel time and space to commemorate our Flesk 10th Anniversary, the Comic-Con organizers provided us with a space without any questions. As far as my experiences go, I get the same special treatment by Comic-Con as do the large corporate companies.
An interesting thing about all of the news and publicity that Comic-Con receives is that much of the press comes from and revolves around the film and television events and stars. This press does not come from the Comic-Con organizers. The hoopla is arranged by the studios set up there, and media ventures that are attracted by big names outside of comics. The people that run Comic-Con still care very much about comics, and do their best to help the little guy, whether you know it or not.
The people that are not looking out for everyone are some of the large exhibitors. Bob Self of Baby Tattoo Books said it perfectly in that we are a neighborhood, and with any good neighborhood it’s important for all of us to be good neighbors to one another. But unfortunately some companies are not good neighbors. FOX, for example, is not a good neighbor. They blast music to a point where it is hard to hold a conversation and have personality signings that result in massive lines that block booths and the entrance to our row. I’ve sent a personal email to the Comic-Con organizers with my ideas to make for a better neighborhood. We’ll see what happens.
There has been a noticeable decline in familiar faces appearing at our booth. Certain artists have decided that the effort of exhibiting at Comic-Con is no longer worth the expense and time. I don’t blame anyone for making this decision. I’ve thought about it as well. But, for all of the faces we sadly no longer see, there are many new faces we see for the first time. My plans are to continue to exhibit at Comic-Con for the foreseeable future.
I felt I needed some time away from our booth this year. I expanded my staff allowing myself the opportunity to conduct business elsewhere. With four knowledgeable and experienced people running the Flesk booth I felt a freedom that has been foreign to me for eight years. I instructed them to kick me out of the booth if I lingered too long. They adhered to my wishes well and I managed to stay away for most of the show.
My not working the booth in no way meant I was there to play and not work. Instead, I was able to conduct a significant amount of business I had not had the time to focus on in years past. I accomplished most of my goals and didn’t feel as exhausted at the end as I normally do. I also managed to keep up to date on my emails to avoid a backlog of hundreds of emails to sift through upon my return.
The good news is sales and interest in our Flesk titles was up this year, when compared to the last three. The new Bruce Timm collections, Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm and the Naughty and Nice 2012 Teaser were both hot items. Mark Schultz made his home at our booth and did signings each day. Our Xenozoic collection by Schultz also sold at a brisk pace. The Al Williamson Archives did well, too. We brought about three dozen books with minor dings with us and offered them at 50-70% off. Most were gone in only three hours after they were put out on the table. I always make an unadvertised special at each show. Those who arrive early have options for a few killer deals.
Our Flesk tenth anniversary postcard set was popular. These seven cards in an envelope featuring the art of Mark Schultz, William Stout, Terry Dodson, Bruce Timm, Gary Gianni, Jim Silke and Craig Elliott were gone by Saturday morning. Just over four hundred sets were given away as a thank you to our customers and those who stopped by. Each of the seven artists had a booth near us and they were happy to sign the postcards.
Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. was our first Flesk panel. The theme was to celebrate our ten years of publishing. Schultz, Stout, Silke, Elliott and Dodson joined me and our moderator, Jonathan Leveck, for a one hour discussion. Jonathan kept the flow steady by bouncing questions between us to keep an engaging conversation going. We discussed upcoming books with each artist and I also spoke about future collections from Flesk. A big piece of news was my announcing our new Brom art book collection coming in fall 2013. I’ll provide more details on the books I mentioned in future blogs. This was the first Flesk panel and we all had a good time. I’m grateful to Comic-Con for giving us a time slot. You can check out the Bleeding Cool News website with a few articles about the panel. They are written by Joshua Stone. (See links at bottom.) I received feedback about people who missed the panel since it happened so early on the first full day. I understand getting inside and to the room in time was an effort. Thanks to those that made it. I’ll see if we can push it a little later in the day for next year.
A few hours later on Thursday I was sitting with Mark Schultz at his spotlight panel. I had a front row seat as Mark gave a talk on his influences and what makes Mark, Mark. It was quite engaging. I ended up talking just a little at the end when answering a few questions. My lack of involvement didn’t bother me. I was more technical support and backup singer and let the panel focus on Mark. I don’t need to hear myself talk.
Then, shortly after was a spotlight on Jim Silke. I grabbed a front row seat and enjoyed Jim’s intriguing stories.
Look for a third part to my time spent at Comic-Con 2012 soon.
text and photos copyright © 2012 John Fleskes. All rights reserved.
Bleeding Cool News report on Flesk panel part 1
Bleeding Cool News report on Flesk panel part 2
Bleeding Cool News report on Flesk panel part 3
Thanks to everyone at Bleeding Cool News for the coverage! Excellent reporting!