On Business: Pro Tabling

By | Monday, May 08, 2017 Leave a Comment
You ever see the Artist Alley table for someone like Scott Snyder or Gail Simone? The folks who are pretty big in the industry and thus draw long lines of fans? Their table displays are almost literally non-existent. They often don't bring any banners or posters, and rely on the convention-printed name tag sitting on the front of the table for identification. They don't bring books to sell. An artist may have a portfolio of original art with them, sitting out on the table, but beyond that, their table display often isn't much more than a few different Sharpies they brought to sign books with.

So I was a little surprised when I caught this tweet from Scottie Young over the weekend...
I dug around a bit and found this picture of Young's C2E2 table from 2016...
You can't see everything, obviously, but he's clearly gone to enough effort to erect a banner display behind him. Now I'm sure he'd be the first to admit it's not a top-of-the-line presentation, but this is also someone's who's got a handsome list of credits at Marvel and DC, including several books around Guardians of the Galaxy. I haven't seen him with a line quite as long as Simone's, but he's still a name talent with a significant fan base.

My initial thoughts run along the lines of: the greater your name, the less you need to advertise it. If you're trying to sell your independent comic no one's ever heard of, just having a bare table with copies of your book makes you look un-professional. Like you just threw something together. Whereas, if you've got a large fanbase, you can get away with exactly that because it's assumed you're so busy working to create great content that you can be forgiven for not paying any attention to marketing.

But then have you ever seen someone like Neal Adams or Jim Steranko at a convention? They typically get large booths (not just an Artist Alley table) and it's usually made very clear who's there. While they're not the new "hot" talent, these are guys who don't need to advertise.

So I think we can all agree that, when you're starting out, it makes sense to have banners and displays and such to get your name out there. But at what point does the script flip and you become well known enough that you don't need to do that? And at what point does the script flip again and you do?

I don't have any answers here, but it's another way to consider how what worked for you in the past may not work for you now, and neither may work for you in the future.
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