“The bluest skies I’ve ever seen weren’t in Seattle. The greenest hills I’ve ever seen weren’t in Seattle. When I arrived in that coastal town, there was only shades of gray.” - Bruce McCollough
So I’m in Seattle at the Penny Arcade Expo. No fanfare, no sound and fury, I just showed up like a Ninja. So far, not including my boothmates from Oni and UDON, I have seen exactly 5 comic book people at this event: John Green, COrey Lewis, Ryan Yount, Marion Vitus, and Ed Brubaker. This is not a comic book show or really of any interest to comics people… although the guy walking around dressed as The Tick might lead you to believe otherwise.
Why am I here? Is this really a vacation? WTF? I wrote this on the plane on the way in Thursday morning, trying to sum up my own feelings on the event:
I am currently on my way to PAX and I have no idea why I’m going. Well, I know why. My friend Jim asked me if I could help him out at the UDON booth, and I said yes. Thinking about it now, part of me wanted to do this for the work aspects… to see how the Penny Arcade guys run their event. I run an event too–the Toronto Comic Arts Festival–and while TCAF & PAX started at around the same time, last year PAX’s attendence was roughly 37,000 people, and TCAF managed about 6500 over the course of a half-dozen festival events… I want to see how the show has managed to grow, and why, but also how they manage that many attendees all at once! Maybe it’s just hubris, but I can totally see a time when TCAF could be this big, or bigger, and attending PAX in the first few years to see how the show works makes a lot of sense to me. To see ways we can improve, add features and value for attendees. Ideas to steal.
The other reason I wanted to go, and this is the crazy one, is that I just love conventions. Love’em. I love theshow floor, the panels, the events… I love sleeping on hotel beds, using hotel pools, getting to see at least a small part of a new city. I like meeting people, and getting a chance to interact with the people I’ve already met. I almost always have a great time at cons–San Diego this year was fantastic–and I’m kind of expecting that this will be no different. Actually, scratch that, it will be different because I’ve got no horse in this race. PAX is a video game con, with video game industry people and video game fans and video game obligations and… I’m a comics guy. Even me, your humble blogger, I try to be… well I have to be… “on” at comics shows. Or book events for that matter. But this? This is a vacation to a place where you speak the language but the culture is totally different. Where you can observe (and even interact!) without affecting the proceedings. I will be in the mist, chilling with the gorillas and we’ve all got Nintendo DS’s. I can sell comics in my sleep, I’ve been to over 50 conventions in my lifetime, the “work” part of this will be easy. That just leaves fun and frolic and a drink or two. Maybe.
I can’t think of a better reason to go away for the weekend.
Now it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m out in the lobby using their free wireless and taking pictures of people walking by. It’s been a pretty fun weekend, we sold the UDON booth out of almost every book they had (the manga didn’t move quite as well as everything else, but it still did solid). I’ve actually gotten 3 really good nights’ sleep, and I feel like I learned an awful lot from these guys. I even got to have a quick conversation with some people from Reed Exhibitions, the folks that will be helping the PAX show expand to the east coast (and the folks who put on the New York Comic Con). That’ll be interesting.
I’ll probably have a more thorough wrap-up of the event later, but for now, I’m having a great time, and I’m going to go finish up the day.