As I’m writing this post, we’re something like 20hrs after the end of the Five Points Festival in New York. Can I say this convention has been the biggest surprise of these past three years? Because it was. And a good one! Let’s review that…
Honestly? I didn’t want to go to Five Points Festival. I usually have this “Spider-Sense” about conventions now. I know in advance if it’s going to be a good show or a massive failure. And, let’s put it that way, Five Points Fest had lots of red flags all over it.
First, the con location
It’s no mystery that transportation in Manhattan can be a burden. Some areas are barely covered by the system and others are very weirdly connected. From where I live in Brooklyn to where the convention took place, it’s really close. Except… It’s not. The nearest subway station is located half a mile away and on the F line, which, of course, goes to Brooklyn, but never crosses any of the 5 other lines I have access to in my area. Google Map suggested two possibilities: take the subway on my nearest line (3), stop at Fulton St in Manhattan, and walk 1.5 mile or… go to Hoyt St in Brooklyn (already 15-20mn from home) go out of the subway, walk a few minutes and take the F Line to Essex St in Manhattan (paying 2 rides instead of one in the process). Total: 55 mn to 1h10. I chose to walk. It was a pain. I always carry a big piece of luggage, my banner and my handbag. So walking 1.5 mile with all that is far from being pleasant. Even if the view on the East River from South St is amazing. Generally speaking, creators tend to underperform at shows taking place far from public transportation. It reminds me of ReedPop’s Special Edition NYC. There were two editions in 2014 and 2015. The first one, at the Javits Center was okay. The second one, at Pier 55 was just a disaster. And having Five Points also on a Pier (36) just didn’t bring back good vibes to me. Anyhow… Will was excited about it. So we decided to go.
The price of the con
Five Points is brought to life by the people behind Rose City Comic Con and Awesome Con. So they have experience. Yet, Five Points, with its different concept, was a first edition. The idea of spending $250 to get a table at Artist Alley for a con located on a Pier far from the subway didn’t really look like a good deal. I tried to approach the con people, back in January, to see if I could be invited as a guest. After all, I’ve been touring for a while, I’m a published writer for over a decade and have a decent amount of followers. I got an answer saying: “We’ll write back to you.” Of course, they never did. So, as my sparring partner Will Torres insisted he wanted to go, we booked a table. As I often like to say it, when promoters organize a first edition, if they can’t offer tables for free in artist alleys, they could at least give a discount. One would argue that Five Points Fest is still 50% cheaper than New York Comic Con. But at NYCC, you know what you’ll get. And 150.000 people WILL show up. There… It was like jumping off a cliff. You throw $250 in the basket and you don’t know what will happen. Gambling anyone? I feel like we’re already gambling a bit too much in this business: with comics, with cons, with everything. I’m not greedy, but recouping our investment as artist seems natural, right?
Five Points Fest started to score brownie points with me the minute I set foot in the facility. A decent sized hall. Lots of light, both natural and electric. A very warm and soft atmosphere. As I moved toward our table, labeled B12, I imagined we were placed in a good spot. I was disappointed. At least in the beginning. The show started slow. Like, very slow. Doors opened at 10 for the early birds, 11 am for the general public. And we barely sold anything for a couple of hours. Then… The big bang happened. Hordes of fans passed by our table. We didn’t do good. We did freaking extraordinary! Will put his hand on my shoulder and said: “I told you so.” He was right. When doors closed on the first day, at 8PM, I was exhausted, nearly lost my voice, but I was pretty happy. Once again, Spider-Man Noir took the #1 spot among all my offerings. Good thing I had brought a few comics (ones I had to buy to make them available to hungry fans). And furthermore, Spider-Man Noir fans love to discover my other comics, including, of course, Intertwined.
I also sold a bunch of drawings and blank covers I did with Spidey Noir. And, we debuted a new concept at the show: the blank fake cover art board. We’d offer an unlikely team-up 11×17″ piece. Either Spider-Man Noir/Batman or The Walking Dead/Terminator. And of course, Will sold a bunch of those beautiful Sketch covers he did. Clearly, people liked what they saw. The second day wasn’t nearly as good, but we did okay. Again, it started slowly, after 1PM and there was a good traffic until 4PM. The last hour was almost a desert. But overall, the festival kept promises it didn’t make. And that’s a HUGE plus for me.
The feel-good Con?
The audience was really great, but the creators who attended also came with a positive spirit. It was a pleasure for me to hear the loud laugh of my friend Jamal Igle. When I visited his table, Alitha Martinez was there and I was happy to meet her. She’s an incredible artist. Also in attendance was the gang from the NY Drink n’Draw: Javier Cruz Winnick, Sara Woolley and Khary Randolph. I love these guys. Same for Isaac Goodheart who not only has a smile on his face but leaves YOU with a smile on yours! There was also my friends David Gallagher, Ray Felix, the terrific Mags Visaggio and the soon to be very successful Kenya Danino, among others. Special thanks to Jeff Dekal: I’m a HUGE fan of his art and he was nothing but warm and supportive of the baby artist I am.
Other pros paid a visit to the table including the always fantastic Heather Antos from Marvel Comics and the very cool Joe Illidge, editor in chief of the new Catalyst/Lion Forge label (please go to a store and support them big time). In short, it was a blast. I even discovered the work of the CaveGeek aka Kfir Mendel, who reproduces comic covers… on leather! His work is amazing. At the end of the second day, I only want to see my bed and lie down (which I did). Five Points Festival: you got a friend in me. I went from skeptical to believer. Can we do it again next year?
To be continued,