The Wife’s Procrastination

I asked The Wife to make some suggestions for SPACE a few months ago. She used to work and Barnes and Noble making displays and ordering the store in a way that is pleasing to the eye. I figured if anyone knew how to cheaply turn a six-foot table into an eye-pleasing display, it would be her.

Three days before the convention, she said, “I have some ideas. You should have a sign and some business cards and a lil movie and some music.” I had the idea about the lil movie and music. I talked to some SPACE veterans and they said that it wasn’t worth it; they said people were showing up for the expressed purpose of stopping by every table. I would need nothing but my comics and a comparatively cool personality. So that left the sign and the business cards.

I was busy making The Ironically-Titled Tiny Life Super-Sized Mini-Comic Introduction, so I had limited time to design and print a big sign and some business cards. She insisted, and being the ex-expert, I listened. So I worked non-stop for a week publishing a mini-comic, designing a sign, and designing business cards (good thing my blog is done about a week in advance).

I’m not sure why she waited this long to tell me her ideas. But then again, she was the one who told me that the unpublished 2006 version of Tiny Life was “ugly” a mere 18 months after I asked her.

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4 Responses

  1. (Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the guy who came to your table at SPACE on Saturday morning, told you your comic was “on my list,” and bought her straight-way. Remember? NO? But–but–)

    I don’t know about flash and dazzle at a place like SPACE. SPACE can be a tough crowd. It used to be that at one table you’d have Dave Sim, A-list comics creator amidst any crowd; and ten feet away you’d have persistently off-model vampire barbarian teenagers ass-raping a stick-figure Jesus. Dave Sim don’t come round no more, but there are still those sharp contrasts in quality.

    For that reason, we (the consumers) are always wary of approaching a seller head-on. We don’t want to be forced to approach, look at someone’s work, and declare it to be garbage. (Or imply as much, by walking away.) We really just want to take a look at what there is to offer, without some dude making eye contact and locking us into a poorly conceived sales pitch.

    “It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the country.” [Book was nothing like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the setting was virtually irrelevant.]

    “I wanted to do the same thing as [another comic I did], but this time I PLAYED IT STRAIGHT.” [Talked himself straight out of a sale.]

    “96 pages, only five bucks! The best deal in the show!” [Book was total shit, no deal at all.]

    “If you don’t like it, bring it back and I’ll give you your money back. I mean it. And I go to every comics convention in Ohio, so, you know, track me down, and I’ll give you your money back if you don’t like it.” [Gee, the fact that I might be able to track down a refund for the book you’re guaranteeing I’m going to hate seems to make the money fly from my wallet of its volition.]

    All real sales pitches from this year’s SPACE. I suppose it’s ironic that I point those out as particularly poor ones, because I ended up buying most of the works described. But THAT’s my real point: once we get locked into those damned pitches, we feel too damn sorry for the seller to walk on.

    So, what you want to do is lock people in conversation. But, you can’t let them see it coming, because then they’ll avert their gaze and just keep on marching. You have to look like you don’t give a shit, and then slyly insinuate yourself into the customers’ perusals.

    Also, it helps if your book doesn’t look like a cocktail napkin.

    Luckily, I was already planning to buy l(a, so we didn’t have to do the sexy dance of salesmanship. If we had, it may have gone something like this:

    NJ: This is the first part of a large, Cerebus-style–
    VW: Did you say Cerebus?
    NJ: Yes.
    VW: SOLD.

  2. That’s a helluva comment. And a helluva compliment, thank you.
    I also appreciate the Cerebus comparison. It doesn’t get much better than that. Well, maybe if I heard, right after it, “…’Tiny Life’ is also making ‘High Society’ money on the first printing…”

    Sorry you picked up so much crap; hopefully mine wasn’t one of that pile.
    Did you see Jason Young’s “The SPACE Survival Guide”? It talked about a lot of the stuff you mentioned.

  3. I haven’t heard of the survival guide, but if it’s halfway honest, it should be hilarious.

    Your book was the purchase of the weekend. Really, it only takes something vaguely interesting to get my money, so it doesn’t mean much that I bought the book. But I got pretty excited at the Cerebus reference in the introduction, and the book did not let me down. I am excited as hell to see where this thing goes.

    You and I will be joined, in some manner, for however many years it takes this thing to finish.

    It has been depressing for me, in years past, to talk to the authors at SPACE about Cerebus. Few of them seem to have read it. Any of it. I don’t even ask any more. It’s not that I think that all independent comics artists ought to emulate Dave Sim or adore Cerebus, but they should at least—

    No, forget it, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    No, no, I’m really not. But for anyone involved in comics, Cerebus is something that should be read. Intelligent people can hate Dave Sim and dislike Cerebus, I suppose, but if you’re in the goddamm industry, you should at least know something about them.

    Not that it’s any guarantee of quality for an author to be a Cerebus fan, of course. I’ve been burned by that inference at prior conventions too. But having read Cerebus, instead of being an assumed, shared experience, seems to be a sort of merit badge, a declaration that, “I read more than Sandman and Fables.”

    It’s a good sign that someone appreciates Cerebus.

  4. Again, thanks for the Cerebus comparison.

    Now I can say “Several people have alluded to Cerebus while talking about Tiny Life.” You’re the third (one was an interview I did and another was Matt Feazell of all people).

    I don’t want to talk too much about Cerebus – because that’s not what this post is about – but I agree with you; if you’re going to publish independently, then you should know a little something about the history. I wouldn’t climb a mountain without knowing a little something about who’s made it all the way up and how they got there.

    I think one of the things I’m trying to do with Tiny Life is to have a succinct beginning, middle, and end before I even get started (which is why it’s taken so long to get going). Sim wasn’t quite sure what his goal was with Cerebus until a few issues in, so those first few are sort of throwaway issues when it comes to the scope of the overall storyline. He’s also said that when he originally intended on publishing 300 issues, his initial plan was to stop at 200. So, to me, the last 100 issues or so, although decent, don’t make much sense in the overall storyline either.

    I’m hoping to do Tiny Life in the equivalent of about 150 issues (or less. It depends on how much I can cram on a page).

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