This past Saturday I attended Plastic City Comic Con 2023. The convention is right in my area here in Central Massachusetts, so I’ve tabled at it each and every year. The venue has changed a few times- starting in Leominster’s Veteran’s Center, then jumping to Fitchburg’s Wallace Civic Center, and this year making the leap to the relatively new Game On facility.
It’s super cool and rewarding to connect directly with readers at conventions like Plastic City. I encountered an interesting trend this year- a number of people who picked up LadyDarke #1 at various places were excited and eager to pick up issue 2 and the brand new issue 3. So, we’ve built up something of a following and a contingent of repeat readers.
I chalk up several of the “loyal readers” phenomenon to my appearances at local comic shops and some in-store events I did at That’s Entertainment and the Hall of Comics (huge shoutout to the staff of both stores for having me!). Hearing “I picked up issue 1 at Free Comic Book Day and have been excited for what’s next!” is truly humbling and served as a great kind of grounding moment for me, reminding me of what it’s all about. That, and sweet, sweet, money from an international multimedia conglomerate who wants to buy the rights. But that’s a different story.
As you toil in the unforgiving mines of creativity making comics, it’s sometimes easy to forget that ultimately the point of it all is for people to read and enjoy the final product. Between writing, creating, printing, producing, shipping, and all the various headaches and obstacles involved with being an independent self-publisher, the end result of “Here’s a cool thing I made for you all to enjoy!” can get lost in the shuffle. So that makes events like Plastic City not just an amusement, but a necessary part of the process for me as a creator. It’s almost something like therapy.
Having 3 complete issues of LadyDarke on the table is pretty awesome. Most of my earlier work as done in a one-shot style or anthologies, where I was often spending a lot of energy explaining other people’s work (with mine attached as a minor kind of barnacle) or making sheepish apologies for my little short, weird comics, Being able to bundle LadyDarke #1-3 and know I was providing new readers something I can be proud of in terms of delivering a solid read, a fully realized world, and a concrete premise all adds up to feeling good. It’s going to be really cool, and perhaps a little surreal, to have the complete Darke Beginnings arc finished in the not-too-distant future.
I was able to take a few moments away from my table to check out the other artists and creators at the con. I’m always astounded by how much incredible work is being done out there. I picked up a trove of stuff. Highlights include a new Famous Monsters-style magazine produced right here in New England called The Monstah Mag, pulpy horror comics from Death Curse, a really trippy Transmetropolitan style book called Dose!, an intriguing book called Transmissions from Dreamtown, and some groovy Sam n Max fan art. A great haul!
Comic cons are a strange blend of art fair, flea market, and traveling Fellini-esque freak show. I’ve been doing them for about a decade now, and each time, things get simultaneously easier and stranger. On the easier side are the mechanics of table setup, book displays, delivering the pitch without sounding like you’re delivering the pitch, transactions via bad wifi, and all the rest. On the strange side is the ever-expanding sprawl of comics on my table, somehow born into existence, and the sobering realization that the stuff of dreams, nightmares, and everything in-between can be given physical form and willed into reality. As a creator, you’re often engaged in the act of channeling energy into the big wide, scary universe. Conventions are a great place to feel that energy boomerang back around. See you out there one day, in the circus.