Lessons from the giant nerd fest known as Supanova

Lesson #1 I am not a nerd. Not even a comics nerd. Not even close.

This weekend I went to Supanova with the kids from the ACT Comic Meet crew who contributed to the Beginnings Anthology.

The idea was thus: there were only 15 copies of Beginnings left, so we’d put together a table of art etc from contributors to help sell the stock and hopefully make an impression on the nerds of Sydney and beyond.

Emma Jean asked me if I wanted to add some zines to the table and I said, “Sure, why not? I’ve never done this before in my life.”

And went about hand block printing covers and proper printing the comic Fruit Machines for a Gambling Free Australia I drew for my application to the Centre for Cartoon Studies in Vermont (more about this later).

I figured if I sold even six of my zines I could cover the cost of putting work on the table and clock the rest up to experience.

I stayed up late all week making the covers, got help from my amazing friend Edwina Wright on shrinking the pages to print, stapled 25 of the things together with limited sleep ready to go when chauffeur Ryan K. Lindsay arrived for Supanova Roadtrip 2012.

It was kind of exciting the first night: we went to a David Mack masterclass where hardly anyone showed up due to a programming error; Mack told us a million interesting things about his working process; allowed us to lovingly finger original covers that go for $2000 a pop; explained some of his more interesting projects and Ryan totally fangirled out.

But the next day when I got to the stall, saw all the Cosplay nerds wandering around and checked out the gear on other tables I knew I’d made a mistake.

Lesson #2 Supanova is totally the wrong market for me.

Bear in mind, I’d never been to a comic-con kind of thing ever before, certainly not a pop-culture expo – zine fairs and graphic art events are more my thing.

And I kind of think of myself as an indie cartoonist, I don’t really go for superhero/fantasy stuff, although I do love sci fi; my work isn’t shiny and glossy and full of characters other people invented, it’s messy and arty and original.

Nothing unknown and original was really going to fly at Supanova. That’s not the point.

Over two days I sold just seven zines.

I got a bit depressed about it at first, but since I actually sold more than I needed to at the table I have to say it wasn’t a total disaster and I did have a huge amount of fun.

My friend Ebony Bennett and I saw Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd and Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer, bought some amazing things from the other artists and went to an art legal seminar for comic makers.

Hence Lesson #3 if I ever go to Supanova again, it will be as a punter, not an exhibitor unless it’s for an anthology like Beginnings, which FYI sold out by the Sunday morning.


If you want to buy one of the remaining Fruit Machines zines send me an email eleri dot harris at gmail dot com.

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