Guest Blogger Tim Broderick – Wizard World Chicago

Wizard World Chicago capped off a terrific June! And it answered an important question for me: Where would an independent graphic novel sell best? At a literary festival with a decidedly mixed crowd or a comics convention that traditionally attracts a large “superhero” audience?

It started with Printers Row in downtown Chicago, a huge book festival that takes place each year in early June. Karen Syed and Echelon Press had a couple of sidewalk tables. I was out there with Luisa Buehler, Kevin Helmold, Robert Goldsborough and the always funny Norm Cowie. Margot Justes was there too, promoting her debut novel “A Hotel in Paris.”

I also spent time at the Midwest Mystery Writer’s table, the brainchild of our current chapter president Julie Hyzy. That was cool–people stopped by just to meet mystery authors. I got to hang out with Julie and Michael Black, and I got to blatantly mispronounce Michael Allen Dymmoch’s last name right in front of her (DOH!).

We didn’t just sit behind tables, we got out into the crowd and engaged. I think by Saturday Norm and I sold out all the books Karen had brought that weekend, so for Sunday I dipped into the books I had set aside for Wizard World. In all, I ended up selling as many on Sunday as I did on Saturday. No way a crowd obsessed with Superman and Batman could beat that.

Boy, was I wrong.

Printer’s Row happened on the first weekend of June, Wizard World Chicago on the last. About a week before I got word of where the table that my good friend and talented colleague Dirk Tiede and I were sharing: It was tucked into a corner that didn’t have a great reputation for foot traffic. But, we decided to make the most of it.

And it turned out far better than we could have thought. The con opened on Friday and by Saturday at 5 pm I was completely sold out. I brought a few books out of my private stash on Sunday morning but I was done by noon. Dirk did just as well if not better: His sales paid for his entire trip including the cost of the table and airfare. He went home with only four books.

We also had a chance to hang out with some great comics creators, including Brian Babenderede, Nathan Heigert, Carla Speed McNeil, Diana Nock, Paul Sizer and Jane Irwin, Pascal Saint-Clair, Jennifer Brazas and Brion Foulke, and (whew!) finally Spike and Matt.

Jon and Ruth Jordan and practically the whole Crimespree clan, Julie Hyzy and Michael Black all stopped by my table, as well as Mort Castle. I missed Brian Pinkerton when he stopped by the table – he has a new book coming out in August.

Printer’s Row and Wizard World – two vastly different venues with incredibly different audiences – have shown to me that the world of books have truly changed since even a few years ago. I sold well over 100 books in these two very different places, and it didn’t matter to the readers whether the book was prose or graphic novel, or superhero or manga comics. Casual readers, librarians and other creators that I encountered at both places simply found Cash & Carry to be something they were interested in reading.

I’m starting to feel like a real author, and it feels pretty damn good.