The Comic Whelp Goes To Orlando MegaCon
by Josh Sullivan
Orlando MegaCon, Feb. 28th-Mar. 2nd, 2003
Comic conventions are so fucking fun. This was my seventh one as a guest and thirteenth overall since I was fourteen years old. I made my first appearance at a con with my own stuff when I was 15, which sounds really funny now that I look back at it, but I had 45 different books then (114 now).
On the Friday that the convention started, me and my friends had to work so we decided to drive up later in the evening and skip the con altogether for the day. Joy and I took off to go get Bred and then he said that he needed to make copies of a comic book that a co-worker of his made. The long process of making copies eventually put me to sleep right on the floor of the copy shop and I awoke with carpet marks all over my face. We finally left Pinellas County around 9:30pm towards the house of the funniest person alive, Bill Nord. I sang Lawrence Arms and Telegraph songs the whole way up and had fun looking out into the darkness and the fog that seemed to want to eat the cars. We got to Bill’s and talked about dumb comic stuff and I put together some of my books to hand out at the con. Sleep was calling out to us and we all dreamt of sugar and toys.
Even though we said that waking up early was a main objective, we all got our lazy asses out of bed after noon. Driving there, the three of us got lost and ended up on the grounds of Lockheed Martin. We drove around and found our way to the Orange County Convention Center and some stupid parking area that cost us ten bucks. I had such an incredible amount of stuff to lug in and I put Bred and Joy to work by helping me carry all of it. We ran back and forth through the convention center just as a cheerleading competition, an international business conference, a boat show and the comic convention itself were all going on. It was so funny to see people in suits and cheerleaders in the same space as people dressed up as Star Wars characters or any number of Japanese animation freaks.
I have a big wooden version of my character Chauncey and people kept getting poked in the side by it as Bred brought it in. I wasn’t fully sure if I had a table or not to set up my comics and paintings but we wandered around scoping out the independent press area. We found one table left and snagged it and then I let another guy share it with me. It didn’t take long until I had everything set up and people were coming up to me, curious as to why I looked like a twelve-year-old. My pal Cameron stopped by and bought some comics and art. My paintings were all set up and attracted a very diverse crowd with more than a few people saying that my table was the most colorful one there. It didn’t hurt, either, that I had a checker tablecloth and everyone else had a lame red one to set their shit on.
I didn’t leave the table the whole day because I was busy meeting and greeting middle-aged comic fans, outcasts in the world who’ve jumped into the comics world to hide from society, and little kids who thought I was cool because I was closer to their height than anyone else. I sat back and drew some sketches for people and peddled what I had, including Chauncey comics, new books, and free flyers and mini-comics. I ate some sandwiches I made ahead of time and drank boiling hot pop. Before I knew it, I had made about forty bucks and the convention was over for the day.
We left a bunch of stuff at the table and got some sub sandwiches after making our way through horrendous Orlando/con traffic. At the corporate sub palace, I bought Mexican wrestler toys and played with them while scarfing down my food. We went back to Bill’s and watched some stuff on TV while I put together more free mini-comics for the following day. We decided to head downtown and it was just nuts! This was no St. Petersburg… Orlando actually had an awesome nightlife. Bill Nord and I went back and forth from a bar to a club and I ended up getting nice and sauced. I danced and had so much fun. I drank some more and we headed out. I kept trying to run up some tall buildings and then before I knew it, we were back at where we were staying. I ate some chips and wandered off to go puke in the bathroom. I then passed out around 3am.
I woke up at 8am and put on a schnazzy suit that I brought with me. At every convention, I try to dress up at least once during the weekend to try to act like a business man. Joy woke up and got ready but it took awhile before I could get Bred up. Hitting him with my hat and yelling things at him just didn’t work but he eventually got off the couch. I felt like such a badass in my suit and we were so cool walking by the giant line of people waiting to get in. It was so fun flashing our pro badges. I got everything set up for the day and right away I started making money. Everytime I sold something, I had that person sign their name on a big piece of cardboard I had brought with me. A lot of people from the Tampa Bay area seemed to be drawn to me and it was nice and shocking to hear that many of them had seen my stuff before. Even a few Miami people had come up to say that they saw my punk comics somewhere. Then, fellow Ink 19 denizens Julio Diaz, Matthew Moyer, and Charlie Deppner all came up to me within about ten minutes of each other. It was so great meeting them since we had only previously conversed through e-mails.
I drew some more sketches and then a guy who I drew something for the day before came up to me and said that he wanted to show off some of my stuff to the head of Cracked Magazine and Weekly World News, Dick Kulpa. I told him I’d just go with him to see what he would say. Dick seemed to like my stuff but gave me very valuable advice and criticisms. I would love to do work for Cracked because I grew up reading that as well as many of the other humor mags you find at supermarkets or comic shops.
Joy had been watching my table and I took over to put more comics together to hand out to the kids. I finally got a chance to take off and browse and I brought along some packs of comics I made up to hand out to the publishers. I handed them out to Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Dark Horse, and a few others. It was funny to walk back by and see everyone reading my junk. I realized that I wasn’t really looking for anything to buy but I ended up getting a new book by Steve Weissman, who did the comic book “Yikes!”
At the very end of the convention, a kid about the age of five comes up to my table and asks, “Are you an artist?” As he ran off, I yelled, “I try to be!” And he responded with a smile, “Well, you are one today!”
The day had just flown by and we packed everything up and, once again, braved traffic to get back to the car. I felt real happy with how I did and it helped to continue pushing me in this crazy comics world that I’m trying so desperately to make it in. This was my first con that I came back with a fairly nice profit, too. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the independent press. Without you, there would only be a market for bland superhero comics and drab stories.