23 May 2010

Just came back from a great day of exhibiting my books behind a table at Federation Square (Melbourne's central art district in the centre of the CBD).

Just after setting up in the cold morning.

The amount of traffic wasn't manic, but was steady and constant.

Here's me, ready for action.

And my collection of books and postcards.

Long-time comics afficianado, Philip Bentley.

Jen Breach conducted an edifying interview with the talented Mandy Ord about her comics.

I can count on one hand the comic book authors in Melbourne that I'd class as a
pro. Mandy is definitely one of them. Jen went through some great questions that gave Mandy the opportunity to passionately discuss her influences, views, and ideas surrounding comics. For an indie/author comics purist like me, Mandy had me nodding at many of her points as she described her enthusiasm for the medium, and creating stories that meant something to her.

I was sitting at the back of the bus with John Retallick as Jen yakked away to Mandy.


  • Selling to a whole new audience of gallery-goers, and the general public
  • Jen & Mandy's talk
  • The venue itself
Basically, The Emerging Writer's Festival conducted Page Parlour precisely as it should have. I can't fault it. I can't wait for next year to do it again.

The standard convention model that our small comics community tries to make 'float' is a hard up-hill slog for the emerging/unknown comics author. It's very hard going to ask the public to pay $5, or $10, or $20 to enter a venue in the hopes that they'll come in and give an unknown author's comic a chance.

Can we all see how much of a long-shot that is without a large marketing budget to influence people? I sure can.

Conducting events like the Emerging Writer's Festival is
precisely what the small-press and self-publishing comics scene should be doing themselves. It would serve the local comics scene to do much. much more of what the small-press and zine scene does so successfully, which is to place these small-time author events WITHIN the foot-traffic of potential buyers. It just makes A LOT of practical sense.

In my view, The Emerging Writer's Festival did everything right:
  1. It was cheap for us penny-pinching sellers
  2. It placed the event in the thoroughfare of traffic within a busy central location
  3. Comfy seats
  4. Big tables with table cloths
  5. A clean open venue surrounded by bookshops, and cafes
The crowds walking past were solid and flowed through steadily. It wasn't fractic, but very comfortable and what you'd expect for a liesurely Sunday in the city.

The event went from 12 noon - 5pm, and as I was packing up my table at the end of the day, I mentioned to Zora that I felt pretty good about how the day went. It was only 5 hours long, and in that small time I'd gotten my books into the hands of more literary minded buyers (that otherwise wouldn't have ever seen my work, let alone 'comics'), and pocketed about as much profit as I would have at a big comics convention that sucks the life out of you over the course of the whole weekend. Pretty damn good I thought.

So, officially... it's now my favorite event on the calendar. I can't wait for next year.



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