Intervention was last weekend.

It’s a first-year convention, so I have a lot of thoughts about it.  This may be more critical than a lot of my convention reports, but I feel that a brand-new convention like this will appreciate and benefit from constructive criticism more than just a rundown of what I did and when.  So here we go! I’m going to start with my criticisms and concerns and then end with the positives.  Afterwards, I’ll talk about the events and stuff that I went to, as well.

Cons (heh heh)

First and foremost, attendance.  I didn’t hear any confirmed attendance numbers, but it was very low.  I would be very surprised if it was over 1000, including staffers, vendors, and artists.  It seems like this event was promoted very well among comics people, since I heard about it constantly from my fellow webcomics… but the promotion among people who would actually have liked to attend this convention was lacking.  Of course, being scheduled against Small Press Expo was probably a huge huge HUGE factor in this, so I can’t necessarily fault them too much.  I heard from the conchairs directly that it will not be on the same weekend as SPX next year, so that’s good news.

Related to attendance, I’m very surprised that there weren’t more people, considering the guests they had.  Fred Gallagher, Pete Abrams, Brad Guigar, Dave Willis, Mookie, Steve Napierski, T. Campbell, Ben Kahan, Bill Holbrook, Shawn Handyside, and Hawk were all in attendance.  These people are gigantically huge in this industry.  The disconnect between the talent they were able to procure and the absence of the crowds you’d expect to show up for such people is astonishing.

And in light of all of THAT, I think that the various pricing for tables and registration were rather high for a first-year con.  Granted, it was a risk I fully took on.  It seemed like the convention was aiming high, which is great, but in light of the disappointing attendance, I’m interested in seeing a reduction on table price and/or registration.

This may be purely semantics, but I was expecting a little more diversity in the programming.  The whole idea of “Your online life in person,” is awesome, and I’d been under the impression that the convention was gearing towards creation of all kinds of online content, be it blogging, music, comics, or anything else.  Something like ROLFCon, really.  What really took place, though, was pretty much exclusively a webcomics convention.  I can totally get behind this, but the convention may want to adjust its marketing one way or the other on this matter, or alternately, bring in those other elements of online content creation with a stronger presence.

And on a purely logistical note, I don’t understand why there weren’t any printed schedules available at the convention.  We either had to refer to large print-outs of the programming schedule that were placed around the convention rooms, or look at it online.  This was just annoying.

Pros

On the flip side of above, the fact that there weren’t a lot of “muggles,” as it were, meant that it was possible to actually converse with a lot of these big names in webcomics.  I was a correspondent for the Webcomic Beacon at this convention, and on Saturday and Sunday, I interviewed just about everybody in the vendor/artist room for the show, and was able to do so because it was very easy to get to everyone.  And as another artist pointed out, the weekend really drove home the point that we are all our own biggest supporters and inspiration.  The great thing about webcomic creators is that nearly 100% of the time, they are also rabid webcomic fans themselves.

The hours for the vendor/artist room were great.  I like open hours a lot of the time, but 10-8 was a great chunk of time that didn’t start too early and didn’t run too late.  We got to bed at reasonable times and got sleep and such, which, as I pass into my mid-twenties and therefore become old, is more important to me.

The hotel was in an awesome location.  There was a grocery store across the street, a gigantic Target a few blocks away, and an abundance of restaurants of every kind.  Chris and I ate very well, all things considered, and we didn’t have to spend a ton on food.  The parking was also very cheap, all things considered: $12 for three days with in-and-out access.  The room (which had two queen beds) was spacious enough for an air mattress one night, and then we were able to request a cot for the second and third nights for our extra person.  There wasn’t wireless in the rooms, but it was free in the lobby, and was accessible from seating areas around the atrium even on the upper floors.  So big kudos to the Rockville Hilton and to the con for choosing it.

The crowd that did show up leaned a little older, which I always appreciate.  It’s a nice break from the anime cons filled with teenagers for three days.  And of course, with a webcomicw focus, there’s always a higher chance that someone who has actually read my work will come visit me, which did happen a couple times.

And as has been reiterated by tons of others, this convention was actually ORGANIZED.  Having been on that end of convention production, I’m very impressed at how the show was run.  I don’t have a single complaint about the staff.

The Bottom Line

Intervention had some scope problems, but still managed to put on a great convention.  I’m personally going to give them another try next year and see how it pans out, because I believe with some changes, this could be one of the next big cons that becomes a major destination for a lot of creators and fans alike.  I feel a little excited to have gotten in on the ground floor of this event, with the hopes that it does take off and become successful, like it should!  I’d recommend that anyone who has the means to do so, check into it for next year and keep it on your radar.

Now for your regularly-scheduled con report

This weekend was hot on the heels of Chris’ birthday, so it was half business and half a birthday trip for us!  We drove to Maryland on Thursday so we’d be all fresh and ready to go on Friday.  My weekend of magic and mystery really started on Thursday night, when I went to the Rockville Target down the street for some supplies.

There were… two floors.

Rockville Target

It was amazing.  Mind = blown.

One funny thing that happened right off was the “continental breakfast.”  There was a nice little spread of breakfast stuff right off the lobby, which Chris and I grazed over for breakfast, but it wasn’t until later that we found out it was actually set up for a group that was meeting in one of the conference rooms.  Oops.  :D  The real breakfast was downstairs in the buffet area, and was not free.

Friday was pretty slow, so we didn’t really do much but sit behind the tables and hope that people would come to the con.  After the AA closed, we did a little walking around the place, checking out what was going on.  Almost every conference room in the hotel had wall-to-wall whiteboards, which got a whole lot of use over the weekend.  We also drifted into the 24-hour dance party room and danced for a little while, which was fun, but all in all, we got to bed pretty early.

Saturday picked up a little bit, and I went to a couple of panels.  First was the Megatokyo Q&A.  I haven’t read Megatokyo in years, but it seemed like a good opportunity to listen to a guy who’s done really well for himself, so I thought I check it out and see what he had to say.  The other panel was about Autobio comics, in which I have a vested interest, of course.  It was an interesting panel put on by Bree, Ami, Phil, Travis, and Foley.

But the highlight of my convention experience by far… was Super Art Fight.

Super Art Fight - Battle Royale Lineup

Back when I saw SAF at ConnectiCon, I was like, “I HAVE TO DO THIS.”  So I sent an email to the team a few weeks ago, and they were able to get me in!  I was in the 1st round, which is a 4-person Battle Royale, and it was epic.  Just look at this picture:

Super Art Fight - Thundercats Wheel of Death

Epic.  I can’t wait until I get back to the east coast again, because I want to do it again!  I’m going to try to nudge some of my favorite cons out this way to invite them out as guests.  (Ohayocon and Penguicon, I’m talking about you! XD)

Though I have to say, in the days since my fight, I’ve been really sore!  All that jumping on and off stage, crouching, and kneeling took a lot out of me.  I was arting as hard as I could!

There was more dancing and a little drinking on Saturday night, but I got to bed relatively early again.  I stayed up a little later to do a sketch commission of Power Girl for an attendee who would be leaving first thing the next morning:

Power Girl sketch commission

On top of that, I did get to meet a couple of readers of Garanos, which is always a pleasure. ^_^  Thanks to everyone who came by my table!  It was also great seeing Pete and Katie, Kez, Mike, Allison and Melody, and Christiann again, too.  All in all, despite not making much money, we had a great weekend, and I can’t wait for next year.

The rest of my photos can be seen here on Facebook.