Three rivers down.
The inaugural 3 RIVERS COMIC CON this past weekend was a wholly unique experience. There were a number of factors that were leading me to believe my weekend would go one way, but everything went in the opposite direction in the best ways possible.
Let’s begin with my travel. I screwed up before I even left for the show in assuming that Pittsburgh wasn’t all that far away from Philadelphia. I am an idiot. What I assumed was going to be a 4-5 hour drive from Massachusetts was actually a 9-10 hour drive. Car rides of that length have driven me crazy in the past, especially when I’m making that trip alone. So I buckled down and got ready to go nuts behind the wheel, but that didn’t happen. My ride down was scenic, peaceful, and without traffic delays. I listened to music, took in the scenery, and actually sort of enjoyed(!) the lengthy ride. The ride home was slightly more jittery, but only because I got a much later start and was driving well into the night/early morning.
Let’s move on to the convention itself. 3 Rivers Comic Con was a first-year show, which means it could either have had a surprisingly massive turnout or dismal attendance. I was anticipating something extreme on either side of the spectrum, but attendance was somewhere in the middle. Not bad at all for a debut show. Then there was the location! 3 Rivers was not only located in a mall, but in an empty department store. In any other universe, that’s a likely recipe for disaster, but in this universe on this weekend there were not only a good number of attendees but a sold-out number of artist and vendor tables, but a palpable positive energy in the room. Some shows are big on business, and some shows are big on heart. 3 Rivers Comic Con had more heart and soul than anyone was anticipating, except for the staff, who clearly put their heart and soul into making this show a success. This was an entirely unique and pleasant experience. I want to see what they do next.
Let’s move on to book sales. Normally our book sales are dominated by people who come to conventions knowing who we are and want to meet us face-to-face. We get a fair amount of curious buyers willing to take a chance on a new title, but the majority of our customers at cons are folks who already know us. I could count on one hand how many people knew me prior to seeing me at 3 Rivers Comic Con, and book sales were surprisingly successful! For the first time ever, our merchandise sales were primarily attendees who had no idea who we were, but their initial impressions of STAR POWER were so positive that they were willing to put money down on a story they’d never heard of. That was quite a thrill.
3 RIVERS COMIC CON did everything right and had what I felt was an incredibly successful weekend. It was a pleasure to be part of its maiden voyage and I want to see where they go from here. With luck, we’ll be there for its second coming.