02Dec

Convention table reviews

As a followup to my Conventioneering article, I’m analysing a few table displays from other creators and patrons, and make some suggestions on how to improve them.

TIM STILES

First up is my pal Tim Stiles from Canberra, of Gorilla, my Dreams and The Flame: Re-blazed comics. Let’s get straight into it:

This was taken at a recent instore signing, so there’s no back wall to work with – so a pull-up banner would be handy for an event like this.

THE GOOD

PRINTS
With limited display space (and from what I can see, only one product), this display is great – the customer can have tactile interaction with the print and how it feels, and doesn’t need assistance to grab one. Hopefully Tim has some rubber bands in that pencil case for ease of customer transport.

EMAIL LIST
This is a good idea of how to maintain interaction with customers beyond this event, and I particularly like the carrot of winning something if they do sign up – I’m gonna have to adopt that for my own tables! Nice idea Tim.

SQUARE READER
I can see this is on the table, smart move to accept credit card payments. Could probably use a sign/sticker to make this clear to the customer though.

SPACING
There’s a good amount of space between products, but it’s a little inconsistent and a bit messy. Try to keep your books in good alignment with each other with equal spacing between them, unless there’s a good reason to distinguish one book from another.

SKETCH COVERS
Smart move to attract customers to take a look at Tim drawing, and also offering a customised product for the customer. Again, I’d have some additional signage in large print to make this clear it’s a product available for purchase, ideally next to the stack of the blank cover variants.

THE BAD

PROTECTING STOCK
From what I can see, these are all loose copies on the table with no polybags for the books. I would take the time to polybag every copy except the top one, to ensure they remain in top condition – not just for transport from show to show, but also for the customer to have that near-mint book. No-one wants to buy damaged or marked books, particularly a comic book reader and collector.

PRICING
I can see there are two pricelists on either side of the table, but none on the individual items on the table. I would put price stickers on the books themselves, or additional signage either in front or behind of them in a little placard. I know it seems redundant with pricelists on the table, but it’s not.

CASH TIN ON THE TABLE!!
Not a great idea that I can see this. An attempt was made to hide it behind the sign, but I can still see it. Don’t tempt potential thieves, keep it out of sight on a chair next to you instead.

OVERALL

This is not a bad display. When you’re doing a signing instore like this, some of these tips aren’t as key, since you’re not really competing with other exhibitors for the customers’ attention. But it’s good practice anyway.

Nice job Tim.

S.C.A.R.

Here’s a table display from Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter, who have been making comics for decades, which presents some interesting challenges when exhibiting their work.

Given that we’re outside in this example, exhibiting presents a few additional challenges. Clearly there’s no back wall (apart from the tree) for signage, and if you had a pull-up banner here it would likely keep falling over in the wind.

GOOD

VARIATION IN DISPLAY
There’s both a horizontal and vertical element to this display, which is good.

PRICING
While it’s hard to make out in this photo, there are price labels at the front of the table to communicate the prices of the books. The more expensive items are all at the back and clearly marked in price as well.

BAD

CLUTTER
One of the dangers of being in the game for so long, is that you have an exhaustive amount of books available to buy. As such, you’ll have a lot of trouble getting them all to fit on the table. It also makes it hard for the customer to know where to look first, or what product is best for them to start on?

I think the easiest way to manage a lot of stock like this is to have some storage boxes, like a back issue box. It allows you to keep your wide array of stock available without taking up too much table space. You can then space out your more recent books for a nicer presentation, and also make a clear distinction of new stock and old stock.

WHO MADE THESE?
In this photo and the others Antoinette sent, there was no-one behind the table. This makes it a bit difficult for the customer to interact, as presumably the creators are in front of the table just like they are. It might cause a little confusion of whether they’re talking to the creators of the book, or another punter. It’s hard to gauge from these photos.

OVERALL

Antoinette and Steve have been doing this longer than I have, so they’ve probably got their own methods and practices for doing their events. The subject matter of the books attracts a different kind of crowd than I’m accustomed to, so it’s hard to say if these types of displays work differently than a standard convention table.

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So these are just my suggestions. If you have a convention display that you’d like some feedback on (or have some alternate perspectives on how to approach exhibiting at conventions), drop me a line.

Darren Close is an Australian comics creator. He has primarily self-published comics about his character Killeroo for the last 20 years, most recently the GANGWARS series. He also founded the OzComics website, which later became a weekly drawing challenge on Facebook. He's currently the Managing Editor of AustralianComicsJournal.com

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