So I take my good fortune…

The weekend just gone I had a table at the Glasgow Sci Fi, Cosplay and Comics con at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. I worked out this was the first comics related show I’ve done in Glasgow since the 1994 GLASCAC and the first one I’ve done since 2015, the first one on my own since 1991 and the first one since my stroke and cancer diagnosis. It was also the first time I’ve been in the Barrowlands since seeing The Pogues in December 1987. That’s a lot of firsts for an event which frankly, was shite but provided me with as many positives as negatives.

Firstly this was a last minute decision just over a fortnight ago so it took me two weeks to get my stock together instead of spending a few months doing it so I start in the summer/autumn proper I’ve done the hard work now and thanks to the weekend I’ve learned about the differences in the Glasgow market as opposed to the Bristol/London market. I now know what I need to do, what I need to buy to have stock which nobody else here in Scotland has (at the right price) and what I need to do to diversify so I don’t just grab comics fans.I haven’t found out everything yet but I will sooner than later hopefully.

As for the Barrowlands show it was a poorly advertised event which rather than bringing in the projected thousands, brought in (and I’ll be nice here) around 500 tops. Most of them were cosplayers who on the whole, don’t spend money on comics, and indeed, from the complaints of fellow stall holders, don’t spend money on anything. Still, come Saturday morning I was set up in the iconic Barrowlands (which looks more or less as it did when I was last in it in 1987) ready for the hordes to flow in!

Here’s the version with added roll and square sausage being digested.

So, the doors opened and trickle of punters came in. Now I’d brought a load of recent stuff, DC Rebirth, Marvel, variants, Walking Dead and any Harley Quinn I could get my hands on. On top of that I’d brought a load of cheapish Silver and Bronze Age which I thought would barely shift. Oh how wrong I was as the first customer bought so much Silver Age that he nearly paid for the table costs. ”Happy days’ I thought as if this was the start then this would be a cracker. Sadly it was a blip. Yeah, a few decent deals happened but the Barrowlands is a club/venue. It is dark. We were in a dark corner and the organisers had failed to lay on additional lighting.Effectively customers were reduced to blind men trying to find a snowball in a snowstorm.

Sunday saw the same problem even though many traders had pointed it out so some harsh words by myself finally saw some light on the Sunday which helped.but when there were so few customers there it was essentially a tactic of Corbyn-like proportions.

Around 25 years ago while I was working at the not-even-remotely iconic Comics and C.D’s in Bristol we did a show on a bank holiday Monday in Milton Keynes. It is by far the benchmark of ‘worst events ever’. We still managed to walk out of that in profit because all the traders walked rather than pay for their tables. This wasn’t that bad but the thought of demanding table money back crossed the minds of several traders this weekend judging by the looks of some very ashen-faced folk on Sunday afternoon.

Still, it was fun. This time last year I was wondering if I’d still be alive in a month’s time. Now I’m looking at display units, premises and taking someone on as a permanent helper/driver. I’ve done some networking, refined some ideas and hell, I’m even venturing to Edinburgh at the weekend to do some investigating. From thinking of what coffins I’d look good in to whether I’ve got enough Harley Quinn comics in less than a year…

Would I do another show by the same organisers in the Barrowlands? No chance. I now need to sit down with a list of shows in Central Scotland, work out what I would like to (and can) do, then take it from there. It was a dip in the water. Next time I’ll go up to the knees and see if I can rely on more than good fortune to hake it all worthwhile…

7 thoughts on “So I take my good fortune…

  1. The Barrowlands – my first time there and, hopefully, my last. Not very nice surroundings. Then there was the lighting, or the lack of it. That coupled with a lack of publicity – and I saw no posters, a-boards or other signage in nearby streets – meant that punters didn’t pour in.
    Next week at Edinburgh should be a lot better, well, the venue is a vast improvement on the tatty Glasgow one. See you there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Horselover,
    I have followed your comic blog for a while. I am glad that your health is much improved and that you are now thinking more of the future with your comic based business plans.

    A little while ago, I was trying to think of business that I could run with a minimum capital input from a remote location. My wife had been offered a great job in Orkney and I was trying to think of ways I could also make a living there but in the end I got a full time job.

    In terms of the gap in the market I was thinking of fillings was the lack of ways you can find out about new British comics and how to buy them. My local comic shop in York was quite good in that it had a few small press comics on the shelves but it was pretty limited. The sales of all these great comics must be a fraction of what they should be – they do not make the shelves of WH Smiths or even specialist shops. I suspect that the market for even 2000AD and Titan comics could be much broader if comic buyers knew more about their contents and the quality of work.
    My idea involved:

    1. A monthly bulletin given free in comic shops and available via email subscription. The contents would be comic news, very short reviews and details of how to get the comics. This would ideally by a slip you give your comic shop who would get them for you or direct from the publishers of the bulletin. Costs of the bulletin would be paid for by advertising and the second business.

    2. A wholesale/online retail business which distributed small press comics. This means persuading comic creators to let the business have copies for less money than a direct sale to a comic reader, but working on the basis that once the initial print run is paid for, the cost for additional copies is minimal and the Bulletin had the potential to significantly increase sales, everyone should benefit. The business would supply shops directly (better for the profile of the comics if they are on shelves etc.) but there could be an online ordering service for those of us in remote areas or with comic shops that are only interested if there is a team up with Deadpool.
    I think it has the potential to start small and then scale up – perhaps a handful of great small press comics and begin with Scottish shops and conventions (definitely stalls at conventions).

    I am not going to do anything with this idea, at least not unless there is someone else prompting me to, so I wondered if was any use to you? It is a service I know I would love/ there are so many great UK comics out there which most of us never see and I think this business would bring real benefit to creators and readers.



    Liked by 1 person

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