EVENT: @Rcade Con 2011 REPORT
by Ger Hankey
After two days trading comics at @rcade-con, I have had a bit of a revelation; I’m in the wrong business. If I want to make a living selling things to Geeks (and believe me, I always use that term affectionately), I should start making Cosplay costumes.
@rcade-con, which took place over the weekend in the D4 Ballsbridge Hotel, is billed as a convention for all things Geek; for gamers, comic fans, Anime & Manga enthusiasts. While they were all catered for here, it was definitely the latter that seemed to dominate the two days I was able to attend. I’ve been a Transformers fan since I was a very young boy, and I thought I’d seen some hardcore fans in my time, but after spending time in the company of so many people who put a massive amount of effort into dressing up as their favourite video games & Anime characters (often complete with over-rendered hair and seven-foot swords), I have a new level of respect for the dedication of these people. Some notable characters (that an old codger like me could recognise) were a young lady Mario, Naruto & Duke Nukem. I have to smile imagining the faces of the residents of Ballsbridge as they all got of the bus!
While most of the traffic passed through the trade hall, there were plenty of events going on all over the Hotel. A video games room was set up with several consoles and tournaments held all weekend; a screening room showing 80s cartoons and Anime & Horror movies; and plenty of music & fun provided in the Ballroom. Evening events included a disco & Masquerade ball, and a charity auction (with the proceeds going to BeLongTo, a youth service organisation aimed at promoting the well being of young Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgendered people).
Friday kicked off at a very civilised hour of 1p.m. (VIP guests were let in an hour early, everyone else was let in at 2). I was set up opposite the booth for CEX exchange, an entertainment swap & sale store in Dublin’s Liffey St. I have to say, next time I’m in town I’ll be heading in to the shop and I’d recommend you do the same. Their range of movies & games is impressive, as is their knowledge on many things Geek, especially Alabama’s own Katie (who’s husband is a Transformers fan, a fact I exploited to make my only sale of that day!). The Irish small press comics scene was represented by myself, Ciaran Lucas, the ever-present Rob Curley & Sub City, and Naomi Bolger, who should be made to go to every con just for sheer entertainment value (this time round she was Lady Deadpool, who knows what it will be next time?). However, there were a few other artists who I’d be very surprised not to see more of in the near future; Damien Carey (www.phenex.ie) who I was shocked to discover only recently even considered trying sequential art, Ruth Redmond (www.minibubble.deviantart.com) who has become a favourite with the ladies in my household since last years 2D festival, and my wife ordered me to make sure I got another print from her, and Kaci (didn’t get her last name)(www.kitten-chan.deviantart.com), from whom I got a couple of fantastic Supergirl & Black Canary prints. The day was very busy, but we all seemed to suffer from slow sales. It’s the first day, I thought, most people are here for the weekend & probably “window shopping”. No need to panic yet.
Saturday was busier, but seemed to be more of the same for us comic folks. The day was broken up by me giving a talk on the ins & outs of small press comic production to a small (but thankfully polite enough to look interested) group, and an invasion of Zombies. Things picked up considerably later in the day after I bought the Firefly box set (told you those CEX guys were good!) and several people came over to discuss it with me, and I strong-armed a few sales out of them.
From a small-press comics publisher point of view, I’m not sure there is much could be done differently to make more out of large events like these, bar changing the type of artwork we sell. The thing about the Anime & Manga cons is that they give the fans a chance to go all out getting dressed up & indulging in their passion with like-minded people, and I’m sure they are happy to pay for the privilege. The only times I have seen comic crowds in the same numbers is with the draw of big-name celebrities.
Overall, I have to say the con seemed to be a huge success. While not the busiest I’ve been to sales-wise, in fairness I don’t think comics were what most of the attendees were looking for, so all in all it turned out pretty well. I have to make a point of thanking Declan Doody and his Minions (I’m allowed to call them that, it said it on their t-shirts!) who did an outstanding job organising everything & looking after us all. I hope it turned out as well as they were expecting & they are able to come back again next year. I’d definitely come back (free tables are always a plus!) as I had great fun. Now, where did I put my sewing machine….