1. NEXT year the Bristol Expo is returning to the Empire & Commonwealth Exhibition Hall (aka 'The Cowshed') and not before time. I never warmed to the 'split site' idea and it will be great to get the whole thing back under one roof. There was a real buzz about those events in the Cowshed, something that's been sorely lacking for the past few years (the word most people used to describe the Ramada event this year was 'quiet').
That said, this year's Expo really confirmed for me that my time as a self-publisher is up. I have a few interesting irons in the fire at the moment and it's them that I'll be pursuing in the coming months. Besides, I'm looking forward to attending the likes of Bristol as a punter - for a start, I might actually get the chance to talk to a few more people instead of being stuck behind a table on my own all weekend.
2. BRISTOL hotels really know how to take the piss. £2.75 for a small cup of tea in the Mercure Holland and £12.80 for three bottles of Budweiser in the Ramada. FFS!
3. SOME exhibitors didn't seem to care whether they sold any of their books or not. My table was in Hall 4 at the Mercure Holland hotel - right at the back in the spaces presumably inhabited by those of us who'd left it late to book. Chances are, this area would have been one of the last places punters visited as they made their way round the Expo and, as a result, it was quiet for a lot of the weekend.
Faced with such adversity, my reaction was to try and engage as many people as possible - I stood for the entire weekend (ouch!), said 'hi' to anyone within six feet of my table and pointed out I had a sale on. That slightly 'in your face' approach worked and I did better business than I had any right to.
However, I noticed a lot of other exhibitors near me made little or no effort to actually get people to their table. This was exemplified by the two guys sharing a pitch next to mine. They were both terrific artists with some high-quality stuff to sell, but I doubt they made a dozen sales between them all weekend. They seemed content to sit and sketch for hours at a time, occasionally breaking off to chat to friends.
I probably sound like a terrible capitalist pig for even mentioning it, but isn't the idea of being an exhibitor to get your work out there and try and make a few bob back on what it costs to actually attend in the first place?
4. IT'S been two years since I've exhibited at a comics event like the Expo and the sheer number of new small press and indie publishers that have popped up since then is astonishing. When I started self-publishing nine or ten years ago there were a couple of dozen other like-minded souls doing their own books. I bet there's a couple of hundred now, and a lot of them are very, very good.
5. I KNOW a lot of people hate them but Cosplayers really brighten up these events. My favourites this year were the rather chunky chap dressed as Deadpool and another guy done up as Strontium Dog - he even had contact lenses to give him that weird mutant dilated pupils look.