So I just got back from APE last night. I am a little tired and a little worn out, but driving a 1000 miles round trip in 3 days will do that to you. APE (Alternative Press Expo) is a indy driven show, being that there are many pro’s and con’s that deal with come with this show. To an exhibitor that is used to making money at a show or someone just trying to get off the ground and thinking they will make a lot of money, well this not the right type of show for that. Can an exhibitor make money at this show. Yes (we beat komikaze numbers), but to make money an exhibitor needs to prepare for that and learn how to act at a show to make it work. (I might do a shop talk one day for exhibiting and the do’s and dont’s)
Ok first off I have no hotel costs. I want to thank the lang family for taking care of me. My wife appreciates that as well. She’s knows I get focused and forget to eat at times, so having you guys there to keep me on track was wonderful. I loved the time spent with your family.
Now lets get into the show.
The vibe this year was a little weird. There were many vendors, but the regular group of veteran vendors that I usually hang out with and gauge shows with were not there. Many of them dropped the show this year due to high costs and poor sales of previous years. This is also the show were hobbyist seem to come out in droves. These are creators that haven’t realized that this is a business as well and are struggling with the big picture. It also has a wide variety of skill level. Several legit pros were there as well as many selling ashcan books. This show is also marketed to an 18 and older crowd. Not a lot of kids or families there. That is my audience. It also makes me nervous that alcohol is served on the floor, the reason for my frustration with this is having someone swirling a drink over product and not being able to fully stand. Yet in the end it is not a bad show, just not a big market show or money maker.
So why do it then. Well ape is owned by the same great people that do SDCC and Wondercon. You get points as a vendor for doing the shows that help you with SDCC. Also it is here that I have found several great and incredible stores that want to deal direct with the artist for books and not diamond. It seems diamonds treatment of indy’s is a real hot topic with these guys that believe in the indy market. Last but not least and certainly one of the most important is the interaction with fans. You are there for them and they will support you for that. So interact artist.
I had a good time. I prepared for this show and used the time wisely. Sunday slowed down pretty drastically around 4:30 – and the show ends at 6. (please stop ending shows at 6- especially when I am driving back to so cal. 5 would have been fine). Traffic came in spurts which is usual for this show. The audience though in my opinion seemed smaller (around 6k or so). Since I have done this show for several years now, I also know that money is very tight for attendees in this area. (Still did better than Comikazi). I am ok with this, because I already know what to expect.
Table space is cheap, but the tables are small. About 6 ft or 3 feet if you buy a half table. Keep that in mind, you have much less to show case. If you are sharing a table, than you are also competing.
One thing I learned from APE or actually reinforced my own personal belief…
Indy creators need to decide if this is a career or a hobby and then treat it like career and not hobby. If they can’t get this down they will never grow as a creator or be able to survive on their craft.
The convention is also run very well. My hats off to the staff and crew of the show. They have their acts together, they make it fun and it is nice seeing them being able to relax a little, especially after watching them run SDCC.
How much longer this show will operate with this format, I do not know. I do know that there is wind of it changing. This I think would be great. I think APE needs a new coat of paint. I do know the organizers want to get wondercon back up to San Fran and keep one in anaheim. If they- were in my opinion were to faze ape into a wondercon in the fall at the mascone center, this would create the potential of a super strong show in the fall and in the bay area, which I think deserves to wonder con back. (The reasons why you do not have wondercon right now, is because of the mascone center and the hotels who tend to make things difficult for comic con int’l) I guess they do not realize how much money and potential these shows have. We will have to see.
So would I recommend do APE? Yes and No,
Yes if you are in driving distance and have a place to stay. YES if you live in the bay area. No if you have to fly and travel. The odds of making your expenses back are realistically against you.
Ape is a fun, quirky show with not a lot cash, but a strong indy vibe. So going in with that knowledge will make expectations more realistic and allow you to have a much better time. Then thinking you are going to clean house and be able to live off all those earnings.
Will I do APE again. Yes. I have a place to stay, I understand the show and I live in socal so the drive by myself is not that bad.
My rating of the Show: C+