APE Post Mortem Recap

This year, a handful of artists have taken a stab at roasting the Alternative Press Expo on Twitter.  While I appreciate that they're willing to share their experiences with others, I wish they were doing so on a more archival platform- by the time people are Googling APE next year, their tweets will be long lost to the sands of time.

For the most part, I've stopped writing formal recaps- they flat out aren't worth the time investment on my part.  I've switched over to video recaps, and I feel they better capture shows as a whole, but I have some amends to make, so I thought a hybrid was in order.  I recorded video before, during, and after APE to try and capture the whole experience and give a well rounded idea of the show.

Before the show, there was no buzz about APE.  In prior years, you'd see artists talk about prepping for APE at least two weeks before the show, if not a month.  This year, not a peep.  The artist friends I mentioned it to were surprised APE still existed- it'd all but fallen off the map.


APE Saturday Morning


Saturday Afternoon Walkabout


Sunday Recap


Not mentioned in the videos:

Writers and Visual Artists (WAVA) Meetup- not affiliated with APE:  Fliers were passed out on Saturday for the WAVA meetup on Sunday.  The fliers mentioned agents, writers, editors, and artists, but it seemed to be mostly artists with a smattering of writers.  It was still a fun experience, and a good opportunity to meet other artists, although time was extremely limited.  Historically, these events have never resulted in anything for me, but are still fun to attend.

Verdict:

This year's APE was awful- one of the worst 'large' indie shows I've done, and I did TCAF the year they installed a Children's Sauna for the kidlit artists to stew in.  I've done some awful shows, and APE was one of the worst- certainly the worst show I've flown to attend.  And I feel partially responsible for that- I'm one of the few convention artists who regularly shares recaps, and I was a bit remiss in last year's.  I feel like I gave the impression that APE was a better show than it was, fueled by my own decent experience there- we met a lot of awesome artists, had a lot of great chats with customers, I sold $600 worth of stuff, won best table (and a free table for 2017) and sold out of 7" Kara at the show last year.  The warning signs were all there- slow sales with a brief uptic on Saturday, no publicity or buzz, annoyed artists, but I neglected to mention that.  I wanted to give APE a chance to turn around.

APE Post Mortum


Last Year's Video Recap


After APE 2016, Heidi and I attended the after party at Bar-tiki.  It was a sparsely attended event, and it gave us an opportunity to talk to Dan Vado, APE's current owner, candidly about APE, our experiences, and what could be done to improve.  Although he didn't take notes at the time, he did seem open to our suggestions- we experienced none of the hostility some artists have experienced.  We followed that meeting up with a list of the changes we discussed- easy and inexpensive ways to promote the con via social media, fliers, and local outreach, and Heidi even volunteered her time if he were willing.  We wanted to give Vado time and a chance to turn the con around, as indie cons in general are increasingly difficult to get into, and we wanted to see the situation improve.  Nothing we suggested was followed up on, and Heidi's generous offer was left unclaimed.

Things We Suggested:
Fliers in coffeeshops, comic shops, tech company campuses, around the city
Outreach to other conventions
Ads on radio, tv
Revitalize APE social media- Tumblr features for attending artists, Instagram, Twitter engagement
Reduce admission for attendees
Reduce table costs for artists

So now, all I can do is strongly recommend that if you're reading this, skip APE.  Indie cons have gotten increasingly difficult to get tables at, attendance at most is so high that many artists see poor sales as customers can't discover new content, so APE might seem tempting.  Instead, attend a local indie comic con- you're more likely to meet other artists, make new friends, and not break the bank doing either.

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