The last time I attended a comics festival was NY Comic Con 2011—18 months ago! 2012 was completely con-free for me. It felt good to step away as I turned to designing and building furniture, but at the same time, I miss the camaraderie of the shows and seeing my friends!
This year, dear Monica Gallagher was exhibiting solo at the show (she used to have to sneak in on my table...sorry TCAF) and Greg and I decided to tag along for a Toronto good time!
I saw some nice comic work, talked to a few creators I hadn't met before, and attended some panels. All and all a good time.
However, the stand-out cranky moment was attending the "book design" panel, which was supposed to focus on everything but the creation of comics themselves. So excited. The panel was a great line-up and I have much to learn here.
It was awful.
Mostly due to the moderator's questions... such as "What's your dream comics assignment?" and "What would you be doing if you weren't a graphic designer?" and for a panel about design, no visuals was a no-no. It ended up the panel bitching about past failures and hyping successes. My favorite, they told us not to break the design rules, but never told us what those rules were.
On to the Q&A. I asked if they ever test different covers at trade shows, A/B test, or focus group test...or do they go with their gut (see the NYT article about how the re-issue of the classic GREAT GATSBY cover was outselling the movie poster cover like ten to one)?
I won't name names, but the first response was "Thank GOD we don't!" followed by a rant about focus groups. Ooops, guess this big deal in the publishing world doesn't even known what A/B testing is? The next response, "you have to just trust your instincts." Uh, you might be wrong? The whole point is to test two, and see which sells better. I don't mind the fact that they aren't testing covers, but the venom unleashed at the question was absurd. I'm not a beauty school drop out, but a marketing professional with, hrm, 14 years experience.
No wonder why the industry is floundering.