The quick synopsis:
I really liked the vibe of the show. The Rotunda was a small venue and it felt intimate without being too crowded. All of the tables were very colorful and everyone seemed excited to be there. It did have a bit of a ska show feeling (as in everyone who was in the crowd was also in the band who's playing after yours) but maybe it's just because Philly is full of artsy, punk types. There was a definite crowd surge in the middle of the day when the rain had let up. By the end of the day (as with most cons) any casual attendees had left and everyone seemed tired and ready to go home with about an hour to go.
First, I'll get the Not So Good / Stuff to Learn From out of the way (none of which really had to do with PACC itself):
1) Sleep: Between having to wake up at 6 am and waking up in the middle of the night because of the massive thunder and lightning storm, I didn't get a lot of sleep.
2 Annoying transit stuff: The LIRR station ticket machine at our stop was broken so our $7 tickets were $24 into the city.
3) The weather: Traveling in the rain sucks. I'm glad that I decided to wear my rain boots AND to wrap my sneakers for the con in a plastic bag inside the suitcase. My 'extra pair' of 'dry' socks were soaked while the ones I'd worn were fine. I'm glad I packed my stuff for the con into Allan's rolling suitcase, but it still wasn't waterproof. The box my comics were in got warped and wet as did my Urban Nomad sign for my table. Luckily none of my comics or other products got soaked. The sign wasn't totally ruined, but it's pretty bent out of shape so I'll still need to get a new one printed before my next con. Next time: put everything in a plastic bag in addition to inside a box.
4) Foot traffic: I'm pretty sure the buckets of rain kept a lot of people from attending PACC. Sales were fairly slow and I didn't quite make back my table money (which wasn't much to begin with), let alone the price for travel and food. This isn't a terrible thing as financial achievements are rarely the mark of a great con experience and I feel the good stuff at PACC makes up for it.
It finally stopped raining after we'd packed up around 7 pm.
Okay enough whining, now The Good Stuff:
Aside from the first leg of the trip, the rest of our travel went very smoothly. We had an hour to kill after we got into Manhattan so we got breakfast at the Tick Tock Diner next where to where the Bolt Bus stops. Taking the Bolt Bus was cheap, quick, comfy and Allan and I both had time to nap. Once in our destination city, taking SEPTA (Philly's transit) was pretty easy to figure out. I did end up with an extra token because we only had a $5 to put in the token machine. Our walk back to the bus wasn't too bad since we stopped for dinner in between. The bus was full on the way home, so I was glad I'd booked our tickets weeks in advance.
Rainy Philly from the Bolt Bus.
This was the first small convention I've been to that had a DJ playing music throughout the show. Although we were pretty close to a speaker, it only seemed too loud a few times. The larger publishers and distributors situated on the stage right next to the speakers may have felt differently. It did seem much louder up there. But any show where you can look at comics and listen to Hot Water Music, Cursive and Against Me! is pretty awesome, in my book.
3) Table space:
I'd gotten a half table, but it turned out to be almost 4 feet long which was great. It was kind of narrow between our table and the one at an angle from us which is where everyone who was coming or going had to pass through. There were a few traffic jams. All the windows were open and fans were strategically placed throughout the venue to circulate air. It was a bit muggy at times, but the on and off rain seemed to cool things off. We were at the end of a little alcove facing the rest of the convention space, so I had a nice view. Another note for the future: Get a longer table cloth or table skirt to hide things underneath like the giant suitcase and wet rain boots from general view.
The table all set up. Thanks to Allan (my #1 supporter and partner in crime) for coming on an adventure to Philly with me and braving the rain to get giant sandwiches for lunch.
4) The exhibitors:
There were only a handful of people exhibiting at PACC that I've met before (like Sarah Lindo, Stephen Seck, Pete Lazarski and Mike Turzanski) so it was a great opportunity to meet new people. Some I know via twitter (like Carolyn Belefski and Joe Carabeo of Curls' Studio) and it was nice to meet them in person. I met at least two of the ladies (Carrie Pietsch and Claire Folkman) behind the Dirty Diamonds anthology which looked pretty cool. I also met two other Queens based lady cartoonists, Monica (forgot her last name) and Kat Fajardo.
As far as the crowd went, AJ Michel stopped by to pick up Urban Nomad and dropped off some flyers advertising her kickstarter campaign for printing the Syndicate Product Meta Comics Issue that I have a comic in. I also got to meet Rob of Panel Patter from twitter and he picked up my Counter Attack Comics. Fellow NYC animator Will Krause and his gang drove all the way from the city in the rain to check out the festival. I also met the lovely Corinne Mucha and traded an issue of Counter Attack for the hilarious I Hate Mom's Cat and Other Tails.
A bunch of people stopped by to say they'd seen my comics at the Grawlix Awards the previous night. I hadn't been able to make it out, but it's awesome that everyone's submissions were on display for people to read. It was pretty cool for people to say they've seen my work somewhere. I also didn't realize at the time that one of the people who said he enjoyed Urban Nomad was no other than Philadelphia cartoonist Box Brown! That and someone who compared Urban Nomad to Lucy Knisley's comics were some pretty flattering compliments. I had some nice conversations, thanks to everyone who stopped by and especially those who bought a comic!
There was an after party planned by the ladies from the Dirty Diamonds Anthology that I would have totally gone to if we weren't getting back on a bus. I'd looked up the White Dog Cafe in my research of food in Philly and it seemed like a nice place to try for dinner.
Friends who used to live in Philly had seconded it, so we packed up a few minutes before 7 and headed over there. It was in a little row house and was separated into different dining areas. We were in "old couple land" sprinkled with other multi-ethnic/young couples. The wait staff was very courteous and checked up on us/refilled our water religiously. Allan had a beer, mushroom soup and lamb with risotto. I had a Savignon Blanc with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. The main course was grilled tofu and veggie skewers with spicy sauce and cous cous. It was delicious and just what we needed to induce a nap on our 2 hour bus ride back into the city.
Here's a page from my sketchbook at the con. I did loads of sketches of people at PACC. I'll have a few more up on the blog on Wednesday.