Behind the Scenes @ SJRP
On the Road: A View from Behind the Table
by writer, Tony DiGerolamo
When you do a convention, signing or event, you're basically doing the same thing at each--- Promoting the product. There was quite a learning curve to this. When I first started up SJRP, the convention table was sparse at best.
This is the 1997 table. It included Jersey Devil #1, Jersey Devil #2, a mailing list, the infamous Jersey Devil rulers (long since out of stock), artwork by Jersey Devil artist, Dom LaGrutta, Jr., the J.D. mask I made, the tinfoil statues of J.D. and Nate the Ghost Pirate (by Osman Kareem) and stuff like bubblegum or candy to give away. Back then, it was difficult just to make the table look full.
Two years later, the table was swamped with books and merchandise. I had tried T-shirts for a while, but they were just too much trouble to lug around, besides look at all the comics!
Dom used his knowledge of construction and I used my knowledge of complaining that we didn't have a backdrop and the PVC pipe came together. This helped provide a point of presentation when I created the Altar of Scarfice. It was almost like a little stage for me.
Eventually, to free up table space, we brought in a rack and little stand up thingees to increase our presentation. (On the left is Tony Destructo at Philcon and on the right is Jay Moreno, dressed as a zombie, Chris Moreno, dressed as a Beastlyville Guard and yours truly dressed as Father Shambles for the Borders tour we did at the end of 2002.)
Unfortunately for the staff of SJRP, we often have to get up early and drive really far before the convention even starts. James Dunn sums up my sentiments about getting up early nicely in this picture at Adventure Con in Allentown, PA. It was a fun con, but a far drive for the crew. On the other hand, you sometimes get free food and drink. Borders Books treated us to whatever we wanted. (Thanks Michele!)
Sometimes you show up to a signing and the store owners and convention people are totally on the ball. For instance, the staff at this Tower Book store in Philadelphia had their own art department. They blew up a picture of J.D. and had nice signs all over the store. Sometimes you show up to a comic book store and the store owner will give you a blank look and say, "Oh. Was the signing today?" I always try and remember to call and confirm. There wasn't much I could do about the Echelon Mall sign here. All I can say is, "Duuuuuhhh."
Still, the perks are worth. I got some totally kick-ass pens from the Gloucester Rotary Club when I gave my talk on the Jersey Devil. Thanks guys! I'm still using them!
The bottom line is, when you're on the road, it can be a drag, but it sure beats sitting behind a desk! Yeah, we gotta carry a lot of stuff and sometimes we do a signing or a con at its much smaller than we expected. It's still worth it for the days when the fans are many, the sales are quick and easy and we get to meeting interesting people.
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