I had to recover this morning, as I just about went down for the count. I don’t know why it occurs, but my West Nile illness suddenly hit me at about 9 AM, and by 11 I was thinking that I might just pass out right in the middle of our booth at the convention. !@#$%^ I can’t even express to you how frustrating that is for me, as I have been taking really good care of myself, eating well, and at least in my opinion, getting enough rest. I should have been just fine this morning, but instead my head was throbbing, my IQ dropped by about 30 points, I was overwhelmed with nausea,and I was so weary that I almost had to lay down on the floor behind the booth.
Having just reread the above, I want to emphasize that I genuinely don’t mean to sound like I’m whining. I’ve had my illness for four years now, and I am well aware that it almost always reemerges whenever I find myself in stressful situations. After my becoming so ill at last year’s show, however, the state of my health has been the most frequent question I’ve been asked at the San Diego convention this year, so I wanted to let all of those who’ve already come by to ask me about my West Nile know that the damn thing did knock me down, again. Blessedly, however, I’ve learned that a careful combination of pure salt, caffeine, protein bars, and fruit sugars will eventually reinvigorate me. That worked for me today, so after two hours of feeling completely miserable, I’m feeling much better now.
One factor that is certainly contributing to my stress is that we have yet to break even at the convention. As I mentioned in my first newsletter, we basically have to gross right around $100,000.00 selling our books here, in order to just cover our costs of setting up. By any standards, that is a BIG nut to cover. That having been said, we’re actually doing pretty well, and should be well past the halfway point to break even by the end of today. With Saturday traditionally being the biggest day of the convention, we may well reach our goal by tomorrow afternoon. Our achieving any measure of success relies, however, on a combination of factors (such as competition, available disposable income, our product mix, etc.) over which I have absolutely no control at this point in the game. So I have to sit here and sweat quietly, hoping that the traffic going through the cash registers ultimately redeems my rather exuberant financial gamble. It’s all looking good right now, but no smart businessman ever takes success for granted…
Moving on to the convention itself, things are going amazingly smoothly. I have never seen a show where a combination of a minimal professional staff and an army of volunteers, meshed so well, and produced so much positive benefit for so many fans. I have been a frequent critic of certain decisions made by the San Diego committee during the 35 years that I have been exhibiting at this show, but I have to tell you that my admiration for those who run this convention runs both deep and strong. I genuinely believe that the San Diego convention is the best run comics convention in the entire world precisely because of the people who work here, from John, Fae, and David at the top, to the hundreds of volunteers on the convention floor, and everyone in between. If you ever see news reports about the convention and marvel at just how huge it has become, never forget that it really is the end result of an enormous group effort by fans just as dedicated as ourselves. The people of the City of San Diego should be proud to have such a great group of people working in their midst!
Speaking of the size of the convention, I took a couple of photos of our booth, and our neighbor Bud Plant’s booth, to give you an idea of just how many fans are in the aisles right now. It’s not quite as crowded right now as last year’s Saturday peak, but there are definitely a heck of a lot of people in here today. Once the LA fans drive down tomorrow morning, it should become completely crazy. Blessedly, however, the outside temperature should only be about 72 degrees tomorrow, as opposed to 99 last year. That makes a big difference, as the air conditioning system here in the building was unable to handle the heat last year. As a result, more than a few fans, including myself, became ill from overheating. Today the exact opposite is true, as it is actually a bit chilly in here in the dealer’s room. That’s OK, however, as I can take the chill far better than overheating…
Well, that’s it for today. I now need to just cross my fingers, and wait and see how our sales end up. One very positive factor is that we really stocked in depth for the show this year, so we have yet to run out of the vast majority of books that we brought to the convention. I know for a fact that we lost at least $10,000.00 in sales last year on Saturday alone, as our shelves were so bare after the first three days. So this year, I made darn sure that we brought plenty of extras. Will my decision to buy thousands of extra trade paperbacks and hardbacks turn out to be incredibly prescient, or a total disaster? Stay tuned for the answer…
President – Mile High Comics, Inc.