By D. Lynn Smith
Last month, Kymera Press went to Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bubonicon is New Mexico’s oldest and best science fiction and fantasy convention, held in Albuquerque every August. This year there were 850 attendees. Yes, it’s a small convention, but it is not small when it comes to the writers who attend every year.
Who are some of these attending writers? They are Daniel Abraham, John Barnes, Richard Berthold, Livia Blackburne, Ben Bova, Adam Jarmon Brown, Craig A. Butler, Aaron Campbell, Suzy M. Charnas, Yvonne Coats, Dr. Larry Crumpler, Doranna Durgin, Zachary Gallegos of Mars One, Josh Gentry, Raya Golden, Steven Gould, Sally Gwylan, Loretta Hall, Darla Hallmark, Betsy James, Darynda Jones, Jeffe Kennedy, T. Jackson King, Susan Krinard, Jane Lindskold, Christine MacKenzie, Emily Mah, George R.R. Martin, Victor Milan, Gail Gerstner-Miller, John Jos. Miller, Pati Nagle, costumers Charles & Tauni Orndorff, Scott Phillips, John Picacio, C.S. Plesko, science speaker Benjamin Radford, M.T. Reiten, John Maddox Roberts, Joan S. Saberhagen, Jon Sanchez, Debbie Lynn Smith (me!), Melinda Snodgrass, Jim Sorenson, Caroline Spector, Gabi Stevens, S.M. Stirling, David Lee Summers, Pari Noskin (Taichert), Lauren Teffeau, Sarena Ulibarri, Robert Vardeman, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams and more.
If you are deeply into comics, you’ll notice there are very few comic creators here, and even fewer artists. However, if you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you’ll be wowed by the above list. I mean George R. R. Martin? Come on. Ben Bova! You must be kidding. Carrie Vaughn and Walter John Williams…Steven Gould and Jane Lindskold…
Bubonicon is a convention where fans can meet and talk to their favorite writers. Novels and short stories are the focus, not comics.
The theme of this year’s convention was “Women of Wonder.” Guests included Tamera Pierce, Mary Robinette Kowal, Catherine M. Valente and Ruth Sanderson, all wonderfully creative women. So this was a great time to bring Kymera Press and its message of supporting women in comics to Bubonicon.
I mentioned in a previous post that Bubonicon fans were very good to us this year. We sold almost as many comics as we sold at the much bigger San Diego Comic Con. That was great, but it wasn’t the most interesting part of the convention. The interesting part was just who was buying those comics.
Of course we had comic fans stopping by the table and picking up issues. Science fiction and fantasy and comics have a lot of crossover fans. But what was really interesting were the people who said, “I don’t usually read comics, but this story sounds really interesting.” Or the people who commented, “I am really caught up by the artwork.”
These people bought our books. They weren’t regular comic readers. They were at the convention because they read novels. Looking through our books, most of these people were surprised by the quality of the artwork and the depth of story. We even had people who bought Issues 1-4 of Gates coming back to our table looking for Issue #5, which hasn’t been printed yet.
In another case, a girl about 8 years old wanted to buy Pet Noir. She finally convinced her mother, but as they walked away her mother said to her, making sure that I could hear, “But you can’t stop reading books.”
To me, this is an example of the stigma comic books have. People just don’t realize how complex reading a comic can be. I talked in a previous post about how reading comics involves looking at the art as well as the words because most of the story is told in the art. Hopefully that mother will read Pet Noir herself and see that it’s a worthwhile reading experience.
I don’t want people to stop reading novels. I read novels and will never give them up. But there is a place for the comic reading experience as well.
Bubonicon showed me that there are people out there who are willing to give comics a try. What we have to do as an industry is reach these people who would be too overwhelmed or intimidated to walk into a comic book store or go to a comic book convention. Actually I get overwhelmed with the amount of great material out there.
Because I also write short stories, I’ve attended a lot of conventions like Bubonicon. I thought that comic conventions were going to replace them in my schedule. Now I think that Kymera Press will probably be attending more of these cons in the future. When there are only two or three tables of comic sellers in the dealers’ room, it’s easier for someone to find a comic that appeals to them and take a chance. And quite honestly, I’d love for Gates, or Pet Noir, or our upcoming Dragons by the Yard to be a gateway into comics for these hungry readers!