Chicago Pop Culture Con 2017 – Artist Alley Review

It’s a bit weird to say “artist alley” review because the entire event was just one giant room of artists and dealers. I had trouble finding reviews from a vendor’s point of view on this con – it got great reviews as an attendee but I just bit the bullet and figured it’d be okay.

Well, the first thing that weirded me out is that the AA registration for the con never actually closed. Usually when anime cons open registration, they sell out in 10 mins and that’s it. It felt suspicious, like, where exactly was I applying to where it’s been several months and they still have leftover booths?? Furthermore, I had to pay via the mail and not online like everyone else in 2017 does, which annoyed me because I don’t keep a lot of stamps and it’s a waste of paper. But since the con was about an hour away I hoped it would be good since it’s close.

When we arrived it was a smooth process unlike my first year of Anime Midwest which was a nightmare. The security went around checking all the vendors’ badges to see that they were actually supposed to be there, which was nice. We set up our booth on Friday and retired until the opening on Saturday.

Sales were TERRIBLE. It’s the worst con I’ve been to – even at Anime Zap, our very first con ever, selling nothing but our comic – we made more there than at Pop Culture con. I made barely enough to cover the table – the hotel, food and gas were counted as losses. I feel that this was because of 2 things: a) I, an anime comic artist, did not meet the demographic of people there – I only saw 2-3 other anime artists out of like 150 vendors, and 2) the fact that there were 150 vendors and few thousand attendants made it feel barren. There were several times where we would go an entire hour seeing like 5 people walk through our aisle.

Furthermore, a lot of tables were empty and it looked very bad. There was only one empty table (and it was next to me so we used the extra space), but in other aisles there were 2-3 empty tables in a row. It was bad.

They did not have a separate room dedicated to panels. It was a stage at the far end of the room with about 20 chairs near it. Every time a popular event would occur, the crowd would spill out of that area and block our tables. This also happened several times when famous people were giving signatures; there would literally be a line across the entire aisle blocking everybody on my side’s booths from anyone to visit them.

It was also very cold. While I was sketching I had to stop and warm my fingers because they were freezing.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The most important part of the con is networking and I certainly did that, my booth neighbors were all very amazing and talented people and I’m very glad I got to meet them. That’s the only reason I don’t regret the trip.

I am definitely never going again though.

I did sketch this cute picture of my character though!