CON CIRCUIT: Shaun Keenan

THE CON CIRCUIT is a new regular column that focuses on life on the convention trail – from the perspective of exhibitors, organisers, volunteers and attendees. There’s so many different ways to approach these kinds of events (big and small) – so hopefully this column will help you to better prepare your own shows, by learning from the mistakes and successes of others. If you’ve got a convention story you’d like to share with us, get in touch!

This week we’re joined by Shaun Keenan, who has been running his COMICS2MOVIES stall for the last 7 years across 4 countries, selling a range of locally-produced and international artist prints, as well as his self-published comic series, XCT: Xtreme Champion Tournament.

 

7 years. Has it really been 7 years?

The answer to that question is yes, I have been doing the convention scene within Australia and abroad for the last 7 years. Ranging from 2 conventions all the way back in 2011, to 24 conventions during the 2015-2016 financial year.

In that time, I have attended a total of 85 conventions in 4 different countries, met numerous guests and friends, grown my business COMICS2MOVIES and released my comic book series the Xtreme Champion Tournament.

I have watched people come and go from the convention scene, the rise in fanart print sellers, the explosion of the pop culture, the cosplay scene and a massive increase in conventions across the globe. I have gone from the person seeking advice, to one of the people others seek out for it, but the one question I get all the time is:

Do I still enjoy it?

Well that’s a hard question to answer, as from one perspective I absolutely do – I’ve made amazing friends (some would even say family) and it’s always fun to meet new fans and guests at these events as well. I have always treated COMICS2MOVIES as a business and understand that in this ever-changing pop culture scene – you need to have a presence at these conventions to stay relevant.

The opposite side to that (and the side people rarely see), is that success takes a lot of time away from your friends and family.

From the late nights writing scripts, numbering prints, making edits or answering emails – to the family events you miss due to being in another state or country. Until I had my daughter, I don’t think I put enough importance on these things, but as soon as she came along I have found it harder and harder to leave.

So, what’s the answer?

Finding a balance.

Balance within my business, within my personal life, within my family life and balance within myself. Now that’s easier said than done – but understanding the need for balance is the first step to success.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way – what does that have to do with the convention scene?

Well, lots to be honest.

I looked at all the conventions I had done and worked out which ones were the most profitable based on time and location. This allowed me to cut down on some conventions, but also focus on some smaller events in places I’d not been to yet. This also allowed me to take a good look at why certain conventions did better than others. More people and bigger conventions did NOT always translate into better sales.

Secondly, having that balance in my personal and family life also helped me be more time efficient. This is something that really surprised me as I always thought I had been pretty good at time management, but after doing this for so long – taking a step back showed me how wrong I was.

Becoming more efficient has allowed me to get ready for the conventions quicker, making and sticking to timelines for both our comic book series and artwork we do for events easier, set goals for the future and has allowed me to unplug from it all and focus on my friends and family a little more.

Thirdly, having balance within myself has allowed me to change my mindset and stop making excuses. For example, at the time of writing this I have lost 13.5kgs in 8 weeks. I would always make excuses on how I had no time to exercise because I was always busy, but after the initial three weeks of pain – I found that my mindset changed, I created better habits and I felt so much better.

It also made me reflect on why I’m doing all this. What is my end goal and how am I going to achieve it?

So YES, I do still enjoy doing conventions.

Do I think they are essential in this business? Ummm…  I think I’ll have to answer that in another article.

Now I don’t know if the convention bubble has burst – with the reduction of OCC conventions, and attendances dropping for the first time in quite a few years – but I feel excited with what 2018 is going to bring, both for COMICS2MOVIES and the Xtreme Champion Tournament.

If you’re heading to any of this years conventions and see me there – come and say ‘Hi’ – I’m always happy to have a chat and share my experiences. I would also like to thank Darren Close who asked me to contribute to the ACJ site (and hope I can do so again).

 

From Your Friendly Convention Exhibitor,

Shaun Keenan
www.comics2movies.com.au
www.xct.com.au

About Darren Close

Darren Close
Darren is the creator and publisher of the KILLEROO series, and also the creator of the OzComics website and subsequent drawing challenge on Facebook. He's been around the local comic scene for far too long for many people's liking. Gary Chaloner was foolish enough to make him the new Managing Editor of AustralianComicsJournal.com

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One comment

  1. So well written, and great insight into not only what it takes to produce a quality graphic novel but also be the leader of a business.

    Thanks for sharing Shaun!

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