Wonder Con 2017–A Bout With Doubt


FortuneFortune Cookie Philosophy

Last weekend YI SOON SHIN broke over 60,000 unit sales worldwide and sold out for the fifty second time at a comics convention.

However, not everything went according to plan.  This was one of the roughest bouts we’ve had in a long time and we couldn’t allow for bad fortune to dictate the course of YI SOON SHIN. For if we did, there is no way we would have achieved such ground breaking results.

Like most things in life worth fighting for, it wasn’t easy.  As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”  Surviving Wonder Con this year definitely added muscle and fortitude to YI SOON SHIN.

DAY 1:

The last time I did Wonder Con was back in 2012. I brought eight hundred books with me and sold about six hundred. This time I set a new goal. I brought one thousand fifty books with me and my goal was to sell everything in three days. I had never done this before. Till this point the highest amount of books I sold at a three day convention was eight hundred units.

After my epic victory at Emerald City Comic-Con a few weeks back, I felt more than ready to take on this new challenge.

In order to win, I would need to sell at least four hundred books on Friday and four hundred fifty on Saturday so that I could move whatever is left by Sunday and not have to bring anything back with me to Chicago.

C7d3qqHW4AAsptlThe Wonder Con 2017 Challenge. 1050 comics and graphic novels.

The showroom floor opened on Friday about thirty minutes before scheduled, which was great because I was already setup and ready for combat. I immediately started locking in sales and was full of positive energy and certain that this was going to be a great weekend!


And then things took a turn for the worse.

At about three o’clock I realized that my sales started tapering off. There was a change in the flow of the showroom floor and all the exhibitors were feeling it. I started racking up rejections.

Sales never really picked back up. I was at two hundred seventy books sold with only a few hours left to go. There was no way I would reach my goal but I stayed on my feet and kept slinging until I hit three hundred sixteen.

What a brutal end to the day. If the rest of the weekend was going to be like this, I was screwed.

I retired for the night and had a hard time going to sleep. The fear of bringing back books with me loomed over. Why was I so afraid of lugging books home to Chicago? Because it is so easy for them to get damaged in transit and the more money I spend on shipping means less money going back into the business.  This was the condition of the boxes when they arrived in Anaheim.

17630016_10212091969045473_3969625266695045730_nNOTE: All of these boxes had fragile stickers on them.

I couldn’t control the crowd. All I had control over was myself and I just wasn’t in my groove.  I was exhausted and had a ton of things on my mind–like keeping things on course with the production of the FALLEN AVENGER graphic novel.

Then things got even worse.

A few days prior to the show, a terrible fire broke out on I-85 in Atlanta. The police now have the culprit and no, it wasn’t Billy Joel.  It was this big dummy.

I-85 Atlanta suspect Basil Eleby.jpg_6336979_ver1.0_640_360Whassup Atlanta!

This nasty turn of events created massive holdups throughout the city. DAK lives about two hours from Atlanta airport and was supposed to fly out of there to attend Gem City Comic-Con as a featured guest. He gave himself a four hour lead time to get to the airport but even that wasn’t enough!

DAK figured this was a wonderful opportunity to promote YI.  He was so excited to sign books for his old Marvel fans who were eager to meet  and greet him.  This was the first time the series would have a presence at two conventions simultaneously.

However, due to the catastrophe on I-85, DAK missed his flight. But to make matters worse, Atlanta is one of the most inefficient airports in the world (Sorry Atlanta, it’s a fact. Your airport sucks.) and could not get DAK on another flight. Because of this he was unable to attend the show.

He lost time and money.  He was extremely discouraged as anybody would be. This whole ordeal robbed him of twelve hours of his life that he’ll never get back.

I-85The fire on I-85–a total disaster! It is a miracle that no one was injured!

DAY 2:

DAK and I put a lot of effort into prepping for his convention appearance at Gem City and now he wasn’t even going to make it.  This was an unfortunate turn of events.

On top of that, I was dealing with my own issues of whether or not I could sell everything I brought with me. Nonetheless, it was now on me to make this a win and I was not going to throw in the towel so easily.

There would be a reckoning in the name of YI SOON SHIN.

I woke up on Saturday morning and prepared my mind and body for battle!

I got to the convention center and started working the floor. Due to my poor performance on Friday, I now had to really push hard to make up for it. I pushed myself past my own limits and then an all new problem arose.

I didn’t take a single break on Saturday and because I was on my feet for nine long hours, I developed a terrible pain in my left heel but I chose to ignore it and kept on slinging.

The day ended with YI SOON SHIN selling four hundred seventy four books. We now had two hundred sixty left for Sunday but I still had half of my graphic novel inventory to sell through, which meant that Sunday was going to be a long and brutal day.

I had some really cool neighbors at this show who helped make the time go by.  We were all out there hustling and trying to get our work into the hands of comic book readers and never got in each other’s way.

Directly across from me were the creators of Mad Cave Studios who put out two different comic book titles–BATTLECATS and MIDNIGHT!

Mad CaveThe Mad Cave Team slinging their comics in the final hour of Wonder Con!

I was really impressed with their work and so I picked up a copy of BATTLECATS #1!

BattlecatsCover of BATTLECATS #1

And across from them was Andrew Kafoury who was repping his excellent comic book series NO’MADD!

No'Madd TeamThe NO’MADD Team striking a pose.

These guys were working hard all weekend and had some really cool comics for sale.  They were hustling the entire time and I respect them a great deal for it!  I can’t wait to read NO’MADD!

No'MaddThe NO’MADD comic!

I hope that you will look into their wonderful work and show them the same support that they showed me.  Like YI SOON SHIN, they are fighting to get their work out there one reader at a time.

DAY 3: 

This was it. Do or die.

Two hundred sixty books to go and seven hours to sell through all of it. The day opened up spectacularly and YI SOON SHIN was hitting a groove but then that pain in my heel came back and this time it shot all the way up my leg. At around two o’clock it got so bad that I couldn’t stand anymore. I had a very hard time moving the last of my inventory–eleven graphic novels.

By three o’clock I was close to falling on my knees.  I had eight graphic novels left to sell. I tried selling while sitting but it wasn’t helping with the pain.  In fact, sitting made it even worse!  I was ready to raise the white flag.

I had two choices. Either pack up those books, ship them back home and risk getting them damaged or sell them. I chose the latter. There would be no surrender!

Page 9If Admiral Yi could get back on his feet after taking a bullet in the shoulder during the Battle of Sacheon, then so could I.

I tried going to a comics retailer who was exhibiting at the convention to see if they would buy the remaining books from me. The owner was not there and the clerk didn’t have the authority to purchase anything on behalf of the store.

There was no time now. I had one hour to sell eight graphic novels and I would have to hand sell every last one of them.

I limped my way back to my table and forced myself to stay on my feet and finish this fight.

I took a deep breath and calmed myself down. I’ve been in this position before and I’ve come out victorious on the other side. I put complete trust in myself to survive the rest of the show, ignored the pain, and recalled a saying from a fortune cookie I got last weekend while I was out to dinner with my wife. “A smile increases your face value.”

Every time I pitched someone, even if they rejected me, I smiled.  Even though the pain in my leg made me want to scream, I refused to sit until every book was sold.

And my smile wasn’t fake either.  In fact, the last book I sold was to a customer who initially rejected the book.  He was uncertain of whether or not he wanted to buy it.  When he shut me down initially, he was on a tight budget and needed to make a decision on what he wanted to buy.

Rather than put additional pressure on him and ensure that I would never hear from him again, I smiled and encouraged him to walk the floor and take some time to think about whether or not he really wanted to buy the book.

The last thing I ever want is for any of my customers to leave my table feeling like they got ripped off.  Everyone who buys YI SOON SHIN should feel like they got what they wanted.

Just as I sold the second to last copy, he came running back to me and purchased the final book.  With less than thirty minutes to spare, the book pulled off another crushing sell out.

YI SOON SHIN won the day yet again. This was our fifty-second convention sell out but it was by no means an easy victory.

C8cdvHUUAAAj919Victory in the final hour.

I was in excruciating pain for the next few days and am now in recovery after getting a cortisone shot in my left foot. I discovered that the pain I was feeling was not due to me standing on my feet.  It was only triggered by it.  I won’t get into the details but fortunately, I’m doing just fine.  I’m glad that I pushed past my pain and saw that show through to its end.

I dedicate this entry to my creative partner, editor, and mentor David Anthony Kraft and to you–the loyal reader.  When it comes to your dream–never surrender! Never make excuses! Never relent! Never give up! Ignore the pain! Ignore the doubt! Push onward until you win!  No matter what!

YI SOON SHIN will return to battle later this month at C2E2 and we’ll be ready to take on a brand new challenge!


Onrie Kompan


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