Four artists and an art dealer at New York Comic Con on Containment Survival and Return to the Convention Circuit


It was, by fandom standards, a moderate opening day for New York comic Thursday. Yes, there were guests sporting elaborate cosplay outfits of their favorite superheroes and anime characters, and yes, there were famous guests such as Star Trekby William Shatner and George Takei.

But the aisles were oddly spacious compared to a normal year, with just 477 booths, up from 642 in 2019, the last time the popular event was held. Still, for fans and exhibitors alike, moving forward with the con was a priority, both as a happy celebration of comics and all things pop culture, and as a way to bounce back from them. financial hardship caused by the foreclosure.

“The pandemic has been absolutely devastating and humiliating,” Seattle artist John Seuferling told Artnet News.

Normally he does around 30 counters each year, crisscrossing the country selling votive candles with prints from his “Pop Art Saints” series. The designs, which he does by hand and in computer color, canonize around 100 popular characters and celebrities, from Daenerys Targaryen and Princess Leia to Betty White and Bernie Sanders. (His subjects were sometimes “canceled”; St. Guy Fieri had to replace Mario Batali.)

Artist John Seuferling at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Seuferling offers art on its website, Omakase Images, but the vast majority of its sales are done in person.

“The magic of a comic is that it channels your audience directly to you,” he said. “Not being able to do public events absolutely destroyed me. Being a gig worker who sells St. Keanu Reeves designs, you can’t even begin to describe it. It’s a carnival life.

Chris Schweizer writes and illustrates graphic novels, but he was surprised to find out how important the downsides were to his livelihood. This is where he sells prints of his retro-style movie posters, immortalizing titles such as The beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for $ 5 to $ 15.

“I didn’t realize it until my wife told me that conventions were 50 percent of our income,” he said.

The family got off in part thanks to a mortgage deferral on their home in western Kentucky, where a company specializing in coal mining manuals does all of its printing.

Artist Chris Schweizer at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Chris Schweizer at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Leanne Huynh, a former Blizzard video game artist specializing in dreamlike digital paintings of female characters, normally makes about 70% of her income from selling $ 20 prints at conventions.

“It was a little difficult,” she told Artnet News from 2020. “I was able to get unemployment, and it helped me a lot.”

Living in Los Angeles, Huynh had never shown the New York jerk before, and although it’s less crowded than San Diego, opening day was “better than I expected. , to be honest, ”she said. “It’s nice to reconnect with the artist community and the fans and talk about comics.

Others found it easier to pivot while locking.

Artist Leanne Huynh at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Leanne Huynh at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

After 15 years of earning a living as a full-time artist and selling works against the grain, Missy peña Seattle was absolutely unprepared for what 2020 brought her.

“I had the opportunity to participate in the very first coronavirus trial,” she told Artnet News. “I was the 14th person in the world to get vaccinated.

A graduate of an art school that studied art history, Peña mixes anime characters with classic masterpieces such as that by Vincent van Gogh. Starry Night or Art Nouveau-style posters, embellishing her $ 25 prints with glittery foil accents.

This will be the first and last drawback for a while: During the pandemic, she took a job as an illustrator for the Yahtzee mobile app. “I hope the conventions will still be there when I want to come back,” she said, “because I think I want to come back full time.”

Frank J. Svoboda of Denver, who produces original artwork from animated films and films through his company Animation art center, normally sells about $ 80,000 of work against the grain each year. When it closed, he approached Heritage Auctions and began selling his holdings there, as well as offering lower value coins on eBay.

Animation Art Emporium dealer Frank J. Svoboda at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Animation Art Emporium dealer Frank J. Svoboda at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“I was lucky because I had another way to make money,” Svoboda said.

At the con, it offered a selection of original designs, animation cells and backgrounds from the famous Nickelodeon cartoon. Spongebob. The show, which began airing in 1999, only did one season of traditional animation before going into digital production, meaning there is a shortage of physical art from the program. long lasting compared to other beloved cartoons.

Svoboda bought the Spongebob artwork from a bankrupt auction house after the Nickelodeon company had paid to frame it for the sale went bankrupt. He’s sold most of his holdings over the past ten years, including a number of cast members on the show, but saved the stronger pieces for last, in the hopes that demand and prices would will increase as fans of the series accumulate more money to spend. art.

“I guess they must be around 40 to be able to buy their childhood memories,” he said.

A hand painted background and an animation cell of Spongebob can go as high as $ 3,100 at Heritage, but they start at $ 900 at the con, where Svoboda expects to wholesale out of the 20 or so works the auction house will accept from. list every year. The designs cost $ 200 each, with animated cells with a replicated background starting at $ 89.

The first day sales, he said, were “excellent”.

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