Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Awesome Launch!

We launched the comic book this weekend at the TNNA trade show in San Diego. This meant a few things. First, I had to get to San Diego, which we did slowly but surely via El Paso, Albuquerque, and Las Vegas, where we stayed for a month, doing show prep and getting our stuff together. Finally, we arrived in San Diego, shortly after I finished the first iteration of the POW! Hooded Scarf:

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This is the pattern that appears in Handknit Heroes, Issue #1. Here it is in our trade show booth:

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I flew Marc Olivent, my artist, out for the show. I made the offer thoughtfully, but as the time approached, I did second-guess a little bit and wondered if it was the right decision. I realized Friday night after the Sample It! event that it was the right choice. Marc’s not a polished salesman, but there were women lining up to buy whatever he was selling with his cute British accent. Yay! The fangirldom continued all weekend, including a moment with one of the retailers who stopped by– and actually knew Marc’s other comic books. You know, the ones that aren’t related to knitting? Wild, and wonderful!

Here I am in our booth, with Shannon Okey, who is not only a cool knitter and awesome person to meet, but who says, after she approaches us and gooshes about how awesome it is to have a comic book for knitters: “my husband writes a comic book.” (I will paraphrase a little here, because I don’t remember now if she said husband or boyfriend, but “male significant partner” is the key here in my mind, someone she shares her life with).

“Oh, yeah?” say Marc and I. “Which one?”

“El Gorgo.”

Me: “NO WAY!!!!! Eeeee!!!!” The fangirling re-commences, though in the other direction now, as I am a big fan of El Gorgo, and even reviewed it for ReadComics.org. Me and Shannon:

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And, uh, before the trade show, John, Marc, and I went to the San Diego Zoo:

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And I’m a bonehead and apparently failed to take pictures of Marc, or of Marc and me. Wow– so I know that there are knitters out there in the world who have these photos. Please send me a link? I need to see them and share them with friends!

San Diego!

We made it to San Diego (OK, actually Chula Vista) today, after a late start (which meant a late arrival). We’re settled in and unpacked, and now the only thing left to do is wait for the comics to arrive.

Here are some thoughts about starting a business from an RV and doing a trade show launch there-from.

It’s not as easy as you would think to find storage for two posters that measure 3′ by 4′ and which must arrive at their destination without dents or cat bites. We’re managing, but I’m going to look into what it costs to ship them for the next show, as opposed to trucking them along– it may be cheaper to just replace them for each show.

Similarly, office supplies add up when it comes to how much space they will demand in an RV. Fortunately, I have a little extra space set aside for these, but I can already see that I’m going to need a box for after the show storage and transport to Santa Cruz.

Styrofoam heads? Totally replaceable at <$4 apiece, and probably not worth carting around. On the other hand, bringing them up to Santa Cruz could afford hours of entertainment at a party.

The RV shakes a lot when I jump up and down. We have noticed this a lot in the past 24 hours, as the subscriptions come in.

I got head(s)

Las Vegas Mannequins was out of head stock. The photos of the Craigslist heads showed they have faces and gigantic stickers on the fronts– not quite what I was looking for, and I don’t think I have time to clean them up properly.

So, I went out to Sally’s Beauty Supply and picked up 2 heads for less than $4 a piece. They look just like the picture I posted before, and they’ll do. Maybe not the ideal perfect thing, but… nice enough for the show.

Like our shirts. I wanted nice embroidered polo shirts with the URL on the back… what I ended up with, because it was so last-minute, were CafePress polo shirts with a logo on the front breast pocket, nothing on the back. They’ll do. Not great, but for 3 days, I can live with them.

The website is up, live, and able to take subscriptions, by the way. In case you wanted to try to be Subscriber #1. US subscriptions are $20 for a full year (4 issues) of comic-knitterly goodness.

Looking for a Head in Las Vegas, Nevada

Yesterday, I got a bee in my bonnet and decided I needed two extra heads.WIGHEADSH.jpg

No, really! See, at the trade show next week, I’m showing off two handknitted projects (from the comic book, in case you didn’t know), and, well, the project goes on your head.

I would disclose more, but the pattern designer, Erssie, has a contest going on her blog right now to guess the pattern details.

Anyway, I decided yesterday afternoon that what I really need, in order to make a successful show, is not media connections or mailing lists. What I really need, of course, is a couple of extra heads. Why I didn’t think of this two months ago, when I vaguely acknowledged that I would need some way to display this item, I don’t know.

I need two of them, or possibly three, because the project will be displayed in two locations: my booth, and the What’s New table. I don’t have oversight over the What’s New table, and I’ve devised a clever idea for how to showcase the comic book without basically leaving a free, walk-off-with-me sample loose on the table. It involves some string, maybe a little glue, and something big enough to be obvious.

So, I determined that I should go get a couple of plastic heads. (What could be more obvious than someone walking off with a comic book glued to a big plastic head?)

Now, think for a moment, about your life. When’s the last time you found plastic heads for sale somewhere? But I remembered that there was a wig shop at the outlet mall. I tried to let my fingers do the walking, but no one answered the phone (I hate that– bad customer service). The outlet mall is not too far, so I got in the car and drove over there.

No joy. They sell wire wig stands that look like wig stands. These are not display pieces– they’re what you put your hairpiece on at night so you don’t get artificial bed-head.

I placed a phone call to my friend Micky. She was the first person I thought of when I thought “I need a head.” (Junglemonkey was the second, but only because I realized how much fun she would have with both the quest and the results– maybe I should pick up a couple of extra heads in case she wants some for her art car.)

Micky works in theatre, doing sets and props and all kinds of awesome stuff which largely means she spends a lot of time with paint fumes. If anyone would know about heads, Micky would be it. I called her cell phone, but got voice mail. Which is fine– Micky isn’t running a business and doesn’t need to provide customer service to friends in search of heads during business hours. Plus, it was about 6:30 in the evening on a Thursday on the East Coast where she lives, so I figured she was prepping for a show.

Here’s a paraphrase of my voice mail:

“Hi, um, it’s Stephanie. I’m looking for a couple of plastic heads, and you were the very first person I thought of when I realized I have no idea where to find something like that. So, um, if you have any idea where a gal can find two mannequin heads in Las Vegas or San Diego before next Thursday, I would really appreciate it. Um, okay.” Then I left my number and hung up.

I went home. I googled. “Mannequin head display retail…” For good measure, on my second or third try, I added “Las Vegas.”

I want to point out at this moment that I have SearchSafe turned to moderate, and that the Adult Entertainment Expo is currently in town in Las Vegas, bringing you all manner of unlikely body types to the Strip.

What should have surprised me about my results was the fact that none of the search results were for weird mannequin porn. I mean, really– wouldn’t you expect it?

Instead, wouldn’t you know, there’s a place called Las Vegas Mannequins which rents and sells mannequins. They have a warehouse west of the Strip (which should only take me about an hour to get to… it’s 10 miles away). I exchanged a few emails with the owner and am calling them in an hour to see if they have a couple of heads for me. This proves to me the wonder of the Internet, that there is something to meet every need, if you just look a little harder.

And if not? Well, I also found a Craigslist ad near San Diego. Used wig display heads (from retail– they have faces) for $14 each. What a deal!

By the way, if you’re also looking for a head, and you’re not going to put it on a display where it has to pass close scrutiny, Sally Beauty Supply carries styrofoam heads for about $4 apiece.

Gwendolyn Brooks

I met Gwendolyn Brooks briefly, when I was about 14 years old. I grew up in Evanston, Illinois, and I went to Evanston Township High School, where we had a very active and thriving creative writing club. Our club went on a field trip into Chicago where we attended a “write about artwork” workshop at the art museum, and then Brooks did a reading and spoke to us about what it is to be a writer (though not necessarily an author). read more…

Originally posted to Hubpages as Gwendolyn Brooks. Click through for the whole article and leave a comment.

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