I attended Comic-Con in San Diego on Thursday, and spent most of the time I was there on the expo floor. It was... really overwhelming. I was gifted with a day pass from my niece who was volunteering there (apparently they get 2 day passes for each of the 4 days of the con that they can share with their family and friends in return for 5-hour shifts each day).
I live in San Diego, and it's hard to get tickets. Also, everyone local knows it's incredibly crowded anyway, so honestly it's not high on the priority list of "things San Diegans enjoy doing". But I hadn't attended since 1996, so I figured I should see what's up. I had two things on my agenda: see Artist's Alley and the free Art Gallery.
Wow. It was really really crowded... I haven't been to a lot of cons beyond some very small ones, so this was just... overwhelming.
I'm putting this post out there because I haven't seen anything like these before, and I know a lot of illustrators and self-publishers do conventions quite a bit. I know that Comic-Con is an anomaly because of its size, but it could be useful information for someone considering attending in the future.
The artists I saw were essentially sharing folding tables, each having a standing banner or some other self-assembled display behind them. They spread their wares on the table. I think there were different "levels" of table options--some of the artists were in quite small spaces and others were a bit more spread out.
I was impressed despite the overcrowding. There was SO much talent there, mostly using fanart to then segue into their own IPs. All of them had either original work or prints in various sizes and a good number of them had books--either their own reprinted sketchbooks or their illustrated stories. Lots of stickers.
Other artists there had full on framed paintings in larger-scale booths that would be commensurate to a booth/tent at an Art Fair. Combined, Artist's Alley and these "Illustrators" and "Fantasy Illustrators" took up the pale blue, pale orange, and pale green sections on the map image below (clicking on that image expands it out to read it better).
But there were a few surprising things there...
Interestingly, there were quite a few Children's Book booths there, mostly brought in by bigger publishers like Random House and Scholastic. There were also a LOT of childrens, middle-grade, and YA-oriented books in the Small Publishers section (Which was one of the most crowded sections of the expo floor, in my opinion. It is the pale orchid section of the map above.) The Small Publications section was almost entirely made up of author-illustrators sharing everything the folks in Artist's Alley had available plus self-published work in a HUGE range--everything from strips about vegetables to illustrated erotic fiction...
As I mentioned before it was quite crowded. I found some videos on YouTube that I thought might be helpful. I did NOT make any of these videos, by the way.
The video below is a walk-through of Artist's Alley.
Below is another 360° video walkthrough. Interestingly, he doesn't even go near the Artist's Alley. But it's engaging because you have the capacity to rotate the camera angle around.
Finally, this last is a video of a walk-though specifically for Artist's Alley and the Small Press sections.