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ComicCon & Jesus Dressup 2010

It was the spring of 2010, and I was in my usual location, Union Square NYC. But right now I wasn’t ready to sit down on the steps. First I had to stop in at Forbidden Planet, which was just a block south on Broadway. It was a place I frequented not only because it’s a cool comic book store right in the neighborhood, but also it’s where I sold my Jesus magnets. On this particular day in the front part of the store was a kiosk set up to promote New York ComicCon!  I was briefly stopped by the man at the booth,
“Hello! Have you got your tickets for ComicCon yet?” 

ComicCon was something I’d never really considered at this point, and at the moment I was here for other purposes. As usual, I strolled around the store to find the magnets and how many sold. But they weren’t in their usual spot, or anywhere for that matter. So I go to the front counter and see my guy Matt who manages there. 
“I think you’re sold out of my magnets? I don’t see them anywhere.”

Matt checks the computer and tells me there’s still some here, somewhere. So together we start the search. The guy from ComicCon overhears our struggle, and gets interested in whatever this is that someone would go through the trouble to hide. A few minutes pass and Matt shouts “Found ‘em!” picking a pile of them off the ground where they’d been tucked behind a display. 
“It happened again!”
He was referring to the other time an offended customer hid my offensive product within the store. To inhibit sales I suppose.
The guy from ComicCon was asking to see what the hell this product was. His name was Mark, and when he saw the Jesus Dressups he laughed, “We’ve got to have these at ComicCon!”

I explained how that was pretty much out of the question. Booths were well out of my price range.
“I’m just one guy, and this is pretty much my only product.” Not enough to cover $2,400+ for the smallest, cheapest booth. And this year was actually going to be a far bigger event than just ComicCon. They were combining the Anime Festival and the BookExpo, all 3 in one huge event at the Javits Center. It was just out of the question.
“I cannot sell $3,000 worth of these in 4 days.” I told him.

As he held it in his hand he said, “I really want you to consider it. I can get you half off on that booth, $1200. These are just too funny.” And he gave me his card. I went back to Union with that card in my pocket, and decided then and there, “I’m going to make this happen.”

It was taking place the first week of October, so I had months. Enough time to get a brand new set printed up special. A Limited Edition Star Wars Jesus Dressup! I was going all out. My friends could dress up as Jehovah’s Witnesses & Catholic schoolgirls to take part! I would print banners and flyers. It was all very exciting.

ComicCon / October 2010
One of the silly brainstorms I had was to have a couple friends dressup as Jehovah’s Witnesses; white shirt, black tie, shoes & slacks, and of course, name tags. Searching the internet I found a place that could print buttons exactly like the ones JWs wore. It was in Utah, and I had the button design all worked out. I called and placed an order for all 6 in our group, and it read:

“Just Google Jesus!”

Oh, I thought I was so clever. Unfortunately, just days before the event the button place returned my money and sent an email telling me they were refusing the job due to conflict of interest.
Of course! This was a place run by Jehovah’s Witnesses who manufactured buttons for other Jehovah’s Witnesses, of which I was clearly not. I can only imagine the discussion that took place when they Googled Jesus. Luckily I was able to find another place last minute, right in midtown Manhattan to have them ready the next day. Leave it to New York City.

Owen, Amanda, Kenya, Bob, Mary & Christine

We were ready! The shipment of Star Wars JDUs arrived on time, looking fantastic! My cousin Owen flew in, plus my roommate Christine and her friend Amanda donated themselves. And two friends from Union, Mary & Kenya, all agreed to take part. We’d gotten a couple magnetic boards so people could play with Jesus inside our booth. Printed up posters, and flyers to be handed out. Then I rented a UHaul truck for all the stuff to set up.

Wednesday October 5th was setup day. I had rented the smallest UHaul to transport everything from Bushwick Brooklyn to the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan. I knew this was going to be the next challenge. These boxes of rubber magnets are heavy. At the time I had six versions; The Original, BDSM, Xmas, Superstar, Halloween and of course the new Star Wars. One box of these holds 40 sets and each box is about 20 pounds. My expectations were high, so I brought 4 or 5 boxes of each. A quick rounded approximation was about 600 pounds of boxes to be transported from my 3rd floor apartment through the city to booth 2868 at the convention center, by foot. It was a lot.

The instructions we’d received from the event told us everything we needed to know about delivering our goods to the booth. They even encouraged us to use the people working there to help. When we arrived there were signs directing us to the back of the building, and sure enough, there were guys there telling us where to back the truck up and unload. Inside the building on the loading dock my friends and I were told to unload everything onto a pallet ourselves, then they used a forklift to carry it into the building to our spot. We were all extremely happy that it was all going by forklift.

The Jesus Dressup booth ComicCon 2010

The event was the most crowded convention I’d ever seen. Tens of thousands showed up to fill up that building to/and over its capacity. It was so crowded that often people wanting to stop at booths could not because the crowd was too thick and would whisk them away. There were nearly a hundred thousand people at the convention that year!

It also turned out that I may have dressed my friends a little too realistically. Christine, Owen and Kenya who I’d sent into the crowd dressed as Jehovah’s Witnesses carrying clipboards and promotional supplies had trouble getting anyone to pay them attention. 
“Everyone we approach tries to avoid eye contact and get away from us!”
No one at ComicCon wanted to be evangelized too! Go figure.
So yeah, that idea of mine kinda backfired.

At conventions like these, Saturday is the busiest. It’s assumed that Thursday and Friday most people are doing more browsing than buying. Saturday most people have the day off, and because it’s nearing the end of the event, everyone shows up and spends. Sunday is a shorter day, and most booths pack up early to beat the mass exodus. There’s always a palpable feel in the air that this circus is about to leave town. So Saturday morning we show up ready to rock, and there’s an envelope on our table addressed to me.
It was a bill for $4,400 from the Javits Center for services rendered in transporting 600 lbs of product via forklift to our station. I was crushed.

We’d befriended the couple who were running the booth to our left, who sympathized, “We had precisely the same thing happen to us at another convention. We learned our lesson.”
It included a letter stating that before the end of the day Sunday we’d be required to make payment, or provide the means in which to do so. What would have been a great Saturday was totally affected by that wretched invoice. 

ComicCon & my Jesus Dressup Booth