Written by Manuel A. Carmona
On Saturday, February 5th, 2022 Greg Steele in association with Local Heroes and Smartmouth Brewing Company hosted "Norfolk's Original Indie Comics Expo"... NOICE! This was the first year I was a part of the event so I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of attendance, atmosphere, organization and/or how sales would be. I am pleased to say the event was a huge success in every sense of the word!
First was how the organizers handled everything. On point, not stressing the vendors OR the fans, always checking on the vendors to see if they needed anything; gave clear instructions on what to do and everything went smooth as a result. The Smartmouth Brewing Company's staff was also on point, going around making sure there wasn't any trash laying around like half empty glasses of beer for example, and they were very courteous; even though I'm sure it must've been stressful to have a couple hundred people at any particular moment in a location that usually hosts a dozen or so clients at a time. They deserve some praise as well as the organizers who kicked it out of the park. Noice 2022 is amongst the best events I've been a part of. Great job guys!
The attendance was exceeded what I expected and more importantly, they weren't there because they wanted to showoff their newest Cosplay or because they wanted an autograph from their favorite actor; they were there because they loved comic books! Granted, the location was perfect in the sense that it was spacious enough for people to look around without bumping into one another, the vendors had plenty of space to put their things, everything was well organized and they sold booze, yet nobody got drunk or belligerent; everyone had a great time from what I saw and heard from other vendors.
For me specifically, it went great! Made a bunch of sales, made some great contacts, had a chance to chat with some amazing creators and colleagues, finally met a few creators I only knew from social media and interacted with the fans after such a long time; this was truly a great event for me. Some people came to our table and told me "I follow you on Instagram and wanted to buy your book in person and have you sign it", others said "I follow you on Instagram and saw that you were here so I wanted to meet you"; it felt great to know that there are people who really love your work and are interested in what we do; it makes the long hours behind a drawing board and a computer worthwhile.
Sometimes as creators we feel like we're just talking to ourselves on the internet because maybe we don't get a bunch of interactions, we don't get a thousand Likes or comments but what days like yesterday tell me is that there are people looking at what we do and are genuinely interested in our work; so we must keep on doing what we love and trust that your fans will show up like they did for me at NOICE.
I have to say, I was a bit hesitant about my decision to print Project: New Wave No.3 as a Mini-Comic although I loved how they turned out, but after seeing the fans reactions and even casual people who stopped by our table out of curiosity; I know I made the right choice! So, I'll be changing the format of my comics to Mini-Comics size and they'll be printed on newsprint paper like in the old days; if I'm going to stay indie then I'm not going to contrive our product to the rules of mainstream comics. We'll pave our own way and whatever happens, happens.
I'd like to give a huge shoutout to my table mate Miguel Dominado for not only being extremely professional in his approach, but also for being a genuinely good person, being aware of the fact that I was handicapped since I couldn't use my left arm, making sure I wasn't having anxiety or was in too much pain; that means a lot and I'll never forget that. I'll share a table with you anytime my friend! I also want to send a huge shoutout to the amazing @yokaniii @saberdog.art @micah_myers and @lionbyrd for showing love and being awesome, you made the day even better for me by just showing up; it meant a lot. So what can I say, amazing show and I can't wait for NOICE 2023!