Ultraist Studios Blog Journal thoughts, musings and other rambling…

August 24, 2011


Filed under: Announcements,Comics,Conventions — M Kitchen @ 7:53 pm

Ultraist Studios (Spy Guy) and Possum Press (The Possum) are once again returning to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the Toronto FAN EXPO! This year we’ve got new comics! That is, assuming the shipment of SPY GUY #2 arrives at 1:00 like it is supposed to… these last minute deliveries seem to be a reoccuring event, even when they are given weeks extra to compensate. At the very least, it makes for an interesting story.

You can find us at table A35 in the Independent / Small Press Artist Alley.

January 3, 2011

A Chat With Dave Sim, Part 6 – A Response

Filed under: Conventions,Thoughts — M Kitchen @ 11:11 am

Originally MYRANT thought this comment entry was spammy, so I posted it here on the Ultraist Journal Blog. Since then Steve Bissette took the initiative to copy and paste it in manually. Thanks Steve!  This goes into deep detail on my comic convention experiences.  It is a response to A Chat With Dave Sim, Part 6.

Regarding Comic Conventions:

There are two conventions that are “profitable” for Ultraist Studios and Possum Press:  FAN EXPO and WORD ON THE STREET (which is a book fair, not a comic convention).

Fan Expo is the fourth largest comic convention in North America and it’s right in our backyard.  Our only expense is the table and parking.  As a result we are able to do slightly better than “break even”.  Our comics are able to hold their own in this environment.  We get lots of interest from people who are at the show for other things (like the SciFi or Horror).  This has become an annual outing for us and we are now at a point where people come looking for us.  Check out our con reports here:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/index.php?s=”fan+expo”.  In fact, in 2009 Electric Playground did a SPY GUY feature that was broadcast on national television.  That interview can be seen here: http://www.ultraist.net/epInterview.html

Word On The Street is interesting in that we are some of the only comic book publishers at this event.  We get people from all walks of life showing interest.  It’s a more even demographic than any other show.  Because there are few comic books, we get a lot of interest from children.  That is a good sign (if you ask me) that comic books are as interesting as ever for the upcoming generation.  Considering that table costs are quite steep for a one day show, and we are selling three dollar comics, it amazes me that every year we are able to do slightly better than “break even”.  Con reports here:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/index.php?s=”word+on+the+street”

Just about any other convention we’ve done, once you tack on travel and accommodation costs, becomes a loss leader.

It is the residual effects of attending these conventions that make them worth while.

APE at the time we went was our least successful show.  People there were more interested in art objects than comic books.  This is a common trait I’ve found in the ultra-indie comic cons.  People do not seem to be interested in traditional comics, unlike the big ComicCons and FanExpos.  Blair and I went home from that show with the wind blown out of our sales.  But because of that convention, we were noticed by some people in Hollywood, and were asked to be a part of the convention sequence of the 2008 feature film SUPERHERO MOVIE directed by Craig Mazin and produced by David Zucker and Robert K. Weiss.  Here are some screen grabs:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2009/04/24/spy-guy-vs-dragonfly/

We recently returned to San Francisco to attend WonderCon 2010, and were amazed to find how many people had been looking for us ever since.  Our table was tucked away in a far back corner, so when we were discovered with excitement, it was one of those things that makes it all worth while.  Here is a videoblog of our Wonder Con adventure:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2010/06/24/spy-guy-the-possum-vs-wondercon-2010/

SPX was one of my favorite shows to attend.  It fell somewhere between the mainstream shows and the ultra-indie shows.  There wasn’t Hollywood competition, and yet people were still interested in traditional looking comic books.  It was a “break-even” or “slightly-less-than-break-even” show, but the BOX of comic trades I came home with FAR MORE than outweighed any loss.  Good stuff!  Of course we did that show on the cheap (sleeping in the van).  Paying for a hotel room would have crushed us.  Definitely a show I would like to do again, however circumstances have prevented us from doing so recently.  Full report here:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2007/10/19/spx-2007-field-report/

MoCCA had to be the biggest financial loss of any show I’ve attended.  There was lots working against it.  Blair didn’t attend the show, so I took all the financial loss myself (even though I was selling his comics and using his sales to help offset the cost).  I brought the whole family with me which added to the expense.  And MoCCA seemed to be one of those ultra-indie shows where people aren’t interested in traditional looking comics.  That said; this is what good came out of it:  I finally got to meet Charlito (and Mr Phil who I first met at SPX) of Indie Spinner Rack, and got to speak with him for one of the ISR shows:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2010/06/17/indie-spinner-rack/ and I also got to meet Brian LeTendre from the Secret Identity Podcast and appear on his show: http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2010/09/09/secret-identity-podcast-264/ I also got to meet Gahl Buslov of Midtown Comics who made the BIGGEST single purchase of SPY GUY comics in the history of Ultraist Studios.  It was nice to say “thank you” in person.  Here is my videoblog con report:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/2010/04/17/spy-guy-vs-mocca-2010/ (good trades from this show as well).

And San Diego Comic Con.  What an experience that was.  This nearly ties with MoCCA for biggest financial loss, but man was it fun!  It was so big, and we met so many people, and went to so many post-con parties, that I have to say it was worth the expense.  An interesting story; I was approached by someone who was apparently involved with the Bourne Identity movies, who was looking for new SPY material to be made into feature films.  He asked if I ever though of having SPY GUY turned into a movie, and I told him that if it were ever to happen, I’d see it as an animated movie, at which point he lost interest, though he gave me his card, and I gave him a comic.  But the though of having “Bruce Willis as SPY GUY” was a funny enough thought to keep me laughing (even as I type this).  We have a video blog waiting to be edited but in the meantime here is a quick blog post:  http://www.ultraist.net/journal/index.php?s=”San+Diego+Comic+Con+2010″

An exception to the “loss leader” show was SPACE.  Here the table cost was low, and even the foot traffic of attendees was low. Yet if you compared our sales to the number of attendees it had to be the highest sales per person ratio of any show we’ve been to.  I don’t think we covered transportation cost (gas from Toronto to Columbus) but when all is said and done, it’s a show I would not hesitate to do again.  It was a “meeting of the tribe”.  Highlights were meeting up with the Cerebus Yahoo!s, doing the annual gathering at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus (for our first time).  Also came home with a decent amount of trades.  SPUD & HARRY even got nominated as a SPACE PRIZE finalist!  http://www.backporchcomics.com/space_prize_finaliists_general.htm

A videoblog documentary of SPACE 2010 can be viewed here:

What is worth mentioning is that a lot of these things don’t necessarily translate into immediate sales, but there is a very real “snowball effect” that is clearly happening in slow motion where each event builds on the other, causing a cascading chain reaction.

It’s tough doing the comic circuit selling three dollar comics.
Part of the trick to making money at these things is to come up with something that sells in the $50 and up range.
Big name artists can sell sketches, but we like to give those away to people who support us for free.
That’s just how we roll.

Coming up in the next few years, we’ll be experimenting with attending other shows we’ve yet to attend.  To have our comics infiltrate new cities and get them into the hands of new readers.  I’m very curious to hear other artists experiences with shows they’ve attended and hearing their recommendations.

December 27, 2010

SPY GUY Hated By The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) ?

Filed under: Announcements,Conventions,Mail — M Kitchen @ 12:13 pm

The following form letter comes from Chris Butcher:


TCAF 2011 Exhibitor Application

From:  Christopher Butcher <contact@torontocomics.com>
To: “Mike@Ultraist. Net” <mike@ultraist.net>

Dear Mike,

Thanks for your interest in exhibiting at the next Toronto Comic Arts
Festival, to be held this May 7th and 8th, 2011.

As you know, TCAF is a juried show that strives to present a curated,
though broad, picture of the comics medium. We received 30% more
applications this year over 2010. But as our space has not
significantly increased over 2010, not everyone who applied will be
able to exhibit.

As of today we have completely filled our 2011 capacity, and we were
not able to immediately accommodate your request for space.

However, we have decided to create a small waiting list for exhibition
space. We’ve only included exhibitors such as yourself whose work
would be a good fit for TCAF, and who have the potential to actually
get a table.

What’s next:

1. If you don’t want to be a part of the waiting list or can otherwise
not exhibit at TCAF 2011 any longer, please let us know and we’ll take
your name off the list.

2. In early March we’ll have a final count of exhibitors, as well as a
final table layout. That’s when we’ll know how many (if any) extra
table spaces are available, and we will begin contacting people on the
waiting list.

3. It is going to be far easier to accommodate people on the waiting
list requesting 3 foot spaces, rather than 6 foot spaces. If you’ve
requested 6 feet of space, feel free to adjust your request downwards
by e-mailing us at registration@torontocomics.com.

4. Make sure you’re signed up for the TCAF mailing list at
http://torontocomics.com/, because TCAF is much more than a two-day
exhibition, and even without exhibition space there may be ways for
you to take part in the event and promote your work!

5. Don’t get discouraged! The competition was really tough this year
for exhibitor spaces. Keep making comics, keep making plans, and we’ll
do our best to find a space for you at the Festival.

Regardless of exhibition space, we sincerely hope you’ll still
consider attending the Festival this May. We’ve got a ton of exciting
stuff coming up for this year, including the announcement of our
Guests of Honour, partnerships with some great organizations, and more
programming than we’ve ever done before. We’re planning on making TCAF
2011 our best yet.

All the best,

– Christopher Butcher, Festival Director, TCAF

P.S.: As always, feel free to contact us at contact@torontocomics.com
with any questions, comments, or concerns.


The thing that I find unfortunate about this is TCAF is a show I wish I could support. I’m a Toronto artist, creating an independent Toronto comic book, that even TAKES PLACE in Toronto, AND I think the Beguiling is a GREAT comic book store (that has always shelved our comics). When we attended TCAF in 2007 we had a great time (even though we didn’t make enough money to cover the table cost). The whole thing is just very unfortunate. Have to say though, I’m tired of the rejection. This will be the last year I go out of my way to submit an application in an attempt to get a table with TCAF.

October 14, 2010

The Last Signing, Glamourpuss Event, Word On The Street Halifax pt.2

Filed under: Conventions,Video — M Kitchen @ 11:14 am

Here’s part 2 (of 3).

And a picture of Dave Sim falling asleep while shaking my hand.

October 11, 2010

The Last Signing, Glamourpuss Event, Word On The Street Halifax pt.1

Filed under: Conventions,Video — M Kitchen @ 12:53 pm

Hi folks! Below you’ll find part 1 (of 3) of a video documentary from the comic book pilgrimage to Halifax Nova Scotia.

Also below are some pictures by Stoo Metz and links.

The Kitchenettes meet Dave Sim.

The Bride of Ultraist meets Dave Sim.

Dave Sim and Darwyn Cooke chat (as I lurk in the background).

Calum Johnston Facebook Photos

Cerebus Fangirl Flickr Photos

Stay tuned for pt.2 – HERE!

September 21, 2010


Filed under: Announcements,Conventions — M Kitchen @ 10:37 pm

Here we go!

September 11, 2010

Spy Guy and The Possum vs. SPACE 2010

Filed under: Conventions,Video — M Kitchen @ 12:25 pm

The post production team over at Possum Press have been busy in the editting studio. Check out the two part series documenting Spy Guy and The Possum at SPACE 2010.

part 1

part 2

This is the story of Mike and Blair Kitchen and their journey to Columbus Ohio to take part in the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.). This time, they’ve got a pool, a hot tub and an espresso machine! (That’s sellin’ comics in style!) Watch snippets of The Cerebus Yahoos reading Cerebus Live and having dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, along with interviews with Shane Houghton, Rafer Roberts, Pat Lewis, Derek Watson, Steve Peters, Max Ink, Tim Corrigan, Matt Feazell, David Branstetter as well as Bob Corby, Margaret Liss and Jeff Tundis.

September 1, 2010

Fan Expo 2010 postmortem

Filed under: Conventions,Photos,Sketches — M Kitchen @ 8:51 pm

Fan Expo 2010 has come and gone.
It was a strange show this year.
The whole thing seemed extremely disorganized.

Friday we arrived at 4:00 pm and were continually misdirected by security and volunteer staff on how to actually get into the convention floor.  Turned out that in order to pick up our exhibitor badge we had to enter an area that you could not get into unless you had an exhibitor badge.  Yeah, that’s right.  You could not pick up your badge unless you had your badge.  What a mess.

It was an hour later when one of the volunteers who was on the ball came to our aid and offered to escort us past security.  There were a lot of horror stories like this with nearly everyone I talked to.  Very unfortunate.  Oh well.  Hopfully Fan Expo cleans up their act for next year, because it really is a GREAT comic con.

Photo by Jules Faulkner

The space in the north hall was smaller, and the floor seemed more crowded.  The largest booths seemed bigger than usual (yet like dwarfed versions of their San Diego counterparts).  The windows and daylight I did enjoy.
We do have video footage this year that will be edited together into a mini documentary and posted as soon as we have time to do it (har, har, har… the story of my life).  That said, here are some pics:

Here’s a great drawing from Brenda Hickey.

And a Spy Lad by Greg Hyland.

And here’s a sketch I did that I thought turned out pretty cool…

And here’s a first; a custom Spy Guy appearing on the cover of Possum Mini Comics #1!

I also heard from numerous sources that there was another “Spy Guy” comic created by some other folks in artist alley. Very interesting. I’ll have to keep a pulse on that as things develop.

In closing, to everyone that took a moment to stop by our table to chat and support the work that we are doing:  Thank You!  That more than anything else makes doing these shows worth while!  See you again next year.

July 28, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010 – The Loot!

Filed under: Announcements,Conventions — M Kitchen @ 12:56 pm

Here is the loot brought home from San Diego Comic Con 2010:

Whaleboy toy – Patrick Morgan
Superman vs. Spider-Man Treasury – DC | Marvel
Skull toy – Scott Kurtz
Maile toy – Chris Sanders
Reed Gunther #4 – Shane and Chris Houghton
Angora Napkin t-shirt – Troy Little
Jack and Lucky #1 – Anthony Hon
The Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Duty Free Shop
Days Missing – Roddenberry Presents
BP – Benaroya Publishing
Dark Horse Convention Signing Book 2010 – Dark Horse
Zambo Dende – 7G Comics
Wayward Sons Legends Preview Special – Benny R. Powell & Weilin Yang
Rod & Barry Flip Book – Roddenberry Presents
Berona’s War stack of prints – Anthony Coffey & Jesse Labbé
And Then One Day Vol. 1 (with paper bag) – Ryan Claytor
Wayfarer’s Moon #3-6 – Jason D. Janicki & Leigh Kellogg
Stick n Puck the Rink Rat Chronicles – Jorden Oliwa
Chris Sanders Sketchbook 4 – Chris Sanders
Curio & Co. print – Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley
World War Monkey – Chet Phillips
Rob The Bot and The Toils of Tomorrow print – Ali Showkati
The Onion Non-Holographic Edition – The Onion
Another Comic Book Paaarty! – Phil Rynda
Anna Arky – James Heffron
Interloper – Michael Heffron & Federico Zumel
Rudy McBacon #8 – Frank A. & Derek O.
Scarlet Huntress #1 – Stephanie & Sean Forney
Little Red Riding Hood Origin of a Huntress – Stephanie Forney
Scarlet Huntress Preview – Stephanie & Sean Forney
Phil Hester print – Phil Hester
Andy Kuhn print – Andy Kuhn
Cursed Pirate Girl #1 – Jeremy Bastian
Berona’s War mini-prints and lanyards – Anthony Coffey & Jesse Labbé
Berona’s War t-shirts – Anthony Coffey & Jesse Labbé
Berona’s War I Field Guide – Anthony Coffey & Jesse Labbé
Thoughts, Scribbles + Madness Volume 3 – Dave Guertin & Greg Baldwin
Slayboy – Adam Hughes
Zatanna postcard – Adam Hughes
From The Vault 3 – Mike Mignola
From The Vault 2 – Mike Mignola
The Possum postcard – Blair Kitchen
Spy Guy postcard – Mike Kitchen
Toupydoops #5-6 – Kevin McShane
The Prometheus Project Book 1: Trapped – Douglas E. Richards
Aipom Comic Con card – Pokemon
Jock – James Baker
Rocket Rabbit buttons – James Baker
The Sundry Seven #00 – Bruno Steppuhn & Jay Korim
Will Eisner Reader – Will Eisner
The Building – Will Eisner

Out of the hundreds of thousands of items, that’s what I came home with.
What did you get?

July 27, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010 – Wrap!

Filed under: Announcements,Conventions — M Kitchen @ 4:40 pm

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Well San Diego Comic Con 2010 is a wrap.  A good time was had by all (except the poor chap who got stabbed in the eye with a pen).  Now, though it’s time to snap back to reality, the energy gained from this con is going to keep me comic-charged for some time to come.  Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming photos and videos as the week progresses.

The photo above is from the last hour of the last day.  Clockwise from top:  Jesse Labbé of Amity Ink, Blair Kitchen of Possum Press, Anthony Coffey of Amity Ink, and Mike Kitchen of Ultraist Studios.

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