Having said this, getting selected from the lottery is slim. It's pretty common to see people sharing tables at AN and offering up their soul in the forums to get a chance at pairing up. At least we don't have to deal with the anxiety of its original fcfs system where tables fill up in literally less than 1 second and you question how the packets of your data traveled from your mail server to theirs or smth..
The staff can be terrible which many have already stated. I don't understand why they are so strict and mean. My guess is that for every little issue that was raised, they attempt to fix it by adding another rule to cover their bases. The problem is there are so many rules now, that of course people are bound to miss something, but staff have no patience for that and would be easier to just eliminate those who make mistakes or break rules. It also doesn't help that AN staff never get paid so some of them feel that it's justified to be nasty, do a poor job at running the con, and jump to a ban threat if you do anything they don't like (including talking back I heard?). I've had some very smooth years where I just have the bare minimum communication with them and everything is fine. And then my friends and I have some worse years, e.g. kicking out a customer because they're trying to buy something just as the con closes, kicking ME out because I was talking with another artist that was packing up during closing, asking to remove merch that they feel is not within their rules, the list goes on. Every year, I wonder anxiously ahead of time if I'll have a negative encounter during the whole thing..
Another big gripe of mine is the separation of comic market (paper products) and crafters corner (3D/non-paper media). Might make sense at first, to allow attendees to find merch easily by product type. But the pro plaza and dealers aren't subjected to this categorization, so why?? People often like to look for merch based on subject matter/series and not just the form it comes in. Look, if I'm an All-Might fan, I'm gonna grab every All-Might that I see regardless if it's on a pin or a postcard, because I love my boi. I know from personal experience because fans have legit bought one of everything of their favourite series at my table(and maybe more if they let me sell body pillows!). Comic market/crafter separation may have worked years ago(again probably from feedback/complaints), but times are changing as artists are able to make a lot more (and cooler) variety of merch, not simply pieces of printed paper.. The separation of these two artist alleys has caused the staff to make even more ridiculous, non-sensical distinctions. Mylar pinback buttons are allowed, but not mylar button magnets as someone said - but paper magnets from a magnet sheet are allowed? Why allow some magnets and not others?? They also started allowing acrylic charms (YAY) but not acrylic standees, which is literally the same thing with a second acrylic piece. Merging the two will alleviate all these confusing problems, will give the staff less work to moderate the AA so strictly, will give artists a chance to sell more creative stuff, and give customers a better variety of stuff to choose from the artist. Seems like a win-win everywhere, makes perfect sense to me!!
If I have any advice for anyone applying/tabling, it's that you must have high attention to detail because staff are not going to tolerate any mistakes. Check your application form info before submitting (like your birthdate). Make sure you use your legal name on your ID and not necessarily the regular everyday name you may go by. Use tracking (but no signature delivery) to mail out your contract and sign every page. Don't miss the deadline and check your junk folders. Don't send the wrong amount of money (they add HST now). Keep record of everything. Don't label your art with names. It's dumb I know, but for the most part it will be smooth sailing if we can get through their meticulous details.
As for staff, all I wish for is that they have an open mind when listening to our feedback and hopefully implement it better. I know tension between artists and staff can be hard, but some of us just want to be constructive to provide the best experience for both parties. We tend to forget that staff are spending a lot of time to review and process every single application one by one, without pay (while us artists are making bank) and they get more hate than appreciation. I hope they recognize that while I'm super grateful to have the opportunity, neither parties are perfect and there's a lot we can do to improve AN.
Venue: The Toronto Congress Centre is kind of out of the way - it's located in a suburb of Toronto called Etobicoke, right by the airport. Surrounding the convention centre is highway. So, you'll need to take a cab/uber or drive to find anything other than the hotels since nothing is really in walking distance of the venue. I think there was like 2 or 3 restaurants in the area that you could reach on foot.
Layout: Decent, for the most part. There's huge wide open spaces between the comic market, pro plaza and crafters corner. I believe this is set up that way to accommodate the massive crowds. There was an absurd amount of space behind the booths in the comic market (as in, 12 or more empty feet), however we were strictly prohibited from placing any part of our display on the ground or using that empty space at all. The wide open area behind the booths was a bit unnecessary/kinda an eyesore.
Affordability: The tables are very reasonably priced (It was $180 for one full comic market table, and considering how lucrative this con is, that is a good deal).
Staff: The biggest downside of all with this con is the staff's treatment of artists and the rules established that artists must STRICTLY abide by. Refusing to do so, or even making a simple beginner mistake, will result in being perma-banned.
One positive thing I can say about the staff/organizers is that they have decent communication. But quite bluntly - the comic market staff treat artists very poorly. They have been known to be incredibly condescending and bully artists for no reason. They can be threatening and will bark at artists on the con floor,
They have a "three strikes" policy, so if they warn you twice, on the third instance you receive a permanent ban and are never welcomed back - for life. This is particularly unfair if you are a first time artist not really knowing what to expect, and the staff are giving you mixed information, which they've been known to do.
They have a file for every single artist, for which they document EVERY single infraction, regardless of how big or small - that includes the act of simply being "difficult" or saying something negative to staff. They are known to verbally threaten artists with "adding to their file" on the regular, it's incredibly stressful.
In regards to rules, my god, there are so many it's hard to keep track of them. Their contract is dozens of pages thick, mostly just with rules. I think of all the cons I've ever tabled at (or even heard of, to be honest...) this one has the most I've come across.
For example, some of these strange rules include but are certainly not limited to:
- no series or character names on ANYTHING, even signage/packaging, written or otherwise - but obvious fanart of these characters is allowed?? they say it's for "copyright reasons".
- no magnets of any kind, but pinback buttons are allowed even though they are identical (besides the backing).
- all merch must be "at least 50% artwork, not text", and the staff get to arbitrarily determine what 50% looks like. If you have a button that is decidedly too much text, you will be told to remove it and a note will be put in your file!
All that being said, if you are willing to put up with the total anxiety of dealing with these staff & rules, I do recommend this con!
Visibility for tables is fairly good, and every artist gets enough exposure so that there's always decent traffic in every aisle. However, the venue could do with better ventilation, as it gets stuffy in there. The venue is spacious enough to not feel claustrophobic, and theres plenty of room behind artist tables for your stuff.
However, one major complaint I have is that the Comic Market staff are extremely inefficient at what they do. In particular, the sign-in process takes a ridiculously long time. There is literally one person at the registration table doing all the sign-ins, while the other 3 or 4 staff are just standing around chatting, texting, basically doing jack shit. The staff doing the Pro Plaza registrations is twiddling their thumbs while you have a long-ass line-up for Comic Market. It took me just about an hour to get my cheapass badge, which should have been pre-assembled by the staff and READY to be picked up prior to sign-in time. There is no reason why it should take 45 minutes to an hour to sign in.
There's also one lady who loves to shout at the artists, be it to tell us that we don't a registration code during sign up (even though an email previously sent had indicated the very opposite), or to make sure you haul your ass out by 6 PM on Sunday. We got the memo, thanks.
It's a great con to earn money and shop around, but good Lord they need seriously train their staff better.
It was my first time selling at Anime North in 2018 and I hope I get to do it again. This gang of gypsies did try to steal my cash though, thankfully I was able to stop the attempt, which was difficult since they were a groups. The staff was quick to respond to this, they took my statement and thankfully contacted the police so officers could come and roam to keep an eye out.
My only complaint about the venue is that it got hot and steamy in there real quick. And also the lighting kinda sucked for displaying artwork.
Helpful but bitchy.
Lots of room for the artists behind the tables, lots of room for people to walk. I was at an end cap and still got a lot of traffic!
Honestly one of the best crowds in my opinion. People are in such good spirits and love spending money to celebrate summer coming along. Everyone is so nice it's a blast.
Not the biggest con ever but lots and lots of people every year. The dealers room is always pretty busy, there's no real "dead" times.
The price for a table is fine, however the badge you get is so low quality compared to the staff and regular attendee badge that I feel ripped off. There's no good reason to give an artist who just gave you $200 a shitty cardboard badge with a piece of string to put around their neck.
Venue is a bit out of the way, a bit closer to airport than local population centers. Venue itself is fine, decent amount of space to breathe and air circulation in exhibitor halls. Staff is rather authoritarian, is perhaps the politest way I can phrase it. Often inflexible with rules that must be strictly adhered to, to the letter, which can be very frustrating. Other main downside is really difficult/low chance of getting in due to how good it is otherwise.
The convention center is perfect, being not only large enough but also having a ton of space outside for attendees to walk around in and a crazy number of nearby hotels.
Make sure you book your hotels early! Generally a month or two after the convention ends to insure you get one!
Inside is laid out quite well, and the seperation of comic market, crafters corner, pro plaza is quite nice! It allows you to browse exactly what you're looking for effectively. The dealers/vendors are often in separate rooms which helps the flow of foot traffic.
The staff are iffy. You'll get some that are amazing, and others who are rude, ignorant and down right awful. As it's volunteer and 100% not for profit based, this will happen and is the hardship of any convention who runs on volunteers and not paid staff. Some volunteers end up being awesome, others need customer service skills.
If you're an artist or vendor, chances are you wont' be dealing with much of the staff. Only at check in, tare down and when it's closed mainly.
AN is also quick to throw out bootleggers and not allow them to return, as well as their comic market at least cyclesin new talent every year by being completely lottery based.
It does suck if you're a mixed media artist who does both...because you can only have one table in any of the artist alley places. Pro plaza is the only place you can have mixed media but it has to be entirely original artwork.
Crafter's corner is tight to get into as it's first come first serve as well. Vendors is near impossible to get into.
The sales will be through the roof if you do manage to get a table. 40-50k of people will be there all weekend and they come to buy. This is my favourite convention in terms of cosplay and attending as well as selling. Even if I was travelling too it I would still do it because the sales are often quite high for the weekend unless your stuff is really niche and just not related to anime, video games, comics, etc at all.
prices for tables are very reasonable and weekend passes for exhibitors ends up being well priced as well. They are one of the rare conventions who supply who allow you to buy one or two table badges not automatically making you get two. Which is nice for anyone not needing help and would like to save some money.
all and all a very amazing convention and the best anime geared con in Canada.
Now for drawbacks:
The lottery process is fair, but I know a lot of people don't appreciate it. Personally, I do like it a lot more than the 50 FCFS/50 Lottery split they used to do. Yes, you lose that sense of control, but it takes a lot of the pressure off to have a 24 hour window to submit your application at your leisure and check it over for errors before you send it off to be confirmed. The waiting is the hard part though--- the staff can be unpredictable on their response time (sometimes not responding at all, in my experience), and the waiting period can also vary. Every year, the application and confirmation process seems to either take longer or get pushed later and later into the year, allowing weeks or months of potential production and prep time for artists to be lost. It always feels very rushed and slapdash; the ANCM staff are not always the best at keeping to deadlines.
Speaking of the staff, they can be difficult. A lot of the rules for the comic market seem pretty arbitrary, and they also seem to make and apply new ones without any warning. They nitpick and are unforgiving of mistakes; a tiny slip up or miscommunication, sometimes on their part instead of yours, could cost you your application or your actual table. If you're looking to table in the CM, do yourself a favour and document EVERYTHING. Take photos of every page of your contract after it's been filled out and initialed. Keep all your correspondence readily accessible. Keep your lottery application confirmation email, as it has all your form answers on it. Are you remotely unclear on something? ASK. Don't assume! Get everything you can in writing. It sucks to prep an awesome innovative product that is technically within the guidelines, but have them pull it from your table at the con for some ridiculous, purely subjective reason. I have in past years also had staff members blatantly insult my art to my face, but the offending people aren't anyone I've seen on staff again.
Overall, it's a great convention. After the actual contract stuff is approved, the con is a breeze, and the attendees are great! High profit, low monetary investment, and a great location. Well worth it if you can get in and are local.
Very spacey, easy to navigate if you have a car to get to it. It gets pretty busy during the con so parking might be hard.
They limit the tables to about 100 so I feel like everyone has a good chance of making decent sales. I love how there is so much space behind our tables (unlike Fanexpo) and it's very easy to navigate and find people. Traffic flow was pretty good.
AN is notable for staff issues (i.e. staff acting superior and bossing people around). I did encounter a minor issue once but overall I think they do their job well.
One of the most anticipated events of the year for anime fans, therefore attendance is very good and is continuing to climb every year.
Might get pricey if you need to stay at the hotel, but for me as a local it was so so worth it.