So! There’s been a pretty good response to the column going into week two here. So that’s a good thing. I promised I’d let you all know how APE (that’s the Alternative Press Expo) went down and whatnot, so why not just jump right on into it!
For those of you who don’t know (and those of you who enjoy shameless plugs), I have a web comic called Mastorism. There’s a link below, I’m not that shamelss. Anyhow, It’s been going since April or so, and I decided to take it (and its published issues, of course) to some cons out here on the west coast… or more specifically… in the SF Bay Area.
Attendance actually had a lot stacked against it what with the state of the economy, probably one of the biggest elections in decades happening the following Tuesday, and… well… really crappy weather. The show started on Saturday, and it poured pretty good that day, but let up fairly well on Sunday. All those factors in place, I’d say the attendance was still pretty dang good. I know I talked to a lot of people and didn’t really get much opportunity to leave my table, which, of course, is a really good thing. I got the word out about my comics to quite a few people (leading to some interesting stuff… more on that another time), but what I really enjoyed was meeting creators, vendors, and fans and getting to talk comics to them. I happen to enjoy talking comics a bit.
Now what you need to know about APE is that it’s a small press show (if the name didn’t tip you off), so of course there were a lot of alternative publishers there. What I’ve noticed this go around (versus my last time attending, almost ten years ago) was that comics were just one of many things what were being shown, sold, what-have-you. Before, I’d say, by and large, APE was about comics. So, probably magnified by the significant amount of time between attendances, there is a definite shift happening there. There was plenty of cool stuff to see, experience, and buy, though! For instance, my tablemate, Skimola (actually her name is Sue) does hand made sketch books, which were really cool. Her brother Dale was there too, at a different table, selling handmade sketchbooks as well (I managed to score a couple of these in a very decent trade!) . There were a lot of zines, more fine art type stuff, some interesting guys who’s whole deal was they wrote manuals for other artists installations and shopped them out to get implemented (or so I gathered…), lots of crazy cool stuff. Then of course there were the comics.
On the publishers end, though, I’d have to say that comics were represented at the forefront. There were actually some bigger of the indies in attendance: Image, IDW, Fantagraphics, and SLG. Also, the majority of the special guests were from the comics side of things… the two most notable to me being Chris Ware and Dan Clowes (the latter which, I don’t believe was listed as a special guest to the show, but was there with Fantagraphics promoting a new Ghost World package). So… overall cool stuff.
Comics Are for People estimation of the gathering? You know, it was a cool get together for artists, writers and publishers in general. The name APE doesn’t specifically imply comics, though its certainly always been affiliated as such (heck, its put on by the same folks who do San Diego and WonderCon), so its hard to shine a negative light on the inclusion of so many great creations finding themselves under the same roof. Is the shift toward less comic indicative of a trend against comics? I’ll give that a big fat maybe.
I’d say now-a-days the APE-crowd friendly publishers are on the decline (ie - SLG’s JTHM/Milk and Cheese heyday, Dan Clowes putting out Eightball regularly for Fantagraphics… all behind us), and the indie comics scene has grown more on the mainstream friendly end with companies like DDP putting out Hack/Slash, and Dark Horse/IDW’s successful property licensing of fan-genre material. So, ultimately, I would say that the shift is more in what publishers are doing and what APE is about, than comics simply disappearing. What I mean is, given the state of things, it could have gone two ways, the APE crowd could have changed into the current indie comics scene, or the APE crowd could stay the same, and less publishers are interested in marketing to that particular crowd. Clearly, the latter is the case.
At the end of the day (or weekend), though, I have to say, I had a great time at APE. Its still a great opportunity to get your comics out there to folks. Let me tell you. My comic is more fan/sci-fi/superhero oriented, and I still had plenty of folks interested in what I was doing (more so on Sunday, for some strange reason). And there were plenty of other folks there like me showing their stuff off. APE will always hold a special place in my heart, and I certainly rank it as a “must go” if you’re in the area. I plan to be there again next year, if you’re around… check it out!
Man on the Street
I was going to keep this primarily dedicated to APE, but I saw something rarer than sasquatch this week. I found a magazine store (oddly enough in a strip mall behind where the local comics store closed all those months ago). Anyhow… I went in, and to my shock they has something you don’t see every day… yep… SPINNER RACK.
Yeah. That’s it about that…
Well, that’s about it for this week. I’ve gotten some other things going, but the APE thing dominated so much, I’ll put the other stuff off for another time. So, that’s it for this week! See you all again next week!
Matt Grant is a graphic designer and self-publishing comics and webcomics creator. His comic MastorisM can be read at www.MastorisM.com and updates Tuesdays and Thursdays. A long time comics fanatic and advocate for the medium, Matt eats, sleeps, and breathes comics. They’re actually pretty good if you fry them up and add a little Tapatio.
Matt would love nothing more than to hear from fans, retailers, creators, and publishers that have anything relevant to contribute to his column. He believes that, only by working together, we can bring the comics medium to a wider deserving audience. Please feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, private message him here, or harass him on the street! Matt does not claim to be an industry expert in any way shape or form, but rather an opinionated pundit on the sidelines.
Last edited by MattGrant; Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 10:33 PM.