People said this year’s Alternative Press Expo was slower than the last, but I heard that last year too. APE used to be first on the Californian convention-calendar, and benefited from the build-up of gomer excitement during the 7 months following Comic Con. That nerd dividend now goes to Wondercon (since the date switch with APE) which may explain the lower attendance? Or, perhaps the suddenly balmy weather inspired San Franciscans, trapped indoors by weeks of rain, to forgo comics for a weekend outside…
Ah, who knows? And in the end, who cares? I enjoyed myself as I always do at APE. I don’t mind if it doesn’t get any bigger; It is a nice, human sized convention. Best of all, the attendees are hungry for home-cooked comics, which is what I was serving up (even though it was leftovers) including the 2nd printing of Rocket Rabbit #1, which is technically new for THIS show, as the art wasn’t completed till after last year’s APE (My ability to rationalise my own lameness will not be beat).
I believe that you haven’t really been to a comic convention unless you (A) see a Klingon eating a hotdog and (B) go home with your bags stuffed with comics. As APE is an EXPO (the THINKING person’s con) there are no pear shaped people in heroic outfits… but thankfully you can still get comics. I was able to get some good stuff by swapping my books, but had to pay hard cash to those people that weren’t bamboozled by my Nerve Bomb dollars…
CRIMSON CLOVER by Johnny Siu. I had exchanged some emails with Johnny earlier in the year when he was looking for printing options, so it was pleasant to see the finished product: a sweet little full colour story book.
PYRAMID CAR and ADVANCED TALK by Scott Campbell. Do you like dumb gags as much as I do? This guy REALLY understands the full, comedic power of stupid. Most people do not realise that it takes amazing smarts to do good “dumb humour” and this guy has Mensa-level powers of dumb-comedy. Pyramid Car is a funny little book. And so is Advanced Talk. Find them and buy them. Do not read them when eating or drinking lest you honk cup-ramen out your nose.
MALINKY ROBOT by Sonny Liew. This is a whole book by one of the contributors to FLIGHT. There are a lot of things I could compare this to, but it has a unique look and flavour so why do that annoying “compare” thing? It is best just to say that the artwork and writing are both fun and evocative.
BASILISK by Kazimir Strzepek. I have picked up all of Kaz’s comics work that I have found (most of it at last year’s APE) and it has all been really fun to read. This particular mini collects a 16 page funny fantasy story that was drawn for an anthology called ELFWORLD, which is being put together by Jeffrey Brown.
FISHCHILD STORIES by Mary Patterson. This is a tasty little collection of her charming paintings of animals in mundane human settings (my personal favourite is the rabbit shaving himself while looking in a bathroom mirror). For this collection Mary added some captions beneath the pics that evoke a story on every page.
NOBLE BOY by Scott Morse. My APE table was near Scott’s, and I could see him painting and drawing the entire time, he never stops creating. Scott works at a major animation studio, is a prolific comics artist in his SPARE time, AND has a family… I don’t know how he does it all, and so well….
CAUGHT CREATURES by Daniel Davis. Not a comic book but a collection of Daniel’s creature designs with a brief bio on each in the form of a wacky haiku poem. This book is beautifully printed.
One of the funniest comics I saw wasn’t even on sale. It was by a guy called Raz, who sadly didn’t get the story finished in time for APE, but he gave us an advance screening of the rough cut when he let us read it in his sketchbook. Powerful stuff. Rude. Wrong, but SO good. I saw, but didn’t buy, some great minis by Tom Gauld. I have seen these around town (at Super7 I believe) so I hope to get them later, I will kick myself if they aren’t there, though.
Apart from comics, I picked up a hand-made Journal by Kate Ranson-Walsh. The trouble with nicely made sketchbooks and journals is that I am afraid to sully them with any of my sappy writing or crude little pictures… let’s see if I can brave it with this one.
While sitting behind the exhibitors table, I chatted with lots of great people; old friends, total strangers and everything in between, which is always a pleasant aspect of exhibiting for me. Here’s a day by day breakdown of the show.
Friday: APE 2006 started a day earlier than usual when we got our Abismo/Nerve Bomb badges Friday night at the Last Gasp mixer held in their rambling, comics stuffed facility. Rhode said it was like the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only stuffed with comics. The staff was trusted the geeks and let them into their Ali Baba’s cave of pop-culture goodies; booze in one hand and comic books in the other.
Saturday: Rhode‘s just released CLOUD BOY books went on sale for the first time after they were brought directly to the con by Oscar (Rhode’s new bodyguard) who handled all the many sales, leaving Rhode free to indulge his mob of fans. A few people who bought my books at previous shows came by to tell me that they had enjoyed them. So if you are one of those people, thanks for taking the time to do that.
KAZU visited our table and Rhode and I were able to express our admiration for all that he is involved in; his personal books and of course FLIGHT. Kazu recently posted a link to my blog from his own site which drove an unbelievable volume of traffic my way and I was able to thank him for that in person. Then we talked about story writing, creative blocks, and whether there is any guide through that process… which is something that Rhode and I swap notes on all the time.
Saturday evening has been The Isotope mini-comics awards party for the last several APEs. Apart from it’s obvious appeal of being a place to buy comics, I enjoy the Isotope for the people who work and hang-out there. I hear the funniest conversations each time I visit, including the party this year. As the store filled up with partyers, some of us chatted out on the sidewalk in the fresh air, as the glamour of Mini comics’ most prestigious awards ceremony played out before us through the front window.
Jared filled me in on the details of his on-going special effects make-up gig on a feature film. He’s never happier than when slapping artificial gore around. You can read more about his encounters with Michael Berryman, Ruth Buzzi and co on Jared’s blog.
Marc and AK regaled me with their hilarious hard drinking tales, and Marc gave me tips on how to pull off a discreet booze-puke in a social setting. It is not a technique that a boring old tee-totaller like myself really needs, but it made for hilarious listening, which is always the case when any of the B-Minus crew get on a storytelling roll. Plus, I got to hear all the inside scoop on the Ms Monster back-story and heard previews of some outrageously hilarious stories from upcoming B-Minus comics.
I was in the middle of telling Marc and AK about The gomer consultancy idea that Lon, Derek, Bosco, Rhode and I have been bandying about as our latest get-rich scheme, when we all had to talk Rafa down from the precipice of a harsh Midichlorian freak out! An embittered Star Wars fan having a crisis of faith is a hard thing to watch, and distraction is the best remedy… It was only by reminding him how cool the new Battlestar Galactica is that we were able to calm him down. BSG was a healing, soothing balm to his prequel ravaged soul… (It has been observed that it would be tough to convince someone just walking out of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 that by 2006 Star Wars would be be so much flabby ass, and Battlestar Galactica would be THE SHIT…)
Sunday: By early afternoon Rhode’s Cloud Boy books were all sold out, which didn’t surprise anyone, except perhaps the modest Mr. Montijo himself. At the end of the day, Cold Cut distributors picked up a LOAD of each of my books which definitely put me firmly in the black financially, and meant that I had much less stuff to lug home.
The day ended at Chef Jia’s Hunan restaurant on the border between North Beach and Chinatown. I had signed an exclusive agreement for a pleasant deCONpression dinner with Javier and Rhode. A pleasant easy going end to a fun, easy going con.