Printed Matter is Moving (and They Need Your Help)

capital-campaign-2-e501c992c32db0e7d1c875e520593a79Printed Matter, one of the most important organizations dedicated to artists’ books,  is moving to a new location that will double their square footage. Their new home on the corner of 11th Avenue and 26th Street will house their inventory of 15,000 publications and offer a community space for a variety of events. If you want to lend a hand, donate to their capital campaign.

Printed Matter is a resource comics micro-publishers should utilize more, myself included. A few comics micro-presses sell their publications at Printed Matter–Pegacorn Press, Domino, Desert Island, etc. But there could be more of a comics presence in their shop and at the two festivals the organize: NY Art Book Fair and LA Art Book Fair. I get the sense that Printed Matter tends towards comics that are non-narrative, arty, and hand-printed, so I would especially encourage publishers of those works to check them out. They have an open submission policy concerning works in their catalog.

 

TCAF 2015 Recap

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TCAF was the last stop on my 2015 “spring tour,” otherwise known the overly ambitious and poorly planned  festival application bender that left me committed to back-to-back weekend events for a month and a half. So by the time TCAF rolled around I was sick of comics events, and maybe even sick of comics. I didn’t even want to go. But I had sunk $450 into the plane ticket, the table fee, and the hostel, so there was no going back.

Long story short, I departed Toronto encouraged, confident, and in love with comics again. So it was a pretty great show.

TCAF is a big and complicated show, and it would be impossible for me to give an exhaustive overview. But I will try to offer some thoughts on my experience at the show, in handy set of pros and cons, tailored specifically with the small publisher in mind.

PROS

 Drawn and Quarterly 25th Anniversary
The guest list was absolutely stellar this year, partly due to D & Q’s 25th anniversary celebration. Many out-of-town Drawn and Quarterly  authors made the trip, including Lynda Barry, Jason Lutes, and Adrian Tomine. I was practically tripping over my comics heroes.

TCAF American Dropship Location
New for this year, TCAF invested in an  dropship location near the Canadian border, but on the American side. American exhibitors could ship their boxes there, and TCAF would have them transported over the border and to Toronto. This meant that American exhibitors could ship their books without paying exorbitant international shipping fees. Heck, you could even ship book rate if you planned ahead! This is a real game changer.

The Toronto Reference Library
I love this library. If books were given the reverence they deserve, this is what every library would look like. Even though it’s a challenge to fit a festival into this living space, it’s worth it.

Free Admission
This should be the norm, folks.

Tables are Pretty Cheap
$175 Canadian for a half table is hard to beat.

Good Sales
This is probably my best selling show. I actually sold out of several books, which rarely happens for me.

Extensive Programming and Events
From Thursday to Sunday, there’s a lot to see and do. If you came for nothing but the programming, you’d leave pretty educated by day four. Also, there were lots of parties.

Diverse Audience
Because this is a free event, and because it’s in a popular public space in the heart of the city, all sorts of people come to TCAF. This show attracts book lovers, and not necessarily the ones steeped in comics fandom. It’s really refreshing to show my work to new eyes, not just the same people I’ve being seeing at conventions for the last fifteen years.

 Early Set-Up
Day one started at 9am (!) which would be hard to take without the Friday night set-up. I wish all festivals did early set-up. I generally haul all my gear by myself, and having this extra time really helps.

Friendship
I made some new friends got to know some old ones better. After day one we went to a nearby park to nap and read comics. This is the way it should be done.

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L to R: Bjorn Miner, Christopher Green, Josh Rosen, and Marta Chudolinska

CONS 

 Programming and Events Could be Better Promoted to Exhibitors
Maybe I missed the emails (totally possible) but I don’t think TCAF sent me information about programming, parties, or events. I found out by arriving in Toronto and reading the local newspaper. Sometimes the event information TCAF provided was scant or incomplete (the programming seemed to run more smoothly).

9am is Pretty Early for a Comics Festival
But what can you do, right?

Don’t Kick ‘Em Out Early
This might seem like a small complaint, but it’s my biggest beef with the show. On both days, starting at an hour before the show was scheduled to close and on until closing, announcements were made over the PA. Attendees were told when the show was ending, which was acceptable, but they were also asked to make their way for the door, which was NOT acceptable. Exhibitors travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to be at TCAF. Every minute counts. You cannot ask our customers to leave an hour early. 

That being said, I love TCAF. As a small publisher, it’s up there with CAB and SPX. I’ll come back every year if they’ll have me.

Here are some of the micro-publishers I chatted with at TCAF. I was able to  collect several more entries for my micro-press list!

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Jesjit Gill and Jenny Kapichen of Colour Code, a Toronto-based Riso publisher.

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Study Group’s Zack Soto with co-editor Shanna Matuszak.

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Sebastian Frye of the Toronto-based Swimmers Group.

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Ryan Sands of Youth in Decline, with author Sophia Foster-Dimino.

tcaf15_4s The spread at the Space Face table.

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George Wietor of Issue Press, a micro-press out of Grand Rapids.

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Leon Avelino of Secret Acres, with aythor Robert Sergel in the background.

tcaf15_12s Gabby Mulholland of Montreal-based Sucker Press, with Dietrich Rosteck (on the right).

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Avi Ehrlich of Silver Sprocket, a punk label and micro-press. Avi was my table mate, and I could learn a lot form his salesmanship. He’s been running Silver Sprocket for over a decade, it’s his day job now.

tcaf15_17sMy haul.

Micro-Press Yearbook 2014 in the Works

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Hey, guys. My posts are a little scant these days. That’s because I’m in the middle of a tour, and I’m working on the Micro-Press Yearbook 2014. I should be wrapping those up in the next few weeks, and then I’ll be back in full force.

 

RIPE 2015 Recap

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RIPE is a young show, only in its second year, but it’s off to a good start. I saw a lot of fresh faces and fresh work. I’ve been going to comic conventions with this same cluster of cartoonists for fifteen years, so it’s refreshing to see an abundance of work I don’t recognize. (It’s also overwhelming.)

In general, this show felt intense: densely packed, young, hip, technicolored, and very queer friendly. There were plenty of locals in attendance, and the community here seems pretty close knit. But there was a healthy portion of out-of-towners on the exhibitor list too. In the room I was tabling, I didn’t even have to turn my head to spot half a dozen cartoonists I recognized from Brooklyn. A group from New Orleans also made the trip, and a gaggle of CCSers from Vermont.

It was a bit slow on Saturday, but by the end of Sunday I had covered my table, which was a small victory. I sat on a micro-publishing panel moderated by Whit Taylor, along with Matt Moses of Hic and Hoc, Dave Kelly of So What? and Virginia Paine of Sparkplug. We covered a lot of ground without getting derailed, so I call it a success. Dave Kelly talked about the need for publishers to work together to grow distribution systems, and it’s something I’ve been dwelling one. Sometimes DIY can go too far–we don’t have to do everything ourselves. This year, I’d like to build relationships with other micro-publishers to meet some common goals.

Here is a just small sampling of the tables I visited at RIPE.

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Part of the Spiders Peepaw gang. I’d tell you their names, but I think they like to keep it mysterious.

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Kevin Czap, of Czap Books.

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In the foreground are M. Chandelier, an artist from New Orleans, and Joe DeGorge, one half of Harry and the Potters (he also makes zines).

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Matt Moses of Hic and Hoc, always pleasantly tolerant of my presence and my photo-taking.

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This is the table of local printmaker Ian Cozzens, being staffed by Scott Reber. Providence grows some excellent screen printers.

ripe.15.6sLara Antal, one half of So What? Press.

ripe.15.8sMy haul.

Tiny Report / Paper Rocket Tour

SPRINGTOURLast weekend I looked at my calendar and FREAKED OUT, because I had gone overboard applying for festivals and committing to events. I had accidentally committed to six comics events over the next seven weeks. When I complained on Facebook, Box Brown pointed out that what I actually had done was booked a tour! So here’s the Tiny Report / Paper Rocket Accidental Spring Tour 2015.

March 28-29: RIPE in Providence, RI
Micro-Press and distro panel at 1pm on the 29th

April 5: KGB Comix Night in New York, NY

April 11-12: MoCCA Fest in New York, NY

April 20-21: CCS class visit in White River Jct, VT
Lectures with students about micro-publishing and editing

April 26: Brooklyn Zine Fest in Brooklyn, NY

May 9-10: TCAF in Toronto, Ontario

Hope to see you there! Please bring me words of encouragement and snacks. It’s going to be an intense month and a half.

TCAF Opens Permanent Store in Toronto Public Library 

page_and_panel_interior_0I’ve never heard of this happening before, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that TCAF is the first independent comics convention to open it’s own permanent retail shop (correct me if I’m wrong). What started in December as a pop-up shop in the Toronto Public  Library has now been rebranded as the permanent fixture Page and Panel. All the stores profits will be reinvested into TCAF.

For Toronto as a cartoonist’s town, I’d say another strong comic shop like this is a real asset. I do wonder if Page and Panel will be competing against TCAF’s own exhibitors come festival time, albeit in a small way that’s not really worth grumbling about.

Uncivilized Books Announces Fall 2015 Subscription

new_construction_tempUncivilized Books has announced a fall list of three booksNew Construction by Sam Alden, Houses of the Holy by Caitlin Skaalrud, and The Deaths of Henry King by Brian Evenson, Jesse Ball and Lilli Carré. A subscription of all three can be had for $55, shipping included. You can also pre-order each book at a discount.

I’m looking forward to New Construction, which includes the short story Backyard. I think it’s my favorite of Sam Alden’s so far.