Tag Archives: conventions

News Roundup: Kuš, Bug Boy, 2015 Convention Survey

Sorry about the scant updates. I’ve been  traveling: three shows in four weeks! Here’s my only pic from Short Run in Seattle. This was a Halloween show so I dressed as Frank and got a photo with Frank’s pa, Jim Woodring (his real pa, not his faux pa, as Calista Brill pointed out).frankcostume

I’m very happy that I have no shows planned until spring. I have no scene report for Short Run or CAB, because I was working solo, non-stop  for both shows (with one-day shows, you can’t really afford to take a break). I’ll say this much: Short Run is a friendly, good vibes show with pretty good sales and low table cost, BUT if you’re traveling from the Midwest or the East Coast, covering cost will be a real challenge. CAB is a lively and intense show, packed to the gills, but covering travel cost is very doable.

A lot has been happening while I was away. Here is some of it.

Kuš Announces Line of Solo Graphic Novels
Cover Roman Muradov The End of a Fence 640Read this announcement and preview over at Comics & Cola. End of A Fence by Roman Muradov, the first in the kuš mono series, will be release in a few weeks. You can pre-order it for just $14, including international shipping.

Czap releases Bug Boys by Laura KnetzgerBugBoys_Digital-1Bug Boy, a lovely and hefty (352-page) graphic novel for young readers by Laura Knetzger, is being released by Czap Books in early December. You can pre-order your copy now, and there are some pretty cute pre-order bonuses (tote bags, pins, etc.).

I haven’t dug into this book yet, but from the outside it looks great—as good as anything from a major trade publisher. Czap is a micro-press to watch, and their projects are becoming more ambitious.

Devastator/The Beat’s 2015 Convention Survey is LiveconsHere’s the link for the new survey! Seriously, take the time to fill this out. The Devastator and The Beat compile this data every year in order to paint a picture of what works (and what doesn’t) for the independent convention exhibitor. As the other micro-publisher that collects annual data to better understand the world of small publishing, I heartily endorse this effort.

 

 

MICE 2015 Recap and Thoughts on the Kid Friendly Show

(Sorry for the lack of updates here at the Tiny Report. The demands of my real jobs have been taking priority lately.)

mice15_6sMICE was, I think, the seventh show I tabled at this year (and I’ve got two more to go). That’s way too many shows! This year has been all about preparing for shows or being at shows, it seems. Shows are on my mind alot.

And MICE was a good show. It’s very exhibitor friendly: the tables are cheap, the staff is friendly, and volunteers fed us non-stop. The free food at the after-party was especially tasty, and mostly vegetarian. I don’t think I’ve been better tended to at  show.

Also worth noting: there’s a small food court of Korean and Japanese restaurants downstairs from the show. Delicious! MICE definitely wins the best food award.

The programming looked strong: tailored to the moderators and panelists, and not cookie-cutter subjects. It was really refreshing to see so much programming focused on black cartoonists across conventions this year, and MICE was no exception. I don’t know if ever saw a black cartoonist panel in a program schedule before 2015, and I think I’ve seen four or more this year. Black Lives Matter is making an impact in this community.

The hall where the panels were held was great: excellent AV and auditorium seating (one of the benefits of holding a show at a college). I sat on a minicomics panel, which I think went well. One irksome thing was that this panel, for reasons I don’t understand, was marked kid friendly. While none of our material was overly risque, I was told parents walked out. Irregardless of the material, this just wasn’t a topic that was really accessible to the young. It was technical, and focused on varsity-level printing and binding techniques.

It’s clear that MICE went out it’s way to make this a welcoming show for parents (tables were also marked kid friendly). I certainly don’t want show to be kid-unfriendly, but I wonder if it’s such a good idea to market so heavily to buyers who often have little to no interest in the majority of the work that’s there. MICE is a tiny show: it inhabits a number of small rooms and a few hallways, which isn’t ideal. The space was so cramped that customers could hardly make it to the tables. In a situation like this, I would expect sales to be brisker. From where I was standing, it seems like the things that were really selling were kids graphic novels published by major house: that is to say, books you could find in any Barnes and Nobles. It would benefit sellers like me, who have little to no content for children, who come from the tradition of underground and alternative comics, and who actually make small press comics, if this show catered more to buyers who are interested in that. I guess MICE has limited control over the audience it attracts, but I think perhaps RIPE and CAB strike a better balance.

If I sound cranky, I apologize. I’ve got no gripe against kid comics from major houses: that’s what I do for my day job, and I love it. I’m just trying to figure out how a indie comics show can be a cultural event that benefits the local community, that’s welcoming rather than insular, and still attracts the kind of people who are (or potentially could be) buyers of independent comics. Brooklyn Zine Fest is one of my favorite examples of this in action.

So sales were so-so, especially with strong SPX sales fresh on my mind. But when I did the math and took into consideration the low table cost ($80 for a half) I came out ahead at MICE. The high cost of lodging took a bite. (I stayed at an airbnb, as did many people I talked to, since it seems impossible to find even a private hostel room for less than $100). But all in all, MICE was an excellent show, one of the better run ones I’ve attended, and I’d be happy to do it again.

mice15_10sThe scene from the floor. MICE is a pretty cramped show.

mice15_14sGene Luen Yang and Tony Davis (of Million Year Picnic).

mice15_12s Ethan Rilly (talking to Sophie Goldstein).

mice15_11s Reilly Hadden and Stephanie Zuppo, two recent CCS grads putting out cool stuff.

mice15_8s The best table mates! Paul Lyons and Cheryl Kaminsky of Hidden Fortress.

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Best table partner and BF: Mike Hunchback.

mice15_4s Jason Little.

mice15_2s Cara Bean.

mice15_1sMatt Moses of Hic and Hoc.

SPX 2015 Recap

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I left this year’s SPX feeling good about the world of comics and my place in it. Can’t say that’s a common post-con experience. This might be the #1 good vibes show.

I haven’t slept much since Friday night, so I’ll jump right to the highlights.

1. Women sweep the Ignatz for the first time ever
Women won in every category. Can you believe it? I was actually a juror this year. Most of this year’s jury (four out of five) are women. I have to believe this contributed to the high number of women on the ballot. And no one on the jury was a white male. I wonder if that’s a first too?
And what’s kind of awesome is that during the ceremony it didn’t even occur to me that only women were winning. I had to be told the next day. It’s a pretty great moment for women in comics, when something like this happens and it doesn’t even register as being unique.

2. Kilgore Books
I met Dan Stafford and Luke Janes, co-owners of Kilgore Books, and dropped a good chunk of change at their table. I’ve never been to their shop, but I’m a fan of their books (especially anything Noah Van Sciver or John Porcellino). I just learned that they’re selling the store to an employee, will carry on publishing (not unlike Bergen Street).

3. Nostalgia
I did the math and I’ve been going to this show for fifteen years. Well fourteen I guess, because it was cancelled on 9/11. Heck, I’ve been going so long that I remember when I couldn’t go because of 9/11! Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I was a baby! (Photo via Jeff Mason.)
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This year my roommates and I carpooled down to the show with my friend/landlord Nick Bertozzi and friend/not landlord Jason Little. I’ve been hanging out with these guys at convention for well over a decade.
Sorry to get mushy, but it’s friendships fostered at conventions like SPX that’s kept in this crazy world of comics for so long. I’m getting older and I have to admit I’m looking back.

Not to suggest SPX is a lovefest for all involved. Communities like this are near-utopic when you’re on the inside, but watching from the outside is rough. (I’ve been there too.) I know there are people who don’t feel a sense of belonging at SPX. (I’d guess, those who are unable to get a table year after year). I’d be interested in hearing these voices too.

But let’s get to the fun part: pictures.

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Chuck Forsman and Melissa Mendes of Oily. Lots of good stuff (Revenger, The Weight, the Lou book) on the horizon for both of them.

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Dan Stafford and Luke Janes of Kilgore Books

spx15_6s2D Cloud gang: Melissa Carraher (publicist) in the back, author Sarah Ferrick, Raighne Hogan (publisher), and author Maggie Umber. 

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One Percent Press: JP Coovert (publisher), Alexis Frederick-Frost (author), Stephen Floyd (publisher).

Grand Comics Fest 2015 Recap

tr1sI’ve been a little out of the loop because I’m putting the finishing touches on this baby. I printed up twenty copies for Grand Comics Fest. Look for the Kickstarter this weekend if you missed it.

On Saturday I tabled at Grand Comics Fest, aka the world’s smallest comics convention. It was a narrow room filled with friends, and just 15 minutes away on the L train. I liked it. It was chill and friendly, and I even made some money. I’m not sure it’s a festival worth traveling for, but it’s a good neighborhood show that you can peruse in just a half hour (longer if you want to chat with each table, which is easy to do).

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The show at a glance, housed in Bird River Studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


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 Lara Antal of So What? Press.

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The spread at Ink Brick’s table.

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J.T. Yost of Birdcage Bottom Books.

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Dave Nuss of Revival House Press.

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Josh Bayer of Suspect Device, etc.

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I discovered a new micro-press at this show. Phinkwell is a Philadelphia-based webcomics collective/publisher. Art Baxter seems to be at the helm. One of their authors, Steve Teare, was at Grand with his comic series Back and Forth.

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.

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.