Tag Archives: conventions

New Show: Zine Machine in Durham, NC

Poster design by Christoph Mueller.

A new festival debuts today: Zine Machine in Durham, North Carolina. A zine festival on a weekday? I’m not used to seeing that. Cool name, though. Cool poster design, too.

I haven’t found a lot of info on this show, but publishers of interest in attendance are AdHouse Books and Everett Rand of Mineshaft Magazine. I can’t find an admission fee (it’s a safe bet that it’s free). If you’re near Durham, check it out.

PS: The poster design and the subtitle (Durham Printed Matter Festival) may lead you to believe that it has something to do with the organization Printed Matter. But I don’t believe that is the case.


Minicomic Awards: A Round-Up



(While I’m on the topic, I’d like to mention that Rob Clough just released his list of top 30 mini and pamphlet comics of 2014. Micro-presses on the list are Oily, Retrofit, Revival House, Dog City, Breakdown Press, Sparkplug, Colour Code, 2D Cloud, Yeti Press, and Alternative.)

I got the good news a few days ago that Penina Gal and Scout Wolfcave’s comic Limp Wrist won first place in the SPACE Prize Minicomic / Short Story category. (It was a tie with  Joseph Remnant’s Blindspot #3, published by Kilgore Books.) My micropress, Paper Rocket, republished a full color version of Limp Wrist.

Before Penina brought this to my attention, I had never heard of the SPACE Prize. Which got me wondering, what awards exist out there specifically for minicomics? Meaning, ones that use the word “minicomic” in their title, or specifically target those types of publications. There aren’t many, but here’s the ones I could find, both past and present.


SPACE PrizePrize_5Ryan Claytor wins the the SPACE minicomic prize in 2013. Image via Eventized.

The SPACE Prize is awarded annually for comics that are present at the previous year’s Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo in Columbus, Ohio. There are two rotating judges for the category, with the third judge being the collective votes of the festival’s exhibitors.


The Cupcake AwardcupcakeannouncementThe Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (which somehow is abbreviated as CAKE) debuted the Cupcake Award last year. The $250 cash prize is awarded annually to an early career cartoonist, to cover the printing cost of a new minicomic to debut at CAKE. The award also comes with a free half table at CAKE and mentoring from Annie Koyama. You can submit by sending an artist statement, CV, and work samples.


Ignatz Awardignatz-awards
Art by Sam Adlen

The Ignatz is the festival award of the Small Press Expo, and it has a mincomic category. Five anonymous jurors select the nominees, and the winner is decided by a popular vote of those present at the festival. And the award is an actual brick! You can submit your books by mailing them in by May 31 (eligible books must have been published between June 1 of the previous year and May 31).



The Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics

The Isotope, designed by Crowe

The Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics was offered from 2003 to 2011. It was a very fancy trophy awarded by a very fancy comic shop: Isotope in San Francisco. A winner was selected annually by a committee of judges, and the trophy was awarded at the Alternative Press Expo after party, held at Isotope. Anyone could submit a minicomic by mailing it in, though the winner needed to be present at the award ceremony.


Maisie Kukoc Award for Comics InspirationMaisie KukocThe 2011 Maisie Kukoc, awarded to Damien Jay. Trophy created by Claire Sanders

This award was coordinated by Jesse Reklaw, and named in honor of John Porcellino’s cat, Maisie Kukoc (1991-2007). The award had a run of about five years. If memory serves, nominees were submitted by a group within the self-publishing community, and individuals could vote via a website Jesse built. There was a small cash prize, and a really cool trophy (the design changed over the years). The prize was awarded during Portland’s Stumptown Comics Fest.

Did is miss any awards? I won’t get into grants here, though there a few I’ve been thinking of writing about (The Xeric, the Prism Queer Comics Press Grant, and the SAW Micro-Grant come to mind). But that’s another blog post.



Paper Jam Recap

pj2sIf you’ve never been, the Silent Barn is a very Bushwick place–it’s a music venue/artist studio/barber shop/gallery/cafe/whatever they think of next. On Saturday they hosted Paper Jam, their twice annual small press festival. The show was started and is largely directed by Robin Enrico and Paige K. Bradley, along with a somewhat shifting cast of co-curators (Olivia Fox has also been involved since the beginning). Paper Jam is 100% curated, and with space for only 24 exhibitors it feels a bit more like a gallery exhibition than a comics convention. You cannot apply to table, you can only be selected. The lineup doesn’t repeats itself and is split pretty evenly between comics and zines, so you’re guaranteed to discover new work.

Admission is free AND, for the hand-picked exhibitors, tabling is free. It’s something rare to find, outside of festival that are subsidized by institutions or universities (and those are rare enough themselves). I think the free tables and the general party vibe bolsters a sense to goodwill–it’s a friendly and intimate show. I haven’t met anyone yet who had a bad word to say about it, but I wonder if that will change in a few years if the creators waiting for an invitation feel they’ve been snubbed (perhaps the grousing has already begun).

pj4s Holly Simple

Laura Knetzger

Jen Tong, Arlin Oritz, and Kris Mukai

Austin English of Domino Book


Yam Books Year in Review

Rina Ayuyang and Tim Hensley at LA Zine Fest 2014

If you haven’t already, you should check out Yam Books. Publisher Rina Ayuyang offers this year in review on her personal blog.

Yam puts out a small number of publications each year, but they’re real gems. And their authors include names that are traditionally published by larger houses like Fantagraphics or Drawn and Quarterly (e.g., Renée French and Tim Hensley). I’m curious about Yam’s history, because I hadn’t know Rina to edit or publish before its debut. But Rina seems to have no learning curve, Yam was publishing high fidelity square-bound books right out of the gate.

Rina’s 2014 overview includes a lot of personal anecdotes, but it also describes some indie shows I haven’t been to yet but am curious about: PIX, LA Zine Fest, and Linework. Rina also reminded me that APE is moving from San Francisco this year. Too bad, because I had it pegged as my west coast show of 2015.

Devastator and The Beat Release 2014 Convention Data

consI’m a bit behind the times: Heidi MacDonald just tipped me off that The Beat and Devastator released their 2014 comic convention data. They and I are trying to do something similar: collect data from the indie comics scene so we can paint a better picture of how the small press industry is working. They’ve focuses on conventions and festivals specifically. It looks like their audience is more mainstream/geek culture than my tastes (and according to their data, that’s where the money is). Still, they profile some top small press festivals, and this information is super valuable.

I’ve read their zine, and here’s my takeaway.

1. Shit: I’m not making any money, am I? Their per-show sales average is $1000. I’d kill for those sales.

But, when I take a closer look, I see the top selling shows are ones I hadn’t considered exhibiting at: San Diego Comic-Con, Denver Comics Con, and New York Comic Con. Is is time to reconsider exhibiting at mainstream shows? I used to do that, about a decade ago. I got the sense that my work isn’t interesting to  that market. Maybe I’m wrong?

When I look at the per-show average for indie shows like TCAF, MoCCA, and SPX, my sales are in the ballpark (but still, a little low).

2. Of the small press/indie shows that ranked high in terms of sales and exhibitor satisfaction, TCAF and APE were right at the top. I haven’t been to APE in years. I’d written it off as a financial loss years ago, as a lot of my peers on the east coast did. But it looks like it’s time to revisit this show.

3. What I assumed is true: MoCCA is a show where exhibitors are lucky to cover the $460 table fee (one of the highest table fees in this country for a show of that kind). I keep waiting for MoCCA to address this, but at this point I’m doubtful that the table fee will ever come down. I’m resentful. A lot of creators are resentful. At least, The Society of Illustrators puts on a great show. But how much longer can I throw away almost $500 to spend a weekend at a great show?

You can read The Beat and Devastator’s zine for free (but you should donate a buck or two). I don’t know a lot about this project, but I’m guessing Devastator wrote the zine while The Beat helped promote it. Devestator is an independent publisher of humor anthologies and books run by Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows. I can’t tell if they’d fit my definition of a micro-publishers, but they’re in the neighborhood.


Brooklyn Zine Fest Applications Close January 14

bzine2Brooklyn Zine Fest’s exhibitor applications opened today, and will close five days later on January 14. Off hand, I can’t think another festival with such a short application window. It must ease the burden of processing applications when the interest is high and the tables are few.

I had a successful show last year (check out my recap), so I’ll be applying again.

Whit Taylor on Sustainability and the Convention Model

My boss, Gabe Fowler. (photo by Elizabeth Graham)

Whit Taylor at The Comics Journal wrote this beefy report on CAB and the convention model, and she asked questions that are pertinent to small publishers like me. Is the convention model sustainable? Can small publishers flourish, and can their audience grow? How can the small press stay small without being insular?

It was a great read for me because it got into the mechanics of small press comics distribution, a topic I really nerd out about. For me, an informative article with this kind of scope is pure gold. It would be right up my alley, even if I wasn’t quoted in it a few times.