Alternative Press Expo 2010
October 17th, 2010 | Link
For a while around 1994 I dated a guy who worked in a comic book store, and once I attended a comic book event with him. The vendors were mainly men in the 25-45 range, most of whom were bitterly lamenting that comics were dying. The core audience was aging and their tastes were changing, and comics had become too expensive for most kids so there was no new generation coming up. Additionally, the Comics Code Authority had so tightly censored content that the commercial publishers were losing ground. That gelled with the clientele I’d seen at the store, which sold comics, manga, graphic novels and collectible figurines in the main room, model kits in a smaller adjoining room, and had an awesome indie record store in the back. It was the record store that had brought me in, and I never did get into comic books or the related collectibles. After I got married E. turned me on to some graphic novels like the excellent series Y: The Last Man, and I’ve grown to appreciate some of the artists known for the genre like Dave McKean and David Mack.
It’s sixteen years later, Comic Con is a huge annual event, and last year my cousin’s 16-year-old daughter was super excited to make the trip by herself. Read that last statement again: she was born around the same time comic vendors told me the industry was dying, she’s a teenager, and she’s a girl (a vibrant, artistic, crazy-in-the-best-way amazing girl). I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on with the industry in the interim, but it seems like graphic novels have become a big niche market. This weekend was the annual Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, and E. and I checked it out yesterday for the first time. What struck me most were (1) it was huge (taking up the entirety of the Concourse Exhibition Center — someone told me that last year it only used half the space); (2) there were plenty of women, both attending and exhibiting; (3) the broad variety, from zines to self-published books, from children’s material to adult content. There were a few tables representing larger publishers or vendors, but in many cases the folks manning the tables were the artist or writer of independently-published works.
E. found an amazing children’s book that he remembered from when he was a kid, and we bought a bunch of stuff. Here are a few of my favorite finds:
“Red Moon is the story of two dogs who go on a cross-country adventure together because the schnauzer is having visions of the end of the world. And the visions always have a red moon.” Being friendly and having a great elevator pitch can make all the difference.
I wasn’t too excited about the story on this one (Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle, who apparently were friends, get together to solve a mystery that turns out supernatural and Lovecraftian), but the artwork was stunning. We were told the artist is a Chilean guy they found online. Awesome. Here are a review and sample pages and the artist’s blog.
This one got my attention because the artist works in charcoal — I’m taking a drawing class right now and we’re doing a lot of charcoal work and I love the range of tones that are possible from blending it right. The writer/artist, Mike Lawrence, showed us the original charcoal work used for the cover, and it’s quite large.