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Small Press (s)Expo 2012

24 Sep

Lots of other people did convention reports for Small Press Expo, the erotically tinged comic show in Bethesda, Maryland. However, Rob Clough made an observation that I’d like to chit chat about:

*turns chair around backwards*
*sits facing class*

So let’s rap about the artcomics/webcomics divide.


So at SPX, I was politicking with some crown-wearing royalty and a prominent webcomics person directed the question at me: “why do the REAL webcomics keep getting snubbed at the Ignatz Awards?”

The answer is: the Ignatz Awards reflect a kind of institutional bias which favors certain kinds of comics. All awards do this, even with the best intentions. It cannot be helped when we consider that the five anonymous judges who selected this year’s crop are, by nature, more experts on minicomics, book market graphic novels and print artcomics. Those areas of focus comprise all of the Ignatz Awards categories save for the “Best Online Comic” category.

Sidebar: think about that choice of term. Not “webcomic.” Rather, “online comic.” The term “webcomic” denotes a specific idiom with a structural nature that informs its native stylistic tics as certainly as minicomics format informs that field. When we use the term “webcomic,” more often than not, we are calling for a very specific format/mode/method of communication. Not necessarily so when we say “online comic.”

Zack Soto’s Study Group collective of stories is very different in reading style and in form than Kris Straub’s Starslip comic. Some argue that one represents “comics on the Internet” while the other represents “webcomics.” I am not personally sure how I feel about these distinctions. But I will say for certain that there is a cultural difference between what we commonly see as “webcomics” and other forms of the comics medium.

Part of it is subjective, part of it is engagement, part of it is intent. If one seeks and engages with the massive ecosystem referred to as “webcomics,” one is part of webcomics. But websites such as Mr. Soto’s Study Group Comics and Jordan Crane’s What Things Do which tend to seek different audiences with different reading styles, these places are sort of in their own scene.

Similar to how metal and punk might both be fast and loud but aren’t the same thing by anybody’s calculation. Not an exact comparison of course and I swear retaliation if you try to bust my chops.

My suggestion for the future is to not lean on airy technicalities such as “it’s on the Internet,” and focus on what the spirit of webcomics is when selecting work in this category. After all, the webcomics demographic is a large part of the genetic make up of SPX and those works deserve to be acknowledged on fair terms.

Alright that’s the bell. Wait, I haven’t told you what the homework is, come bac–


Chicago Zine Fest 2012

29 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Chicago Zine Fest 2012

Aloha my dear friends. It’s convention season again, which as far as this year is looking, basically means from now until 2013 I will be going to comics shows. I did miss the excitement in the two months I had off. One of the goals I had made for myself last year was to expand the range of shows I exhibited at, with a focus on the more indie-aimed shows. So in this spirit, the first show of the year is the Chicago Zine Fest, an amazing exhibition celebrating the aspects of this game that mean the most to me – self publishing and Doing It Yourself.

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BCGF 2011

12 Dec
by L. Nichols

There isn’t a show I look forward to more as an attendee than the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest (BCGF). I think this is because it’s the show I feel least out of place. Or maybe it’s the show/scene that I feel like my work makes the most sense in context of. Something like that. Something in between those feelings. This year’s show was so full of amazing things that I was completely overwhelmed. It’s amazing to see such a density of things I am excited about in such a small place!

The time I did get a chance to walk around as a break from the nine hour tabling marathon, I only had the time to make it around the top floor. I could’ve spent hours just looking at one section! The density of this show was tremendous, especially with the addition of a second floor. Some part of me wishes the convention was two days just so I could have more time to explore. But there’s also a certain magical quality to the show only being a day. BCGF came together and dispersed in a (somewhat tiring as an exhibitor) blink leaving with new memories and a desire for it to happen again. Maybe two days would be too much of a good thing. As it was, I left completely exhausted and somewhat delirious from that exhaustion, but simultaneously so excited about where things were going that I couldn’t wait to keep working.

I debuted two new comics there. Both of them were somewhat experimental full-color books. Me exploring the area between art books and comics, I guess. I can’t imagine a better show to have debuted these at, and they seemed well received by the people who picked them up.

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Comics Festival, version 2.0

12 Dec
By Darryl Ayo

I don’t feel comfortable with the culture of comics festivals and I am advocating for a culture of true arts festivals. I would like to visit a comics festival that is not only free to attend but also largely void of direct sales on the show floor. The average comic show is something along the lines of a craft sale. There is no tradition in our culture for a festival of comics in which exhibitors are not trying to pitch their wares at passers-by.

I want to go to a comics festival in which the show floor is comprised of various booths which can act as miniature galleries, small viewing areas, small reading areas, entertainment spaces and so on. I would like to visit a comics festival in which there are activities such as panel discussions, artist Q&As, documentary screenings, reading spaces and presentations…all without any cartoonists actually sitting behind a table, smiling nervously and hoping that enough people buy their book that they might afford their plane ticket home.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a comics festival didn’t have that awkward pressure of introverts trying to sell their heart’s work to strangers? Wouldn’t it be pleasant if we could all speak with one another without the sad ritual of buying each other’s work, sending that poor, single twenty-dollar-bill traveling around the room and back?

If you’ve chatted with me about comics between MoCCA 2011 and BCGF 2011, you may have already heard my rough drafts for this before. We will surely speak of it again if you let me.

The Underground is Emptying My Wallet – BCGF 2011

7 Dec
by Kevin Czap

Wrapping up this wonderful year we have the granddaddy of a show that is the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. Hopefully we can get L to talk about what it was like on the other side of the table soon, but I was just some guy who flew to New York to buy comic books. Given the pedigree of BCGF’s roster, there was a lot of spectacular work to pick up, to the point where I had a hard time singling out any for on-the-floor recommendations. I’d been looking forward to checking this show out for a while and I feel like it was a fitting end to 2011.

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Cleveland’s Own – Genghis Con 2011

30 Nov
by Kevin Czap

Genghis Con 2011 John G

For the third year in a row, comics invaded the Beachland Ballroom this past Saturday for Genghis Con, Cleveland’s underground and independent festival. From where I’m sitting, the show this year was an unparalleled success on all fronts. Moods were high, attendance was up, sales were great and the work on display was really something. Since the first show in 2009, the Genghis Con has represented for me the state of Cleveland’s comics scene, and this year I’m having a hard time getting over my excitement with where we’re at. I’ll do my best to reign in my biases, but just know I’m very damn proud of this town of ours.

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MIX 2011

9 Nov
by Kevin Czap

By the grace of show organizer Sarah Morean, I’m still basking in the warmth of this past weekend’s Minneapolis Indie Expo. When I discovered how far the drive was from Cleveland to Minneapolis earlier this summer, I had to scratch MIX off of my list of shows to check out. Then, right after the highs of SPX, I return home to an email from Sarah, effectively pulling me off of the waiting list and into the show. I’m really glad it worked out, because MIX ended up being as wonderful an experience as I was hoping it would be. Family, friends and comics – here’s how it went down.

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Monday Mixtape: Ayo and comix

17 Oct
By Darryl Ayo

This past weekend, I discovered that the Graphicly Facebook app is smoothly integrating with Facebook pages. This is the biggest comics news for me personally because I’ve been holding my breath waiting for the moment that I could start using the feature. To give a basic overview, Graphicly is the more social-network-sensitive digital comics service out of the Big Three: ComiXology, iVerse Media and Graphicly. Being a heavy user of social media and a bit of a comics reader, this is a fascinating development for me.

I have started a Facebook page which I believe can function a bit like a book club. I’ll be able to embed specific comic files from Graphicly (similar to YouTube) and people who visit my Facebook page will be able to actually read the file right there. For the purposes of discussion, I’m searching out comics that are free or which have lengthy previews so that we can try to get a little bit of chatter going. –come and hang out!


In other news, this weekend was also the 2011 New York Comic Con (NYCC)

I attended but did not exhibit. I spent time with some established friends, made some new friends and got super-mad about comics. Which sounds like a regular day, except adding a crowd of maybe one hundred-thousand people. I found myself in a very unusual position this year because things that I like a lot such as Adventure Time and HomeStuck are actually popular. I’m used to being an extreme outsider at these sorts of things. I was pretty happy with the comic book publisher booths for Archaia, Top Shelf, First Second and Oni Press¬†amongst others.

Marvel Comics‘ booth reigned supreme this year with a towering monument to The Avengers complete with actors as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents guarding Captain America’s uniform and shield. One thing that I want to impress upon people when I describe these cons is that Marvel Comics and chief competator DC Comics don’t sell comic books at these festivals. They don’t sell anything, actually. They use these comic cons as an opportunity to promote their respective brands, to encourage¬†immersive fan interactions, to promote upcoming events, and to generally further a culture around their products.

Of course, this is impossible for the other publishers to mimic because those publishers are dealing with properties that are owned by various creators. In DC and Marvel’s case, all of the properties are owned outright by the publisher and thus it is always a gain when they choose to take a path such as 2011 Marvel’s decision of promoting one product line (The Avengers). A publisher like Top Shelf cannot reasonably do that because all of their products are the work of individual authors who each need to have their fair chance to promote a particular project. Marvel therefore has two advantages: the obvious advantage of a greater amount of money in general, and the subtler advantage of being free to put the full weight of its marketing behind a single concept, and allowing that year’s secondary lines to merely enjoy any runoff.

The artists’ alley had tables from the best-known mainstream superhero artists to small-name creators looking to make a name for themselves. Always remember: if you care about comics as an artform, you will spend a good amount of your time in the artists’ alley at these types of shows. On the other hand, I found myself spending an unprecedented amount of time becoming acquainted with the world of vinyl toys and illustrators’ poster-prints. There’s so much at these comic-con shows that each year you go back presents a new opportunity to dive into something that is brand new to you.

Dark Horse Comics‘ area had a combination of experiences. On the soft carpeting of their exhibition space there was a small stage for Dark Horse authors to talk to fans and hold signing events, but on the side of that was a standing display area showing off two iPads with Dark Horse’s digital comics app installed and ready for passers by to browse.

This is the most obvious and simple thing that comic publishers need to do at these festivals. Comic books look spectacular on the iPad; and having two digital readers on display allows show goers who are soaking in the spectacle of the festival in general to get a quick blast of the product itself, in all its glowing, brightly-colored glory.

Only true regret of this year’s NYCC is that I found that the panels were far more crowded than they had been in years previous. I usually prefer to spend a day of this festival just sitting in panel discussions, but this year, I didn’t get a chance to even attend one!

Such is life.


And that’s that.


PIX 2011

12 Oct
by Kevin Czap

Ah, it’s autumn. Time for a trip to our sister city for the second annual Pittsburgh Independent Expo. This trip marks a year that I’ve been tabling at comics shows, and it’s nice to celebrate the occasion in such a great place. (For those interested in reading a long and enthusiastic report of last year’s show, check out this post. Everyone else, let’s move one.)

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C.R.E.A.M. – SPX 2011 Haul

21 Sep
by Kevin Czap

nods to Becky Cloonan for title (and of course the Wu-Tang Clan) – comics rule everything around me.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll direct those looking for a preamble to my post last week. Ok cool, let’s get into it.

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