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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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