While Saturday in San Francisco was beautiful, Sunday brought rain — so what better way to spend time indoors than to hang out at the Alternative Press Expo? I got there a little earlier on Sunday than I did the day before, so it was a little less crowded when I arrived. That would change as the day went on.
I had about half an hour to kill before the Writers Old Fashioned panel at noon, so I headed to their booth to find a copy of Pete Hodapp’s award-winning minicomic. Retailer James Sime, who runs the Isotope minicomics awards every year, had tweeted that the winner would be APE selling copies of his book, so I wanted to make sure I picked one up. Hodapp was at the WOF table with Kirsten Baldock, who works at Isotope and is a writer as well. I missed the party the night before, but Baldock had great things to say about his acceptance speech, and I was glad I got a copy before they were all snatched up.
After that I started slowly making my way toward the room where the panels were being held, stopping at a few tables to see what people had. I met Barry Deutsch, who was there with copies of his book Hereville, and we talked while he moved from one table to another. I also met Charles Yoakum and bought a copy of his crime comic, The Carnival. Yoakum worked for years as an inker, doing books like Bloodshot, Turok, Magnus Robot Fighter, Batman: Outlaws and many more. He said he stepped away from comics around 2000, and only recently returned. He inked Paul Gulacy’s pencils in the Radical series Time Bomb, and he’s writing and drawing his own comics as well … which is what brought him to the show.
Right before noon I met up with Matt Maxwell of Strangeways fame and headed to the Writer’s Old Fashioned panel, where the local creators collective talked about making comics and their own upcoming projects. Moderated by Justin Hall, the panel included Baldock (Smoke & Guns), Matt Silady (The Homeless Channel), Jason McNamara (Martian Confederacy), Storm (Princess Witch Boy), Emily Stackhouse (Brazilianoir) and Stephenny Godfrey (Panorama). The group talked a lot about the importance of community, noting that making comics can be pretty lonely, and said they get together on a regular basis to exchange ideas, provide feedback and to drink — the name plays off of the drink Whiskey Old Fashioned.
And they’re all working on new comics right now. Storm just finished the second issue of his minicomic, Princess Witch Boy, which I picked up at the show on Saturday. Stackhouse’s follow-up to the award-winning Brazilianoir is called Miner’s Mutiny; she told me she grew up in a mining town between San Francisco and Sacramento, which is where the story came from. She was hoping to have copies at APE, but it isn’t quite ready yet. I also picked up Godfrey’s Panorama at the show; each panel is about two inches tall and 8 inches across, on paper of the same size. The whole thing can be unfolded to create a single continuous string of panels over 13 feet across. It’s a fun, but no doubt labor intensive, way to present a comic, and it won Outstanding Publication Design at Stumptown last year.
McNamara talked about the follow-up to the Martian Confederacy, his collaboration with artist Paige Braddock. “This is a comedy about child slave labor, an issue that nobody laughs at enough,” McNamara joked. It’s due out in December. Next week he’ll have a strip on Act-i-vate, drawn by Rahsan Ekedal, as part of the Panels for Primates project (Update: Actually it is up now).. He’s also working on a new project with artist Greg Hinkle, who is also part of the collective.
Hinkle drew a horror comic called Parasomnia, which has three stories in it written by McNamara, Storm and Silady. He was selling it at the show as well, and somehow I ended up making it out of there without buying a copy (which I totally meant to do). But no matter … we’re going to be presenting the whole thing right here on Robot 6 the week of Halloween, so everyone, me included, will have a chance to read it in full.
Silady, who wrote and drew the Eisner-nominated The Homeless Channel, is working on his second graphic novel, The Delta of You. He is also editing a graphic novel by Kristin Olson called Sick Bed Blues, and, as a professor at the California College of the Arts, he and Hall are teaming up for the first-ever queer comics course. He said Hall came to him to recruit some interns for a new project of his own, which evolved to the two of them designing and getting approval for a survey class that will look at the “history and cultural implications of LGBT comics.” The students will go on to work on Hall’s project.
Baldock said the script for her next project, a science fiction tale that involves a “Jimmy Stewart sort of guy” trying to get his robot wife repaired, has been done for awhile, and she just recently found an artist for it — Stephanie Buscema, granddaughter of John Buscema and one of the artists on Marvel’s recent Girl Comics project.
After the panel, Matt and I met up with David Brothers and Esther Inglis-Arkell of 4thletter and ComicsAlliance fame; our goal was to the Holy Grill for burgers, a somewhat annual tradition, but as it turns out, the Holy Grill, un-ironically, is closed on Sundays. So we ended up going to a local taquería, but not before David bought some Akira color guides from Steve Oliff and Lauren Davis joined us.
I spent a lot more money at the show on Saturday than I did on Sunday. Going into the show, I knew of a few items I wanted because they would be my first opportunity to actually buy them (like the newest Acme Novelty Library, H-Day and Duncan the Wonder Dog), had held off getting because I knew the creators would be at APE (Wilson) or had somehow missed when they came out in shops (Royal Historian of Oz #1). And of course, I also ended up taking home a lot of stuff that just looked cool on site, like the first Devastator anthology and several minicomics being sold by Silady’s CCA students. Unfortunately I don’t have much to say about anything I bought just yet.
I’ve been to APE four times now, and it is always an enjoyable show for me — it’s close enough to drive to, usually has great access to parking, brings in some great guests and gives you an opportunity to interact with folks who just love making comics. I can’t wait to return next year.
(Thanks to the WOF crew for providing the art they shared at the panel).