• After a bout of torrential rains earlier in the week, San Francisco welcomed the Alternative Press Expo with sunshine and warm weather yesterday. APE is one of three shows put on by the folks at Comic Con International. There's San Diego every summer, of course, and San Francisco's WonderCon, which is usually in the winter/spring (next year it's the first weekend in April) and then in the fall comes APE. All the shows have their various charms ... San Diego is, well, San Diego. WonderCon offers a similar type of programming to San Diego without the chaos of being the mammoth event that SDCC is, while APE has a more laid back, intimate feel.
• I got there shortly after the doors opened, when the crowds were still pretty light. They'd grow as the day went on, so it was kind of nice to have a little elbow room. Most of the mainstays were in their regular places, with a few noticeable exceptions -- Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Buenaventura, SLG, VIZ and Drawn & Quarterly were all where they usually are, but IDW, Oni and AiT/Planet Lar, who have been there in recent years, were missing. (Larry Young told me he wouldn't be there because he didn't want to be setting up for a show on his birthday, which was Friday ... happy belated birthday, Larry!) And while Image didn't have a table, they were represented by some of their creators, such as Richard Starkings, who had his own booth, and Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland, who were at the Neon Monster booth.
• In the words of Jeff Lester, I think I fractured my wallet yesterday. Usually there's a "book of the show" at APE, but I'm not quite sure what it would be yet. Jamaica Dyer's Weird Fishes seemed to be doing pretty well at the SLG table. They also had copies of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer at the booth; Dan Vado said the orders on the book had been great. They also had a new printing of Street Angel, which is on a nicer paper stock than the previous version. Meanwhile, Dash Shaw was not just sketching, but actually painting on copies of his new book The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., which was fun to watch. They also had the third Ganges book, which I would have gotten if I hadn't already ordered it. Churchland had advanced copies of her Image graphic novel Beast, while VIZ had the sixth volume of Pluto available. I'm not as up on manga as most people, but this seemed to be a really big deal for fans of the book.
I picked up several minicomics as well, from folks like K.O. Comix, Jon Adams and Storm from the Writers Old Fashioned group. I'll do a separate post on all my various loot in the next day or so.
• As far as lines go, I don't think anybody beat Jeff Smith. It was also cool to see kids with plush Bones show up for his panel yesterday. Also, I caught the last half of the Batton Lash panel and wish I'd been there for the whole thing. Lash talked about his history in the comic industry, from being taught by folks like Will Eisner to working with Howard Chaykin to the legendary Archie vs. the Punisher one-shot he did.
• I had lunch with Matt Maxwell, David Brothers and Ana Hurka-Robles at the always awesome Holy Grill. I've eaten there at every APE, and it never fails to satisfy -- both in terms of food and company.
• More later ...