FLUKE 2011: A Collective Perspective

This marks the third year I have covered FLUKE for Robot 6. In past years, I was pressed for time and was unable to stay long. This year, my 11-year-old son was able to join me. As a Georgia native, I am embarrassed to say FLUKE 2011 was the first time I ever set foot in the legendary 40 Watt Club. I promised myself that unlike last year, I would not leave FLUKE without seeing Joey Weiser. It helped that the main reason my son wanted to attend FLUKE was to get an autograph from Weiser, the creator of one of his favorite comics, Mermin.

Here's the challenge for someone like me--I stink at being a networking journalist and a parent at the same time--my ability to focus as a journalist falls by the wayside. Case in point: In my search for Weiser, I asked friend of the blog/SCAD professor/Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer--as he stood in front of Dustin Harbin's table, if he knew where Weiser had a table. Imagine my mortification when Schewizer pointed out I was literally standing next to Weiser. Really. So, at that point I realized, if my son and I were going to have fun at this year's FLUKE I was going to have to focus on that and be a journalist later. (Did I mention we could only stay two hours? I swear one of these year's I will have my entire Saturday free for FLUKE promise, just not yet...)

So this year, rather than giving a play-by-play of my walk-around of the FLUKE floor, I am letting folks that had tables at FLUKE 2011 share their perspective.

There was no way I could include everyone, so if you attended or participated in some fashion (or have any kind of opinion), by all means chime in, in the comments section.

Josh Latta

Fluke's attendance seemed way up, but it's always hard for me to tell if it's people wondering in off the streets, or all the money comes from and is in the same room. Speaking of which, the tables went pretty much instantly leaving me to wonder if the organizers will be forced to take pre registrations. That might not be such a bad idea, but I guess the tables could still go pretty fast that way too.

Sales-wise, personally, I  have never done better.

Allen Spetnagel

Fluke is my favorite comic book convention because it allows creators to completely and easily bypass the publishing establishment in order to distribute their work.  Everyone is always hoping to eventually be picked up by a publisher, but, in order for that to happen, you have to get your work out there first.  Unlike most conventions, the fee for a table is always less than $10.  There were a lot of new faces at FLUKE this year, and holding it at the renowned 40-Watt Club in Athens added a prestigious feeling to the convention.  I think that organizers Robert Newsome and Patrick Dean did an exceptional job putting together the 10th anniversary FLUKE celebration.  These guys are committed to supporting independent comics in the Southeast, and I am very appreciative to have an inexpensive venue for showcasing and discovering indie work.

Chris Pitzer (excerpt from his AdHouse FLUKE report)

So, yes, FLUKE I love you. Thanks for holding me in your arms this past Saturday. It was special. (I picked a quote that bemused me, but you really need to read Pitzer's full perspective)

Joy Taney

The new venue was great. The theme of the anniversary show seemed to be all about the personal connections--getting new contacts, meeting your favorite artists, and making new friends. Myself and the people on my row, including Allen Spetnagel and Meg Golding, had some of the best table positions in the house, but most of us seemed to be selling less than we had in years past (possibly because this year's expo was smack between Passover and Easter, two religious holidays?). Of course, with the extra five minutes here and there to get to know the artists around us, the value of coming away with new friends far outweighed any concern over making a few dollars less than last year.

The best part is, with the focus of my and my tablemates' Fluke being on making lasting personal connections, Fluke fans have even more reason to get excited about the work debuting at Fluke 2012. After all, when was the last time you met a group of artists who were NOT constantly inspiring each other?

Robert Venditti

This was the best FLUKE I've attended. There was a lot of energy in the room, and the creators set up at the show were topnotch. I'm not exactly sure how many I've been to (I think this may have been my fifth or sixth FLUKE). This year had the highest traffic and most creators of any I've been to. The move to the 40 Watt was a great idea, both providing more space and putting all of the people into one room.

I met Chris Sims and Chad Bowers from Action Age!, which was great. I also bought minicomics from Luis Enrique Echavarria Uribe and Pranas Naujokaitis, two creators whose work I hadn't seen before, but really caught my eye.

Shannon Smith

It was a great show for me.  I stayed busy the whole day.  I kept expecting some downtime to be able to just walk around an check stuff out but the down time never really came.  Which is great.  Thanks to the kindness of J. Chris Campbell, Josh Latta and the Top Shelf folks I had a really good location so I think most all of the people that entered the show passed my spot at some point.  Sales were good but I had a lot of items in the one to three dollar range.  I sold out of a couple of my minis very quickly.   I should have had a new book to sell but that is another story.

This was my 6th show.  Maybe 5th.  I used to live in the Atlanta area but now I'm in Virginia so I can't quite make it every year. I think the 40 Watt was/is the best location so far.  At least twice as big as the old Tasty World spot but the creators and attendees seemed to fill that room as soon as the doors opened.  It was certainly the longest line I've ever seen prior to the doors opening. It was also easier to get in and out of.  No stairs.  I parked right on the street and did not get a ticket.  It was a great experience all around.  The best Fluke I've been to and I've had a great time every time I've been.

I've not had a chance to look through my loot so I'm sure I'll have some different things to be excited about after I read through it all.  I was excited about the Fluke anthology.  It looks really great.  Nice stuff from Sally Bloodbath and Joey Weiser.  I'm super excited that there is a new Drew Weing Blar story in there. Very excited about Josh Latta's new Rashy Rabbit comic Droppin' Anchor.  I've known Dustin Harbin through HeroesCon for a while but this was the first show I've been to where he was set up as a creator so it was nice to look through his stuff.  I picked up a couple of his books that I was missing and scored an original page from his diary webcomic/book.  I don't live near any comics shops or book stores that carry much alternative material so it's big treat for me that Top Shelf and AdHouse were set up.  I could spend all day looking through their stuff.  I picked up the Ax Anthology from Top Shelf.  They had that huge new Eddie Campbell collection.  Very impressive.  Intimidating actually.  Andy Runton had the Owly children's picture book.  That thing looks beautiful.  I was missing Patrick Dean's book, Bit Lip.  I think its been out a while but I did not have it so I was excited to get that.  Meg from I Feel Twitchy was there wearing a jacket that was a comic.  Neat idea but it was also drawn well and funny. Another book I was really excited about is Delanie's new Not My Small Diary minicomic anthology.  It's minicomics' best kept secret.  It should be on every year end favorite anthology best of list evey time she puts one out.

(Be sure to visit this other Smith site in the next week or so, as he intends to post a FLUKE report there.)

Dave Wheeler

My Fluke experience this year matched the awesome nature of the past four years for me. It is the very embodiment of artistic passion. Think about it all of us that were exhibiting our wares were sacrificing a beautiful Saturday to get our work into the hands of people to enjoy!

My first Fluke was 2006, I was a freshman at SCAD and had no idea about mini comics up until about 2 weeks prior to Fluke, my buddy Jon Chad and myself created a mini that introduced two ridiculous characters that stick with me to this day; The diabolical, dictator dinosaur the Hateasaurus Rex and the Maniac with a toaster on his head, Captain Toast. Flash forward 5 years and these characters are the lead villains in my creator owned series The Misadventures of Wonderboy! That first mini sold a whopping 15 copies. Issue 1 of Wonderboy has just hit it's 1100th copy sold (At Fluke no less!). While I grew up reading the pages of superheroes and mainstream books, my roots in telling stories is in Mini Comics and they hold a very special place in my heart.

All the creators at Fluke were blowing me away left and right, I am a bit biased to my friends. The young and talented Pranas T. Naujokaitis, Jeremy Nguyen, Kevin Burkhalter, Joey Weiser, Chris Schweizer,  Drew Weing and Eleanor Davis. The list goes on and on. These guys are the raddest, seeing their silk screened master pieces and kitchy stories makes me psyched every time I pick up their works. It's awesome to see their bigger works too, like Schweizer's Crogan's books. It's always a fun time to be around such creative people and I believe that everyone that was there deserves some props for pumping out the work they did! Also major props go to Patrick and Robert for organizing and rocking Fluke as they always do, two of the nicest folks in comics they are!

Dustin Harbin

This was my second Fluke, but my first as a 100% cartoonist (as opposed to being there to promote HeroesCon like last time [in 2008]).

It was super awesome! I did good sales, had a great time, and more than anything was really delighted with how well-organized and simple everything was. Being tabled between Derek Ballard and Chris Pitzer didn't hurt either.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to really walk to floor, except to and from the bar, but I did manage to get Eleanor Davis's new sketchbook mini and a couple of prints. Buying one thing by Eleanor is like five things by regular mortals, but still I wish I'd gotten to look around a little more.

(Harbin has a much more in-depth report at his own site, but I wanted to include a snippet of Harbin, so I could run his intimate FLUKE moment with PBR [a photo I was proud to take, I must add])

Chris Schweizer

This year's Fluke was the best one yet. The new venue is much larger, and has a much friendlier layout, and the amount of casual attendees was significantly higher than it seemed to have been in previous years. It's always a fun show - I get to see folks with whom I'm close emotionally if not geographically - but the thing I love about Fluke is how I'm always surprised by somebody. There's always someone whose work I haven't seen before, and who I end up loving.

This time around, it was Cassie Kelly. She had an adorable Empire Strikes Back picture that first caught my eye, free with the purchase of an even more adorable book called Washington's Waltz, a beautifully illustrated series of drawings of presidents engaging in alliterative dances (Jitterbug Jackson, Macarena Monroe, etc.), accompanied by a little-known factoid ("before his presidency, Grover Cleveland was a public executioner"). All of her art was amazing and the book is the best thing I've picked up in a long time. I spent most of the rest of the show going from table to table and showing them to friends so that they wouldn't miss out. Kelly said she lives in Charlotte, so I hope that she'll be at HeroesCon - this is definitely an artist worth checking out.

Christian Sager

This was my first Fluke as a creator and my second overall. The old space was tiny compared to the 40 Watt, so it certainly had more room for creative people to share their wares. I heard somebody say it was more like a flea market than a comic convention, in that most of the business took place between creators and by its nature, anyone can get a table as long as they get there early enough. In that respect I like the vibe, but some people made comments that sounded like they considered our products too "professional" for a show like Fluke. Regardless, I enjoy the DIY ethos of the show and hope to continue doing it in the future.

The creators that caught my attention were Cassie Kelly and her husband Drew. They were selling a book called Washington's Waltz that they funded through Kickstarter. It's a beautifully packaged hardcover that runs through the history of America's presidents.

(Speaking of Kickstarter, Sager and artist E.C. Steiner have their own Kickstarter project--THINK OF THE CHILDREN, a 24-page, one-shot, satirical horror comic about the events leading to the original Comics Code Authority.)

Joey Weiser

FLUKE was really great this year! I’ve seen and heard a lot of “Best FLUKE Ever” proclamations, and I think I agree. I’ve been going to FLUKE since the year of the big ice storm (2005?) and have seen it in all its many venues. It’s amazing to consider its growth from a few tables by the bar, to the entire upstairs at that same bar, to a special room at a theater/bar, to the legendary 40 Watt club. And the 40 Watt is THE spot for FLUKE. The atmosphere was just right, the lights and decorations made it feel really fun, and the space was perfect. I hope FLUKE can stay there, at least for the next few years.

AdHouse Books, the publisher behind my two graphic novels, The Ride Home and Cavemen in Space, was a sponsor this year, and it was their first time at the show. It was great getting to show publisher/pal Chris Pitzer around the city a bit, and see his enthusiasm for the show.

Sales were pretty good. Especially for a show which I didn’t technically have anything new at. Mermin issues 4 and 5 hadn’t been at a show before, but have been out for several months, so that’s the closest thing I had to “new” material. Still, sales were good, and I think I introduced some new people to my work as well as connected with those who have seen my work before. My webcomic, Monster Isle, runs in the local paper in Athens, so I got to meet a few folks who recognized my work from that. Lots of trading went on as usual, so I’ve ended up with a ton of new books and mini-comics. I’ve only begun to dig into my pile, and already I’ve read all sorts of memorable work!

When I think about the show, I think of great times with friends, beautiful works of art, an amazing venue, and FLUKE 2012!

Andy Runton

This year's Fluke was my best yet both in terms of the time I had and financially. I had a blast!

I think I've only missed two Fluke shows. Once it happened when Atlanta was snowed in, and last year I was sick.

I always have a great time at the show but the new space (and how much space we all had) made it easier to move around and talk to fellow creators. The new space is absolutely incredible and the show was a great mix of all ages. I had an absolutely wonderful time at this show. The great weather, the laid back crowd, the excitement from all the kids, and the positive vibe really got me excited about what we do... Comics!

As usual, I spent the majority of my time with J. Chris Campbell, Josh Latta, and my friends from Wide Awake Press. It was great to see Chris Pitzer there with all of his amazing books, the always enthusiastic Dollar Bin crowd, and I was quite impressed with Shawn Daughhetee's first mini-comic!

Jackie Lewis

I had an awesome time! I got to see some of my comics friends, and I got to meet a ton of cool comics fans. That's one of the things that's great about Fluke; it really gives people a chance to talk comics. It's not overwhelming like some of the bigger shows, and the creators actually have time to talk.

I got some really good responses to a couple of my books, like "Sad Baby Monsters", BC/CC, and Skein. I can't wait to print up more books; I'm definitely going to have them available at Heroes Con.

One of the folks whose work stood out to me was Eleanor Davis and her book Beast Mother, a beautifully drawn book about a hunter tracking down a forest beast. Her book The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook is also crazy good, intricately drawn, and undeniably appealing to all ages.

One of the books that I was looking forward to picking up was Drew Weing's Blar. It's a great book if you like guys with big swords, cutting through hordes of monsters. And it's funny as hell.

Also, check out Kevin Burkhalter's "Boogers" series. Kevin traded me Boogers #1, and it's the cutest booger adventure I've ever seen. EVER. (Also, check out the way he numbers his pages. It's precious.) Burkhalter and Kasey Paulk also made First Mate, a cute story about a whale finding love. It came free with a purchase of one of Kasey's stuffed whale pillows, and it's totally worth it! (The whale pillow even has a little pocket to hold First Mate for you when you're not basking in its cuteness.)

Beard by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a great book. The interior art and story are straight up awesome and hilarious, and the cover alone makes it worth buying. Get one the next time you see him.

Faylnn K

The venure was just right, the crowds came in but it was never too crazy or too hot, and there was a nice mix of both first time comic artists trying their hand at tableing at a convention, as well as some tried and true vetreans, and of course a couple publishing complanies like top shelf and ad house. One of my favorite minis was Pranas Naujokaitis's Monster Town, which is just adorable for kids, and I like that Fluke is all ages and family oriented. I love to visit Athens and will be planning on coming to Fluke again and again.

Brian Prince

I had alot of fun getting to know the other artists.  Because Fluke is mostly mini comics you get more for your money as well as see a different side of the comics community often overlooked by the media.  I met some really great people and I'll be carrying my inspiration into next years event.  You can definitely expect to see me behind a table next year.

Erin Gladstone

FLUKE was awesome, as usual! This was my third year in a row and I loved the new venue and table layout, they made the whole experience less claustrophobic and kept table traffic flowing.

Jackie Lewis totally caught my attention, despite the fact that I've known her for years. Her minis were some of classiest I've seen and watching her chat with everyone who came by her table made me want to do so much more for this con next year.

Shawn Daughhetee

This is the second year that the Dollar Bin has set up at FLUKE and the third year for me going. Adam Daughhetee and the rest of the Dollar Bin have been going for four or five years now. I love going to FLUKE. We always have a blast. A lot of our friends are there so it is a perfect place to catch up and hang out. Plus, I love checking out new comics. FLUKE has introduced me to some incredibly talented creators (like Jason Horn and Pranas Naujokaitis). One of the standouts for me this year was Luis Echavarria. His stuff was amazing! Our sales were better this year than last year, which was awesome. We don't go to make money. We set up to help spread the word about the Dollar Bin and hopefully make a little extra spending cash. I debuted my first-ever mini-comic this year. I was very happy with the reception and I met my sales goal. I was extremely happy to actually sell a comic that I made (and some copies were sold to people who I don't personally know which was also exciting). This was also the first year that the Dollar Bin did an anthology for FLUKE. The contributors wrote pages about our experiences at FLUKE and we got our friends to draw them. It was a lot of fun to do and we think it really turned out super awesome.

Adam posted our FLUKE show on Tuesday. It has the two of us talking about our experience and it has interviews with Patrick Dean and Robert Newsome, Josh Latta and Chris Schweizer.

And I posted the pictures that I took on our Flickr site.

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