Issue #56


Christmas is cool, especially when you're a kid.

I can vividly remember those snow-filled December mornings of days long past, when my excitement and anticipation ran on a fuel of twinkling lights, cinnamon from mom's hot apple cider, and pine from the Christmas tree standing in the living room, it's branches outstretched to cover those carefully wrapped and adorned boxes of mystery. And that the delirium of anticipation was drawn out for blocks, with a kid in every household waiting and wishing for that wonderful day, only served to further feed the fervor.

As I got older I found Christmas had lost some of it's sparkle and some of it's magic went away. Maybe it was age, maybe cynicism, but Christmas just didn't give that visceral kick of adrenalin or that fluttery feeling of anticipation in my stomach that it once did.

But years later I discovered something that did. It gripped me right down inside my guts and kept me tossing and turning waiting for the minutes to count down. And it felt just like those Christmases from long ago... only it wasn't in December, and there wasn't a snowflake to be found anywhere.

It was the Alternative Press Expo. Where the Concourse Pavilion was my massive Christmas Tree and every table held gifts, folded and stapled into little packages of fascination, carefully crafted stories for me to take home and treasure.

So, every year when the Alternative Press Expo comes to town, I put the rest of my life on hold. After all, what could be more important and more fun than celebrating the mini-comic artform and giving out the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics?

As I've said so many times before mini-comics are the basement tapes of the comic industry, a roughly-hewn recording of an creator's first steps into brilliance before all the pitch-correcting and over-dubbing dumb it down for mass-consumption. Mini-comics are where we get to see through the paper into the mind of the creator before the pages go into high-gloss, air-brushed mass production. It's where you can see the stamp of the creator, figuratively and even literally if the folding got done before the ink dried.

Mini-comics are the heart and soul of our industry and, by god, I set aside a whole weekend to revel in them. And I still don't get a chance to see everything. So thank god I'm not the only one enjoying the copious amounts of comic goodness. The Alternative Press Expo reports are hitting the presses fast and furious these days. The best ones I've read so far would have to be:

Sean Maher's Quality Control


James Lucas Jones @ the Engine

Ryan Junell's photos on Flickr

Jeff @ Listen Lady

And my APE report? Here's my APE report.

You'll notice some familiar faces in that video including previous Isotope Award winners, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Rob Osborne, and Top Shelf Production's publisher, Brett Warnock guesting behind the Isotope bar during the Top Shelf Happy Hour. And as anyone can tell, by far the highlight of the convention for me was awarding the annual Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. 2006's winner, Danica Novgorodoff's beautiful mini "A Late Freeze," is a rare gem of a comic. But don't take my word for it, read the recent reviews for yourself...

"Novgorodoff combines a marvelous design sensibility with equal portions of absurdity and romance... a really marvelous example of an illustrated narrative" - David Welsh at Precocious Curmudgeon.

"Heartbreaking, but in that rare way that actually makes you feel better" - Sean Maher @ Quality Control.

"An odd, almost-wordless love story about a robot and a bear (and a frog) with full-color, expressive art." - Slave Labor Graphics' Jennifer De Guzman @ SLG Blog.

"Something that's well worth looking out for. Excellent." - Graeme McMillan @ Savage Critic.

"Vast empty spaces with small figures that are deceptively simple, silent sequences filled with emotion, and gorgeous attention to world-building and design are used to great effect without a clear derivation." - Kevin Church @ BeaucoupKevin.

"Her mini is definitely a beautiful object with exquisite design" - Oni Press' James Lucas Jones @ The Engine.

See Ms. Novgorodoff's work for yourself at www.danicanovgorodoff.com.

Getting to give out the Isotope Award, and meeting some great new creators, seeing all the stunning books at the Alternative Press Expo... it's proof positive that Christmas comes around twice each year!

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