Last week was NYCC/NYAF, but I wasn’t able to attend. Based on Twitter gossip, I’m sort of glad I didn’t! While it would have been awesome to be there and meet people, it seems like so many had complaints about the event and the poor integration of the anime portion of the event. Luckily, Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco fit my budget better, so the boyfriend and I made the trip up from L.A.
Unlike it’s sister convention Comic-Con International, APE is small and hyper-focused on allowing indie creators and small publishers show off what they got. Events pretty much consisted of one panel or workshop running at a time and were entirely about creators or focused on creating comics. I didn’t attend any except for the first day of Comics Collaboration Connection, which was like a speed-dating service for artists and writers. (More on that later.)
What struck me the most was the small size of the con compared to Comic Con International, as well as the absence of the unrelated fluff that SDCC is inundated with these days. It struck me as the type of event Comic Con International had been when it was first started, although no one was at APE to buy the latest superhero caper from Marvel or DC. Instead, most attendees were interested in schmoozing with their favorite indiecreators and buying what they had to offer. What I heard from past attendees, the dealer’s room was twice as big as it was last year, which I thought was impressive. There was certainly plenty of people packing the halls on both days, so I can understand why the decision to go bigger was made.
The Comics Collaboration Connection was a fun deal. I did it on impulse because I want to get back into writing comics, but my art skills never quite match my ideas. There were more writers than artists and, at first, the staffers fumbled a little with how they should restructure the event. Eventually, they figured it was best of the artists to sit and have writers wait in line to meet them. Writers could get in line and wait for their turn. There weren’t too many women in the writer’s line, but there were a sizable number of women amongst the artists. This was nice for someone like me whose influences are less super-hero-y and slapstick comedy than that of the male artists I met with. Everyone was quite frank with each other because everyone wanted to meet with as many people as possible, but I felt like the event was promising. Unfortunately, I noticed that on the second day of the con attendance for the event had dropped significantly for both artists and writers. (I didn’t participate that day.)
Because I wasn’t very interested in the panels, I can’t tell you how they went. I can say, however, that it was difficult to locate the panel room. A few other people I talked to didn’t know where panels were either. It wasn’t until I looked at a map after the con that I realized where panels were being held. I don’t know if that affected panel attendance, but the con staff could have made it more clear where panels were held on the floor.
Some fun people I met at the con were Sarah Beacon of I Think You’re Sauceome, Cari Corene of Toilet Genie, Jen B. who created an awesome minicomic about Alpacas, Michael Jonathan of Eros Inc., Spike of Templar, Arizona, Evan Dahm of Rice Boy and Ejen Chuang of Cosplay in America. That was only a fraction of the awesome purchases I made to keep me company while I’m recovering from surgery. (Eek, that’s happening in a little over 24 hours!)
APE is definitely a con for anyone who really loves indie comics in an unhealthy way. There’s plenty to feast upon and even if your favorite creators aren’t there, many other creators to check out, especially with the size increase. It left me wanting to get back into creating comics in order to join the ranks of exhibitors next year. Probably impossible, but the fact that the con stirred my creativity that much says something.
Unfortunately I walked away with zero pictures, but you’ll be seeing some of the awesome stuff I picked up on this blog for weeks to come, I’m sure.