APE convention report

December 23, 2008

Those of you that listen to the Comic Book Outsiders podcast (and if you don’t, shame on you) will remember our roving reporter Bradley who came on the show to tell us about San Diego ComicCon, from the point of view of a fan as well as an independent comic book creator.  Well Bradley has been back in touch to tell us about another convention he attended before going back down under, the APE convention in San Fransisco.

It’s taken me ages to get this posted, so the profusest of apologies to Bradley, but here’s his (very interesting) report, which I’m reproducing with permission:


APE is quite different to Comic-Con – its in San Francisco for starters, which is in incredible city. Not sure if you know about APE, but it is for small press and “zines”. It is a far far smaller scale than San Diego – they had it at a place called the “Concourse”, which seems as though it may be used for markets all the time. Its not dirty or concrete-y or anything, it just has the sort of open plan thats probably used for that – anyway, not sure what it is normally.

APE has a different vibe to San Diego – it doesn’t quite have the excitement, I guess because its not involved in such “big” things. There were some good sized publishers there – IDW, Oni Press, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Drawn and Quarterly, and SLG. There were no “big announcements”, no new movie trailers or anything – actually no movie, tv or video game stuff at all, it was all comics. 

There were some great names there though. Chris Ware was there – I didn’t get anything signed by him, although there was a big line of people waiting for just that. I DID get to meet and have a chat with Dan Clowes, who drew me a sketch in the new edition of “Ghost World”, and also signed a copy of “Eightball #1”, which was awesome. I also met and chatted with Rick Lacy, who is drawing Star Wars at the moment and is also one of the designers on the “Venture Brothers” cartoon – I’m pretty sure I’ve heard either you or Stephen mention it on the podcast, but if I’m mistaken and you haven’t seen it, check it out.

As I said, there are loads of little “zines” there, and a few small comics retailers – some of them were selling stuff right out of boxes – nobody really had booths like Comic-Con where they have big banners and flags and so on – they just had tables they could dress up as they liked. There were also a number of illustrators and designers there – there was a guy named “Josh Ellison” who does amazing stuff for magazines, and also Le Tang, who is an animation designer – both of whom I had a good chat with. Some of these kinds of people were selling prints and paintings of their work – I even bought a T-shirt of the “Luca Brasi strangulation” scene from “The Godfather”, with Luca Brasi as the Hulk, from an illustrator named Alex Pardee (here is a link to it: https://www.upperplaygroundstore.com/catalog/item/brasi_3032). 

I also met some small publishers – in particular, I met a guy called Shawn Walker, who has just started a publishing company called “Antix Press”. His focus is on humor only – it can be any type, dark humor included – but he essentially wants to have something like “Adult Swim” in comic books. I got his contact details and he was interested in doing something if I had a good pitch.

And of course, there were many struggling comic creators, most all of whom had self published, trying to “break into the big time”.

The size of the Concourse was about 1/30th the size of San Diego – if not smaller. It was a single room, with an open upper level on each side. Each exhibitor had a table, but of course on the main floor the larger exhibitors (such as the publishers mentioned, some retailers and even some individuals) had big table space, with a banner apron around it. There was a single room for panels, with one always on, often talking about peripheral issues around independant books. There was one panel in particular, about “Kramers Ergot”, which was an anthology of many creators, including Clowes and Ware.

One comment

  1. Having been to both San Diego Comicon and the Alternative Press Expo (APE), I much prefer APE. Far greater emphasis placed on comics (rather than videogames, movies, TV shows, and celebrity guests).

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