|Kenan told me to sit this way. He called it the Trump Pose.
As my friend Brian used to say about Alternative Rock, “Alternative to what?” The Alternative Press Expo, in San Francisco, is a showcase for comics, zines, trinkets from Shangri-La, relics of saints, baubles, broaches, brocades, elfish magic tricks, a pie-eating contest, and mythological animals. It is the alternative to everything boring, dull, and stupid. It is the epitome of aweseomness, daring, and the new. This was my second year exhibiting at APE and I daresay my best. It was a real party.
I was seated in the midst of genius: my tablemate, Reid, a way better artist than me and also taller by at least 4 inches, was debuting his book Cryptozoology. Turns out his instincts were right on. He got a number of folks remarking on how cryptids were this year’s “in” theme. Although it certainly wasn’t Reid’s intention to cash in on the zeitgeist, he ended up making four billion dollars and got a movie deal. No seriously, he did well and made some new friends, some of whom were even nice enough to stop and talk with me too.
To our left was the table that could barely contain Kenan and Neil. To my great delight we got to spend time together after the show; our little collective made me feel like a real artist. We partied like it was some year that ends in the numbers 9, 9, and 9.
|My neighbors, Kenan and Neil
Saturday night the four of us went to a Chinese restaurant. You enter through the kitchen, go up a flight of stairs, and sit in a tiny, narrow dining room. The server was an older lady who was trying, apparently, to have a heart attack that very night. That or a broken leg; she kept running around and nearly tripped down the stairs. It was especially strange since the crowd was not all that large and did not necessitate a server who literally threw our chopsticks at us as she sprinted by.
Later we went to Isotope, a very cool comic shop a few BART stops away. Every year they give the Isotope Award to a deserving minicomic. This year’s winner was Pete Hodapp for his comic The Possum and the Pepper Spray. As you can imagine, if you put that many cartoonists in a room and serve alcohol, you get a wild party.
Of course the joy of APE is not confined to The Concourse in San Francisco. On my drive down I paid a visit to the majestic redwoods. These trees are powerful. I’ve met them twice now and still don’t feel like I have spent enough time with them. Perhaps next year I can make more time for the trees.
|Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, just chillin’.
After the redwoods, I made a beeline for the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. I’ve never seen so much original Peanuts art before; the linework and design that went into each individual strip was almost unbelievable. Schulz drew huge! 27.75 inches by 7 inches for a daily, 23.25 inches by 15.75 inches for a Sunday. That’s a lot of ink.
There is a tile mural in the grand hallway. It is composed of about ten year’s worth of strips, made into tiles, and when you stand back they form an image of Charlie Brown trying to kick a football from Lucy.
Next to the museum is the ice skating rink Charles Schulz visited every day. After a morning of cartooning, he’d have lunch and watch the skaters; he was a huge hockey fan and even played in the National Beagle League for three seasons, from 1953-55. (He eventually quit in frustration after he kept losing his puck to the Puck-Eating Tree.)
To my great amazement, a little red-haired girl was taking skating lessons inside. I am not making this up.
On the Friday before the convention, Kenan and I made a trip down to Monterey to visit their great aquarium.
The aquarium stood on the site of an old sardine canning factory. They left standing one wall of the old plant, and had several of the machines used for the production of canned fish on display. These machines will show up as Friday Robots in the future, have no doubt about that.
Now it’s that part of the post dedicated to LINKS!
A number of old friends were also exhibiting at APE, listed here in no particular order. Visit their websites! Read their comics! Live your life without regrets!
I managed to make a number of good trades despite being tied to my table for the majority of the show. This just goes to show you how much talent there was; had I spent the whole weekend browsing I would have filled boxes with awesome comics.
Karen Knighton (Karen also works for the website Ringtales, which you should check out for their animations of daily comic strips. I’ve never seen comics animated so well. The way they do it, it works.)
Russ Kazmierczak, Amazing Arizona Comics
Ako Casuera, Cactus Girl
Jen Tong, prints
Jonas Madden Connor
Finally, links are coming back to me about…me. Here are a couple early reviews:
A Comic a Day
Neil’s Oh Boy, Comics!