17 October 2009

APE Swings Into San Francisco Oct 17th - 18th

One of the most regrettable casualties of my extended stay here in Springfield is that I'll be missing this weekend's APE, the annual Alternative Press Expo thrown by the same amazing men and women responsible for bringing Comic-Con to San Diego each summer.
For someone poised to enter the comics biz, APE has a lot more going for it than either the aforementioned Comic-Con or Wonder-Con, San Francisco largest comics convention held every spring. APE's just the right size for its home at the Concourse Exhibition Center South of Market. During the two days of conventioneering APE spans, even a guy like me is able to get around and meet a lot of new folks. For networking, comparing notes, or learning from the pros', APE really can't be beat.
The reason APE folks can actually talk to one another has everything to do with comics' Big Two (DC Comics and Marvel) being wonderfully absent from the convention roster. You know I love the mainstream, but I appreciate it when they're silent, too. APE is the alternative scene -- indy comics, small-press stuff, and plenty of self-publishers like the old Dabbler. No matter how awesome DC or Marvel may be, they both cast large shadows. It's amazing how much can be seen when those shadows aren't around.
Who will be around, though, is just about every one else you'd want to be there. Berkeley's Image Comics, San Francisco's AiT/PlanetLar, and San Jose's SLG Publishing will all be in attendance. Also on the list are Fantagraphics Books, IDW Publishing, and many other names you'll recognize. Dark Horse Comics is the only major publisher not making this year's APE; according to their website, they'll be attending an event in Frankfurt, Germany. Mr. Richardson and Co., you're definitely excused -- but I'd better see you next time around.
APE's headlining guests always include a Who's Who of alternative creators. My friend and former teacher Jessica Abel headlined APE in '08. This year's top talent includes Jamaica Dyer, Dean Haspiel, Batton Lash, and Dash Shaw, to name but a few.
For gay and lesbian comics creators, APE's an excellent conference to attend. I'm a volunteer as well as a proud member of Prism Comics, the national non-profit organization for gay and lesbian artists, writers, and other comics industry folk. While you're at the convention, definitely drop by the Prism Comics tables (#338 and #339) and say hello to Ted (the guy in charge), the creators from Class Comics, and the rest of my friends. [If you'd like to check out my Prism profile, click here.]
Justin Hall's a good buddy of mine and a fellow member of Prism Comics. He's won the coveted indy creator Xeric Award for his True Travel Tales, and has published across several different genres under his own imprint, all thumbs press. He's a definite role model, and he'll be hosting the Prism Comics-sponsored "Queer Cartoonists Panel" later today, from 2:15 - 3:15pm. I'll be there in spirit, Justin. Knock 'em dead.
Another talented writer and comics creator you'll be able to meet behind his APE table is Matt Silady. I met Matt at APE maybe three years ago, just after he self-published his unique series, The Homeless Channel. It turns out that Matt did some excellent networking while there. Long story short, Larry Young's AiT published Homeless Channel as a graphic novel, and Matt made press, including a very well-deserved Eisner Award nomination. If you get a chance, find Mr. Silady and pick up a copy of his book; I'm sure he'll be happy to sign it for you, too.
After-hours APE events begin once Saturday's convention doors close. There's usually several parties going on throughout nighttime San Francisco, but two events that, in my opinion, really stand-out from the crowd.
The San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum (CAM) holds its evening of Monsters and Mayhem tonight at the museum (655 Mission Street) from 8pm until 11pm. CAM's one of the very few cartoon and comic art museums in the country, and thanks to curator Andrew Farago, there's always a great exhibit running in the gallery. Visit CAM online for tonight's party information and the list of special guests. Admission ranges from five bucks to twenty, but the drinks'll be on the house.
After CAM calls it a night, you'll still have time to zip the five miles across town to my other favorite Saturday night shin-dig. Isotope Comics in Hayes Valley always throws a great party, usually in honor of a special guest, and there's no break with tradition this year. Tonight, creator Dean Haspiel on hand for cocktail talk as well as to promote IDW Publishing's hotly anticipated comics anthology, the ACT-I-VATE PRIMER hardcover. In addition, store owner James Simes will also be hosting Isotope's annual Award For Excellence in Mini-Comics ceremony. October 17th is the Award's 7th Anniversary, and since I won't be there, I'm hoping you will.
The Isotope Awards Party begins at 7pm and runs 'til midnight, with an open bar for those with valid ID. You can find the comics shop at 326 Fell Street in San Francisco, or online here.
And so concludes my overview of what I'll be missing back home. Considering all the Kleenex I've gone through, I'd better hear that you and at least three friends all got down to APE. My spies are everywhere, Dabblers. I'll find out!
Okay, no spies. Just remember this: Your APE attendance is a more than just a show of support for the independent comic creators that truly are the soul of the comics industry. Your attendance is a gift. A special gift, and a considerate and thoughtful gift. The kind of gift we give to our ourselves.
And the kind of gift that keeps on giving. Because I guarantee you, we'll run into each other next year. See ya at APE 2010, everybody!
For complete Alternative Press Expo news and info - including a full list of exhibitors, programming, directions, and ticket prices -- swing your monkey-bad self over here.

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