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August 18, 2013
All Eyes On Minneapolis And The Autoptic Festival
-- I can't think of a single person that doesn't want this to absolutely kill, both for the event itself and for the possibility of future events. If you're anywhere within a couple of hours, I hope you'll make it there. If you're not able to make it, I hope you'll join me in making yourself look at every expression of comics cool that comes out of the event and its satellite offerings and make it a priority to attend another one -- if that happens.
Nancy Walk Cycle Video
Seven Reasons Autoptic Is Important, To Become A Longer List As More Ideas Present Themselves To Me
1. For itself.
Autoptic sounds like a good comics show, with a number of strong, comics-related guests a significant number of whom would be worth a visit on a Sunday afternoon were they sitting at a table all by itself in the room in which the festival takes places. This includes people like Jaime Hernandez. It is very much to comics credit that many of its shows have continued to celebrate the achievements of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez as an ongoing thing rather than a tip of the hit during last year's 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets
2. For Love and Rockets: New Stories
Speaking of the Hernandez Brothers, this comic will debut at the festival this year -- it was the first time in some time that the year's latest Love and Rockets
book did not
appear at Comic-Con International. We should spend more time focused on specific works like the latest comics from the best cartoonist as opposed to abstraction like comics-culture, character concepts and branding.
3. Because Minneapolis is a great comic city.
Minneapolis is an underrated fount of popular culture generally, and an under-appreciated place for comics creation specifically. This was my list of people and institutions in Minneapolis as a local scene, at least as compiled in rough form last year:
People: Ken Avidor, Terry Beatty, Bud Burgy, Kevin Cannon, Zander Cannon, Joe Combs, JP Coovert, Will Dinski, Ryan Dow, Paul Fricke, Neil Gaiman (*), Mitch Gerads, Grant Gould, Terrance Griep Jr., Peter Gross, Jessica Hickman, Sam Hiti, Raighne and Meghan Hogan, Chris Jones, Toby Jones, Chris Judd, Dan Jurgens, Tom K., Ryan Kelly, Bart King, Robert Kirby, Reynold Kissling, Danno Klonowski (dank!), Diana Knock, Peter Krause, Becky Laff, Bob Lipski, Roger Lootine, Sean Lynch, Doug Mahnke, Brad McGinty, Lupi McGinty, Michael May, Mr. Mike, Sarah Morean, Tom Nguyen, Daniel Olson, Joel Orff, Ozel, Tyler Page, Evan Palmer, Shad Petosky, Keith Pille, Gordon Purcell, Madeline Queripel, Quillan Roe, Brittney Sabo, Steve Sack, Zak Sally, Brett Schlosser, Brent Schoonover, Barb Schulz, Jordan Shiveley, Timothy Sievert, Jon Sloan, Curtis Square-Briggs, Vincent Stall, Steven Stwalley, Paul Taylor, David Tea, Sean Tenhoff, Clarence Thrun, Mike Toft, Chaz Truog, Lewis Tuck, Lonny Unitus, Lance Ward, Dave Witt.
Institutions: Big Brain Comics, Big Time Attic, Cartoonist Conspiracy (Minneapolis), Cartoonist Conspiracy (St. Paul), Dreamhaven Books, Grimalkin Press, La Mano, Midwest Comic Book Association, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Nordeast Comics Summit, The International Cartoonist Conspiracy, The Source Comics and Games.
Even with whatever changes have developed since then, that is staggering
, and a pair of lists can go toe to toe with similar from any other comics community in North America.
4. Because the Midwest deserves its fair share of comics festivals.
I love the coastal cities, and have chosen to live in them and frequently visit them for large chunks of my life. A strength of comics is that it draws from any number of regions, not just New York, Los Angeles, Florida and the Pacific Northwest. The Midwestern cartoonists are as important to the development of the newspaper strip as any other region. Cities like St. Louis and Chicago have as fine an editorial cartooning tradition as any other metropolis. Along with CAKE in Chicago and maybe one or two other shows, comics has an opportunity to drive attention to the comics art form as a diverse, vibrant way of making art as opposed to solely a vehicle for licensed properties and lowest-common-denominator trash culture -- not that there's anything wrong with either of those things. Regional expressions may matter more in the Midwest than any other region. Things are close geographically but the dominant youth expression of travel and mobility is car-oriented: you can have a band and live in Bloomington or St. Louis and have half the country within a single day's drive. A show like Autoptic may become important to Minneapolis, but it can also be important to Madison and Chicago and Indianapolis, too.
5. Because tying comics into related forms of expression can be healthy.
I'm about as big a comics-for-comics-sake person that exists, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing comics in different context. Heck, I don't mind looking at comic as fodder and inspiration for film and television shows save for the monomaniacal, self-hating and commercially-motivated aspects of that kind of coverage and its facilitation through convention emphases. Looking at comics in terms of their relationship to 'zine-making and music culture allows a different perspective on the work created and the ways in which artists orient themselves in order to make stuff. We can all learn something.
6. Timing: August is a great month to have a art-comics festival in the upper Midwest.
There aren't a lot of places I enjoy traveling in August, but many of them are north of Chicago -- the loveliest time of the year for many of those places, particularly if you're in an urban setting a bit removed from the demented insect-fest that is that region's lakes and woodlands. It's close enough to the very different Comic-Con International to provide a stark contrast with what that show does very well, close enough to the Fall's offerings like APE and Short Run and SPX and CAB to provide a set-up for the last burst of shows and festivals, and enough weeks removed from CAKE that people in that world of comics might be fairly salivating for a show.
7. The free show model is a very exciting model in terms of driving traffic to a show.
One of the most difficult things for any comics show to do is to develop an audience; being a free event is one way to accelerate this process, I think. I'm not even saying there's a right way or a wrong way to do that -- many shows have a commercial function that people are happy to pay; some even have a charitable aspect; in comics we're way too quick to want to offer up things for free out of a sense that what we have to offer may not be worth it because they're not worth it to a loudly-complaining minority. Still, it's tough to get people to leave the house for something with which they're not entirely familiar, and tough to get people oriented to buying, and also tough to negotiate people's experiences in terms of whether they enjoyed themselves or not. Tough, tough, tough. Free can make these things slightly easier. Plus a summer festival feels right being free.
View From Jim Keefe's Table
This Is One Midwestern Show
The Autoptic site has a great exhibitors page
I did not see until like five minutes ago when I was looking for table assignments. But working off a list someone sent me a while back of exhibitors -- probably from that page! -- it struck me that there is a hugely strong Midwestern showing at Autoptic. I'm sure there are twice the number of the following, but these are the ones that stood out to me as cartoonists that I relate to either Minneapolis or another place in the land between the coasts. I hope mostly correctly.
* 2D Cloud
-- Table #64
* Kevin Budnik
-- Table #83
* Kevin Cannon
-- Table #70
* Zander Cannon
-- Table #70
* Lilli Carré
-- Table #54
* Will Dinski
-- Table #48
* Sam Hiti
-- Table #24
* Kevin Huizenga
-- Table #26
* Rob Kirby
-- Table #79
* La Mano
-- Table #44
* Mr. King Mini
-- Table #75
* Anders Nilsen
-- Table #11
* Jeremy Onsmith
-- Table #55
* Laura Park
-- Table #54
* John Porcellino
-- Table #27
* Keiler Roberts
-- Table #76
* Brittney Sabo
-- Table #72
* Sam Sharpe
-- Table #65
* Tim Sievert
-- Table #23
* Steven Stwalley
-- Table #72
* Carl Thompson
-- Table #85
* Uncivilized Books
-- Table #39
I mean, holy crud. That is one pork tenderloin sandwich/deep dish pizza/fried stick of butter walking Midwestern typical-fest.
Some of these people I've never even met: I've not met Keiler Roberts, not that I remember, and know her mostly through John Porcellino enthusing in my direction about her comics. I have no idea what Laura Park will have at her table, but the last time I was at the same show she was -- I assume she does CAKE -- was a Heroes Con in like 2008 or something, so I'd probably snap up anything she had that I could afford. I liked Sam Sharpe's most recent comic
, so would enjoy seeing what else was at that table. And so on. Heck, those three are all Chicago -- you could do a similarly strong list of local-only cartoonists. In particular I hope you'll check out La Mano and Uncivilized either today or at a later date on-line to show your appreciation for the show.
posted 6:00 am PST
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