Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Alternative Press Expo, or, Can My Camera Flash You?

I'd like to start by saying that my digital camera is actually quite good in most respects. The pictures it takes are huge resolution, and I have found it very easy to take pictures and download them to my computer. The one thing it can't do is function in anything less than bright lighting without the flash. In even normal lighting, like at the Alternative Press Expo, I have a decision to make: take pictures with flash (which are annoying to the people I'm taking pictures of), or take pictures without the flash and end up with a blurry photo.

I should also mention that this post links out to webcomics. If you're not familiar with webcomics, you should know that a lot of webcomics have the latest page on their homepage, so if you'd like to avoid any spoilers, click the "Archive" or "First" button as quickly as you can.

With that out of the way, let's get started.

First impressions of APE: comics are a legitimate art form. Also, there are tons of good-looking, nerdy people here. Single nerds take note.

We started off wandering separately and getting a feel for the place. It was pretty packed, as the picture above shows, with two wings and a lower main area. One cool thing about APE was that most of the tables were by comic publishers and artists. At many other cons I've been to, a lot of the tables are local comic book stores selling their wares. I noticed one of these at APE, and there were probably more, and there were also a few art schools trying to peddle their classes to would-be artists, but for the most part it was comics being sold by the people who made them, and that is awesome.

The most popular table at APE was shared by Dylan Meconis and Kate Beaton. I didn't know Dylan Meconis's work at the time (which I've been working on remedying since I got home), but I am a fan of Kate's Hark! A Vagrant, and my lady is a big fan of both of them, so we headed over.

My lady had already gotten Dylan's signature on Bite Me!, her off-the-wall graphic novel about vampires in Revolutionary France, so while we were waiting for space to clear up around Kate Beaton I asked her if she would mind a picture with my lady. I'm so sorry for using flash in your face, Dylan Meconis, but otherwise the picture was too blurry to see anything:
Remember what I was saying about all the good-looking nerds at APE? Plus, Dylan Meconis had a pile of stickers that read "Real Vampires Don't Fricking Sparkle," and how cool is that?

When we got through to Kate Beaton, she signed my lady's copy of her book and also drew us a sketch of Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe (based on this comic of hers).

And what did she charge us for this AMAZING sketch? How about FIVE BUCKS? Kate Beaton, you rock! Also, apparently my camera was feeling braver by this point, because I managed to get some pretty good pictures of Kate Beaton without having to use the flash.

The next part of our journey was seeing several examples of "it's the guy who does..." such as Matt Boyd, "one of the guys who do Mac Hall and Three Panel Soul:"
and Chris Hastings, "the guy who does Dr. McNinja:"
I basically did a walk-by photographing of those two, since I didn't have anything to say to them, or, more accurately, any money to give them. Hence, another photo safari, like my time at Wondercon.

I read Der-shing Helmer's comic "The Meek" and totally dug it. For those of you who haven't read it yet, the art is amazing and the storytelling is delightful. I'd even go so far as to say that it's "Miyazaki-esque!" Der-shing also did "Snowball in Hell," about a fluffy cat who ends up in Hell. While I haven't had a chance to read much of it yet, I love that there's a story out there called "Snowball in Hell" about a fluffy cat in hell.

At the same table we met Johane Matte, who did "Water Tribe." Now if I were to tell you that it's a fan comic of Avatar: the Last Airbender, you'd probably think that it's some earnest, enthusiastic, and terrible work of squeeing fandom. While it's definitely earnest and enthusiastic, it's also excellent. I read some of the mini-comics they have for Avatar on the Nickelodeon site, and Water Tribe is magnitudes better than them. That's right: the fan comic is many times better than the official stuff they put out. The art, the storytelling, the feel of it is perfect. If you like Avatar, you should check out Water Tribe. I could spend an entire blog post talking about "Water Tribe," and I haven't even finished the first volume yet.

Here's my lady meeting "the guy who does Rice Boy," which I haven't read yet, but it looks good:

My lady and I also met Brandon Graham, "the guy who does King City."
He drew us a sketch for free. I was going to ask him about the part of King City that didn't make any sense when I read it, so I picked up his copy and started to leaf through it, and I realized that the whole thing didn't make sense! But I really liked it. It's about a guy who has a cat that gets superpowers when he injects it with cat-juice. The art is great, and I absolutely love the way Brandon Graham does sound effects.

Which brings us to the end of APE. So, to wrap up, here are some miscellaneous observations about APE:

  • Cute is the new scary - so much of the 'dark' stuff being sold was annoyingly cute. There were at least two Satanically-possessed fluffy creatures, as well as cute dead animals, cute scary little girls, etc.
  • Zombies are the new superhero - there were sexy zombies, ironic zombies, high school zombies, crime-fighting zombies. In fact, just about every kind of zombie except for the flesh-eating, mindless zombie (but who likes THOSE?).
  • Irony is the new badassery - why write about a grim monster hunter when you can write about a grim monster hunter who's a school janitor?
Until next time, then. I had a fantastic time and I highly recommend APE to anyone who can make it out. It's lots of fun if you bring your own cute nerd to spend the con with, but if you don't already have a cute nerd, you may find one at APE!

1 comment:

Brian Schulman said...

Yeah! Brandon Graham hooked it up for me today and gave me this sweet ass sketch. I love that guy's blog, it was awesome to finally meet him!