Chris Daily Recaps the A.P.E. 2004 Convention

When I attended the 2003 San Diego Comic-Con, I barely even saw one third of the things there. The lines were too long, the pretzels were too expensive, and the Stormtroopers were too plentiful. So naturally, walking around the 2004 Alternative Press Expo on February 22nd was a breath of fresh air.

Raw, edgy, up and coming artists were pimping their latest projects harder than used car salesmen. People could walk around the entire floor several times in the course of the day, talk with their favorite artists, and even attend panels with certain creators.

The center section tended to have more well known alternative comics publishers and creators, although the quality of work found in Zine alley was just as impressive. This isn’t to say there were not some creators that need to spend a little more time at the drawing board. Some were promoting projects that weren’t even finished, while others were selling zines or collections of art that were several years old with nothing new to offer. But, most of the tables and booths were entertaining, with lots of free tokens of publicity to offer passersby.

I was on the lookout for some of the online comic artists that were in attendance:

I had the pleasure of meeting webtoonist multi-tasker and fellow Comixpedia contributor Shaenon Garrity. Shaenon had Narbonic books and plush gerbils to offer. Things have been exiting for Shaenon as she recently got married. Congrats!

Next up was the fabulous Lea Hernandez, who I caught in the middle of sketching one of several marker sketches. Creator of Rumble Girls and editor of GirlAMatic are among her credits. Love those Copic markers….. mmmmmm.

Jason Thompson, creator of The Stiff, was selling collected issues of that comic, as well as some of his past works. Relationships, manga spoof, and horror never melded together so well.

Sometimes all it takes is a giant lipstick lamp to perk your interest. Monica Gallagher has several comics on her website, but the online strip she was pushing was Gods and Undergrads. While relatively new, it’s got a promising clean style, and appealing characters.

Chuck Wheldon (left) draws Pewfell, and also wears funny hats…. COOL HATS… COOL, COOL, sock hats. His friend Adam, handled the mad coin they were pulling in from selling the Pewfell comic books.

Gene Yang is a member of Modern Tales, and a very busy guy. He works on Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, American Born Chinese, and Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order. Gosh, Gene!… take a break!

When I found Jason Shiga cutting some extra mini-comics in half, I wasn’t even sure who he was. But the work at his table was amazing. I can see why he’s the 2003 Eisner Award winner for talent deserving of wider recognition! Double Happiness was featured on Modern Tales, and you can see more of his work at his website.

James Burks, creator of Martin’s Misdirection, was also pushing the latest print collections of his comic. His table was very magic looking, which fitted the theme of the strip. Coolest table cover at the con… hands down!

Not to be outdone by the print collections of online comics, Tom Hart actually brought a laptop to represent, as well as his own strip, Hutch Owen. Other online strips by Tom are New Hat, Banks/Eubanks!, The Sands.

Derek Kirk Kim, who’s talent makes me weep with joy, was a hard man to get a hold of for a photo. When he’s not winning a kirkjillion awards, he draws Half Empty, as well as Small Stories, which is soon to be published as a collection by Top Shelf Comics.

To my surprise and delight, Jen Wang was in attendance as well. The Strings of Fate creator was mainly promoting her collaboration with the anthology work, Flight (which looks absolutely amazing, by the way!), but she also was selling cute mini comics (yeah, I got one).

Finally, how can you not get pulled in by the amazing Shannon Wheeler, creator of Too Much Coffee Man! Shannon was promoting the latest issue of TMCM the Magazine, as well as peddling T-shirts and stickers that read, “I fight for coffee” GENIOUS!

The middle section of the con. See? No Elves, Boba Fetts or Pika-things walking around. Just comics fans.

A few other cool people and booths at the con worth shouting about:

  • Jim Mahfood, artist of Grrl Scouts, Clerks, and Zombie Kid among other comics, was nice enough to chat, and even gave me a free T-shirt!
  • Hellen Jo, who draws a comic called Komisches Buch, is particularly awesome. By far the best spontaneous comic I bought while standing in a line waiting to talk with someone else.
  • the Fantagraphics booth, where I bought the Krazy Kat 1925-1926 collection. Ssschweet!
  • James Baker, creator of Nerve bomb, who had some cool shirts, but I didn’t buy one, because all he had left was pink. (a con lesson: buy t-shirts early. buy comics late! Usually they are marked down and they don’t run out… usually)

I had a blast at this year’s A.P.E., and I’m guessing that the other webtoonists did too. Maybe next year I can rope somebody into getting a table with me…then we can scare people by staring at them with kindness.

Chris Daily is a staff contributor for Comixpedia. More Details.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.