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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #111

Today’s “Ape-ril” spotlight is the timeliest thing ever. How so? See inside!


111. APE (Alternative Press Expo)

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads around on the comics internet. In fact, there’s probably one running on this very site at the moment I post this. It probably looks like this:

APE 2.gif

or maybe this (you can click it to make it more readable):


APE is being held today and tomorrow in San Francisco. So if you happen to be in town, you should go. It’s a lovely little shindig, sponsored by Comicon International, in which the small press gets their chance to shine. Free from the crushing shadow of the Big Two, the little publishers that could can show their wares and shoot the breeze. As their website says, it’s “more funky flea market than traditional exhibit hall.” And the admission price is ridiculously cheap.

This year’s special guests include Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Kevin Huizenga, and Art Spiegelman! I hope you’ve all heard of these people, but if you haven’t, Google ‘em. I can assure you of their awesomeness.

APE is a reason to love comics where you can find many many other reasons to love comics. Everyone wins!

Check out the website. They even use the same terminology– “Ape-ril!” Hahahah! We’re conquering the internets!!!


Yes! A very good choice. I don’t live there now, but growing up in the Bay Area with a mother who was into comic books had many perks, one of which was going to this throughout my teens (Wondercon too, but that’s not important now).

APE was always a wonderful show, not only could you meet all sorts of creative types (local and otherwise) but every now and then there’d also be some gem like a random guy with a booth that only sold old vinyl. I’ve been to alot of comic conventions, but only one where I came home with a Dean Martin record.

I’ve always wanted to go to APE one year. Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to afford the trip this year (again), but it looks fun! I’ve enjoyed Kevin Huizenga since Brian spotlighted him on the site.

Got back home (Sacramento) a few hours ago and I’m glad I went. You know, I don’t generally think of myself as an ‘Alternative’ comics fan because most of the comics I read are relatively mainstream super-hero stuff. I’m not particularly opposed to other things – I’m just not that familiar with them.

One concern for me at this show was that there were so many exhibitors, and since I don’t know much about who’s who in the Alternative world, I just had to wander around and hope I find something cool. I just don’t know enough to seek out specific exhibitors. This turned out not to be a problem – I was able to at least glance over pretty much every table, and I no problem finding a number of cool comics. In many cases, it was the creators sitting at the booths, so I was able to get some of the things I bought signed, too, which was fun.

There is a downside to the creator-operated booth, however. There was one lady, who seemed very nice, who was trying to interest me in a couple of her books, but the art just looked terrible. Now, I’m sure it would be right up someone else’s alley, but I just wasn’t interested at all. So, I ended up feeling like a little bit of a jerk because I didn’t want to buy her book (although I did try to be polite about it), even though she was nice, and trying hard. Oh, well – not everybody wants to buy my album, either. (I still felt bad, though – I know that it’s tough as a creator to shill your work and have people be uninterested.)

Anyway, I picked up several cool things. I haven’t had time to read them all yet, but the big (literally!) find in the lot seems to be Beowulf – A Graphic Novel Translation by Tom Biby and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. This huge 14″ x 17″ book is volume 1 of a proposed 3 volume set. (Volume 1 deals with the poem up through the encounter with Grendel. I assume that Volume 2 will be Grendel’s dam and Volume 3 will be the dragon, but I couldn’t find anything specifying how they were going to divvy up the next two parts.)

The art is magnificent – it combines the best of “heroic” comic art with a medieval illustrated manuscript feel. One really cool touch is that it is in black and white right up until the battle with Grendel starts – then it switches to full color. I hadn’t flipped ahead, so this surprised me and really cranked up the intensity of the art at that point.

I should probably point out that Beowulf is my favorite poem. (I’ve been slowly working on learning to read Old English (the West Saxon dialect, to be specific) just so I could finally read it untranslated.) So, I was ready to either be really impressed or really annoyed with this comic – and I’m really impressed. The authors seem to be striving to be very faithful to the poem – this feels closer in spirit to a good verse translation (like Seamus Heaney’s) than it does to most attempts to put the story into a different medium (like some of the atrocious comics and movies that have been made in the past).

And I probably wouldn’t have ever known this comic existed if I hadn’t gone to APE today. So, if you’re within driving distance, go to APE tomorrow and check everything out – I’m glad I did.

Oh, hey, follow-up to my last post: Beowulf – A Graphic Novel Translation is published by Two Fine Chaps in case you want to find it.

And I think you probably do, even if you don’t realize it yet.

You know, when I first read this there was an APE ad in the ad space at the bottom of the article.

Every year Julie and I try to come up with a way to get to APE and every year we run into a brick wall. Someday we’ll make it.

But the one year I did manage to get there was AWESOME. Best show ever. It really recharges you batteries — no matter how mainstream your sensibilities, the sheer enthusiasm for comics as a medium simply too infectious to resist, and you ALWAYS find stuff you’d never have looked at otherwise. And the crowd itself tends to be much pleasanter than most other cons; taking the acquisitive, driven collector-types out of the equation does enormous good in ramping up the average courtesy of the attendees.

My first APE today… I’m usually more of a ComicCon kind of guy. Glad to have been exposed to all of this amazing talent. Has anyone ever heard of Jerrell Conner? He seemed to be getting quite a lot of attention at his table. And t-i-i-i-ight stuff. Really cool. Anyway, keep an eye out for him and give me full credit for being right when he turns out to be famous. Anyway, I’ve got a write-up and pics from today over at my blog if you’re interested. Cheers!

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