LA ZINE FEST 2013 Highlights
I’ve long loved conventions, and one of my favorite conventions that I really miss after I moved back to California from Portland, Oregon, was the Portland Zine Symposium. Since I have no new printed comics to promote, it’s hard to justify the expense to head up to Portland just to attend a convention. Once I’ve got some printed work from Quarterly Stories, perhaps I’ll have an excuse to go back and table there.
However, my friend Chris Kawagiwa and I happened to be in Los Angeles, heading back from a fun weekend at Winebocon, and I knew the fine folks at the Devastator would be tabling there, we decided to swing by the L.A. Zine Fest to say hello to some friends, and to pick up some zines and mini-comics. I’m extremely happy we did. When we arrived there was a line stretching around the building of people waiting to get in. When we got in, this gigantic, lovely ballroom, was filled wall to wall with people waiting to buy stuff at the booths.
Normally, when I’ve boothed at conventions, there are a few tables without any traffic from visitors, but here, every table was packed, and people were there to spend money on things they’d never purchased before, from people they’ve never heard of. This is really an unheard of sort of audience for a comic/zine convention, and it frankly blew the Portland turnout out of the water. As a creator who conventions occasionally, I’ve gotta say, I’m definitely going to booth there next year if the tables don’t fill up. As a fan of mini-comics and zines, I’ve gotta say, I’m glad there is such an audience for zines in Los Angeles. It’s encouraging. As a consumer, I wound up spending too much, picking up a nifty stack of mini comics, and other stuff.
I’ve decided to highlight some of the ones that stood out, and give a little bit of info on the books, and who created them. I’m sure I left some amazing people out, there were so many awesome artists there, and I ran out of spending money before I’d cleared the convention.
My stack of minis and zines from LA Zine fest:
Selections of stuff I picked up at LA ZINE FEST (in random order):
1. “Library Sciences: An Audio Zine” by Jennie Cotterill & Sara Lyons
Jennie Cotterill is awesomeness, and one of those cases where I don’t simply recommend her art/music/projects because I know her, her stuff is just consistently good. When I first got into graduate school, she was constantly working in the group studio on campus. She constantly makes amazing artwork, and happens to be a really great person as well. You should check out her artwork. Anyhow, Jennie, and her friend Sara Lyons (also awesome and super talented) made two zines titled “Library Sciences.”
Each zine functions as an illustrated book of lyrics to accompany a cd of music that comes with it. The music is acoustic, super confessional, mellow, honest, and a really good listen, and the artwork in the zines really reinforces, and sometimes furthers the narrative presented in the music. It’s a really cool project, and you guys should definitely purchase a copy at the next LA Zine Fest, or follow them on facebook here to see when they go up for sale (If they aren’t sold out of copies). You can also check out their music here: http://www.reverbnation.com/librarysciences.
2. “Afloat: Woodcuts” by Harry Diaz
Harry Diaz is another amazing and highly talented artist who used to work in the graduate studio around the same time as I was attending at CSULB. He’s a gifted printmaker, a great guy, and fellow t-shirt enthusiast. “Afloat” is a lovely piece of 2-D design, and abstract design. I’m super glad to have picked up a copy. You should pick up a copy as well, here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/116751303/afloat-zine? and check out more of Harry’s work. He’s got such a unique voice and style.
3. Postcards by Allison Krumwiede
I picked up this awesome set of postcards illustrated by Allison Krumwiede, each themed as a famous movie romance. I particularly dug the Han and Leia one.
4. “Intruder #5”
I stumbled across this gem. It appears to be a newspaper sized collection of cartoonist’s working to publish this on newsprint from the Seattle, Washington area. From what I read, this is a pretty exciting publication. It features work from some amazing and some super heavy hitting cartoonists. The people who have been featured in the publication: Nikki Burch, Max Clotfelter, Darin Shuler, David Lasky, Aidan Fitzgerald, Billis Helg, Ben Horak, Alexa Kristine Koenings, Jason T. Miles, Tim Miller, James Stranton, Kazimir Strzepek, Marc J Palm, and Tom Van Deusen (featured in the picture above, since his comic really stood out in issue 5).
The aesthetic look of comics on a full size newspaper, much less indy comics, is just flat out exciting. See more of what the Intruder is up to on their facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/IntruderComics I also adore the approach of all of these featured cartoonists. They seem to admire the form and craft of cartooning. It’s well worth checking out.
5. “Intergalactic Telepathic Pen-Pal” by Yumi Sakugawa
I’d never read Yumi Sakugawa’s mini comics before, and this was one of those surprises you hope for when you’re browsing at a comics or zine convention. Her stories are told in a hushed, poetic, and surreal way with lovely ink work and themes that touch on magical realism. I really love how she utilizes quick fluid brush work, and the range of her stories from autobiographical to a ghost buddy reuniting with it’s ghost owner.
Such tender stories, and such a pleasant surprise. I’ll be keeping track of her work from now on, and you guys should definitely pick up a copy of her zine here: http://yumisakugawa.bigcartel.com/product/intergalactic-telepathic-pen-pal-and-other-super-short-stories
6. “Papercutter #17” (Anthology) Edited by Greg Means
When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I barely knew any other cartoonists or artists, much less people. Jesse Recklaw used to have the cartoonist meetups at his house, and my friend Mike Getsiv was kind enough to invite me to quite a few of them, which is where I met many of the cartoonists involved with Tugboat Press. Almost everyone involved with this group is highly talented, and extremely awesome. I decided to pick up the latest issue, because it had some work by Jesse, who I admire as a cartoonist, and was also nice enough to let me crash quite a few of his parties and cartoonist meet ups.
The artists featured in #17 are all super talented, and Greg Means, the editor, puts so much love and consideration into the paper quality and look, as well as curation of his books, I doubt Tugboat can fail with anything they release. Added to that, they were all kind people, who treated me well while I was amid strangers in Oregon. Although I don’t miss living in Oregon too often, I do miss being able to see this group of cartoonists constantly creating and putting out inspiring work. Papercutter # 17 features Jesse Recklaw, Corinne Mucha, Calvin Wong, Sarah Oleksyk, Hellen Jo, Vanessa Davis, and each story featured was written by Jason Martin. You guys should go to their site, and pick up any issue of Papercutter: http://tugboatpress.com/ They’re all lovely, although the work Jesse did in 17 is epic.
7. “Tucker Toon #1” by Dustin Garcia a.k.a. “DusT”
I did have a pic of an interior spread to give a better feel for what this mini-comic is like, but alas, it was lost among the many files. Needless to say, it’s really awesome stuff. In a very old timey black and white animation style, Dustin Garcia walks us through some violent, twisted and cute slapstick shenanigans. Pick up a copy here: http://www.dustooned.bigcartel.com/product/tucker-toon-1
8. “Freckless: Issue One” by Melinda Tracy Boyce
Another cartoonist I was surprisingly introduced to the work of, and really liked the look of her work. Melinda Tracy Boyce’s “Freckless” is an adorable tale of moving to Los Angles, settling in, and falling in love with the weirdness of the city. It’s autobiographic, and it’s charmingly illustrated. I’ll definitely be following her future work. You can pick up a copy of this comic here: http://shop.ginghamghost.com/
9. “Kneel Before Your God: Volume Two – Ghar” by Adam Roth
This is a lovely book of layered and overlapped sketches, themed as a collection of archived drawings relevant to mankinds’ explorations. Some really lovely sketches and concepts by artist Adam Roth, and definitely worth checking out his artwork!
10. “Pizza Nearth” by James the Stanton (gnartoons)
I picked this up, because the cover was a lovely piece of printmaking, and it looked like the artist was having fun. James “the” Stanton is an incredible cartoonist, with a great range of brushwork, and seems to be madly in love with pizza. The humor in this tale of a pizza loving monster looking for folks to share in his pizza worship is loads of fun, full of lots of great mini-comic only features (little half sheets that have a funny interaction with the story, and serve to accentuate the punchlines), and shows a really strong grasp of the art of cartooning.
I’ve seen James “the” Stanton’s work at conventions before, and had been curious, since his mini’s tend to have such lovely hand printed covers and lettering, and was glad that when I finally bought one of his comics it was as enjoyable as the cover made it look. If you grew up in the era I grew up in, and you have a sense of humor, definitely check out Gnartoons, Stanton’s website. It’s not up for sale on his site yet, but you can purchase many of his other fine hand-made books here: http://gnartoons.com/Store/Store.html
11. “Black is the Color: Part One” by Julia Gfrörer
Back when I lived in Portland, Oregon, and was going to the cartoonist meet-ups I spoke before of at Jesse’s house, two people, Brody Kelly (aka Spritzfellow) and Julia Gfrörer were some of the kindest people I hung out with. They also truly loved comics, and were such an awesome couple. Since moving back I’d lost touch with their artwork, and decided to pick up Julia’s “Black is the Color: Part One.” This was easily the best zine at the convention.
The storytelling has amazing pacing, is dark, full of mystery and incredible line work. It’s no shock to find out that Julia Gfrörer’s “Black is the Color” will soon be published by Fantagraphics. The artwork and writing is incredible. Seriously, if you pick up anything from the suggestions on this blog, buy this comic!
You can pre-order a copy of the full book at the Fantagraphics website here, or you can try to get a copy of the mini-comic at the next alternative comics convention, keep your eyes peeled. Lovely, hushed storytelling, with a creeping and mysterious pace. The kind of cartooning that frankly makes me want to be a better cartoonist.
12. “Phase 7 – #017” by Alec Longstreth
Alec Longstreth is a cartoonist that I’ve admired for quite a while. “Phase 7” is his ongoing autobiographical publication. I hadn’t read issue #017 yet, and I’m super happy to have picked it up. It’s composed of 10 short autobiographical stories, each told to one of the 10 songs on “the Blue Album” by Weezer. This comic very beautifully narrates the impact that the Blue Album had on Longstreth’s life, in narratives that range from humorous to melancholy. Longstreth’s cartooning is skillful, and his storytelling is the kind that makes you instantly relate to the character.
This comic was such a great read for me on a personal level, since that album meant a lot to me as well, and I think to almost everyone in my age group. If you were impacted by Weezer’s “Blue Album” or would like to read a comic about how an album can become attached to meaningful events in your life and rock your world, pick up “Phaze 7 #017” here: http://www.alec-longstreth.com/comics/ I highly recommend it!
13. “Runner Runner” (A free comic anthology) Edited by Greg Means
I’ve already gushed about Tugboat Press, but I definitely had to mention their latest publication, which was handed out for FREE at the convention. A lovely comic, printed on amazing paper, and featuring some fantastic artwork and stories. It features comics by these cartoonists: Kalah Allen, Jesse Recklaw, Mk Reed, Rich Tommaso, Drew Weing, Aron Nels Steinke (definitely check out Big Plans), Rina Ayuyang, Galen Longstreth, Aaron Renier, Julia Gfrörer, Jonathan Hill, Joey Alison Sayers, Matt Weigle, Corinne Mucha, Andy Hartzell, Jason Martin, Minty Lewis, Damien Jay, Tessa Brunton, Elijah Brubaker, Robin Enrico, Nate Beaty, Lisa R. Eisenberg, Alec Longstreth, Kazimir Strzepek, and Lilli Carré. It’s a really diverse, and impressive group of comics by some quality cartoonists, be sure to get a copy from Tugboat Press. It’s inspiring.
Well, that wraps up my semi-review blog of the stand out zines and comics I picked up at LA Zine fest. Although I wound up stopping by because I happened to be in the area heading back from Santa Barbara at just the right time, next year, I’ll definitely be heading there intentionally. Most people doing cartooning love comics first, and create comics because of that love. I feel much more inspired to keep going on Quarterly Stories from just taking a break and being a fan of comics for a while again, and also by reading all of these awesome comics I picked up at the festival. It was a really good one!