Monday, August 15, 2011

Con Report: Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con

Yesterday, newly-minted Panel Patter contributor Erica and I made it up to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con, held at the Rotunda on Walnut Street. This is quite a familiar place for us by now, as it also houses the annual Philly Zinefest.

I don't have a new photo of the building to share because it was pouring down rain the entire time we were visiting. However, despite the rain, we were able to grab some authentic Philly Cheesesteaks at a local eatery we frequent when we're in town and then dive right into the show itself.
It's entirely possible that the rain held up attendance a bit, but while we were there, the place was quite crowded. The staff had cleverly arranged the tables to maximize the number of guests and the number of creators, even taking advantage of the stage area for the larger tables, like Parcell Press and Adhouse. While the whole thing was just a bit on the cramped side, it had a very intimate feel. The Rotunda space is a really great place for a small show like this--it's just big enough to hold people, it's in a well-trafficked area, and it's always seemed to be affordable.

Plus, if you're not from Philly, the city itself makes for a great place to hang out and visit if you're staying more than a few days.
One of the nice things about the smaller shows is that I can actually spend some time talking to my friends in person that I usually only get to interact with online. This time around it was hotel stories with Rafer, a discussion of why we eloped with Sara, and some really interesting talk about Kickstarter, color comic costs, and other things relating to the creative process with Carolyn.

(I also got an awesome sketch from Carolyn for my Alphabet sketchbook. Having so much fun putting that little book together.)

The best conversation, though, was probably with Chris from Adhouse, who suggested a shtick for me that might end up being my new regular convention outfit. Right now, that's Top Secret!

As with any show, I did my best to try and sample work from as many new folks as I could. Unfortunately, this seems to get harder every year, because of the increasing desire to put things in flashy covers that cost a lot to print.

Your cover is beautiful! But I am not paying $10 for a great cover when there's only a mini-comics worth of art inside. I'm really and truly sorry. Maybe that makes me a bad comics fan, I don't know. To me, it's the story you tell inside that counts the most, and I happily buy a lot of comics with less attractive covers because the story inside intrigued me. For me as a reader, it will always be about great stories.

The other issue I had at the show was that there seemed to be a lot of abstract, Raw-style art that I've read enough of to know it just isn't my taste anymore. The things I saw certainly did a great job with the genre, but it's not something I tend to read these days. The premise of those comics is more on shock value and exploring the limits of illustration, and I'm more inclined to works that have a narrative hook than visual tricks or intent to offend.

Overall, we had a great time at the show, even if we left with a few less purchases than we were expecting. The Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con is a great way to explore the wide variety of mini-comic and small press comic options that are out there in the general vicinity of Philadelphia. If you are at all interested in mini-comics and can't make it to SPX, I strongly urge you to come to the show next year. (Even better, go to both!) This is definitely on my list of shows to re-visit next year. Hopefully, it will be a little drier this time!

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