September 30, 2013

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You Should Go to the Locust Moon Festival October 5th












Like a Midwest political primary, the Locust Moon Comics Festival moved up this year, as the Philadelphia-based comics show moves up a few months from the cold of December to the slight chill of October this year. Held in the amazing venue for small-press comics and zines, the Rotunda, Locust Moon will be open from 10am to 6pm on the outskirts of the U Penn campus.

I really wanted to make the first year of the show, but I had a few issues, so I wasn't able to participate. This year, I hope to go, even as the show itself is growing to include more mainstream folks to go along with the indie comics creators that are the main draw for me personally.

This year the biggest draw by far is the iconic Jim Steranko, who landed in Marvel comics like a shooting star, burning bright and then burning out and into other projects. His stories are almost as large as his artwork, and I'm sure he'll be bending the ears of many fans at the show.

You can find the entire guest list here, but I'll point out some names you should be on the lookout for when you get there:

  • Alternative Comics is back in the game, working to both bring new material to the world and reprint the titles that made this publisher one of the best in the small press field. Anything you get from them is going to be good, but I'll call attention to Magic Whistle, which is hilarious and filthy, and Look Straight Ahead, which is poignant and touching. Alternative has a full range of options and I'd make it one of my first stops at Locust Moon.
  • Box Brown is a Philly mini-comics superstar, as both a publisher of Retrofit books and his own wide and varied solo projects. Often using the most common of characters to explore the nature of life for ordinary people and the philosophical questions we face, Brown's work can make you smile and think at the same time. It's a mix of Kant and cock jokes, drawn with increasing skill. Plus, he's an amazing curator of talent as a publisher, too. Definitely make him a must-visit person when you go to the show.
  • Farel Dalrymple is probably best known for Pop Gun War, which is a series I really need to read. I'm more familiar with his shorter comics and webcomic work, which is excellent. He recently has a collection out with AdHouse books, and his creative use of panel space and refusal to abide by genre guidelines makes him someone to check out.
  • Brian JL Glass is the writer of Mice Templar, an excellent series form Image, along with other projects. I've already got this series, but if you haven't, it's worth your time and $$$.
  • Dean Haspiel has a slick illustration style that always catches my eyes when I see it. He's worked on various projects over the years, both inside and out of superheroes and is currently teaming with Mark Waid on Archie's The Fox. Not sure what he'll have at Locust Moon, but it's likely to be pretty.
  • Michael Kupperman may or may not be at the show. If not, Mark Twain will appear in his place, and he's far better looking than Michael anyway. If you love absurd humor, Kupperman may be the best there is at taking that style and giving it visual life. I rarely make guarantees, but I will here: Open to a random page of Thrizzle, and you'll start laughing if you have anything remotely resembling a sense of humor. Trust me on this one.
  • L. Nichols, whose Flocks #1 was my favorite mini-comic last year, will also be at the show. Her series about dealing with being queer in an environment where it's considered sinful is extremely powerful, illustrated by portraying herself as a rag doll and often using words themselves as a visual device. I know folks may be auto-biographical comic-ed out, but this one is worth it.
  • Ed Piskor just released a new book that starts an extensive history of hip hop and it was so popular at SPX, the comic sold out within a few hours on the first day (as I predicted!). Not sure if Ed will have copies at the show or not, but if you like the genre of music, you simply must get this book. I was extremely impressed with his detailed work, which is incredibly well-researched and has the drawings to match. Piskor also has a few other comics, so if hip hop's not your thing, there's likely to be something that is.
  • Rafer Roberts brings his psychological horror opus Plastic Farm to Philadelphia, along with some other side work, prints, and original art. I've written quite a bit about Rafer over the years, so I'll keep it short this time: If you like comics that hide as much as they reveal and line work that's incredibly detailed, you'll like Rafer Roberts and should look him up at Locust Moon.
  • Jarod Rosello does great work in the mini-comics field, using his angular style to create dramatic visuals that catch your eye while telling a story that can range from silly to serious. He should have his collection of mini-comics at the show, as well as the next installment of his new series about a well-dressed bear who has found himself in a world of rather unfriendly humans.
  • Bill Roundy is your man if you need to know the best bars in Brooklyn, and I love the alliteration telling you that brings to Blogger. If you don't plan to drink in one of the five boroughs, he's also got several mini-comics about gay characters and sometimes even his auto-biographical comics, which have cute characters, soppy love stories, and even classic horror monsters.
  • Tom Scioli should definitely be located next to the Jack Kirby Museum folks, if there's any justice in the world. The best neo-Kirby artist working in comics today, Scioli has a ton of projects to his name at this point, from his breakout with the Myth of 8-Opus to Godland to his webcomic work. If you worship the King of Comics, you need to find Scioli and add him to your favorite artists list.
  • Chrissy Zullo's artwork is absolutely gorgeous. She's done work for most of the major publishers and her ability to bring attention to a central subject while creating a background that is just as interesting puts her among the elite cover artists working in the same style, such as James Jean. If you love art, you'll love Zullo. 
In addition, there will also be panels, ranging from a spotlight on Meathaus to Jack Kirby to how childhood experiences lead to comics creation. It's nice to see the show adding programming and expanding to be a more rounded experience for attendees. They also promise amazing food, too, and trust me--Phlly has some really great places to eat.

Locust Moon should be a great time, and if you live in the area and love comics, you should definitely go. I hope to actually make it this year!