STAPLE! Independent Media Expo: A Preview

Staplegator 2015
created by Babs Tarr
The illustrious Staple! It’s a office supply, it’s a cartoon dinosaur/monster/thingie, it’s an independent media expo! It’s this coming weekend in glorious Austin, Texas! And, awesomely, it’s now entering its 11th year. That’s a lot of years, man. Having been in Austin for only a year and a half now myself, it’s my second STAPLE, and now that I know the drill, I’m pretty excited.

STAPLE! Independent Media Expo takes place at the Marchesa Theater in North Central Austin on Saturday March 7th and Sunday the 8th, and comes complete with lots of panels, over 150 artists and creators, attendees in costume and certainly many replete with Austin's requisite beards and tattoos. And, of course, in the spirit of hipster-happening Austin, there will be silk-screened-on-the-spot t-shirts, tacos, and a vegan Jewish deli food truck.

This year’s Expo looks to have a great focus on diversity, with a panel called “Hire This Woman,” a panel on People of Color/Queer/Women in Zines, and a panel on Diversity in Gaming. All these panels capitalize on the visibility and conversation about sexism in geek culture that the Gamergate controversy has brought up in the past year. I don't tend to follow the workings of the comics industry and geek culture -- I just huddle over my Lynda Barry books and keep to myself -- so it will be really interesting to hear a little more about the challenges and  successes of women working in the comics industry today.

So -- a quick rundown. A few artists of particular note on the lady front include:

  • The Lumberjane Crew: Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters will talk about their kick-ass summer camp comic from Boom! Studio
  • Kate Leth: Kate or Die! Tumblr goddess, geek culture commentator, and writer for comics including Fraggle Rock, Bravest Warriors, and Adventure Time!
  • Jess Fink: The erotic robots of Chester 5000, science-fiction autobiography in We Can Fix It, and contributions to the Smut Peddler anthology pique my interest.
  • Rachel Dukes: Cats! Mixtapes! What else do you need, really?
  • Janelle Asselin: Hire This Woman columnist at Comics Alliance and moderator of panel by that same name at Staple.
One of the most appealing things about Staple is that it’s a chance for local, regional, and national folks to mix, and as such there’s a lot of local flavor to learn about
  • The Hillbilly Philosopher: This cartoon by Justin Buschardt and Jonathan Hubbell will be screened on Sunday, and follows the adventures of small-town weirdos Floyd and Butts facing existential crises in a humorous fashion.
  • Robert Wilson IV: Aw, all right, he’s out of Dallas. But he’s done Knuckleheads, Like A Virus, and some seriously cool poster art, plus the latest issue of Bitch Planet.
  • Koumori Comics: Local comic creators group, meets at Cherrywood Coffee House -- curious if I’d be worthy of their favor.
  • Rocksalt Magazine: Quarterly comics anthology straight out of Austin -- the intrigue of why I didn’t know about this before continues.
  • Crayonblood Studio: Jamie Hernandez, Austin designer and illustrator, Blue Genie Art Bazaar poster designer -- hipster-style Austin art in action.
  • Monica L. Knighton: print-maker and jewelry of fairy-tale worthy creatures. I covet all of her creations.
  • 7000 BC: A bit farther afield, but independent comics from New Mexico. Southwesterners, unite! (Does Texas count?)
Other folks  I’m particularly interested in returning to after seeing them last year (and since they’re Panel Patter favorites!)
Overall, Staple promises to be a good, hectic time, with some well-known faces and unexpected treats. Plus it’s a great atmosphere to encourage curators, collectors, and creators to mingle - everyone learning about one another’s efforts, getting inspired, acquiring zines and minicomics, posters, stickers, and probably a pithy button or two, and finding new artists to follow-- all in all, STAPLE has a DIY atmosphere without feeling precious, and is a place to meet great cartoonists without feeling overwhelmed by their celebrity status. I’m sure that my preview doesn’t do justice to the strange wonders I’ll find -- as such, I’m eager to find my next new favorite, and will report back in a timely fashion. Over and out.