This weekend, the Alternative Press Expo 2009, a.k.a. "APE" rolls into San Francisco's Concourse Exhibition Center, offering fans a full weekend of artistic and innovative comics and creators. While you won't find cosplay, celebrities or movie / anime screenings at this event, several publishers and creators will be on hand to showcase manga's independent spirit.
Indie publishers Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf, Fanfare - Ponent Mon and Last Gasp will be there, along with manga / book publishers Vertical and VIZ Media and No Starch Press, the publisher of numerous educational manga guides to science and math. VIZ Media will also be hosting a panel on Saturday afternoon from 6:00 - 6:45 pm to showcase their VIZ Signature and SIGIKKI graphic novels.
Besides appearances by special guests Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL), Lark Pien (Long Tailed Kitty) and Dash Shaw (Bottomless Bellybutton), there'll be a huge hall filled with comics publishers, creators, magazine and zine publishers, and many booths selling books, magazines, one-of-a-kind hand-crafted items, limited edition mini-comics, original artwork, toys and lots more. Here's my short list of tables worth checking out.
COMICS PUBLISHERS br>
Buenaventura Press - Tables 305, 306, 307, 308, 309
Check out the latest edition of their always fascinating (and sometimes pricey) anthology Kramer's Ergot, as well as limited edition prints and mini-comics.
Drawn and Quarterly - Tables 401, 402, 403 and 404
Visit D&Q for award-winning manga by Yoshihiro Tatsumi including A Drifting Life, and perhaps early copies of Red Snow, a collection of magical and memorable short stories about rural Japan by Susumu Katsumata.
Fanfare/ Ponent Mon - Table 232
Get your hands on some of the "best graphic novels you can never find," including new releases like A Distant Neighborhood Volume 1 & Volume 2, Years of the Elephant and Summit of the Gods Volume 1.
Last Gasp - Table 301
San Francisco-based Last Gasp will have a lot of tempting tomes for sale, but manga fans will be especially interested in the first volume of Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu by Junko Mizuno, the new hardcover edition of Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms and perhaps some early releases of the final volumes of Barefoot Gen.
Top Shelf Productions - Tables 320, 321, 322
Top Shelf announced their AX alternative manga anthology last year at APE -- will they have a preview of this December 2009 release to show off this year? We'll see, right?
Viz Media - Tables 366, 367 br>
Check out some of the latest and greatest offerings from VIZ Media's VIZ Signature imprint, including lots of cool comics from IKKI magazine and award-winning titles like Pluto, Vagabond and much more.
MAGAZINES, BOOKSELLERS & MERCHANTS OF COOL STUFF
Who needs mainstream newsstand magazines? Pick up the latest issue of Electric Ant Zine for a mega-sized article about Japan's Takarazuka theater troupe, get a sugar high off the collectible toy goodness in the pages of High Fructose or see what's new n' cool in Asian pop culture with Giant Robot.
Bring lots of cash so you can pick up some of those awesome artbooks and imported graphic novels at Stuart Ng Books, cute stationery from Little Otsu or get your daily dose of kaiju (Japanese monster) madness at Super 7.
- Attaboy/ Hi-Fructose - Tables 350 351
- Drunken Master - Lucky Nakazawa - Table 135
- Electric Ant Zine (Bang Gang) - Table 418
- Giant Robot - Tables 352, 353
- Last Gasp - Table 301
- Little Otsu - Table 415
- Stuart Ng Books - Table 448
- Super 7 - Table 354
ARTISTS AND COMICS CREATORS
One of the best things about APE is being able to meet and greet comics creators in a casual and fun setting. There's a whole lot of talent on display at APE, but here are a few of my favorite folks:
- Camilla D'Errico -Tables 434, 435
- Couscous Collective - Table 347
- Michael Daley and Pascal Campion - Table 529
- Flower Frankenstein - Table 419
- Shaenon Garrity/ Andrew Farago/ Jason Thompson - Table 365
- Martin Hsu - Table 248
- Keith Knight -Table 337
- Karen Luk and Rae Wood -Table 444
- Lunasea Studios - Table 429
- Dylan Meconis and Kate Beaton - Table 440
- Sho Murase - Table 443
- Nemu Nemu - Table 253
- Lark Pien - Table 311
- Piximix - Table 277
- Nate Powell - Table 220
- Jeff Smith - Table 330
- Steam Crow / Monster Commute - Table 427
SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALL RIGHT FOR PARTIES
After the hall closes on Saturday, comics fans and creators alike will flock to the various APE parties. Here are two worth visiting:
- Monsters and Mayhem APE Party at the Cartoon Art Museum, 8:00 - 11:00 pm at 655 Mission Street, near 3rd St. br>
Check out their Monsters of Webcomics exhibit and mingle with some of the artists whose work is on display. This party is a benefit for the Cartoon Art Museum, so admission will be charged on a sliding scale -- from $5 - $20.
- APE Aftermath at Isotope Comics Lounge - 8:00 pm - 2:00 am at 326 Fell Street (near Gough) in Hayes Valley br>
Come for the Top Shelf happy hour from 8 - 9 pm, stay for the awarding of the 7th annual Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, then party with the cool kids until 2 am to the beats of DJ Bearzbub.
Alternative Press Expo 2009 will be held on Saturday, October 17 from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm and Sunday, October 18, from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm at the Concourse Exhibition Center at 620 7th Street in San Francisco. See a map and get directions. Admission is $10 for a single day, or $15 for a two day pass. Attendees who present their 2009 San Diego Comic-Con badge will get free admission. Comics retailers can also get in free by presenting a business card.
I'll be at APE on both days, so if you see me, don't be shy -- say hi!
Image credits: Courtesy of Comic-Con International, © Jiro Taniguchi, © 2004 Mohiro KITOH / Shogakukan, © Hellen Jo, © Sho Murase