I woke up this morning on 5 hours sleep 45 minutes before my alarm went off, because I was that excited about this year’s Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. Immediately upon waking up, I annoyed my wife by humming “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” incessantly until I got out of bed to go get my books together.
Readers of my blog are well aware of how I am ridiculously obsessive to the point of insanity, manifested by my ability to write a blog that stands alone as a monument to boredom-inducing word slurry (at least according to a forum of tattoo enthusiasts called “checkoutmyink.com”). So, it should come as a surprise to no one that I have been preparing for APE for over a month, creating a database of every comics and art anthology I own so that I can enter a list of names of people who will be appearing at the convention and have the database spit out a list of books in which said convention guests appear. This enables me to maximize my signature gathering with minimal effort (except for the up-front investment). So, I headed off to APE with a few totebags full of books, and my signing list – organized by signing times, of course.
A more complete wrap-up will follow (because fuck knows the world needs one of those, especially a painfully verbose one from me), but here are my thoughts on APE so far:
- Cheers to Fantagraphics for assembling an amazing cast of artists to sign books – they win the prize for best signing roster.
- Jeers to Drawn and Quarterly for not posting a signing schedule prior to the event. How are insanely obsessive collectors supposed to organize their database-generated signing lists according to signing times in advance?
- While chatting with R. Sikoryak while he was graciously signing some anthologies, he mentioned a Drawn and Quarterly anthology that was – GASP – not in my database. Thankfully, APE runs over two days, so I can get this book signed tomorrow. However, he hilariously then told me that I should create a list of all the anthologies I own and then cross-check it against all the artists who would appear at the event. He was kidding. Of course, I showed him my signing list and he laughed, but he also seemed scared.
- Dash Shaw did PAINTINGS on the cover of his new book. I contemplated buying ten copies and putting them in some kind of enormous box frame, but the urge passed. Still, watching him paint (like, with actual paint brushes) (and apply glitter glue) was the highlight of the day for me.
- I just realized that “Hash Wads” is an anagram of Dash Shaw’s name.
- Watching Anders Nilsen draw sketches is like watching the ocean from the beach. I will upload pictures of some of the drawings he did in the books I foisted on him (there were over ten – yes, I am a nightmare), but those familiar with his art will know what I’m talking about. Adding little, tiny lines here and there over and over and over and over until a barren, beautiful scene materializes on the page… it’s hypnotic to watch.
- Best find of the day – A limited edition (40 copies) Matt Furie book, hand sewn by Aiyana Udesen. It is printed entirely using an Epson photo printer, so the quality is outstanding, and of course, the art is phenomenal. I think I like his work so much because he packs an unbelievable amount of detail into each character that he draws, making his art technically mesmerizing. However, at the same time, it usually just makes me laugh, or at least smile. Plus, next to his signature on the rear flyleaf, there is a picture of Pepe from Boy’s Club.
- Speaking of Boy’s Club, the new issue (Boy’s Club 3 )has been out for a few weeks, and I have tried really hard to buy this book. First, I checked out Giant Robot, but they hadn’t received it yet. Then, I tried at Comic Relief (twice), but the were out of it both times. So today, I finally bought a copy, and then I left it on a table somewhere while I was getting a different book signed. I guess I’ll have to try a 5th time to own this damn book.
- Lots of art this year – even more than last year. The Concourse exhibit hall has a main section in the center, and then a raised section on either side. One of the side sections is mostly art, while the other one is mostly self-published comics. I kind of want to put a sign up at the front with an arrow pointing toward the comics that says “NERDS” and one pointing toward the art that says “HIPSTERS”.
- This APE had a lot to live up to after last year’s. With Buenaventura releasing Kramers Ergot 7 and featuring an epic signing panel (Chris Ware, Jaime Hernandez, Matt Groening, Dan Clowes, etc.), plus the release of Acme Novelty Library 19 and Chris Ware’s pretty rare presence at a convention in the first place, I was prepared for this one not to be as good. But, in the absence of things like waiting in line for an hour to get Jimmy Corrigan signed, and without the logistical complication of carrying around a 16″ x 21″ book for two full days, I had time to check out some other stuff and to pick up some books from authors I hadn’t heard of before (like Andrice Arp, who was signing issues of Mome, or Emilie Ostergren, who was signing her new book at Buenaventura’s table). Plus, other highlights listed above of the Shaw or Nilsen variety, as well as D&Q’s release of the new Marc Bell book really came together to make this an epic first day of APE.
- Finally, two comics that I can’t say enough good things about. Both are from Buenaventura: Eric Haven’s “The Aviatrix # 1” and Lisa Hanawalt’s “I Want You #1”. I’ve read both of them twice since I got home, and they kick ass. Eric Haven puts himself in every story a la any run-of-the-mill autobiographical comic, but his stores are far from autobiography (or if they are, Eric Haven is the most interesting guy on the planet)… and the fantasy scenarios are both visually stunning and inventive. And also hilarious. As for Lisa Hanawalt’s book, I don’t really know what to say – I have a feeling I will read it 100 more times and still laugh at things like “I Endorse He-Horse” or sex bugs or “hat that is floppy and then also has a shoe” or “the epoxy dispenser.” Also, the book is beautifully illustrated in what comics historians will surely term “an elegant mash-up of the DIY comics sensibility and a fine-art aesthetic.”
Okay, that about covers my first day impressions. Maybe I won’t write I wrap up of the show in general, because this was supposed to be a few bullet points and now it’s 1200 words. Anyway, I’ll post pictures soon.
(Also, if this blog ends up getting linked somewhere and you stumbled upon it, please cut me some goddamned slack (unlike those tattoo people) and keep in mind that I don’t consider myself a journalist or an authority or important or even particularly intelligent, and that this blog is mostly just an outlet for my obsessive ruminations about book collecting.)