This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of tabling at SpringCon for The Loft Literary Center (where I work as marketing coordinator). SpringCon is one of two annual comic book expos that the Midwest Comic Book Association (the other MCBA) plans and holds at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Each year, more than a thousand comics fans flock to the State Fairgrounds to meet artists, look for rare issues, and sell their own art. This coming FallCon—the other yearly comic celebration (a.k.a. the One Day Wonder)—will mark the 25th anniversary of these events. Full of regional comic book dealers, artists, organizations, novelties, guest creator panels, and props, SpringCon is two full days of book hunting and people watching.
I had so much fun this weekend that I thought for this week’s column I might share some of the comics by local and regional artists that I found at SpringCon.
Raised on Ritalin: A Medicated Memoir, Chapter One, by Tyler Page
While the booklet I bought is only the first chapter of a larger and complete-but-yet-to-be-published story, it was worth the money. Page’s illustrations are simple and to the point, focusing on a cartoon version of him explaining a little about his hyperactive youth and the struggles he faces as an adult with ADD. Featuring pages of medical records from his childhood when he was first diagnosed with the disorder (which makes for a lot of squinted reading, but is well worth it if you’re the nosey sort), Raised on Ritalin, Chapter One, concludes with Page wondering what exactly ADD is, and if it’s even a real thing. I see now that the first three chapters are online, but there’s nothing like holding the printed work in hand.
The Blue Flame by Charles Denton, Joe Lipscomb, and illustrated by Blaine Garrett
Denton, Lipscomb, and Garrett are all a part of Dim Media, a multimedia arts collaborative located in St. Paul. Along with their fourth member, Ivy Sendrijas, the group works mainly in painted mediums, and publishes a series of zines and children’s books. While I can’t find any explanation about Blue Flame on their website, I can only assume they have chosen to publish a lightly illustrated horror story because they are a free gang of burgeoning artists who do whatever they want because they like to experiment, which is pretty excellent. Blue Flame is the story of two men named Frank and Steve, both of whom have a mysterious history that has led them to meet up in a town populated entirely of Kausians—a race built of generations of albinos all born of a sickness that has something to do with something under the earth called the Pit. At the bidding of a monster named Shuffle the two men go off in search of the Blue Flame, the key to eternal life. Although they don’t get there in this book (what they does end up happening to them is pretty gruesome), the authors assure readers that there will be more books, more Blue Flames, and many more terrors.
How Will I Die by Kevin & Megan Bandt
The How Will I Die issue I picked up is the first in a new series by Mr. & Mrs. Bandt, which on the surface serves as a typical zombie apocalypse tale, but delves into deeper territory with its similarities to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The story starts with a couple of teen boys breaking into an abandoned building and making a discovery that will change mankind (into zombies), and ends after having followed a handful of healthy characters into the Milwaukee Stadium, which will serve as the safe zone. “The safe zone is something alluded to in many zombie movies, “ Mr. Breton writes at the end of the issue, “but rarely is it safe and almost always deserted or overtaken by the zombies. HWID follows the safe zone from beginning to its unavoidable end.” A (hopefully) interesting take on a near hackneyed topic. Oh, and it also ends with some parallels to the happenings on Roanoke Island in the late 1500s.
Gross, Grandpa! by Josh Filer
While the art is some of the coolest and best I’ve ever seen in a comic book bought at a local comics expo, Gross, Grandpa! doesn’t make any sense and is totally disgusting. The comic makes so little sense and is so gross (I guess the title warned me) that I can’t even talk about it here. Was it worth the money and time? I can’t tell. Probably. It looks really, really fantastic, even the gratuitous drawings of sexual organs and vomit.
Little Heart: A Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality
In what was probably my favorite purchase of the day—not only because it’s adorable but also because it supports a cause that I believe in—I was delighted and surprised to pick up an anthology dedicated to love equality and find a lot of work by people who I know and respect contained therein. Barbara Schulz, Tuesday Bassen, Hedwig Vinson, and Zak Sally (to name only a few) have come together with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign under the umbrella of 2D Cloud and [MN] Love to present an array of mini comics all dedicated to the support of marriage equality. Some of my favorites include works by Ed Choy and Sam Sharpe, Joseph Remnant, Jeremy Sorese, and Hannah Blumenreich, although to call out any of them over the others seems kind of silly because they are all fantastic.