This weekend, in New York, there's a comics festival going on called MOCCA. But here in Olympia, there was the Olympia Comics Festival, largely attended by locals. I imagine that, in New York, thes belle of the ball was probably the publisher I already talk too much about, Picturebox, with their debuting comics by Michel Gondry, and having him sign it alongside his son selling a minicomic. This was ordered from the internet.
In Olympia, I was blown away by the Sparkplug table, manned by Elijah Brubaker, who's drawing a comics biography of Wilhelm Reich. Sparkplug isn't really the best publisher- a lot of their stuff seems a little dull to me. But at their table they were selling all sorts of stuff, repping for other people- There were books on hand from Bodega Distribution, and minicomics by Tom Kaczynski and Matt Furie, and a lot of gorgeous stuff from New York's Partyka collective. They also had Anke Feuchtenberger books from the Belgian publisher Bries that I saw too late. (I should've bought a copy of W The Whore instead of Service Industry and issue 4 of Reich.) Anke is a German woman whose stuff looks like a way better Julie Doucet, filled with all this cryptic imagery. The Partyka stuff was what was most impressive to me, looking around the table. Lots of hand-sewn bindings, silkscreened covers and interiors, etc. It all looked amazing, and word from the internet is that the comics are pretty good too. I picked up a book called See Saw by Sara Edward-Corbett, which had totally lavish handmade packaging to collect strips from the New York Press about four elementary school kids. A few years ago, I talked about Bill Watterson's observation that, after so many years of comics about children, he thought a strip drawn by a woman, about a little girl, could be great. I was talking about how that seemed likely to actually exist at some point in the future, with there seeming to be more women reading and making comics. (I guess Lynda Barry could be said to be doing what Watterson was talking about, actually.) See Saw felt like another variation on that idea, filtered through this lens of handcraft that seemed to appeal to a lot of the women at the show I talked to. I walked away from the show even more psyched about comics, their weird potential, how they're currently exploding into a million different directions, because this seemed like the first time I've really been confronted with a large amount of beautiful handmade things, with an appeal separate from that of a mass-printed book. It probably would've been better if the cartoonists who'd actually done stuff like that had been present, for a greater feeling of the intimacy of exchange, but maybe it also would've been sadder, because it didn't seem like there was a lot of money changing hands. (Note: Most people doing comics based out of Olympia are doing really dull work, both in terms of presentation and subject matter.)