Photos from the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival: Small + Indie Press 2023

The Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival (A2CAF): Small + Indie Press 2023 took place on Saturday, October 7, 2023, at the Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan. Jaime Hernandez, Jillian Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell were the headline guests for Author Spotlight talks with NPR graphic novel correspondent Etelka Lehoczky and Michigan State University professor and comics scholar Julian Chambliss - and after the talks, signings! There were two other afternoon panels: "Level Up Your Audience: Working with Small Publishers" with Alex Hoffman, Aya Krisht, Cris Siqueria and Yhasmin Wilder, moderated by John Porcellino; and the "Queer Comic Creators Panel" with Anne Haddox, Emma Jayne and Nick Stellanova, moderated by Connor Good. Kudos to Sean Watkins of Athenaeum Comic Art, co-organizer with the library for the festival's lineup of special guests and exhibitors. Ann Arbor retailer Vault of Midnight stocked the books of headliner guests and other cartoonists for attendees to purchase. And kudos to the library staff, such as Audrey Huggett, Christopher Becker, Jenny Carlson, Sam Root, Rich Retyi and all the volunteers for being welcoming and helpful hosts. It was great to see a break/lunchroom for guests and exhibitors, stocked with food and drink throughout the day of the festival.

A2CAF also has a kids' comics show, held this year over two days in June, but 2023 marked the inaugural Small + Indie Press offering. The distinctly rustic college town setting of Ann Arbor is really nice to visit, and a welcoming place for indie comics creators and readers. Everything is within walking distance from the library, from hotels and restaurants to Vault of Midnight, where a Saturday night satellite event of comic readings took place after the show. The following morning, Deborah and Sean Watkins of Athenaeum Comic Art hosted a brunch at their home for the guests and exhibitors of the festival, bringing a real a sense of community to the close of the show. I hope A2CAF: Small + Indie Press grows to become a destination festival; I am very happy to have participated in its launch, and I felt it was very well-attended by locals and out-of-town indie comics fans alike.

What follows is a photo record of nearly all of the exhibitors and events at A2CAF: Small + Indie Press 2023. My apologies to Abby Haywood, Mar Julia and Abigail Lee for missing you at your tables.

-Chris Anthony Diaz

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Welcome to the Ann Arbor District Library, where the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival (A2CAF): Small + Indie Press was held on October 7, 2023.
Rosemary Valero-O'Connell art on a sandwich board at the entrance to the show.
Rosemary Valero-O'Connell art for the show's poster and program, on display at the library entrance.
Rosemary Valero-O'Connell poster and program art in the lobby.
The event schedule in the lobby.
Corinne Halbert art on display above the show floor.
Curtis Sullivan of the Ann Arbor comics retailer Vault of Midnight.
Curtis Sullivan of Vault of Midnight.
Comic art collectors Mark Vega and Ben Damstedt, seated for the Jillian Tamaki Author Spotlight.

Journalist Etelka Lehoczky with Jillian Tamaki on stage at Tamaki's Author Spotlight at 11:00 AM.
Cris Siqueira and Brock Gourlie at the table for Milwaukee's Lion's Tooth bookstore and art space.
Cartoonist Aug Ruffin, aka Agoraphobic Alien.
Evan M. Cohen.
T'onna Clemons.
Sophie Yanow chats with a fan.
Sophie Yanow and Jaime Hernandez.
Jaime Hernandez visits Cris Siqueira and Brock Gourlie at the Lion's Tooth table.
Jaime Hernandez with scholar Julian Chambliss prior to Hernandez's Author Spotlight.

Julian Chambliss and Jaime Hernandez at Hernandez's Author Spotlight at 12:15 PM.
The line for the Jillian Tamaki signing at 12:15 PM.
Caroline Cash with the newest issue of her series Pee-Pee Poo-Poo.
Nate McDonough.
The artist Mickiee.
Chris Russ.
Ben Becker and Sean Peacock at their respective tables.
Inside the cartoonist/exhibitor green room and lunch break hall.
Rosemary Valero-O'Connell.

Etelka Lehoczky with Rosemary Valero-O'Connell at the latter's Author Spotlight at 1:30 PM.
The line for the Jaime Hernandez signing at 1:30 PM.
Cris Siqueira, in line for Jaime Hernandez.
Jaime Hernandez, signing.
Comic art collector William Dopp poses with Jaime Hernandez.
Rayne Klar of Small Small Witch.
Mortimer Foster.
Evan Salazar with the new issue of his series Rodeo.
Evan Salazar and Caroline Cash.
Evan Salazar poses with his Cartoon Crossroads Columbus Emerging Talent Award, which he received a week prior.

Original art exhibit for The Stranger, a minicomic by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell.
From the Rosemary Valero-O'Connell signing at 2:45 PM.

Two views of half the exhibition floor from the second floor of the library.
Al Nelson.
Marjorie Gaber.
Artist Stevie Rowe with writer Michelle Perez to their right.
Paterson Hodgson.
John Porcellino.
Aya Krisht of Maamoul Press.
Alex Hoffman of Fieldmouse Press.
Yhasmin Wilder.
The panel "Level Up Your Audience: Working with Small Press Publishers" was held at 2:45 PM. L-R: John Porcellino (Spit and a Half distro), Aya Krisht (Maamoul Press), Cris Siqueira (Lion's Tooth bookstore), Yhasmin Wilder (the Detroit Zine Fest), Alex Hoffman (Fieldmouse Press).
E. Joy Mehr.
Josie Renkwitz.
Jon Iñaki.
Brian Canini.
Kristin Ousley.
Luke Geddes.
Yeon Kyung (Charlotte) Cha.
Connor Good.
Artist Anne Haddox with a friend to their left.
Emma Jayne on the right, with an unidentified companion.
Nick Stellanova.
The "Queer Comic Creators Panel" was held at 4:00 PM. L-R: Connor Good, Emma Jayne, Nick Stellanova, Anne Haddox.
Steve Schaberg.
Jim Schuessler (minding the table of artist Jon Allen, not pictured) and Aaron Cockle.
Britt Monday.
The artist Sunmi.
Anita Fowl.
The Xtreme Corp table, with artist Jared Baker on the far right.
Don Simpson, center, joined by Ann Arbor comics retailer and library professional Norm Harris at his left, and broadcaster and audiobook professional Kelly Rinne at his right.
M.S. Harkness.
Shaheen Beardsley.
Drew B. Hall.
Andy Wieland.
Corinne Halbert with a copy of the Acid Nun Painting Zine.
Jaime Hernandez, Caroline Cash and Corinne Halbert.
Deborah and Sean Watkins of Athenaeum Comic Art, a partner in the show.
Festival staff members Christopher Becker, Audrey Haggett, Jenny Carlson and Sam Root, at the conclusion of the show.
Exiting the library as A2CAF ends.

At dinner with Christopher Becker, Sean Watkins, John Porcellino, Jaime Hernandez and William Dopp.
From the Saturday night post-show reading event at Vault of Midnight. L-R: Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, Caroline Cash, Sean Watkins and M.S. Harkness.
Cris Siquiera (in black, hands outstretched) speaks at the Sunday exhibitors and guest brunch at the home of Deborah and Sean Watkins.
In the garden at Sunday brunch with Cris Siqueira, Caroline Cash, Corinne Halbert and Sophie Yanow.