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.