Our columnist and longtime reviewer Rob Clough decided to start his own small-press comics festival in his home town last year. Today he tells us what he learned from the experience:
We wanted to create a show that would interest us. I've attended shows like SPX and MOCCA for years, and have found them to be inspiring in a number of ways. SPX in particular inspired my interest in small-press works and minicomics and indirectly led to my becoming a critic. SPX has a strong programming track and that was something I knew that I wanted to emulate. However, what I didn't want was another "flea market" style show that forced artists to stay chained to their tables for the duration of the show and focused on commerce above all else. I was tabbed to pick most of the guests for the show. I chose to invite participants who I thought would be a good fit for our aesthetics and goals instead of making it an open call like other cons. I also wanted to emphasize local artists as much as possible. Here's a list of things of the things we wanted in a show and how we made them happen:
1. An interesting, interactive space. I didn't want a show in a hotel or convention center space. I wanted a funkier, more intimate and creative space. That's where Bill was so incredibly generous as to donate the use of his amazing screenprinting studio near downtown Durham. During the opening night of the show, a screenprinter was actually working there and happily chatted with the public about what he was doing, including an interesting hand-crank print scroll. Supergraphic is one of many reclaimed spaces in Durham; it used to be a machinery shop years ago.
2. A gallery show. Gallery shows at large events like SPX are untenable for any number of reasons, but this was a priority for me for DICE. [...]
—Commentary. Michael Dooley has a brief profile/recap of the Mike Diana censorship case. If you're not familiar with it, you should be. Qiana Whitted wonders what comics should be considered African=American. Adam Roberts considers Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen.
—Johanna Draper-Carlson writes a post wondering why more isn't being made of the re-release of Miracleman. Others have been asking the same thing. I sympathize in that it's strong work that hasn't been officially available for a long time, but I'm not sure why anyone is spending time worrying about this; it sure feels like that book's gotten a lot of attention to me. A worthy comic being released and not getting an across-the-board freak-out ecstatic response seems a little dog bites man.
—MariNaomi writes a personal essay on apologies and forgiveness touching on her own story of sexual harassment at a comics convention and the Shia LaBeouf plagiarism incident(s).
—Publishing. Phil Foglio of the long-running self-published Girl Genius series has posted a lengthy complaint about his treatment by the book publisher Tor, which he claims mishandled his work and is ignoring communication. A Tor editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, responds and attempts to clarify some of the situation here.
—Paul Karasik's still in Angoulême.
—A group of cartoonists, including Joe Sacco, Ben Katchor, and Sue Coe, have signed an open letter asking for the Angoulême festival to drop SodaStream's sponsorship of the show.