Saturday, October 16, 2010

APE 2010

I had a really good time at APE this year in San Francisco, and actually spent some money this time. I thought I had written off cons for good, vowing to stay away unless I'm there to make money and promote my own work. But something drew me back to APE.

The event was considerably larger, with a lot more professional-level work on display. And it was a friendly, diverse crowd, with a broad range of genres and styles represented. Although, I found myself wanting to see more African and African-American artists, or at least more artists who draw and paint black characters. APE is still a very white and Asian event, which makes me appreciate ECBACC and OnyxCon even more. Nonetheless, I did manage to find several inspiring works to add to my collection, including prints and comics. One in particular was by Corey Bass (above). ( He has his own world and mythos in the works, and has a real talent for nuanced and poetic storytelling. His drawing and painting skills are still developing, but I'm already looking forward to what he has on the table next year.

This was also the first time that I actually used the map in the program to bookmark tables with works I wanted to buy. The strategy worked well, although I lost track of a few tables because I started off marking the wrong wing of the Concourse. I also decided to travel light, and cut way down on the cards and leave-behinds. Illustrator Maggie Cheung (above) had a few really nicely drawn and painted prints. I picked up her "Monday" bear, and a vibrant sketch of a building in Hong Kong.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Manomivibul (below) ( His surreal ocean-themed illustrations remind me of Lovecraft's Dagon. I especially love how Manomivibul uses light and shadow, and a monochromatic color palette.

It's inspiring to see so many independent creators willing to invest time and energy into their dreams and passions. The best work came from artists who clearly had a phenomenal work ethic and a solid grounding in the fundamentals. But I still wonder what exactly leads one to a sense of belonging at these kinds of events. Some groups look like they're at a family reunion. It must be a matter of showing up regularly at many events and developing a following. Collaboration also seems to be a huge factor both in staying motivated, and having a sizable body of work to show.

Another master of grayscale is Grim Wilkins (below). His graphic novel "Love Story in the Woods" does a lot with few words, and some wonderfully dynamic compositions and marks. (

Another to answer the "call" to do an independent comic was actually youth social worker by day. He shared with me that his semi-autobiographical strip was an important outlet. SJSU alum, Justin Orr also had a couple of great sketchbooks for sale. As did Argentinian concept artist Nicolas Villarreal. His book has an inspiring mix of environments and character concepts.

I wish I had the time to list and describe it all, but let's just say that APE 2010 was by far the most memorable comic book convention for me in a very long time. I'm looking forward to next year's.