Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
I owe the folks that put together the 2009 FLUKE Mini-Comic Show an apology. Unfortunately, Saturday was a busy day, loaded with family commitments and I decided I could squeeze in a first-time visit to the show in Athens, Georgia. Here’s the problem, I live about an hour and a half away from Athens, and I had about two hours to spare for FLUKE. Well, I thought I had two hours, but my lovely wife has never been to Athens and wanted to join me. My wife completely supports my love of comics. I would not be covering comics in my free time, were it not for my wife’s encouragement and support. So when she asked me to spend some time in Athens with her without mini-comics being the center of my attention, I suddenly realized I needed to visit FLUKE in under an hour.
I thought–hey, mini-comic creators spread out across the top floor of Tasty World– this can be done in under an hour. I made this estimate after considering the parameters of the show: “Tables and spaces will be provided for mini comic artists and distributors on a first-come, first-serve basis. All attendees are welcome to bring enough work to fill a small (4’x 5′) table space. In the interest of providing display space for as many artists as possible, attendees may not use more than one table. Large displays and booths are not permitted at FLUKE, so please do not bring them. ”
Folks who have attended FLUKE in past years already know I was mistaken with my time and logistics estimate. The minute I walked into the show, even I knew I was way off with my planning. So, I’ll fully admit at the outset of this write-up, I did not get to visit with all of the FLUKE participants, not by a long stretch. So, before getting into who I did talk to, let me make an offer to those who I did not. If you attended or participated in FLUKE, please feel free to mention your mini-comic (or favorite fellow creators and projects that were at FLUKE) in the comments section. With any luck and better planning, I’ll try to stay much longer next year.
When I got in the door, I was struck by how jam-packed the room was with creators. I mean this in a positive sense, there was a variety of talent to choose from, but plenty of space for consumers to tour. After trying to get my bearings for a bit, I struck up my first conversation with a creator–Amy Martin. Martin’s most recent project is The Single Girls. As Martin notes in her bio: “She has been self-publishing comic books since 2004, and in that short span of years has completed eleven books (two of which never saw publication; heartbreaking, no?). Her work deals in large part with women and the ways we treat each other—how we are friends, rivals, cheerleaders, counselors, and contenders. We know what the world has to offer us, now how shall we divide the winnings?”
Next up in my whirlwind tour, I caught up with Michael Jewell of Parsnip Press, as well as Andrew Greenstone of Danger Park. I wish I had photos to run of these two kind creators, but unfortunately my ability to operate a camera phone is limited. In my defense, I’ve only owned a camera phone for three days now, a weak excuse, but it’s all I have. So due to my inexperience, few of the photos I took turned out as well as I had hoped. As a consolation to all parties reading this, I aim to interview these two fellows and a great many of the creators I met at FLUKE in the coming months.
It was also nice to catch up with folks who I have interviewed in the past, such as Owly creator Andy Runton and Joey Weiser, the author of Tales of Unusual Circumstance. Weiser was on-hand to show folks his new mini-comic The Late-Night Gang (“Featuring three stories starring Henry of the Black Lagoon, Victor Vampire, and Andrew, Son of Frankenstein!” according to Weiser’s website).
Two more folks I should mention that I got to speak to briefly were:
— Martyn Cooper, a creator of a many quirky humor mini-comics, one of which was about a pet by the name of Dave
— Henry Eudy, a North Carolina-based creator who did a slight homage to Swamp Thing with the cover to his funny mini-comic, Skim Milk
The attendees that impressed me the most (those of whom I met, of course) were the folks from the Always Comix group, who drove around 13 hours from Pennsylvania just to attend the show. It was not just the distance they traveled, but also their product that impressed me. The concept behind the Absolute Comix series strikes me as a comics version of This American Life. Every issue of the anthology offers up a collection of stories on a certain theme. The most recent issue is on EVIL . I bought the June 2008 edition, which focused on “age eight” stories. Coming up fairly fast is the May 1 deadline for their next theme: “How We Met”. This theme is intended to address “tales of how you met your best friend, worst enemy, partner in crime, your dog, your friends mom, your mailman.”
Again, please feel free to chime in with comments in any way, shape or form, if you attended FLUKE–or hey if you have an opinion about previous FLUKE’s and how this year’s gathering compared. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I will dive into the 80-page 2009 FLUKE anthology.