Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con & minicomic reviews

I thought Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con was pretty great even if it was pretty silly that I went.

This is not something I’m blaming on PACC itself at all. While Philadelphia is only (supposedly) three hours away, we went without much preparation and most things seemed to be against us (car worries, weather, traffic). It took us much longer to get there than we thought it was going to and we didn’t really plan too much about what else to do while we were there. (And most of the people I was there to see? Yeah, I’ll be seeing them again next week at Baltimore Comic Con. So yes, silly.)

But I’m glad I went. PACC is a wonderfully run small show and I was impressed with the level and diversity of talent that was packed into such a small space. Part of me would love to see it grow — obviously, there is a good deal of interest in comics in the Philadelphia area — but the other part of me wants it to stay exactly as it is. We need small press shows like this — where almost anyone with access to a photocopier and a stapler is welcome. Shows like this remind me of what a vital, living medium comics is. And that’s pretty great.

Almost without meaning to, I only bought minicomics made by women. Maybe that speaks to my own personal tastes more than anything else, but I also think it says that there were plenty of awesome female creators exhibiting there. It was a small space, sure, but even within that small space, I got to pick and choose.

So comics!

The Fox and the GrapesCarey Pietsch
An adorable and liberal retelling of the Aesop fable, this is fun and playful. Yes, I love talking animals, but I love the humor that Pietsch brings to this tale. Her art is cartoony and cute, but it’s elevated by her intuitive sense of movement and progression. I loved this.

Garakuta (aka Happy Sappy Fun Time #2) – Erina Davidson
The most I could find out about Davidson is that she is/was a student at Rhode Island School of Design. And part of me is like “Of course she is.” I mean no disrespect there, though — this is fun. There is a sort of freedom to the energy of it, and it’s definitely very open. Parts of it are vulgar, but it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to be shocking. Davidson has a good sense of design — her images are bold and youthful. I think she may have some growing to do in terms of subject matter, but I’m more than happy to see where she goes next.

How to Be Lolita – Jojo
The website listed in the back of this comic ( just goes to an expired domain/squatter page, so I don’t have any more info on Jojo. That makes me sad since this is cute and fun. She can certainly draw the details of fashion and while I think there’s a slight mocking tone (because Lolita fashion is ridiculous), there’s also a genuine appreciation for it.

Penny-FarthingMandy Dunn
This is a neat wordless comic, mostly about a penny-farthing bicycle and a hot air balloon. But really, what it’s “about” is irrelevant — it’s about the progression of the images and the contrast of the colors (orange and blue). I always love discovering comics like this — ones that do something unexpected and a bit different.

Virtual DateJen Tong
Tong’s tale of meeting people online is beautiful, heartfelt and surreal. The tumbling progression of the layouts of her pages are amazing and the sensitivity she shows her characters is impressive in the short amount of time we get to know them. She’s already a star in my mind — and she deserves to be in yours.

Holly Holly Hobby Hobby #2Anni Altshuler and Leah Mackin
This falls into the weird area between “zine” and “comic.” It has many of the qualities of both — but mostly, it’s composed of abstract images that aren’t exactly sequential. I love the experimental nature of this, though — mini minicomics are inserted into the pages — and there’s a definite admirable artistry to it.

No Talent Hack! The Mini-ComicCyn Why
I go to shows like PACC for creators like Cyn Why. Granted, I usually don’t know when I’m going that I’m going for creators like her, but they make it worth it. She had such a delightful enthusiasm for comics that is was impossible not to be charmed — not to mention she was drawing Jean-Luc Picard in glitter pens in every comic purchased (complete with a cute come-on — at the point I bought mine, she said she had to start recycling them, but I got “You’ll be Number One in my heart”). But I’m supposed to talk about her comics, right? The first half of this is about the hazards of karaoke, and range from bad song choices with too-long guitar solos to the trouble of forgetting verses to songs. The second half is her and her husband planning how awesome they’ll be when they hit their 30th anniversary (maybe robots but no plasma cannons). Why’s art has an adorable manga-inspired quality to it that’s open and delightful. After reading this and meeting her, I absolutely want to get more of her stuff.

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