by Dre Grigoropol
This past Sunday marked the first Locust Moon Comics Fest, a rookie comics show in West Philadelphia organized by the two owners of Locust Moon Comics. This show filled the hole left behind by Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con when organizer Pat Aulisio decided to focus more strongly on creating comics. It was held at the Rotunda, the same venue as the past two PACCs, and featured a few of the same exhibitors. But this show had a different vibe than PACC, offering more of a mix between mainstream and indie comics, and displaying a wide range of artistic styles. Some of the featured guests included Farel Dalrymple, J.G. Jones, Jim Rugg, Jasen Lexx, Terry LaBan, Box Brown, Ben Marra, Ed Piskor, Jeffro Kilpatrick, Ad House Books, Meathaus Enterprises, Secret Acres, and Koyama Press.
Refreshments were provided by Philly’s very own Little Baby’s Ice Cream, an independent ice cream business known for their unusual flavors and strange promotional videos. The show ran from 10 am until 7 pm. The busiest time for the show was from noon to 4pm.
Some notable small press debuts included Copra #2 by Michel Fiffe (self-published), The Black Well by Jamie Tanner (self-published), Gray is Not a Color by Sally Madden (Retrofit), Bottom Feeders by Jasen Lex (self-published), Sock by Box Brown (self-published), Dirty Diamonds #3, an anthology of women’s work edited by Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman (self-published), and the Phinkwell Collective, who each debuted their own books (self-published).
The unofficial award for most interesting display went to Pete Stathis and Phil Kahn. They had a “Ye Olde Item Shop” theme going on. They kept creating more magic items out of paper inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. Stathis had some feedback to share about this experience. “Fantastic show,” he said. “There was a real variety of art and genres there, and I actually sold much better at the Locust Moon Fest than at a larger show like a Wizard World, for example. A good show with a friendly atmosphere and opportunities to meet gobs and gobs of talented creators.”
There were many great opportunities to meet fantastic talent in the comics industry, such as Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. “This was a very positive first year event for the Locust Moon crew,” Brownstein said. “They attracted a good mix of local and regional creators, had some solid debuts. I was pleased to see a mix of talent that came from as far south as Richmond, as well as New York and Pittsburgh out in force alongside the local scene. I liked the location in the college district, and think they did a good job attracting first year attendance. Overall, this was a good opening con that presents a solid foundation for future growth.”
Exhibitor Kelly Phillips of the Dirty Diamonds Anthology shared her point of view: “The fest was a little slow at spots, but there were a ton of really interesting people exhibiting and it was great to get a chance to talk with them. The only thing that was worse than being sick through the whole fest was having to sit across from the incredibly weird and out of place puppet show all day…”
“I had a good time,” said Box Brown of Retrofit comics. “I actually did pretty decent business. It got slow at times, but there was a good crowd at some points.” Mike Sgier, another West Philly indie cartoonist, said he “had a really good time at the Locust Moon festival. The vibe was relaxed and fun, and the people who came out for the show seemed to have a good time. I think it’s a strong start for the show, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they build upon it for future shows. There’s so much talent in Philly and the region, and I think we need shows like this to highlight independent creators.”
However, the energy of the festival did not flow into a less visible section of the exhibitor space which was near the men’s bathroom. The exhibitors in this corridor were isolated from much of the foot traffic of the main show floor like a bonus level of a video game where you need to beat the game and get the password to enter.
Next year the show will be held in October 2013; Locust Moon plans on expanding by using another exhibiting space in the Rotunda in addition to the space they used this year. The local scene will be looking forward to it.
[Dre Grigoropol is a writer and illustrator. Her website is www.Dretime.org and her twitter handle is dretimecomics]