Among the small press show circuit, for a while the three key shows were SPX, MoCCA and APE.
APE or the Alternative Press Expo, was held in San Jose and was the oldest of them all, launched by Slave Labor Graphics in 1994. The show was acquired by Comic-Con International the next year and run in San Francisco for a while, but then founder Dan Vado got it back in 2014 and moved it back to San Jose. It was held this year the same weekend as Baltimore Comic Con, and several other shows but got much less press.
San Jose is, like all of the Bay area, a hard place to put on a comics show because of high rents – the Concourse in SF where it used to be held, has been torn down – but sad to say, the show seems to have struggled quite a bit as this long thread of tweets shows. You can follow along with all the obituaries in the link, but the first one sets the tone.
Hey y'all let's talk about APE: funeral edition.
— This is Hannibal (@thisishannako) September 25, 2017
The rest is just sad piling on, but they have a point. APE 2017 had Jhonen Vasquez and Derf as guests, among others, but the show has failed to make much of an impact on the comics arts fest circuit. Even when in SF it wsn’t known as a big money maker of a show, and I haven’t even been to it since all the crazy dotcom money took over everything in SF, an audience that doesn’t seem too hep for comics.
I haven’t investigated this story more than this tweet thread. I know Dan Vado is a comics lifer and the show is near and dear to his heart. There’s a strong comics community left in Northern California so never say never. I’m guessing the show could still make a comback with the proper attention.
I hope it does. APE is a trailblazing show in a great market for comics.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.