toucan_ape2014_programbookcover_0There’s been a bunch of scuttlebutt going on around APE, the Alternative Press Expo now unfolding in San Francisco, and it is being announced today that CCI, which runs APE, the San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon is returning ownership of the show to founder Dan Vado starting next year. Vado founded the show in his home base of San Jose in 1994 as part of the then-burgeoning scene of indie comics events that included the Small Press Expo in Bethesda and SPACE in Columbus. CCI took it over in 1995, eventually moving it to San Francisco.  Vado has been mostly uninvolved with the show in recent years, while expanding SLG, his comics company, to a storefront and event space. And of course, CAFs have blown up everywhere, with TCAF, SPX, MoCCA, CAB, MeCAF, Thought Bubble, Short Run and many more showcasing the indie comics side of today’s comics world.

ape2013_guest_vadoThe Beat had a chance to speak briefly with Vado about taking the show back. He plans to move the event out of San Francisco and back to San Jose, and move it away from a date that conflicts with New York Comic Con. While he doesn’t have a venue secured yet, “My first choice is to work something out with the MLK Library here and run it in the same style as TCAF,” he told The Beat. “Mainly, free admission, lower table costs, trying to keep it as open as possible for new people.” Unlike TCAF, he doesn’t expect to run it on the curated model. However, like TCAF and MoCCA, he sees APE as expanding to a festival-like event with several venues and possibly a music festival attached.

Vado is hoping to get sponsorships from larger corporations involved, as well.

While Vado has often spoken fondly of APE in the past, taking on running a small press comics show in the middle of a boom seems like a big task. So why? “I kind of feel like I have some unfinished business with it,” he said. “APE was the first of its kind. I think it is a great show, and I’m happy to be able to continue it.

“Hopefully APE will turn into something even cooler than what it is,” he concluded.

While as we’ve reported here many times in the past, SF is the one city that doesn’t seem very interested in comics culture—despite or maybe because of being home to the dot-com culture that seems to love comics culture—it’s also home to the companies that have helped comics grow digitally such as Google and Apple. So there seems to be real potential to create a regional CAF with that taps into the unique culture of the area.

A panel is being held right now announcing the switchover.



  1. As someone who recently moved to SF from the east-coast, I am very bummed that the one remaining comic convention IN the city will be gone. Seems so strange to me that such a cultured city can’t or won’t support a regular convention.

  2. A new owner, a new location, a new date, a new format, it sounds like he will be starting a brand new show. That’s a much more challenging proposition than just taking over an existing show.

  3. Dan Vado is a smart man and I look forward to his take on APE. He founded it, it’s back in his hands and he KNOWS the indy scene. I welcome this move and I’ll gladly support him.

  4. I went to every Wondercon before CCI took it out of SF, and I certainly will never attend it again unless it returns. Besides, I have no interest in movie conventions.

    Now the city has lost APE, too.

    Yes, I am no fan of CCI and the damage they have caused the northern California comics community. ….

  5. I attended the show back in the early days, and it was a nice, small show with a killer guest list.

    I believe APE used to be in February, which makes it a nice opening show for the convention season. I stayed at the youth hostel in the wilds west of Saratoga and drove in. Good climate downtown, a little chilly in the hills.

    Here’s hoping he can franchise it. Both Berkeley and San Francisco have great libraries. No one has yet done a graphic novel book festival, which would truly be epic, as there aren’t even trade shows where all of the comics publishers appear. (Library + street booths + comics publishers and retailers)

  6. I’m really pleased that Dan is taking over APE! I hope he can make it work out with the MLK Jr. Library in San Jose. For those who aren’t locals — the MLK Jr. Library is the biggest library building in the western U.S. and combines the city and the San Jose State University collections. SJSU has both a great illustration and writing program, too, so this locale has the potential to draw a big crowd. I’m a SJSU AND a SLG Publishing alumn, so I’ll be watching this.

  7. I hope APE is moved out of San Francisco, I also hope Vado can keep his promise of lowering his table costs. This year I went to Ape and it is $300 per table (luckily I split the table), which I feel is way too high for a indie convention (or any convention for that matter). Parking and food is also insanely expensive in San Francisco. $10 to cross the bridge each day, and then $24 dollars for parking for each day at the Fort Mason center is way too much. I saved probably 20 bucks not buying food and just eating granola bars I brought from home because the food trucks out in front of the conventions were not cheap as well.

    Sure, San Francisco is a “trendy” and “cultured,” but it just not as economical as the neighboring bay area cities. To visit San Francisco from any other bay area town you need to spend $10 to $20 just to get there.

  8. The San Francisco Zine Fest is within city limits, although as the name suggests, it’s not strictly a comic book show. I wish Dan Vado and APE well and plan to stick with the show as it returns to San Jose, but I’m hoping we’ll get a full-fledge comic show in San Francisco again before long.

  9. Really annoyed SF is losing APE. Who said this city, is not interested in comic book culture?! We are & a lot of awesome artists are set here. Seems like a terrible idea to move it down to SJ… :c

  10. I’m based in Brooklyn and just finished exhibiting at this years APE after about a six year break from the fest. Personally, I had a good show in terms of sales and perceived attendance. I’m not sure if I would exhibit again if the show is moved to San Jose. Part of the attraction for me and I suspect other non-locals to exhibiting at APE was that it is in San Francisco. I’ve been to San Jose and without any ill-will intended, it’s not San Francisco. I travelled with 4 other exhibitors from New York and none of them intend to return to APE if it’s in San Jose.
    That said, I understand the impetus of returning to it’s indie roots. APE should be a small press comics show as it was when I exhibited 6 years ago. This year the fest seemed a bit unbalanced with a stronger illustration and concept art presence than comics (I love that stuff but it was a notable difference from other indie comic fests).
    I guess I’d like to know how many West Coast creators exhibit at SPX? to me, it seems mainly like an East Coast festival. I can’t imagine that Bethesda is on any list of must-visit destinations. I know a few west coast exhibitors at SPX, but just that a few.
    Obviously- the location doesn’t make the festival as proven with SPX, but it certainly can’t hurt.

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