By Jen Vaughn

Austin’s South By South West has long been hailed THE place to play your new Renaissance-powered noise band or screen your documentary on the failings of mankind. As a former Austinite myself, I know the activity of the town pulses as if the city itself is running a marathon. The University of Texas students are off on Spring Break allowing for a different sort of tourist to take their spaces at the taco carts, oddly-named bars (hello, Mooseknuckle) and marvel at the bats of Congress Bridge.

But now the Interactive Festival is absolutely blooming with excellent speakers, innovative ideas and the mashing together of products to produce something of sci-fi proportions. This will be my second year at South By South West Interactive and I’m fully prepared for the onslaught of information, my schedule burgeoning with more than one panel chosen for each time in case they fill up, get canceled or because I just couldn’t decide.

Jeff Newelt and Molly Crabapple from the 2010 panel on Selling Subculture Without Selling Out.

Last year, I experimented with crowdfunding (a la Liz Baillie style, not Kickstarter) and financed my entire trip to SXSW 2010. It was empowering to realize friends, fans and the comics audience in general believe in new ideas and information, especially in this time of digitalization. My sponsors at first were going to be rewarded with a zine of epic proportions with SXSW 2010 information but I knew it just wasn’t enough. It was even difficult to wrap my brain around the information itself so they will receive a DOUBLE issue of 2010/2011. From the pre-SXSW discussions so much is still relevant as creators, publishers and marketing gurus continue to explore different avenues of transmedia and audience interconnectivity.

And for you, Dear Beat Readers, prepare yourselves for some articles on how new media can help your creative persuits, tips on balancing the business side versus the creative side, new fundraising ideas and some interviews with cartoonists at SXSW. Follow me on Twitter for instant fun. If you happen to be at SXSW Interactive and you see a goofball like above, say hi. Let’s buy each other coffee and talk marketing. Something great will happen.

Jen Vaughn is a cartoonist, librarian, mystery-solver and lover of tacos. Dadgummit, does she love tacos.