COVID forced a lot of comic shops to take their business outside of the store, especially in the early days of the pandemic. While scary, it was successful, plain and simple. Being outside proved to be conducive to more engagement with readers and curious parties as to what’s happening just outside the store they always walked past by but probably never took the time to actually visit. Street fairs sealed the deal on this one and proved that people will support these types of events given the opportunity.
Anyone Comics and event planner John Jennison are gearing up to give people another one of these opportunities with their fast-approaching Brooklyn Pride Comic Book Fair scheduled for Sunday, June 13th, 2021 at the store’s location, 1216 Union Street, Brooklyn NY, 11225. The event will run from noon to 5pm.
The fair will feature some of the city’s most talented Queer comic creators, including: Sam Johns (Punchline), Isaac Goodhart (Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale), Greg Anderson Elysée (Is’nana: The Were-Spider), among many others.
Also, Doable Guys will be hosting a life drawing session at Branch OFC, just around the corner from Anyone Comics from 2pm-4pm. At Branch OFC as well, an evening of geeky drag will be hosted called (Un)Masked Ball, featuring burlesque, hoops, and art-making. Tickets for both events can be purchased in advance.
The Beat reached out to John Jennison via email to discuss the event and what went into organizing under less strict COVID restrictions.
RICARDO SERRANO: As COVID starts becoming more and more manageable thanks to vaccinations and drops in cases, how did you feel organizing a bigger event with more guests than what would’ve been allowed just a few months earlier?
JOHN JENNISON: We were excited to do something for artist that we love! Even with COVID restrictions being lessened we wanted to make sure that we were creating an event that was comfortable for the artists and anyone who wants to visit. Doing it on the street like we did Free Comic Book Day at Anyone comics seemed like a no-brainer. Hopefully, the weather holds for us!
It’s going to be really nice to see people in person and have face to face interactions. That said, we are still asking people to wear masks while interacting with vendor because you never know what someone’s comfort level is. As a person with a compromised immune system from cancer-related treatments I still find comfort in a mask even though I have been vaccinated.
SERRANO: How did you come about who would be presenting their work for this comic fest? Was it a competitive process or more relaxed?
JENNISON: With restrictions lifting so fast and wanting to feature as many artists a we could fit we reached out to a lot of great artists. There were so many that jumped on it right away and a lot who were still not comfortable or just unable to do that date. This really was a “we are going to put on a fair in 4 weeks! Let’s see who wants to come out and play!”
Those are the events I love! They are fresh, fast and fun! I have artists reach out every day and the goal was to do local Brooklyn artist but we do have a few other areas of NYC that I think people will be excited about!
There are artists I know and have worked with throughout my time with Geeks OUT, like Sam Johns who wrote a story for the anthology I edited and is now working for DC and has some pretty exciting projects coming up! Or Rey Arzeno from Rage Gear Studios who makes amazing comic and pop culture prints that anyone would love to have in their wall. We also have some guests who couldn’t come for the whole event but plan to do some table drop ins throughout the day, so be on the lookout for those names.
Then there are folks that have just been coming to Anyone Comics and selling their books at the shop who I’ve been introduced to and have done wonderful work that doesn’t always get the showcase that they should among the other books in the store just because of the volume of the inventory. These are the books I’m excited about seeing and introducing guests too!
I think people are going to be surprised by the level of work from all these creators.
SERRANO: What do you think sets this type of event apart from the bigger convention events?
JENNISON: I don’t like to think of this event as a convention. It’s a street fair, DIY, almost 90’s punk take over! We are setting up tables and letting artist use them so they can take advantage of the visibility of the store and our own social media presence so they can get their stuff out there. All this because we love comics and we want the people that make them to succeed and thrive.
Conventions are bigger, flashier and have a lot of programming. While we have added some programming, a life drawing with the awesome folks at Doable Guys and an (UN)Masked Ball, an evening of drag and burlesque hosted by drag sensation Petra Fried, what we really wanted to focus this event on as the artists and artists sales. We can save things like panels and cosplay for the larger queer cons. That’s not to say I don’t want you to show up in Batwoman Cosplay! I’ll be first in line to have my picture taken with you! But for year one of BPCBF it’s all about interacting with artists who have been hungry to reconnect with their community for the past 16 months, but also to ease back into this type of event in the safest way we can.
Below you’ll find a selection of promotional material for the Brooklyn Pride Comic Book Fair so you can get a sense of what this event is planning on bringing to the table.