Last Saturday, April 13, I attended the Brooklyn Independent Comics Showcase which was held in Industry City. Now in its third year, BICS is organized by St. Marks Comics (and show runner Aynsley Leonardis), which relocated to Industry City a few years back. The event started as a small show in the courtyard as a doughty gathering in the face of the pandemic, but this year had more than 200 artists exhibiting. 

Industry City is sort of what passes for a mallish type thing in New York, a place that doesn’t tolerate malls very well. More than 100 years ago it was built as a shipping/manufacturing center, but now some of its building house restaurants, shops and so on. The towering, narrow buildings have a courtyard between them and this was the scene for the event, a brisk open air comics faire in front of St. Marks.

On the day it was a bit too brisk – chilling gusts of wind had cartoonists pulling out their winter coats and battening down their displays – which to my surprise, proved to be remarkably sturdy in many cases.

Some tables were too fragile for the elements, however, and were moved to an indoor space that was more like your typical comics event.

Industry City is a bit of a trek for this Manhattanite but I was determined to go after missing the first two. And I was so glad I did.

The usual suspects of the Brooklyn scene were on hand – Dean Haspiel, Sean von Gorman, Rebecca Mock – but also up and comers of many styles, like Matt Emmons and Kevin Alvir, and just tons more folks, too many to even begin to keep track of. The vibe was like early MoCCA – except without any publishers. BICS lives up to its name by just being cartoonists. 

The vibe was also strongly SVA – and many cartoonists who teach at SVA like Nick Bertozzi were exhibiting – in that every table was just an explosion of stuff, comics, flyers, stickers, prints. That’s kind of how artists make their bank now, so it was to be expected, but there were more mini comics/riso comics and fewer squarebound graphic novels than you would see at a more established show. 

There was a stamp rally going on, and I love doing these at shows because they help me meet people I wouldn’t have necessarily talked to otherwise. Basically you’re given a sheet of paper and try to get a stamp from everyone participating in the rally and when you fill out your sheet you get a prize of some kind – in this case a sticker from organizer Grace Desmarais

BICS didn’t have a tablemap or even table numbers really, so it took me quite a while to find everyone, since I only know one or two people in the rally. But it was a great chance to chat with folks. 

Despite my “art school” assumptions, when I started talking to exhibitors I was surprised to find that probably 50% of them weren’t SVA/Pratt/MICA grads, but rather folks who just wanted to…make comics. “Oh I went to school to study writing,” one of them told me, and I heard many similar tales. I’m not sure of the comics quality (the price of self published comics has skyrocketed along with everything else, making it pricey to sample unknowns) but the energy was fantastic! 

Whatever troubles the comics industry is having, people still want to make and read quirky little comics, and that’s the lifeblood of any artform. 

Another factor that I believe contributed to the upbeat mood: table prices at BICS are only $100 compared to MoCCA where a table is $400. The former is the price of a nice dinner in NYC, while the latter is more of a buy in (and a more established show.) At MoCCA when no one is coming to a table, the cartoonist looks anxious. At BICS, idle vendors were just happily doodling with no sense of urgency, which was nice to see. 

There was some talk of BICS growing into a two day show (inside) with panels and the whole shebang. We’ll see. It’s a little close to MoCCA (which has very different vendors and presentation) and maybe I prefer it as just a punk zine faire in the courtyard, where I can walk around in the fresh air and talk to friends. But it does fill the empty space of the much missed Comics Arts Brooklyn shows of the olden days. 

A few pictures:


The scene from above.


The scene from ground level.


I told you it was windy!


I was told that I must read Mahdi Khene’s Zuperhero comics. His website is smashing!


Council of Frogs by Matt Emmons looks amazing.


Priya Huq does so much cool stuff.


I think I will have more to say about this in another post but did you know that Jerry Craft did a BLACK PANTHER COMIC?


It’s a lot harder to become a comics star in today’s fractured, distracted world but A.T. Pratt is definitely a cult figure in the indie comics world. His comics are also beautiful objects, made from ribbon and wire and folding out with incredible cut paper skills and and dense, dense but hilarious scribbles. His Dot Comics sold out at MoCCA but I got a copy at BICS! It was $20 but worth every penny.


There are two true American heroes! My phone fell out of my pocket when I jumped off a ledge and I didn’t realize it for a bit until I reached into my pocket and discovered this was the real thing….I had lost my phone.

So there I was at a comics show, symbolically dead or dying, but I prayed to the gods of comics and wandered around hoping. Someone said hello to me and I blurted out “I JUST LOST MY PHONE!!!!!!!” and some Samaritan overheard me and said “I think they found it over there?” And these two radiant superheroes had indeed found my phone and set it aside! In all my PTSD rejoicing, I forgot to get their names, so if anyone knows, please post it in the comments. I think it is a sign of the comics community camaraderie that this story had a happy ending.



At every show there is one essential book, and this may just be that book.