Emerald City Comic Con made its triumphant return to Seattle, Washington this past weekend, and The Beat was on the scene! For this week’s Small Press Spotlight, The Beat‘s managing editor Joe Grunenwald (that’s me) is taking over for regular spotlight-shiner Deanna Destito, for a look at a few of the comics I picked up from creators in the convention’s Artist’s Alley.

My haul from Artist’s Alley was small but mighty this year. Hundreds of talented artists were set up, exhibiting everything from prints to buttons to stickers to, of course, comics. I tend to seek out the people with their own comics for sale at conventions, and I’m particularly drawn to those who are selling mini-comics, those 8.5″ x 5.5″ comics that are a staple of indie cartoonists. This year’s ECCC had quite a few of those to choose from, as well as some interesting-looking standard-sized comics that caught my eye.

Here’s a look at what I picked up:

Cartoonist Ariel Chan had three black-and-white minicomics available. Little Monkii’s Comic Adventure and Anchored are older comics, made in 2012 and 2013, respectively, while Chan was still a student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Armor Up!, on the other hand, is a brand-new release, making its debut at ECCC. Reading all three books in succession, it’s clear Chan’s storytelling and art style have come a long way from Little Monkii, which was her very first self-published comic. All three do have one thing in common, though: they’re packed with heart. Check out her website for more.

Cartoonist Sushu Xia also had a number of minicomics available. I picked up two of them, Yick Wo v. Hopkins and American Son: Wong Kim Ark v. United States. Part of her Welcome to America series, each comic details a different important court case regarding the Chinese-American experience (Xia was born in Shanghai and moved to the States when she was six). Far from bland recountings of facts, these comics turn the court cases into personal stories, presented beautifully in a sepia tone that goes a long way to getting readers into the historical frame of mind. Both of these comics are available to read online at AO3.

Xia also had a number of full-color fanzines for sale, focused on Captain America and Bucky Barnes in various capacities (she was also in casual cosplay as The Winter Soldier). Ask Winter Soldier and Bucky was created by Xia and another cartoonist, with the handle karaii, and saw the two answer fan-submitted questions as both Bucky (Xia) and The Winter Soldier (karaii). You Are Why I’m Here is, as the cover suggests, a fanzine dedicated to shipping Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. Both of these are also available to read on AO3, or for purchase through Xia’s website.

Tuskegee Heirs: Flames of Destiny is an afrofuturist series created by Marcus Williams and Greg Burnham, with additional contributors including inkers Brandon Page and Jonathan Ledesma, and colorists Omaka SchultzSean Rhoden, and Rodney Velchez. The series, set toward the end of the 21st century, follows a group of young Black pilots/adventurers, who end up protecting the world from an evil artificial intelligence. There’s flying, there’s fast cars, and there’s futuristic planes that turn into mechs…and that’s just in the first issue. Four issues of the series are out now, with two more to follow, all the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. A collection of the first three issues is also available, but I prefer single issues, so I splurged on these. You can check out everything that’s available on the series website.

The Mistakes is created by Walid Issa & writer Thane Benson, with artist Dan Borgoños, colorist Santiago Panes, and letterer Eugene Perez Jr. This book caught my eye for the Rick & Morty-esque artwork, and was pitched to me at the booth as “Family Guy meets The X-Men if they were terrible superheroes,” but I found it to have more of a ‘f*cked-up Fantastic Four’ feel. The package itself is also really nice, with a heavy, glossy cover stock and nice interior page quality. You can find out more or order this book from the website of its publisher, Maze Comics.

And speaking of really nicely put-together packages, here’s a book we’ve covered here on The Beat before, the first issue of FairSquare Comics’s Mutiny Magazine. This book is a beast, a full-size, square-bound, hefty magazine that’s stuffed with articles, interviews, and original comics stories. I haven’t gotten all the way through it, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and the presentation is top-notch. Cover price on this is $15, but it’s well worth it, especially once you feel the weight of the book in your hands. Find out more about this book on FairSquare Comics’s website.

That’s my haul! I wish I’d been able to pick up more — there were so many great creators exhibiting their work. Hopefully I’ll see some of them again at a future convention!

Miss any of our other ECCC ‘21 coverage? Find it all here!


  1. I picked up the first issue of Mutiny Magazine. Immediately signed up for a subscription after reading it. A strong first issue.

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