They’re knot sitting.
I was asked by a few people to do a little write-up of the con. I’m new to the Cleveland scene and small press comics scene in general, but I still wanted to give my impression. I can’t speak for previous Genghis Cons, since this was my first one (I’m a Michigan native,) but it was the perfect way to spend a post-Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon. The Beachland Ballroom was a cozy space to exhibit and offered drinks and brunch in the main bar. I didn’t eat while I was there, but it’s worth mentioning that their brunch is really good and usually has hour long waits.
Derf Backderf was there, with copies of the award-winning My Friend Dahmer, original art, and even a zine if I remember correctly. He graciously signed the copy of My Friend Dahmer I’d brought with me while I drooled over a drawing he’d done of a weird Ghoulardi-Ratfink chimera. (Am I the only Ghoulardi fan under 40 that’s not even from Cleveland? This keeps me up at night.)
Kevin Czap not only had an array of his work, but also brought some gorgeous zines from Liz Suburbia and a few others. I’d met Kevin a few times, but this was my first time reading anything by him. I picked up his full-color, beautifully printed collection of 12 minis. The subject matter varies wildly, yet they all flow together like an album. His comics feel like peeks into brief moments of other lives and really do have the lyricism of a song put into images. His use of color alone is stunning.
Jessi Zabarsky draws the cutest zines and makes the cutest things (stuffed rabbit dolls and cross-stitched Pokemon necklaces? She’s a cuteness witch.) Her zines are the equivalent of curling up with a mug of hot cocoa on a winter day with a blanket. She has a lot of range, and draws anything from recipes and little journal comics to beautiful little fantasy stories populated by bunny people, food come to life, and cute witches. Jessi is a treasure and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been to her apartment and played with her cat.
Brandon B. is funny. Brandon B. is really funny. I don’t know why you don’t believe me yet, I said it twice. He had two minis, WiFi Dog and Pizza Party, as well as a few zines he contributed to. Of those, I picked up Pizza Party and Funny Pages, and they did not disappoint. Brandon has a great way of drawing a pretty funny gag, then instantly subverting it in the next panel for the real laugh. He makes the kinds of zines you want to pass along to your friends later and say “here, you need to look at this.”
Keith Pakiz had a free bird mini, a mini called Jeans, and a beautiful book called The Condiment Squad! I walked away with the hat trick. …Of comics. That doesn’t make sense, I make terrible analogies. I want to travel back in time with The Condiment Squad to my nine year old self combing through Nickelodeon Magazine back issues looking for the most inappropriate jokes, waggle my eyebrows, and say “I’ve got the goods right here.” (I had excellent taste as a nine year old. That is by no means an insult.) It’s all manic, clever goofiness and gorgeous drawings and butts. Lots of butts.
I brought my only mini along with me (a collection of jokes called “Tweets I Hope My Mom Doesn’t See”) and was delighted at how many people traded with me. I have a lot of affection for any of my fellow creators putting their work out there, and I think that feeling was shared by a lot of exhibitors there. Whether it’s professionally printed or just a few black and white papers stapled together, someone’s heart went into this. I was also surprised at the variety of zines people brought. Along with the comic zines were zines of personal writing, poetry, and photography. Some people only had a few, and some people had many years worth. And so many creative people also brought stuffed animals, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, t shirts, prints… there was a lot of variety.
"I’m only doing zine trades with the girls," one girl said as we swapped, and held up a thick pile with a grin. I’d estimate about a third of the exhibitors were female. A few standouts among them for me (other than Jessi):
Alexis Spanos, with a pair of incredibly personal, brave zines about mental health and self love.
K. Ward (I can’t find her info, I apologize) with “IM INFINITE NO BIGGIE,” a collection of a few comics about yetis and germs that are both funny and interesting and made me wish I had stood there to read it right when I got it so we could have a fun conversation about it.
Two girls whose names I didn’t get but had pretty great drawings/prints I bought and a number of other girls who had great stuff that I didn’t get. Am I just doing a shout-out to all the girls at this point? I think so.
I left before the bands started and probably missed out on a lot more fun. It’s inspiring to know how much local talent there is, but I was also surprised by how many people traveled from Pittsburgh. I even ran into Andy Gabrysiak from Detroit, and we discovered we’d both gone to CCS and had some mutual friends. Among screen prints and other work, he had one of the most beautiful minis I’ve ever seen, “What is this, Black?” a collaboration with another CCS grad, Ray Domzalski. Squinting at the darkness, you can just barely make out their terrific drawings printed with black ink on black paper.
There are a lot of talented people I didn’t mention, and if you read this far I hope you tolerated my hack jokes. A full list of participants can be seen here!
Each of these drawings was inspired by a song from the new Islands album, Ski Mask. From left to right it’s Wave Forms, Nil, Of Corpse, and Winged Beat Drums.
Islands is deeply personal to me and has gotten me through some difficult times.
A portrait of Erin McGathy, who hosts one of my absolute favorite podcasts, This Feels Terrible, a podcast about relationship stories. Erin is my hero. Erin is the older sister I never had. And her podcast is funny and interesting and consistently good and I’m tempted to write an essay on every reason why she’s the best. She manages to be funny while having so much empathy and love for everyone around her, which is less common than it should be. Erin, I want to hang out and paint with you and then make an ugly cake and play D&D.
touyfoart said: Rad- is it a pentel?
annalisaillo said: oh nice. what kind of pen? also the left page makes me think of the bad romance music video.
Yep, it’s the pentel pocket brush pen! hugbox told me about them, but her linework is much better.
Anna Lisa, I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen the bad romance music video, I’ve never thought of anything I do as inspired by her but I can sort of see where the aesthetics of the current zeitgeist swirling in the air around us have snapped me up like a cheerio on a dog’s nose.
A photo of the puppets from the stop motion short I made my senior year.
The stray dog still has Teeth and the hunter still has a Heart.
(click the panels if the dialogue is too small)