The Alternative Press Expo, otherwise known simply as APE, is a convention in San Francisco, CA that focuses on alternative and small press comics. What does this mean exactly? Outside of the major publishers like Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse and others, there are an infinite number of independent creators and publishers that release their own comics. APE is the show for those creators, giving them a platform to interact with and showcase their work to fans without being buried by major publishers at more traditional, mainstream comic book conventions.
Last year APE attracted over 6,000 attendees, and this year felt right on par with that. They switched venues this year, moving to Fort Mason, which is a much larger venue than the old Concourse Exhibition Center, so it felt roomier and was easier to navigate the aisles. The attendees felt very diverse – there was a mix of mainstream comic book fans, indie fans, horror, mystery and fantasy fans, artists of all types, anime fans and even families that brought their kids to check out all the cool stuff.
APE feels like one giant Artist Alley, with a big focus on creators showcasing their independent and small press comics versus rows of artists doing commission work (although there were still some artists doing commissions). There were also a lot of vendors selling prints, clothing, and handmade goods.
We spent the majority of our time walking up and down the aisles, chatting with many of the exhibitors about their work and even picked up a few things. APE also has programming geared towards creators – they had panels for writers, artists and self publishers, as well as spotlights on some of their special guests. Keep checking back, as we’ll be covering some of the books we picked up as well as publishing some interviews with creators we met. Here’s our modest haul:
Overall, this year’s APE was a good show that had a lot of great writers and artists to talk to. It’s one of the more consistent shows year after year, so I look forward to this one a lot. However, Comic-Con International, the company that runs San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and APE, has returned ownership of the show to its original group, SLG Publishing. The owner of SLG, Dan Vado, will move the show to San Jose, CA in 2015, which is where APE was originally held when it first started. Hopefully the show remains in touch with its spirit and really supports the creators that make it possible. I spoke with a few exhibitors about this, and received mixed feelings about it. Some thought it could be a good thing, others felt like it would ruin the show completely. Vado says he would like to offer free admission and cheaper exhibitor tables, which would be great for everyone, but we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.
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