For small-press publishers like Miriam Libicki, Comix & Stories is one of the few chances she has to get the word out about Jobnik!. The annual event, on this Sunday (August 26), gives the Ohio-raised, Vancouver-based artist a place to introduce readers to her self-published, autobiographical comic-book series about her stint in the Israeli army. (For more, see www.realgonegirl.com/ .)
Now in its eighth year, Comix & Stories grew out of Heritage Hall's regular Vancouver Comicons. But unlike those events, Comix & Stories caters to the nonsuperhero, small-press, DIY set. At least one out-of-town talent comes in to headline the event, but most exhibitors are locals like Libicki who sketch away at tables, trade or sell their books, and gab with fans and fellow artists.
"I get a pretty favourable reaction," says Libicki, reached at home. She says that through Comix & Stories and other West Coast events, like the San Diego Comic-Con, she's able to sell through each issue's twice-yearly print run of 100 copies. "It seems to be a pretty unique subject to be doing comics about. I think a lot of people are very curious about what life is like in Israel."
The crowd, estimated at 400, is different from the usual Comicon attendees. "We get a lot more art students, a lot more women, and a lot more people interested in comics more as art than a graphic narrative," says organizer Leonard Wong, reached by phone in Vancouver. Dealers stock their tables with Love & Rockets graphic novels, R. Crumb memorabilia, and the latest from Daniel Clowes and Julie Doucet.
In the '90s, Wong began bringing in Seattle artists like Jason Lutes and Ed Brubaker. But "it honestly confused a lot of the people who were coming to the shows for Batman comic books and whatnot," Wong says. It was spun into "a once-a-year thing, with the focus on independent creators".
This year's Comix & Stories, at Heritage Hall, features Farel Dalrymple. The Portland-based artist writes and draws his own title, Pop Gun War , and is illustrating the upcoming Omega: The Unknown , from an obscure 1970s Marvel comic. Novelist Jonathan Lethem ( The Fortress of Solitude ) is writing the series. Local guests include Robin Bougie, publisher of cult-film 'zine C inema Sewer ; Camilla d'Errico, creator of the manga series Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes and Nightmares and Fairytales ; and the Straight 's own Josué Menjivar ( Everyday Things ).
This will be Libicki's third year at Comix & Stories. "It's a pretty neat community," she says. "They're all great people. And we're all doing completely different things."