Topatocon was a great show! Probably one of my favorites that I’ve exhibited at. It was a fairly small show, but there were so many fantastic comics, and while foot traffic was lighter than some of the shows I’ve attended everyone who came through seemed really eager to engage, to talk to creators, look at our work and buy things. The convention was also really well organized, and they took excellent care of exhibiters (and probably visitors too, though I wasn’t on that side this convention), and it all added up to a fantastic weekend!
I mostly stayed at my own table, but when I took the opportunity to walk around and peruse other artists’ comics I found so much to love. I could have spent every cent I had my bookshelves with excellent comics, but I limited myself to just a few things.
The first of these is Jessi Zaborsky’s “Witchlight” issue 1. I first encountered Jessi’s work in Food Zine, checked out her tumblr, and was charmed by focus she gives to small details. The inside covers of Witchlight 1 are a great example–it’s decorated with a pattern of small drawings of small things that suggest elements of a larger story–bottles, herbs, crystals. The story itself barely scratches the surface of the world and the characters–a brief introduction to what is sure to be a much larger narrative (the next three issues are available, but I do not have them). Clearly there’s a lot of world building going on, a portrayal of magic that is well developed and unique and characters with distinct personalities and goals. I look forward to reading more, and was excited to learn that she’s also based in Chicago! (I moved here a couple months ago and I’m excited to meet other Chicago cartoonists.)
Next up is Z Akhmetova’s “Nitki”. Z was tabling next to me, and throughout the two days I kept staring at this book, perched right to my left. It’s only two pages, but it’s beautifully produced and excellently done. In only two pages Z hints at a rich and complex story and world. It’s printed on a heavy stock, textured blue on the outside and smoothly printed on the inside. The cover is minimally decorated, hand painted in white, with a red ribbon sown on the edge, tying the book closed. She drew the comic with a combination of traditional and digital art, printed it on canvas, then hand embroidered details with red thread before scanning and finishing the art. It has an eerie, magical feel, a dark fairy tale in six panels over two pages. Z and her friend M. Deen (who’s work also looked lovely) were excellent table neighbors, and Tom and I enjoyed chatting with them throughout the two days of the convention.
The last thing I bought was a bit of a risk. I don’t usually like to buy prints from comics I haven’t read, but I was so taken with David Willis’s dinosaur girls print that I bought it without much in the way of context of background (I am the dinosaur tea girl, after all). When I got back I started reading the comic it was from, Dumbing of Age, and I’m glad I did. I’m actually shocked I didn’t start reading his comics sooner, and I spent pretty much every free moment archive binging the comic over the next few days (I’m finally caught up, though he has other work that I’ll be checking out soon). It’s a slice of life daily webcomic following a group of freshman through their first few weeks of college as they start sorting out who they want to be as independent, decision making adults. I really enjoy the diversity of the cast, though still I’m waiting hopefully for a healthy depiction of an ace or poly character–two groups I think are often underrepresented, and which I think Willis’s writing would support well.
It was a great convention, a fantastic time with fantastic people. I felt so much warmth and comics love, and I’m looking forward to Project Comic Con in just another week and a half!