PIX comics expo drawing more from local scene
Creating comics tends to be a fairly solitary business. No matter how good you are at salesmanship, networking and publicity, sooner or later, it will be just you and a blank piece of paper, alone in a room, again.
That's part of the reason why conventions are such a big deal for those who write and draw comics. It gets them out of the house! It's also a chance to actually meet their peers, readers, and, with luck, potential readers.
Events like this weekend's PIX: The Pittsburgh Indie Comix Expo are what ties these communities together. This year, it's in the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers building on 19th Street on the South Side.
“The criteria is creator-owned, self-published, small press and handmade,” says Bill Boichel, owner of Copacetic Comics in Polish Hill and organizer of PIX (along with the Toonseum).
Despite the boom in online comics, there's still a dedication to the craft of creating physical media, for both writers/artists and collectors.
“Many of these people have a Tumblr site or a blog and post their comics,” Boichel says. “A large number have a way to be read online. Then they print the hard copy. That's the paradigm.
“People are constantly in communication and sharing with each other. But they physically want to meet each other in the flesh. There's obviously a tactile element, but also a craft element in the production of the object, that's lacking when you see it on the Internet. It's the difference between seeing a Coca Cola commercial on TV, and going to buy one.”
Although comics aren't nearly as geographically tethered to a certain place as, say, the music scene or dining scene — two things for which Pittsburgh has gotten notice recently — the idea is taking hold that the local comics scene is similarly vibrant and exciting.
It's been building for a while, but at the end of last year, Boichel noticed something curious.
“For the first time in Copacetic's history, the majority of the year's best-selling works were made right here in town,” he says. “In fact, a whopping seven out of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels (in a loose, format and price-based sense) were made in Pittsburgh.”
New York City may be the Planet Krypton that birthed Superman and so many others, and Chicago and Seattle loom large in the independent comics world, but there's still plenty of room left on the map. It doesn't require a mass of artists, or publishers, either. Cleveland's place in the comics world was probably secured for all time by the late Harvey Pekar, and his many remarkable autobiographical comics (“American Splendor”) that were set there.
Before Pekar died, one of his main go-to collaborators was Ed Piskor, of Munhall. He made “Hip Hop Family Tree, Volume One,” which was Copacetic's top seller last year (and a breakout hit, nationally). It's a complex history of the early days of hip-hop, done in the style of the Marvel Treasury comics from that era, down to the distinctive grain of the paper.
“There's a growing local comics scene with many national and internationally recognized artists,” Boichel says. “Jim Rugg is like a highly respected hired gun, who does ‘Afrodisiac.' He's like the artists' artist. People call him for advice. Frank Santoro, Tom Scioli — who's doing “G.I. Joe vs. Transformers” in a Jack Kirby style. They're giving him a lot of leeway to go out of the parameters (of the established storylines).”
There are more than 50 independent exhibitors at PIX, coming from as far away as California. They include the giant indie comics publisher Fantagraphics (Seattle), visionary comics artist Theo Ellsworth, and artist/writer and “herstorian” Trina Robbins.
“She's like the historian of women in comics,” Boichel says. “She's probably 70, or close to it. She reacted against R. Crumb, and brought a much-needed feminist perspective to comics in the early '70s.”
Unlike previous events, this year's PIX is all in one day. The exhibitors' room is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a two-hour break for dinner, then panel discussions, artist presentations and lectures from 7 to 11 p.m.
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- State Supreme Court: Highmark Medicare Advantage members to retain in-network access to UPMC
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- Appeals court upholds sentence of man convicted of fatal shooting outside ‘The O’
- Regoli won’t seek recount in Westmoreland County judge election
- Eight Pitt players named to All-ACC team
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Baseball America names Pirates as organization of the year
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall