I took no pictures at APE this year save for the one above, of my pal Dan Shahin in his homemade Rory Root t-shirt (with Root's face comprised of a mosaic of hundreds of comic book covers). If I was to only take one photo, this strikes me as a perfectly appropriate one, as APE always reminds me of Rory, and his memory loomed large over the show for me (I wore my old Comic Relief t-shirt on Saturday in my own small attempt to honor the big guy).
This was the first APE I've attended since Rory passed away in 2008, and it didn't feel the same without him. Rory was a champion of the small press, a man with an omnivorous appetitie for the medium who could always be counted on to take a chance on a self-published mini that many other retailers would likely never make shelf space for. Comic Relief was a mecca for fans of cartooning, and its presence at APE always struck me as a vital component in the physiology of the show; no matter how few copies of your book you sold on the floor over APE weekend, if it was good, you could count on Rory to buy a few at the end of Sunday and help you leave on a high note.
Of course, APE was also missing another towering figure of the scene: Dylan Williams (who once worked at Comic Relief). Thankfully, Sparkplug Comics *was* there, honoring Dylan's memory in the one way I suspect he would approve: by selling and promoting good comics.
With that in mind, and for fear of sounding a bit maudlin, it really did feel to me that this year's APE was defined by who wasn't there as much as who was.
That said, my APE weekend was fun, and somehow a success despite the fact that attendance was invariably, adversely affected by gorgeous weather and a massive free concert in Golden Gate Park over the weekend. I enjoyed the company of many pals — Richard Sala, Daniel & Erika Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Mario Hernandez, Jim Blanchard, J.R. Williams, Leslie Stein, John Pham, Terry Zwigoff, Martin Cendreda, Dan Nadel, Matthew Thurber, Renée French, Mark Kalesniko, Calvin Reid, Brett Warnock, Tom Devlin, Esther Pearl Watson, and many others — and met a few new ones. That's all I could ask for, short of selling a ton of books, and things went well on that front. GANGES #4, POGO Vol. 1, OIL & WATER, MOME 22 and MARK TWAIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY 1910-2010 were amongst the books that flew off the tables by the end of the weekend.
I also came home with an entire suitcase full of books and minicomics, most of which I've only begun to wade thru and a roundup of which would require more time and effort than I'm willing to do right now. But I'm especially keen to dive into Jesse Moynihan's FORMING and Matthew Thurber's 1-800-MICE, which seemed to my eyes to be the books of the show.
Rory and Dylan, we missed you.