Staple! Austin 2016 Report

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Staple!

Sally Ingraham here! I went to Staple! this past weekend as part of the 7000 B.C. team – my local New Mexico comics group – and on partial assignment for Comics Workbook. It was my first large comics expo, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“This show will ruin you for other ones,” I was told repeatedly. Staple! is now 12 years old, and is still pretty unique for being devoted to small press and independent comics. There were no mainstream comics publishers casting deep dark shadows across tables of handmade zines, and no cos-players or Hollywood faces.

The entire expo was set up to be a place for independent cartoonists to find support and appreciation for their work – right down to the workshops, which were about crowdfunding through Patreon, publishing web comics, and dealing with legal issues, among other things. There was a panel on diversity in comics, and a mixer on Sunday morning for LGBTQA, POC, and female creators (hosted by Joon Comics).

The folks who attended knew what to expect and I had great conversations with many of the people who stopped by the 7000 B.C. table. My own comics got a lot of love, and my fellow exhibitors were incredibly welcoming.

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I met rad folks like Red Angus and Sara Goetter and Jeanne Thornton (follow the links to check out their work!) and of course Chris “Uncle Staple” Nicholas himself.

Uncle Staple

On Saturday night after a long (hot…) day at the expo, the exhibitors got to enjoy a catered BBQ dinner at Dragon’s Lair. I ended up sitting across from Uncle Staple – in one of the brief periods when he actually sat still… I asked him how much of his life was devoted to Staple!, and as I suspected, he said “150% of it.” Then he shared his two spirit animals – Omar Sharif, in Lawrence of Arabia (”I am a river to my people!”) and Harry Dean Stanton as Carl in Fire Walk With Me (”It’s just, like, more shit I gotta do now.”)

No one who heard him shouting encouragement through that megaphone all day could doubt that Uncle Staple is still happy to be running the expo, however, and I couldn’t have been more delighted when he made his final rounds on Sunday and picked up one of my own comics.

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It was cool to chat with Sophie Goldstein and Carl Antonowicz (above), and harass Ben Marra into drawing something for Comics Workbook (below).

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I also enjoyed meeting Inés Estrada and Edwin Sandoval. They had a whole table full of comics by Mexican cartoonists, most of which were published by Inés’ label Gatosaurio.

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I got to step away from the 7000 B.C. table long enough to check out the zine-making workshop that Inés ran on Saturday, which was awesome!

Ines Workshop

I could go on – and I will, when I finish reading all the new comics and zines I collected… – but for now I’ll wrap this up by saying Staple! is fantastic and if ever you needed an excuse to go somewhere warm in the winter, this is it!

Head to Austin, support and be supported by the independent comics community, and maybe I’ll see you there next year. 🙂

– Sally Ingraham

Sally Ingraham

Sally Ingraham

Sally is a cartoonist, educator, and journalist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She makes comics about Pittsburgh and bird watching, and co-writes the "Suzy and Cecil" daily strip (with Gabriella Tito). She facilitates the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency, is a managing editor of the CW Daily News, and runs the CW Roller Derby "of the mind" League. She is focused on documenting the current and historic place of women in the comics industry, is working to build the Women's Comics Library, and is developing a comics curriculum by and for girls.
Sally Ingraham

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