Frank’s Soapbox plus Philly Scene Report

Ohhh, I gotta preach up in here! I can’t take it anymore, Lord, help me find the strength to control myself! They make me so angry – I wanna get all Old Testament on them. Fire. Brimstone.

Who? You! Every week you come here and read this column – but what do you do? You just take, take, take. What’s happening in your comics scene? Do you have a comics scene? Well, why not? Is the Wednesday comics scene all you’ve got? Then you gotta do more. I live out in the middle of nowhere and I bend over backwards to bring you CONTENT week after week. And you just link to me on your blog or tumblr. Tweet about this post. Oh, wow, thanks, champ. You do so much. Where would we be without you? Go write a review of some corporate comic book brand like it matters.

I love all comics. But I want a divorce. No more superhero comics. Ever. As historical documents – fine. Kirby? Yes, all day. But don’t talk to me about what DC or Marvel is doing today. I don’t give a shit. Playtime is over. Crisis on Infinite Fanzines Blogs.

So, within the hallowed walls of this venerable institution – The Comics Journal – I am devoting more space towards local scene reports. Up with local comics scenes. Down with Marvel. Down with DC. Boycott Disney. Boycott Time Warner. Up with writing about small press comic books. No more writing about Marvel and DC comic books. At all. Ever. A pox on the houses of the Big Two. TOO BAD, SO SAD, BYE BYE.


Philly Scene Report
By Ian Harker

At the center of the Philly underground comics scene is the Philly Comix Jam. The jam started as an informal drinking and drawing session in the fall of 2007. While jam comics are still drawn at the meetups, the monthly gathering now serves primarily as a networking and brainstorming session for local cartoonists. Before the jam, there was very little infrastructure in Philly for anything that could be described as an alternative comics scene. From Comix Jam has sprung various projects such as the free tabloid Secret Prison, the Philly Alternative Comic Con, and upstart publisher Retrofit Comics, which have all helped Philly’s developing cartoonists find a broader context for their work. Jam regulars include veteran cartoonists such as Art Baxter and Terry LaBan, young cartoonists in full stride such as Box Brown and Pat Aulisio, and newcomers like the girls of the Dirty Diamonds mag.

Institutions vital to the Philly scene include the comic shops Brave New Worlds and Locust Moon Comics. Brave New Worlds is a mainstream-centric comic shop in the gallery section of Old City. BNW has a great gallery space featuring local comic art in the front of the shop that regularly draws hundreds of visitors during First Friday festivities. Locust Moon Comics, by contrast, is a smaller DIY operation in University City that is always happy to stage events for local artists looking for an excuse to drink cheap beer. Other important spaces include the world renowned SPACE 1026, which often features great art comics work from around the world; Pterodactyl Philly, a great gallery space that moonlights as the small run digital press Fireball Printing; and Cha Cha-razzi, a studio space that has recently hosted various comics-meet-music events.

Important figures in the scene include the aforementioned Art Baxter, who organized the Comix Jam for close to 3 years and is a source of unlimited wisdom in the craft of comic making; double Ignatz winner Box Brown, by far the most productive cartoonist of the bunch, whose Retrofit Comics venture looks to revive the alternative floppy; and Pat Aulisio, up-and-coming artist and organizer of Philly Alternative Comic Con, who lends the scene its “Yeah Dude” street cred. Orbiting on the perimeter of all of this, of course, is comics legend Charles Burns, whose appearance at any local event serves as the ultimate blessing from the Alt-Comic olympians. Oh yeah, and Robert Crumb was from Philly, so take that New York!


Frank here again…Don’t forget! I’m starting a cartooning correspondence course. An 8-week workshop. Application deadline is October 28th, 2011. Check out the details here.


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