I had a nice time at this year’s Maine Comics Arts Festival, held in Portland, ME.
Overall I thought it was a well-run show. Wi-Fi, power outlets, and bottled water were all available to exhibitors. The tables were in a single, large space, with plenty of room to navigate the aisles and to get behind the tables. And food was on-premises, a very short walk away (made-to-order sandwiches, I think by a local restaurant.)
Attendance was steady for most of the day – lots of families. There was a kids’ activity area on one side of the room (coloring and drawing) and some of the panels listed seemed very kid-friendly. There was a healthy contingent of single and older adults, too.
I had a good tine chatting with my table mates Chris Watkins and John Forcucci. Chris had a nice table setup and an easy way with customers; I started taking mental notes. For my part I mostly tried not to crouch too low, and to split the difference between greeting customers and giving them space to look things over in peace.
I had a enjoyable talk with Jason Little and Nick Bertozzi, who both had books and original art on hand. Jason’s art for his Bee stories (SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES, MOTEL ART IMPROVEMENT SERVICE) was a treat to look at – an elegant riff on the “clear line” style. We talked shop while I looked at the art. Some panels for the Bee books were quite large, done with brush; Jason’s new book BORB was drawn rather small (maybe 9″ wide?), with a fine crowquill pen. I think he said he was looking for a way to draw more quickly, without getting bogged down in the process.
Nick and I talked more generally about managing expectations when tabling, and taking a long view about building an audience. This is a dry summation, though; he’s an extremely affable guy and put me at ease immediately. He also let slip that he was the reason that Serializer.net (fellow old people) was a side-scrolling comics site – an oddity in the early 2000s, before phones got us used to swiping left and right. I picked up his recent graphic novel PERSIMMON CUP.
I didn’t get around much after that, but did visit First Second’s big table (picking up Farel Dalrymple’s THE WRENCHIES) and talked to Eleri Mai Harris. She had an interesting historical comic and a beautiful screenprint for sale (see photo above.)
Upcoming small comics show MICE was on a lot of people’s minds; I bet they’re going to have a lot of applications. Sales at MeCAF were encouraging enough that I might give MICE a try too.