In case you haven’t gathered yet, conventions are kind of my thing. From small local anime conventions to the pop culture monster that is SDCC, I enjoy the huge variety of media and programming that conventions offer.
Last year, in 2014, I heard about STAPLE!, a local Austin expo which bills itself as an “independent media expo.” After winning some passes through The Austinot, we headed over to check it out and were pleasantly surprised.
I’ve attended many conventions, but STAPLE! is unique — the artists and independent creators are the focus. Where a lot of conventions have artist alleys that can feel like an afterthought, that is the primary draw of STAPLE! I’ve been to conventions where the media itself, the celebrities, or the fandom is the focus, but STAPLE! is the first that truly felt like a celebration of the creators — a refreshing change of pace.
In 2015, STAPLE! upped the ante with an all-female headlining guests. I caught the “Life in Panels: Autobio Comics” panel, the “Hire This Woman” panel (featuring my friend Jamie Kinosian), and the Q&A with Babs Tarr, Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters. I didn’t catch any panels the previous year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
With an all-star indie comics lineup like that, it’s no surprise that each panel was a delight! From discussing artistic process to breaking into the industry, every panel taught me something new about the comics industry. They each felt very intimate, too — smaller crowds offer more room for connection than panel rooms stuffed to capacity.
The other main draw of the expo is the massive exhibitor area. (Seriously, look at this list!) With everything from vegan cookbooks to popular indie comics and self-published mini-comics and zines, there are all kinds of unique works of art that I haven’t seen at other events. Supporting an artist in person gives you warm fuzzies — plus you can compliment them on their work directly. If you’re an artist, I imagine that STAPLE! is an excellent place to meet others in your field.
Overall, I truly enjoyed my time at STAPLE! Independent Media Expo and I can only hope that they continue to improve year after year. If you’re in Texas, I would recommend the day trip to visit this expo if you’re into indie comics, artists, or learning about the process behind comics.