The session that interested me most was “Publishing During the Apocalypse”, with Leon Avelino (Secret Acres), Box Brown (Retrofit Comics), Anne Koyama (Koyama Press), and John Porcellino (King-Cat/ Spit and a Half). Moderator: Heidi MacDonald, The Beat and Publishers Weekly.

Honestly, I expected a lot of doom and gloom, as I have heard in other publishing contexts. But this lot was very positive.

John Porcellino, in particular, said “I’m more confident in comics that I have ever been at any other point.”

What are the reasons for their optimism?

1. They are finding growing comics communities. And younger comics communities (as Anne Koyama said she saw in Chicago)

2. And there is simply more infrastructure: shows all over the place in all these communities where they can sell books.

3. An increasing international audience because of the internet.

Surprises for me:

1. That all of them are not doing digital comics at this point. Anne Koyama says she doesn’t like how the formatting looks and wants to wait till that gets sorted out.

2. Amazon is a big point of sale for Secret Acres, but Retrofit  and Koyama have not sold on Amazon yet. While Leon Avelino felt somewhat conflicted about Amazon because of its impact on small books stores, John Porcellino made an important point about how in many communities where there aren’t book stores, Amazon is actually providing access to books.

3. As bookstores disappear, the point of sale has increasingly become shows like SPX. And the small publishers may not go to every show, but sell each other’s books at the shows (now, that’s community!)

4. Box Brown got all his money for printing his comics through selling weed!

Good session, very intelligently moderated.

Everyone, go check out their catalogs and their web sites – some amazing amazing stuff there that you won’t find from big publishers. I’ve bought a whole bunch of stuff that I’m going to share in another post.

And finally, inspiring words from John Porcellino:

“Everyone has the ability and the right to express themselves. As long as any of us has something to say, we will find a way to get it published.”


-Yen Yen Woo