By Carolina Cooney
Small Press is always one of my favorite areas to visit at San Diego Comic-Con. For the bargain hunter, there can be big payoffs, as the artists here are often amazing but relatively unknown and thus attractively priced. Small Press is definitely the place to go to find “the next big thing”. Most artists exhibiting in Small Press are working on independent comics, and thus their original work is their own, as opposed to being owned by a corporation.
This makes things much easier when it comes to getting work optioned by a film studio and potentially making the big bucks. In fact, my husband Dan Cooney and I exhibited in Small Press for years and received numerous inquires from potential directors and film studios…and now his original comic, Valentine, is under option and has a director attached.
Small Press is also one of the best places to make new friends and meet some very interesting people. I find that three kinds of exhibitors inhabit Small Press: the aggressive, hard sell; the laid back, go-with-the-flow; and the ignore and talk to booth-mate. This can make things frustrating, as I have occasionally come to a booth with merchandise I’m interested in, only to be completely ignored. Needless to say, they do not get my sale.
The first artist to catch my eye in Small Press was Sean Dietrich. Based out of San Francisco, Sean is part of the “live art” movement, touring with major music festivals and putting his talent on display. Most of his offerings were woodblock prints, occasionally printed on unique surfaces like metal with superb results. His work was often politically tinged, with a Ralph Steadman/Underground Comix feel.
Next to capture my attention was Flimflammery Press, featuring artist Bill Robinson. Another Bay Area creator, Bill’s work has a charming, classic animation feel, and he was offering two children’s books along with a slew of color prints.
The next aisle netted me a true gem, artist Tomas Overbai. Traveling to the convention from Sacramento, Tomas had a huge crate full of original pencil drawings at extremely cheap prices. Often playing on pop-culture themes, Tomas will soon be known for his custom t-shirt featuring Christopher Walken as Han Solo. Apparently Tomas draws “on his lunch break”, and this is his first time exhibiting at Comic-Con.
Interestingly enough, Tomas also has another project in the works that’s a total 180 from his pencil sketches — a comic called Ichido, “inspired by Akira Kurosawa, science fiction, post-apocalyptic fantasy and kung-fu movies.” The project was funded by Kickstarter earlier this year and is currently in production. I expect Hollywood will pounce on this by Comic-Con’s end.
Last stop on my Small Press foray was the Jusscope/Sugar Addict Creations booth. Run by a brother/sister team, Justin and Hilary Orr, it is always a treat to see these two at a convention. I first came across them about six years ago at Supercon in San Jose, California, and since then Justin’s work has exploded in popularity.
He was offering two books and an impressive array of prints, while his sister was selling her original jewellery: meticulously created earrings featuring perfectly detailed cupcakes and other sweets. I was pleased to hear they were having a very successful convention, and couldn’t resist picking up a few things myself.
You can read more from Carolina @CarolinaStew on Twitter