St. Louis Comic Art Show

City Museum , St. Louis, September 27, 2003

I attended the St. Louis Comic Art Show as both a fan of comics and a curious observer. Sponsored by Star Clipper Comics, Comic Art magazine, and the USS Catastrophe, the St. Louis Comic Art Show featured both local and national indie comic writers, illustrators, and publishers. It also was an ideal opportunity for geeky comic people to meet others of the same ilk and talk shop.

The core of the show was held in an old bank vault at the City Museum. Guests Charles Burns and Gary Panter signed autographs all day and greeted fans. Panter talked a lot about his Jimbo comics and his work for PeeWee’s Playhouse; Burns spoke of his work for Sub Pop Records, as well as his Black Hole comic.

I arrived around 10 a.m. and walked around the expo gallery tables, where I got lots of free stuff. For a comic fan, this was great: All sorts of demented minds in one space with their creative outlets and ideas before them. Comics are a great form of creative expression. The work shown here, while indie-spirited and noncommercial, was incredibly solid in quality.

St. Louis’ Comic Art magazine had a table staffed by gracious and friendly people. They also make a magazine that really sinks into the various genres of comics. Drawn & Quarterly had a great table, too, where I got some Summer Blonde paraphernalia. Among my surprise finds was a small comic called Go Go Girl that was pretty funny.

Chris Ware was at the Fantagraphics table, and I was able to have my Acme Novelty Date Book signed. The City Museum had also set aside gallery exhibit space for Burns and Panter; Panter’s work featured 18 pages of Jimbo #7. Not only could you read the comic, but you could also see the process of building a regular comic title in action. Panter’s sense of irony is stellar, his work timely and relevant. Burns’ exhibit was a bit more diverse. He highlighted his New Yorker work as well as Dead Meat and Pixie Meat. Burns has an amazing style; he captures textures very well. With both artists’ displays, it was interesting to see the process of how comics are made. Additionally, was great to see comic books exhibited as art.

The day culminated with a free lecture at Washington University. The moderated panel featured slide shows by Burns and Panter, who gave overviews of their work, then talked about their various projects, comics, and work in general. A short question-and-answer session followed. They gave advice to new writers and publishers and answered loads of questions about their creative process. Most interesting was the talk about collaborations they had done with others. It also was great fun to hear Panter reflect on his time as a set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

The St. Louis Comic Art Show is onto something. Hopefully as time progresses, the event will grow into a two-day affair. Still, it is great to see the STL indie comic community pulling together to do something amazing.

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