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Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2007: What I learned.

I’ll never look at stuffed animals the same way again.

Me: I’m going to APE tomorrow. I hope there are some funny costumes.

Friend: Will there be furries?

Me: What?

Friend: Furries.

Me: What?

Friend: You know, people who dress up like big, cuddly animals and have sex with each other. They have big, furry orgies.

Me: Um. [Laughing.] What in the name of smelly Tootsie Rolls are you talking about?

[Sketchy] Friend: Oh, you don’t know? Forget it… it’s just something I heard about. Yeah.

It turns out there is a furry fandom movement, that has a hilariously deviant sexual faction that has gotten shout-outs on MTV, in Vanity Fair, and on (duh) CSI.

Two words: Furry porn. Heh.

The results of a survey of furry fans indicate that a full 2% of furries are interested in having sex with actual animals, while less than 1% are interested in sex with stuffed animals. Huh! Expose yourself and your inner teddy bear to other surprising aspects of this cuddly / kinky way of life at the furry wiki.

So, no, no furries at APE this year. But! Still plenty of oddballs and talented independents to keep things interesting.

And I did manage to see Art Spiegelman. He participated in this afternoon’s Graphic Novels Now panel:

  • Art Spiegelman: Highlighted work: Maus. Currently working on Meta-Maus, “the DVD extras” follow-up to Maus. It’ll contain rough sketches, jots from his notebook, research notes, and interview notes. He’s currently reading Rudolphe Topferr’s comics from the 1830s.
  • Kevin Huizenga: Curses. Currently working on Ganges #2.
  • Gene Yang: American Born Chinese. Currently reading Kevin’s Curses and Dark Horse’s Lulu books.
  • Bryan Lee O’Malley: Scott Pilgrim (optioned by Universal, with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) attached to direct).
  • Hope Larson: Gray Horses. Currently working on Chiggers.

Creating a graphic novel takes a long time.

Bryan: “The first Scott Pilgrim book took three months, but I’ll never, ever be able to do that again.”

Art: “When I did Maus, it was born out of dream to see what it would be like to have a comic book that needed a bookmark.”

Gene: “When you decide to write a graphic novel, it’s like you’re deciding to become a priest for five years.”

Keep your day job.

Gene: “We’re into art because we don’t like money.”[Laughing.] Gene finally broke even two years ago, and now makes enough to pay for art supplies. Gene and comic book independents Tien Pham and Brianna Miller all teach at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. Tien and Brianna both manage to find ways to incorporate their work into their classroom lessons. You have to admire that kind of shady industriousness!

Kevin: “Don’t quit your day job.” “Find a job that allows you to work on your comics. Office jobs are good.” “Landscaping is not good, because you get tired.” Kevin endorses working for a museum because they’re so un-demanding.

Art: Recommends a job as a night watchman. “All you have to do is be there.”

Want to be an independent comic book artist / writer / publisher? Give up on a social life.

Hope: “[Husband Bryan Lee O’Malley and I] have lots of cats!”

Kevin: “Well, it’s more of a personal problem than a comics problem.”

Gene: “If I thought about it, I’d get depressed.”

Art: “A lot of my social life consists of talking on the phone while I’m inking.”

Not a lot of costumes at APE–that’s ComicCon’s thing–but still plenty to see.


Art Spiegelman.


Gene Yang pontificates.


Hope Larson.


Bryan Lee O’Malley signs a copy of Scott Pilgrim Vol 1 for me.


The only comic book convention with a fully-stocked cash bar.


Would you buy cookies from them?


Complete with fake British accents. Really.


Would the superhero character who doesn’t belong at APE please stand up?


Wrong convention, buddy.


Can you name all of these? Note the shout-out to the best film of 1986, Big Trouble in Little China.


The launch of Top Shelf Production’s Super F*ckers. Why do I care? I don’t. But, look! It’s called Super F*ckers!


One of the favored breeding grounds of the geeky, goth, hipstered, pony-tailed, and/or tattooed.


More of the same.

Today’s personal highlights included getting autograph-cum-illustrations from Bryan Lee O’Malley and Art Speigelman, and discovering the work of an artist named Jerrell Conner at his booth near the back corner of the main convention floor. His artwork and dog-eared sample copy of Revelations struck quite a few passer-by, including a rep from a better-known comics distributor. Some artists slip from into “muddled and obscure” when they try to go “dark and moody”, but Jerrell’s work is genuinely mysterious and… well, cool! Very striking stuff. Keep an eye out for his next release, which should be any year now…

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11 comments… add one
  • Tom Geller April 23, 2007, 12:14 am

    Hey there, mystery (wo)man. You posted a comment in my LiveJournal, and now I’m going crazy trying to figure out who you are. Nu?

    Anyway… you’re wrong that there were no furries at APE, because *I* was there. :) I was surprised *not* to run into others from the fandom, though… what’s up with that? Schmucks.

    Speaking of furry: At the “Queer Cartoonists” talk Andy Hartzell introduced me to Fox Bunny Funny, which looks like it’ll be quite interesting — wordless, similar to Owly. (If that’s a new trend, I like it! It’s the Mr. Bean of comics.) Since Fox Bunny Funny is about a “furry” world divided between herbivores and carnivores, I was surprised to learn that he was unfamiliar with Kevin and Kell, which has run DAILY online for almost 12 years. The tone is completely different, of course.

    I caught the tail end of the Spiegelman/Mouly/etc. talk on Saturday, and kicked myself that I’d missed most of it. So it goes.

  • Great White Snark April 23, 2007, 12:38 am

    Howdy, and welcome. First, me = man. Or, man-child, depending.

    I don’t believe we’ve met (and certainly not in furry circles, because I haven’t registered for my membership card, yet)… I stumbled upon your blog when I was trolling Technorati for blog entries that might touch upon the things I missed yesterday at APE. (Was only able to attend on Sunday.)

    Thanks for the heads-up on those titles. Now that I’ve been to APE, I feel like a whole new world of quality, independent content has opened up to me. Exciting stuff.

    Little did I expect to capture a member of the fandom in conversation. Now that I have you here, I’ve got to know… is there a secret handshake? …are members expected to sound like furry animals, as well as look like them? …is there an animal that is particularly popular among the fandom? I have so many questions… that an MTV special can’t answer!

  • Cindi April 23, 2007, 10:28 pm

    I don’t understand some of the responses you got, Great White Snark. As usual, I’m confused (she said, flipping her blonde highlights to and fro.) P.S. I was just telling my husband about Furries. He didn’t believe me.

  • Great White Snark April 23, 2007, 10:35 pm

    Show him the entry on Wikipedia. He’s *got* to believe that… the Internets never lie.

  • Shithead April 24, 2007, 4:37 pm

    Did you attempt to chat up this Hope Larson person? She seems to fit your criteria, plus she is somehow related to comic books or something.

  • Great White Snark April 24, 2007, 4:49 pm

    Yes, she is cute, in a very nerdy sort of way, isn’t she? She also lives out in the wilderness in Canada, with her husband, Bryan Lee O’Malley.

  • Pod Post April 24, 2007, 8:48 pm

    Great White Shark!
    The Ladies of Pod Post salute you; hopefully you had as much fun as we did — damn those thin mint cookies! You can come by our booth and check out our merit badges any time!
    –Jennie Pod

  • Great White Snark April 24, 2007, 8:57 pm

    Snark! Snark, I say! Sharks have bigger teeth and swim faster than I do.

    Anyway, thanks for your continued graciousness, Jennie. I did have a good time. And, just so we’re clear, I would buy your cookies.

  • Eric April 25, 2007, 5:03 am

    As the “spouse” (shit’s not legal yet, doncha know) of a comics artist/graphic designer, I can safely say, when they’re working, you do not see them. Well, you see their back hunched over their desks as they work but that’s about it.
    And APE was cool, wasn’t it? But what was with that duo who kept changing costumes and wandering around? Green Lantern(s), Angel, some female version of Shazam/Capt. Marvel…

  • Great White Snark April 25, 2007, 12:09 pm

    Eric, as long as there’s marriage, there’ll be absent spouses. And as long as there are Republicans, there will be male pattern baldness and a huge hurdle to making gay marriage legal.

  • GreenReaper July 27, 2007, 6:02 pm

    Generally the fluffy ears and tail gives it away (no, really – some furries have met at malls like this :-).

    You’re not expected to sound like an animal – in fact, if you’re one of the 15% or so with a costume, you probably won’t be saying anything, since those foam heads are great mufflers.

    For popular animals, see WikiFur’s list:

    You might not find many of us at APE, but check out Wikinews for some original coverage of furry conventions (search: furry).

    Also, as it happens, Califur Diego is just over from Comic-Con at the Horton Grand:
    As far as I know, *it* hasn’t sold out of memberships yet . . .

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