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Article by David E. Miller
Posted June 7, 2005

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Who says Marvel and DC get to have all of the fun? After downing a rather large shot of tequila with Ken Knudtsen, creator of Slave Labor’s My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer, I was inspired by 15 rows of artists and creators selling their creative passion to the masses.

Jennifer, the story of a little girl who likes to dress up her male monkey in female clothing as they embark on their many adventures, typifies the phenomenal ideas that perforate the many original graphic novel options at Wizard World Philadelphia. The advent of self-publishing platforms such as have allowed creators such as Joe Caramagna and Dennis Budd to publish such entangling supermodel adventures as Model Operandi: Affair of the Heart on a tight budget. During discussions with Joe, I was amused by a t-shirt he was selling in cross-marketing his efforts that read, "My Other Girlfriend is a Supermodel."

“Is she?” I asked, and was surprised to hear him say, “Yes!”* Regardless, it was almost immediately apparent that anyone with a strong idea, the ability to write and draw, and a lot of pocket change, could forge their path on the same stage as more established brands.

*Actual answer was, “No."

Joe Caramagna

Wizard World was heavily attended with a three-day assault on the Philadelphia Convention Center. Legions of fans came out to attend an enormous airplane hangar sized auditorium attended by comic book dealers, publishing companies, and a wide array of creators signing, drawing, and participating in well-attended forums.

The set-up was all about real estate. The bigger the company or dealer, the closer they were to the entrance. Therefore, the independent and smaller creators were situated in the back corner of the convention. Luckily, the abundance of 15 long tables stuffed with publishers and creators was impossible to miss, which was apparent from the crowded rows of people looking to discover stories off the beaten path.

I was particularly surprised upon entering this behemoth that my gift bag contained manga, but the opportunity to purchase other manga was quite sparse on the floor. Considering that you're inundated with rows of manga while shopping in the graphic novel section of your local bookstore, it was odd not to see the same choices at the show. It was also disappointing to see so few trades available for purchase from the dealers. It would appear that ideas were created at the back of the room, and sold for scraps at 20% to 50% off cover price in front…that is…if you could find them. I could count on one, possibly two hands how many dealers were even selling trades.

I digress, however, because heading to the back corner was perpetually inspiring. I had a phenomenal time speaking with Mike Gold who was the former editor of First Comics, who, along with John Ostrander (GrimJack) and Tim Truman (GrimJack, Scout), have revitalized their creations with IDW to bring the long demanding masses collected volumes of GrimJack and Mike Grell’s Jon Sable to compliment new ongoing series.

Local Philly creator Pete Stathis had a large display to promote his Evenfall; Greg Moutafis, artist, was promoting The Rookie; Rick Faber, artist, talked up Buzzboy by Steve Hauk; and Archaia Studios Press was there in force for their Artesia comics and trades line. Looking for "Space Pirates, a Sexy Girl, and…a Talking Beaver!?" Look no further, as Ape Entertainment was happy to entice you to buy their spin on science fiction, A Different Pace.

I'm not crazyIt was consistently enticing to hear each creator discuss their works passionately. For Baltazar, his Patrick The Wolf Boy trades are a labor of love that he has been working on for years. Jennifer Omand’s Squarecat Comics is a diary collection starring herself as a cat and assorted animal friends with daily web strip updates. Andy B provided work more on the macabre side with his high-speed 50s horror trade, Dead End 56.

Sure, some of the bigger players were there as well. Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Thor, Hammer of the Gods), Mike Hawthorne (Hysteria, Queen & Country), David Mack (Kabuki, Daredevil), and Joseph Michael Linser (Dawn) all made themselves readily available to the fans and set the example for the others in attendance that dedication and perseverance to your passion integrated with a lot of marketing and promotion will get your trades read, appreciated, and enjoyed. The payoff is that nothing could be better than writing and creating something you are passionate about and sharing that with those who are passionate about reading it. There are few greater stages provided to do this than there were this past weekend at Wizard World Philadelphia.

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