Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 10/26/2005
SNAP! Crackles with Pop Culture Goodness!
Dan and Katie Merritt on the inaugural SNAP! convention
I've known both of the Merritts for a few years now, mainly through their appearances at various comic cons and via visits to their exceedingly fine comic shop, Green Brain Comics. As will become obvious over the course of the following interview, these are two folks who are enthusiastic and passionate about the art of comics, and both have dedicated themselves to widening the audience and general appreciation for this wonderful medium. And it shows in every detail of what they do.
Their latest venture is SNAP!, a Detroit-area indy press show which will debut this weekend. And if the preliminary response and growing buzz offer any indications, this could well turn out to be one of the biggest and best shows for small pressers and their fans of the year, bar none. Really.
Here's Dan and Katie telling us why...
Bill Baker: So, what exactly is SNAP!, who's involved in running it, who might want to attend, and when is it happening?
Dan Merritt: SNAP! is a brand new one day event designed to help small-press and self-publishing comic creators gain an audience in the metro Detroit area.
It's a project that my wife Katie and I have been working on for a few years. It's really felt like the time had come for this type of event to take root in our town. We have so many talented creators in the Midwest, and locally there are so few venues for these folks to get to display their work to the public.
We really want SNAP! to appeal to everyone. I expect to see people from all different walks of life and different mindsets attend SNAP!. One of the strengths of our guest list is it's diversity. The show will feature people like local mini-comic legend Matt [Cynicalman] Feazell, Paul Sizer creator of sci-fi graphic novel Moped Army, big press writer and self-publishing pioneer William Messner-Loebs along side Douglas Paszkiewicz creator of dark-humored Arsenic Lullaby.
SNAP! The Comic Arts Festival is being held this Saturday, Oct 29th, 2005 at the Al Matta Hall 5121 Oakman Road in Dearborn, Michigan, with a pre-SNAP! reception to be held at Green Brain Comics 13210 Michigan Avenue, also in Dearborn, Michigan.
BB: Just to play devil's advocate here, aren't these guys all being served by other shows? I mean, there's APE, SPX and SPACE going on already for small and indy pressers, which means that in a sense the entire country's covered by them. So, was another show needed--really?
DM: For most of the creators involved travel is a big issue nowadays. And while SPACE [which is held annually in Columbus, OH] is the closest to us geographically, it is still a 3 hour drive away. But truthfully, it is probably more about us wanting to recreate the fun and excitement of those other shows, here in our neighborhood.
Now, is it needed?
The comic convention circuit hasn't really been the greatest way for these creators to get attention. The grim reality of competing against multi-media stars for attention has really beat down some of these folks.
These people pay for high rent table space and get ignored because the convention attendees are their for the porn stars or washed-up TV celebrities.
SNAP! is designed and promoted to appeal to people that want to see comics and talk to the creators. That's it really, no frills, just for the appreciation of comics.
BB: Well, what are some of the other things Snap! will be offering creators and readers that they might not find at other venues?
DM: Beer! The Al Matta Hall bar and grill will be open and serving!
KM: And, there is also going to be some atmosphere. The small press conventions are notorious for having a special feeling weaving through the aisles, an energy that can be felt--not smelt. It is always exciting for me to walk into the exhibition hall at SPACE or SPX. People all talking about comics, people excited about comics. I could best describe it as passion. Not the kind of passion that inspires arguments about silver age continuity, the kind that inspires communication. Communication between creator and audience is one of the things that we hope to provide and facilitate.
BB: I know that one "good" problem you've ran into rather quickly was that you sold out of display space. Did you expect that kind of sell out, table wise, and what does that mean for the show, and its attendees, professional and fan alike?
DM: Katie and I are very pleased with the response. This being our first year, we expected to go to SPX in late September with a handful of table applications for open tables. As it turned out we sold all of our tables by the beginning end of August.
From a business standpoint, it means the show is a success before we even open the doors. The hall was paid for, the same with promotion. And with the size of our waiting list for tables, it shows us that we can seriously consider a bigger event site if we do this again next year.
What it means to our guests, is that they will benefit from their involvement in a show that has a great buzz about it. We have been so happy that our first show has been talked about in so many different forums and news sites. At SPX we gave out flyers for SNAP! to all of the exhibitors, and so many of them said that they had heard about the event already. And SPX is 500 miles away from Detroit. That, my friend, is word of mouth.
For the fans? SNAP! can now provide them with access to over 40 different exhibitors. That means selection folks. Variety!
BB: Well, considering the favorable response, are you thinking about next year already? Or am I rushing you folks just a bit...?
DM: It really depends on a few more factors, but we have been considering running SNAP! as a yearly event since the conception of the idea.
BB: We haven't talked about this yet, but in addition to running the Green Brain Comics store, and trying to raise a family, at least one of you, is also involved 'Just a little" with the Friends of Lulu. Which begs the question, "What, you're so bored that you had to come up with something else to do?" In other words, what do you get from doing these different things, be it personally or professionally?
KM: Well, family life has calmed down a lot since my daughter turned 16.
But seriously folks, between family, running the store and responsibilities with organizations like Friends of Lulu, we don't have much free time. But SNAP! is something that needed doing.
Personally and professionally, what we are getting from organizing SNAP! has and will always be a feeling that we are doing something to help the comic art form gain a measure of respect and visibility.
BB: And what do you hope folks get from attending SNAP!, be they artists or attendees?
DM: Lots of different things.
Firstly, comics. Everyone must buy comics at SNAP! and take them home and read them.
Secondly, we hope that the creators make lots of money. These creators will then use that money to purchase food and supplies to make more comics with.
And finally, and maybe most importantly. I hope everyone will get a feeling of being a part of something unique. SNAP! is created for all of us to enjoy and play a part in. SNAP!'s dynamic will be determined by all of it's elements. Creators, attendees, comics, beer, bar food and a good healthy dose of love for an art form that deserves every bit of love you can give it.
BB: Any thing else you'd like to add before I let you go?
KM: We want to thank everyone for showing so much interest and support. And to invite everyone by for the pre-SNAP! reception to be held on Friday Oct 28 from 8 pm to midnight at:
Green Brain Comics
13210 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, MI 313-582-9444
DM: And whatever you do, don't forget:
SNAP! The Comic Arts Festival
Saturday October 29th
Al Matta Hall
5121 Oakman Dearborn, MI
My mom will be there too. ;D
Hey, even Dan's mom is gonna be there! So what are you waiting for? The action's all in Dearborn, yes Dearborn!, this weekend. Sounds like a road trip to me...
<< 09/14/2005 | 10/26/2005 | 12/07/2005 >>
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