Review: STAPLE! Independent Media Expo

STAPLE! Austin: The Independent Media Expo is over for 2015… which means my family is now waiting for the 2016 dates to be announced.

What did our family get out of STAPLE! 2015? First and foremost, we picked up some good comics we might not have heard of otherwise, and got to give compliments in person to people whose work we admire. That always feels great. For example, Boy Detective’s favorite booth was by artist Rachel Dukes:

He actually took me back to her “kitty comics” table a second time so he could read me the comics she had on the big posterboard, laughing the whole time he was reading. (Thanks for graciously letting us snap a pic, Rachel!)

He also got to tell artist Brooke Allen of Lumberjanes how much he liked the cover of the first issue, and tell both her and writer Grace Ellis how much we were looking forward to reading it when the paperback collection comes out in April.

Overall, it was a great opportunity for Boy Detective to talk with professional artists about their work, be treated like a person… and practice some politeness – for example, when you get done looking at a table, say “thank you” to the person there before you walk away. All of the creators we interacted with were excellent about making it clear which of their comics were kid-friendly, and which “Mom might want to look at first” or were “more geared towards adults.” They pulled this off without giving a negative vibe or talking down to the seven year old. I really appreciated it!

And the panels? The three I saw were perfect for tweens and teens interested in art, comics, writing, or games. This tweet captured the heart of it for me:

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Our lessons learned for next year:

  • Even a small convention like this is a BIG place, with a lot of noise and visual stimulation. If your kid is tired that day or easily hits overwhelm, expect to take breaks in the lobby. That’s okay, you’re here to relax! (I think I’m telling myself that, not you.)
  • If you have specific artists or writers you think your kid would dig, show them the work ahead of time so they can look forward to it. If they might freeze up while trying to talk to someone whose work they’re interested in, they might want to make that person a drawing or write a note. Eric Colossal, creator of Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, did a bookplate sketch for Boy Detective on Day 1, which I took home to him. When we all went as a family on Day 2, Boy D brought a sketch for Eric on an index card, which helped give him a clear first step for getting started in such a big place.
  • Plan ahead for meals! I felt confident that we didn’t need to have food in the car because there was going to be a taco truck… and then discovered the only vegetarian option was fried avocado tacos, which I love but my kid won’t eat. And there aren’t a lot of restaurants around the Marchesa. STAPLE! asks that you don’t bring outside food and drink in, but they only have chips, popcorn, and a few other little snacks inside, so you may want to have a lunch bag in the car or plan to leave the area and then come back.
  • Bring a bigger purse. You may buy more books than you anticipate! And though it’s cash only to get in, almost all the artists take credit cards right at their tables.

Pictured: Transyltown by Isaiah Broussard, Couri Vine by Vanessa Shealy and Leah Lovise, Frankie Comics by Rachel Dukes, and Jack: Adventures in Texas’ Big Bend by Chris Ruggia.

STAPLE! does not seem to have an email list, so you can keep up with them either on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or their blog – all linked from their website.

See you there next year!

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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