MIX it up

The second annual Minneapolis Indie Xpo is bigger, better and ready for action/humor/melancholy etc.

Tom Kaczynski works in his home studio Wednesday.  Kaczynski will be featuring some of his work at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo, an event that showcases independent book and comic artists and publishers, at the Soap Factory on November 5 and 6.

Tom Kaczynski works in his home studio Wednesday. Kaczynski will be featuring some of his work at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo, an event that showcases independent book and comic artists and publishers, at the Soap Factory on November 5 and 6.

Martina Marosi

 

What:Minneapolis Indie Xpo

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat âÄì Sun., Nov. 5-6

Where: The Soap Factory, 518 Second St. SE, Minneapolis

Cost: Free

What happens when you get more than 200 comic artists, publishers, thousands of fans, almost 100 different vendor booths and cram them into an old factory for two days?

Let it stew for a while, add sustained buzz, popular demand and you’ll get the Minneapolis Indie Xpo âÄî a full-scale convention of independent comic artists and publishers who are traveling from places near and far to network, hawk wares and celebrate the medium.

MIX is the brainchild of local comic artists Andy Krueger and Sarah Morean, who wanted to bring Minneapolis an event replete with hot independent comic-related action.

Morean, who formerly served as the Twin Cities Zinefest organizer, has coordinated MIX on a shoestring budget that is buoyed by sponsorships from local businesses like Big Brain Comics, MPLS.TV and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

In addition to its two-day exposition where comic producers and fans alike can meet and greet, MIX also has an exhaustive list of hourly programs and panels to take place over the course of each day. The end of each night will be followed by parties and special events that include the requisite DJ, live music, prizes and, of course, a featured âÄúMIX drink.âÄù

By day Morean works as an assistant in the University of Minnesota’s plant pathology library. Unless she can quit her day job, Morean says that 2012 likely won’t see an official MIX, but that shouldn’t dampen hopes for it to manifest itself in another form come next year’s autumnal equinox.

âÄúAt the bare minimum, a version of MIX could exist in its absence,âÄù Morean said. 

Tom Kaczynski, a local comic artist who designed the poster for the event and also served as one of its curators, offered his own solution to sustain the event.

âÄúWhatever the show is next year, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same. It could be like a âÄúremixâÄù rather than MIX.âÄù

Kaczynski, who has drawn comics for almost 30 years, also has his own comics publishing company, âÄúUncivilized Books,âÄù and will be on a panel comprised of other micro-publishers presenting Sunday. 

âÄúPublishing is at such a weird crossroad right now. But at the same time, I think there’s a lot of opportunities because of this,âÄù Kaczynski said.

The Polish-born comic artist has been able to support himself with his art, whether through graphic design work or other creative endeavors, but younger artists like Eric Schuster explore these opportunities at night or on the weekend while working at a grocery store during the day.

Schuster, a 2007 graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, will have a table at MIX to vend comics he collaborated on with fellow MCAD alum Joseph Gillette.

The digital-minded Schuster has a pointedly lo-fi aesthetic, using a low-resolution computer drawing program designed specifically for pixel art. âÄúIt’s a wonderful drawing tool,âÄù Schuster said.

Schuster will sell his printed comics, but he and Gillette look to the space between printed comics and cartoons as a venue to develop new projects. He pointed to mobile phones and kindles as portable devices where âÄúmotion comics,âÄù âÄî comics with animated panels âÄî as another frontier for comic art.

âÄúWhat can they do that a print comic can’t do?âÄù Schuster said.

Kaczynski, with decades of experience under his belt âÄî or pen, rather âÄî echoes this sentiment.

âÄúThere’s a lot out there that hasn’t been done in comics and I think, why not?âÄù Kaczynski said.

MIX throws a spotlight on a corner of culture that has brought the world almost every iteration of a simple square panel and an accompanying caption. Even if this Indie Xpo is Minneapolis’ last, it is certainly not the end of the line. If anything, MIX has only just started to draw it.