Bald Geeks & Beer Bitches at the Underground Publishing Convention

Remember drawing crayon superheroes on long strips of butcher paper, or doodling X-Men in your spiral bound notebook? Even non-geek kids do that. But sending intern applications to Marvel with hand drawn images of Iron Man, Rogue and She-Hulk crawling around the envelope? Oh, yeah, that was all us. So what do comic book loving geeks do when they don't quite have the experience, chops, and/or talent to make it at one of the big publishing houses? Make a zine -- a self-published book of images and.or text that can range from collections of poetry to comics to local stories and photos.

The thing about zines is that they're usually offbeat, of questionable quality and cater to a very limited crowd. Which perfectly describes the feeling at this weekend's Underground Publishers Convention in the parking lot behind Stinkweeds on Central Ave. and Camelback Rd. in Phoenix. The tiny festival consisted of a half dozen or so tables filled with hand drawn and self-published comic books, zines and graphic novels.

Bald geeks and Beer Bitches after the jump... 

I don't know if these guys pissed off the zine gods or something, but the convention seemed to have a few things going against it. There were a few no-show vendors. Saturday's hip-hop DJ was out of place amongst punk and alternative-loving nerds. Duct tape was everywhere -- even on one vendor's car window -- and it was all melting in the sun, causing signs to fall and the aforementioned window to slide down.

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And Saturday was so windy that the planned SkillShare classes were cancelled as everyone struggled to keep their umbrellas from lifting and their zines from blowing away. Sunday was a bit calmer, but suffered from low attendance. Perhaps all of the local geeks were already standing on line for the Wolverine movie premiere.

To be fair, this was the first year for the mini-convention, and nearly every con we know (even some of the Comic Con biggies) started out as a grassroots thing. Think of it like the publishing version of a "garage band" -- not cool enough yet to play the big venues, but still worth checking out in case any of the players actually hit the big time.


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