I need to say something about STAPLE. This past weekend, April and I packed the car and drove to Austin -- in part to celebrate April's birthday with some of her old cohorts, but also to participate in the 5th annual STAPLE! Independent Media Expo. I'm five for five. (previous reports: year one, year two, year three, year four) I asked April what I should comment on. She replied:
"You could say that Jeffrey Brown was there and your girlfriend has a crush on him? Because he is a beardy, self-deprecating Midwesterner? Your table was in a better location this year? There should be better promotion of the event? The djs at the Live Art event were awesome?"
Thanks April. I think. Okay, Jeffrey Brown. Apparently, my girlfriend has a crush on him. I should have seen it coming. Last year at STAPLE, I bought April a few Jeffrey Brown books. She read and enjoyed them. I've been trying to get April hooked on comics, and he seems to be her gateway drug. In keeping with tradition, I bought another (LITTLE THINGS) this year. Jeffrey signed it for her. He's a nice guy. We certainly need more super star indie/alternative/small press guests at STAPLE. James Kochalka, Scott Morse, Andy Runton, Matt Kindt, Derek Kirk Kim, Alex Robinson, Jamie S. Rich, Chynna Clugston, Christine Norrie, Brian Lee O'Malley, Hope Larson, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman -- where are you?
My table was in a good location, right across from Top Shelf. I also sold more books this year than ever before. I was a little worried, since I didn't have anything new, except for the mini-comic MINE ALL MINE. However, everything sold well, comics and graphic novels alike. I also handed out fliers to promote POPGUN VOL. 3. To anyone I met in Austin, if you're visiting my site for the first time, please post a comment and say "hello." Everyone was friendly. With table fees, gas, food expenses, etc. I have yet to break even, but with more people reading my work and a chance to share a table with Paul Milligan, I'm content.
In general, I'd give this year a big thumbs up. Of course, those who sit behind the booth always have opinions on how to make it better. Not that Uncle Staple is asking for my input, but I'll give it all the same. STAPLE needs more advertising. I'm sure those in charge would reply with "we're doing everything possible." Just like every person behind the steering wheel is convinced they are a good driver, every event organizer is convinced they've done "everything possible" with advertising. And yet, in Austin? An event like STAPLE should have three times as many attendees. Would a billboard make a difference? More posters? More postcards? A more active street team? A radio ad? A full page ad in the Austin Chronicle? Promotional coupons at Waterloo and Book People? With increased advertising costs, it pains me to say, they should charge about $5 more for next year's booths. The cost of admission has held steady at $5 for five years, it needs to be $10. That extra money should go directly to advertising. Maybe include a short film festival or a live band, and you've got something to justify the price increase. I have a great amount of respect for Uncle Staple. My advice is my own. Take it or leave it.
STAPLE has the best live art shows. This year was particularly fun. The hip hop group (name escapes me) was a nice addition. The DJ's were insanely good, even if it was a little loud for my aging ears. The Red 7 venue was great. As far as the art goes, some folks are better at these events than others. Artists like Jim Mahfood and Dave Crosland, with some style and personality, are particularly well suited for these events. Nick Derington, Kristian Donaldson, and Evan Bryce shined, but I may be biased.