Indie Comic Con 2024 – Power to the Creators

The cronut dropped, and everyone lost their pastry loving minds but when you think about it, that was a fire concept that was long overdue. I like to think of a comic con for independent creators in the same light – an amazing idea that needed a Charles Xavier, someone to nurture that spark of genius, organize and execute. *Cue Matthew Sardo and Comix Well Spring hitting the DBZ fusion dance, and an amazing new con is born.

On a rainy day in March, nerds, geeks, and otaku from all over the tristate descended upon Southern Connecticut State University for a rarity – a convention that can boast that it’s the first of its kind, Indie Comic Con. Greatness begets imitation, so I wouldn’t be surprised if indie cons become the new croissant hybrid of the nerd world. Everyone in attendance will one day tell their snotty nosed child or nephew how they recognized greatness while everyone else slept on the first event that shined a bat signal level light on the independent writers and artists of the world and kick-started a revolution in the land of comics.

As I stepped through the front doors of Indie Con, I got this warm, inviting feeling. Not the feeling you get when you walk into grandma’s crib while she’s baking, the kind you get when you know everyone in the building is of a similar mindset; “I’ve laid it all on the line and refuse to be anything but unapologetically me.”

What you have to remember about independent artists is that it takes a ton of courage to put your art out into the world without the backing of some company, organization, or money bags angel investor. Indie work is hard work. Indie work is that person on a page, that person infused into their artwork, that person through and through – and you have no idea if it will sell, if people will hate it, or if it’s any good. So at a con like this, you need to feel Luffy levels of positivity and support as soon as you arrive. You want to get a “one of us” chant vibe from the first booth you see all the way to the one tucked in the back corner. And that’s exactly how my day went. Let me tell you about all the artists and art that I saw, loved, and appreciated at Indie Comic Con.

A Diversity of Dopeness

There were so many different flavors of creators that I found myself working the room like Erina Nakiri after a night out at a Sailor Boom party. Was I able to be wild hype at the number of POC artists in attendance, while also being severely disappointed at the lack of women represented? You damn right. I made B lines for artists that were giving cocoa butter enthusiast and wound up swimming in melanated greatness.

Joshua Smith Jearmon writes this dope Biblical, Mesoamerican, Mt. Olympus influenced Bad Natures book that touches on themes of betrayal, sacrifice, nature, and rebirth. 

Ziaire Ward’s Gunman is a tale of an alternate version of earth, where one-man rules all. When that man snatches up the wrong woman, our main character, Gunman becomes the focal point in a world without guns. Unless you go by the name of Gunman, of course.

Jason Quinones had a slew of artistic work on display including his humor laced Beer & Cookies comics, some stickers, sketch covers, and poster art. He sat on his first comic con panel about the cartooning process and provided insight into what inspired his illustration style (such as the written work of Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series). He’s a vet in the comic streets, and we can’t wait to see him get more opportunities to bring our favorites to life.

Miles Curtiss is a guy who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum. If a loc’d black man with an imperfect smile, penny vest, and penchant for rock n roll can have all the confidence in his comic book, The Editors that featured a Where’s Waldo style cover, then of course I have to check out what this book is all about!

What I Needed More Of

Keshawn Dodds was the man with the master plan. He has an impressive looking book series titled, Menzuo, and is working on getting his art adapted for the big or silver screen, and is behind the New Age of Heroes Comics Convention that will be held on November 9th where comic book authors, artists, writers, and their fans will be a gathering in Springfield, MA for another exciting convention.

Despite all the amazing artists I had already seen, D.B. Supr wound up being the booth that got me most hype. Donning an all black Japanese inspired oni half facemask, you couldn’t help but raise an impressed eyebrow as you passed by his block. I call it his block because he pretty much had the entire back corner of the convention room on lock.

He had fashion merch, vinyl toys, decals, and books on display, which are available here. After speaking with him for a few minutes, it was clear that he truly was the antithesis of a one trick pony. He writes, draws, and inks his own comics, touting himself as the old school Kanye or rookie year Wemby of this generation of indie comics. Dude was truly pulling a triple double, solo dolo. His book Fist of the New Lands featured some incredible cover art, and his newest joint Artriculated is an ode to graffiti artistry. I truly appreciated his dedication to his craft.

For the Love of Turtles

The moment of the day where I could drop all of the attention to detail, hustle, and networking was during the 4 Decades of Turtle Power panel where Eric Talbot and Jim Lawson hopped on stage and treated us all like the homies. It’s so refreshing to witness people treat you like you just grabbed a tall cold glass of iced tea and sat down on the couch to talk like normal folx. 

I was born in 87, the same year the cartoon dropped, so the turtles have been a staple in my mind since I was old enough to say the word pizza and throw a kick at my brother’s head while making kung fu sounds. Did I read the comics back then? No, but that didn’t matter because Leo, Raph, Mikey, Donny and them were ubiquitous in all aspects of kid life. TV shows, action figures, movies, all types of toys, and arguably the most important part of their stardom – they were the talk of the playground. “I’m Raphael”, “I’m Michelangelo” was all you heard once it came time to beat Shredder’s imaginary ass. Should’ve known I was destined for the nerdom when I was all about Donatello. So yeah, as a lifelong fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the inclusion of this panel is what got me excited to hoof it out to Yale city when I got the email invite to their event.

What was really cool about Lawson and Talbot talkin shop was the early years of comics, bits of info you get from them, and the game they put you onto. They spoke from a genuine, independent artist mindset, and it was impressive how down to earth they’ve remained. You have to attribute that to the original owners of the TMNT franchise, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, who started the comic back in 1983 and remained the ultimate decision makers for the franchise until 2009. Eric Talbot and Jim Lawson described the process of TMNT swelling to such a massive property and how absurd it was that 2 guys, who could be described as the antithesis of businessmen, owned it for as long as they did.

Lawson informs the intimate crowd scattered throughout this theater room that Kevin and Pete put out an APB about the comic, got it pitched to toy companies which led to all the other licensing deals, movies, and shows that came about. Then Lawson put it all in perspective when he said, imagine you’re this big million dollar Hollywood exec and “you have to get final approval from 2 guys out in Massachusetts to get these deals done.” The crowd chuckles, knowing this was not only funny but a hell of a moment of imagery. Before they wrapped up, they left the crowd of indie artists and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans of all ages with a line that will stick with me and hopefully every other attentive mind in that crowd forever, “Go get a licensing agent if you’re trying to do what we did.”

Once an artist makes something massive, draws a book that carries the story, or writes something that becomes a cash cow, it’s easy to ride the convention calendar train and reminisce about the times before you made it, but to use your platform while on the most authentic startup stage there can be, to slide such a dense piece of advice in there, I couldn’t help but retain my ear to ear grin the entire time they spoke. Once they wrapped up the journey down 40 years of Turtle Lane, we got to Q&A, and I proudly took the opportunity to ask them the most obvious non-comic question there is, “which Ninja Turtles movie is your favorite?” They both agreed you have to go with “the 1st movie, right?!” Then Lawson explained that he hadn’t seen the newest Seth Rogan made film but heard great things about. I assured him that he should add it to his list and that concluded the 4 Decades of Turtle Power panel. 

Artist Alley Central

This convention was deadass an artist alley on Compound V, and was all contained to one space, so I got to take my time meeting and interacting with a slew of dope creators and checked out their current or most popular books. Halden Fraley’s Miralynd, Daniel Patierno’s Cryptozoic comics, Matt King’s Tales to Enlighten and Ian Cinco’s Neon Spring were cool books I peeped while making the rounds.

Nick Forker’s Eyeland featured some incredible, and yes, eye-catching cover art.

Ian Richardson needs no introduction for horror comic fans, and as I thumbed through Wendigo, I immediately understood why.

Joe Romie’s horror vibes are clearly felt with his Bloodlust book standing front and center for all the fans of gore and spooky lit.

Colin Devonshire and son were promoting their comic By the Time I Get to Dallas. Dad was missing when I stopped by their booth, but that provided me the opportunity to get the unfiltered answers I was looking for. Like how a night of dad’s drinking and wild ideas led to the creation of this fun apocalyptic book.

Hans Rickheit – had a number of books available with Squirrel Machine and Folly being the ones that most caught my eye

Sam Royale has some really good book options including Papa Balloon Cactus.

Rian Miller’s Man-Gull was easily the most audacious book cover that I saw on this day and as I thumbed through the actual pages, I was left more impressed than filled with shock. Love when a cover and concept can draw you in, while the content can hold your attention.

Eisner award winner Gideon Kendall had plenty of his impressive creations on full display including Mega Ghost, WaitIt Gets Worse, and more.

I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable comic cons I’d ever been to. Every artist was there for the love of the game, not the climbing of the corporate popular nerd ladder. While everyone in the building would be more than happy to make a comic that became the hottest selling, Eisner-award lauded book in all the land, everyone was plenty happy just to be there sharing their art with like-minded individuals, fans of multiple comic book genres, and youth hungry for their next fave character and storyline.

Grown Up Black Boy Joy

Indie Comic Con pulled off an impressive feat, and I truly hope this event is brought back for their second annual, in a bigger more centralized location. How can you go wrong with more room for independent creators to showcase their hard work and more access for people to come support said indie artists? Everybody eats.

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  • Ja-Quan is a NYC teacher and artist holding a B.A. in Sociology and History from SUNY New Paltz. On his journey to become Hokage, the Lord of The Speed Force and Protector of the Recaps can be found North of The Wall, chopping it up on Twitter @OGquankinobi

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