Danno Klonowski on the Rain Taxi Book Fest

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Minneapolis is a great place for comics. Have I said that enough?

Last weekend, two of our best festivals fell on the same date.  For one day only you could attend either the Rain Taxi Book Festival or FallCon.  Pretty good for the people of Minneapolis.  Pretty tough for cartoonists wanting to exhibit at both shows.

The exodus from FallCon this year was substantial — at least ten indie cartoonists went to the Book Festival instead of FallCon.  By all accounts, this year’s FallCon was the best yet.  It’s still a great show, but decidedly more mainstream, which is why more cartoonists are spending money for space at Book Fest instead of enjoying the free tables and wonderful hospitality at FallCon.

No hard feelings, FallCon.  Sometimes a cartoonist just needs to get out and try new things.  Experiment a little.  Test a new market.  And they did.  So how was it?

Danno Klonowski, Minneapolis cartoonist and prominent International Cartoonist Conspiracy member, was kind enough to write us a little something about his experience exhibiting for the first time at the Rain Taxi Book Festival.  Full particulars after the cut.

— SM

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Fallcon 2009 Walkabout + Round Up

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fallcon2009postcardThe Midwest Comic Book Association throws a big event each year called Fallcon.  In most ways it’s a con like any other con.  Costumes, long boxes, xeroxed minis that don’t sell well, and a lot of dudes wearing black coats.

To me, the identity of Fallcon was apparent long ago: it’s just your average hero-worshiping local comic convention.  Make of it what you will, but in the end, creators go because their friends go and the more they go the more friends they know.  It’s fun, but even if you come out a few books light, you’re not leaving with a book deal and you’re rarely getting out with a date.

Fallcon is a hospitality show that fosters comics love in the Twin Cities.  It works that way because it’s basically the pet project of a very successful local comic book shop owner.  Comics love = comics business.  Our good fortune comes as easy as that but it’s not a formula that could work everywhere.  Luckily, this show is very good at achieving it’s mission, but it’s also been decidedly predictable.  Until this year.

I recently noted a change of tone in MCBA’s marketing strategy.  At least, it seemed new to me.  I perceived this year, for the first time, that the identity of Fallcon is slowly attempting to morph.  Into what, I don’t know.  But while Fallcon certainly appears to be just another fanboy-centric con to you — look again.  Look at that postcard!  This year the MCBA slogan for this show was realized by me for the first time.  Suddenly I couldn’t think of Fallcon as “just a con” anymore because, as the postcard notes, it is “A Comic Book Celebration.”

Wait.  “Celebration.” That’s like a party!  Huh-freaking-zah.  We’re all friends here.  It’s about time we got down.

That word “celebration” got me totally psyched to attend Fallcon this weekend, but looking back on things, I think I took it the wrong way.  All weekend long I sought evidence that Fallcon was much more than a sales floor, but was in fact one big swinging bash the likes of which Saint Paul, Minnnesota, would not see again until its next annual, epic appearance in 2010.  We were gonna tear down the rafters and spike the cola and open a kissing booth and gamble on real life Superman vs. Batman combat bouts in the adjacent conference room.

I took my camera and snapped what I could, but found none of this highly anticipated debauchery.  When I finally discovered the source of Fallcon’s celebration mojo, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  And while I’m sure that the celebration aspect of Fallcon takes on different forms for different people, to me it has become something very specific.

I’m taking you now on a photographic tour of the 2009 Fallcon.  Maybe the fruits of my walkabout will prove “celebration” enough to you, but it wasn’t until I reached the final piece of evidence that I really knew what it meant to have a comic book party.

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20th Anniversary of FallCon

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This weekend marks the 20th Anniversary of the Twin Cities’ premiere comic book convention FallCon! What began in 1989 as a small hotel convention has fully blossomed into a stalwart chunk of the Midwest’s comic culture. I’ve known people to come in from as far as Iowa just to visit. Iowa, I say!

Featuring panels, local indie and mainstream creators, dealers and reliably the Justice League, the event has yet to outgrow its highly unique sense of hospitality. All creator tables are free, and the event is even catered. Soda, tacos, sloppy joes, chips, cake and other delicious foods are available to creators over the two-day event, plus on Saturday night a special dinner is also offered, giving guests an opportunity to unwind and meet. Do other conventions offer their guests steak dinner? I don’t think so. As volunteer Nick Post would say, “We’ll not have any starving artists on our watch!”

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