Texas Hosts STAPLE! Indie Media Expo for Women

Winnie McCroy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

On March 7-8 in Austin, Texas, women come together for the STAPLE! Independent Media Expo, a tastefully presented two-day convention featuring the best of independently produced comics, zines, art, crafts, games and more. The eleventh annual event is the premier show of its kind in the Southwest, featuring more than 150 exhibitors, seven hours of programming, off-site events, a female-focused guest list and a panel aptly titled "Hire This Woman" by Janelle Asselin, based off her weekly Comics Alliance column of the same name, which will feature Texas-based female writers and artists.

According to market research provided by The Beat, a daily blog of comics news, reviews, and information, almost half of all comic fans are female. A surprising statistic to most, but for STAPLE! Founder Chris Nicholas it was an opportunity to recognize women for their hard work in a seemingly male-dominated field.

"There are a lot of very talented women working in comics and they sometimes get a bit of a short shrift, so I wanted to shine a light on a few of them. No other conventions, particularly in Texas, seem to be doing anything like this, so I knew it had to be STAPLE! who told their story," Nicholas divulges.

Founded in 2005, STAPLE! was created after Nicholas saw a void in the field of indie media conventions.

"I wanted a place where people could showcase their work outside of the mainstream media, a place where people could connect with, and inspire each other," Nicholas said.

Over the years, the event has grown to include over seven hours of programing. This year's highlights include: A Q&A with Babs Tarr, co-artist/designer of the new Batgirl; a Q&A with Kate Leth (Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time) and Grace Ellis (cowriter) and Brooke Allen (artist) from the comic Lumberjanes, a series that follows a group of girls at summer camp, and the strange creatures and supernatural phenomena they encounter; A "Pitching Comics" panel led by Janelle Asselin; and a screening of The Hillbilly Philosopher, a locally produced cartoon pilot, with a Q&A following.

Also included among the "Hire This Woman" panelists are Moderator Janelle Asselin, contributor to publishers like Fangoria Comics, DC Comics, and Disney; Panelist Jamie Kinosian, a watercolor illustrator and comic artist based in Houston, Texas; Panelist C. M. Bratton, author of eight books, one comic and co-writer on the film "Sanitarium" starring Malcolm McDowell, Lou Diamond Phillips, & Robert Englund; Panelist E.K. Weaver, comics artist for "Smut Peddler" and "Paradox Space," as well as illustrator for "Adventure Time;" Panelist Maria-Elisa Heg, a Houston-based illustrator, comix maker, feminazi, and an organizer of Zine Fest Houston; and Panelist Jeanne Thornton, co-publisher of Instar Books and Rocksalt Magazine, and author of the books "The Black Emerald" and "The Dream of Doctor Bantam" (a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2012) and the creator of the comics "Bad Mother" and "The Man Who Hates Fun."

STAPLE! will also host a few offsite events such as: a launch party at Austin books March 6 (which will also celebrate the birthday of Will Eisner and 75th anniversary of The Spirit, as an official Will Eisner Week event), an after-party live art show and benefit for at Shangri-La March 7, and Ladies Night at Austin Books on March 8 -- no boys allowed! ?

In its 11th year, STAPLE! continues to see the event grow and touch the lives of new audiences.

"Every year I'm reminded why I put on this event," Nicholas said. "People tell me how STAPLE! gave them a way to be seen or inspired them to pursue a dream and that's what really motivates me to do this," Nicholas states.

STAPLE! has come a long way since its humble beginning with only a handful of vendors and devoted fans in attendance. Over the years, the indie media expo has grown to feature hundreds of artists and over a 1,000 guests for the annual weekend event.

by Winnie McCroy , EDGE Editor

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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