my table set up at the ann arbor comic arts festival on June 15, 2024. It's half of a table, sharing a space with Angie Coe

I just came back from the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival, or A2CAF for short. And I had an AWESOME time!

Now, for clarity, two A2CAF events happen in a year: first is the A2CAF in June, which is for all ages and kids comics. The next is A2CAF: Small + Indie Press, which takes place in October.

It’s funny. I posted in last week’s update (about the Be Excellent Festival) that I thought of taking a break from cons. But I loved my time at A2CAF SO MUCH that I’m going to apply for their October show!

What made A2CAF so special? It’s hard to say in a broad or general sense. But here’s what made it magical for me.

First, there were only indie comics makers.

It felt like a compact, Midwest version of Small Press Expo or even a smaller Genghis Con Cleveland. The focus was only on comics creators. No toy dealers, anime shops, or comic collectors here. Everyone focused on the craft of making great stories with comics. And the panels focused on the creators and the craft of making great comics.

Second, the artists’ showcasing was curated – because the floor space was small.

Considering the size of the event floor, there could be no more than 50 tables. So the organizers had to be choosy about who could showcase and who needed to wait. (For context, the average artist alley of a comic con is a minimum of 100 tables. Often they go as high as 500. Awesome Con had about 500 to 700 tables in their artist alley.)

The size of the space did not hurt the show. I feel like it curated a more cozy atmosphere because patrons could take their time and wonder. It helps that it took place in the Ann Arbor District Library, which added to the cozy vibes.

Third, I got to meet FANTASTIC indie comics creators!

Many of them I knew through Discord servers, like Neil Brideau, Britt Monday, and Brandon Hawkins. Some I knew through their online work, like Lucy Bellwood. (I low-key geeked she mentioned telling folks my comic also had boats. Because it does!)

I even got autographs from two of my favorite comics creators: Vera Brosgol, who signed my copy of Anya’s Ghost. And Jen Wang, who signed my copy of The Prince and the Dressmaker! In truth, I’ve loved her work since Koko Be Good, but this book is now out of print. Which is sad because it’s SO DAMN GOOD.

Also, I got to see Jessi Zabarsky, an old classmate of mine from my college alum! I got her graphic novel, Coming Back, while I was there. If you haven’t read her work before, read Witchlight and her Instagram bunny comics.

During the show, I even got to meet artists with cool work whom I never read before! Folks like Narciso Espiritu, Sean Peacock (aka All Sorrows), Angie Coe, and Kaylee Rowena. There were also a lot of folks I didn’t get the chance to see, but I could tell the work had quality to it. It’s unlike walking down an artist alley at a pop culture con, I can tell you that much.

So if I liked A2CAF so much, does this mean I’m not quitting the convention circuit?


I’m quitting pop culture and comic cons – except for RathaCon, because the staff are fantastic there and they support indie voices. But I’m done going to comic cons. They overcharge their table fees, focus too much on celebrities, are too expensive to lodge at and treat comics as a collectible novelty, not an art form or storytelling medium.

So instead of beating my head against the comicon wall, I’m sticking to zine fests, art fests, and expos for the time being. Also, these sorts of venues are a lot more friendly to queer people like me.

My next in-person appearance is at Dragon’s Roost Coffee and Games for Free RPG Day! It’s in Holland, OH on June 22. I’m hoping to debut a new one-page RPG at this event, so I hope to see you there.

Can’t make it? Sign up for the newsletter so you can get that free RPG as a download!

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.