A Great Way to Help Us Kickstart the Up! Fair…


By Shawn Robare

I thought I’d take a moment today and put up a special Saturday post to let everyone know about some exciting updates for the Up! Fair.

We’ve got some ambitious ideas for what we’d like this event experience to be like for both the tabling guests and the attendees.  While we’re not brash enough to claim that we’re the alternative to huge established shows like the San Diego Comic Con and the various Wizard World events, we do see some areas that need improvement, in particular the role of the independent comics artists, writers, and publishers.  Typically relegated to Artist’s Alleys, it’s extremely tough to make a profitable go of tabling at these events because of the combined cost of travel, lodging, high table fees, and printing costs.  Breaking even at these shows is difficult enough, but on a creative level, even finding the time to get anything out of the event outside of tabling is also difficult.  Networking with other artists and writers is hard when you’re stuck behind your table, and the idea of utilizing the opportunity inherent in gathering a large crowd of artists to share ideas and learn from one another is almost non-existent.

Our idea is to treat the Up! Fair, first and foremost, as an opportunity for independent artists and writers to meet up and share their passion for comics and zines through hands on workshops, lectures, and panel discussions.  We want to bring the craft to the forefront, and leave the pop culture shenanigans to the other shows.   We also want the experience to be as exciting to just  attend as a cartoonist/writer, as it is to table or to put on these workshops.  That’s why we’re thinking more in the direction of a conference as opposed to a typical convention.

Obviously these types of events don’t happen overnight and there’s always a bottom line of costs and logistics.  One of our main goals was to try and make attending this event, both for the general public and those who are tabling, to be as low cost as possible, which is why we’re keeping table registration very reasonable ($50 for a full table, and $30 for a half table) and general attendance to the show absolutely free.

While we’re trying to cover the majority of the costs associated with the fair (we’re certainly taking a loss on this show), we do need some help making the event the best that it can be.  Earlier in the week we put out a call to cartoonists and writers for help with creative donations to the show, in particular sketches, finished comics work, or a couple copies of your independently published comics, mini-comics, books, or zines for distribution to guests and attendees of the Up! Fair.  On the one hand, these artistic donations will go towards helping to get the word out on independent publishing, giving everyone who comes to the show an opportunity to sample the rich and diverse landscape of comics and zines that exist outside of mainstream publishing.  On the other, it’s an opportunity to get your work out into the hands of the public in a much more personal method than just name dropping and link exchanges.

We also decided that in lieu of straight up monetary donations, we want to raise some money for the event by providing an opportunity to help out, but also by getting some great rewards in the process.  On Friday afternoon we launched a Kickstarter Pledge drive to help raise some funds for the show.  For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, basically it’s an online fundraising platform partnered with Amazon.com that allows monetary donations in exchange for tiered rewards.  Basically it’s an all or nothing deal.  We set a monetary goal and a drive end date and if we make our funding by the date we receive the money to help with the Up! Fair.  If not, all pledges are cancelled.

The exciting part for me is that after only 8 hours our project met its minimal fundraising goal!  I can’t even begin to thank everyone who helped make that possible, and so quickly even.  Much like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes bigger knowing that we’re putting together a project that people are excited about helping to make a reality, and honestly, November 19th can’t get here soon enough. 

But the work isn’t done yet, and this is where we’re going to get a little PBS for a second.  Though we’ve reached the initial funding goal, we still need help with the Kickstarter pledge drive to make the event all that it can be.

I’d like to remind folks that there are a lot of cool things you can purchase through this pledge drive.  The system we’ve set up is tiered, and with each step up in the pledge amount you’ll receive all the stuff in the tiers below.  Here’s some of what’s available…

For $5 you’ll be listed in the event program as an integral supporter, as well as receiving a link on the soon to be constructed Friends of the Up! Fair page on the website.  Oh and our honest, undying and heartfelt gratitude.

For $15 you’ll receive a one year subscription to the forum access on the Art & Story website, which has an awesome and growing community of like-minded artists and writers, as well as being listed in the event program as an integral supporter, as well as receiving a link on the soon to be constructed Friends of the Up! Fair page on the website.

For $35 you’ll receive a hand-sewn plush Ink Monster (Oghma, the mascot for the Up! Fair), made with love by my talented wife Carrie, as well as the forum access and being listed in the program and on the website.

For $75 you’ll receive an inked sketch from one of the Up! Fair organizers (Sara Turner, Jerzy Drozd, Mark Rudolph, Kevin Cross, Anne Drozd, or even me if you’d like), as well as a plush Oghma, forum access and being listed in the program and on the website.

For $135 you’ll receive a one-year subscription to Art & Story Supreme (29 comics and writing process podcasts a month and tutorial videos to boot), as well as an inked sketch from one of the Up! Fair organizers (Sara Turner, Jerzy Drozd, Mark Rudolph, Kevin Cross, Anne Drozd, or even me if you’d like), a plush Oghma, forum access and being listed in the program and on the website.

For $200 or more you’ll receive a limited edition screen-printed poster for the Up! Fair event hand done, drawn and designed by the wonderful Cricket Press, as well as a one-year subscription to Art & Story Supreme (29 comics and writing process podcasts a month and tutorial videos to boot), an inked sketch from one of the Up! Fair organizers (Sara Turner, Jerzy Drozd, Mark Rudolph, Kevin Cross, Anne Drozd, or even me if you’d like), a plush Oghma, forum access and being listed in the program and on the website.

The beauty of Kickstarter is that you can also pledge any amount you’d like, so as little as a dollar would help to make the Up! Fair that much more awesome.  Also, none of this money is going into our pockets, it’s all being funneled into the show to cover the costs of printing programs, signage for the event, promo materials like buttons, food for the tabling artists and guests, materials for the workshops, badges, and much more.  If you enjoy independent comics and publishing, please consider helping out.  I honestly believe that when it comes to events like this that it’s not about the organizers, it’s truly about the community of people coming together to share their passion for art and creativity.  This show is about every single person who supports it and attends, and it can send a clear message that there is a better way to celebrate independent publishing.

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