Palest Staple, A Slept Pastel
So for the past week, The Fiction Circus traveled down to Austin to see and participate in the only thing Austin's got going for it, the Staple! Independent Media Expo, a celebration of both anarchic street values and transparent grasping for fame and glory.

We had a good time at our little table. We smiled benignly on both the haughty and the benighted alike as we offered them tampons with our website address on them from a wishing well (take a tampon, make a wish! and: let your imagination flow!). We sat next to Danielle Corsetto, who was nothing but nice to us, and who works really fucking hard. Here is her website:

Danielle Corsetto's "Girls With Slingshots"

She did nothing but draw and be nice to people all day. Damn, Danielle. I would have told some of those people to fucking beat it. You are a good person, even deep down.

In addition to our marketing tampons, we showed the town our collection of broken toys sealed in glass jars with moral and instructive tales to accompany them. Our Wunderkammer!

For instance, below a decapitated Thundercat whose body bobbed like a corpse adrift and floating out to sea:

For an artist,
To be fed,
The first thing he needs,
Is a little head

And below a submerged toy farmer created and abandoned by the Tyco company:

Strong jaw,
Thick hands,
will not help you,
In Afghanistan

And everyone's favorite, writ beneath a jar containing a two-headed He-Man villain:

Marriage is not easy,
It requires commitment.
(No rhyme)

So how was Staple?

It was good. It was real good. Uncle Staple has his shit together these days, and the Monarch ballroom is a great venue for the aesthetic of things. Selling independent comics and desperate magazines inside an abandoned movie theater feels RIGHT. It felt like thousands of people came through the doors, and they seemed to all have a good time. Staple! might be the only convention that doesn't just attract the unwashed comic masses, and there were all kinds of cats, even girls, even pretty girls who were not the girlfriends of other people.

We sold a story to a laughing little family, and they let us put a "Fiction Circus" sticker on the child. This was ...ah... this was BEAUTIFUL to us.

I DO, of course, want to see an expanded literary presence at Staple!, but all we can do is work, work, work to make that happen. Where we go, others may follow.

The most professional group of chappies was the Austin Sketch Group, and I'm not just saying that because we are cronies. They got a website, probably paid for with pooled money like the commies they are:

The Austin Sketch Group

With their three tables, legions of helpers, and maelstrom of talent, they were sharp. They were on the baseball, and they were ready to talk, sell, and even eat lunch in shifts. We borrowed a lot of crap from them: tape, pens, paint samples. Good job, guys. You aren't just our friends; you are a moral force in that town. You guys need to find a way to turn your talent into cash so you can be amazing professionally. People need professionally amazing people in their lives who are as nice and well-mannered as you are.

If you live in Austin, if you are an artist, and you are not involved in Sketch Group, GET INVOLVED. They will make you better. They are clannish, but all you have to do to join their clan is to beer them up every now and then. They'll love you for it.

I don't care about comics very much. I'll just go ahead and say that. Maybe Dr. Future should be writing this. But I did enjoy seeing Kit Lively, whose work I enjoyed between furtive masturbations as a child in publications of which he may not be proud. But I genuinely like his work!

Kit Lively, Man Without Shame

Seeing him smiling away next to a table full of Christians with a Jesus clip-art comic was quite the gas. Uncle Staple assures me (perhaps for liability reasons) that their unfortunate juxtaposition was an accident, but if so, it was MY favorite accident of the afternoon. I think the situation would be a comic that Mr. Lively would enjoy drawing. It is nice to see people whose lives are profoundly representative of their art.

Additionally, either Mr. Lively's mother, or the mother of his fiance, was my favorite customer of the afternoon. She took a tampon, laughed really hard, and said: "Been a long time since I've needed one of these!" Shut your mouth! You are a blooming rose if I ever saw one.

I also enjoyed seeing the "Action Philosophers" folks, and I tried to do a deal with them to get a comic for a nearly-expired Airtrain card. You guys should have done that deal. I'll bet you were kicking yourselves when you showed up at JFK and you had to pony up, and all that cash went to your publisher. OR DID IT? WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO, VAN LENTE AND DUNLAVEY? The IRA? Does it go to the IRA?

And of course, Uncle Staple and Dave were on hand -- peddling their smut, ogling girls, making everyone happy, knowing they are Austin's secret hands that turn all the gears and make art happen.

After all was said and done, and we were sitting at the coffee shop at three in the morning (you know which one if you know which one) nursing our broken hearts, all of us damned demented fools waiting for hell, Uncle Staple put his arm around me and gave me a steady stream of good, hard-nosed advice about love and art. I made a few love-related mistakes that weekend, I must admit, but he got me up and going again like a wind-up toy that has fallen off the table.

Hey, you out there, wondering if Uncle Staple believes his own bullshit. Here's the deal: he doesn't have to.

The man has the soul of a gutter-prince, and the heart of a pirate who always takes prisoners and lets them go. He does this shit because he loves you guys. It's pretty weird, and it's FUNDAMENTALLY unique, and that's why Staple! means so much. It's all about love: love of craft, love of art, love of friends, love of freedom, love of the powerful words "fuck you."

For eight hungry hours, the insane and the gifted come together to sit next to each other and gab and glare, and pretend they aren't one and the same. But they are. Well done, all you bastards. See you next year, maybe. You do good work, in spite of yourselves.

Posted by miracle on Mon, 03 Mar 2008 22:41:13 -0500 -- permanent link

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