Save the superheroes for Comic-Con. Autoptic is bringing pulp fiction to the literary sphere.
“Comics are for all readers; it’s not just superhero slugfests,” said festival co-founder Tom Kaczynski. “There’s other comics out there that can appeal to a more sophisticated, so to speak, audience that’s interested in literature and poetry.”
Autoptic — meaning “based on one’s own observation” — is an expo-style arts festival that celebrates independent print culture, focusing on comics, print-based media and small presses. Taking place primarily on Sunday, the festival features more than 100 artists, ranging from Twin Cities locals to special guests such as Gabrielle Bell (“Everything Is Flammable”), Craig Thompson (“Blankets”) and Jessica Campbell (“XTC69”).
“We wanted to create that encounter sort of between the new stuff, the stuff that’s sort of up-and-coming, and then some of our guests are fairly prominent cartoonists,” Kaczynski said.
The festival’s third run in the Twin Cities will include readings, talks and artist showcases around town on Friday and Saturday, leading up to Sunday’s all-day expo and fair at the Aria event center in downtown Minneapolis.
On Friday, sweat it out with an artist-focused fitness session at the Douglas Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae in downtown Minneapolis or stop by Light Grey Art Lab to view original works. Saturday includes a lineup of seminars, artist showcases and readings ranging from young adult romance to supernatural stories, held at Moon Palace Books in south Minneapolis. Sunday’s main expo will have artist tables covered in colorful prints and doodles, where visitors can peruse comics, zines, artwork and more. All events are free.
Autoptic is organized by the Autoptic Foundation, a volunteer-run organization that promotes independent artwork and creative expression. The organization initially planned to have the festival every two years, starting in 2013. But what would have been the 2017 event was delayed until this year as the staff and the festival itself underwent changes, including a heightened focus on local artists.
“In a sense it was sort of a reboot of the festival because we had a whole new crew of people,” Kaczynski said.
Don’t know where to start? He suggested stopping at tables for Nick Drnaso (“Sabrina”) and the Moon Palace Books table, which will host several artists.
“People that are already into comics can find these amazing things that they haven’t yet seen,” Kaczynski said. “Hopefully we’ll also get a lot of people who are curious about comics.”
Some can’t miss picks
Gallery Show and Reception with Special Guests, 6:30-9 p.m. Fri. at Light Grey Art Lab, 118 E. 26th St., Mpls.: This pre-party exhibition includes special guests Thompson, Bell and Zak Sally displaying original work.
Craig Thompson spotlight, 1-2 p.m. Sat. at Moon Palace Books, 3032 Minnehaha Av., Mpls.: The artist and author, known for “Blankets” and the recently rereleased “Carnet de Voyage,” talks about works new and old, and how travel can aid with inspiration.
Supernatural Comics Hour, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sat. at Moon Palace Books: Vampires, werewolves and other paranormal characters are up for discussion, featuring Zander Cannon, Madeline McGrane and Leda Zawacki.
Sunday tables to peruse:
Green Card Voices, Minneapolis organization sharing immigrants’ stories, Table 18A.
Nick Drnaso, Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning graphic novelist and author of “Sabrina,” Table 3A.
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Minneapolis cartoonist and designer, Table 24.
Charles Forsman, author of “End of the Fxxxing World,” now a Netflix series, Table 6A.
Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis bookstore, Tables 89-90.