November 15 was a big day for Chin Music Press – Enfu had an event for the newly-released Cute Grit at Kinokuniya Seattle; our publisher Bruce Rutledge spoke about indie publishing at writer.ly’s PubCamp; and we spent the day rubbing elbows with other passionate commix & arts folks at the Short Run Festival.
Walking into the festival was like walking into a wall of intelligent confetti. Packed into two floors in the Central District’s Washington Hall, comic book artists, small presses, and all manner of other folks who ply their trade making paper beautiful gathered for a grand old party. Festival attendees packed the walkways, snaking around in a solid line. Festival co-organizer Eroyn Franklin told us that they’d seen a dramatic increase in attendees with 1850 at the main festival to last year’s 1250.
The popularity is heartening, in an age where ebooks are taking an ever-bigger slice of the pie, but it shouldn’t be surprising. The work we saw at the festival was flooring—concert posters, graphic memoirs and family histories, and even some other small presses. The atmosphere was wild, buoyant. Up on the second floor, the stage was overflowing with a cardboard castle, within which kids spent the day writing poetry. After the vendors had packed away any remaining merchandise, Washington Hall became the site of a beach party, with Hollow Earth Radio’s DJ Domenica holding down the dancefloor in between sets from The Shivas and La Luz. Leis were dispensed, moves were busted, and the beach-themed props in the photo booth were put to excellent use.
The festival was an invaluable chance to come together. When we asked co-organizer Janice Headley about some of the gems she’d witnessed, she said: “For me, one of the highlights was definitely seeing the interaction between our International guests and our local Seattle artists. The mural in the Central District is a great example of that: you can clearly see the individual aesthetics of both South African artist Jean de Wet and Seattle’s own James Stanton, and the result is a gorgeous, harmonious art piece that brightens up the whole intersection of 22nd and Union.”
Short run organizers Eroyn Franklin, Janice Headley and Kelly Froh at the post-festival beach party with board members Robyn Jordan and Mita Mahato and long-time volunteers Jessica Lopez and McKenna Haley. Photo by Allyce Andrew.
That collaboration and the incredible attendee turnout in response to it has only fueled organizers’ hopes for future years. Eroyn Franklin shared that “We have a lot of ideas for expansion of Short Run in general including a ladies comics residency, a self-publishing award, and skill shares where guest artists are asked to show and tell their creative secrets.” The expansion, Franklin told us, will have to move outside of Washington Hall for the next year while the building undergoes construction. But with the verve, color, and raucous camaraderie we saw at this year’s festival, we’re not worried. Whether it’s Washington Hall or a sidewalk, you can count us in.