Beating chest for APE

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Last year's APE: more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

I used to live in a town where the alternative-alternative (holler!) weekly had a comics page. Paging to the back of said volume each seven days I'd look for Tony Millionaire's joint, Maakies. Millionaire's rounding out a phalanx of guest speakers at this weekend's APE (Sat/16 and Sun/17), so I'm thinking back to the days when his preciously drawn little derelicts marked my Wednesdays.

The motivation behind my penchant remains slightly cloudy – for why did I seek out these troublemakers? The Maakies are a band of animals and multilated pirate-types (maybe they're all animals, come to think of it, just horribly alcoholic, crass animals who enjoy tweezing their own belly button hair). A perennial reader favorite, Drinky Crow does little more than you'd think he would – a standard DC portrayal captures a moment in time when some unidentified bottle of hooch hangs suspended in the air, supported only by the gullet into which it is pouring. His eyes are mainly x's. He does not wear a hat, but his monkey (?) friend Gabby does. They do foul things involving body functions and emotional pathology.

The Maakies occupy a world known by most faves of alternative comics -- a dark world, yes, one that is stacked against the protagonists, but none the less a world in which fun can be had. Not the least of which is that fun that is perpetuated by the comic characters against those around them. Can't deal? Drink yourself into a stupor! End frame. See you next week.

APE artists self-portraiture (clockwise from top left): Lynda Barry, Daniel Clowes, Megan Kelso, Tony Millionaire, Tommy Kovac, and Rich Koslowski 

This is the sort of comic made possible by the alterna-crowd, the alterna-paper, the alterna-comic – all of which will be celebrated and feted as is their due at this year's Alternative Press Expo. It is part of the juggernaut that is Wonder Con-Comic Con, although attendees at APE assume much less widely known personas in their Lycra and face paint.

This year features the usual reams of special guests. Lynda Barry lends her star power, a maker of 'zine style comics about horribly awkward, dastardly endearing adolescent girls. Also present will be Ghost World penner Daniel Clowes, Megan Kelso, and Renée French. Most of these writer-illustrators have a solid decade or more under their belt of paneling for society's disenfranchised.

And new to the APE stage is an innovative new style of meet and greet, always an informal function at these mega-events. Writers and artists will get a chance to speed date at the Comics Collaboration Connection, shopping for creative partners in a dance of I-like-you-do-you-like-me furtiveness. Drop your card in the designated envelope if you want to make a graphic novel! Of course, there will be aisles upon aisles of purveyors of already-collaborated-on comics to inspire you, as well.

Anyways, Tony Millionaire will be there, which is exciting. Sources tell me he'll be the gentleman wearing a tux in the artist spotlight from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday. Get ready for some inquiries into zero gravity bottle support, Mr. Millionaire – I'll have what Drinky's having. 

Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2010

Sat/16 and Sun/17 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $10-$20

Concourse Exhibition Center

635 Eighth St., SF

www.comic-con.org