On the first Saturday of November, more than a thousand people came out for the second Short Run, a small-press and comic convention at the Vera Project. There's clearly a need for this kind of festival in Seattle—for years, zine-makers, cartoonists, and small publishers have had to head down to Portland for Stumptown if they wanted to experience the whole Northwestern small-press scene under one roof.
Short Run's rapid growth demonstrates the hunger for community: Attendance climbed by nearly 300 this year, the number of exhibitors grew from 70 to an even 100, and organizers Eroyn Franklin and Kelly Froh added satellite events including an after-party, an art show, and an event at Fantagraphics Books & Gallery.
Last week, I met with Franklin and Froh to talk about the festival. The pair had that weary, behind-the-eyes kind of tiredness that comes from overextending yourself for months at a time, but they perked up quickly enough when it came time to talk shop. "Short Run is an organization," Froh said—not just a once-yearly event.
Sometime early in 2013, Franklin and Froh will work with Storefronts Seattle to set up a Short Run pop-up comic book store. Franklin said they're aiming to "create a different kind of shopping experience" where customers "seek [books] out and find them as if you were going out into the woods and coming upon a fort." Froh explains that a blanket fort inside the store will resemble "half of an igloo plus a deflated hot air balloon," and that the space will host as many art shows, literary events, and get-togethers as possible. (The location and exact timing of the shop is still unclear.)
Individually, Froh and Franklin are still working on their own comics. Froh will next appear at Hugo House on February 8, presenting a new comic in an event called "Strong Female Leads" with poet Patricia Smith and rapper Katie Kate. Franklin's comic Detained—about Washington State's immigration detention centers—is the best piece of comics journalism I've read this year. She has so many potential projects lined up that she's planning a presentation called "Choose My Own Adventure" at the Short Run store. She'll present five PowerPoints pitching her top five ideas and let the audience vote for which she'll do next. Next year, the festival will definitely take place, but the Vera Project might not be its home. "We need a bigger room," Froh said.