We have probably reached peak geek. After a generation of Marvel and D.C. turning superhero comics into hugely successful film franchises, comic books have arguably never been more mainstream. That's good news for diehards and new fans alike, who can look forward to plenty of Avengers sequels and spinoffs well into the immediate future. But for some comic book fans, the trend has long since moved away from what was once a weird hobby.
Enter Detroit Comix Party. The brainchild of Mike Burridge and Kevin Eckert, Detroit Comix Party is many things: a public access TV show, a small press expo, and a publishing company. But this Saturday, the duo is throwing its first ever event — a sort of anti-comic con held at the Leland City Club. Vendors include Rotland Press, comic artist-cum-investigative journalist Anne Elizabeth Moore, and the zine archivists at the Trumbullplex, among many others. We caught up with Burridge and Eckert by phone to learn more about what to expect.
Metro Times: How long have you been working together?
Mike Burridge: We've been saying seven years for like three years. So probably around eight.
MT: Why are you doing this?
Burridge: We go to a lot of these events and the fact that we're totally dissatisfied with all of them is the motivation to finally make the good or great one — the one that's like the true explosion of creativity instead of just... sad guys.
Kevin Eckert: There's this whole scheduling thing where you end up driving super far and you go to the event and then you get to sell your books to maybe the only audience that's all in one room to buy comic books for only like, six hours sometimes, and then they shut the doors. And everyone just goes home to their hotel room to cry instead of keeping everyone together so they could do some networking, or even just have a good time with other people who are in the same line of work.
Burridge: I feel like there's not enough networking between the artists at a lot of shows, and then there's not a very tight curation process — where it's just like, "Oh, you make comics? Come on in." We have to work all day to find the one or two other people who are speaking our language.
We're trying to be tightly curated. Nobody's going to be selling a Spider-Man or a Superman or, "Yeah, it's like X-Men, but with magic instead of mutants." People who are high-functioning total weirdos ... people who are still fanning the flames of like, psycho punk rock anarcho zines and people who are sharing their inner personal terror tales. People where their material has a rich personal texture instead of just being plainly derivative, as a lot of stuff tends to be.
Eckert: I think a lot of (comic book stuff) has become so far away from what a single person could do or what an independent creator would be able to make or participate in. The people who make these sorts of comics have to explain twice as hard: "Yes, I make comics, no it's not Spider-Man. There's a lot more alcoholism and crying and stuff."
MT: So this is more underground stuff?
Burridge: I went out to Motor City Comic Con to go flier and get the feel of the scene out there to promote our event. A lot of the response was like, "I'm already at this." Like there's only one comic show. I think we need to spread the word that comics are a wild and varied form. And they're not just the mainstream or wannabe mainstream variety. There's also anything you can possibly desire out there in some form. The weirder types, you gotta dig real deep to get your hands on them.
MT: What can people expect?
Eckert: It's noon to 8 p.m. for the main sales portion of the event, but then it turns into an insane rave with like, Detroit techno DJs. We wanted to do City Club because I think a lot of people have, like, weird misconceptions about Detroit. ... With City Club, you walk through the lobby and it's this opulent, historical, beautiful room that's still somehow maintained, and then you walk down the hallway a little further and you're in one of the longest running goth-industrial clubs. It's all these different flavors all in one place. We worked very hard so that could happen. While aesthetically it's what we wanted, that doesn't mean it's easy to throw an expo inside of it. There's no freight elevator. We had to call like seven different cable companies just to find somebody who would deliver there. It's worth it, in our minds at least, to be able to show that to people.
We tried to make sure there were other activities and stuff going on, not to make it so broad to the point where it's like, "Get your baseball glove signed by the robot from Lost in Space." We're going to have an animation station from Gold House Media, there's going to be live stop-motion animation that people can do. The emcee is Chris Weagel from Human Dog, who's a famous performance artist from the area. There's going to be a lot of stuff going on. It will be interesting for anyone.
Detroit Comix Party runs from noon to 4 a.m. on Saturday, June 17 at Leland City Club; 400 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-451-4312; comixparty.com; $10 cover after 8 p.m.