NOLA/Alternative Media Expo 2008 Report

February 27th, 2008 by Josh Neufeld  

My little weekend trip to New Orleans was a great success, and the Alternative Media Expo was a huge triumph for show organizer/my host/A.D. character Leo McGovern. The Expo’s new location at the Contemporary Arts Center warehouse was tailor-made for the show, which boasted over 80 exhibitors and an attendance twice its previous high-mark, with over 650 paid attendees. As opposed to a typical comix-only show, the Expo was an intriguing mix of cartoonists and comics, zinesters, self-published authors, Etsy craftspeople, painters, video artists, and filmmakers.

As “special guest,” I had pride of place at the show, with a table all to myself right where the crowd came in. Many folks were alerted to A.D. by last week’s Gambit cover story, and I met all sorts of people who’ve been following the project. People kept thanking me for telling their story, and all I could do was thank them in return for being patient with my occasional well-meaning storytelling gaffes. I heard many hurricane stories, which just reminded me once again how A.D. is just scratching the surface, and how many stories there are to be told.

I was overwhelmed when a student at Loyola told me she was studying A.D. in her class on the graphic novel, and also by a teacher at the University of New Orleans who informed me that she was using A.D. as a model for her nonfiction comics class! Some of the Katrina-related comics from that class are online at www.c327.com/comic; I’ll be adding a link to them on the A.D. resource area soon. New Orleans cartoonist Caesar Meadows is also working on a Katrina-related comic, which I will definitely add as a resource on the site when he uploads it to a stable URL.

Besides promoting A.D. with free handouts we printed up for the show, I sold a good number of my books, including Katrina Came Calling. I was concerned that locals might be offended by K.C.C., but to the contrary people seemed intrigued by an outsider’s perspective on the storm and its aftermath. I ended up selling all the copies I had brought with me. I also picked up a copy of NOLA local Michael Bevis’s hurricane survival tale, And God Looked Away: A Katrina Journal (self-published through Lulu.com), which I definitely look forward to reading.

Leo & Michelle were terrific hosts, driving me all around and making sure I had a good time after the Expo. We hit some great eating spots: muffaletta at Wit’s End, Wasabi in the Marigny, coffee at Fair Grinds, brunch and delicious fresh-squeezed OJ at Surrey’s on Magazine Street, gelato at Brocato’s, and fried chicken and peas at Mandina’s (both in Mid-City). I didn’t make it to the French Quarter this trip, but I even got beignets at the Cafe du Monde in Metairie on the way to the airport.

Overall, New Orleans seems much livelier than it was a year ago, and the inhabitants’ moods seem much more upbeat. Of course, I didn’t tour through the Ninth Ward or Gentilly, but there was a marked difference in the overall sense of fear and menace. And the streets of Mid-City were visibly much more populated than last January.

I topped off the trip with some great video interviews with Leo and fellow A.D. character Denise, who is back in New Orleans after a two-plus-year exile in Baton Rouge. We’ll be posting those interviews on the site in no time. Leo & Denise met in person for the first time, and now Leo has had the occasion to meet all the other A.D. characters except Kevin, who’s still at school out in Ohio at Oberlin (my alma mater!).

My flight back was delay-free, and I got home just in time to give my daughter her bottle and tuck her in bed. Now it’s on to finishing chapter 10!

One Response

  1. molly

    glad you got home ok, thanks for coming & remember to tell your publisher that someone is reading this stuff through an rss feed :D

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