This weekend, Samara and I attended the Expozine small press fair in Montreal. Sam was selling her colouring book, Shanti’s Book of Panties and together we sold copies of New Escapologist Issues One, Three and Four.
It was a brilliant experience. I’ve never seen so many dealers and consumers of independent media under one roof. I’m told it is the biggest event of its type in North America. Almost everyone to whome we spoke was enthusiastic about Expozine and indie media in general. A journalist called Jeremiah had a very positive outlook, explaining that many of the big, exciting cultural movements – the Surrealists, the Beat poets, John Lennon, the Merry Pranksters, movements in jazz – began as single events such as this one. These happenings become legend. A nice outlook, I thought.
In terms of sales, we didn’t fare so well. The Anarchist Bookfair we attended back in May, resulted in a total sell-out of our stock even though the event was comparatively small. Expozine would have an estimated 15000 visitors, so we had quadrupled the amount of stock we’d hoped to sell and schlepped it down to the venue in two big cases. This didn’t work out and we ended up selling less than we did at the Anarchist Bookfair despite the scale of the event. Anarchists must be generally more willing to part with money than Hipsters, but perhaps our anti-authority message was simply better received by the Anarchists.
This is all by the by. Expozine was terrific fun and we made some important contacts and hopefully some friends. Among them was Gerard, a British Ex-Pat who was able to answer a lot of my questions and salve my anxieties concerning relocation. There was Nat, man who has lived in almost every city in the developed world and opened conversation with us by talking about the Situationist tradition. There were Jeremy and Martin – two flatmates experimenting with homebrew, much to my delight as I’m currently reading a charming book about the history of beer. There was Jasper, a highly talented and urbane twelve-year-old who kept us company throughout the fair. There was Steve, a caring and witty school teacher who was happy to share his top five humanistic books from “a lifetime of reading”. One of our neighbours was comic book legend, Salgood Sam (who, I have now learned illustrated an edition of Dr. Strange, much to my excitement). There was the inimicable Jackson from Verbicide Magazine, and our old friends Jason Botkin, Tristan Tolhurst, Lickety Split and the hilarious raskals from Front d’action Stupide.
Young Jasper delighted in telling me whenever a person in a necktie should enter our vicinity. She had noticed my cardigan-and-shirt-and-tie ensemble and felt that similarly fastidious individuals would be sympathetic to the ideas of New Escapologist. She even showed solidarity on Day 2 by wearing her own necktie.
A very encouraging thing was the number of people who had heard about New Escapologist before they even came to our table. They’d either heard of us on the grapevine or via chatter among other Expozine attendees. It was very exciting to have people come to the table who already knew of our ethic or our celebrated typography. Todd, a publisher from Toronto insisted that we would become famous. I hope he is correct. I’ve always wanted Escapology to make a few dents in the workforce if nothing else. There had apparently been some debate over whether I was Glaswegian or not and some people came to the table just to hear my strange accent.
We used our old idea (first employed at the Anarchist Bookfair) of inviting people to write notes on the table cloth. There were able to add their email address to our mailing list or to write notes of recommended books or websites in the margins. Much like at the Anarchist Bookfair, people enjoyed this very much and were excited to scrawl on our table cloth. All notes are now transcribed into my computer. Paperless existence is far simpler.
As usual, I didn’t take a single photograph to document the event. The above photograph is used with kind permission of Blork. A lot have made it onto Flickr though and there are a couple of video clips out there containing New Escapologist spiels: one by Salgood Sam and one coming soon by Verbicide.
Thanks to everyone involved in the organisation of Expozine. Fucking brilliant.