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The Ninth Annual Staple! Independent Media Expo

It's waiting for you … not so silently … this weekend

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 10:10AM, Wed. Feb. 27, 2013

I say thee RAR!
I say thee RAR!

And it's bigger than ever.

As if someone had cabled a hundred Tyrannosauruses together to form an aircraft carrier from which they could launch Ghidorah.

But, no, it's not quite as aggro as that, citizen. Staple! is quite relaxing in its excitements, after all. Because it's nothing more than a colorful, bustling exposition of independent comics, art, animation, self-publishing, and gaming, and a gathering of innumerable fans – some laid-back, some ravening – of those various subcultures so often tarred with the goopy brush called Geekdom.

But, hey, this is the 21st century – and those various subcultures so often tarred with the goopy brush called Geekdom are where the money's at now. Did you see how much Joss Whedon's The Avengers grossed? Time to STFU, hater, and leave the dominant culture to those joyous nerds who won't be homeless after their sole football scholarship washes out …

But, you know, the reductio ad absurdum thing affords no more glory than giving someone's brain a wedgie, does it? So let's move on, shall we? Let's get a soundbite from Staple! founder and director Chris Nicholas. What does Uncle Staple himself think of this year's Staple!?

Nicholas: Uncle Staple thinks that, since we’ve got nine years under our belts, we have got this expo bidness down, man! We’ve put together a weekendlong extravaganza to stimulate your eyes, ears, minds, and hearts – with comics, gaming, podcasts, animation; knowledge, art, song and celebration!

Well, sure, but that's the sort of thing that founder/directors are supposed to say, right? Didn't P.T. Barnum and Jason Neulander teach us that years ago? So let's look beyond the governing body and grab another opinion or two … Oh! Look, there's Tim Doyle, international art star and 'honch heado' of the limited-edition print powerhouse called Nakatomi, Inc! Mr. Doyle, what do you enjoy about this city's yearly Staple! extravaganza?

Doyle: I like that there's a thriving community of artists and writers here in Austin (and people that travel here for the show) that proves comics are so, so much more than just super-hero smash-ups and event-driven story lines.

And there, there's Kristin Hogan of Dead Squirrel Girl fame, fine artist and all-around celebrant of everything geeky and cool. Ms. Hogan, is there a particular reason Staple! is on your must-attend schedule year after year?

Hogan: What I like best is it's the only show in this region of the U.S. that's specifically for the small press. Staple! is where I started my art career in Austin, and where I met my entire network of artist and comic friends – it's a great place to network and get the feel of what a con is like. The big names are on the floor with everyone (as opposed to being in some separate roped-off area), and you can talk shop with them without feeling intimidated.

That's right: It's a family affair sort of thing, whether you're sly or stoned or Buffy or Jody, and (especially with the endless schmoozing and afterparties and such) it's definitely worth your weekend while.

Ah, but don't take old Brenner's word for it, because, look, there's the Chronicle's Richard Whittaker, almost as geeky as he is erudite (and he's hella erudite), and he's going to be moderating three separate panels during Staple! Wait a minute, though. Three panels? How does this quick-witted limey from Yorkshire, this multitalented journo who's always busier than Naruto Uzumaki at a ramen-eating contest, how the hell does he wind up moderating three separate panels at Austin's Independent Media Expo?

Whittaker: Because I didn't move out of the way fast enough? No, really, because it's one of the more fascinating cross-genre gatherings you can imagine. It's a mix of a mini-Comic-Con, a pod- and vid-casting master class, and a dive deep into some of the more creative corners of Etsy. Who wouldn't want to be involved?

And further the deponent sayeth not.

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