From mainstream icons like Joe Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman), Marvel's Brian Michael Bendis, and Bill Waterson (Calvin and Hobbes) to independent legends like Derf, R. Crumb, Gary Dumm and Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Northeast Ohio has been home to some of the biggest names in comics and cartooning. Less familiar are the countless artists and writers currently living and working in the region This new generation of independent creators inspired local artist John Greiner (better known as John G., creator of the Lake Erie Monster comic, star of the Draw Hard documentary and genius behind the Melt Bar & Grilled posters) to found an annual convention showcasing the region's best emerging and established creators. For the past 7 years, the region's top independent and small print comics artists and writers have been celebrated at Genghis Con, held on the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year's Genghis Con takes place from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, at the Lake Erie Building (13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood).
"Genghis Con is the best opportunity for fans of small press and independent comics, artwork, 'zines and literature to find those hidden gems being cultivated right here in the region," says convention founder and main organizer John G. "Attendees can expect to see, and visit with, long-standing Genghis Con regulars like Derf, Gary and Laura Dumm, and Jake Kelly, as well as Genghis Con first-timers like Noah Van Sciver, whose work has been published by Fantagraphics, and Ivan Brandon, most recently the writer of Image Comics' Drifter."
Early events took place at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, but the regional convention quickly outgrew its initial location. In 2014, Genghis Con moved to the Lake Erie Building, perhaps better known as the Screw Factory, home of many local artist studios. Each year since, the event's attendance has roughly doubled in size. Now in its eighth year, the event includes more than 70 participants.
"What started small, as a haphazard, informal gathering of less than 40 exhibitors in 2009 on the floorspace at the Beachland Ballroom, has grown to one of the most anticipated events of the year in the hangar-like event space of the Lake Erie Building," says Greiner. "It truly is the convergence and celebration of the best of regional small press, independent comics and 'zines. This year's show promises to be another stellar year!"
More than just comics, the event celebrates independent, DIY and small press creators of all types. This year's event includes cartoonists, comics creators, illustrators, authors, printmakers and 'zinesters from Detroit to Pittsburgh and Columbus and everyplace in between. "Cleveland is uniquely situated at the center of a cultural DIY 'Punk Triangle' and the perfect place to hold such an event," says John G.
Participating artists and writers include Derf, Gary & Laura Dumm, Ivan Brandon, Sophie Goldstein, Czap Books, John G., Jake Kelly, Nathan Ward, the Comics Workbook, Bryn Adams, Matt Chojnacki, Faces of Cleveland, Belt Publishing, Angela Oster, Vagabond Comics Collective, Justin Michael Will, Mallow, Cowboy House, Black Hole Press, Ted Sikora, Nix Comics, Royal Oak Comix Party, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, Pink & Nanook Ink, Cool School Rap Comics, Narrier Publishing, Amalgamated Hoverchair, Kris & Kit Illustration, Marcus Calvert, Clare Kolat, Comics Are Go!, Calvert Comics, Kris Lachowski, Bob Corby, Kevin Fagan, Sam Izdat, Robert Puzzitiello, Peregrine Angthius, Hometown Media Productions, 80 Proof Comix, Mallory Hodgkin Art, In a Rut Comics, Stu Rase, Benjamin Anthony, Will Napoli, Steven Myers, Melissa Mary and more. A full list is on the website.
If you're familiar with their work, Genghis Con is an opportunity to meet or catch up with your favorite independent artists and writers and support their work. However, if you're new to underground comics, you'll experience the thrill of wandering from booth to booth and discovering an overwhelming variety of new artists, with dynamic stories and intriguing characters.
The night before Genghis Con, organizers host a free kick-off party at Mahall's 20 Lanes (13200 Madison Ave., Lakewood). Beginning at 8 p.m., guests can participate in a Drink & Draw in the bar area with supplies provided by Blick Art Materials, as well as attending panel discussions with several Genghis Con exhibitors in the show room. A live performance from agleammusic, performing music from the new comic Reach (debuting at Genghis Con), will cap off the night.
Genghis Con is free and family friendly. The Barrio taco truck will be back again this year. Visit genghisconcleveland.com for details.