Art, Comics, Interviews

Comic Cons, Comic Books, and a Library Magazine: Anne Drozd on the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival, Pulp, and a Mystery Comic

In the past few years, Anne Drozd and her husband Jerzy Drozd have produced a boatload of comic events: Comic books, podcasts, conventions, cartoonist instruction for kids/teens/adults, school workshops, library events, Nerd Nites, tiny expos, big expos; these two do it all. I was thrilled that Anne was able to take the time to answer my questions about some of their current projects.

What can you tell me about why the Ann Arbor District Library decided to produce Pulp?pulp logo, http://pulp.aadl.org/, ann arbor district library

AADL saw a gap in arts coverage in the community after the Ann Arbor News folded. We were already the AA News archive, so AADL was filling the need of maintaining the content that already existed. So why not invite the community to continue creating coverage of the arts?

That’s very cool. So when the library took on the Ann Arbor news archive, in a sense they stepped into the role of recording local events as well. Speaking of very cool things, I love that it is named Pulp. The paper/mulch/lumber motif works well on the site. Where did the name Pulp and the general concept come from?

Pulp came from AA being tree town, and it’s a play on the printed word and paper. Pulp comes from trees and is the substance of paper. So, the name Pulp evokes the material on which this type of media was originally delivered.

It’s a fun concept. Are there any plans for regular features or beats to be covered?

Right now Pulp accepts pitches from interested writers; will there be people that regularly cover certain events/developments in the future? We have a few regular writers, such as John Cantú who covers visual arts and Patrick Dunn who covers film and music, but we’re leaving it open to go with the flow. We have professional writers who create great content which helps to set the bar high for all community contributors. It’s still a story by story pitch process and the Pulp team decides what we want to cover.

That definitely shows. The quality of the writing has been very professional, as has the site design itself. Does the AADL staff provide the editorial work?

We’re really lucky to have a great team! The website design was all done in house – it’s running on Drupal the same as AADL’s website. And the Pulp team, which is comprised of AADL staff, are also the editors.

Nice! On another note, Kids Read Comics has been renamed the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival. Can you tell me about the decision to change the name?ann arbor comic arts festival, promotional poster, http://a2caf.com/, Cece Bell

When the show was launched in 2009, there weren’t many comic conventions that offered a lot of material for kids. We were on a mission to create an event that whole families could enjoy together. In a post-Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, Ben Hatke, and Cece Bell world, we feel like the fight for recognition of kids’ comics authors has largely been won.

We’ve also discovered that a large part of the audience we aim to serve, namely teens, aren’t always comfortable going to an event under a big bold logo that reads “KIDS.” Renaming the show to A2CAF is meant to be more all-inclusive and inviting for entire families. It’s the same show, but we’re hoping to serve an even wider audience now.

Rumor has it that there will be an A2caf comic offered on Free Comic Book Day… do tell.

Yes, it’s very exciting! For the first time we’ve assembled a group of past and future A2CAF guest artists and writers to create an anthology of stories. Awesome local cartoonists like Carolyn Nowak and Ruth McNally Barshaw contributed pieces. Some of our friends in New York, Chris Giarrusso (G-Man) and Gregg Schigiel (PIX) lent their talents to the project as well. And then we have two father/daughter teams. Rafael Rosado (Dragons Beware!) teamed up with his daughter Amelia to create a story for the book, as did Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl) and his daughter Angelica.

The comics will be available at the Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor and Green Brain Comics in Dearborn on Free Comic Book Day. The only other place on Earth you’ll be able to get them after that is at A2CAF. Most of the creators in the anthology will be at this year’s show, so it’ll be a great opportunity to grab all of their signatures on this one-of-a-kind comic.

That’s awesome. I’ll have to brave the lines at Vault of Midnight to get my hands on a copy.

Quantities will be super limited!

What other upcoming comic related programs will be offered through AADL?

boulder and fleet, jerzy drozd

An ongoing comic by Jerzy Drozd

We just had Matt Feazell do his fantastic How to Make a Minicomic workshop as an aadl partnership with UMMA for their Fridays after 5. We’ve got a lot planned for A2CAF weekend, but nothing specific after that. AADL has a fantastic new programming space known as the Secret Lab, and we’ve got some plans in the works to have more comics programming as part of what goes on in there.

So, stay tuned to AADL’s events page, probably late summer or early fall.

The secret lab sounds mysterious and enticing. Is it mainly used for programming, or does something extra go on there?

Ah! So the name works! We’re hoping that it gets people to say “What’s the Secret Lab?!” and then we can tell them that it’s a well equipped program room that gives the community the opportunity to learn about tools and techniques often found in makerspaces, but a bit less intimidating than a makerspace. We’ve got 3D printers, soldering tools, spinning wheels, sewing machines, CNC milling machines, tabletop letterpresses, and drawers full of movable type. We’re offering beginner level programs using these tools with the focus being on learning the skills and what you can do using these tools with the intention that the community will be inspired to create.

Dino Love, Anne Drozd, Jerzy DrozdThat sounds incredible. Let’s move on to your personal work: what projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a science themed graphic novel right now with my husband but I’m really not at liberty to say much about it until later this year.

That’s exciting! Let me know once you’re able to talk about it a little bit more, maybe closer to the release date.

Thanks! I’ll hold you to that.

A huge thank you to Anne Drozd for this interview!