Since relocating this summer, Locust Moon has been swarming with activity. In October, Once Upon a Time Machine, the shop’s first publication via a major publishing house (Dark Horse, or the people behind Hellboy and Sin City), was released. This Sunday, the first Locust Moon Comics Festival will take place at the Rotunda. Street sat down with Chris Stevens and Josh O’Neil, two of the store’s owners, to talk about all these “firsts”.
Street: Can you describe Once Upon a Time Machine?
Chris Stevens: Fairy tales with a futuristic spin. For example: the Tortoise and the Hare. In this version, it’s competing team of young Chinese kids. It’s like a Mario Kart race. They’re racing to get the first tee of the season.
Street: How did you assemble all of the creators?
CS: There’s about 90 creators all together, and about 20 of them are local. The rest were people I met online — there was a process where I was on a website geared toward comic creators and I was on there having people pitch us stories. It’s people from all over the world. There’s a contingent of Spanish creators — I’ve made friends with one guy over in Spain. He taught at a famous art school in Spain. Not that I’ve ever met him in person, but he was able to introduce me to a bunch of his students and I’d say about four or five of them drew stories in the book. There’s people from Britain, Norway, Nigeria… But it’s also nice that some of the guys are our close friends — guys who are a big part of the store.
Street: How has the book been received so far?
Josh O’Neil: People seem to like it a lot. We don’t actually know what the sales numbers are. We won’t find out until after the new year. But it’s gotten ecstatic reviews. We were on the Huffington Post the other day. They ran a review and a slideshow… People dig it.
Street: How did you decide to do the Comics Festival?
JO: There was a convention that a guy named Pat Aulisio had been running called the Philadelphia Alternative Comic Convention, and he did that at the Rotunda. And it was pretty cool. It was a small thing but there were a lot of good artists there, and I had been there the last couple of years and he announced on Facebook that he wasn’t going to run it this year. And it’s funny. I think Chris and I both saw it on Facebook and we saw each other later that day and we were both like “I have a great idea!” I think we both had the exact same thought: “They’re not doing it, so we should do it.”
Street: What can we expect from the fest?
JO: It’s going to be really focused on independent, handmade, comic craft type things. It’s going to be an incredible assemblage of artists. There will be a lot publishers, and a lot of artists. And there’s going to be some goofy stuff. I know one guy is going to have a puppet show. There’s going to be food — Kung Fu hoagies and Little Baby’s ice cream. They’re actually engineering a special secret flavor just for the festival, which we haven’t unveiled yet. It’s going to be a surprise.
Street: What else is on the roster for this weekend?
CS: We regularly do Drink and Draws here, and it is what is sounds like. Artists of all different abilities get together and hang out here in the gallery, to draw and drink. Tomorrow we’re doing — for lack of a better term — an “All Star” Drink and Draw where a lot of the really talented guys we have coming into town will be there. Farel Dalrymple, Jim Rugg — those guys are pretty famous comic artists and they’ll both be here. It’ll be a lot of talent hanging out having fun, sort of a pre–party. And then the festival will be all day Sunday, and then an after party where we just gather everyone back here, and people will get a chance to see the gallery show. The gallery show we have now is original art from most of the top creators who are attending the festival. And in general, everything is free and open to the public.
Locust Moon Comics Festival
Sunday, December 16
11 am – 8 pm
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut
Free, $5 suggested donation