For David Axe, a Columbia writer whose 2010 graphic novel War is Boring was featured prominently in last October’s Rolling Stone, the Capital City’s surprising number of comics artists might be random, but it works as a touchstone that fosters local ambition.
“It seems that the reason people like Sanford Greene and [Steve] Epting are here is just sheer coincidence,” Axe says. “On the other hand, there’s this other factor that there’s a lot of just young, creative people here who are trying really, really, really hard to create and sustain a local comics scene — with mixed success — but goddamn, they try.”
The 33-year-old USC graduate started his writing career here in town, but it’s taken him all over the world. He’s authored war-journalism graphic novels from conflict zones like Afghanistan and Chad and is well regarded as part of a clique that pioneered the genre a half-dozen years ago. He’ll speak about his experiences on a Cola-Con panel titled, “So You Want to Create Comics?”
Axe is another example that writers and artists who publish nationally don’t have to do so from the big cities of New York and Los Angeles or even the indie-comics mecca of Portland, Ore.
Still, Axe has no illusions that one single comics convention will suddenly transform Cola-Con into a major draw overnight.
“In order to draw international talent and to be known as the con that fills the live-action role-playing niche, you’d have to compete globally and draw the international names — and that takes money and huge sponsorships and a track record and 100,000 attendees,” Axe says. “Columbia can’t be that right now, probably won’t ever be that and shouldn’t want to be that.”
Instead, he says, “We should just be a small con. We should have a heavy local involvement to make us something different, and it’s worthwhile not only because the raw material for it already exists in town. It’s just a matter of bringing it all together and showing a wider audience, ‘Look, we’ve got this thing here, we’ve got a great comic-book shop, we’ve got comic-book creators, we’ve got hip-hop, here’s how that intersects with the comics, come and look at it, spend a few bucks and everybody’s better off.’”