Vado came up with the idea of organizing a comic book convention several years later. According to Dan Vado, the comics industry needed an event where independent artists who create unconventional comics could present their works to a wide audience of comic book fans without having to sign a contract with large publishing houses that might restrict their artistic freedom.
The inaugural Alternative Press Expo took place on June 4, 1994 in San Jose, California. In 1995, San Diego Comic-Con International took over responsibility for the event. The convention moved to San Francisco in 2000. However, in 2014 Dan Vado announced that the responsibility for the event was being handed back to him. APE moved back to San Jose after being held in San Francisco for 15 years.
The core of the convention’s programming is a large-scale comic book exhibition and fair. Alternative Press Expo features over 350 exhibitors which offer comic books and graphic novels to suit any taste. Attendees can also purchase collectibles and action figures, posters, cards and other comics-related merchandise. As we’ve already mentioned above, most exhibitors are independent artists and publishers whose works are hard to find in an average comic book store.
APE programming also includes panel panels, seminars, workshops and meeting with special guests. Each year, the organizers invite industry professionals who gladly share their experience and knowledge with rookie comics authors. For example, the 2016 APE featured Jimmie Robinson and Gene Luen Yand.
Photo by Gary Fong