PIX Indy Comics Expo showcases community

Returning for its second year, the PIX Indy Comics Expo was held this weekend on the top floor of Guardian Storage in the Strip District. The venue seemed odd at first, but as soon as the elevator door opened on the sixth floor, visitors could understand why it was chosen. The large, open space was perfect for the event: high ceilings, plenty of natural light, exposed brick walls, and beautiful wood floors.

The sense of community among artists was the first thing that stood out upon entering the Expo. The artists were hanging out at each other’s tables, promoting their friends and catching up. Some even had their children with them. The Expo was as much a social event for them as an opportunity to sell their work.

Bill Boichel, the owner of The Copacetic Comics Company and one of the organizers of PIX, has been involved in the Pittsburgh art and comic scene for a while. According to Boichel, PIX is an expo designed to promote “creator-owned comics” and a way for independent publishers and self-published artists to promote their work.

The artists were a mixture of both local and national artists. There were even a few Carnegie Mellon students and alumni with tables set up, including Juan Fernandez, a senior linguistics major, and Lizzee Soloman. Soloman, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 2011 with degrees in fine arts and Hispanic studies, is now an artist in the Pittsburgh area. According to Soloman, her life is all about self-motivation and balance. She said that comics are the perfect medium for her art because “you can make as many copies as you want and go around selling them at various expos,” allowing her to “continue to produce artwork and still pay the bills.”

The artists were also diverse in age, ranging from current college students to artists who have been in the business for more than 25 years. Wayno, a freelance writer and illustrator based in Pittsburgh, has been involved with comics since the 1980s. He began self-publishing his work and then moved around with various alternative publishers. According to Wayno, the comic scene in Pittsburgh is strong, and it is a good place for him to work as a freelancer.

Many of the artists who were at the Expo are based in Pittsburgh, and some are nationally and internationally recognized for their work. According to Andy Scott, a Pittsburgh-based illustrator, “There is definitely a strong [comic] scene here,” and there are more cartoonists here than in most of the cities he’s visited. With places like Copacetic Comics and the Toonseum (one of only three museums in the United States dedicated to cartoons), there are plenty of opportunities for artists and illustrators to share their work in the community.