FLUKE was everything promised and more! FLUKE was my second venture into the world of mini-comics, the first being SPX last September. I knew it would be a good show when we arrived shortly before eleven and the line was wrapped down the sidewalk in front of The 40 Watt Club. The trip down from Greenville, South Carolina where we met up with the Dollar Bin crew isn't bad, unless you do it in the very back of a 4-Runner (ugh, carsickness).
Once inside of The 40 Watt Club, we were greeted by rows of tables. Many of the artists have really impressive set-up times considering that they only got in the door shortly before we did. As with most cons, I had particular goals in mind as to what I want to pick up so I tend to seek out those artists first before I start to do more free range browsing.
My first stop was the Wide Awake Press gang. I had already gotten a carsickness curing hug from J. Chris Campbell in the line (as well as one of his Fanaticon trading cards!), but I still needed to pick up Rashy Rabbit #7: Droppin' Anchor from Josh Latta and the Wide Awake 666 Anthology. My next stop, directly across the club, was to pick up all six issues of Joey Weiser's Mermin. Joey took the time to do a different sketch in each issue. Joey was also kind enough to do a sketch in my Pinky and the Brain sketchbook.
Patrick Dean, one of the awesome organizers of FLUKE and Charlotte's own Dusty Harbin. All three are very different styles, but I love them all in their uniqueness. I wasn't the only one collecting sketches. The Dollar Bin's Brian Eison started a G.I. Joe sketchbook and it's already great just with the FLUKE contributions. My current favorite is Josh Latta's lovable Hooded Cobra Commander. Both my sketches and Brian's are included in my FLUKE flickr set.
I did a lot of shopping once I hit all of my pre-con goals. Luckily, Chris Pitzer from Adhouse Books provided both Seth and I with a handy Adhouse Books reusable bag. I love reusable bags, not just for cons, but all kinds of shopping. It was much easier to navigate the rows with my giant bookbag safely tucked away at the WAP table. The Adhouse Books bag was perfect for all my mini-comics carrying needs. Thanks Chris! I will post my full FLUKE loot list later this week. I have a lot of reading to do!
Admittedly, I am a bit of a foodie. I also have the temperament to become extremely cranky if I am not fed. The restaurants and other food available in and around a con are almost as important to me as the con itself. This means I do a little research prior to heading out to a con.
The Grit: I discovered this restaurant via that handy "search nearby" function on google maps. After I posted on our plans to check The Grit out comments on here ringingly endorsed this place, including Brad McGinty explaining he had once driven 45 minutes just to get a Golden Bowl. On Saturdays, The Grit operates on a brunch menu until 5p.m. I opted for the Breakfast Burrito with tofu and was not disappointed. Their tofu is amazing with a perfect texture and golden brown crust. I borrowed a copy of the cookbook from Adam of the Dollar Bin so I can attempt this perfection myself. Seth went a more traditional route with an egg and cheese sandwich that was also really good. We also picked up their "veggie burger of the day", a black eyed pea burger for friends back at the con. The review on the burger from Henry Eudy (not a vegetarian) was it was really good for something that wasn't dead!
Clocked: Just a few doors down from The 40 Watt Club was a diner with the a sign on the door for milkshakes. Our group couldn't resist this place even though we knew we were having pizza later that evening. Every single one of us ordered a milkshake and some form of food from burgers to tater-tots. The milkshakes were super yummy (I went with mocha. They have vanilla, chocolate, mocha, and blackberry.) and the tots were a perfect snack before dinner. The wait staff was really friendly. A few had even stopped in at FLUKE. Our waiter had on a J. Chris Campbell smiley face button.
Transmetropolitan Pizza: It's hard to imagine just a few hours after shakes and tots, we would be ready for a visit to a pizza place, but we were. Seth and I split a cheese calzone and it was yummy, cheesy goodness. Everyone at our rather large table seemed pleased with their food from pizza to pasta. Transmet has an upstairs bar area with lots of tables, booths, and couches and it was easy to accommodate a big group, especially at dinner-time in a college town.
Bizarro-Wuxtry. This place is jam packed full of comics and toys. Upon first entering, this store can be a bit overwhelming with the sheer volume of stuff, but once you acclimate, you'll notice that it's well organized by creator and has a lot of mini-comics and indie books. My allergies could do without some of the dust, but wow, what a selection. Check it out for yourself in my flickr album of our visit.
Adam of the Dollar Bin grabbed several interviews during the last hour of FLUKE. The rest of us, save Shawn, who was manning the DB table, were taking down milkshakes in Clocked at this point. Adam, undeterred by our exit for a snack, got interviews with FLUKE organizers, Patrick Dean and Robert Newsome, as well as DB and Exile favorites, Chris Schweizer and Josh Latta. These interviews will be up on the Dollar Bin on Wednesday for your listening pleasure.
Overall, FLUKE is really great con. It's always nice to see old friends and make new ones, especially when you're able to put a face to that person you've been tweeting with for a little while. FLUKE is small enough that you manage to see everyone and everything that is there yet large enough to stay busy looking all day. It was also really conveniently located near good restaurants so that it was easy to pop out and grab a yummy lunch. FLUKE will definitely be making our annual con list. Patrick Dean and Robert Newsome did an excellent job organizing and prompting FLUKE and I can't wait to see what they do next year.