The name AltCom is an abbreviation of Alternative Comics. To us, “alternative comics” means making and/or publishing comics that aren’t first and foremost commercially viable. It’s more important to do something that feels meaningful and interesting rather than something that will make you rich. This is why what you’ll find at the festival are smaller publishers and individual artists rather than the big commercial ones.
We also want to give visitors a chance to find new things, to experience what used to be alien or unknown. Because we don’t believe the myth that says you have to be afraid of what you don’t know. We don’t believe that everything needs to be familiar or safe to be appealing. Nor do we think that art (a term which of course includes comics) has to be appealing or adhere to “what people want”.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t find any comics creators whose works you’ve seen before. This is the fourth AltCom in its current form, and there’s something to be said for continuity as well as for innovation. So this year’s guests will be a mix of familiar and new faces.
All to make AltCom as meaningful and interesting as possible.
So we just came back from the CRACK! festival in Rome, which is more or less the hub/parent/sibling of the European(+) scene for underground/alternative/DIY/art comics & temporary art. The festival gathers hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors under the same roof, or actually in the tunnels under the same fort.
CRACK! is the great inspiration for AltCom and many others, even if the conditions very from country to country. For example, the squatting culture in Italy and Sweden are completely different. If you try to occupy an empty building to turn it into a social centre in Sweden, you will have to deal with a massive police assault on you almost directly. No such squat in Sweden has lasted more than a few months in recent years, and even that is extremely rare. It’s more likely that you will be back on the street within hours. Whereas Forte Prenestino (the social centre where CRACK! is held) celebrates its 30th anniversary as a squat this year.
On the other hand, Malmö is a friendly city and it’s possible to cooperate with a lot of venues (like Folkets Park, Panora, Mitt Möllan and others during the previous AltComs) without having to spend all of your budget just to find a place to have the festival’s exhibitions, comics market, etc.
On the other hand, Sweden is kind of expensive compared to other countries (though Malmö is cheap for Sweden), if not as expensive as Norway or Switzerland, so it comes with some other issues that we need to handle when organizing our event. We compensate by keeping as many parts as possible of the festival free of charge, like tables, entrance fees, festival anthology…
An important aspect of AltCom is that even if the comics fair is an important part of it, since it gives small press publishers and artists the opportunity to sell their books and the public the opportunity to buy them, we focus a lot on the social aspect.
That’s why we start the festival off with a two-day exhibition opening for several exhibitions at once, gathered in the same place. It creates a meeting ground for artists from different parts of the world, to show their stuff, to talk, to drink together and make new plans for the future, as well as meet a public that get the chance to experience something new.
The CRACK! festival is truly a seed for a future that may come, a seed that may be part of creating an atmosphere based on participation, mutual respect, creativity and boundless exchange. And that’s what we also try to be with AltCom, even if we are in Sweden and don’t have a huge squatted-since 30-years fort.
Edit 2016-03-31: We got the fundeing for the book through Kickstarter! So we know now that it is happening!
Time to announce the festival anthology of 2016:
We don’t have all the funding secured yet, but there’s a Kickstarter, so let’s assume that everything will be fine and open this call for submissions anyway!
The theme for this year is WORK, and we would like you to give us your stories interpreting that theme.
WHAT we want:
Pages: 1-5, black/white
Format: 140x182mm (a little bit smaller than A5) +5mm bleed on all sides
Files: High-resolution .TIFF, preferably
If you are unsure what we mean by “high-resolution”, please ask. Not sure what we mean by “bleed”? Read this! Lots of artists don’t know, and it’s better to ask than to send us files that we can’t use.
The AltCom 2016 festival will happen, and it will happen July 28-31.
The theme for the festival will be WORK and the whole thing will be organized by CBK & Tusen Serier with support (so far) by the City of Malmö.
Thursday & Friday will be based around exhibitions at Mitt Möllan.
One of the exhibitions will be Attention: Work! by Stripburger.
Saturday & Sunday will be the comics fair in Folkets Park.
We also have some ideas for more exhibitions, talks, a film screening and some of the guests, etc, but we won’t disclose all our secrets yet, and there are also a few things we still don’t know. For example, we don’t currently have the funding needed for a festival anthology, but we’re working on it.
So reserve these dates in you schedule, and check this space in a little while to follow any further developments.