Autoptic festival highlights independent art, music and comics

When the Minneapolis Indie Xpo (MIX), bit the dust last year, it was a blow to the local independent comics and art scene. But the event's demise spurred a group of artists to organize a replacement that may be even more ambitious in bringing different forms of local art under the same roof.

The main event in the first-ever Autoptic festival is on Sunday. Co-organizer and comic artist Zak Sally said organizers wanted to highlight the everyday connections between different forms of media.

"Great print makers make great posters for bands; comics artists silkscreen the covers for the books," Sally said. "It’s not, 'Let’s force together these things that don’t really go together.' They all do."

Sally said they hope combining all these forms of media will allow people with a foot in one world to get a glimpse into a completely different world.

"It’s very exciting for us that maybe someone would come there because they’re a fan of Doomtree or AMREP [Amphetamine Reptile Records], and they would find themselves in this room crammed to the gills with great stuff that they had never heard of before -- maybe they didn’t even know they were interested in it," Sally said.

Autoptic co-organizer and cartoonist Tom Kaczynski said the key word uniting all the art forms on display at the festival is "independent."

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.

"It’s independent media that’s often created by singular visionaries or smaller, scrappier companies that are trying to bring more interesting work to the market that are not super-commercial endeavors that you would get from maybe a more comic-con type of event," Kaczynski said.

Even the obscure name of the festival is a reference to personal expression.

"Autoptic means to see with one’s own eye -- sort of like a personal vision of the world that gets translated, whether it’s [through] comics, music or other media."

The festival includes a number of panels, including a discussion between cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt and Jaime Hernandez, co-creator of the Love and Rockets comic series and one of the pioneers of independent comics.

"He’s the godfather, he’s like one of the greats," Kaczynski said of Hernandez. "It’s really going to be an interesting conversation to have a younger woman cartoonist speaking with sort of the grandfather of alternative comics."

In order to make sure the festival survives if founding members depart, Kaczynski said they're hoping to create a non-profit organization.

Autoptic will also include more than 100 exhibitors, including print makers, poster artists, cartoonists, musicians, record labels and designers.

The main event is on Sunday, August 18th at ARIA in Minneapolis (105 North 1st street), although other events are planned throughout the weekend.