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FLUKE brings comics and zines to the 40 Watt Club

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Festival offers fresh, affordable space for comics

The FLUKE mini-comics festival has been going for more than 10 years. As it has grown, it has offered more and more space for passionate comic fans. 

If you’re itching to get your hands on new, independently published artwork and graphic stories, you might want to stop by the 40 Watt Club between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on April 11 for one of the most anticipated mini-comic and zine festivals in the Southeast: FLUKE.

“It’s a glorified zine swap,” said organizer Robert Newsome. “It’s a place for people to get together and see what they’ve been working on for the past year.”

Newsome and co-organizer Patrick Dean will host a get-together, FLUKE Town Revue, at Flicker Bar & Theatre the day before starting at 7 p.m. Dean and Newsome will be reading their work, and Sea of Dogs will be performing.

Newsome believes FLUKE is the perfect opportunity for comic artists to make connections within the independent publishing community.

“If you don’t have anything like Bizarro-Wuxtry in town, or if you’re not able to go there very often, then FLUKE is the best place to see this kind of stuff,” Newsome said.

The event is sponsored by Bizarro-Wuxtry, Flagpole Magazine, Inch High Button Guy, Top Shelf Productions and Sequential Artists Workshop.

Although Devlin Thompson of Bizarro-Wuxtry admitted that they benefit from the influx of foot traffic FLUKE provides, the comic shop insisted that this festival’s priority are self-published and small press storytellers.

“Sure, folks tend to wander up here after FLUKE,” he said, “But the tables there are always reserved for creators, not retailers.”

Having the artists at the event adds a different pull than just selling comics and zines.

“The additional bonus to this is that you get to meet the creator, instead of just seeing it on a rack,” Newsome said.

Among the creators are comic artists Joey Weiser and Eleanor Davis. Seasoned FLUKE veterans, these SCAD graduates decided to call the Classic City their home after attending the mini-comic festival.

“A lot of us moved to Athens because we would visit for FLUKE and grew to like the town and the people here so much,” Weiser said.

“My husband and I were living in Savannah, and we were friends with Robert Newsome and Patrick Dean, FLUKE's organizers,” Davis said. “Later we moved to Athens, primarily because of Robert, Patrick and FLUKE. It feels like home to me now.”

Davis admitted that her first time at the crowded indie expo was nerve-wracking. She had to step outside for a while during her FLUKE debut, overwhelmed by the throng of people and one of the organizer’s bold choice in headgear.

“I remember particularly that Patrick was wearing a really cool hat, and I just couldn't handle it,” she said. “It was a fedora, but this was in 2003, I think, before people were wearing fedoras. Also, Patrick is really handsome.”

Due to its small press-friendly nature, FLUKE is also popular showcase for first-time convention exhibitionists like Lea Faske. She, like many attendees, discovered the zine showcase through word of mouth. Faske expects FLUKE to be a rewarding experience for her.

“I've heard it's a fairly small convention, so I don't expect much in the area of notable studios or famous artists,” she said. “Beyond that, I do expect to meet many talented professionals and art aficionados.”

FLUKE boasts a variety of genres and styles lining its aisles. From Davis’ vibrant collection of short stories entitled “How to be Happy” to Faske’s pieces inspired by “Final Fantasy X” and “Kingdom Hearts” and all the pages in between, visitors are bound to discover something new.

“A cool thing about the show is that it has a constant stream of new faces,” Weiser said. “You get a cool mix of established regulars and younger cartoonists with new work you've never seen.”​

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