Most veterans of San Diego Comic-Con know that when you’re looking for something a little offbeat, new, and exciting on the show floor from some really cool artists you maybe haven’t discovered yet – you should head to Small Press.
That’s where you’ll find Curio & Co. this year, the company founded by Kirstie Shepherd and Cesare Asaro, to create fictional pop culture memorabilia from a world that never existed.
“At first glance, our products look like they fit in with other similar collectibles – familiar in style, materials or context. But upon a closer look it is clear that the world is made up, and a little bit ridiculous,” Shepherd said. “From our first mockumentary book of fictional artist Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley and his newspaper strip Frank and His Friend that never existed, to the “original” production drawings for 1960s animated TV show Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures… you could say that a lot of our work is a meta-look at what it’s like to collect nostalgia from conventions like San Diego Comic-Con.”
This year’s project is AZR-0: Robots in the Wild, an illustrated field study journal about observing feral robots on a distant planet. Their Kickstarter to support the project went live on Friday, and you can help crowdfund the book now for cool rewards like prints, copies of the book, original artwork, and more.
There will be a sneak peek of the book at San Diego Comic-Con this summer.
“Bringing something new to SDCC each year is hugely important for exhibitors. This is the only show that pulls together the entire gamut of the entertainment industry – agents and distributors and everyone you need to meet from the business side,” Shepherd said. ” But beyond that business side, the show has an enormous emotional payoff for creators. Being able to meet other creators and talk with fans about your work is so energizing. ”
Curio & Co. have been exhibiting at San Diego since the company was founded in 2010 – and while for the fans it’s a chance to discover new artists, it’s also a chance for the artists to be discovered by some in the industry.
“Truly, every major milestone our company has reached started on the floor at SDCC. Really, we reached those milestones because we were on the floor at SDCC. This was definitely the case with finding our literary and film agents,” Shepherd said. ” It was really a matter of getting lucky by being in the right place at the right time – but for creators, SDCC is the right place.”
Just getting to San Diego, though, can be a feat in itself. For Small Press exhibitors, you have to be judged and awarded a slot to be able to exhibit in that section. Then, coming from Europe, the show has some extra challenges for Curio & Co., including airfare, and having to arrive early to avoid jet lag.
“The long hours of Comic-Con are hard enough without feeling like it’s the middle of the night,” Shepherd joked.
Then, once the booth is set up and the convention starts – smaller exhibitors have to compete with the larger companies on the floor, who have big budgets to make a big splash.
“With so much of the floor dominated by larger businesses, we’re hearing more and more small creative companies moving on to other shows. But San Diego is still the big show, and for now we feel like it’s still really important to be represented there,” Shepherd said.
That’s what prompted the decision to try for Small Press this year, rather than continuing with the regular exhibitors.
“After three years on the main floor, we’re heading back to the Small Press section because we’ve found that if you’re not a huge company, you’re better off there where visitors specifically looking for something new and different see the Small Press section as a destination. Almost a con within the con.”
You can find Curio & Co. at Booth #O-02 at San Diego Comic-Con this year, and you can check out their Kickstarter now. Here’s a look at some work from AZR-0: Robots in the Wild: