About Festival Season

Festival Season reviews self-published and micropress comics and keeps a calendar of community events.

Logo by Kenan Rubenstein for Boy Blue & Co.

We’re an informal organization of comics people (creators, publishers, distributors, event organizers, enthusiasts) who share a conviction that the ever-expanding alt-comics phenomenon has something to offer just about everyone. We realize the aforementioned everyone isn’t yet aware of that fact. We’re working on it.

We’re here to help you find the comics you don’t yet know you love, and to help those comics find you. To this end, we discuss noteworthy minicomics and their creators on our blog. We maintain a community calendar of all the great indie-oriented comic events popping up around the country. And we write up the events we attend, mainly to make everyone who missed them jealous.

Festival Season was dreamed up and designed by Kenan Rubenstein, a cartoonist and web designer currently based in Somerville, Massachusetts. He built its vascular system, but the nourishing part of this plant grows continuously from our volunteer corps of fine, photogenic, photosynthetic, and devastatingly brilliant contributors.

Our review philosophy

The writing on this site is guided by two basic parameters, like inflatable bumpers in the gutters of our critical faculties:

We try to keep our judgments non-qualitative.

You may notice that Festival Season doesn’t host any epic take-downs or pans or lamentations of an artist’s decline. We don’t “call out” comiceurs for themes of which we disapprove or stew over what “comics” as a monolith is doing wrong. (We understand why that genre of response has come to dominate this internet of ours; it’s fun to read, and, we gather, fun to write, too. It’s just not our thing.)

If you’re reading a review on Festival Season, you can assume its author is recommending the book under discussion; everything on this site should be considerd a “buy.” We don’t review work about which we aren’t excited because the world really doesn’t need to be told not to read a particular minicomic. Indeed, the world can be pretty consistently relied upon to do that without our instruction.

In fact, we don’t spend a lot time worrying about whether a given work is empirically “good” or “bad” (we’re pretty sure that kind of review is actually autobiography masquerading as critique). Instead we try to explore what makes a given comic interesting, and what about it we find compelling.

Perhaps this policy of positivity creates the impression of grade inflation, or maybe you’d assume we just love everything. I assure you, we are hypercritical jerks. But in the stacks of self-published comics that come our way, each beautiful and flawed in its unique and often very personal fashion, we periodically find one we feel is deserving of wider notice, that we suspect will appeal to people beyond the communities that produce this stuff. Those are the books we put our energy into telling you about.

We try to direct our readers off publishing’s beaten paths.

If you heard about it on NPR or saw it in The New York Times Book Review, you probably won’t read about it here. We focus on comics published by their creators and very small presses that don’t enjoy wide distribution or promotional access to the above outlets, and try to show you things you might not otherwise have discovered.

What we have against mainstream comics

Nothing, we swear. We read lots of comics published through larger and more traditional channels, and even enjoy a lot of them. And we appreciate the contributions publishers make to the broader comics community, which are legion. (Also, we didn’t in any way mean to dis NPR or The Times. We are the kind of people whose most-utilized conversational segue is “So I heard this thing on NPR about…” We’re just filling in a different gap.)

But the world of self-published comics is vast and diverse and full of wonders. Often assembled by hand, minicomics are personal and idiosyncratic in ways simply not possible for books produced on a larger scale. Also, they’re badly in need of some infrastructure, a need which Festival Season hopes to help address, in its own small way. This is where our hearts are, and where we think we can have the most impact.

So we’re basically big dumb hipsters?


How you get these big dumb hipsters to read and/or review your comic

Festival Season is in a holding pattern at the moment, and isn’t currently accepting submissions. But feel free to tell everyone we thought your new comic was the shit. Say we were mad effusive. We totally would have been.

How you get your event on the Festival Season Community Calendar

Organizing a minicomics-related event (a festival, reading, launch party, etc.)? You can request its inclusion on the Festival Season calendar by filling out our event submission form. We will try to list your event promptly, but reserve the right to be too busy or too flaky to get around to it in a timely fashion.

You have this thing you think we’d like but you’re not sure that it’s quite a comic exactly…

Is there any topic more tedious than what qualifies as a “comic?” We know it when we see it. Most of what’s reviewed here will meet most people’s definitions. Everything reviewed here is worthy of your attention, regardless.

If you’d like us to see something you made, send it our way and we will check it out. If we love it, we will tell the world, in one venue or another.

If you find yourself taking issue with our inclusion of a particular book under the umbrella of “comics,” we encourage you to start your own comics review blog and omit the offending work.

You have questions. You have feedback. You have complaints phrased as demands and demands phrased as suggestions. You have thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams. You are a human with needs. What should you do with all the things you have to say?

Sounds like you’re looking for this contact form here.