Comics and Contemplation on the Road

This past weekend I traveled to San Jose for Silicon Valley Comic Con. Last year was my first time at the event as an exhibitor for A.L.Ex Studios’ flagship comic, MANIA, but this was my first time as just an attendee. Having the prior year’s experience under my belt I felt more prepared to tackle the con. It was Space Exploration themed which was really cool. I got to talk with scientists as well as creators and struck up great conversations and made some good connections.

The panels were also very interesting and relevant this year, dealing with things like emerging technology, robots, VR, AR, neural prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and their implications for humanity. A lot of themes that resonate with the vision for MANIA. I went to a very meaningful panel on Saturday called Classroom Crossover Event: Comics in Secondary Education which was a complete revelation. I met with a teacher after who purchased a copy of MANIA and was very enthusiastic about including it in her curriculum.

The themes present at the con really fired up my ideas for A.L.Ex and the new Paradigm of Passion. Another panel I attended on Sunday called The Future of Learning: 2030 gave me a whole new perspective on self-guided education and inspired passion training ideas for the future. All in all, I had a great time catching up with a lot of the creators I had met at previous conventions and I look forward to going back next year.

Silicon Valley Comic Con also provided me with the opportunity to road trip up from Los Angeles and stop at various local comic book shops to get copies of MANIA on store shelves. After our successful Kickstarter campaign it felt important to me to utilize the momentum and further MANIA’s outreach as much as possible. Throughout the round trip, I stopped at around ten comic book shops.

The experience was very rewarding. Not only did I get to chat with comic shop owners face to face but I got to stand there as they flipped through the pages. All the owners that got to take a look at our books were very impressed with the quality. With these guys, it was all business. I could sense their “would my demographic buy this?” type of reaction. But at the same time, I didn’t really have to ‘sell’ MANIA to them. The product really speaks for itself.

What I believe sold the owners who ended up taking a few issues of MANIA was just the human connection and the ability to hold and see the comic. That really makes a difference! The most valuable knowledge I took away from this type of outreach was really understanding the marketing approach that we will have to take with MANIA in order to get it in front of people. The more we learn how we stand apart, the more we can cater our marketing toward the ideal audience that will enjoy MANIA the most.

If you are in the Central-Northern California area, check out the following shops to pick up your copy today! And if you have a favorite comic book shop that you frequent, be sure to #askforMANIA.

Heroes Comics – Fresno, CA

Red Sky Comics – Merced, CA

Legends Comics and Games – Santa Clara, CA

Legends Comics – Fresno, CA

The Message Behind MANIA: A New Perspective on Mental Health

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Throughout the production of MANIA, the entire A.L.Ex Studios team has felt the pressure of what a weighty topic we are undertaking by tackling the concept of mental health. It has been incredibly important to all of us not only to be accurate and honest, but accepting and kind. This is because the purpose of MANIA’s theme is to remove negative stigmas from mental illness and make our small contribution to the large task of normalizing neurodiversity. Up to this point, we have framed the message of MANIA to align with that existing dichotomy of positive and negative. “Mental illnesses, neuroses and fears are not weaknesses but strengths” has been the basic byline. But the more we explore the potential of a comic that wants to change the way we talk about mental health, we no longer feel like restricting ourselves to aligning mental illness with either “bad” or “good,” “negative” or “positive.” Sticking with the existing framework for discussing mental illness just doesn’t suit the ambitious goals we have for the MANIA franchise.

We want to imagine a world where neurodivergence is treated as just another facet of someone’s personality and perspective. We want MANIA to inspire readers to fully know and accept themselves no matter what they are struggling with, because it is only through self-acceptance and love that we can be empowered and happy with ourselves. Our ultimate goal is to see more and more people find true happiness, share that happiness with others, and use it to uplift the whole world. Through MANIA, we want to spread the message that Different is Powerful, and loving yourself and what makes you different will give you the keys to unlock limitless worlds of possibility.

Be sure to pledge your support to this awesome new franchise and help us #KickstartMANIA on Wednesday, February 15th. 

What Problem is A.L.Ex Solving?

As the Art & Learning Expedition develops into a sustainable business model, we have challenged ourselves to constantly define and reaffirm A.L.Ex’s mission and purpose. Part of this process is to always be re-evaluating how A.L.Ex is helping our community and the world; what problems are we solving?

Continue reading “What Problem is A.L.Ex Solving?”

October Observations

Whew! We’re all still reeling from the whirlwind weekend that closed out October at A.L.Ex. Going straight from Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con to our Halloween bash was a challenge, but we had an awesome time at both events.

LA Comic Con, formerly known as Comikaze Expo, was the biggest convention we’ve tabled at yet, and we learned a lot about how important good timing and organization is for such a popular con. Of course, no matter how much you prepare, things don’t always go according to plan (never underestimate LA traffic when there are three major events going on at LA Live, ouch!) It’s a testament to the flexibility and fortitude of our entire team that we had such a smooth, productive con despite some minor roadblocks. We were so proud to unveil our new, improved banners at the table, as well as debut the Variant Cover versions of Issue 001 of MANIA, with stunning cover art by our friend Sean Forney.

Jeremy and Leon were overjoyed to share the story of MANIA with tons of new fans; so many people continue to be touched and impressed by the narrative and characters we’re bringing to life. It’s an incredible experience to see someone’s face light up with interest and curiosity when we explain the premise of the comic to them. And it’s not just fun to experience the con culture as a creator, the whole team loves walking the floor and checking out what our fellow artists are bringing to the table! We always come home with new friends and beautiful new pieces of art. We can’t wait to continue making the rounds at conventions around the country and turn the ‘comic con circuit’ into a regular fixture at A.L.Ex.

halloween
Choose your side!

Finally, our Halloween party was the perfect opportunity to unwind after a busy weekend, and celebrate how far A.L.Ex has come so far! We got our scary on by turning the Blank Slate into a preview room for The Callingwood Suicides, a new horror novel from the writer of MANIA. A tableau of the main antagonist, complemented by little hints about the mysterious tale fit in perfectly on All Hallow’s Eve. We were joined by some of A.L.Ex’s newest friends for a night of #TeamJumpstart vs. #TeamMidna shenanigans, complete with a big game of Cards Against Humanity. It’s wonderful to see the Crew growing, and to welcome more and more people onboard the Expedition. Could you be next?

Heading into November, we’re hoping to kickstart some more events at A.L.Ex Dojo, continue building momentum for The Callingwood Suicides and percolate even more projects through the Studios and Agency, and of course, keep up the strong work with MANIA as we work on Issue 003! Be on the lookout for ways you can contribute to these and other projects…

A huge thanks from the entire Crew to all of you following our journey, we can’t wait to keep sharing our milestones with you as we explore every inch of our imaginations.

Elyse Wietstock
VP of Communications
Art & Learning Expedition

The Light is Here!

And at last we See The Light! The #MANIA team is proud to announce that Issue 002 – The Light is complete and ready for sale!

The digital version is available immediately for your instant gratification, but please be aware there will be a slight delay on physical copies as we await their arrival from the printers.

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Hartford ComiCONN: Talking Points

hartford-comicconn

At the end of September, our founder Jeremy took the convention reins in hand and flew to Hartford, CT for Hartford ComiCONN, to represent A.L.Ex and bring MANIA to the East Coast for a second time. While he was on his way home, I asked him a few questions about his experience in Hartford, and how he felt about the reception for MANIA and the expansion of A.L.Ex at large…

Elyse: At this point, A.L.Ex has attended several conventions, most recently tabling for the first time at Treasure Coast Comic Con in Port St. Lucie, FL. What was different in Hartford than our other con experiences, and how did going solo this time affect you?

Jeremy: The one glaring difference was people thought I made the whole comic myself. So the frequent pointing to the Team page of our Case Study Pamphlet with call-outs to the brilliant team behind me was a constant reminder of how lucky I am to represent such great quality work and be surrounded by such great talent.

I felt going solo, especially in these early stages of learning the artistry of salesmanship, allowed me more freedom to playfully experiment with how I expressed MANIA and A.L.Ex in general. This is definitely not a slight on Leon at at all, but having to ‘share’ the booth stage with someone affects the energetic flow of speaking from passion. For example, sometimes you get a question that the ‘Writer’ should answer. At Hartford ComiCONN I didn’t have that option. There was nobody to rely on but myself. It was intense but very rewarding too. I felt I learned a lot in how to diversify my ‘spiel’ while not relying on the same tone or ideas to get across the epicness of the MANIA concept, story, characters, or art. I also had some fun improvising. I will take what I learned into our next convention for sure.

E: Do you get many people asking about the other modules, or is the focus mostly on MANIA?

J: The focus was primarily on MANIA, though we did get some inquiries about A.L.Ex Dojo and if it was a school. That was really interesting, and guided some of my thoughts in terms of directions the Dojo could take in the next steps of its development.

E: What kind of feedback does MANIA and the rest of the Expedition continue to get?

J: It’s really amazing because the general consensus continues to be that MANIA is a game changing concept for the comic landscape! The message of understanding, supporting, and empowering people’s differences as well as raising awareness for mental health will find audiences all over the world. The reactions I got from people, from the subtle “Whoa” or “That’s awesome!” to the literal *head moving back mind-blown face* tickled my inner artist and were immensely satisfying to hear. People also commented on how cool the art looks. I brought the 11×17 “gigantor” portfolio version of Issue 001 for people to rifle through and they were amazed by the detail. The more eyes we get, the more the momentum builds for the Expedition, and as long as we stay true to honoring the art of Mindful Entertainment, I foresee a global impact and great success for the MANIA franchise.

“The Light” at the End of the Tunnel

A.L.Ex Studios is abuzz with activity as the #MANIA team gets Issue 002 – The Light to the finish line!

MANIA Comic

The #MANIA team has been hard at work fine-tuning Issue 002 for its new October release. You might say the energy is electric! 💡💡💡 #comics #art #lettering #crunchtime

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Crunch Time!

Home from one adventure just in time to start another! Jeremy Alexander Lasman had a great time learning and exploring on his mission to Hartford ComiCONN, now it’s time to switch into high gear to get MANIA Comic Issue 002 ready for release and some exciting new elements added to our website. Full speed ahead!

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