Our October Bookstore of the Month is a special one, because it’s a bookstore that will only exist in the world for one day. The Short Run Comix & Arts Festival will take place this year on October 31st at Fisher Pavilion in the Seattle Center, and for that one day, it will be the largest bookseller of independent literature, zines, and comics in the Seattle area. Every week this month, we’ll highlight a different Short Run exhibitor, to give you a better idea of the scope and breadth of the festival.
Years ago, the co-founders of art collective Fictilis, Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau, were working in their Pioneer Square art gallery when organizers for Short Run stopped by to ask if they could hang some posters for this new comics and zine fest they were promoting. Furstnau says Fictilis took up the banner immediately. “I had organized a DIY craft fair in Ypsilanti, Michigan called the Shadow Art Fair,” Furstnau says, “so I had a soft place in my heart for these types of things, especially when they’re community-focused, when it’s not just about people coming and making money.”
Fictilis has supported Short Run ever since. Furstnau has sold copies of his book How It Hurts at past shows, and the collective has shown work including Collections, a collection of collections, and Cat Faces, which is more or less what it sounds like.
Though Fictilis has closed their Seattle gallery and moved to Oakland, they’re coming back to town for this year’s Short Run for an interactive project called the Short Run Census Bureau. Though the particulars of the project are shrouded in mystery, Furstnau offers up a little bit of a hint: he says that the Census is “partly a sort of solution to a practical problem at these types of events.”
He wants to resolve the social awkwardness of a show, to help break the ice and remove the expectation of financial transactions between Short Run attendees and exhibitors. Furstnau says they’d like “ to give people something to make it easy to interact that hopefully isn’t too intrusive for the vendors and will encourage them to talk more about people’s work.” He wanted to help create “a noncommercial exchange” that would help keep the conversation about art, though he suspects that by opening up conversations exhibitors might likely sell more pieces. “Hopefully, we can get some useful data out of it, too,” Furstnau says, though he confirms that “our priority is the experience, and the sort of artfulness of it, not really the usefulness.”
Furstnau’s advice for first-time Short Run attendees follows along those lines: “I guess I would say talk to people. Even if there’s no obvious connection, once you get talking one will come up and I think it’s those connections that can turn out to be really valuable.” The commerce part of the show is important, he admits, but he argues that community is what makes events like Short Run so important.