SPX ’17: Celebrating 10 Years Of 2dcloud And Being ‘Unwisely Ambitious’

by Hannah Means Shannon

At the 2dcloud Panel celebrating 10 years of the press at Small Press Expo on Sunday, September 17th, panelists included Raighne Hogan, Laura Lannes, Xia Gordon, Fifi Martinez, and Margot Ferrick.

Starting with an anthology comic, 2dcloud was always something that Hogan wanted to do, and they followed that with minis published by friends. The founders met at a small art school in Minnesota and tried to get friends to contribute to the books. It takes time to develop a “voice” however, and Hogan thinks that was the case with 2d.

They had a big period of growth around 2012, Hogan said “ambition, drive, or mania” seems to have kicked in around that time. But also in the lead up to around 2014, they established a distributor and made new plans for a quarterly magazine in an “unrelenting” way.

Their next season of books will be ten minicomics to celebrate ten years of existence, Hogan said.

Kickstarter has played a major role in helping 2d work on a sustainable budget and also helps set up communities of readers, Hogan said. There has been some resistance to using Kickstarter in the minicomics community, and some of the reason for that is how much hard work it is to promote a project during a campaign, and repeating that over and over can be exhausting.

It still “feels like dying”, Hogan laughed, every time they hit a Kickstarter goal, just thinking about the next campaign. But it also gives him a “reason to live”, and makes him feel “purposeful”.

Hogan said that at the moment, “This space is not sustainable”, meaning that working in these kinds of comics is not supporting people trying to make a living. There need to be changes of various kinds before that can happen. Everything they do is “toward that goal” of transformation, Hogan said.

Moving from a quarterly anthology, 2d have also recently started an annual anthology, Mirror Mirror. Each edition has its own guest editor who takes their own approach to content, and they are given a lot of creative control.

Mirror Mirror has the potential for containing shorter works, like ‘zines, as well as newer works.

2d recently released Laura Lannes’ diary comics By Monday I’ll Be Floating In the Hudson with the Other Garbage. Lannes said she tends to create diary comics when she’s depressed, and funnels that into short diary works. The book appears with spiral binding because she created the art on unusual sized, leftover paper, and because it also appears at the largest size for risograph, spiral worked best.

Kindling, by Xia Gordon, was created in pastels, and appears as a journey, in a physical sense, of a person in search of an answer—why they give so much of themselves to others so easily. She doesn’t feel the book answers her questions, based on her own life, but creating the book did “exorcise” it for her.

Fifi Martinez’ It Felt Like Nothing is also published by 2d, and it’s a book that raises issues via sketchbook pages reflecting on a “bad breakup”. The relationship had lasted most of her 20’s and the sketchbook pages reflect on stages of coming out of such a profound change in life.

Many of the panelists didn’t think of themselves as cartoonists, and maybe not even artists, when they found themselves creating stories. When they saw some of the alternative comics being published by 2dcloud, the “unconventionality” appealed to them, as in Martinez’ case.

Asked how they feel about traditional comics formats, like grids, and whether they address those expectations, Ferrick said she has been working in a more traditional way lately.

Gordon has a degree in illustration and cartooning, but when she started discovering comics that weren’t the way she had previously assumed them to be. When she started creating comics, she felt that anything was possible in terms of format and style, she said.

Hogan wants to turn 2dcloud into a “sustainable vehicle in a sustainable industry. And survive.”, he said. Be he expects they’ll be “unwisely ambitious”, too.