By Frances Clause
The Youngstown Indie Creators Expo (Yo-Ice) returned Sept. 8 at the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, where creators, cosplayers and comic book lovers filled the church’s hall.
Carlos Rivera, Yo-Ice’s host, said the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in Columbus was the inspiration for his event.
In its 19th year, SPACE is Columbus, Ohio’s locally-owned comic show and the Midwest’s longest-running expo of small press.
“I’ve been attending SPACE since 2001, and it gave me the idea to start my own expo here in Youngstown,” Rivera said. “Yo-Ice has grown in its four years to showcase a variety of artists.”
Comic book artists, writers, printmakers, photographers and T-shirt designers displayed and sold their work at Yo-Ice.
“The expo only hosted comic artists in the past, but I wanted to open it to other forms of art, too,” Rivera said. “This year, we have 16 vendors and a panel discussion about the process of self-publishing and creating comics.”
Rivera sold his prints, mini books and biographical zines.
“I was busy organizing this event so it was difficult to balance that and my work,” he said. “I made eight-page zines and a mini book based on a past relationship.”
Torri Ses, a first-year vendor at Yo-Ice, enjoyed meeting other artists and selling some of her creations.
“My goal is to connect with other artists because we all support each other despite a competitive field,” she said. “I really hope to get my name out there and familiarize myself with vending for future events.”
Ses sold jewelry, candles, art prints and comics. She said her inspiration for these items comes from friends who create similar work.
“Watching my friends’ progress as they gain more experience and style changes encourages me to continue with my work,” she said. “I also draw inspiration from media like ‘Adventure Time,’ ‘Steven Universe,’ Disney movies and anime.”
Another vendor, Craig Latchaw, has been involved with Yo-Ice since its first year and calls his self-published works “Zombie Turtle Comics.” His goal was to sell every comic on his table.
“This year, I’ll be selling my second self-published comic book, ‘Galactic Man,’” he said. “It’s a humorous depiction of my generation and how so many of us have the potential to do great things, yet we’d rather indulge in our vices.”
Although visitors come to Yo-Ice for the art, cosplay was also encouraged. Kayleigh Sweeney, a superhero cosplayer, said this hobby connects people.
“This will be my first time at Yo-Ice, but I’ve cosplayed as Dark Phoenix when I went to Youngstown Comic Con,” she said. “Cosplay connects people because we all have something in common — whether it’s our love for a character, comic or TV show.”
Sweeney’s favorite expo activity is taking photos with other cosplayers.
“We all have respect for each other because most of us put a lot of work into making our cosplays,” she said. “I hope to see other people who are passionate about it at Yo-Ice.”