Hot on the heels of Baltimore Comic-Con, I attended the Small Press Expo, which turned out to be a wonderful experience. But first, a bit of background – turns out there was some registration issue, which inadvertently resulted in the convention doubling in size! This certainly amounted to a fair amount of frustration in the short term. However! It was quite the fortuitous accident, because the place was packed. The amount of energy was amazing, both from the exhibitors and the crowd. I hung around for the Ignatz Awards, and the after-party – a total of over thirteen hours, and barely felt the exhaustion creeping. To state that a good time was had is an understatement.
I got there at 11am, quickly got a sense of the room, and settled into a table by table exploration. Unlike the past weekend in Baltimore, I didn’t really have two days to explore (had to go see a stage adaptation of Gaiman’s Neverwhere on Sunday – life is tough I know!). So panels were forgone, and I steadily made my way from one end to the other in one day. It seems that all the walking I did in Baltimore the previous weekend was a great warm-up.
Small Press Expo is exactly what the name suggests, there are no distractions (which is a very relative statement, I realize), just lots and lots of comics and the people that make them – many of whom are just starting out. All of which is absolutely awesome. I discovered so many new things, that I’m not entirely sure how I will get through it all. This even includes music – thanks to the kind J.T. Dockery, who gave me a copy of his old band’s CD, which I’ve so far enjoyed quite a lot.
The clutter of new things is a great problem to have, and precisely the kind of thing I need these days. Suffice to say, a few more mainstream comics were dropped from my pull-list – gotta make room for all the new stuff I plan on keeping up with. Dare I say we’re witnessing something of a golden age of new material, or more precisely access to new material. Thanks to the internet, and things like Kickstarter, creators who would never get a chance before can do their thing. The diversity of material – and good material at that – is nothing short of staggering.
It was amazing to see how nice everyone was. Perfect example, I was a dollar short, I wanted to buy a second volume of Rutabaga: Adventure Chef, credit cards were not an option, but rest assured a stranger came to my rescue and simply gave me a dollar. It was totally unexpected, and awesome. On top of that singular event, everyone was a joy to talk to, more so than at any other convention I’ve been to. There is definitely something very special about SPX. Everybody is eager to share their own work, but also learn. Creators asked me about what I was getting as much as anything. Then there’s the fact that the tables were turned on me a few times, and I was asked for a business card, or more information about my blog, which was incredibly humbling and unexpected.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the winners, the standouts, the stars, baby!
So I recently discovered the work of Tin Can Forest, in a serendipitous turn, Koyama press, the publisher of their work, was present. I was, unfortunately, too late to grab a copy of Baba Yaga and the Wolf, but I got Wax Cross. I also bought Cole Closser’s Little Tommy Lost, which made it home largely because the artwork is reminiscent of strips from the early 20th century, which got my attention. Anyway, I am incredibly excited to read both!
If that wasn’t enough Michael DeForge, whose Lose and Very Casual are both published by Koyama, swept the Ignatz Awards; winning every category for which he was nominated: Outstanding Series (Lose), Outstanding Anthology or Collection (Very Casual), and Outstanding Artist for his entire body of work. These guys definitely had a very good weekend, and I need to hurry up and familiarize myself with DeForge’s work, which looks outstanding!
Women Warriors: Lady Knights Vol. 1
This was likely one of the easiest purchases I made while at SPX. It’s an art book, jam-packed with more talent than I can list (as you can see here). Not only is it full of awesome art, all of which is thematically linked, but the sparing use of color (white, black & pink) makes it incredibly eye catching. Every single person I showed this to while at SPX, or after, was blown away. Well worth a look!
I recently learned that Carla Speed McNeil was a contributor to Smut Peddler, so naturally, the moment I saw it available at a table I passed, I had to have it. This led into a wonderful conversation with Blue Delliquanti and Spike, the latter of whom is none other than the lady that put the whole thing together. Anyway, pretty excited about this, especially since it’s a bit of a departure from my regular fare. Plus since, as they say in for a penny, in for a pound, I also got Jess Fink’s Chester 5000-XYV (more about this soon).
It wouldn’t be a con at this point if I didn’t get a sketch of Totoro. I wasn’t even sure that I would this time around, but after stumbling across Anii Stoll‘s table, and seeing her anime-inspired watercolor work, I knew I had to! In fact, picking up this commission was one of the few reasons I briefly swung by on Sunday. Anyway, for the curious she is currently working on a new webcomic called Ode, and her excellent handy-work is below!
Odds and Ends
Many comics made it home with me! Here is a highlight of those I’m most excited about: The Girl With Flour in Her Hair by Billage, The Story of Three Wonderful Beggars illustrated by Aaron F. Gonzalez, World Bestiary: A Thorough Account by Erica Henderson, In The Sounds and Seas, Volume I by Marnie Galloway, Trees by Sean Azzopardi, and How Do I Know Who I Am If I Forget by Luis Echavarria Uribe.
And much, much more! I may yet get to speak about some of it, but for the time being this is what really caught my eye! Also, judging by the piles of goodies that people are posting I missed out on a few things, but c’est la vie. Can’t catch ‘em all, I guess…