Small Press Expo (SPX) 2010 Con Report

SPX logo

I should have had my 2010 Small Press Expo convention report up by now, since it was last weekend (feels like much further away), but yesterday, Ed, Julia, and I recorded a podcast about it, so I feel like I’ve already shared my stories. What’s here is just some quick thoughts. The shortest version: it’s a great show, especially to find new, promising work, and well worth your time to attend.

This year it was busier than I expected, with the floor often crowded enough that I’d have to wait to walk past eager browsers and shoppers. Many, many people were spending money, with various reports of book sell-outs and happy customers with open wallets. Various people told me how they’d been saving up to shop here for a while, knowing they’d find terrific variety and excellent reads.

SPX 2010 poster

I was really happy to see lots of women behind tables selling their work, so many that it’s hardly worth remarking on any more. The era has definitely changed, and the way I learned the comic business worked when I was first seriously studying comics fandom is a vanished era. Thankfully.

I’d originally planned just to go to the show on Saturday, but when I was asked to be on two panels and then present one of the Ignatz Awards, I knew I’d have to stay overnight. (Big thanks to Heidi for splitting a room with me at the last minute!) Which was a good decision — I didn’t get all the shopping I wanted done on Saturday, and after the awards and talking to friends, I had a whole new shopping list on Sunday of things to look for I hadn’t seen yet.

Which reminds me: In my post about the Ignatz Awards, I was remiss in not mentioning the contributions of Liz Baillie as MC. She went above and beyond, creating Fakenatzes, paper bricks filled with candy, to try and get the audience involved.

My big purchases were three graphic novels:

* Drinking at the Movies, Julia Wertz’s story of moving to and adjusting to New York City.

* A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, because although Ed had leant me his to read, I figured it was worth supporting and wanted my own copy.

* The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, by Jacques Tardi. I should read more European comics, and this looked like exciting adventure with great art.

There were also tons of minicomics I’m going to cover in a separate post.

My day was broken up at just the right time. After shopping until mid-day, just when I was getting tired, it was time to join the Critics Panel. The topic was supposed to be How We Judge, but we ended up talking more about such topics as literary theory (a subject I’m woefully unfamiliar with) and the validity of naive/newcomer approaches to reviewing certain genres. Once again, there were too many people (seven participants) and not enough time to cover everything that was raised. I’m sorry that there wasn’t any time for audience questions, since I’m always curious to hear what the observers are thinking or wondering about. I liked seeing feedback from those who attended.

I also moderated the Comics for Younger Readers panel, which went well, I thought. I learned a lot from the different approaches of the artists involved: Raina Telgemeier, Metaphrog, Drew Weing, and Aaron Renier. The panels were videotaped and several people were taking pictures, but I can’t seem to find any of them online yet.

One last note: I’ll out myself as the critic mentioned in the Lisa Hanawalt story here, but they got the ending wrong. I admit, I am becoming more staid in my old age, and the explicit content of her comic, when I was first handed a copy, made it seem like it wasn’t my kind of thing. I didn’t want to take a copy under false pretenses, but after Lisa and I kept talking, I felt like I better understood where she was coming from. I do have a copy, which I’m looking forward to reading, so I can reevaluate my first-glance flip-through reaction, and I appreciate her taking the time.


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