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dave roman

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SPX 09 Con report [Sep. 29th, 2009|01:52 pm]
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[music |Combination Taco Bell & Pizza Hut]




This year confirmed for me that Small Press Expo is officially the BEST all-around comics convention for people who truly love reading and making comics.

Our drive down in our brand new car (named Ponyo) was smooth as could be. We stopped at Pizza Hut along the way so John could cash in a gift card. Breadsticks were consumed by all. It inspired us to sing
the song about combination Taco Bells and Pizza Hut for the rest of the weekend.

Even anti-social people who opt to hide up in their hotel room (like myself) have to admit having everything in one place, really makes for a warm and inviting experience (even when the air-conditioning is cranked up!) And after three years, the hotel itself and even the neighborhood has really grown on me.

Attendance seemed to be the best I'd ever seen at any SPX. Which was surprising because the show had no major celebrities (ala Frank Miller or Jeff Smith) as guests (no offense to Gahan Wilson, Carol Tyler and R. Sikoryak --all of whom I love!)

The Comics Bakery and especially Life Meter 3 did VERY well. I talked to a lot of newer cartoonists who cleaned up…and web superstars like Kate Beaton seemed to always have a line around their table. Based on passing anecdotes, the people who seemed to have the more modest sales were the bigger publishers.

On Sunday, it was very, very cold. But I'll take that over the lack of circulation and hotness of MoCCA any day. Especially when you can just go up to your room and get an extra layer to put on. Also SPX is the only comics show in town that gives free coffee and tea to all guests! Not to mention lots of drink tickets handed out by the convention organizers and elaborate spreads of free food at several points throughout the weekend. It’s fun seeing how cartoonists and college kids react to the chocolate fountain and free finger foods with uncontrollably glee. Even the Ignatz award show is a low-key, but often hilarious time to celebrate some of the great works of on the indy side of comics.

And best of all the amount of talent squeezed into a single room is still staggering. And there’s always delightful surprises every few tables. Lots of creativity and craftiness abound. I was happy to discover the works of Pranas Naujokaitis, whose “Beard” and “Boxcar Joe” minis were two of the most unique and clever homemade comics I’ve bought in a while. Also got some cool minis by Dustin Harbin, Kevin Bolk, Curt Franklin and Chris Haley. Colleen AF Venable and everyone at the Lumberjack comic table seemed to be having non-stop fun and hijinks all weekend long, handing out tiny axes and fake beards for all who purchased their anthology. The Comics Bakery had fresh cookies baked by the amazing Gina Gagliano, and our comics and snacks combo seemed to inspire lots of others to bust out their cooking skills, including a hooded Cinna-bomber passing out free cinnamon rolls! All of this just added to the good will and good times that are unique to the SPX experience. My thanks to all the organzers and volunteers. I’m already looking forward to next year!

The photo above is by Matt Loux.
For more, check out the SPX photos by Marion Vitus
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mr_cow
2009-09-29 06:14 pm (UTC)

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i've never been, but your report makes me want to try it out! (chocolate fountain!) it's just hard to shell out the amount of $ those tables cost- not to mention travel expenses from flor-i-da. curse this southern peninsula!
[User Picture]From: tanukitsune
2009-09-29 06:34 pm (UTC)

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I wouldn't even know who R. Sikoryak is if I didn't get Masterpiece Comics in the mail the other day... it wasn't alone on it's trip it came with X-Men Misfits and the final BSC comic! And Flight too!

I haven't had time to read anything but the Masterpiece one... ^_^;

I'm glad you did well! I hope you have something left for those of us who couldn't make it! X3

PS: What are those colorful pastries? They look delicious! *drools*
[User Picture]From: yfrontninja
2009-09-29 06:36 pm (UTC)

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It sounds like such a fun event!
[User Picture]From: goraina
2009-09-29 07:10 pm (UTC)

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I think that's my favorite Comics Bakery photo ever.
[User Picture]From: mattloux
2009-09-29 07:27 pm (UTC)

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Yeah!
[User Picture]From: mattloux
2009-09-29 07:27 pm (UTC)

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You said it! It might have been the best con experience I've ever had. It was enormous fun from the con floor to the after party that is the entire hotel.
[User Picture]From: steveflack
2009-09-29 07:41 pm (UTC)

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The thing I've never really gotten about SPX is the outsider perspective. It always seems like a trade show, and all the positive reviews I've ever heard about it are from exhibitors. What's it like for the fans? The people who don't really make comics, that just like to read them?

Plus, this might just be the big city guy in me, but is Bethesda really conducive to such a show? What's the off the street traffic like?
[User Picture]From: goraina
2009-09-29 08:05 pm (UTC)

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Bethesda's a close suburb of DC, and there's a Metro stop 1/2 a block away from the hotel's front door. We see tons of non-comics locals every year at the show!
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-09-30 01:14 am (UTC)

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I theorize that at LEAST 70% of people who attend MoCCA, APE, SPX or any "indy" show are people who make comics, made comics back in the day, or want to make comics on some level. Not surprisingly because half of the people who READ comics at all these days will try to work on a comic at some point in their lives. But I digress.

"non-cartoonist" attendance at SPX this year seemed comparable to that at MoCCA art fest. There's always a decent amount of people who come just for their love of comics. It just depends what you want to get out of a show. SPX allows you to spend a whole weekend trapped with cartoonists. So real conversations tend to happen. This can be good and bad! SPX is very much for people who really love comics as a medium from the inside out. It used to be combined with this international comics scholarly get together so it's really born out of people who not only read comics but spend a lot of time thinking about them. Figuring out how they work, what makes them unique etc. So the show often is a haven for people who view comics as experiments in form as well as craft and creative objects. This show, more than any other really supports Scott McClouds whole theory about different tribes of comic makers.
[User Picture]From: tony_cliff
2009-09-30 12:11 am (UTC)

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You guys are a sack-full of adorable.
[User Picture]From: emoboyrocks
2009-09-30 12:54 am (UTC)

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I thought I was the only one who hid in his hotel room. Not that I've gone to a con in forever.
[User Picture]From: arambulo
2009-09-30 11:08 am (UTC)

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Glad to hear that SPX was great! I'm hoping to attend (and maybe have a table?) one of these days. I can't wait to read Life Meter 3! You've also improved my quality of life by posting that "Combination Taco Bell & Pizza Hut" song.
[User Picture]From: lordrexfear
2009-09-30 07:29 pm (UTC)

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Man... I missed out on some super action fun it seems. I mean, I had an amazing NYC Saturday instead... but still.

Glad the show went well and sounds like there was tons of fun!
[User Picture]From: supernerdcore
2009-09-30 10:34 pm (UTC)

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It was my first year going to SPX, and I'm a budding cartoonist myself. I stopped by your table and was very impressed with everything you guys had. I picked up the first issues of Teenboat, and my friends had Lifeforce 3, it was one of my favorite tables to visit! thanks for making SPX so much fun!
[User Picture]From: thechrishaley
2009-10-01 03:57 am (UTC)

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It was great seeing you guys again even if you were sold out of LM3 and I didn't get a cookie!
[User Picture]From: colleenaf
2009-10-01 07:56 pm (UTC)

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Even if I was freezing it warmed my heart to look over and see you guys the entire show! I'm so glad we got to have dinner together. The four of you are magical individually but legendary as a group!

I will not stop writing this message and go back to singing the Taco Bell Pizza Hutt song.

[User Picture]From: cleahpatra
2009-10-02 03:28 pm (UTC)

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It was so good to see you guys! As always.

I *am* going to have a table next year! I mean, I could barely stand not having one this year! Woo!
[User Picture]From: heatherica
2009-10-09 01:52 pm (UTC)

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That picture is great! The Comics Bakery table looks awesome. It sounds like it was a great time overall!

I love that your car is named Ponyo and that Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell song is one of the best things I've ever heard and I don't think I'm going to be able to get it out of my head.