As anticipated, the Small Press Expo was amazing. Attending conventions always gets me excited about comics, but this one is special. I’m not sure why, but something about SPX seems to foster a much stronger feeling of community than some of the other shows I’ve attended. It really is a fantastic show. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of the exhibitors stay in the hotel where the convention is held; maybe knowing that, at any moment, one could retreat to their room for a moment of peace puts people at ease in an otherwise hectic social situation. I’m not sure.
All shows are hectic, but this one was next-level hectic. I’ve never tabled at a show this big, and to tell you the truth, it was a bit overwhelming. There were so many phenomenal exhibitors and I felt like I just didn’t have time to say hello to everyone. There were so many attendees that the aisles were often congested and difficult to navigate. The room was full of energy, and it was truly inspiring to be surrounded by so many people who were excited about small press comics!
Part of the fun of these events is seeing old friends. I realized recently that in the past few years I’ve attended conventions more often than I have visited home, and as a result there are some cartoonists I see more often than my own family. Of course, it’s also fun to make new friends! I had the pleasure of meeting anthology contributors Sam Spina, Simon Moreton, and Jenn Woodall in person for the first time at the show. I also had a fabulous time hanging out with the other people tabling in my row, including Marnie Galloway; Leigh Luna and Evan Palmer; and Dave Kelly and Lara Antal of So What? Press. So many people who follow me on social media came up to introduce themselves in person and it was really heartwarming.
This was yet another show where it was difficult to be on a budget. So many talented people with so much COOL STUFF to buy! Unfortunately, I just couldn’t afford to spend as much money as I would have liked, so I spent the majority of the show standing behind my table. The one purchase I did allow myself to make was Nate Powell‘s latest book, March. You may have seen this book on The New York Times Best Seller List, or on The Colbert Report, or CNN, or NPR. Obviously, it’s a pretty big deal. If you haven’t seen any of those things: March is an autobiographical story by civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. Co-written by Andrew Aydin, and beautifully drawn by Powell, it promises to be an amazing book and I had to grab a copy.
I really enjoyed attending the Ignatz Awards ceremony, and thought that Liza Donnelly was an entertaining host. I’m happy for all the winners, of course, but was especially excited to see this year’s “Promising New Talent” award given to anthology contributor Sam Alden. That guy is crazy talented, impressively prolific, and just a really nice dude on top of all of that. Congrats, Sam!
This was only my second time attending SPX. The first time I went was in 2009; I had just printed a few copies of SPAZ! #1 and #2, and was all by myself. I had made it the tail end of the first vacation I’d ever taken alone – a trip out to the east coast to look at graduate schools. I’d never been to a convention before and didn’t know anyone, but everyone was so incredibly welcoming and kind to me. It was pretty emotional for me to return to this show. With a handful of minicomics, an anthology, so many friends in the industry, and a job teaching comics at a university, it’s pretty overwhelming to see how far I’ve come in just four years. I never could have done it without the kind of support from the comics community that is so apparent at SPX. I went home after the show reinvigorated, with a renewed resolve to make better comics. I fully intend to make SPX one of my annual events for many years. See y’all next September!