SPX 2009 Recap

SPX 2009 Recap

Sep 28

Like the Baltimore Comic Con, which is practically its neighbor both geographically and on the calendar,  the Small Press Expo is one of those  shows that I fell in love with quickly.  Both shows are a bit more low-key than the other east coast cons that I hit during the year, and extraordinarily accessible.  I had a very cool talk with Andy Runton about The Weepies – a band we both love – and that’s something I’m rarely able to do at NYCC.  The atmosphere of the show – the main reason to go to a con, I think – is really positive and for me personally, who lives in an area dominated by superhero-centric comic shops, it’s a great opportunity to cast my net out and see what I’ve been missing.

I bought a lot of minicomics (and those are going to have to be their own post, really), along with the first Let’s Be Friends Again collection and the collected Kevin Cannon’s Far Arden, which Top Shelf’s Leigh Walton sold me on when I asked him which one thing I needed to read.  He made the recommendation knowing only that I like Jeff Lemire. Presumably, the insinuation is that I like comics from people more north than I am on a map.  I also got an Owly t-shirt for my niece and a really badass looking print from Brett Muller that Chris Haley informs me is related to Chowder on the Cartoon Network (on Thursdays!).  Unlike some of my small press experiences at bigger shows, there was nobody being pushy or carnival barker-y.  I had some good conversations with people (including a slightly bizarre one with Ami from Glass Urchin about how autobiographical her comic actually is if she is a hedgehog in the comic/is she a hedgehog piloting a girl robot?) and ate complimentary cookies at the Comics Bakery booth (seriously, baked goods are the best gimmick ever) and may have inadvertently angered Raina Telgemeier by getting crumbs on the table.*

Also, I have to apologize to Euge from War Rocket Ajax, because I did a jackass thing where I figured he recognized me and he totes didn’t.  I’m a douchebag.  But I think I recovered gracefully.

I’ve spent 460 words ignoring the elephant in the room, though, and that’s the Critics Roundtable panel that I livetweeted.  Select of my tweets were picked up by Bleeding Cool, and go figure, they were the ones that really make me sound like an uppity prude.  Those of you who know me know that I’m neither of those things.  I just expect a certain level of professionalism and critical discourse to happen in a moderated panel discussion. If I wanted to hear Tucker Stone haughtily equivocate ‘discussion on the Internet’ to caustic YouTube comments (like, and I quote from Mr. Stone, “That b**** is a c***!!!!”), I would have bought him a beer after the show, not spent an hour subjecting myself to he and the other panelists talking about how great he and the other panelists are and expressing an almost universal disdain for their audiences and the eventual next wave of comics pros and for accountability in general.  It was the lowlight of an otherwise great day.

I don’t want people to think that I’m a detractor of SPX or its programming because of one bad panel, though.  It’s a great show with a great community built around it. This year was my first year at the show, but I’m definitely going back next year.

*I don’t think she was really that angry; she was super cool.**

**I was going to grab a Babysitters Club GN for Sarah if there was one she was missing, so I texted her:

Jeff: You like Raina Telgemeier, right?
Sarah: Um YES.

I showed this to Raina. She made me show Dave Roman.***

***I’m completely giving short shrift to Marion Vitus, who I spent the most time talking to. When I do my minicomics post later this week, I will have several charitable things to say about Marion and her comics, don’t worry.


  1. lesson here: always buy Tucker Stone beer.

    great writeup. can’t wait to hear more about the minicomics.

  2. Jeff, I would like to personally thank your tweets for making my tweets look kind in comparison :P.

    Too bad you weren’t there for the comic strip panel in the morning, which was a lively and generous conversation among a group of people who obviously love what they do — about as different from the critics’ panel as you can imagine.

    It was great seeing you — I’m sorry I was too broke and clueless to get as much as I might have out of the show, but I did pick up as many free samples & business cards/URL’s as I could and I’m going to do my best to take this stuff in and have something to say about it. Also, learn more so I’m better informed next year. And win the lottery so I can buy more things. These are my goals for 2009-10!

    I did buy a minicomic about a lucha wrestler feuding with Craig Thompson. That was pretty awesome.

  3. Jeff,

    I was on the critics’ panel, and I’m sorry that you had a negative experience. I realize the whole nature of the panel was very meta (critics talking about being critics instead of the works), but that was the nature of the questions selected by the moderator–it’s not like we chose them. Writing about comics is very important to me, and a big part of my mission on my blog and in other writings is indeed examining the wave of comics pros–reviewing minicomics is one of my specialties.



  4. Rob,

    Thanks for the comment. I assure you that it wasn’t the panelists that I was reacting to, but the tenor of the discussion. Many of you up there were professional, and my experience with the panel was dominated mainly by the smaller number of more vocal panelists who were, well, not.

  5. I hope I am always known as the guy who knew when a show he’s never seen was on. 🙂

  6. You’re like a human Tivo.


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