Sunday, October 4, 2009

SPX Report

Okay. It's been a while since I last posted, due to a crazy schedule dominated by teaching duties, a schedule which currently permits little time for working on pages and NO time for updating my blog.

Before getting back to normal, or as normal as can be expected during October, easily my most hectic month of the year, I thought I'd take a few seconds while scanning pencils to write a bit about my recent trip to Washington D.C.'s Small Press Expo.

My editor, James Lucas Jones, standing with saintly patience considering he expected me to have the book finished by this weekend, which it is not

This was the best SPX I've been to yet. The amount of foot traffic seems to have increased a LOT from previous years, which is nice. I changed up my usual buying strategy - in the past, I would sit at the table and sell until the end of the last day, then run frantically around during the show's last hour or so, trying to buy what books and mini-comics seemed my taste.

This year, though, I was dropping off an order with a comic shop within minutes of arriving in DC, and as such had a clear idea as to what my profit margin already was. Knowing I wasn't going to go into the red, I did my shopping first thing, taking my time, and walking around the show at a leisurely pace. I got lots and lots of great stuff, and feel like I had a chance to look at everything I wanted.

There were some things I had on my list of things to look for going in. There were two cartoonists in particular whose work I've developed a fondness for recently who were attending, and I wanted to pick up whatever they had on hand. The first, Kate Beaton, only had one book, which I snatched up. We all felt bad for her, in that her overwhelming popularity seemed to keep her from being able to have the sort of relaxed atmosphere most of us tend to enjoy about SPX, as she had a line around her table pretty much the whole time. That may have been great for her - it's of course nice to have your work appreciated - it just seems that she went from zero to superstar without ever having that comfortable getting-acclimated period.

The second was Corinne Mucha, whose work I first encountered in the tenth issue of the consistently excellent Papercutter anthology.

Greg Means, publisher of Papercutter

Mucha's comic was one of my favorites last year, and after getting a copy of the Ghost Comics anthology and being delighted by her contribution I decided to grab up whatever she had there. I got quite a few excellent minis and one book, and have been enjoying them a great deal. By coincidence, another anthology I got at the show, Wide Awake Press's Ancient Age, had yet ANOTHER Mucha story. She's quickly become one of my favorite new cartoonists, and I'm devouring her comics with joy and enthusiasm.

Sitting next to Mucha was a cartoonist with whose work I was entirely unfamiliar, but am glad that I picked up - Sam Sharpe. He had two straight-forward mini-comics - one of which, Return Me To The Sea, was a beautifully drawn, excellently told story (I've yet to read the other) - and a couple of collections of hysterical gag strips. I also bought a dvd from him, something I NEVER do at a comic show, because
A. it was about WWI pilots, and
B. the special effects, as showcased on the back, seem to be obviously models, and I'm a sucker for intentional artifice. Whether or not that's how it's played, I've yet to see, but look forward to having some time to give it a watch.

I was also impressed by the new books at the One Percent Press Table. My only disappointment with the 1PP table is that I'm rarely surprised anymore by the outstanding quality of both the comics they've made and the excellent production values implemented in printing those comics. Most times, when I find something as spectacular as what I find there, I flip out, and consider the show a success, then and there. But I expect that degree of excellence from 1PP, and, while I'm never disappointed, I also am rarely filled with elation upon leaving them, having found something completely unexpected. Anyway, the 1PP books I got this year were (as usual) some of the best books at the show, including a great 3-comic set by James Hindle, a formalist Galleon story from Alexis Fredrick-Frost, a new color piece by Joseph Lampbert, another fun action piece by J.P. Coovert, and a wonderful anthology including all four cartoonists, featuring perhaps my favorite Frederick-Frost story to date.

I had a lot of time to visit folks - Savannah friends and Oni friends getting the brunt of my company - and having a great time, all around. I picked up a lot of other great books, including Beard-themed books like Lumberjack! and Pranas Naujukitus's excellent Beard. James, Cory Casoni, and I went to the Smithsonian. A group of about 20 of us went to my yearly favorite restaurant, an Asian buffet that required a long, wet trudge through the pouring rain. And a great train ride, there and back!

I'm gonna wrap this up, but expect Crogan's March updates soon. Thanks to everyone there for making this such a great trip!


Big Dog said...

Good to hear you had a great time at SPX! Looking forward to the next book, especially since I just saw this: "OCT091043" WooHoo! :)

- Brandon

Nolan Woodard said...

Shawn and I were juuust talking about that. Teaching makes us stronger artists but leaves us little to no time to be strong. Kind of a catch-22.

Glad you enjoyed yourself at SPX though. Make a Temple report of the event... when you've the time. HA!