The Center for Cartoon Studies traveled the many miles in many cars (and a few trains) to the Small Press Expo 2011. For many students, this was their first convention and they could not stop expressing their joy. Dave W. could not believe he “ran into Marc Bell five times” and ended up selling some work. SPX, as you have no doubt heard, as a magic appeal to it given the large hotel most exhibitors stay in plus a rather suburban location equals a lot of bonding over chips, dips and drinks in the hotel rooms after show hours.
Above first year students April Malig and Laurel Leake man the CCS table and get a taste of talking about their fresh, week-old experience at The Center for Cartoon Studies while some ol’ crusties (alumni) are not far behind for any questions a bit out of their realm.
Amidst the revelry, the comics community suffered a blow as we lost Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comics. Having touched so many and inspired more, he will be missed.
The CCS students cheered on one of their own, Joseph Lambert, as he won not one but two Ignatz awards at the SPX ceremonies for his collection, I Will Bite You published by Secret Acres. Joe just finished a graphic novel, Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, as part of the Hyperion/CCS biographical comics series and we are all on pins and needles to get our hands on it.
SPX itself experienced a bit of a renaissance as the show pulled in more people on Saturday than the whole weekend in 2010 according to Ignatz Award coordinator, Eden Miller. Many people sold out of books by Sunday (like Colleen Frakes seen below) so hopefully the increased attendance meant increased sales! Eden also saw “saw a good number of new faces and just new stuff, period. Yes, there’s always the people that exhibit every year and that’s great, but I feel like even they had new minicomics or books. All the exhibitors — new or old — seemed to be really excited to be there. The energy of the room was more upbeat and people just seemed like they were there having fun — both attendees and exhibitors.” She also couldn’t help but notice the increase in female attendence, whether a result of pushing the female panelists and artists or just the love of comics growing inside them.
A fan thumbs through a comic while Colleen Frakes (stripes), Laura Terry and Joe Lambert bend their heads to draw.
The big news of the convention was the Library of Congress collected books from each Ignatz Award winner, nominees as well as several serial comics and some original art for a long-lasting mini-comic.
Here Megan Halsband, of the Serial and Government Publications Division of the LOC is handing Nomi Kane and I the forms as ‘chosen ones’. Our books along with works by Joe Lambert, Laura Terry and Annie Murphy of the school in addition to Kate Beaton, Roz Chast and Jim Woodring will be available in the Library of Congress until, and I’m quote the letter given out by SPX Director Warren Bernard, the sun goes supernova. It is heartening to know that comics have become such a cultural phenom as to deserve curating and preserving for years to come at the Library of Congress.
All in all, SPX was an extreme success as a comics convention and a way to engage audiences for the students of The Center for Cartoon Studies. We hope to see you there next year!