Sunday, September 25, 2005

The SPX done gone

Seriously, where does the time go? Here it is the end of September already and another SPX has come and gone. As promised, I made my annual pilgramage to Bethesda on Saturday and blew gobs of money in all directions. All in all, a good time was had, though it was a much quieter Expo for me this year. I kept my head down, but my wallet open.

I was surprised that attendance for this year's event, while steady, seemed down compared to past years. That was good news for me, as I didn't have to fight through crowds of people in order to make my way to, say, the Fantagraphics booth, but I'm sure that exhibitors will have a much different outlook on the lack of bodies. I passed by far too many booths displaying some nice comics but getting little love.

I did manage to ingratiate myself on a number of unsuspecting folks, and it was nice to say hi to people like Chris Staros, Chris Pitzer, Kim Thompson and Gary Groth, Dean Haspiel and others. It was also very cool to meet (very briefly) Harvey Pekar and have an extremely pleasant lunch with Jason Richards, of RIOT! comic store fame. Jason even blew off an invitation with Johanna Draper Carlson to make the luncheon, which was nice of him.

Other than that, my time was spent wandering around tables, seeing what's new and cool, picking up stuff I missed the first time around and begging for press copies (reviews of which will hopefully appear in this space in the near future).

One thing I didn't do this year was attend any of this year's panels, as none of them (with the possible exception of the American Splendor talk) really set my heart afire. The abscence of ICAF was really noticible for me this year, and I missed seeing people like Bart Beaty and Mark Nevis. With ICAF joined at the hip, SPX was always a place for me to pick up exotic foreign books that I would otherwise never be able to find. Fact is, once you've seen Depuy and Bebarian give a chalk talk and watched a slide show by Max, everything else pales in comparison.

Still, despite these minor gripes, it was definately a good show for me. Among the treasures I picked are:

  • A trio of lovely Ulf K. books at the Top Shelf booth
  • The three initial books from Fantagraphics new Ignatz series, each of which looks fantastic
  • The stunning "676 apparitions of Killoffer by Killoffer." I only managed to get a copy of this once I convinced the nice lady behind the booth that I was a member of the press.
  • The new Paper Rad.
  • A preview copy of the upcoming book by Zak Sally.

Jason and I also got a sneek peek at Buenaventura Press' upcoming book, the eye-popping "Elvis Road" by Helge Reuman. Be sure to keep an eye out for this one when it comes out next year, it's a stunner.

So, anyway, caveats aside, SPX remains a great show and a wonderful place to make new comic discoveries. By 4 p.m., I was tired, sore and my arms were heavy with bags of books. I got in the car, popped in Clarence Carter and headed home. All was right with the world.

PS: Sorry about the poor picture quality. I felt a complete schmuck taking pictures of people milling around and it shows. I'll do better next year, promise.


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