Even though I have plans for a longer piece on comics and academia for my debut column with Digital America, I thought I would write a quick blog post about this year's Small Press Expo (SPX). SPX is a comics festival for independent comics and is held once a year in Bethesda, Maryland. Bethesda is only about a two-hour drive from Richmond so it is pretty easy for me to make my way over. My comics family from the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) in Gainesville had to drive for twelve hours. They are hardcore. In fact, the level of dedication my SAW friends have to comics is one of the reasons I look forward to attending SPX. Everyone should check out SAW and all of the fantastic work that they do.
SPX is pretty well known for being a friendly and welcoming event. Everyone I met was so nice; it was a little overwhelming. Meeting the great Lynda Barry was definitely an amazing experience. I plan on devoting one chapter of my dissertation to Barry's One Hundred Demons so just being in the same room with her was a big deal.
I also got to meet a bunch of people that I follow through social media. It was great to see their smiling faces and confirm that they are actual human beings. Creating things like comics or most kinds of writing are often very solitary pursuits; it was really satisfying to be around so many people that understood that.
I do regret that I did not sit in as many panel discussions as I could have. On Saturday I attended the SAW comics drawing workshop which was taught by Josh Bayer and Sally Cantrino. Even though I have now known Sally for a couple of years, this was the first time I have had the opportunity to see her teach. Sally and Josh are both great at educating and engaging an audience. On Sunday I attended the "Making Art for the Internet" panel. This panel had cartoonists Sam Alden, Emily Carroll, Blaise Larmee, and Rebecca Mock engaged in conversation on creating work intended for online platforms. I am really glad I attended this panel. Sam Alden is one of my favorite cartoonists and I loved the work of the other panelists as well.
Overall, it was a great trip and I am really glad I went. SAW friends, I miss you already! I can't wait until next year.