September 26, 2009

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SPX Day One Write Up

Sitting in the hotel room we got for the SPX trip after a day that started at 7:30am. Needless to say, I'm a little bit tired.

We got to the con about 1pm and promptly took a brief tour of the exhibitors before starting to check in with the panels.

First up for me was the "Comic Strips: Online and in Print" panel that featured Kate Beaton and Erika Moen, amongst others. It was interesting to hear how few people actually talk back to the creators of webcomics--I expected that to be very different. I also was amused when they asked about the impending death of newpaper comics, and one of the panelists replied with "they aren't already dead?" or words to that effect. It turns out that trying to convert web comics (with unlimited color) to print (with limited color) is a bit of an issue. I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense.

My wife Erica checked out the John Porcellino Q&A while I went up and shopped a bit, grabbing a few random things, including $5 Rick Veitch books from the CBLDF table and chatting/buying stuff with/from the DC Conspiracy Crew. (Side note: They have a lot of cool stuff and those attending SPX who are reading this should check DC Conspiracy out tomorrow if they didn't do so yet.) It's so nice to be amongst people who think non-traditional wedding rings are cool and know what Dinosaurland is.)

I then headed back for my "required" panel, the critics roundtable. Gary Groth was rather outnumbered by those with a primarily web-based method of getting their critiques out to a mass audience. The panel started out a bit tame, with mild discussion of the pros and cons of online cirtiquing but took a sharp turn into interesting territory when discussing whether people "must" review things, why suphero reviews tend to get more attention, the ins and outs of giving negative reviews. It got animated enough that Tucker Stone started dropping f-bombs, making things quite a bit livlier than the panels I was at last year.

I obviously had a lot going through my head as they spoke about being reviewers, but I'm not in the same league with Jog, Tucker Stone, Sean T. Collins, and Gary Groth, so I didn't even bother raising my hand. I was, however, left with some questions, most notably why aren't more people doing indie reviews, as there's clearly a lot of people reading indie comics these days? They touched on this a bit, citing superhero popularity, but that seems like an easy out.

There's one last point on this I'd like to go over. All of the panelists talked about going 4,000 words on a review and seemed to dismiss shorter reviews. Now I was thinking, "yeah, 250 words really isn't enough" but then one of the panelists (Jog maybe? I don't remember and I'm sleepy now) said, effectively, that there's not much value in 800 word reviews. Perhaps it's just me, but with very rare exceptions, if I run into a blog post that's longer than 2,000 words, I almost always skip it. Perhaps I'm missing the boat on this one?

Erica got to see the Fletcher Hanks panel which ran opposite to this one, and I was really sad I missed it. Erica, if you want to throw some thoughts on that panel in the comments, please do, as I'd love to hear more about it.

I used my third trip into the exhibitors section to try and concentrate on mini-comics, stopping at as many tables as I could to see what they had. I will grab a $1 or $2 mini-comic/zine if it even looks remotely interesting, and I did quite a bit of that. Hopefully, I will get a chance to review those soon. There were also quite a few of those priced between $3 and $5, and I have to be honest, that means I'm less likely to take a look. I know costs are higher now, but that's more for after I know your work and like it. (This is akin, I guess, to Caleb's thoughts on mainstream comics--it has to be really good for him to go for that $3.99 comic.)

My wife and I met up for one last run, and this time we took turns picking things out (it's so great having a partner who loves these things as much as I do, I must say) and paying accordingly. We grabbed some more mini-comics, she got buttons and a sketch from Questionable Content, picked up a few book-length items, and also talked a bit more, here and there, about Dinosaurland.

It was a great first day, and I'm looking forward to a good chunk of panelling tomorrow as well as going back and buying stuff I either missed or wanted to consider overnight.

Hope those of you who are here are having a great time and those who didn't make it will consider coming in 2010! I hope to have another rundown tomorrow and at some point post our list of purchases.