September 5, 2010

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SPX 2010 Preview: Publishers You Should Visit Part 1

As part of my run-up to the Small Press Expo, I'm going to be featuring some things that I think you need to check out when you're at the show. Today I'm going to look at the "bigger" (big being a relative term when you're looking at independent presses) publishers and talk about some of things I think you should find at their booths. Some of these I already own, some my wife has read and enjoyed, and some are things I'll be considering purchasing myself, budget permitting.

It was so hard choosing only a few things to recommend! If anyone else has any ideas, please leave them in the comments!

AdHouse Books

AdHouse Books is centered out of Richmond, Virginia, and offers a wide variety of comics in all sorts of styles, from better-known names like Paul Pope to stranger, offbeat works like Jamie Tanner's Aviary.

Things to look for: Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg's Afrodisiac (pictured at left) is, from all indications, amazing. I am way behind on getting a copy of my own. I've seen Rugg's work on Street Angel and The Plain Janes, so I'm not surprised at all that he's drawn another cool book.

There may also be copies of Paul Pope's new comic to be had, depending on what was left from the Baltimore Comi-Con. I'd also be on the lookout for Johnny Hiro, and you can't go wrong just picking up something randomly. Chris has good taste in comics!

Drawn and Quarterly

There's a lot of good things from Drawn and Quarterly, but I have to be honest, their prices tend to keep me from buying more from them. However, this shouldn't prevent you from checking out their table. It just means that to make sure you can sample from all of the publishers, you might have to make some hard choices. I know I do every year!

Things to look for: If you are a lover of classic literature or genre mashups, then you must get a copy of Masterpiece Comics, one of the best blendings of style I've ever read. If they have them at the table, I'd also suggest Aya, a great story of growing up in Africa. They also are reprinting Nancy, for those who are into archival editions of old comics. I'm betting we'll come home with Daniel Clowes's latest, Wilson.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon

It was great to see a manga publisher come to SPX last year, because I think there's a lot of crossover between the two audiences. (Maybe that's just who I talk to, but it sure seems like indie comic fans also tend to dabble in manga.) Fanfare/Ponent Mon have published several books that I think are good introductions to manga for new readers, not the least of which is because they frequently "flip" their books into a left-right reading format.

Things to Look for: I'm not sure which books they'll have with them this year, but I hope A Distant Neighborhood is one of them. One of the best books I read in 2009, it made my favorites lists. Have you ever wanted to go back and redo things? So does Neighborhood's protagonist. The Walking Man is also a great book, and was the first I read from this publisher. I am going to see about getting Summit of the Gods Volume 1, of which I'd heard great things but haven't managed to pick up myself.

Fantagraphics


If you are into indie comics just a little bit, odds are you have a Fantagraphics book on your shelf somewhere. They publish everything from Peanuts reprints to edgy anthology works that probably wouldn't see the light of day elsewhere. Any reader is likely to find something to interest them, and Fantagraphics usually brings quite a bit of their catalog with them to SPX.
Things to look for: If you have a thing for Charles Schultz, definitely grab a Peanuts reprint or two. They're amazingly presented and the comics are good, too. Fans of pre-code comics should look for the Fletcher Hanks volumes, or perhaps a work on Steve Ditko. Silent comics more your thing? Grab a book by Jason, such as The Last Muskateer. Fans of anthologies have plenty to choose from, such as Blab! or Mome. There's also the Ignatz series, which spotlights creators such as Kevin Huizenga. Oh yeah, and that little series called Love and Rockets, too, which I promise to read someday.

These are just a few of the great books you'll find at SPX this Saturday. Tomorrow, we'll look at some more of the bigger small presses.