August 15, 2013

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Panel Patter's SPX Spotlight 2013 is here!

Small Press Expo, baby!
Some folks have Christmas in July.

I have mine in September.

Since 2008, Erica and I have been attending the Small Press Expo, a comics convention dedicated to independent small press and self-published comics from all over the world, though with a natural leaning towards those on the East Coast of the USA, because of its location in North Bethesda, Maryland, not too far from Washington, DC.

This year's show is set for September 14th and 15th, and will once again be held at its home at Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. This year, the show is even bigger than it was in 2012, when the convention expanded a bit from prior years. Those who have attended past SPX shows know we've been running around in geeky t-shirts while there was a wedding party or a fashion show next door. Not this time--SPX has taken over damned near everything at the hotel this year as the popularity of this show grows and grows to its well-deserved reputation as probably the premiere venue for small and self-published comics.

As I did last year, I'm going to be dedicating most of Panel Patter's time and energy this month to highlighting creators and publishers who you should check out at the show. With SPX getting bigger every year, it's easier to miss someone. My goal with these is to help you find some "must-see" creators that you can put at the top of your personal purchasing list, whether it's all-ages material, psychological horror, diary comics, or the best that the "big" names (big is a very relative term at SPX) like Top Shelf and Fantagraphics have to offer. Erica will also pitch in with a few spotlights of her own.

I'll also chime in on the Ignatz (vote Whit Taylor!), a series of  awards that you can only vote for if you attend the show on Saturday. You can even go to the ceremony afterwards without needing any special permission. Watch as the winners get their coveted bricks. (No really, the award is a brick. Go look up your classic comics history for why.) I've voted every time I make it on Saturday and this year's line-up is very solid.

There's also always a murder's row of panels, if you like discussing the mini-comics/small press/webcomics genre, with thoughtful moderators and panelists. I'm not a huge panel person, but I'll tell you what I think once the programming is set.

One of the things that I like about SPX is how it changes over time. With more and more creators going to the web first to gain an audience, the number of webcomics creators at the show has increased yearly. You can see trends in self-made comics by watching what's popular, and while there are always going to be clones of the best work, SPX tends to lend itself more to original creations or takes, rather than "here's my alternative version of Superman"/"here's my complete copy of Jeffrey Brown's style" things that can clog up other conventions.

SPX is far and away my favorite convention. Even though I am moving away from the area soon, I plan to move heaven and earth to get back to SPX every year. There's no other show like it. It's where my comics friends are-for many of us, this is the yearly family reunion, a chance to reconnect and talk both on the show floor and over drinks. I love giving this show and those who exhibit there as much attention as possible.

Please stop back starting tomorrow, when I lead off with a Kickstarter Project that's also coming to SPX, Cartozia Tales. It, like every one of the things I'll spotlight, is worth your time and money. Start saving now, because SPX is worth every dime you can spare, and I'll be doing my best to help you spend your money!

See you in Bethesda!

NOTE:  If you are a creator and want to get in touch with me for the SPX Spotlight, you can do so by e-mailing me. If I don't know you, it helps to give me something I can read so I can talk about your work.