Panel Patter's SPX 2011 Panel Guide!

Welcome to the last entry in my series of posts relating to the Small Press Expo 2011, which will be held at the Marriott in Bethseda, Maryland on September 10th and 11th, 2011.

Today on the eve of the show, I thought it might be helpful to offer my suggestions on panel viewing at SPX for Saturday and Sunday.  As with the Baltimore Comic Con, I am not going to be available on Saturday, but that doesn't stop me from suggesting you go see things!

The biggest thing to keep in mind with convention panels is that every minute you are in a panel, you are not on the floor talking with creators and finding new and interesting things to read.  While I enjoy sitting in on panels, I try to make sure that I am balanced, with a slight priority given to being on the show floor.  I do not advocate spending more than half of your day on panels.

So, if you wanted to copy me at SPX, here's where you'd find me.  If you want a complete panel listing, you can view it here.


I would not blame anyone for going to see Kate Beaton at 12pm, but I've been to panels with her before and I don't like leaving the show almost as soon as I've gotten there.  I'm also not terribly interested in the New Yorker.  It's just not my thing.  But if it's yours, go ahead there and meet me back at 1:30pm.

The Secret History of Women in Comics1:30 pm | Brookside Conference RoomThe increased involvement of women in the comics field over the past several years has been a significant positive change in a historically male-dominated industry. However, just as it’s worth celebrating this progressive revolution, it is also worth noting that today’s women cartoonists are part of a lineage of pioneering women who have made many contributions to the field. Heidi MacDonald will discuss this history with Jessica Abel, Robyn Chapman, Alexa Dickman and Diane Noomin.

This is the panel I'm sorriest to be missing on Saturday.  If you hear muttering, that will be me back in Baltimore cursing my scheduling luck.  I'd love to hear about the history of women in comics, because I really only know about it as a more modern phenomenon.  I'd expect talk of Aline Crumb, maybe Marie Severin and Glynis Wein, and certainly Ramona Fradon better be part of the conversation.  I'd hate to see the mainstream women of Marvel-DC take a backseat to their alt-comix sisters in this history.  I do think the fact that it's (somewhat) easier to break into indie comix as a female artist is worth exploring.

Due to the way SPX schedules panels, you'll have to miss the conversation with Andres Nilsen because it's at 2PM, but happily there's another interesting panel at 2:30:

Narrative Logic: Surreal and Obscure2:30 pm | Brookside Conference RoomThe entry of comics as “graphic novels” into the publishing landscape has encouraged work that conforms to the narrative biases of conventional literary fiction. Joe “Jog” McCulloch will talk to Marc Bell (Pure Pajamas), Matthew Thurber (1-800-MICE) and Jim Woodring (The Congress of the Animals) about producing graphic narratives that follow less conventional, more associative, and even visually based narrative logics that lend integrity to apparent surreality.

I like when creators play with the convention of narrative in art a lot more than I like it in my prose fiction.  I think this would be a great panel, and you should go see it for me and tell me all about it!

We've missed Craig Thompson's panel, but that's okay because we have one more panel to attend before spending the rest of the show up on the floor.

Stories of Cultural Identity3:30 pm | Brookside Conference RoomAmerica’s own culture wars are only part of a global struggle with identity, as nations the world over attempt to address the challenges of assimilating multiple cultures within a stable society. Moderator Rob Clough will talk to Jessica Abel (La Perdida), Marguerite Dabaie (The Hookah Girl), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) and G. B. Tran (Vietnamerica) about comics that deal with issues of cultural identity.

This is another one of those panels that plays to my interests as a reader, and I'm sorry to be missing it.  I greatly enjoyed Abel and Glidden's books, which both covered the idea of being an outsider looking in, though in vastly different ways.  This should be a good conversation, depending on how closely it's moderated.

From there, I would spend the rest of the day on the show floor.  I want to be able to talk to creators, and the rest of the panels for the day mostly dwell on subjects more interesting to an artist (aesthetics) or feature creators who are not high on my list (Johnny Ryan, Chester Brown).  If you are fans of their work, by all means go ahead, and I'll catch up with you after the show.

Erica Adds:  For the most part I agree.  I would want a break, so I'd skip the 3:30 panel and instead go to Alex Robinson's at 4:30.  I really liked Box Office Poison, a book Rob needs to read!


Sunday is a more relaxing day at SPX, with people kinda chilling about, seeing what they might have overlooked on Saturday, and in some cases probably nursing a fine hangover.  I'm less interested in the panels in general on Sunday, but there are two I will definitely go to, with some nice spacing in-between.

I know I'm probably missing a good panel at 1pm about a French cartoonist, but I hate going to a panel just after I've arrived.  I'd have seen the Tardi one if it had been at say, 4pm, but I will pass.  It also conflicts with my first planned panel of the day:

Navigating the Contemporary Publishing Landscape1:30 pm | Brookside Conference RoomIn the early 2000s, corporate publishers nearly raced to acquire graphic novels. Now, as the mainstream publishing industry faces severe contractions and as online media assumes many traditional functions of publishing, cartoonists face a rapidly changing publishing landscape, one that includes a resurgent small press. Johanna Draper Carlson will speak with Domitille Collardey, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz about publishing options today.

This panel is moderated by my friend Johanna, so I'd be going regardless of the topic, as long as it wasn't on something like harming small children and animals.  (That, presumably, was covered in the horror panel.)  As a blogger and omnivorous comics reader, however, I'm interested to see what they have to say on the subject.  I read in mini-comic, book, webcomic, and digital formats, so I like to see where things are trending and why.  Very curious to see how this panel deals with digital, given that I'd guess an inherent reluctance to the medium.  We'll see.

Comics in the Library3:30 pm | Brookside Conference RoomLibrarians have long been on the cutting edge of promoting comics as part of the cultural landscape. But this still new category continues to raise questions of how and what to collect, and how to deal with challenges to individual books as they arise. Gina Gagliano will discuss comics and librarianship with Charles Brownstein (CBLDF), Sara Duke (Library of Congress), Dave Burbank (Takoma Park Public Library), Annette Klause (Montgomery County Public Library), and Caitlin McGurk (The Schulz Library).

This will be my second and last panel of the day.  I've certainly read my share of library comics, and now that I teach reading, the link between comics and literacy and using public money for "funny books" is a subject quite close to my heart.  Should be a good conversation, and maybe I'll be able to contribute in some way.

So that's my plan for Sunday, and what I would have done Saturday?  How about you?  What panels do you plan to frequent at the show?  Tell me about it!