A Visit to SPX 2015

It can be really easy to forget why you love something. You spend all your time focusing on it, thinking about it, living and breathing it. When you love something, you let it be your life, and in time it becomes mundane. An everyday thing, lacking the magic that made you want it to become such a huge part of your life in the first place. For comics, though, there is a cure. SPX is that perfect vacation that reminds you why you and comics became lovers. It is the kind of special place so full of people who are so full of love for the medium, who are inspiring and interesting and brimming with creativity that it is near impossible to leave and not feel the same way yourself.

2015 marks SPX’s 21st show. To celebrate their legal drinking age, they decided to bring in creators who worked primarily in the 21st century. This included people like Kate Beaton, Noelle Stevenson, C. Spike Trotman, and Noah Van Sciver, as well as a few older names such as Scott McCloud and Bill Griffith. I was only able to find the time to go to one of the panels (“Anthologies Aren’t Easy”), but the programming schedule this year included talks on comics journalism, race, the LGBT community, and erotic comics, among much more. The Ignatz Awards were an incredibly exciting event. The host, C. Spike Trotman, spoke truth when she referred to the time we are in now as a golden age – never before have comics been so progressive, so forward thinking, and so, well, good.

This was reflected with the sheer amount of quality in every story that was nominated for an Ignatz, as well as the fact that every person who won was a woman. Although all the acceptance speeches were wonderful, it was Eleanor Davis who almost brought me to tears as she described the independent comics community in a way that was both eloquent and beautiful – “We give out comics and say ‘this is me.’” In case you missed it, though, here are the Ignatz Award winners for 2015:

Sketch by Michael Cavna

Outstanding Artist – Emily Carrol, Through the Woods
Outstanding Anthology or Collection – Eleanor Davis, How To Be Happy
Outstanding Graphic Novel – Sophie Goldstein, The Oven
Outstanding Story – Jillian Tamaki, “Sex Coven” from Frontier #7
Promising New Talent – Sophia Foster-Dimino, Sex Fantasy
Outstanding Series - Sophia Foster-Dimino, Sex Fantasy
Outstanding Comic – Sophie Goldstein, The Oven
Outstanding Minicomic - Sophia Foster-Dimino, Sex Fantasy #4
Outstanding Online Comic – Lillie Carre, The Bloody Footprint

This year, only my second, was quite different than my first time around. Last year I was there as an observer, with a couple of poorly made books to trade and an ever shrinking wad of cash in my pocket. This time, though, I constructed a collapsible, multi-level tray that allowed me to carry around and openly advertise the books I had created since last time. It seemed appropriate to do this, to show how far I’ve come in only a year (even if I was the only one who knew it), because SPX was a lot of the reason I decided to try. I was so inspired by the people around me, by all the talent and creativity, that I realized there was no real reason I wasn’t making comics myself. I had five books with me for this show, not enough for a table but perfect for my little tray, and I wouldn’t have had any if it weren’t for this excellent and loving community, and the incredible event where we can all meet.

SPromX, following the Ignatz, was also a good time.

There’s not a whole lot I can say about SPX that isn’t some way of simply telling you to go. It is a truly inspirational environment, the kind that is pretty hard to find. I have had so few interactions there that were less than awesome (and truthfully, only a single bad one), especially when compared to other shows, that I now look forward to it more than just about anywhere else I go in a year. There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself start making comics, or to push yourself to try harder if you already do, and simply going to this event is probably one of the most fun ways to do it.