It's here! SPX Spotlight 2016!

It's almost hard to believe it's been a year already, but here we are again, heading straight into September, and that means it's also time for another Small Press Expo! This year's edition will be held September 17th and 18th in its home for years and years now, the Marriott North Bethesda in Bethesda, Maryland.

While it doesn't look like any active Panel Patter-ers will be at the show this year for the first time since 2008, we're moving right into our sixth year of extensive coverage of the small press convention that's unlike anything you'll find on the internet. In this age of comics sites falling faster than Donald Trump's popularity (and that's saying something), Panel Patter keeps on going, and we couldn't be prouder than the work we do to support comics that deserve every bit of coverage they can--as well as your dollars.

It's no secret that Panel Patter probably wouldn't exist if I hadn't gone to my first show in Bethesda in 2008. It's where I learned there was a huge world of comics out there, telling stories that were as intimate as Jeffrey Brown's autobiographical works and as absolutely fucked up as Rafer Roberts' Plastic Farm. And just look at where those two have ended up--Star Wars for kids and one of the core writers for Valiant! Wow!

As many long-time readers know, I'm a comics omnivore. I don't sneer at superheroes (though I don't write about 'em much, because everyone else still standing does a great job, anyway) and I'll grab a near-abstract like Vortex and devour it cover to cover. One of the best parts of SPX is that it's a place where those things can co-exist, but the superheroes will likely be gay or people of color or things that mainstream publishers don't like to touch.

SPX has changed a ton since I first went. It's a lot larger, for example, and Nickelodeon even showed up last year. With so much demand and popularity, some old favorites that I only met through SPX, like Rob Ullman, won't have a table this year. But pound for pound (or should I say brick for brick, given that the annual Ignatz award--voted on by SPX attendees each Saturday of the show--is literally a piece of masonry?), SPX is a show that can change how you read comics forever. It certainly did for me, and for countless others who visit the show for the first time each year.

As in past years, we'll be using the SPX Spotlight tag to keep all our reviews, past and present, organized for you. Think of us as a way to create a shopping list for the show. And if you can't make SPX, we'll do what we can to tell you where you can get the comics instead.

I hope you have a great time at the show, if you go! Maybe someday, I'll make the flight back, but in the meantime, I and the rest of the Panel Patter team will work hard to ensure you're always grabbing great comics at one of the best shows in the USA. Hope you'll join us over the next three weeks for wall-to-wall coverage of the show--and, more importantly, the creators and comics that make it shine. "See" you here at the site!