Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SPX 2011

SPX 2011:

This was the first time the entirety of Tapir Tooth (plus the wonderful Alexey Sokolin) attended SPX and the first time any of us actually made it to the Ignatz Awards (although half got into the packed ceremony and half stayed outside in the lobby eating chocolate fountain the whole time). You have to give the SPX organizers a ton of credit – SPX is now our favorite show because of how remarkably friendly and warm it is. It’s smaller than MOCCA, but the SPX planners were excellent about staying on top of updates before the show, and during the show there was always the feeling that they were around and happy to help you (how to submit to the Ignatz’s, get badges, get drink tickets. There were surprise drink tickets the night before at registration. The very nice and patient Eden even came to our table twice when we couldn’t find her to give her Ignatz submissions). The warmth permeates the entire show – co exhibitors and attendees are so much more willing to chat than they are at MOCCA. We’ve given up worrying about selling merchandise (Sunday was slower than Saturday, we made enough to cover lunches both days and then promptly hemmoraged money on buying other comics) and focused more on seeing people. Given that criteria, the whole experience was extremely satisfying.

Ryan (left) & Dan Strauss (right)

Dan Strauss & his friends, were there, Neil Brideau stopped by (did you know they had Quimby’s temporary tattoos at the free desk?), Josh Bayer gave us an issue of the awesome Nancy comics anthology (“today was the day I would buy her a soda!” is now my favorite catchphrase), Sophie Goldstein and Jen Weber and Kate Farquhar and Maria Calderone came by and hung out. We lucked out neighbor-wise, Fanfare/Ponent Mon couldn’t have been nicer.

So the last week was a rush of comics printing, stapling, binding, bussing, then chipotle run (Miriam and Blujay live in a cruel, burrito-less zone in Halifax), and tabling. We’re all looking forward to sleeping. I only caught one panel – on the grotesque (only one takeaway : despite there being really grotesque works in comics and the fact that comics don’t get the scrutiny of say, a big budget movie, people are surprised at how tame a lot of comics are, despite the fact that they could be more extreme). Tom Hart! of S.A.W. was there! Hurricane Irene cancelled our chance to say goodbye before he moved to Gainesville to start S.A.W., so this was really really damn nice to see him.

There was Craig Thompson! Or, in the Ignatz slideshow, a picture of woodchopping “Craig Effing Thompson,” Chris Staros of Top Shelf was really friendly as always. D&Q was packed with people buying Kate Beaton’s HARK A VAGRANT! The woman I spoke to mentioned that HAV was guaranteeing that this was D&Q’s best SPX to date, and the book was outselling the entirety of their other stock. She and I also talked about friendly everything was. She thought not only was it amazing that Kate Beaton had so many fans, but that they were consistently some of the nicest fans she’d ever seen. It lines up with what I saw at MOCCA – people happy to get her books and meet her but also thrilled to meet each other.

Looking forward to reading lots of comics now. BIG QUESTIONS, HABIBI, THREE FINGERS, LINT, HARK A VAGRANT, APPROXIMATE CONTINUUM COMICS… I wonder how many people go there and buy published comics as opposed to the self-published ones or self-published minis. I doubt it’s an even chance between those two markets – it’s probably more that the main sales are the published ones and the minis kind of exist along the side of those sales. I don’t know. Recognizable character based content seems to do well (Pokemon comics), and people do come over because they like someone’s art style, but most sales are for stuff that people already know about. It’s making us reconsider our approach to these cons.

Tapir Tooth Chipotle tradition continues. Varick Street Chipotle, you are still far and away the best one.

Alexander Rothman and Alexey Sokolin after the Ignatz Awards.

Michael, Ryan and Peter Quach after the Ignatz’s. It’s amazing how excited you can get about a chocolate fountain.

Metro ride to Union Station. Busssss.

The Bolt Bus back ended up being full of cartoonists – so the satisfying end to a satisfying trip was riding in a dark and quiet Bolt Bus with sleeping cartoonists, watching Lightning flash through the windows and listening to rain. Peaceful.

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