Monday, September 26, 2005

SPX 2005 Report
This one will be centered on mini-comics as this is SIZE MATTERS. I’ll have a more publisher-oriented report tomorrow at Comic World News.
This year’s version of SPX was even more fun than last year’s show. At a show that seems to manufacture crazy amounts of positive energy, the smiles and hearty handshakes were off the chart. Friday afternoon seemed a bit slow as far as foot traffic, and almost everyone I talked to lamented poor sales. But the crowd on Saturday was often two or three deep at the more popular tables and there were bottlenecks at some well-attended corners.

For a mini-comic fan, SPX is almost overwhelming. Just the USS Catastrophe, Bodega Distribution, Sparkplug Comics and Global Hobo tables would be enough to make you dizzy, but everywhere you turn there’s another table full of mini-comics.

I started out by grabbing a copy of Couch Tag by Jesse Reklaw. Couch Tag is the story of Jesse’s thirteen cats that he had growing up and when I asked him if it would make me cry, he said probably. I haven’t read it yet.

Sparkplug and Global Hobo were right next to each other and between those tables I picked up about a dozen mini-comics, including the second issue of Reklaw’s Slow Wave, The Secret Voice by Zack Soto, the latest Service Industry by T. Edward Bak, and Stefan Gruber’s tiny Handy & Army. At the Sparkplug table I talked to Austin English about his beautiful Christina & Charles book. He showed me a stack of pages from another color book that he’s working on.

I met Jamie Tanner finally and he gave me copies of his two latest mini-comics, Diamonds and Always in Love & Other Stories of Death and Dismemberment. The latter is over fifty pages of Tannery goodness. I’ll probably try to hold off on reading these. I also learned a very valuable lesson Saturday. Jamie had about a dozen small watercolors for sale at the ridiculously cheap price of $20. One of them was an adorable little wooden bird resting on top of a street corner gas lamp. I didn’t buy it on Friday, because my bag was already overstuffed with goodies. On Saturday, it had been sold. Oh, the humanity!

John Mejias (Paping) was sharing a table with the Partyka crew and I grabbed issues twelve and thirteen of Paping. Issue twelve is constructed of one long piece of paper folded into a box with a lid and issue thirteen is printed in two colors on a NYC subway map. I met the very nice and talented Shawn Cheng for the first time, so now I’ve met all four of the Partyka people. I also bought a collection of “Daily Drawings” from the table. It was the only thing that I didn’t already have.

At the Little House table I picked up a copy of Drew Weing’s new Blar mini-comic. It’s early and I haven’t even looked at half of the minis that I brought home, but so far this is my favorite mini from the show. Drew and Eleanor were both so kind and personable. Their table was one of the most visually inventive ones at the show. Right next to them I met Joey Weiser. Like everyone I spoke with Joey was a super nice person. He gave me his two latest minis, including Tales of Unusual Circumstance number two that features another adventure of “The Unremarkable Tree Frog.” Awesome.

At the Buenaventura Press table I bought an issue of Julie Doucet’s mini-comic Sophie Punt. I think I paid twenty-five dollars for it, but I didn’t care. It’s Julie Doucet. I also took the plunge and bought a Sammy Harkham print. Alvin Buenaventura is a great guy and he’s got perfect taste in comics. There was a galley print of the book Elvis Road by Helge Reumann and Xavier Robel. That’s going to be exquisite. As I was paying I spied Tom Gauld’s comics and added Three Very Small Comics Volume Two.

Dan Zettwoch and Ted May were manning the USS Catastrophe table and Dan had a new mini-comic called Schematic Comics. This comic has some strips that were published in Arthur. Now I don’t have to find Arthur to read them, but maybe I should. There are some damn good cartoonists to be found in there.

At Jordan Crane’s table I found a mini-comic that I didn’t have called The Life Unlucky. I somehow found the strength to resist the deluxe version of The Clouds Above, but after flipping through a gorgeous copy of Non issue five, I bought the Non. I couldn't believe Jordan remembered an order I had placed almost two years ago. His table was one of the most colorful on the floor and SPX cover artist Brian Ralph was sharing it with copies of his books and a cool t-shirt that I'm sorry I didn't buy.

At the Cantab Publishing table I ran into Alex Lukas and purchased his new mini-comic Fire. This one has a section of black pages sandwiched between your standard white pages. The black pages show the firefighter being menaced by the black face of fire and smoke. Also at the Cantab table, I met the face behind the excellent magazine The Drama, Joel Speasmaker.

I spent a ridiculous amount of money at The Ganzfield/PaperRad table. After somehow managing to resist the $30 Ben Jones book (now I’m kicking myself), I bought the The Ganzfield 4-Pac Fun Pack! that includes the best Batman stories that I’ve seen in years. I also grabbed a copy of Fuckable Comics number six and a mini called Gif Papel. Between Ben Jones strips there are colorful collages of images from old comics circa 1980; this is a really neat comic.

I ran into Matthew Thurber when Kate was with me. Kate and I lamented over our failed plans to move to NYC, but Matthew gave us some hope. He also gave me a copy of the new Paper Rodeo, which I hadn't even seen yet.

Somehow I ended up with three copies of Bleep the Peeper. Two regular versions and the silk-screened cover version from Chris Pitzer. J. Chris Campbell blessed me with his Fat Pack, which isn’t a s kinky as it sounds. It’s a manila envelope full of his tiny mini-comics.

I met Matt Dembicki and grabbed the fifth issue of Mr. Big. the new baddie was just what I expected! Matt was a super nice guy and he told me that there will be a Mr Big trade collecting issues one through seven. It looks like issues one and two are all gone.

I met Mark McMurray and he had a Dumb Jersy White Boy 2.5 in color. He was also very nice and looked just like he does in his comics. I met Marcos Perez and Justin Fox. Marcos had three new Carl is the Awesome mini-comics and Justin had an issue of Lincoln isn’t the Awesome. Poor Lincoln is a hedgehog. Next to mini-comic funnyman Pat Lewis, I met Ed Piskor. I’ve got a few of his Deviant Funniesmini-comics that look great.

Look, there are piles of mini-comics that I haven’t even opened yet and many names that I haven’t mentioned. Starting tomorrow, there will be SPX reviews mixed in with review minis sent in over the past month. Also, I took Kate to the show with me for about an hour. She purchased twenty mini-comics with thirty dollars and she’ll be doing a few guest posts this week reviewing the comics she bought and giving her general impressions from the show as an “outsider.”

Also tomorrow, I’ll post my publisher-oriented SPX review at Comic World News. Here's another shot of the SPX haul. Had to stand on the couch to get this one. Hope everyone had a great time at the show!


John said...

Looking forward to all the reviews, Mr. Hoke. Sounds like a great haul, and it doesn't even count all the non-mini comics.

Shawn Hoke said...

Hey Mr. Pierce! Good to hear from you. I hope you dig the next few weeks of reviews.

jamie tanner said...

sorry 'bout that watercolor - if I'd known you wanted it, I might've put it on hold for ya. it's actually the only one I sold!
good to meet you - hope you like the books...

Shawn Hoke said...

Jamie-I should have asked you to hold it. Lesson learned. Let me know in the future if you make anything with that cute little wooden bird. I'll buy it on the spot!

Haven't even got to the books yet, Kate liked the Barry Pago book though.

jamie tanner said...

you don't even need to buy the one thing I've done with that bird thus far: - check out episodes 28, 36 and 43 to see the bird in "action", if you want to call it that...

Shawn Hoke said...

Damn, that bird is adorable. I think it's the eyes...