On an Indie flip
So yesterday I traveled from the comforts of my home in Washington, D.C. into the far suburban regions of Northern Bethesda. My goal? This year’s Small Press Expo (SPX). As I walked the rows of tables set up in the Marriot’s conference room I was struck by the bazaar feeling of the whole affair. The creators hawk their wares with loud voices, bribe us with candy, and fill our pockets with post cards and mini-issues. The friend who attended SPX with me, a hardcore non-comic reader, left contented because the driver’s side visor is now overflowing with ironic and free pins.
The large, more mainstream cons I’ve attended this year have a completely different feeling. We wait in lines for hours to shake hands with Johns, Cassidy, the Romitas, Lee and so on. We pack ourselves into rooms hoping that whatever panel we are watching might drop a hint or two. We root through boxes of back stock trying to find that first appearance of Multiple Man. The creators sit on their piles of comic cash, enjoying our adoration. They can be very pleasant and very nice but you can tell they revel in their celebrity. Hell, if I ever get there I will do the same thing.
The artist, writers and artist/writers at SPX did not act this way. No at the SPX the power seems to shift to the consumer. We envy them for actually publishing something. At the same time though we snub the stuff we don’t think is up to snuff. We are the art critics and think to ourselves, “Crap is crap no matter how indie it is. Just look at You Are Here.” I'm definitely sure that neither convention dynamic is fair but it still felt like the dynamic.
This isn’t to say there aren’t those small press heroes, creators who give me the “I just met Elvis" willies. I could barely stutter out, “The first issue of Pirates… was awesome,” to Rick Spears. Then again when I met Geoff Johns I think I drooled on myself. But most of these people are complete unknowns to me.
This isn’t to say that I’m a complete small press novice. I fell over myself at the Oni table and spent a good hour trying to decide whether or not to buy the “Sex Bomb-omb” T-shirt to show my love for Scott Pilgrim (see Why I Love Oni Press… pt. 2). I know of the adventures of Owly and pointed out Andy Runton to my buddy. When someone said they had a Xeric grant I knew what he was talking about. However, ninety-five percent of the people in the room were complete strangers to me. I think this is a shortcoming and I definitely noticed there were some books that I would have picked up had I had the money.
One thing I did pick up was Musings on a Month of Requests by So I was doing my my everyday or so check of Newsarama and I came across Rachel Maguire. She does drawings based on requests that people make on her website. The pictures are incredible, involving whimsy and a super cool style. Best one…request #29. Ninja penguins. She also gave me a free button because I said I love monkeys. Yay, free monkey pins.
Lastly, I just want to say that my hair only looks that thin because of the light behind me.
I'm not really bald. Really. I promise I'm not bald.