Category Archives: Small Press

SPX 2018: Observations & Recollections

SPX 2018: “Three tickets, please.”

Whenever I go to anything creative, be it a play or a reading or a comics art festival, I do a lot of processing: What have I learned? How does this fit into the world? So, Small Press Expo is no different in that regard. Once you drop into SPX, it is like being inside a giant pinball machine as you’re being thrown in one direction after another. For me, with many years of experience in creating comics and writing about them, I rely on my internal database to make sense of it all.

For this post, I will introduce some pieces of the puzzle that I will discuss further in upcoming posts. I’m as much cartoonist as journalist in the sense that I feel most alive when I’m tackling a project that requires a good bit of deciphering.

It is my strong belief that you can’t study the art of comics inside a comics bubble. I mean, you run a high risk of doing yourself and the reader a disservice if you come to the subject of comics only as a comics enthusiast. I’m digressing here a bit but I’m just trying to say that comics fit into a much bigger picture. You can, as the saying goes, lose the forest for the trees. Where do you begin with such a colossal subject as comics? You look at it, walk away for a while, then refocus–and always keep in mind those outside of comics or just entering the world of comics.

One thing I do know is that people still read. And I’m always pleased when some folks make their way over to my posts. I do my best to provide concise text with a decent sampling of images as needed. Here I will post some creators I will spotlight in some upcoming posts. I think this will result in giving a sense of the wide range of activity and talent at Small Press Expo. Here are some representative talent: Kati Lacker, Luke Foster, and Sophie Goldstein:

Kati Lacker

Luke Foster

Sophie Goldstein

Let’s make a quick detour. I want to share with you a little taste of the comics workshops at SPX put together by Comics Workbook. I had the honor of participating in one led by Dash Shaw. We covered quite a lot of work in one hour! I include a sample in this below video. I even got a chance to participate in the informal Q&A. I wasn’t planning to but then I did.

I put a question to Dash Shaw: “This may sound silly but is the only true work in comics created by one person?” His response was interesting: “It’s great that a work in comics can be created by one person. Not all things can be created by one person. You can’t make a baby with just one person.”

Dash Shaw leading a Comics Workbook session at SPX

I enjoyed that response very much. But it was only the next morning that I thought of a much better way to frame the question–or my own answer back: “It can hold true that, just like the lone painter creating a painting, and we see painting as the act of a singular vision, so too can we see that in the creation of comics, there is a singular vision by one creator.” That is exactly what each student was doing in that session with Shaw: creating one work by one person. So, anyway, that for me was good to think about. Of course, there can be other factors that come in, like hiring a colorist. In the end, comics are about a driving force and that usually means one very determined creator started the ball rolling or kept the ball to themselves.

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Filed under Comics, Illustration, Illustrators, Kati Lacker, Luke Foster, mini comics, mini-comics, Minicomics, Small Press, Small Press Expo, Sophie Goldstein

SPX 2018: Time for Small Press Expo, September 15-16!

SPX illustration by Molly Ostertag

Time for Small Press Expo, September 15-16! SPX, created in 1994, is the cornerstone to the comics community. It is at the forefront in promoting and providing support. Each year, more than 4,000 cartoonists and comics enthusiasts gather in Bethesda Maryland for North America’s premiere independent cartooning and comic arts festival. Let the latest news speak for itself. This is from a press release that just came out:

“Small Press Expo announced that it will immediately make available $20,000 and also launch a legal aid fundraising vehicle to support members of the SPX community who are currently facing a defamation lawsuit. The fundraising vehicle, administered by SPX, and created in consultation with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will be established for the purposes of defraying the cost of legal representation for the eleven members of the independent comics community named as defendants in the ongoing lawsuit.”

So, yeah, it’s September and that can only mean one thing for die-hard indie comics fans: Small Press Expo! Yes, indeed, each year Bethesda Maryland suddenly becomes, for one weekend, the lightning rod for some of the most cutting-edge comics. If you’re in the area the weekend of September 15-16, then come out to this event and check out some awesome alt-comics.

Now, I must admit that, although I’ve gone and I’ve participated in numerous comics festivals and events as a journalist and as a comics creator, I have never gone to Small Press Expo. Some folks there will have heard of me and some know me from years back. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m new to SPX. So, I hope to do my best to provide some stellar coverage to this most venerable and respected gathering. Small Press Expo is where much of the indie comics scene gained traction and it remains the jewel in the crown.

So, say hello if you see me and we make eye contact or somehow slip into conversation. We’ll figure it out. Or say hello here at Comics Grinder. If you’re a creator, let me know what you’re up to and maybe we can set up an interview or I can plan to review your work. I don’t exactly expect an avalanche of responses– but I always end up making a decent number of connections at these events. I understand that things will get hectic and maybe you’re shy to begin with. I understand– and I can only focus on so much myself. The main thing is to have fun and to always strive for authenticity. The rest works itself out.

The full press release on the Legal Aid Fund for Cartoonists follows:

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Filed under Alt-Comics, Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Independent Comics, Indie, Millennials, mini comics, mini-comics, Minicomics, Self-Published, Small Press, Small Press Expo, SPX

SHORT RUN 2014: John Porcellino, Guest of Honor; Main Event is November 15 at Washington Hall in Seattle

Short-Run-Comix-Arts-Festival-2014

Short Run, a showcase of small press cartoonists, is back for another year of festivities and a comix and arts festival, at Washington Hall on November 15 here in Seattle. On that date, nearly 200 cartoonists, publishers, zinesters, authors, and animators will be gathered to sell their works and celebrate the world of independent and emerging artists. The full schedule of events will include a mural painted in the Central District by South African artist Jean De Wet, art shows at Joe Bar and the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, and readings, screenings, and panels across Seattle.

John Porcellino, known for his self-published memoir comic, King-Cat Comics and Stories, will be the guest of honor. This year is special as it marks the 25th anniversary of King-Cat Comics and Stories as well as sees the release of a new book, “The Hospital Suite,” published by Drawn & Quarterly (read my review here). And there is a new documentary on his life and work, “Root Hog or Die” (read my review here). There will be a screening of this documentary with Porcellino and director Dan Stafford in attendance at Central Cinema on Sunday, November 16th.

The full schedule and press release follows:

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Filed under Comics, Comix, King-Cat Comics and Stories, Micropublishing, mini-comics, Minicomics, Seattle, Short Run, Short Run Small Press Fest, Small Press, Zines

Review: THE HOSPITAL SUITE by John Porcellino

John-Porcellino-The-Hospital-Suite

John Porcellino has a remarkable thing with his ongoing self-published zine, “King-Cat Comics and Stories.” This is a zine, and mini-comic, that has been around for 25 years. King-Cat dates back to 1989 and, in all that time, John P has shared his life with his readers. For his new book, “The Hospital Suite,” published by Drawn and Quarterly, he focuses on one aspect of his life and turns his personal journey into a universal one.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Drawn and Quarterly, John Porecellino, mini-comics, Self-Published, Short Run, Small Press, Small Press Expo, Spit and a Half, Zines

Kickstarter: GONE GIRL COMICS #2 & THE LOST ORIGINALS

Gone-Girl-Comics-Noel-Franklin

Noel Franklin is a longtime artist and poet of the Seattle scene who has compiled a respectable amount of work over the years. In 2013, Franklin created what she deems to be her first true mini-comic, Gone Girl Comics #1. This comic was critically acclaimed and her entire run sold out at last year’s Short Run Comix and Arts Festival. What she is looking to do now is create an edition of Gone Girl Comics #2 in time for this year’s Short Run festival, which takes place on November 15, and so she has a Kickstarter campaign in support of that goal that you can check out right here.

You’ll want to take a moment and listen to Noel’s story since it has some unexpected twists and turns that no cartoonist should have to endure. But, from adversity, comes great work. We are all wishing Noel the very best in reaching her goal and taking part in Short Run. Her campaign ends pretty soon, October 27, so be sure to visit the campaign right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comix, Micropublishing, mini-comics, Noel Franklin, Seattle, Short Run, Short Run Small Press Fest, Small Press

Review: DEBBIE’S INFERNO by Anne Emond

Anne-Emond-Debbies-Inferno

In her new mini-comic, “Debbie’s Inferno,” Anne Emond takes us deep into the nightmares and misgivings of a young woman and all we have to do is sit back and be amused. There’s plenty to be amused about since Emond is a crackerjack cartoonist in the vein of Lynda Barry. With a spare line and a whimsical touch, she distills angst down to wise and funny bits.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Anne Emond, Big Planet Comics, Comics, Comixology, Comixology Submit, Independent Comics, Retrofit Comics, Small Press

Comics in 2014: A NIGHT AT THE SORRENTO AND OTHER STORIES

Sorrento-Hotel-Seattle-Comics-Henry-Chamberlain-2014

“A Night at the Sorrento and Other Stories” collects the work of a longtime cartoonist of the Seattle School, yours truly, Henry Chamberlain. We cartoonists grew up in the Generation X ethos of DIY, small press, and a pride for a certain alternative comics aesthetic. Make no mistake, just like alternative rock from the 1990s, there is something specific that is meant by alternative comics. To the point, these are comics that favor the offbeat and idiosyncratic. This spirit rings true today as it embraces an independent vision. Stay tuned. This collection will rock your world, very alternatively, in 2014.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Generation X, graphic novels, Henry Chamberlain, Independent Comics, Seattle, Seattle School of Comics, Small Press, Sorrento Hotel

SHORT RUN SMALL PRESS FEST IN SEATTLE: EVENTS SCHEDULE FOR NOVEMBER 1-30, 2013

Short-Run-Small-Press-Fest

“Short Run” is a gathering of small press in Seattle with some added attractions this year. There’s the main event, the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on Saturday, November 30, 2013. But, for those who want more, there’s plenty more starting with an event on November 1. Check out the Short Run website for details here.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics News, David Lasky, Eroyn Franklin, Independent Comics, Indie, Jim Woodring, Kelly Froh, Micropublishing, mini-comics, Minicomics, Seattle, Self-Published, Short Run Small Press Fest, Small Press, Underground Comics, Zines