My favorite convention, the Small Press Expo, has just completed its 12th show, and I thought I would outline some of the titles and creators you are missing at this one-of-a-kind exhibition of comic creativity. Traveling around the floor of the Marriott Bethesda North, I was on the look-out for new and exciting titles and ideas, and I’d like to share those with our faithful readers right now. Granted, you’ve probably heard of some of these comics and creators, or there might be some elements missing from my list. Either way, my goal is simply to capture the excitement and wonder of this incredible show.
A – Action Figure: From the Journals of Richard Marzelak: This caught my eye because of the wonderful cover, displaying an action figure of the author attempting to escape from his bubble packaging. Inside, there is a semi-autobiographical tale with some insightful messages, funny moments, and unique coloring to display dream sequences.
B – Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire: Okay, definitely a creator you’ve heard of (and a super tall guy to boot!). This new graphic novel is another roaring success, with all the charm and wonder that you’re used to from this amazing talent. Billy’s tirade in Chapter Three (“I’m the Grape O’ Wrath”) is worth the price of admission.
C – Crazy Papers by Jim Dougan & Danielle Corsetto: You know, an eye-catching display will reel in readers like me, which is how I found this great graphic novel. Not only does it take place in my home town (Washington, DC), but it is an entertaining tale of two friends and one wild weekend.
D – The Damned #1 by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt: This was the first comic I picked up this weekend (I usually visit Oni Press’s booth first) and one of the most thrilling. An interesting mixture of crime drama and the supernatural. Plus, the art by Hurtt is outstanding!
E – Evil Twin Comics: Publishers of Action Philosophers, an extremely entertaining series that draws on the super-heroic exploits of Plato, Freud, and Neitzsche, among others. Their $17 combo deal, including the first six issues of the series and a cool poster, was a great way to get SPX attendees involved in this wacky series.
F – Finder by Carla Speed McNeil: If you haven’t read this series before, GO BUY IT RIGHT NOW! I’m not kidding! Ms. McNeil is an impossibly creative and talented comic creator who has created a world in Finder that is deeper and more literary than anything you’re likely to find elsewhere. What are you waiting for?
G – Ganges #1 by Kevin Huizenga: This is an independent comic I missed from Fantagraphics earlier this year, but am I glad that I read it here at the show! The art may seem simplistic to many people, but the dialogue and story has a quietly profound nature that will definitely draw you in.
H – House of Twelve’s Heavy Metal: The Movie: This was so crazy, I just had to mention it here. It’s an alternate version of Heavy Metal that includes some new zaniness to an already zany product. If nothing else, it made me chuckle!
I – Interiorea #2 by Gabriella Giandelli: Haven’t had a chance to read this, but the art looks great…
J – Josh Johnson: Creator of the Spindletons, an interesting comic that has a rustic feel unlike anything else at the show. I was entranced by the earthy tones and surreal pseudo-gloominess of his cartoon family. This is the kind of stuff you love to find at the SPX!
K – James Kochalka: One of my favorite comic artists. ‘Nuff said! Never read his stuff? Check out Pinky & Stinky. You’ll be hooked, too!
L – Batton Lash: Nice guy with a super-funny comic called Supernatural Law. Even more good news? Free stories online every Monday and Thursday (www.supernaturallaw.com)!
M – A Moment of Clarity by Josh Bintz: Innocent, funny observations on life drawn with a cartoon gusto that is impossible to ignore. This was one of the nicest surprises of the show for me.
N – NBM Publishing: What can I say? I love just about everything they produce. Attitude, Brownsville, Lucifer’s Garden of Verses… The list goes on and on.
O – Owly by Andy Runton: The best all ages comic out there right now. Period.
P – Papercutter #1: Three intriguing tales, three talented creators, three bucks. Now you’re talking!
Q – Joe Quinones: I needed a Q…
R – Ridiculously Simple Graphs by August J Pollak: Political humor doesn’t get more acidic than this. Thank God!
S – Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux: Nice new title by Oni looks like manga inside and out, but the story is a wacky, energetic tale sure to get your juices pumping. A bunch of losers encounter a myriad of misadventures while chasing a girl. Sweet!
T – Table for One by Bosch Fawstin: Dirty Harry as a waiter. I’m hooked! Great artwork and dialogue.
U – Rob Ullman: I loved his cover for the SPX program, so I visited his table. A talented artist worth recognizing.
V – Rick Veitch: It’s not too often you meet a mainstream legend such as Rick Veitch at the SPX (well, Frank Miller was cool some years back). I had to thank him for his work on Can’t Get No, as well as checking out his newest project and sketches.
W – The Waiting Sun by Justin Madson: Weird, strange, lyrical, funny, off-putting, enchanting… That just about covers it. A very entertaining read.
X – X-Men: Just Kidding!
Y – You Ain’t No Dancer Vol 2: Just flipped through some of the artwork (since I ran out of money a couple of minutes earlier), but this looks great! Hope I can order it online soon!
Z – Zed by Duane H Abel: Funnies you and the kids can enjoy. Vaudeville, dryers, and bridge meet for a hilarious cartoon romp!
Honorable Mention: Mikhaela B Reid and Matt Bors (More political acid!), Rabid Rabbit (Nice compilation!), Sarah Becan (Photos = Comics), and Stonehaven: Subterranean Hearts (Lord of the Rings meets The Godfather?)
Well, I hope I’ve at least whet your appetite to a few of the titles or creators mentioned above. Remember, the SPX is always on the cutting edge. If you get the chance, it’s well worth the trip to Bethesda.