My first SPX in three years — but by my count, my tenth overall — got off to a great start with the ride down. The four musketeers of JahFurry, Heidi MacDonald, Brian Heater, and Ben McCool added my fifth wheel since Ben was jetting off to England for a fortnight, so Jeff, Heidi, Brian and myself made the rest of the trip after dropping Ben off at Newark. Good times — with lots of cutting people off — were had, including a stop in Baltimore at Atomic Books for the Nerdlinger Awards.
The Awards set a Rip van Winkle tone for me, as I barely knew a soul — or their comic — there, and that carried through for SPX itself. I saw a few familiar faces, of course, like SPX regulars Chris Staros, Jim Dougan, Rob Clough, Mike Rhode, Calvin Reid, Ed Piskor, Rob Ullman, and the Fantagraphics twins; and of course SPX programmers like Karon Flage, Warren Bernard, and Greg Bennett; and even some sporadic returners like myself: R. Sikoryak, Peter Kuper, James Kochalka, John Porcellino, Mike Fiffe, and Kat Roberts, to name a few.
But there were so many ol’ pals missing: Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi, Alex Robinson, Tony Consiglio, David Lasky, Mike Dawson, Chris Radtke, Joan Reilly, Jason Little, Gabrielle Bell, Jon Lewis, and Karen Sneider, just off the top of my head. I guess what with book deals, kids, and of course the continuing allure of MoCCA, the drive down to D.C. is losing its appeal for those folks. (I have to confess I stayed away from SPX the last few years because I didn’t have anything new to hawk until this year.)
However, despite my sadness at missing so many folks, I have to admit that SPX is alive and well! The great funky/DIY/artsy tradition is still very much in evidence, and the comix tribe is rejuvenated with lots of new blood. That included my tablemates this year, fresh-faced 2009 Xeric winners J.T. Yost and Sophia Wiedeman. I was under strict luggage (and economic) constraints, so I only picked up a few things, but everywhere I looked there were young cartoonists offering tempting delights. I couldn’t resist some purchases, of course, and came away with Yost’s Old Man Winter, Wiederman’s The Deformity, Jeffrey Brown‘s Funny Misshapen Body, Liz Baillie‘s My Brain Hurts, Picture Box’s crazy oversize Real Deal #1, and a decrepit Robin T-shirt by fellow SPX returning veteran Tom Galambos.
As for my end of the show, A.D. sold respectably, with about 30 copies finding new owners. (I also signed a fair amount of previously purchased books.) I had some great conversations with people connected to the NOLA scene, including a high muckety-muck of the Louisiana Redevelopment Authority. And Gina Gagliano was kind enough to moderate my spotlight panel, where I presented my A.D. slideshow and answered questions about the project.
The only major negative for the show this year was the frigid temperatures inside the room on Sunday. I tend to run hot (body temperature-wise) but even I was shivering. I was pleasantly surprised that my nose didn’t fall off due to frostbite, but all the same I think I’m coming down with something: I’ve been achy and off my game ever since Sunday.
The ride back with Jah, Heidi, and Brian was as fun-filled as the trip down, with the added excitement of seeing how far the car could go with an empty tank of gas and the "Change Oil Soon" light flashing. And did we really almost run down Philip Seymour Hoffman on his bike as we tore through the West Village? Brian swore it was him. Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. *Cough*