1. Here are my thoughts on SPX. A series of succinct notes masks my inability/unwillingness to mold this into any kind of cohesive structure.

    So I had a really good time. This was my first con ever, excluding the brief appetizer that was the one day Philly Con. Everyone was exceedingly nice, and it was really great to meet many of the cartoonists who I have gotten to know online or whose work I have been following for a long time. Lots of fun and interesting conversations. I won’t list names because I’ll inevitably forget someone and then we’ll all cry, but if I met you it was absolutely a pleasure. I wasn’t able to be around for the evening on either Friday or Saturday, which was too bad, but I was plenty exhausted by the end of Sunday as things stood. 

    On that note: It was really tiring! I don’t think I fully understood the need to spend a few days recovering from a con but now I most certainly do. Although to be fair I was also jetlagged from travel the previous week and had a bit of a cold.
    I got a lot of comics and I hope to write about many of them in depth soon either here or on Comics Workbook. So I’ll hold off on discussing any specific books for now. That’s my haul pictured above (the foot is mine, not a foot that I purchased). No amazing unexpected parting-of-the-clouds discoveries, but good material from cartoonists old and new.
    I spent a great deal of time speaking with Warren Craghead, Simon Moreton, and Derik Badman, i.e. the members of Team Weird represented at the convention. Oliver East appearing briefly via Skype as well which was a treat. I admire the work of those guys quite a bit and am flattered that they like my work as well. Personally I think I’m a bit of a Team Weird groupie given a) my (fluctuating) interest in traditional narrative and b) my less developed/focused aesthetic. In any case, it really was great to speak with them in such depth. Lots to think about. Trying to verbally articulate my thoughts about comics, something that I don’t have a ton of experience with, is sometimes challenging and always rewarding.
    Paging through Warren’s latest sketchbook was probably the highlight of my SPX. His approach to mark making has been a big influence and seeing his original drawings was such a thrill. I probably could have spent my whole weekend looking at those pages.
    Walking the con floor with Derik was fun. He has discerning taste and isn’t afraid to be honest about what he does and doesn’t like. His feedback on Black Pillars was insightful and appreciated. A couple of the comics that I bought were ones that he recommended.
    David Murray said that Telegraph had a really good show. I was very happy to hear this because David is my cousin and I want more millionaires in the family. Seriously, though, he and his wife Kate seem to be working exceedingly hard and doing exactly what cartoonists wish all retailers would do in terms of ordering/promoting small press and supporting the scene. That they’re doing this in the not-huge city of Charlottesville is especially great. Comics would significantly healthier if we had ten more stores like theirs. I bought a Warren Craghead print from them.
    I talked briefly with Bill Boichel of Copacetic Comics about the Comics Workbook Composition Competition. We agreed that we were both pleasantly surprised by the diversity and strength of the entries as well as by the number of cartoonists we weren’t aware of who were doing good work.

    I was on the New Comics Minimalism Panel at the end of the day on Sunday. I thought it was a decent panel that touched on a lot of interesting ideas which I wish we could have explored in more depth. I did a cliff notes version of my thoughts on how comics allow you to use abstraction in a narrative context, though I’m not sure how articulate I was. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
    Aside from that the only panel I attended was the Frank Santoro - Dash Shaw discussion, which I enjoyed. I’m sure the video will appear online soon, so I’ll just say that the best part for me was seeing Frank and Dash play off each other in the direct back-and-forth that comprised the final third of the panel. I enjoyed their respective presentations, but as a fan I’d heard most of that material in some form previously, and I’m sure if they had just talked for an entire hour they would have gone to some interesting places.
    I absolutely understand for many cartoonists and certainly for publishers this wouldn’t be the right thing to do, but for myself I don’t see any reason not be very straightforward in talking about sales. So, I sold 22 copies of Black Pillars #1 and gave away 11 to critics and cartoonists I admire. Of the 22 sales, 8 were via the Retrofit table (thanks to Box Brown for the space!) and the others were via my backpack. I was very happy about this. Thanks so much to everyone who bought a comic or accepted it when I shoved it into their hands. I was especially flattered by the few people who recognized my name and asked about the comic.
    So to conclude, I must admit that I don’t know if I got the transcendent boost of comics-making energy that some people seem to draw from conventions. Or maybe the effect is just delayed because I’m still too tired to process things. That’s definitely part of it. I am feeling excited about my comics, and about comics in general, but there wasn’t a huge uptick in either of those feelings post-SPX. Maybe it’s that I’ve been feeling some small amount of that good old Comic Books Are Burning in Hell malaise lately. That’s on me, though, and doesn’t change the fact that I very much enjoyed myself at SPX. I hope to attend CAB in November and I hope to have a couple new things there. We’ll see.
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