News from SPX (Small Press Expo)
First off, some observations from Johanna Draper Carlson:
I was surprised to see that the most popular area in the room, at least when I was on the floor, was the back right corner featuring webcomic creators, especially Kate Beaton. But then, the world is moving from minicomics to webcomics as a way for young artists to try new things and refine their craft. And with their outreach — large numbers of readers, who are often eager to buy prints or buttons or books of their favorite strips — I shouldn’t be surprised at the congestion.
Speaking of webcomic collections, I enjoyed talked with Curt Franklin and Chris Haley of Let’s Be Friends Again. Their parody strips have a distinctive sense of humor, and I couldn’t resist picking up their first book, Under Pressure, reprinting the comics they’ve done up until July. In color, too! And they all have annotations underneath, making for more funny. (And sometimes explaining just what they’re referring to.) The front page of the book has caricatures of the two authors with blank balloons, and they filled them in with a personalized sketch and dialogue, making my copy unique. Ha!
Meanwhile, Retconned Fangirl reported on the webcomic-centric panel:
I only attended one panel while I was there, the “Comic Strips: Online and in Print” panel, which featured R. Stevens, Kate Beaton, Erika Moen and Julia Wertz. They talked about the challenges of creating webcomics and then publishing them in print formats, any adjustments they made and how the audiences are different. They also addressed technological issues with RGB/CMYK conversions. They addressed the more basic issues of merchandising and “why publish it in hard format at all?” Moen & Stevens provided the most useful information in the panel, both technical and just outright enthusiasm. Moen published hers as a book because she loved books, not necessarily because her audience demanded it. She had compiled a collection over a three year period, so while she left most of her line art intact, she had gone in and corrected the colors and Photoshop errors. When discussing pirating issues, Stevens admitted one way he got around it was merchandising pixel socks, certainly a unique item in the Exhibitor Hall. And they were cute socks, I have to say. Kate Beaton was utterly mobbed at her table.
By going around the con with other people, I stopped at tables I wouldn’t ordinarily notice. The “Let’s Be Friends Again” guys had some hysterically funny (and very politically incorrect at times) cartoons. I might not have looked at Dresden Codak if a friend wasn’t such a fan. I’d heard about Owly for Free Comic Book Day, but nothing prepared me for the cute little baby hats or Owly sketches. Super Spy’s Matt Kindt sat at Top Shelf’s table doing commissions in water colors, putting the finishing touches on a gorgeous Marvelman/Miracleman commission.