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September 17, 2012

A Few Quick Notes About SPX 2012

* I believe this is going to be short, as I woke up too late to do the usual 50-entry list before I have to head out for the airplane. My apologies, and I'll certainly expand on these thoughts tomorrow.

* I think that was a good show, one of the most successful I've ever attended. Maybe the most successful. Maybe by a wide margin, given their aims and how they hit them. Congratulations to Warren Bernard and the rest of Team SPX.

* my personal thanks to that show and all the people that were nice to me, said nice things, and/or gave me nice things. It was super-nice touching base with my comics family and meeting a lot of CR readers.

* nice, nice, nice.

* as should soon become clear if it hasn't already, I had almost a supernaturally pleasant show, to the point where a half dozen times I looked around at where I was, at all the talented people in the room and people with whom I had a chance to interact, and was almost giddily happy. Part of that is the general realization of how fun a comics show can be after a very long and not very healthy (for anyone) year; part of that was the nature of this Camp Comics show. So I'm probably not the best person to write a rigorous appraisal.

* let's try, anyway. For a few more points at least.

* nearly every exhibitor to whom I spoke had an excellent show sales- and attention-wise. Fantgraphics had their most successful SPX by 4 PM Saturday afternoon. The CBLDF did San Diego numbers. Drawn and Quarterly had fewer books on their table by show's close than I usually have on my desk. I think Chris Pitzer was smiling from selling a ton of books rather than smiling because he's Chris Pitzer and a generally pleasant fellow.

* the few exhibitors I talked to that didn't have great, great shows in terms of sales could point to reasons for this: in most cases it was a combination of not having anything new at the show, and not having a signature personality on hand to anchor interest in what that publisher had to offer.

* the most underrated move of the show -- because it's impossible to overrate how much this helped -- was the Expo's decision to greatly expand the amount of exhibition space and to only modestly expand the number of exhibitors. The aisles were wide and comfortable, and it was possible to stop and chat without anyone complaining that you were in the way.

* okay, I'm rapidly running out of time here. So let me apologize in advance for when I end this.

* I've been doing most of my updating from the lobby of the Marriott because I have a roll-away with someone sleeping on it in the room where the desk chair might go. It's a good lobby in which to work, but it's really tough to type a lot of words when awesome people keep walking up to talk to you.

* so, let's see: I don't really have any comics-related travel notes from New York for the lead-up to the show, as I did non-comics things. One thing a few NY comics people mentioned was how much they like that Forbidden Planet in its new location, and how that very nearly vaults that shop to top-dog status in the city all by itself -- not that they aren't right there, anyway, but I just mean people are re-appreciating that store.

* the Marriott was packed, to the point where my whining about a reservations snafu fell on deaf ears because they were legitimately packed and didn't have to put up with me. "Go sleep in the car if you want." They didn't say that, but they could have. Of all the people I know, only Brian Ralph -- who has a Sergio Aragones degree of charm when it comes to falling into good things -- was able to upgrade to a better situation.

* but yeah, nice hotel; serviceable facilities, small but decent rooms, a lot of porches on the outer rim of the show to host all those chattering, drinking cartoonists late into the night... I like the pool, even.

* the area in which the hotel is situated is just awful, almost laughingly so, a land of strip malls and stand-alone franchise retail. It really is Camp Comics as a result. Leaving to go do something meant either reduced expectations -- "we'll go to this restaurant a few blocks away even though it's not great" -- or a serious haul to a neighborhood with more stuff to do.

* I was encouraged by the number of people I knew that were happy to act as tourists in the DC area, which I think is a fine way to capitalize on your con opportunities.

* diet cokes were $6 at the bar. It's not like I was buying anything, but people kept letting me know about this.

* this may be a reach, but I thought there were a number of people that looked great. This was the first comics convention where I saw cartoonists in the hotel exercise room since the 1996 San Diego Con (Kevin Eastman). I'm not kidding about that. Renee French, Meredith Gran, Jog, Julia Wertz and a few others all looked super-great, but everyone in general seemed well. People report to me on their weight loss activities now, so it's kind of noticeable, but it was kind of noticeable anyway. Usually you also get someone gossiping in a "Holy crap, [Cartoonist A] looks terrible" way, and I don't remember any of that.

* tip for the future: the weight room at the hotel has free fruit if you're very looking for a way to not pay for a insta-breakfast.

* oh man, I'm really running out of time here. Sorry sorry sorry.

* the programming was solid. One thing that was nice about the programming is that you could tell that some of it was there to make a point, and not just be great programming, if that makes any sense. I thought that was true of an institutions-building panel I did -- more on that tomorrow -- and a panel about certain kinds of drawing and art as opposed to comics through a literary filter. In other words, the panels served to enter certain ideas about comics, ways of thinking about certain things, into the community's culture.

* it was also nice just to see 15-year-olds sitting there staring at Warren Craghead art, as opposed to a bunch of folks listening to guys with baseball hats turned around backwards say weird, slightly-shitty, oddly contemptuous things.

* okay, that's sort of mean. I'm not going to devalue anyone's experiences, and god bless you for whatever kind of panel you like and/or run. I think the main point is that I really like Warren Craghead.

* I interviewed Francoise Mouly and Dean Haspiel for future features on this site: Francoise one and done, Dino in anticipations of a couple more sessions. One thing that came out in the Francoise Mouly chat I didn't know about, but I assume may be general knowledge, is that the Fletcher Hanks that ran in RAW back in the day came from Jerry Moriarity's collection. I guess Jerry Moriarity has a big collection of print.

* there was a lot of storytelling at this show. Like on Friday night, when all the "olds" anchored themselves at a bar table, there was a good 35 minutes of weird anecdotes from the CBLDF cruise. Hell, I heard more Dallas Fantasy Fair stories in the last 72 hours than I've ever heard in my life.

* what else really quickly...? The Ignatzes distinguished themselves with three awards to Los Bros in a year where they weren't otherwise honored. It was my great pleasure to talk about Richard Thompson for a brief time after they gave him a special award, and the giving of that award was also something that was nice about that program.

* it seemed like -- seemed like, I don't know -- that there was a lot of smart press activity being done by folks that were taking people off to the side for interviews and such. I think we could see a slight shake up in the next six months in terms of what's out there in terms of comics media coverage.

* the show was nice. Nice, nice, nice. After 14 months of super-bummer news, comics really needed some of that nice.

* to wrap things up for this brief reaction, I was greatly encouraged to see how much attention Los Bros Hernandez received. They had a long enough line that a friend of mine put someone in his place, went up to his room for an errand, and then came back with more than enough time to spare before he got to the front. It was my great pleasure to do a little bit of hanging out with Jaime and Gilbert on Sunday night, and they seemed really pleased by the attention and how many books and pieces of art were moved.

* I am perfectly willing to apply the "were Los Bros happy?" standard to any show out there, and by that one and a lot of others, it looked like this one really worked.

* BCGF, NYCC, you're up.
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

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