The Small Press Expo (SPX) officially cranked up today at 2:00pm at its new location in scenic Rockville, MD. Despite my earlier grousing about the new hotel’s location, the large conference hall area in which the Expo took place is admittedly much nicer than the labyrinthine multi-room layout of the old Comfort Inn location. Gone are those weird “dunce rooms” where a handfull of tables of then-perpetually ignored exhibitors always used to wind up, and in its place is a big, well lit, caverous exhibit hall
The general feel I got from most exhibitors was that there was a better than expected crowd, and the room appeared to be pretty steady crowd-wise from opening to close at 8:00pm—except of course for the area I’m in, which was apparently built on a MicMac burial ground a la Steven King. It’s hard to say, though, whether this impression of Friday attendence is maybe skewed a bit high, since—unlike at previous SPXs—one can see every guest in one view, rather than seeing just the few folks that happen to be in one particular room at a time. I wish I kept better records of dollar amounts from past events to compare it to, but I think I did better today dollar-wise than last SPX (although I have a new book this year, which I didn’t last year).
Speaking of which, there doesn’t seem to be a real “buzz book” that’s emerged yet. I’ve seen a good number of folks with D&Q’s Moomin volume, which I belive debuted at the show, as well as apparently taking advantage of some “two-fer” pricing on that publisher’s pair of recent Dupuy & Berberian books.
I haven’t done any shopping yet myself, but I’ve done a bit of trading about with other cartoonists that I know and the books I’m looking most forward to reading from this initial stack are Dash Shaw’s The Mother’s Mouth, CCS student/Xeric recipient Alexis Frederick-Frost’s La Primavera, and several new J. Chris Campbell minis.
And I of course am hawking some items of my own as well. I had the book at Heroes Con, but am still selling copies of Midnight Sun #1, which wasn’t out at the time of the last SPX. Also, Wide Awake Press has released my new mini, Gravity, which can be purchased from either them or me—and the same goes for the new Wide Awake Press #666 anthology, in which I have a story. The WAP anthology, but the way, has turned out really really nicely and I would wholeheartedly recommend it even if I hadn’t a story in it. “Who’s in it?” you ask. Well, J Chris Campbell, Justin Gammon, Patrick Dean, Eleanor Davis, Rob Ullman, Andy Runton, and many many more. And also, the cover has a zombie ice cream man selling cones full of BRAINS!! Brains, I tell’s ya!
Last minute expo guest Jules Fiefer (borrowed from ICAF one assumes) gave some sort of presenation today, as did apparently Tony Millionaire, although I was at my booth for both of these events. I spotted neither of them on the convention floor, but Scott McCloud was wandering about .
After hours folks had to depart for points distant in search of decent food. The expo’s new location is particularly unsuited to convenient dining, a proposition which I had plenty of time to consider as I hiked through the surprizingly cold night air toward a supposed nearby Italian restaurant along with about a dozen other hungry folks including most of the Hellcar/Dada Detective/Likely Stories gang. On the way back we stopped by the beer store, as did apparently pretty much everyone else associated with the show; the tiny store was packed to the gills with indy cartoonist types browsing for booze, much to the astonishment of the single register worker. There was a peculiar ant trail-like line of people walking to and from this store, snaking around behind the nearby McDonalds to the convention center/hotel. A guy in a sweet Chevelle SS tried to run us over. Why does God give cool cars to jerks?
Back at the Hotel, the bar was busy but not slammed—which seemed odd, until Jackie Estrada came in and told us that there was an “official” SPX party going on in a heretofor unknown (to me anyway) subterranian area of the convention center. Down in this area there was a cash bar and some hor d’ ouvres available, but again this was not really slammed with people either. I told a few exhibitors I passed on a trip back up to my room about the SPX party and they hadn’t heard of it… I guess because (as far as I can tell) it was not listed on any of the info anywhere. I decided to kick it back to my room relatively early, but noticed on my way back up to my room at about midnight that the bar was starting to fill up a bit. There may be fun stuff going on right now, but alas, sleep calls.
A side note: there are affectations and then there are Affectations; today I saw a guy at the show wearing some of those big, clunky thick-rimmed “nerd glasses” that are so popular these days , but they didn’t even have any lenses in them.