My coworker told me about SPX last week so I decided to go after hearing about Jeff Smith, the artist of Bone, would be there!
It was quite different from what I expected. Well, I wasn't sure what I WAS expecting... I guess more like an anime con artist alley?
The main difference would be: no dealer room, only the "artist alley" area and a couple of panel discussion rooms.
There was also a contest going on that the attendees could vote on their favorite story.
The room was PACKED like you would expect of a "dealer room", but of course people were piled up to see artists and publishers, big and small. It was also kind of strange for *me* because I rarely saw anyone selling prints. Given, that its CALLED "small-press-expo" so it would be mostly stuff people publish themselves instead of stuff like art prints and the like. There were poster prints (very nice silk-screen ones too!) along with some people having t-shirts, plushes, some small 1" pins here and there. But the majority of the people all had a story they were trying to share.
Its really impressive seeing all those people doing (mostly) COMICS. As for an anime con, its mostly illustrations, trinkets, etc. It really makes me wish that there would be more doujin circles in the US. Hell, it even made me want to start doing comics again (even tho I can bet 99% that my lazy ass wont go and actually do them).
Besides going to see Jeff Smith to sign a book (which cost a "Donation" of $10 that limits to only 2 signatures, which I did pay but ticks me off about the limitation of signature part. Dude, thats no donation, just say it as it is, a FEE!), I was surprised to recognize one of the artists who I've seen at northern-east-coast anime conventions. She does awesome mini-comics and also very lovely small poster prints (>.< I always forget her name)!
I was also surprised by three things I saw there:
1- a doujin of Nights (the sega game)
2- two volumes of Moomin stories
3- the book "Sticky" being displayed on a table next to a big bald guy with his big not-bald friends with more very homosexual porn-comics.
Ok, first of all, I didn't get to pick up the Nights comic so I can't tell you what thats about. Secondly, Moomin Valley was an animation I grew up watching. I don't remember what happens in it, so I'm glad I can pick up the comic and find out again. Thirdly about "Sticky", one of my friends was offered to draw the sequel to "Sticky" at one point (I'm not sure if she ever did finish it), and in case I haven't made myself clear, its a very gay comicbook. Literally. And NO IT IS NOT YAOI. It is hairy lumberjacks and firefighters in NOT-manga style, having butt sex. I'm not offended by it, but I guess I've just never thought about it so I was surprised to see people representing and being so proud of it (which I'm not saying its a bad thing, its just not something I would be interested in).
OK, back to about the showroom area:
The majority of tables I ended up stopping at are ones with very creative covers for their comic or mini-comic. There was one with a pair of real fake-mustaches on the cover and it was a guide to many different uses of a fake-mustache (like giving you thicker eyebrows). Other books were *beautiful* bound comics, big and small. Some silk-screened, some were printed with large-format printer and accordion folded and wrapped in vellum. The saying goes "dont judge a book by its cover", but I cant help but noticing only the ones with creative looking covers. Some were not even "books" at all, like a printed brown paper bag that was labeled "trade paper bag". I really wish I can somehow find a way to display these little books (since I couldn't afford to pay the big books).
I also got to talk to a few very interesting artist; one whom drew a pirate octopus and a zombie for me; and another whom I got into a geeky discussion of tablet PCs and she let me try out the one she had and now I really want one.
At the end of the day, I went to the Jeff Smith Q&A session. To summarize it: Jeff Smith does not like manga (other than Akira and Nausicaa); Jeff Smith have a new sci-fi story coming up that is about art thief that can go to different dimensions and steal expensive artwork back to his own world for collectors; Jeff Smith is going to come out with a sequel to Rose. Teh end.
Another thing I would like to mention is that it has been a while that I attended an event as a 'normal person', and not sell stuff. Its rather fun, but I seem to have finish walking around and bored very quickly (after 3-4 hours).
As a normal person I also would like to mention that item display at SPX is very different from Anime Cons. Everything is flat, or leaning on a book display, with a "sample" copy up top and a stack of the new book underneath. There were not many pipe-work backdrop displays, and they only show the name or logo of the artist, and NOT stuff for sale. There were very very little amount of buttons, and they are all original characters, none of the crap I do (lol). Every inch of space was filled up with books and artwork, you cant even see the table cloth!
I have decided that there really is no need for having a pipe backdrop to display artwork, nor logo and name, because NO ONE WILL SEE IT. Everyone just look at the table, rarely look up unless to talk to the artists. There is no point! I really am going to rethink about how I display my artist alley table from now on!
SPX was excellent, even if i only spent about 4 hours there. Anyone in the Washington area should go!
*edit: I'll post crappy pictures later, my camera was running low on battery)*