Monday, September 28, 2009

SPX 2009 and the Indy Comic Book Week 12-30-2009

The Small Press Expo was held September 26-27 this year at the Marriott Hotel in beautiful downtown Bethesda and as usual there was a terrific collection of Indy talent on hand, selling their books to an appreciative crowd of comic book fans that are not necessarily beholden to the big company output of Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse.

Here there are comics produced by artists that can range in presentation anywhere from xeroxed, cut and stapled zine format to beautiful handcrafted works of art to fatory produced bookstore editions. The largest publishers on hand were the likes of Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books and Adhouse.

I attended, standing behind the most recent issue of the series I created Strange Eggs, and behind the new Tumble Tap edition reprints of the Complete, Annotated Oz Squad. I also had a sampling of my previous work, including issues of Oz Squad, The Strange Eggs Graphic Novel, and Peeny-Boy mini-comics.

It was a long, fun weekend, and I met many interesting comic book fans and creators.

The Saturday night post Ignatz Award party was a crowded, drunken revelry, the discovery of a Taiwanese restaurant with the most delicious oyster pancakes and battered flounder was a real treat, and the simple act of hanging out with my friends Chris Reilly and Dave Ray was just fun.

One thing I did at his show, which is very different than anything I had done before, was visit each and every table, and try to make contact with each and every creator, and hand them a flier and give them a pitch for an event called "Indy Comic Book Week." The ICBW is the brainstorm of Vinh-Luan Luu, who realized that on December 30, 2009, the Wednesday after Christmas, Diamond Comics Distribution, in an effort to cut costs and save money, will not be shipping any new product to any of the thousands of stores world wide that depend on them for delivery. For one week, when you walk into a comic book store, with a pocket full of holiday cash and gift cards saying to your friendly comic book store proprietor, 'What's new?" the answer will be, "Nothing," unless the forces of the indy comic book world can organize to fill the shelves of receptive retailers with new product.

The idea is simple.

Retailers will have empty shelves to fill. The big companies will have nothing new to present. Customers will have money to spend. Kids will be home from college. And Indy Comic Book Week will step in to fill those shelves with he kind of interesting, new and different books that might be completely missed in the wake of some new "company-wide" zombies event or new Vertigo imprint launch.

The website for Indy Comic Book week is looking to pair retailers with creators, bypassing the near monopoly Diamond Comics has on distribution, and claiming one week for small, feisty, independent and original comics. Check out the site, download the fliers, and distribute them to retailers, small press creators, and any fans who might be interested in making this a real, vibrant event in the comics community.

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