A week ago I was at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD. While there I spent an unfortunate amount of money on things. Bear in mind, I was unfamiliar with most of what was available at this show. As the name implies the artists and creators represented at this event were not big names in the world of comics. Many were self-published and relied on their online presence to promote their work. I can’t say I’m too plugged into the online comics world. As a result, what I bought was based on what I saw at the event.
As I mentioned when recalling my experience at the Baltimore Comic Convention a month ago I have somewhat specific tastes when it comes to what I buy. I like ridiculous things. I like art that skews more towards the abstract in style. I like things that are science fiction or fantasy based. Generally, these things were not to be found at the Small Press Expo. The majority of small press works are more memoir-like slice-of-life work that can often relies on humor (but the more one leans on humor the less respected they’ll be.) I’m not knocking what these artists and writers produce; I’m just saying that most of what they produce has little appeal to me.
So what did appeal to me?
First, I ran across The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys. I met these guys at their table at the Monster Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill, NJ earlier this year. I bought their book Scary Tales of Scariness, which was alright (I’d only gotten around the reading it a month ago). I figured “hey, I know these guys! I may as well support their work.” They were also promoting/selling a series of books about Bad-ass Faeries, anthologies that told unique tales of fairies they had contributed to. So I bought a copy (and had it signed; I know that I talked about how I don’t understand having people sign things but it makes things awkward if you tell someone “no! don’t sign it” right after buying their work.)
I bought two prints at the show. The first was one was a piece titled Three Wiser Monkeys by Obsidian. It’s an illustration accompanied by the following caption: “Speak no evil. See no evil. Awesome poop fight.” You can probably figure it out from there. 😮
I bought a print for a couple of friends of mine, both Dr. Who fans, who recently had a daughter. It’s titled Dalek Parenting by Sarah Martinez who works for Interrobang Studios.
In college I was in a Storyellers’ Club, which was probably my best experience during those years, and I’ve always carried that with me (in fact, the friend I brought along to this event was someone I met in the Storytellers’ Club.) I was perhaps a little pretentious in my approach and as a result I specialized in telling Native American folklore. As such, I was drawn to the book Trickster: Native American Tales by Fulcrum Publishing. Of course, with Native American folklore there’s always the possibility of raccoons appearing. I’m happy to report that one of the stories, Azban & the Crayfish, is about a raccoon!
I also saw an art book promoting a fantasy/sci-fi web series titled Dresden Codak. Apparently my friend was familiar with the title but I’d never heard of it. I bought the book that was available, a primer on the series, and need to remember to read it online at some point. Yes, one could levy the complaint that the art is too “anime-like,” the way many online comics are, but I find that with fantasy and sci-fi–which this artist has a nice deco style to–it works really well.
At the same table were these metal stop sign shaped signs that read “POOP.” I couldn’t resist.
Along those lines I bought issue #1 of Man-Gull from Stock*Pile comics. The tagline was “Strong enough to rip the arms off a man, smart enough to use them.” Yes, it’s as wonderfully ridiculous as it sounds.
Finally, I bought a “preview” (I remember when these were called “ashcans”) of a comic titled Princeless from Action Lab Entertainment. Yes, I know it looks “girly” but I’ve been working on a story about a princess going out on her own for … oh, my God it’s been that long, has it? Anyway, it’s apparently a theme I’m interested in. Also, kudos to them for making the princess black. Sadly, being so small press, I doubt they stand a chance of reaching the audience they’d like to get.
And that’s it for what I bought. All told, I’ve added a bit more to that intimidating pile of books waiting to be read. At least I supported a bunch of people doing what I wish I had the ability to do in the process.