Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SPX! 2009

I'm still recovering. This year's SPX was incredible. A ton of stuff was going on, so let me break it down to several bites.

Bite #1 Debuted the anthology I put together, Pinstriped Bloodbath. I was still putting the book together the day before we left, and luckily it all worked out famously. The book was there in all it's blood splattered glory and got tons of high praise and thumb-throughs.

Bite #2 Drove there instead of flying. To keep costs low, we took the plunge and drove the 11 hours from Chicago to Bethesda. Joining us on our challenge were two other Pinstriped Bloodbath contributors, Neil Brideau and Sam Sharpe. I'd never met Sam before, and had never spent 11 consecutive hours with Neil, but we tried it out anyway. With my brother, Adam riding shotgun, we took off early on Friday morning. Comic talk started early and lasted the whole trip up till that last couple of hours on the return drive when no one could stay awake. Learned lots of cool stuff about Neil and Sam and had a blast sharing conversation and stopping at nice roadside toilets to smash pennies. I don't get the chance to socialize much with other cartoonists, so this was really nice, and I plan and making more of a habit of it.

Bite #3 We drove all day to arrive at the pre-show party at Atomic Books in Baltimore. Due to our borrowed GPS system playing some mean pranks on us, we didn't arrive in Baltimore till well after the festivities started. Still, we hung out and perused the wares at Atomic, and mingled among the other hipsters. Atomic is a store that's carried Burning Building Comix for a long time, so it was great to see the store and to thank the owners for supporting me and my work. Atomic Books is a great looking store with lots of cool products, and anyone in the area simply must stop by.

Bite #4 Finally made our way to the hotel to collapse. Again to save cash, I avoided the Show hotel and hit up Priceline to score a huge deal on a sweet 3 star Marriott. Sam was planning on crashing on the floor, but upon seeing the two rather large beds, my brother and I decided to let him have the one bed, and we shared the other like we once shared a womb. (We're twins.)

Bite #5 Day One, Saturday. The show started with a blast. There was a line waiting to get in, and after a bit of confusion, I did get my table. Apparently, they gave my table to somebody else, so they had to move me. Luckily, they moved me to one of the end tables at the front of the show across from the Top Shelf table. The show was crowded from the get go, and people were lined up shoulder to shoulder shuffling around the tables. That pace maintained for most of the day, and due to the move of the table, my space was extra cramped and there was really no room for either Adam or I to sit. So, we stood all day long, in between running around to check out the other comics or give away copies of Pinstriped Bloodbath.

Bite #6 I met more cool people than at any other show! I got my contributor copy of the Ancient Age Anthology from J.Chris Campbell, whom I'd met before, but Chris was so awesome chatting me up and sending people to my table to check out my comics. The Ancient Age copy I got from him looks incredible, as is to be expected from Wide Awake Press and I had to pick up his other fantastic looking anthologies, Fluke and Wide Awake 666. J.Chris was only the beginning though, as I got to meet even more Pinstriped Contributors: Nate Beaty, and Josh Cotter! Both guys were incredibly nice and enthusiastic about the book and I had a great time talking to both, and picked up their great looking books, Brain Fag, and Driven by Lemons.

Bite #7 Got to meet even more people! Indie Spinner Rack hosts Mr.Phil and Charlito were in attendance and I was not going to let the show end before meeting them. Happily, Mr.Phil stopped by after talking to J.Chris and we chatted about ISR and SPX. Mr. Phil was AWESOME, and made sure to send over Charlito. Charlie was just as energized and enthusiastic as he is on the show, and we talked a good long while about comics and Podcasts. He heaped praise on my comics and Pinstriped, and just oozed warmth and positivity. They both stopped by on Sunday before they left to chat more and say goodbye. Got a hug from Charlito and can't wait to see those guys again.

Bite #8 Got to meet even more incredible people! So many artists and attendees. So many nice people came by to say nice things about either Burning Building Comix, or Pinstriped Bloodbath. Some saying they bought all their issues of BBC at Jim Hanley's Universe, some showing their friends the books and explaining how it worked, and some seeing it for the first time. I traded for a bunch of great looking mini's from other attendees and CCS (Center for Cartoon Studies) students. I had people who bought my comics as gifts and received them as gifts. People who read about them in reviews or who had been taught them by their teachers! (Matt Madden!) Incredible!

Bite #9 Dinner, The Ignatz Awards, and the after-show party. After the show, Adam, Sam, and I toured around Bethesda for awhile before settling on Chinese food. The stone lions outside looked like the place might be too expensive, but it wasn't! We enjoyed Pineapple chicken and more discussion and then headed back for the Ignatz awards. Liz Baillie hosted, and did a fine job, and many deserving bricks were hurled at talented folks. Then, the after-show party with booze tickets and Chocolate Fondue. Guess what? I met even more cool people. Even saw yet another Pinstriped contributor, Neil Fitzpatrick, and his buddy and talented artist in his own right, Justin Madson. We had a grand time listening to Neil complain on all matter of things while drinking all the free beers he could manage, and even contemplated a Bus for next year considering all the Chicago people in attendance. We hung out for a while but I had to call it a little early to work on a project. The esteemed Jeff Brown let me draw a sketch in a sketchbook he's working on revolving around the theme of the first X-men comic he bought. I didn't want to hang on to the the book too long, so I worked on it back in the hotel while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Bite #10 Due to having to stand all day and not consuming liquids, I awoke in the middle of the night with an excruciating Charlie Horse. It felt like my calf muscle was being torn from my bone and I awoke screeching like a stuck pig. Adam told me to shut up, and Sam thought I suffered from Night Terrors. A couple of hours later, Adam woke up screaming with a matching Charlie Horse in his leg. Comics is a tough biz.

Bite #11 Day Two, Sunday. Sunday was not as busy and I think as a result...Cold. Had to don the sweater the whole day, but did manage to get a compliment on it. Sunday was filled with more of the same great stuff. I had more time to check out all the cool stuff for sale that I couldn't afford. There was really too much stuff to mention here, I think more so than in previous years. Got to finally meet Top Shelf dude, Leigh Walton, who was great, and has helped me out by putting the full color version of Burning Building Comix on Top Shelf's 2.0 website. Got my copy of Life Meter 3, which features one of my comics! Life Meter is a video game anthology put together by Dave Roman. I contributed a comic on Waluigi from Mario Kart. It's the first time I was able to have a comic printed in color and it came out great. The whole anthology is quite handsome, and I'm so proud to be a part of it, especially since the profits go to charity.

Bite #12 The drive home. Well, when all was done, we packed it up and headed out for the long drive home. Adam had to work on Monday, so we left straight after and drove all night long. The guys were good enough to stay awake as long as they could talking comics to keep me from falling asleep and killing us all. Everyone had a great time and had great sales. About 5:30am, we gave our goodbyes and headed for our respective homes to get some damn sleep.

Bite #13 As if all of this wasn't enough, Neil Brideau calls me later, and asks if I want to join him Monday to meet Alec Longstreth. I've exchanged comics with Alec in the mail, but hadn't had the chance to meet him. I met them down at Earwax, in Chicago and hung out for a hour or so. Alec is the creator of Phase 7, a great mini-comic, and an all around great comics personality. I gave Alec Pinstriped Bloodbath, and we talked comics. Later, Aaron Renier showed up. Aaron did the great book, Spiral-Bound for Top Shelf. He lives in Chicago now, and I hadn't had the chance to meet him yet either. He was super cool, and recognized Burning Building Comix. I had to cut the visit short to work on a podcast with Adam, but had a great time.

Final Bite. SPX 2009 was probably the most fun I've had at a con, and probably the most successful. Thanks to everyone who bought books, traded, met, reacquainted, or just had kind words to say. Extra special thanks to Neil Brideau and Sam Sharpe for sharing the ride, and being great guys. Extra extra special thanks to my brother Adam, for helping me get ready for the show and then all the help during. It would have been much harder and near impossible without his help. Lots more to talk about, just not now. I'm too tired.

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