Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SPACE 2015 Report

Pics from the behind-the-scenes Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum tour: 


My SPACE 2015 weekend began on Friday afternoon when I met Copy This! publisher D. Blake Werts and fellow North Carolinian cartoonists Tom Davidson and Joseph Tenney (both so talented and they LOVE comics) at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum for a behind-the-scenes tour. While waiting for the NC contingent to arrive, I met Chris Nicholas, founder of the STAPLE! Independent Media Expo in Austin.

As expected, the tour given by curator Caitlin McGurk was amazing - it's the largest repository of cartoon art in the world! Along the way we saw an original Winsor McCay, the first and last Calvin and Hobbes strips, comics Art Spiegleman drew and published at the age of 15 and Milton Caniff's life mask, created by his letterer, Shel Dorf! In the permanent exhibition on the second floor, we drooled over originals by Caniff, Hal Foster, Jack Kirby and Charles Schulz and got a glimpse of the "Seeing the Great War" WWI exhibit due to open soon at Billy Ireland.

After a short stop at FedEx Kinkos, where I desperately attempted to print out all the parts I
would need to create hand-crafted little Quacky Pig hardbound books at SPACE, all four of us went to Ying’s Teahouse & Yum-Yum for dinner, and had a great time. The conversation ranged from the best Kirby inker to Guy Maddin movies and '70s blacklight posters.

From there, it was a short walk to The Laughing Ogre's pre-SPACE party, which was already hopping. As if the evening couldn't get better, Blake gifted me with a stack of beautiful Westminster LPs, a classical music label I collect. Blake is amazing! Also at the party: cartoonists J.M. Hunter, just arrived in town, Bruce Rosenberger and Steve Hager of Dutchy Digest, Nix Comics' Ken Eppstein, and too many more talented people to list!

The new SPACE venue, the Northland Performing Arts Center, was a little off the beaten track and as Mary and I drove in Saturday morning, I was concerned it'd be hard for customers to find. The amount of customers increased as the weekend went on, however, and I think Sunday might have been busier than Saturday. The space inside, though, was huge, with lots of walking room between aisles and a second room of cartoonists as well - over 200 exhibitors!. Four food trucks throughout the weekend was also a nice touch and quite popular. Sharing our table was Verl and Adele Bond, from Kettering, OH. Verl's just published his second graphic novel, The Witches of Dunforge, which I lettered and colored the cover for. It's got wicked druid action and I recommend it!

The weekend was a crazy blur. The level of talent in the room was off the charts and I wish I'd had a thousand dollars to buy something from everybody there. Bruce Chrislip had printers proofs of his new book, The Minicomix Revolution: 1969 - 1989. He was hoping to have copies for sale at SPACE, but it just didn't happen in time. I was surprised to discover he included me in the book. I'm not worthy! I was also happy to see Straw Man creator David Branstetter there, Kel Crum, Terrence Hanley (I'll be inking a story for his Five Star Comics soon), Pam Bliss (I'll be inking a story for her, too), Tom Hart, creator of Hutch Owen (he graciously signed my copies of The Sands), and Joyce Brabner! Seated directly across from us was James Moore and Joel Jackson of 2 Headed Monster Comics, who won a SPACE Prize that weekend, and Ken Eppstein with an amazing display of comics 'n rock n' roll goodness. The "I'm not worthiness" continued when Terrence gifted me with a stack of old Scholastic (Teenage Book Club) books, which I also collect. Thanks,
Terrence! Also coming in from out of town to shop was Jerry Smith of Rattletrap Comics - great to see him again - and mini comix legend Billy McKay.

The highlight of the weekend was my participation in the Spirits Of Independents Tour - 20th Anniversary panel, a discussion moderated by Jason Trimmer on Dave Sim and Gerhard's Columbus stop for their world-wide promotional tour for Cerebus and the work of other self-publishing indie cartoonists. This show was the impetus for SPACE. On the panel were Steve Peters, Max Ink, Bob Corby, founder of SPACE, Steve Snyder, founder of the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing-winning Central City Comics and myself. I brought along all the artifacts I'd collected and saved from that show twenty years ago (Paul Pope's admittance ticket, a letter from Dave Sim, minicomics, etc.). It wasn't until I was on this panel that it really sunk in how historic and important for the Columbus cartooning scene that original show had been and I was humbled - I felt like I was part of history! Bob Corby's done a phenomenal job keeping SPACE going over the years, now bigger and better than ever.

I'm ashamed to say I was so busy at the show talking I neglected to take photos. Much of my time while talking was spent putting together my Quacky Pig Nursery Rhyme Sampler books and, though time consuming to fold and glue, sold as soon as I created new ones. Customers were even checking back to find out if I had new ones made. I couldn't make them fast enough! That's a nice feeling. Mary was a huge help talking with customers as I worked on these.

My pardons for talented individuals I've neglected to mention. I'll be reading through stacks
of comics I've brought back from the show (including a copy of one of the first graphic novels, Matt Baker's "It Rhymes With Lust") and posting thoughts and notes as I go.

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