A few quick, quick SPX notes

We’re busy writing up our official SPX report for tomorrow’s PWCW, but a very few quick notes:

The show was generally speaking, a big success; everyone was having fun and selling books and talking about making comics. Future Mr. Beat — an indie show near-virgin — had a telling comment, comparing it to last week’s Baltimore Comic-Con (which was also fun). He pointed out that at Baltimore, as you walked through Artist’s Alley, there would inevitably be people sitting there all by themselves with that puppy dog look of desperation, trying to sell their books. At SPX, by contrast, everyone was busy and happy, whether selling to the eager crowd or checking out each other’s work. It was just an engaging, lively place to be.

That observation was dead-on: SPX is full of so much enthusiasm, joy, and talent. It brings a tear to the eye, it does. It’s also, as always, a chance to watch the changing of the guard. This year’s Saturday/Sunday timeframe, a change from the Friday-Saturday of years past, was a selling success and all of us old-timers who liked the idea of Sunday as a Summit and picnic/softball game realized that pining for that was useless. That was 10 years ago, fer cryin’ out loud — we might as well yearn for grunge and Pets.com. And the kids of today have their own bonding SPX rituals: the Nerdlinger Awards and Saturday night’s karaoke fest, which was stinky and loud and chaotically groovy. (Above photo from Brian Heater’s Flickr stream captures the mayhem (although not the madness of the group “Yellow Submarine” singalong.)

The show also had Joost Swarte and Kramers Ergot #7 and all the things that push the needle artistically. Jog also caught the vibe:
Now it’s like a city. A small city, but still something you can’t cover in its entirety. The population has bunched up into closer, self-sufficient groups, which is as natural as a city gets. I know its contours, and its basic layout, but I couldn’t name every cheese shop or hairdresser. And there’s no need to, really – I know the places I like, and I know how to find other places, and there’s enough transportation by communication to keep the place lit. It’s even gotten so there’s cleaner borders with other (sub)cultural municipalities, like Anime City, which is where I go to buy meth away from the eyes of my family.

For pictures, check out the link above and doubtless many more to come. In closing many thanks to the road trip crew of Jah Furry, Brian Heater and Ben McCool for laughing all the way. Thanks also to Laura Hudson, Jimmy Aquino, Calvin Reid, Greg Bennett, Van Jensen, Jill Friedman, and Bill K. for help of various types.

Tom Spurgeon saves comics

The Comics Reporter has a list of “If I Were The Emperor of Comics: Two Dozen Things I’d Decree To Make Comics Better,” none of which we’d disagree with outright, few of which any responsible comics observer could disagree with, although some of the business suggestions would get a fight. As we head into the Cormac McCarthy model of a world economy, making cave drawings to amuse ourselves may be the only thing we have, so all this may be moot; however, we’d add another one:

#26: Make POS systems of some kind universal in comics shops.
I vividly remember walking into LA’s Meltdown Comics for the first time in many years or so and being amazed at its size and vibrancy, as owner Gaston Dominguez-Letelier ran us through the wide variety of items that sold well in his store. I asked about what he thought of using a point-of-sales system to track sales and he just smiled. “I’ve had POS for 10 years,” he said. Accurate sales information, via computerized inventory tracking, as Brian Hibbs has been telling us, is not only a way to save money but to gauge what readers like buying, not based on prior prejudices of the seller but actual sales numbers. Many retailers have told us that after installing POS systems, they made unexpected discoveries about what kinds of items had the highest turnover in the store. Hint: They were not published by Marvel and DC. Diamond’s POS has been slowly rolling out as it is tweaked, but there are already good systems available, such as MOBY, which Hibbs uses. While some people rail against the direct sales market as an outmoded superhero delivery system, as many people in the book industry would attest, having a dedicated nationwide base of thousands of specialty stores is something most publishers would kill for.

We’ll have more, maybe, after today’s deadline crunch, but in the meantime, read Tom’s piece and ponder.

Gag order issued in Michael George case

More legal maneuvers in the case of Michael George, whose conviction in the killing of his wife has been sent back for a new trial: Although judge James Biernat Sr. did not remove the Macomb County Prosecutor’s office from the case, he has issued a gag order:

But Biernat instead imposed a gag order prohibiting attorneys from speaking to the media about the case, because he said he’s concerned about a tainted jury in an upcoming trial.


“The defense has presented a colorful argument,” Biernat said. “However, the court finds that given the present status (of the case) with the Court of Appeals, it would be inappropriate.”

Ignatz winners: Best Debut Comic

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Apparently all the Ignatz winner lists out there have left off the Debut Prize winner, probably because the nominees weren’t part of the original press release. At any rate, the winner was Nate Powell’s SWALLOW ME WHOLE (Top Shelf.)

Congrats to all the very deserving winners.

News briefs

§ ICv2 has the most information yet on Fred Pierce leaving Wizard:

Gareb Shamus, founder and Chairman of the Board of Wizard Entertainment, told ICv2 that “the parting was amicable, and we wish Fred well in his new endeavors.” Shamus indicated to ICv2 that he is open to the idea of filling the position held by Pierce, but has no plans to do so at this time.

According to the piece, Shamus is more involved and sees “great things ahead” for Wizard.

§ Rivkah has more on publihsing and payments and the realities of the world::

In no way do I believe that the principals and pay that should be applied to a major, potentially global endeavor should be applied to the grassroots press or small publisher, and I want that to be absolutely clear. For two years I helped run a publishing company putting out fiction novels from non-agented, beginning writers. We paid 10%-14% on gross sales (that’s gross, not net), put no holds against returns, held no “costs” or “administration fees” against the writer, and paid bi-annually so that writers were getting paid within six months of publication with a thorough summary of what sold where for how much. And we had a damn good grassroots free marketing campaign. Not once did we pay an advance.

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§ Best Week ever presents a fumetti with Paul Pope and clothing:

§ Vulture responds to Tom Spurgeon with Ten Oddball Things Your Comics Collection Truly Needs:

1. Anything by Rob Liefeld.
The artist may be the laughingstock of the comics industry, but his hilariously awful drawings of hysterical ponytailed men with extraordinarily improbable anatomy, an abundance of shoulder pads and pouches, and machine guns the size of Buicks define an entire era of superhero comics.

§ Finally, hours and hours of fun: Google in 2001.

The weekend: Mid-Ohio, Brum Con

Quite a busy weekend for comics-related group activities: FallCon, Mid-Ohio, and the Birmingham International Comics Show all took place, in addition to SPX.

§ In the UK, this year’s BICS sounds like it was bigger than ever:

About 3,000 fans, artists, writers, publishers and comic dealers were treated to exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops and discussions involving some of the comic world’s greatest names.

Co-organiser James Hodgkins said: “It’s getting bigger every year. We’ve got a great guest list. A bigger theatre and more exhibitors than before.”

He added that the show is now established as a part of the national comic industry calendar.

Biggest draws included a theatre presentation by leading British artist Dave Gibbons whose Watchman pipped Japanese classic Akira to be voted the greatest graphic novel of all time by convention goers.

Based on various emails, Twitters, and text message received by Future Mr. Beat, it also seems that great deals of alcohol were consumed at the show. Tony Lee has more on the show as a whole, not just the drinking.

§ As for Mid-Ohio, moved to the early October time slot by new owners after a long run as the post-Thanksgiving con, it went well, Mark Evanier reports:

Everyone seems to have had a good time at this year’s Mid-Ohio Con here in Columbus, Ohio…which is where I’m blogging from as we speak. This has always been one of the friendliest comic/s-f/media conventions around and its new proprietors are continuing that tradition. I didn’t hear a bit of industry news here — it’s not that kind of convention — but I sure got to see and talk with a lot of great people…especially yesterday when I interviewed the great Joe Kubert for an hour. Joe has been drawing comics since John McCain was in knee pants and it’s warming to hear that he still enjoys doing it. I did Joe the great favor of not giving him the big hug and a kiss that Sergio sent for him.

Lurid.com has a Mid-Ohio Con photo gallery, most centered around artist P. Craig Russell, such as the above shot of him and Chris Claremont.

§ Meanwhile, FallCon was also fun, based on a few online reports we glanced at. We randomly chose Matt Schuler’s blog to quote, and he got his picture taken with Alex Niño.

Fall-con is finished, and it was another fun one to attend. I got to meet a ton of new people, and got to catch up with some that I have talked to before. One of the ‘great’ moments of the convention was the talk I had with Alex Nino, who is pictured above.

Monday, Monday

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“And…here our troubles began…”

Photo by Brian Heater. Soon after this photo was taken, one man involved was battling explosive diarrhea, another was nauseous, and yet a third had a Cúchulainn-like gout of blood spurting from his nose. We have to give a call-out to Jah Furry’s cat-like survival instincts: after a bite or two of a biscuit, the techniques taught him by an ancient Navajo shaman kicked in, warning him that to finish it would mean total incapacitation for at least 18 hours, as well as chronic dropsy for the rest of his natural life. The Beat? The Beat is okay because we had stuck with an actual Waffle, which had a seemingly lower lard content than anything else on the menu. We don’t know how you people live, we really don’t.

Anyway, aside from the Waffle House disaster, our trip to SPX was fine and dandy. Many comics purchased, many old friends seen, much news exchanged, many songs sung. More in the next post!

But before we do, welcome aboard to the new Beat Intern, Aaron Humphrey, who lives on the other side of the world in Australia, but is doing our events calendar to get warmed up before he does great things for the world.

To do: October 6 – 11

Monday, October 6
Washington, D.C., 5 PM“Happy Accidents” Panel at George Washington University’s Gelman Library

Cartoonists Jesse Reklaw (THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE), Dash Shaw (BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON), Trevor Alixopulos (THE HOT BREATH OF WAR), Ken Dahl (WELCOME TO THE DAHL HOUSE), and Sarah Edward-Corbett (SEE-SAW) will join a reading and panel discussion titled “Happy Accidents,” about contemporary themes and issues in graphic novels. The event is free and open to the public. Photo ID is required to enter the library.

Monday, October 6
New York, NY, 6:30 PMDojinshi with Dan Pink at the Japanese Society


Dan Pink, author of the business-by-manga guide THE ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY BUNKO (above), will discuss the world of dojinshi, and explain why the amateur manga artists who remix and repurpose popular titles into new creations are actually helping the Japanese manga industry. Tickets are $5 – $10 and are available online.

Thursday, October 9
New York, NY, 7 PM – lateComic Foundry Release Party


Comic Foundry editors Tim Leong and Laura Hudson celebrate the release of the magazine’s fourth issue with a party at The Irish Rogue on 356 W 44th St. Free copies of the new issue to the first 50 guests to arrive.

Saturday, October 11
San Francisco, CA from 1 – 3 PMMike Gray at The Cartoon Art Museum


Award-winning cartoonist Mike Gray, creator of THOM CAT, (which will air on Nickelodeon in December 2008 as part of the Random Cartoons series) will appear at the Cartoon Art Museum as part of its ongoing Cartoonist-in-Residence program. Visitors will have the chance to see Mr. Gray at work, watch his cartoons, chat with him about cartooning, and get a free sketch. Free and open to the public.

Saturday, October 11
San Francisco, CA from 6:30 – 10 PMGame Over: Art of the Gamer Generation opening reception at Giant Robot


Giant Robot presents a group show that pays homage to the massive influence and continuous evolution of videogames. The impact and inspiration of videogames will be represented through a wide assortment of styles and genres provided by top artists in the fields of illustration, painting, sewing, and indie comics.

Saturday, October 11
Chicago, IL from 7 – 8 PMRelease Signing for THE HOT BREATH OF WAR at Quimby’s Bookstore


To celebrate the release of Trevor Alixopulos’ 2008 Ignatz Award-nominated graphic novel, THE HOT BREATH OF WAR, by Sparkplug Comic Books, Alixopulos and fellow 2008 Ignatz Awards nominees Laura Park and Jeremy Onsmith will be signing comics at Quimby’s Bookstore.

Posted by Aaron Humphrey