BY JEN VAUGHN – These photos are photos that SHOULD be out on the internet somewhere instead of sitting on my phone. Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, and Charles Burns are all fantastic and so very polite, but take a peak at the cartoonists and talent (younger and not as polite) who show up at SPX year after year regardless of awards or new books. They are all very polite, I’m just kidding.

The show went amazingly wall thanks to the giant team of volunteers, Warren Bernard, Michael David Thomas and countless others who were busy helping all of us. My favorite part was probably those foldable trashcans put in the booths. A small touch but loads nicer than seeing plastic bags full of coffee cups and banana peels laying on the ground JUST WAITING to be plotzed on. The Friday night party was hoppin’ at the Marriott thanks to free food and Mark Newgarden‘s animation extravaganza. Here I am sandwiched inbetween a guy I work for now and a guy I used to work for, Jeremy Whitley of Action Lab Comics and Brett Warnock of Top Shelf respectively. (P.S. THAT is the dress Chris Ware said he liked. Thank you, Etsy)

Boston’s Ming Doyle and New York’s TJ Kirsch pose for a moment (both artists have worked with writer Kevin Church AND both have nice hair). Given how busy the booths were and being on a panel, I regrettably only made it down about 2.5 aisles.

SPX is oddly located between New York and nothing. There are some local artists but the organizers, volunteers and attendees are truly excited to see the new books. All of these people met on the internet and are now all friends!

Speaking from a slightly biased point of view, the Center for Cartoon Studies is always kickin’ out new comics and cartoonists like the damn place breeds them. Manning down the CCS table is a fun privilege and it is interesting to see the students and alum radiate out around it with more tables and better books each year at SPX. Second year student Sasha Steinberg and I stop gabbin’ for a sec.

WHAT was I just saying?! CCS people are all over this con. Lucy Knisley tried to sneak around SPX and quietly buy comics but friends and fans kept finding her. Lucy’s book, Relish, is coming out from First Second soon and my mouth is watering.

The Ignatz Awards were great and not too long (even better). Corinne Mucha won an award for her The Monkey in the Basement and Other Stories put out by Box Brown’s Retrofit comics. Corinne’s been a favorite of mine since she designed that Microcosm catalog cover (remember the pinkish one with the yardsale?) but forgot to put her name on it. If you haven’t seen her newest mini, “It Doesn’t Exist” then holy crumb, COMMAND + T on this link now.

Award presenter Christopher “Dr. McNinja” Hastings and Kel “Sorcery 101” McDonald drink after the Ignatz awards. Someone else mentioned this online but I truly felt a rift between the ‘comics’ and ‘webcomics’ creators which is a shame. Or more just saw people clumping together in the most familiar groups. Here’s to next year and introducing yourself to FIVE people you don’t know.

It’s routinely said that SPX is like a family reunion because we’re all stuck in the hotel together and I suppose as each successive generation reaches (or nearly) drinking age, then maybe it is exactly like a family reunion. Luckily, there aren’t any pervy uncles here, to my knowledge. Was it me or did the drink tickets start rolling out WAAAY late this year? I’m happy they exist and we get free drinks but man, you feel like you have to break a wine glass for drama’s sake with prices that high. Anyway, cartoonist Nathan Schreiber left his artist residency in Angouleme, France to join the fun!

Sunday started with a BANG! and the beautiful Whole Foods’ buffet with Boston’s Jesse Lonergan. It’s a new store so it wasn’t overrun with people, Brian Ralph and John Porcellino found it too. Next year, leave the Marriott and walk towards McDonald’s across from the Metro station but cut through their parking lot/drive-thru section and walk two blocks. Jesse and I will already be there but we promise to leave you some bacon and breakfast burritos.

Did I mention Corinne Mucha’s It Doesn’t Exist? This was her near-matching shirt. GO BUY IT. Antiquated inventions find a home with extinct animals, what else do you need to know?!

Speaking of awards, this table was lousy with them. The gent in the middle is Dakota McFadzean, a winner the Gene Day Award for Small Publishers of the Joe Shuster awards this year AND he has a comic in the Best American Comics 2012 edited by Francoise Mouly. Pat Barrett and Beth Hetland expertly flank Dakota. You know, it’s Sunday because you can see coffeecoffeecoffee in hand.

Finally, a cartoonist who draws himself as cute as he actually is, David Yoder! Interestingly, a graduate of both SCAD and CCS.

Around mid-day on Sunday, people were selling out of comics. A horrible fate and one that could/should/let’s hope happens again. John Green, artist of TEENBOAT! from Clarion happily sat and offered to sell pages from this YA favorite.

An example of sold out tables: look to the left of Jennifer Hayden (cartoonist of UNDERWIRE by Top Shelf). Just empty! And a #PROTIP: if you give/trade/sell your comic to someone you admire, always always take a picture.

The Nerdlingers appeared mysteriously on tables this year. I hear they are looking for a new cartoonist to emcee the event at Atomic Books so you should email them! Jen Tong won one for her screenprinted comics with “17+ Passes”. How gorgeous are they?! Beth Hetland won one as well, as a comics instruction at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago I’m sure her bosses are impressed.

SPX darling, Noah Van Sciver drew the label for the Nerdlinger award this year. CAPITAL!

And finally, I stopped by Action Lab to talk to writer Jeremy Whitley and get my photo taken next to Adrienne and Sparky of the Princeless comic.

Monday morning and THESE two guys are the most photogenic? Remember to hydrate next year! Noah Van Sciver and Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter hang tough.

These are the goods I managed to pick up, a meager amount but some great comics!

The trip home went well aside from all the creeps on the plane. See you next year!

Jen Vaughn is a cartoonist and marketing coordinator at Fantagraphics. She enjoys drawing and eating nachos though the two are hard to do at the same time. It isn’t a comics show until you’ve Instagramed something. Much love to Caitlin McGurk, librarian at OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. We kept each other sane at the Schulz Library in Vermont.



  1. “SPX is oddly located between New York and nothing. There are some local artists but the organizers, volunteers and attendees are truly excited to see the new books.”

    Ah, the joys of being part of the DC comics scene. No respect, I tells ya, no respect at all. :)

  2. Ha! There are a lot of local cartoonists, you know I sass! The volunteers and attendees were actually riding that Baltimore Comic Con high. Energy was just SPIKING.

    Everything in my mind is compared to Boston and how close it is to everything.

  3. Alright, next year you guys are hosting a party at the hotel. Or maybe you do and I’m not cool enough to be invited.

  4. Discovered that Whole Foods on a Friday evening stroll, and was part of the Sunday morning buffet crowd. I worried that it might not be open that early, but the place was crawling with cartoonists; sweet!

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