HOW WILL YOU CHOOSE? The super-excellent lineup of guests has led to an amazing lineup of spotlights and panels as always. Put together by Bill Kartalopoulos, SPX always has a diverse and thought provoking lineup and this year is no exception.

This year’s SPX will be held September 14-15 in North Bethesda, MD.

Saturday Programming
 White Oak Room

Noon – 1:00
Jeff Smith Q+A
Jeff Smith’s career as a cartoonist has enjoyed one of the broadest trajectories in the field. His self-published, black and white comic book series Bone was an all-ages bastion of the independent comics scene before becoming an enormously successful series of full-color graphic novels for younger readers from Scholastic. Since then, he has completed the science fiction series RASL and has authored a comic for early readers from TOON Books. Smith returns to his roots at SPX, and appears in conversation with Isaac Cates.
1:00 – 2:00
March Spotlight with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell
SPX is proud to host the Honorable John Lewis, the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, to mark the publication of March, the first volume of a graphic novel trilogy documenting his life and work. A leader of the Civil Rights movement, Rep. Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an architect and keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963, and has been a member of Congress since 1986. Rep. Lewis will appear with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell. In a discussion led by journalist Alex Deuben, the group will discuss the process and goals of this singular comics project.
2:00 – 3:00
Peter Bagge: Life After Hate
Peter Bagge’s Hate was one of the great, definitive comic book series of the 1990s, chronicling the epic misadventures of slacker protagonist Buddy Bradley in Bagge’s masterful, rubbery-expressionist cartooning style. Since then, Bagge has pursued an extraordinarily diverse range of interests, including journalistic comics, satirical graphic novels, and children’s comics. His latest graphic novel, Woman Rebel, is a comics biography of feminist pioneer Margaret Sanger.
3:00 – 4:00
Raina Telgemeier and Gene Yang in Conversation
The rise of comics for younger readers has been among the most striking developments in comics publishing of the past decade. Raina Telgemeier’s YA graphic novels Smile and Drama have both been New York Times Graphics Books #1 Bestsellers; Gene Yang’s YA book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award, among other honors. These two artists join us for a unique conversation about their work, moderated by journalist Chris Mautner (Robot 6).
4:00 – 5:00
Gary Panter Q+A
Legendary artist Gary Panter has transformed the face of comics as part of a career in multiple media, spanning the worlds of fine art and popular culture. His groundbreaking comics debuted in RAW Magazine, marrying a deep appreciation of cartooning with a painter’s approach to line, tone, and composition. He won three Emmy Awards as a production designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and has drawn many books of influential comics. He will discuss his career with Bill Kartalopoulos in this live interview.
5:00 – 6:00
Seth Q+A
Canadian cartoonist Seth has been a seminal figure in comics since the 1991 debut of his series Palookaville, the latest volume of which debuts at this year’s SPX. Deeply informed by the rich history of North American cartooning, Seth’s distinctive visual style—like his reflective fictional narratives—offers readers a living history turned towards contemporary concerns. Seth will discuss his work with Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter) in this special spotlight session.
6:00 – 7:00
Illustration as Profession and Practice
As a matter of survival, most comics artists must commit their time to other forms of creative production in order to support themselves and their work. Often, the kind of narrative drawing that artists develop within their comics practice can also be turned to the profession of illustration—itself a rapidly changing field. Scott Campbell, Domitille Collardey, Kali Ciesemier, and Adrian Tomine will discuss illustration as both a profession and an artistic practice with moderator Jim Rugg.
White Flint Auditorium
12:30 – 1:30
Dash Shaw and Frank Santoro in Conversation
Dash Shaw and Frank Santoro are both known for creating poetic work that demonstrate a thoughtful engagement with the possibilities of line, form, color and composition in comics. The pair have collaborated on projects including Shaw’s animated music video for Sigur Rós’s song “Seraph.” Both have recently completed substantial long-form projects (Shaw’s New School and Santoro’s Pompeii). The artists will each talk about their new graphic novels and engage one another in conversation.
1:30 – 2:30
Liniers Q+A
Liniers is among the most globally recognizable cartoonists from Argentina, a nation with a strong cartooning tradition still largely unrecognized in the US. His diverse body of work includes formally experimental comics, painting, and work for younger readers. For more than ten years, Liniers has drawn a hugely popular daily strip, Macanudo, for the Argentine newspaper La Nación. The Big Wet Balloon (TOON Books) is his first book to be published in the United States. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.
2:30 – 3:30
Australian Comics Roundtable
SPX is pleased to present a roundtable of cartoonists from Australia, here to discuss their own work and the blossoming Australian comics scene. Cartoonist and publisher Matt Emery (Pikitia Press) will lead a discussion with artists Caitlin Major (Space Pyrates), Matthew Hoddy (Space Pyrates), and Jason Franks (Sixsmiths, McBlack).
3:30 – 4:30
Rutu Modan Q+A
Rutu Modan has had a diverse and influential career, both in her native Israel and around the world. She was a co-founder of the pioneering Actus Tragicus collective, has been a children’s book author, an illustrator, and a teacher, and is the author of books including the acclaimed graphic novels Exit Wounds and The Property, both of which address historical and contemporary realities of Israeli life through the lens of fiction. She will discuss her work with comics scholar Marc Sobel.
4:30 – 5:30
CCS and SAW Present: A Comics Workshop
Comics educators Alec Longstreth from The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT and Josh Bayer, representing the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, FL, will guide the audience through a complete cartooning exercise. Everyone, from experienced cartoonists to those who have never drawn a panel of comics, is welcome to attend this fun, educational, creative workshop. No matter what your age or experience level, you will leave this workshop having drawn your own comic!
5:30 – 6:30
R. Sikoryak’s Carousel at SPX
Cartoonist R. Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) brings a special edition of his Carousel series of performative comics readings to SPX. Buckle up for entertainment as Sikoryak, Lisa Hanawalt (My Dumb Dirty Eyes), Sam Henderson (The Magic Whistle), Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle), Anders Nilsen (Rage of Poseidon), Leslie Stein (Eye of the Majestic Creature) and Kriota Willberg ((NO) Pain!) read from their work, accompanied by projection.
Sunday Programming
White Oak Room
1:00 – 2:00
What Makes Drawings Funny?
Humor in comics can be found in the writing and in the drawing, and most often is a product of the two. But some drawings are inherently funny in and of themselves, for reasons including style, structure, concept, and composition. Cartoonist Dustin Harbin will investigate the basis for humorous picture-making and ask Peter Bagge, Scott Campbell, Lisa Hanawalt, and Jay Lynch about their individual approaches to making drawings funny.
2:00 – 3:00
Troubling Tales, Difficult Drawings
Effective comics can elicit a number of intellectual and emotional responses from readers. Undoubtedly, some of the most memorable comics have been those which have an unsettling effect that lingers long after the final page has been read. Comics critic Sean T. Collins will speak with Ben Catmull, Julia Gfrörer, Michael DeForge, and Ulli Lust about the intent and methodology behind work that troubles, disturbs and gets under the reader’s skin.
3:00 – 4:00
For Kids/Not For Kids
Children’s comics have opened up new areas of publishing to comics and have developed new generations of comics readers. But not every artist who produces comics in this field works exclusively for younger audiences. Roger Langridge, Liniers, Rutu Modan, Brian Ralph and Jeff Smith will discuss the practical and aesthetic similarities and differences between producing work for younger and older readers in a panel discussion with comics journalist Heidi MacDonald.
4:00 – 5:00
Paying Tribute: Traditions of Style
All artists show signs of influence in their work—both conscious and unconscious—even in the overt rejection or departure from their predecessors. Some artists not only embrace influence, but self-consciously situate their work in an aesthetic tradition. Comics critic Joe McCulloch will speak with Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, Tom Scioli, Seth, and R. Sikoryak about the choices, challenges, responsibility and rewards of producing work that operates within an artistic tradition.
White Flint Auditorium
12:30PM – 1:30
Funding Comics Projects
The rise of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter has created new opportunities for funding comics projects while raising many questions about the issues surrounding network-based fundraising. Additionally, comics artists are increasingly seeking other sources of funding, from sponsorships to grants, to support their projects. Isaac Cates will discuss these issues and more with Todd Bak, Box Brown, Marnie Galloway, and Spike C. Trotman.
1:30 – 2:30
Sam Henderson and Michael Kupperman in Conversation
Sam Henderson and Michael Kupperman, friends since their early gang days in the rough-and-tumble city streets, will talk about how their careers have intersected over twenty years. The artists will set themselves on fire and perform 360 flaming wheelies around the auditorium on motorcycles (unless the Marriott objects). Otherwise, other forms of non-life threatening comedy will ensue. Warning: may contain nudity if you ask nicely. Moderated by Tim Hodler (The Comics Journal).
2:30 – 3:30
Liza Donnelly Q+A
Liza Donnelly has been a cartoonist for The New Yorker since 1979. Her work, which humorously investigates issues of gender and society, has appeared in multiple venues including The New York Times, The Nation and Cosmopolitan, and she is the author of several books including Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons. She is a charter member of Cartooning for Peace and is a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department. Donnelly will discuss her work in conversation with SPX Executive Director and comics historian Warren Bernard.
3:30 – 4:30
Queering the Mainstream?
Rob Kirby, Justin Hall, Charles “Zan” Christensen, Dylan Edwards, L. Nichols and Laurel Leake will examine, from the points of view of publishers, editors, comics veterans and younger cartoonists, men and women, the ways in which mainstream culture has been “queered,” the ways in which queer comics have changed to make them more openly mainstream, and what is still hoped for in the future. Moderated by critic Rob Clough (The Comics Journal).
4:30 – 5:30
The New Comics Minimalism
While the comics marketplace generally favors work that offers conventionally novelistic narratives conveyed through artwork that inclines towards naturalistically-based figurative clarity, a rising generation of artists, often working in alternative publishing formats, is exploring the limits of expressive poetic minimalism. Comics critic Derik Badman will discuss the new comics minimalism with Christopher Adams, Simon Moreton, Jon McNaught, Frank Santoro and Andrew White.


  1. So many good guests at this one. It bums me out that I won’t be attending. I especially hate that I’ll miss the opportunity to meet super-cartoonist Dalrymple.

    I’ll just take heart in the fact that I have the opportuntiy to see Powell again at the Decatur Book Festival about two weeks before SPX. It’s great to see him get so much exposure with March.

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