Much to chew on and some awesomely great cartoonists to listen to:

Small Press Expo is proud to announce its slate of programming events for SPX 2007. There will be a series of Creator Spotlights, providing a unique opportunity to learn and interact with the special guests at this years Expo. There will also be a series of panels and workshops to further probe the world of graphic novels and comics. Below are the descriptions and participants, which are subject to change, with exact dates and times forthcoming on the SPX web site at


Bill Griffith – As an underground cartoonist, Bill Griffith created such characters as Mr. The Toad and Zippy the Pinhead, while co-editing the anthologies Young Lust and Arcade. Zippy has since “escaped into the real world” as the star of a syndicated daily newspaper strip, surely the oddest character to still roam that now staid realm. Over the course of an hour Griffith will deliver a heavily illustrated slideshow talk about his life and work to date.

Jeff Smith – Jeff Smith’s Bone, a beautifully drawn black and white synthesis of Carl Barks and J. R. R. Tolkein, began as a self-publishing success story, drawing raves from all corners of the comics world. The series is now an international hit for young readers in its new incarnation as a series of full-color graphic novels from Scholastic. The artist will discuss his work in a special spotlight session with moderator Heidi MacDonald.

Kim Deitch – Underground comix veteran Kim Deitch continues to produce the best work of his career, most recently the graphic novels Alias the Cat and Shadowlands. His other books include The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Hollywoodland, and A Shroud for Waldo, and he has contributed to RAW, Weirdo, Zero Zero, Arcade, Esquire and McSweeney’s. Over the course of an hour Deitch will discuss his most recent books, his career, his thoughts about art and comics, and his current works-in-progress.

Gilbert Hernandez – In 1982 Gilbert Hernandez and his brothers Jaime and Mario burst onto the comics scene with the publication of Love and Rockets #1. Since then Gilbert has spun out a vast, intergenerational saga detailing the lives, loves, and heartbreaks of the citizens of Palomar, a fictional Central American town, as well as challenging short-form work and a variety of stand-alone stories for various publishers. The prolific artist continues to challenge himself and his audience with new work in a variety of formats and genres, including the self-contained graphic novel Chance in Hell. Long-time friend and publisher Gary Groth will lead a discussion with the seminal artist.

Rutu Modan – Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan is a co-founder of the Actus Tragicus comics collective, a group of Israeli cartoonists seeking to reach an international audience with accomplished, personal comics work. Her first graphic novel, Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Fun, was a collaboration with author and Actus collaborator Etgar Keret. Exit Wounds is her first full-length graphic novel to be published domestically in the United States.

Nick Abadzis – London-based cartoonist Nick Abadzis has worked in various areas of comics, including the British small press, Vertigo Comics, and 2000 AD, and has also drawn several children’s books. Most recently he wrote and drew the graphic novel Laika, about the first living being to be sent into space. Abadzis will discuss the research intensive process behind his latest work.

C.F. – C.F. (aka Christopher Forgues) is the creator of the mini-comics series “Low Tides” and also performs musically as “Kites.” His work has appeared in numerous anthologies including Paper Rodeo, Free Radicals and Kramers Ergot (including the wrap-around cover for that anthology’s fifth volume). Dan Nadel, whose PictureBox publishing company has just published C.F.’s book Powr Mastrs, will lead a discussion with the artist.

The State of Comics Criticism – Comics are getting more press than ever, but how good is the press? Is it too good? Do comics suffer from the lack of a vibrant critical milieu? Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Tim Hodler (Comics Comic), Dan Nadel (Picturebox/Comics Comics), and Douglas Wolk (Reading

Comics) discuss in a conversation led by Bill Kartalopoulos.

Center for Cartoon Studies Workshop – Robyn Chapman joins us from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year educational institution for budding cartoonists in White River Junction, Vermont. Robyn will talk about this unique school and will lead a hands-on cartooning workshop. No matter how little experience you have, you will leave this panel having drawn a comics page!

Inanimate Cartoons – Comics and animated cartoons are two distinct media which are often conflated. And yet, the two forms share similarities and share influences (including one another). Douglas Wolk will lead a discussion with Kim Deitch, Roger Langridge, Tom Neely and Jeff Smith about the points of overlap and points of distinction between these two media.

Nemo’s Wake: Comic Stripping Today – More than 100 years after comics emerged as a mass medium in American newspapers, the comic strip survives. Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), Nicholas Gurewitch (The Perry Bible Fellowship), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) and Ted Rall (Search and Destroy) discuss the strengths and struggles of drawing personal work in the comic strip form today, in venues ranging from the web to alternative newsweeklies to the traditional daily comics page. Josh Fruhlinger (The Comics Curmudgeon) moderates.

Top Shelf Tenth Anniversary Panel – Brett Warnock and Chris Staros reflect on ten years of their publishing house, Top Shelf Comics.

Fletcher Hanks Presentation – Paul Karasik examines the life and work of Fletcher Hanks, the obscure cartoonist whose mad visions of grim superheroic retribution saw print in the pages of second-rate comics in the earliest years of the comic book industry. Karasik will delve into the themes and imagery of Hanks’ work and will answer the burning question: What ever happened to Fletcher Hanks?

The Generic and the Particular: Genre in Comics – For decades comics were dominated by a handful of genres, most notably superhero comics, to the point that the genre became identified with the medium. Underground comix inspired several generations of cartoonists who have utilized the medium for artistic, personal expression, often rejecting traditional genres in the process. More recently, independent cartoonists have begun to incorporate generic tropes into their work, while a new generation of critics have begun to reclaim older genre comics. Tim Hodler leads a discussion with Sammy Harkham, Gilbert Hernandez, Jon Lewis and Matt Wagner.

Graphic Not-Novels – As “graphic novels” dominate public perception of comics, where does that leave comics that are more structurally analogous to poetry? Or painting? Moderated by Isaac Cates, who will lead a discussion with a group of cartoonists whose work defies easy categorization.

This years SPX will be held October 12 and October 13 at The North Bethesda Marriott Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland, across from the White Flint Metro stop on the Shady Grove Red Line.

SPX, a non-profit organization, brings together more than 300 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers and distributors each year. Graphic novels, political cartoon books and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators.

SPX will be open to the public from 2 pm – 8 pm, Friday, October 12 and 10am – 7 pm Saturday, October 13. Admission is $8 for a single day and $15 for both days.

SPX culminates with the presentation of the 11th Annual Ignatz Awards for outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning. The Ignatz is the first Festival Prize in the US comic book industry, with winners chosen by balloting during the SPX and will be held Saturday, October 13 at 9PM.

Comments are closed.