Nick Sumida is one of many current cartoonists to make the jump to animation work.

While the chance for SPX exhibitors to pitch cartoon ideas to Nickelodeon as announced yesterday sounds like a good opportunity, there was quite a bit of controversy about it on social, as seen in these tweets. Click on the Gillman and Gran links to go to much longer discussions, but the basic objection is that SPX is a small press show that celebrates the joy of small press comics, and formalizing the participation of a major cartoon network/corporate brand at the show goes against that philosophy.

However some folks were more pragmatic:

Spurgeon had more to say here and pointed out that career development has always been a part of SPX, although most folks now going weren’t even born** when a Diamond rep would show up on Sunday to rap with creators. He also mentions as he has in the past, that this kind of career focus will very much be part of the upcoming CXC show in Columbus.

If you click on the longer conversations, you’ll see generally accepting yet ambivalent reactions from folks like TCAF showrunner Chris Butcher and George Rohac. It isn’t so much tangible fears as just a sigh over the evolution of SPX into something with a more, well, showbiz element. Even though animation reps have been scouting the show for, oh forever, it still seems like a step towards something that is not in keeping with the indie centric  spirit of the event as it has evolved.

I’ll admit that the doubts over what seems like a good opportunity may have induced eye rolling in some quarters. Aren’t we always complaining about cartooning not being a vocation you can make a living from? Animation work has been supporting many people who make some of the best comics and that’s either sad or pragmatic depending on how you see it.

I definitely see both sides of it. SPX is Camp Comics, one of the few shows where comics are front and center with very little distraction, and that’s one of the greatest things about it. An invasion of people who want to get their cartoons on the air would not be in the spirit of independence at all. That said, we live in a multi media world. Most of the successful comics-focused creators I see developing major careers don’t stick with one thing, but go with the ebbs and flows of many platforms and opportunities. That’s the modern method.

The CN and Nickelodeon folks who have been going to SPX right along has been non disruptive up until now, and  I suspect they will stay that way. SPX has a strong culture, but it’s evolved in many ways since the show starts 20 years ago. We’ll continue to see tweeks to a successful formula.

** Slight exaggeration for comedic effect


  1. Mark, well obviously Johnny Ryan and Dave Cooper are laboring under that onerous deal for their new TV show. Let’s check in with them and see how miserable they are, shall we?

    There are many different paths to the same thing. You can produce you own indie animated TV show, but it’s expensive and getting distribution is hard. Selling a show to a network gives up some rights but if you’re in that position you should ALREADY have an agent who makes sure you get a cut of licensing and residuals.

    If printing mini comics on your xerox machine during breaks from your job at an insurance company is your idea of being true to your art, good! I’ll read those minis and support them. If other people have a different way of pursuing their career I’ll take it on a case by case basis.

  2. Heidi, I created a TV series called Monster By Mistake and worked in TV animation for 29 years. Don’t lecture me about the reality of the animation business.

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