When I told Liz that I’d be heading down to SPACE in Columbus, OH this weekend (April 21-22), I figured that she’d be completely stoked. Just imagine: one of the writers she’d picked up for The Daily Cross Hatch is volunteering to drive two and a half hours each way to check out a small press comic con in Columbus and get some material for the blog. And she was excited – her reply went something like: “That’s great! And what a coincidence – I’m going to APE this weekend!”
With both alt-comics cons falling on the same weekend, it seemed inevitable that the “big” one on the left coast would soak up all the big talent, big books, and press attention.
Luckily, there turned out to be plenty of cool stuff in Columbus to make the trip worthwhile. With about 150 tables, SPACE (that’s Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, by the way) turned out to be a very cozy, regional affair. The vast majority of the presenters were from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois, with the occasional stray from Georgia or Jersey or wherever. Although the sensory overload was typical for a comic con (from what I’ve heard, at least – SPACE was my first), the traffic was modest, and you never had to wait in line. I had no problem walking up and talking to Paul Hornschemeier for five or ten minutes.
After about four hours on my feet, I was absolutely wiped. I’m happy to say, though, that I met some cool people, and walked away with a stack of awesome stuff. So please enjoy my Greatest Hits and Greatest Misses of SPACE 2007. If any of my hunches are right, you might be looking at some of the big names of tomorrow. SPACE is the con of future superstars!
Anyway, enjoy. And bear in mind that my camera sucks swamp water.
SPACE Con 2007 – Greatest Hits
Paul Hornschemeier – I’ve been a big fan of Paul’s stuff for a year or more now, and I was very eager to get my hands on a copy of his new book, The Three Paradoxes, which debuted at SPACE and APE simultaneously. He’s probably the biggest comics pro I’ve spoken to in person so far, and a pretty cool guy as well. He even remembered an email I sent him a few months ago, where I told him how his book Return of the Elephant scared the pants off my sister.
Paul: “Now you can tell your sister I’m not such a bad guy.”
Me: “He seems quite normal in person . . .”
Paul: “That’s what they all say.”
And he was still nice enough to let me get a picture and a little sketch! Look for my review of The Three Paradoxes in the next week or two.
Steve Harrison, Fabricari Comics – Steve stands out in my mind because he’s the first current comics artist from Cleveland, OH that I’ve met. Before meeting Steve, comics creators were something foreign to me – collectives of pros in New York, Chicago or Seattle. Talking to a guy from Avon, OH not that much older than me, who does comics in his spare time brought the stratosphere of comics creators a little closer to earth for me.
I picked up a copy of his book, Fabricari, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It looks good, though. A sort of early-90’s, self-published, black-ink-on-bristol-board sci-fi book. I bought a sketch of Beck that he’d done, too, even though he recommended that I buy one of his “dirty fairies” instead (I mentioned that I’d seen them on his blog). In retrospect, I should have taken him up on it.
Matt Chicorel – Night Light Comics – At one point, a table of minicomics at the rear corner of the auditorium caught my eye, but the kid sitting there didn’t even look up from his drawing board when I stopped to check it out. Looking through a binder of his work, I asked if he was into graffiti art at all, and he seemed a little irked by the question. He kept his nose buried in the board even as he made change for the people shelling out cash for his comics.
I later learned that the laconic artist is Matt Chicorel, a comics shop manager from Milwaukee who also makes incredible minicomics. Luckily for him, his aloofness at SPACE is redeemed by the quality of his work. His thick, jagged lines and big solid blacks are a little like Evan Dorkin or Jamie Smart, and his stories cut a path somewhere between hipster and superhero geek.
SPACE Con 2007 – Greatest Misses
Dave Sim and Matt Feazell – Both longtime favorites of mine, both at SPACE this year, and I didn’t talk to either of them. Missing Dave Sim couldn’t be helped – he was only there on Saturday, and I was only there on Sunday. Matt Feazell, however, was there all day, rushing to and from the various panels in his trademark fedora and tie. I kept telling myself, “I’ll go meet him in a little bit,” or “I’ll catch Matt after the next panel,” or whatever. I must have walked by his table half a dozen times, and I even wanted to buy one of his framed “stick figure masterpieces.”
Long story short, I left the con that afternoon without talking to him. Was I nervous? Star-struck? Forgetful? Perhaps my brain was melted to slag after my first comic con. I suppose the feeling of regret over blown opportunities is also part of comic conning. Ah well. I know Matt is a SPACE regular anyway. I’ll catch him at the next one.
Bob Corby – Here’s another unforgivable omission – I didn’t get to talk to Bob Corby, the mastermind of SPACE, and head of Columbus’ long-running Back Porch Comics. On my way out of the con at the end of the afternoon, I stopped at the head table where he was set up with his wife and his daughter Megan (a budding comics artist as well). As I was about to introduce myself, Bob literally darted off in response to some sort of comics crisis elsewhere in the auditorium. Dazed, exhausted, and also a little hungry, I called it a day, only to realize I had left the poster I’d just paid $5 for on his table.
I certainly saw more than I’ve listed above, but I think I’ve written quite enough for one update. Next time I’ll take more pictures. As for now, I have an absolutely ridiculous stack of comics to review.