Three Things I Learned at Swedish SPX

Categories:  Features

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[Above, Lauren Weinstein and the author strike a pose. Below, lessons learned.]


1.  Top Shelf’s Chris Staros was in an 80’s metal band called Lethal Promise.

I realize this is probably only news to me, but it was the first thing I found out when I got to Sweden so as far as I’m concerned it’s wisdom for the ages.  Myself, Lauren Weinstein, Brett Warnock, Chris, Alvin Buenaventura, and Alvin’s lovely assistant, Melissa all arrived at the airport at around 7 AM.  Chris and Brett were the only one of the bunch of us who were capable of intelligent conversation after all that traveling and jet lag and that’s what they shared.  I scoured the internet for photographic proof of Chris’s metal years but, sadly, could find none.  I don’t doubt it for a second though.  That guy is bad ass!  He totally helped me, Lauren, and MK Reed carry our suitcase full of books up stairs and across rooms like he was carrying amps made of air.  He’s clearly TOTALLY METAL and has obviously carried heavy equipment and books all over the place.  Here is a picture of Chris at the Top Shelf table next to Johannes Klennel of Swedish publisher, Galago:

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2. Pregnancy bands make great belts!

I forgot to pack a belt! Thankfully Lauren Weinstein is with child and had this really ingenious wardrobing item called a pregnancy band which she generously loaned to me.  It looks like a t-shirt you’re wearing under your shirt and it’s like holding your pants up with a super comfortable chastity belt or a metal chain secured to your pants with super glue.  Sparkplug (who, in addition to carrying mini-comics by everyone from Partyka to Robin Chapman, www.un-pop.com was also distributing books by Secret Acres, Picture Box, and Bodega ) was lucky to have our table next to Lauren’s, so we were treated to a steady stream of customers who were coming by to get copies of Goddess of War.  I’m glad I had something to hold up my pants during the sales rush or it would’ve been totally plumber ugly.  Below is a picture of me and Lauren in which I’m wearing the aforementioned band and she has a totally cute baby bump:

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3. Swedish rap is just as good as American rap even when you can’t understand it because it’s in Swedish.

Cartoonist Simon Gardenfors sure can rap, and according to his wikipedia entry–and one of his songs–he is better than any rap performer living or dead! Above is a picture from a special reunion gig we were treated to in Sweden, with Simon G.’s better rapping half, Las Palmas.  Similar to many of the comics we got there, I couldn’t understand one friggin’ word of these Nordic people’s language but it sure did all look and sound real pretty.  Bendik Katelborn  from the Norwegian comics collective, Dongery  , was kind enough to translate however.  Until it got dirty that is.  Very dirty.  According to Bendik, who seems to be quite respectable, Simon G.’s raps (like his comics) are VERY “provocative.” I think he meant to say “obscene” but his decorum prevented him.

–Shannon O’Leary

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