SPX 2009 Preview

Categories:  Features, Subway Stories


Once a year Bethesda, Maryland becomes a magical place, overrun with indie cartoonists, where alcohol-fueled karaoke madness and brick-based awards ceremonies rule the day. It seems, perhaps, a bit of a nuisance to hold one of the country’s largest alternative comics gatherings in a city like Bethesda, rather than, say, New York, San Francisco, or Portland. Ultimately, however, SPX’s relatively out of the way location is one of its bigger strengths, assuring that the after-show festivities don’t suffer the same fragmentation as their bigger city counterparts.

And, of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that the show also tends to draw one of the strongest artist lineups in indie comics. After the jump, check out a rundown of appearences and book debuts from the artists themselves.

If you’d like to be added to list, drop us a line at dailycrosshatch@gmail.com.

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Subway Stories # 6: Joe Decie

Categories:  Subway Stories

joedeciesubwaysmallBritish cartoonist Joe Decie fudged the rules for Subway Stories a bit. And we might have complained, too, had he not submitted such a beautiful strip. He apologized anyway, though, telling us, “the character and events in my strip are not real, although the places are.”

We sort of guessed at the former, given that what images of Decie are available online don’t seem easily mistaken for those of a bald elderly man. The location, too, should be familiar to those who have spent any time in Brooklyn or the Bronx.

As for Decie himself, you can find more of his work over at Top Shelf 2.0, as well as some insight into his favorite brand of whiskey—an important bit of information, if you’re looking to make friends with a cartoonist.

[More Subway Stories]

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Subway Stories #5: L. Nichols

Categories:  Subway Stories

lnicholssubwaysmallIf you rely on the subway as your primary means of transportation, it’s going to happen to you sooner or later—you’re going to fall asleep on the train. If you’re lucky, you’ll jolt awake, moments before the doors close on your stop, and you’ll make it off the train in the nick of time. The less fortunate will wind up at the end of a line—in some ominously-named neighborhood like Sheepshead Bay or Throgs Neck.

A lucky few, however, will experience something else altogether. Brooklyn based-L. Nichols describes it as “something magical,” and while we can’t claim to have had the same experience in the tunnels below New York, the subway can certainly—for better and worse—be a magical place. And, of course, we don’t recommend using those plastic orange seats as beds, but as we said before, it’s bound to happen, sooner or later.

When she’s not falling asleep on the subway, L. Nichols can be found putting her mechanical engineering from MIT to good use making prints and paintings and comics.


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Subway Stories #4: Laura Lee Gulledge

Categories:  Subway Stories

lauraleesubwaysmallImagine soldiering through a frigid snowstorm to get to your subway stop on a January afternoon. You struggle to feel your nose and your toes as you lumber down the subway station stairs. That’s when you first notice that something unusual is going on. On the subway platform, you are surrounded by dozens of people, and none of them are wearing pants. This pantsless pack just stand in their underwear, patiently the arrival of the next train. Once it finally pulls into the station, you notice that it too is filled with pantsless passengers. The outlandish prank is so funny and bizarre that, for a moment there, you almost forget that it’s 26-degrees outside.

If you’ve ever experienced a scene like this one, then you’ve encountered Improv Everywhere’s annual No Pants! Subway Ride. The pantsless odyssey through the NYC subway system was a prank initiated back in 2002 by Charlie Todd, IE’s founder, and six of his friends. Since that maiden voyage, No Pants! Day has snowballed in size. In 2009, approximately 1,200 IE pantsless agents braved a snowstorm to participate.

One of those agents was Agent Laura Lee Gulledge.  On days when she’s not riding the subway sans pants, Gullegde is a talented artist who contributed the most recent installation in the Subway Stories series, “Crazy Kids These Days,” chronicling her experience on this year’s ride.

One of the keys to a successful No Pants! ride is to stay committed and not break character. Commitment to character also provides some of the funniest moments. Gulledge captures this aspect of the ride to a tee–that some people just don’t get it.

If you’d like to learn more about the No Pants! Subway Ride, pick up a copy of Causing a Scene, the new Improv Everywhere book. Also check out Laura Lee Gulledge’s art here. And if you’d like to participate in the No Pants! Subway Ride, visit ImprovEverywhere.com and sign up for the mailing list.

–Alexander Scordelis

[Alex Scordelis and Charlie Todd are co-authors of Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere, out now from Harper-Collins.]
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Subway Stories #3: Thomas Baehr

Categories:  Subway Stories

Sometimes the simplest taglines are the most effective—by that standard, Thomas Baehr really hit the nail on the head with Pole. The Webcomic bears the rather straightforward slogan, “The Comic Strip About Penguins,” and, well, one would be hard-pressed to cobble together five words that better described the whimsical little online comic.

With the Act-I-Vate strip, The End is Here, the German-born artist has adopted a far more serious storyline, also starring a cast of everyone’s favorite flightless Arctic birds.

For this third installment of our Subway Stories series, Baehr abandoned his penguin friends momentarily to bring us the story of an underground busker. “No Tips, Please” was written by Avi Kotzer with art by Baehr, who assures me that it is, in fact, based on a true story.

You can check out more of Baehr’s work (and plenty more penguins) at So What? The Artroom.

Those artists interested in submitting a strip to the Subway Stories series, please drop us a line at dailycrosshatch@gmail.com.

[Subway Stories #1: Raina Telgemeier]

[Subway Stories #2: John Leavitt]

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Subway Stories # 2: John Leavitt

Categories:  Subway Stories

johnleavittsubwaysmallJohn Leavitt was sent my way by Molly Crabapple, with whom he’s authored two books, including most recently, Fugu’s soon-to-be-release graphic novel, Scarlett Takes Manhattan. In response to the original request for Subway Stories strips, he responded with the simple message, “Lesson One: Never do drugs you find on the F train.” Wiser words have seldom been spoken.

This isn’t that story , however—though it does involve some conspicuously-placed white powder–and a big wad of cash. For “Birthday Boy,” Leavitt borrowed a story from his friend Howard Des Chenes.

Leavitt’s work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Press. In his spare time, he is not a choral composer. You can check out more of his work here.

Those artists interested in submitting a strip to the Subway Stories series, please drop us a line at dailycrosshatch@gmail.com.

[Subway Stories #1: Raina Telgemeier]

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Subway Stories #1: Raina Telgemeier

Categories:  Events, Guest Strip, Subway Stories
Tags: , ,

raintelgemeirsspullLike many of the best—and worst—ideas, this one was born out of some half-buzzed conversation over a round of draft beers. We were telling stories. Subway stories. The strange events that unfold every night—often in the wee hours—in the subterrean tunnels that snake below major metropolitan areas.

Everyone in the city has at least one—some are funny, some are scary, some are just odd. But in a place like New York, where nearly all residents rely on public transportation on daily basis, they’re one of the things that bind us together.

We asked a few of our favorite indie cartoonists to share their subway stories with us, and have received some tremendous work in response. For the first round, we cast the net around New York, a city with vibrant communities of artist and underground dwelling weirdos. We’d love get more artists—and metropolitan transit authorities—involved, however. If you’re an artist interested in contributing a strip, please drop us a line at dailycrosshatch@gmail.com. We’ll happily send you the details.

Our first subway story comes from a long time Cross Hatch favorite (and fellow Queens resident), Raina Telgemeier. Telgemeier is likely best known as the artist behind Scholastic’s recent adaptations of those perennial favorite YA books, The Baby-sitter’s Club. The publisher has also set a 2010 release date for Smile, the long-awaited collection of Telgemeier’s terrific auto-biographic Webcomic of the same name.

Telgemeier has also created work for DC’s Bizarro World, the Flight anthologies, and the Del Rey published X-men Manga book, Misfits. Check out her strip, after the jump.

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