Small Press Expo 2009: Sammy's Take PART DEUCE

Although I really like SPX each and every year, I don’t know if I’ll be going next year. I really love walking around the small room and looking at everyone’s books, but something was different this year, the air is changing.

As Karen also said, a mini used to cost $2, and now it's more and that's frustrating. At times I felt ripped off even then, but every once in a while you’d get a really great comic. Now those same $2 comics are being sold for $5-$8, and I do mean the same ones. Some artists come every year but have nothing to new to exhibit except maybe they’ve put together a few weird felt finger puppets or a “sketchbook”, which are usually just licensed characters drawn in a satirical way to bring customers to their table.

For all the selling of their own souls people were doing, it was hard to get people to talk on camera about their comics, like I was going to use it against them or something? It was ridiculous, people who would make me feel weird all weekend so I would buy their wares weren’t even willing to say their name or the title of their book on camera. So you just get the atmospheric video above and not something that may expose you to some new artists. Still, thanks to Cosmic Comix for allowing me to play reporter for them, and Andy to putting together this awesome video.

Indie comics for the most part DO see themselves as different (read: better, smarter, newer, more interesting, etc.) than “mainstream” comics. People will buy Jeffrey Brown’s poorly drawn and irony filled Incredible Change Bots but they would never touch a science fiction book unless it was a reprint of an artist or writer who now, 30 years later, is an established pioneer.

Just like super hero fans, indie fans are in general close minded and don’t want to rock the boat, they want comfortable, safe, familiar stories that they can relate to on some elementary level. they just want it to take either 10 pages or 300 pages, because if it’s a single issue comic format, it’s uncool. Unless, of course, Fantagraphics publishes it. And though, there's some breaking-away from that, moreso this year than ever (as I said here), SPX is an institution that I don't think can ever fully escape this and as a comics fan, it grows more frustrating every year.


Andreas Schuster said...

when did they cost 2$?
Yes, prices getting higher is always a drag but EVERYTHING gets more expensive, printing, driving, living in general..
Its just normal that comics raise their price.
Dont buy it if its shit, not for 2 and not for 5$ i guess.

And the interview thing.. i can only imagine that most of them are just shy dorks.. they are drawing comics and not doing stand-up or sing in front of teenagers.

You may also have asked the wrong people or came off as a dick.

badmoodkaiser said...

Take a chill pill, guy (Samuel).

brandon said...

First off, where were any of you when Sammy wrote a much longer piece praising SPX?

These are not uncommon complaints guys...we'll make of Marvel some and see if any of you guys get offended.

There's an implicit contract, when you buy a mini and it's that you're paying a bit more because it's "supporting" the artist, but artists are increasingly taking advantage of this contract.

There's been an exorbitant hike in mini prices that's more in-line with the artists getting more notable than the economy. Really, those extra 3 (sometimes 5) dollars said artist asked for their comic doesn't really begin to pay for their expenses, it's simple greed, that they're allowed to get away with because they're "indie" artists.

david e. ford, jr said...

yeah, umm, sammy is not like this 'boomer lamenting that prices aren't the same as they were in '72. even if those prices represent 4 years of going to SPX, a 150-300% mark-up does not correspond in any way to inflation. this isn't zimbabwe

Rob McMonigal said...

It's funny, I had no trouble finding lots of good $1 and $2 mini-comics. What Bizzaroland SPX were you at?

Sure, some were a bit on the pricy side, but you are making sweeping generalization on top of sweeping generalization, which is unlike this blog.

As for the cultural divide, I can't tell you the number of "indie snob" creators who talked to me about my Iron Men shirt, even making me take time to try and find their favorite Iron Man for them.

I had a lot of lovely, brief conversations at SPX. Maybe you just went about it the wrong way.

brandon said...

Again guys, read Sammy's first post in conjunction with this one and I think it'll resonate a bit more. Sure there are plenty of regular ass comics fans at SPX but there's a snobbiness in the air too...guys in faded street-cred grabbing Strangers in Paradise shirts, people selling comics for way too much--as Sammy pointed out, often the SAME comics as last year. It's a bit gross.

samuel rules said...

I've been away for a bit, sorry for the untimely response.


I grew up in Rockville, and my mother still lives there. I've been going to SPX for as long as my eyes were reading comics that weren't Marvel or DC.

They DID cost $2 not that long ago, and yea, of course some did this year and last year, and that rules, and it will always be awesome when you can get something new and exciting for so cheap.

The problem is that a lot of these comics were the same ones at the table last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. I'm willing to dish out a little bit of money for something that is WORTH it. Karen and I both drop an insane amount of money at SPX each year and leave with very few disappointments, as we are discerning in what we buy, and dont' fall for tricks.

Drippy pictures of dongs and mammoths don't get my money anymore, and while it's great that people are finally making things that just aren't about the last girl that broke their heart or how "real" it was when they jerked their best friend off. If you'd read my other post you'd see all the things I was pumped on this year. I'm just giving you guys BOTH sides of SPX, my "i'm a nerd who is in heaven, fuck look at all these good books" side, and my "dude, i bought one of those last year for a dollar and now it's six dollars??? what the hell?" side.

Thanks for reading.