Caleb Orecchio here, writing from my hotel the morning after SPX 2018


Like an idiot, I didn’t take any photos at SPX 2018. I don’t like taking pictures at comics festivals for some reason, but usually I suck it up because I know I will have to write about it on Monday. This year I did not suck it up.

A bunch of us from Pittsburgh met up at our Pittsburgh Comics Salon headquarters Kaibur Coffee and caravanned up the turnpike to the Marriott here in Bethesda (or North Bethesda or Rockville or wherever this is) where SPX is held. It’s fun to go as a pack. You know there will be someone you can hangout and tag along with.

Once again at SPX, Comics Workbook held workshops all weekend. Sally Ingraham brilliantly facilitated the workshops and kept the engine oiled. We didn’t have a table this year which gave us plenty of time and energy to channel into the workshops which filled the Glen Oak room to the brim with hungry learners almost every time. Comic enthusiasts young and old, green and seasoned lined up along the walls to make comics with Juan Fernandez, Dash Shaw, Molly Ostertag, The Latin American Youth Council, Mosi and yours truly. Liz Reed and Camilla Zhang broke up the comics-making pattern by instructing a sculpting class and giving a presentation on Kickstarter campaigns respectively.

Saturday, I was the doorman for the Glen Echo room and was able to catch a glimpse and sit in on most of the workshops. Juan as always began the batting line-up as the sure hitter. Juan is a natural educator and genuinely wants people to learn and understand the way comics work. His workshop was energetic and comfortable for all. Dash was an unsurprisingly great instructor. As the attendees drew comics from his prompts he gave constant feedback and helped to instill the fundamentals in them.


Sunday I had a bit more freedom and was able to catch Rachel Miller’s interview with Julie Doucet. Doucet is a humble badass who has no intention of not following her own path. What can I say? You had to be there. In theory a video recording will be available to watch soon.

Got to take some time to walk the floor between Doucet’s panel and my workshop. I didn’t have a whole lot of time but managed to say hi to Jim Rugg and buy Lauren Weinstein’s new book from Youth in Decline and then head back down to the Glen Echo Room.

I had a really fun workshop. Juan helped me figure out exactly what I wanted teach and made a few suggestions to work out the kinks. I made the attendees make a six-panel comic, and then redraw that comic in different ways with different layouts. We started with a six-panel grid, then redrew it as a nine-panel comic, then redrew that as a three panel comic. Same story each time with a different layout. Everyone quickly caught on to the idea of how to expand and simplify the amount of information depending on the layout. It was really fun to watch.

That’s it for me, I gotta get to Pittsburgh before the rain does.

Special thanks to the team at SPX, especially Warren Bernard, Lynda Bernard, Rob Clough, Danethin Mejia and Eden Miller for helping us with making these workshops happen! WE had a great time! Also thank you to all of our workshop instructors!

Personal thanks to Sally Ingraham and Juan Fernandez who move mountains to ensure Comics Workbook is a fun and interesting team to be on!


9-17-18 – By Niall Breen

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