Sally Ingraham here with my Small Press Expo 2018 memories and pictures!
(See Juan Fernandez’s SPX report HERE, and read Caleb Orecchio’s thoughts HERE.)
I headed to Bethesda a day early and on Friday I was fortunate enough to tag along on SPX Director Warren Bernard’s annual field trip to the Library of Congress with some of the Expo’s special guests.
At the Library of Congress we got to see some of the comics holdings that are kept in the Prints and Photographs collection. Here’s a few that I took note of:
After looking at the comics holding for a bit, Emma Ríos, Rina Ayuyang, Liv Strömquist and her son and their travel companion, Kate Harmon, and myself, made the long dangerous trek underground through the maze of the Library of Congress (there were tunnels involved!) to find the Jefferson Building and the Drawn To Purpose show.
There was a nice timeline of work made by female cartoonists and illustrators, including the Little Lulu strip I shared at the top of this post, and this Brenda Starr, Reporter piece by Dale Messick:
We found our way back to the Madison Building in time to catch Carol Tyler‘s big presentation on her life and comics.
Having formed a bond over the morning, Emma Ríos, Rina Ayuyang, Kate Harmon and I continued to hang out for the rest of the day. And as we were leaving the Library of Congress in search of lunch, who should we bump into but Congressman John Lewis…?! (Check out the March trilogy that Congressman John Lewis wrote with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell HERE.)
It was a real treat to explore Washington D.C. with my dear friend Kate Harmon, guided by our pal Adam Griffiths, and get to know Emma Ríos and Rina Ayuyang along the way.
I knew Spanish cartoonist Emma Ríos‘ work from the Image titles Pretty Deadly, with Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Mirror, with Hwei Lim. In 2016 she put out a comic that she drew as well as wrote (the first comic she has written in English), called I.D., which I’ve been meaning to read (and I was so delighted later in the weekend when she gave me her last copy!) Here’s an interview with Emma from last year that details more of her comics adventures.
Rina Ayuyang is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, so we hit it off right away! I’m super excited to read her new book, just out from Drawn & Quarterly – Blame This on the Boogie (get a copy of it HERE).
Getting to meet cartoonists like Emma and Rina is why I come to SPX every year. I’m interested in the quick friendships that form because of the common interest that pulls us together. You’ve never met before, and may come from different career/publishing backgrounds, but especially in groups of women I have found that there is a powerful connection and a desire to support and celebrate all the varied comics-making paths that we’ve traversed. I felt that strongly with Emma and Rina, and although our encounter was more incidental, with Liv Strömquist as well. (Check out Liv’s powerful new book The Fruit of Knowledge HERE.)
By the end of day on Friday Kate Harmon and I were having dinner with Fiona Smyth, due to a quick invitation in the hotel elevator (another key part of the success of SPX – everyone is in the same hotel!) I am such a big fan of Fiona’s work, and was lucky enough to meet her during her visit to Pittsburgh, PA, a few years ago. It was terrific to catch up and congratulate her in person on her new book, just out from Koyama Press – Somnambulance.
Saturday and Sunday at SPX I was completely engrossed in running the Comics Workbook-hosted workshops. These workshops provided a veritable crash-course in comics making, beginning with Juan Fernandez‘s highly energetic intro to image-making as language. This was followed by Dash Shaw‘s in-depth exploration of comics writing, and Molly Ostertag‘s (standing room only!) session on digging a fresh story out of yourself. There were numerous other offerings (we ran 8 workshops this year!) including a clay sculpture workshop with Liz Reed and a Kickstarter intro course with Camilla Zhang.
(Big shoutout to Caleb Orecchio for being doorman on Saturday and wrangling the enthusiastic and lengthy lines of folks who attended – and for his own great workshop on Sunday! And to Kate Harmon for helping with supply runs and the door on Sunday!)
Saturday night is always bonkers – for me it’s a balance of hanging out with the Comics Workbook and Pittsburgh Comics Salon crew, and finding my more far-flung comics friends to catch up with (Andrew White, M. S. Harkness, Iona Fox!) But despite great conversations and late hours kept, I somehow got up on Sunday morning and drove 30 minutes to Great Falls Park, VA, to pursue the topic of all my own comics lately – BIRDS!
Sunday at SPX went by in a flash, and before I knew it we were packing up the workshop room, and I was making a last round of the Expo floor to find cartoonists I’d missed before they in turn packed up and took off. Dinner with Kate Harmon and Emma Ríos and Fiona Smyth, followed by late-night chats with Iona Fox, and then the show was officially over for me. I crawled into bed to sleep for a bit before racing back to Pittsburgh, PA, on Monday morning in time to work at 10 AM… Phew!
Thanks to Warren Bernard, Lynda Bernard, Rob Clough, Danethin Mejia, and Eden Miller for the organization behind the show, and especially their help in making the workshops happen. Thanks to Juan Fernandez, Liz Reed, Dash Shaw, Molly Ostertag, Jason Rodriguez and the Latin American Youth Council, Mosi, Camilla Zhang, and Caleb Orecchio for delivering such stellar workshops! And many, many thanks to all the folks who turned up to learn about comics with us over the weekend. See you next year for SPX 2019!
09-21-2018 – by Niall Breen