SPX update

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2002
By: Darren Schroeder

Plans for SPX 2002 Coming Together
Comics Festival Scheduled for Sept. 6-8 in Bethesda, Md.

The events of Sept. 11 may have forced the cancellation of SPX 2001, but that hasn't stopped organizers from busying themselves preparing for this year's festival. The EXPO Presents: SPX 2002 is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 6-8, 2002, at the Holiday Inn Select in downtown Bethesda, Md., just one mile outside Washington, D.C., says new Executive Director Greg McElhatton.

The annual comics festival, North America's premier showcase for alternative and small-press cartoonists and publishers, annually brings together more than 300 artists and publishers to meet their readers, retailers, distributors, and each other. This year it is open to the public 3 p.m.-8p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. Admission is $7 for one day, $12 for a weekend pass. Tickets will be sold at the door. Those already signed up for this year's show include Alternative Comics, Jessica Abel (Artbabe, La Perrida), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows), Evan Dorkin (Dork, Milk & Cheese), Fantagraphics Books, Keith Knight (The K Chronicles), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Top Shelf Productions,

We took a hit last year, but we're back on our feet and we and expect this to be the best SPX yet, says McElhatton, a member of the festival's steering committee since 1997 and last year's assistant director. McElhatton, involved in comics fandom since 1991, was an Eisner and Harvey Award nominee for co-editing the festival's Expo 2000 anthology. We're working hard to line up some great guests, he says. It's still early in the process, and already we have a lot of great creators on board for this year. Creators and attendees who still have plane tickets from last year should also note that, because of the earlier date for this year's show, they may be able to reuse those tickets to fly here this year.

In 2000, more than 1,000 paid attendees, plus dozens of retailers, distributors, and other comics professionals, participated in SPX. Numerous panels and group discussions with comics artists from around the world will be held throughout the day Sept. 7. Many of the panels will be sponsored by SPX's sister event, the International Comics and Animation Festival (http://go.to/ICAF), an academic convocation sponsored by Georgetown University and the French Embassy.

On Saturday evening, SPX will host the fifth annual Gala Ignatz Awards Ceremony, where small-press creators will be recognized for their talent with festival prizes determined by a ballot of SPX attendees and exhibitors. And on Sunday morning, the Small Press Summit will feature panels and group discussions on topics important to independent comics creators.

The EXPO is a nonprofit organization with the primary purpose of promoting comics, animation, cartooning and related popular art forms through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of those media to art and culture. Past featured guests have included Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract With God), Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), Neil Gaiman (Mr. Punch, The Sandman), Dave Sim (Cerebus), and Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo). Last year's featured guests were to have included Art Spiegelman (Maus, Little Lit), Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets), and Bryan Talbot (The Tale of One Bad Rat, Adventures of Luther Arkwright). All profits from SPX and its comics anthology companion (SPX 2002) benefit the nonprofit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (http://www.cbldf.org). The CBLDF fights censorship and defends the First Amendment rights of comic book creators, retailers and publishers throughout the United States.

The folks at the Small Press eXpo tell us that their tables are sold out but that they do have a waiting list. As far as the guest list is concerned, it's already out of the bag that Spiegelman, Los Bros. Hernandez and Bryan Talbot have all committed to coming "again".

Stay tuned for more news as it breaks.

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