As someone who has never read a comic beyond the Sunday Funnies, SPX was quick a shock to the system. I’ve been at conventions and marketplaces before, but this one had so much to take in that I found my body wandering in a nonsensical pattern around the room. After reading Chris Ware’s book in class, I thought I had a basic understanding of comics; both in form and content.
One of the booths that caught my attention was of a woman who made comics as a hobby. She formed her comics in grids like bingo boards, but when I asked her if she considered herself “experimental,” she said “no.” From her perspective, she considered her comics conventional because while her form may have been a little out of the ordinary, her content was what she called “everyday problems.” Although I respect her opinion, I disagree. I think that having experimental form warrants enough to be considered an experimental comic artist. It was wonderful speaking with her though because she was very humble and enthusiastic.
The second booth I was completely taken with was the cuddlesandrage booth that featured cartoons of vegetables or cute little animals. What I liked most about their comics was that their characters were very easy to relate to. They seemed to depict the random moments of absentmindedness of the average person. They seem relatable because I think most people have days where they feel as melancholy as the unicorn shredding the rainbow, or as exasperated as the pickle in the jar.
While some demonstrate instances of shock or frustration, some were just silly. This made the comic full or truth, but also entertaining and fun to examine.
Lastly, this expo was enlightening in the way each artist presented his or her work. Most of the booths contained people who were very enthusiastic and immensely proud of their work, while others seemed nervous and almost too uncomfortable asking for money. The most memorable man, was presenting his first comic at this convention and was very nervous when I approached his table and asked to read his comic entitled “Home.” The comic was about a boy asking his mother to go home even though they were in the house where they lived. I found this comic especially powerful because I have been questioning the meaning of ‘home’ myself. When I asked him what inspired this comic, he explained the feeling of distance and disorientation he sometimes feels in spaces he knows he should feel at home in, which is exactly how I have been feeling ever since my parents uprooted from our home two years ago. His uneasiness seemed to dissipate as we spoke, and my questions opened him up to a deeper conversation about what makes a place home. Overall, I found the Expo overwhelming, but I greatly enjoyed the conversations I had and the people I encountered.