SPX was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I could tell from the time I pulled up in the parking lot across from a man in a purple three piece suit unloading his wares that this was going to be new and different for me. I sneaked a peak into the exhibition room on my way to lunch, and was instantly amped up for what was to come. I found lunch to continue this process as I was able to share my excitement for all things literary and English major-esque with the scholars that joined us as well as my peers. The anticipation was building and I was too excited to get in to the middle of the expo to see what it was all about.
Following lunch, we braced ourselves outside of the exhibition hall before diving in. It was a disorienting dive to say the least, because with just a few steps into the hall I hit sensory overload. There were more booths than I had imagined, all covered in publications that the people manning the booths were very eager to sell. In talking with a few of the artists I found it extremely refreshing how proud they were of their works. Now, I know my classmates have hinted at having a very different experience, but perhaps this was the nature of the type of comics I gravitated toward throughout the day. I didn’t really spend much time around the dark and violent looking comics. I tended to be drawn in by simplicity and often by the artists who were playing with letters or words. This may simply speak to my eternal optimism and rejection of the doom and gloom in many of the artists’ works, but in the more cheerful and playful comics I observed, there was still plenty of room for the experimental.
One booth I particularly enjoyed was called Cuddles and Rage, “a disturbingly cute comic.” Most of their work was lighthearted and cute, but what made it experimental to me was the use of clay in constructing their images. It was almost like comics doing Claymation in the style of Wallace and Grommit. Some were not the most cheerful figures, but the style just made me think it was all perpetually cute. I proceeded in asking the artists if they considered their work experimental, and they agreed with me that the multi-media aspect of the clay and still image led it to be classified as experimental.
Another interesting experience I had at the expo was encountering comics collectors and discussing their passions with them. While I was waiting in line to get my book signed by Chris Ware I met a man who had all of Ware’s published works. I found his passion also extremely refreshing and enjoyed helping him get a good handful of the works signed by Ware himself.
Overall it was an extremely enriching day. I got to meet people I would have never have met otherwise, and I allowed myself to push outside of my comfort zone and chat with everyone I could possibly chat with! I realized how nice people can be when you are genuinely interested in what they are doing, and I was happy to ask questions as I found most of their content intriguing. When it comes down to it, the only phrase I can use to explain what went on at SPX was extreme nerding out. That’s all there is to it.