I attended SPACE (the Small Press Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. As ever, I went with my pal, Ted Haycraft, a movie critic from Evansville. I'd post a pic of Ted in his Aym Geronimo t-shirt, but I forgot to take any pictures at all!
All of the comic creator tables were sold out, so there was lots of variety to catch the eye. If a guy with a giant straw for a head isn't your thing, you can check out some freaky deaky fridge magnets, or maybe even a current triple Eisner nominee. One table I really liked had a plethora of paper toys. These are simple toys that you cut out of a sheet of paper and then fold together to make a 3-D googab. Apparently there is a papertoy subculture out there that I was unaware of...and I thought I had trouble explaining my hobby to people!
The traditional guest of honor, Dave Sim, had decided after '08 to no longer attend, creating a void that really wasn't filled. I think just having one big name in independent comics would be a huge draw for the show, like maybe Columbus' own Jeff Smith. Because even though the show was well attended, I still got the feeling that exhibitors far outnumbered the patrons.
I timed my attendance this year so I could see a panel about Ohio cartoonists. Russell Merritt, an art instructor from Newark, Ohio, gave a PowerPoint presentation about cartoonists that were Ohio-born or did significant work while living in Ohio. This was right up my alley of course, given the Ohio roots of Milton Caniff. It was an interesting overview for the uninitiated, though I would have liked to have seen less text in the presentation and more artwork. Caniff was spotlighted, though Merritt didn't mention 'Steve Canyon' or Caniff pal Noel Sickles. I could nitpick on other points, like including Blondie creator Chic Young (an Illinoisan), but I'd rather praise the effort of talking about Caniff et al in a public forum. I wish Mr. Merritt the best of luck on his planned book on Ohio cartoonists.
One project I saw that gives me the nostalgia bug is Joe Kuth's 'Emberley Galaxy: a Tribute to Ed Emberley'. Kuth was at SPACE '08 touting the same upcoming project, so it's a long time in the making. Ed Emberley was an artist who created several 'how-to' drawing books utilizing simple shapes and colors. Kuth brought along his library of these books, which instantly zap me back to my childhood. I would check out these books from the school library and draw, draw, draw.
See you all next year at SPACE 2010!