This year I returned to Columbus, Ohio with pal Ted Haycraft (pictured below) for the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE). I have to say that between the guests, the new venue and the overall atmosphere that this was the best SPACE yet. SPACE has had many homes, from an auditorium at the state fairgrounds, to what seemed to be an abandoned Holiday Inn to a Shriner's building. Though the Shriner's hall they had it in the last few years was big enough, the lighting was miserable. The move to the Ramada Plaza is a very welcome change and I hope they can keep it there. Matt with Ted Haycraft
Another welcome sight was SPACE regular Tom Scioli. I've been following Scioli's creation, 'The Myth of 8-Opus', since it began. He's now following a printing model of the photocopied mini-comic single issues later collected into a slick, professional trade paperback. Now I can get further along in Scioli's cosmic Kirby-inspired epic (though I still don't really understand what's going on).
One of the great things about SPACE is finding something that grabs you right away. A lot of times you'll walk through and look at different comics and portfolios. Maybe the art will grab you, but the concept doesn't, or the idea is interesting, but the artwork doesn't carry it off. Rarely is there a direct hit, but the rarity this time is 'Afrodisiac' by Jim Rugg. In many ways a tribute to the wacky era of 1970s comics, I was drawn in by the faux comic covers that seemed to come from some twisted bygone era. Rugg is personable and enthusiastic about comics. I highly recommend this book, and I haven't even read it yet!
One aspect of the show I try not to miss is the SPACE Prize ceremony, where they give out awards for the best comics of the previous show. The top prize and 1st place for the 'general comics' category went to Lora Innes for The Dreamer. The winner for best mini-comic was Aliens Poop on Your Children. The winner for best webcomic, a new category, was Introspective Comics, though I prefer 2nd place finisher The Book of Biff. You can see all of the winners here. In any event, the best part of the ceremony are the acceptance speeches, because the winners are not used to having their comics work recognized, much less applauded in a public forum.
Above is pal Ted checking out the various fanzines from Jim Main. Their 'Comic Fan' title bills itself as the magazine for comics fans by comics fans. It's a nice package, and the latest ish is geared towards Silver Age collectors.
Saving the best for last, the highlight for me was meeting Guy Davis. Davis is the artist for BPRD, an ongoing series from Dark Horse Comics. Davis was the closest thing to a 'big name' guest that SPACE had this year, and I was surprised they didn't tout his appearance, but rather lumped him in with the other guests. Preparing to meet him, I picked up his volume of Modern Masters from TwoMorrows Publishing, which includes rare artwork and a career-spanning interview. For some reason I had always thought that Davis was British, but no, he's just a genial chap from Michigan. He was kind enough to do small sketches for us. For Ted, a Sandman from his long run on 'Sandman Mystery Theatre' in the 90s. For me, a Johann Krauss from BPRD. For the uninitiated, Johann Krauss is a disembodied ectoplasmic spirit who must live inside this containment suit. He can release his ectoplasmic form to reanimate the dead and speak for them. In other words, your average man on the street.