Monday, April 14, 2014

S.P.A.C.E. 2014 - the evidence

This year's Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or S.P.A.C.E., was maybe the most enjoyable show I have ever experienced as an exhibitor. This wasn't due to sales although I did quite well, selling out of Heart of Darkness and almost out of Moby-Dick in Pictures. It was a great show because it seemed like all of those tentative hellos and contacts and brief conversations I have had at past events all reached critical mass this year and I started friendships with quite a few artists whose work I have admired for a very long time. I think that for the first time ever at a show, I really felt like part of a bigger scene, which was a good feeling to have.

I took some photos so while some of these may come across like inside jokes, this, for me, was S.P.A.C.E. 2014. Here I am at my table. Thanks to table mate and good friend Joe Kuth for this one.

I would truly be nowhere without my constantly amazing wife, who is a partner in everything I do and the best friend a person could have. She cheerfully sits through these long long events with me, helping in a million ways, and always makes the hours better.

Here's Joe, taking a photo of his own table. I liked the Fin Fang Foom shirt. A lot.

Joe, my wife and I were fortunate enough to share two tables with the fascinating and brilliant J.T. Dockery and Liz Valasco. We've decided we may have started a tradition here so hopefully we can continue it again and again.

Tom Williams is one of the highlights of S.P.A.C.E. Every year. This is perhaps the best indicator of why.

Most of the rest of my good friends in Panel were there representing as well. From left to right in this image, writer Dara Naraghi, artist Brent Bowman, artist Craig Bogart, and writer / artist Tony Goins.

Another shot of, from left to right, handsome Dara, Brent looking oddly serious, and Craig probably in mid-sentence.

Joe and my wife, deep in conversation about...something. Probably Mya's chicken sliders, which were lunch.

Quick shot of my table. Art, books and zines, all for sale. I'm very proud of what I have made.

Another photo by Joe. At shows like this, I have time to really do more elaborate drawings in people's books. This is the beginning of an almost fully complete Queequeg in a copy of my Moby-Dick in Pictures.

For a long time now I have been really digging the art of Grixly, also known as Nate McDonough. He came over to my table and we got to talking about old issues of Heavy Metal magazine and before we knew it, we were friends. I really dig this guy, love his art, and am glad we connected. Check out his tumblr and follow along, he does some great great work.

John Porcellino and his Spit and a Half distro are tireless in their support of comics all over the world, it seems. Having John as a regular at S.P.A.C.E. has been a great thing, and John is every bit as cool, genuine, warm and easy to talk to you as you might imagine. Here he is, pondering something.

Nate Powell has become a regular as well, which is fantastic. Behind him you can see an exhibition of his original art, which was a cool addition to the show.

For the last 4 or 5 years now, Adina and Ivana, sisters from northern Ohio near where I used to live, have been coming to visit me at the show. They've got a ton of my original art and I really look forward to seeing them every spring. I finally got to take a photo of them, and it was awesome to see them again.

Lauren came by to give me a copy of her minicomic, collected from her tumblr True Life Comix, which I absolutely love. They are these perfect and perfectly odd little zen-like slices of life that are instantly compelling and surprisingly memorable.

This year I was on a panel, which was cool. The panel was about the tools artists and cartoonists use to create their art, so it was interesting to compare my process, much of which involves repurposing found paper and working very intuitively, with the masterfully executed colored colored pencil work of Scott Kraynak (on the right), the more traditional black and white pen and ink work of Pam Bliss (center) and the hybrid work of moderator Tyrell Cannon (far left).

Each artist was able to demo some of their process which could be seen by the attendees on this screen behind us. The camera view was over the shoulder of the artist, but I found it kind of compelling to take a photo of myself taking that photo. So I did it.

Okay, I've talked to these guys...Fred Frances on the left, Mike Madsen on the right...for just a few minutes each year at S.P.A.C.E. And each year my affection for them has grown. This year, I made it a point to spend some time really getting to know them and I'm glad I did. They are great great guys with some killer art and comics. Really genuinely good people, and I'm honored to call them friends. They just started this Cowboy House Correspondence Club where subscribers get a new comic from them every month for 6 months. You can, and should, get in on that action right here. I paid in full at the show and got my first installment already. Good stuff.

Fred and Mike are two of the four members of Cowboy House International, and a third member, Pretty Jeff, was there as well. I did get to chat with Jeff briefly, although I didn't snag a pic. He's a little quiet but also a real good egg. In the absence of a photo of the real Pretty Jeff, this simulacra will have to do. We shared a moment. Fred and Mike can attest to that.

Day one of the show ended and it was off to dinner with good friends old and new. Here is the unbearably sexy Dara Naraghi awaiting his meal.

Joe Kuth, on the left, barely looks like himself here. Craig Bogart looks pretty much right on.

My lovely wife, happy because food is on the way. I'm not sure if I should mention the other woman there because she really hates having her photo taken.

After dinner, which Tom Williams REALLY enjoyed.

Day two of S.P.A.C.E. dawned, and it was a pleasure to see Panel-mates Sean McGurr (left) and Tim McClurg (right). We talked about comics and who the Cleveland Browns should draft. I hope they can snag Sammy Watkins.

One of the best photos I have ever taken. That is Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics on the left, Andy Bennett on the right.

DEFINITELY the best photo I have ever taken. And Ken's hand never leaves the pocket!

Tom Williams, tuning out!

For this drawing, I was specifically asked to depict the scene at the end of Moby-Dick when the Pequod goes down, Tashtego hammering a bird's wing to the mast as the ship disappears. It was surprisingly difficult, but I think I pulled it off.

Wandering around the show a bit here. I stopped off at Nate McDonough's table and he showed me this page from his sketchbook. On the left is one of the heads from the Saints and Sinners sculpture I took a few photos of when I visited Oakland University last week, and on the right is Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man, from the movie Phantasm. Awesome work.

Jeremy Baum is an artist whose work I first discovered last year, but was instantly fascinated with. I was able to talk to him very briefly then, but this year we spent a little more time getting to know one another. He is an admirer of Heart of Darkness so it was an honor to get a copy of my illustrated version into his hands. Jeremy's art is complex and compelling and highly recommended and you can dig deeper in this recent piece on his art by blogger Rob Clough. Here is Jeremy at his table.

J.T. Dockery was kind enough to let me experiment with his rapidograph, a pen I had heard much about but never used. It was a real challenge and I am still trying to wrap my head around it. Here is what I did.

The show came to a close, and we ended the weekend with a murderer's row shot of the table mates. This is artistic brilliance right here. From left to right, me, Liz Valasco, J.T. Dockery and Joe Kuth.

After the show it was off to the Laughing Ogre where Stang was being Stang.

Then to dinner at Ray Ray's Hog Pit, one of the best food trucks in the universe. Parked near Ray Ray's was THIS! I have seen it before but never close enough to get some really good photos. This was that day.

In this one, you can see me in the mirrors taking the photo.


Joe Kuth, his face smeared with meat and sauce.

My wife, hunting...

...and going in for the kill...

...and nearing a sated state.

Finally, every year I get a convention sketch from Tom Williams. I try and give him something fun but a little strange to draw. This year I asked for a stripper-y Moondragon and he did not disappoint. Superhero decadence indeed.


  1. First thing I thought when I saw the Nate McDonough pages was that I'd love to see some Gormenghast illustrations by this guy. He's grotesque (but perfectly anatomically observant) in all the right ways.

  2. I hadn't originally considered that because most of what I've seen from Nate so far has been decidedly fantastic and monstrous (as in actually depicting monsters) but I think you're quite right, he would do a marvelous job with the strange denizens of the castle. I'll find a way to run this past him and see what he thinks.


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