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SPX 2007 - Our Every Move Is the New Tradition

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Oct. 14th, 2007 | 07:33 pm

Okay so before anyone looks at that title and thinks I’m just being a douchebag with that title, it’s just one of my favorite Achewood quotes, okay? From the Great Outdoor Fight when they decide there can be two winners and they drive off together, breaking all the rules and making their own as they go along? Remember? Well, cheesy as it sounds, that’s how I felt about this year’s Small Press Expo in North Bethesda, Maryland.


(Photo totally stolen from Brian Heater at the Daily Crosshatch)

This WOULD have been the best SPX ever. Why wasn’t it? Well, simply put, four of our friends decided they couldn’t make it down this year and it just wasn’t the same without them. A few times during the weekend, several of us lamented the absence of our good buddies Matt Bernier, Hilary Florido, Charlito and Matt Hawkins (or “Hamkins” as some of us call him – it was a humorous misprint on his badge at SPX last year that just stuck). So guys, just know that you were missed. Next year though, okay?


THURSDAY – the Ride Down, Burfday, and We Get Lost But End Up Back By the Hotel Anyway

The ride down was pretty uneventful. Zane and I shared our car with our friend Colleen, who was making little sketchbooks to sell at SPX while we were in the car, which I thought was funny. We stopped at a few rest stops and I got to take my picture with Bob’s Big Boy (even though the restaurant itself at the rest stop had closed down and become a Starbucks), as per my personal tradition. I have several years’ worth of photos of myself with the Big Boy at rest stops over the years.


(This photo was taken by none other than everyone's favorite Colleen Venable)

Anyway, the car seat was hurting Zane’s back pretty badly so we stopped about 3 times. I also got one of those flattened pennies that boasts the name of our rest stop on it (which I actually was joking that they should have, and then they did)!

We got to the hotel around six and dropped Colleen off, while I called my friend Lisa who lives in the area to see if we could meet up for dinner since I hadn’t seen her in a long time and never got to meet her husband (she got married earlier this year). Long story short, we drove in circles for an hour, ended up on a road that just randomly ENDED, but somehow ended up back by the hotel anyway! So I called Lisa and decided not to try to meet up, since it was so late already and we were exhausted and clearly couldn’t find the place she told us to go.

At this point it was ten o’clock and we were STARVING. Also it was my birthday (yay, 28!). My only real wish for my birthday was to have a nice dinner and a piece of cake and I was starting to think even that wasn’t going to be a possibility. Luckily, we found this thai place we went to last year and they were still open, so we went in and gorged ourselves on delicious thai food. Then we ran to the car and drove frantically to the Cheesecake Factory that Zane thought he saw down the road, and luckily they were open too! He even got them to give him a candle for me, and we borrowed a book of matches from Justin Fox (I think that was him) when we ran into him and Marcos Perez in the hotel lobby.

When I blew out the candles, strangely enough, I wished for this to be the best SPX ever (I’m a total geek, I know). But guess what, it really was! Hooray!

FRIDAY – Day One of SPX, the Second Annual Nerdlinger Awards


Friday was pretty slow, sales and traffic-wise. I think everyone seemed to be in agreement about that. But, as usual, even if the sales weren’t the best ever, we were all determined to have an amazing time anyway!

Friday night brought us the Second Annual Nerdlinger Awards (not to be confused with the Ignatz Awards, which are NOT organized by us and are on SATURDAY night – I think some people got them mixed up somehow). For those of you who weren’t there in 2006, the Nerdlinger Awards are the brainchild of myself and my friends MK and Robin. They are just something we thought up when we had all been drinking a few weeks before SPX 2006 and that we decided to implement and make a reality.

The first year, we all chose about 17 people to win, and then we made up categories that they could win in that were specific to them. The second year, we decided that each winner from 2006 would have the opportunity to choose one winner for 2007 and make up a category for them. This way, the DIY tradition of the Nerdlinger Awards could continue year after year. Oh and the awards themselves are beers (or sodas for the non-drinkers) with special labels affixed to them noting the winner and their category.


(This photo was taken by none other than everyone's favorite Colleen Venable)

On to the winners! Here are this year’s winners and their categories:

Marcos Perez - best drawer of an anthropomorphic hybrid dinosaur/beaver creature in comics
Austin English (no website)- the Grandma Sweater Award for most humorous impressions of other cartoonists
Rachel Nabors - Best Trifecta of Comics about Masturbation (The Hat-Trick Va-Jay Award)
Mark Haven Britt - Best Graphic Novel Completed in Just Under Fifty Years
Jess Fink - Cartoonist who best furthers the cause of Robo-sexuality
Jon Chadurjian - The Wiki Award for the most factoids in a mini-comic
Colleen Frakes - The Brushpen Bandita
Julia Wertz - Best English Language Comics Not Actually About Farts, Despite the Title
Matt Reidsma - Most Humorous Comics on the Topic of Miserable Childhood Experiences
Nate Doyle (no website) - Best drawing of coitus interuptus in autobio comics
Monica Gallagher - the Mammographical Award for Best Comics About Boobs or Lack Thereof
Jenny Gonzalez - Second Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence
K Thor Jensen - CARTOONIST FATHER OF THE YEAR (I.E. HE ATE THAT PLACENTA IN FOUR FUCKING BITES) AWARD"
(K Thor wasn’t there so we didn’t actually make an award for him.)
Jonathan Rivera and Nick Destefano – Least Homoerotic Teamup of Two Dudes Doing Comics About Relationships
David Malki! - best freestyle rap
Kazimir Strzepek - second best beard in comics (accepted by Aaron Renier, because last year Kaz accepted his award and lost it!)

The ceremony was fun; me and Robin wore matching black shirts and red ties (but we forgot to tell MK as it was a last minute decision… oops) and Robin had a soundtrack of short music clips he played as each winner walked down the “red carpet” to accept their award. We tried to have each winner from last year present the award to the person they chose, but not everyone showed up on time so we couldn’t do that for everyone.

Nevertheless, everything worked out great! The room was PACKED and the party actually spilled out into the hallway (the hallway people even had their own beer supply!). Our bathtub full of beer (which I hope someone took a picture of) was gone in probably less than an hour! Next year we’ll have to either be sure and get a bigger hotel room, or maybe have it somewhere else in the hotel. I’m not really sure where or how we’d do that, but whatever. We can figure it out!

After the party in the room dissipated and someone down the hall complained that they “had a baby in the room and could we please shut the hell up” we all split up and some of us went to the hotel bar, while others moved on to a party on the 8th floor. There were a lot of people in the bar and I got to say hi to a bunch and hang out with my friends, as usual. All in all, it was a fun Friday night!

SATURDAY – Day Two of SPX, the Ignatz Awards, Free Chocolate Fondue, and the Karaoke Karavan Disaster… AVERTED!


Although the second day of SPX felt slow, sales-wise and traffic-wise (but not as bad as Friday), at the end of the day we counted our stock and our money and we actually did about the same if not a little better than MoCCA this year (which, at the time, was my best sales ever). I even sold out of all 50 copies of the My Brain Hurts: Volume One collected book edition that I brought with me!

Right after the floor closed down, me and Zane went right upstairs for a much-needed nap until the Ignatz Awards started. Thank god for that, otherwise I would have just keeled over and passed out I think. When we went back downstairs for the awards, we ate some of the free snacks (mostly hummus and pita bread) and took our seats for the awards.

I’ve only been to one other Ignatz Awards ceremony (last year) but this one was super fun and hilarious. A guy in a gorilla suit wearing a Dude and Catastrophe t-shirt accepted the Best Online Comic award for Achewood (my personal favorite webcomic) and then Nick Gurewich (who was presenting) proceeded to “translate” the gorilla’s sign-language acceptance speech… with hilarious results, of course.

Here's a photo from Joe Zabel of Comixtalk of the event:



Alec Longstreth and Liz Prince presented the Outstanding Debut Award, the nominees for which are a super long list of everyone that had any book at the show that was new for the show (like My Brain Hurts #7). Since the list was so long, they decided to go tag-team on it and read it off really, REALLY fast… with hilarious results, of course.


(Another photo shameless stolen from Brian Heater of the Daily Crosshatch!)

It turned out that Alec actually WON the award for his mad editing skillz on Papercutter #6! Hooray!

After the Ignatzes, everyone spilled out into the bar room for more free snacks, and free chocolate fondue that they had going on in one of those huge chocolate fountain dealies. I took one of the tiny plates and loaded it up as much as I humanly could with mini brownie and angel food chunks, marshmallows, strawberries and pineapple. DELICIOUS!

I hung out and chit chatted for a while before deciding around 10:30 that I should start rounding people up for our Karaoke Karavan. Luckily I had brought several copies of the directions with me so I could give them out to anyone who needed them. Katie (who actually came up with the karaoke idea last year), Jenny Gonzalez, and I all walked around the room trying to collect people for karaoke and handed out directions. I couldn’t remember who had told me they were interested and who didn’t, so I just went up to everyone I knew I talked to that day.

By 11pm-ish most of us had made it out to the lobby to organize rides. There was a HUGE group of people coming – even Jeff Smith decided to come! We all organized into groups by around 11:20pm and set out on what would, completely unbeknownst to us, become something of an epic adventure.

Zane and Robin had been saying this whole time that they directions we had didn’t sound right, but Katie was the one who gave me the address of the place so I trusted that the Karaoke Kween herself would know these things. Unfortunately, the address did not lead to karaoke, as we discovered the hard way.

It led to the parking lot of the Verizon building.

Not long after we set out, I started getting calls from people saying the place didn’t exist, where were they, where was the place? I told everyone to just stay put in the parking lot and we’d figure it out. Soon there were several cars in the middle of the lot with their headlights on (and a cop car in the corner of the lot watching us – we must have looked pretty suspicious) and a few people outside the cars discussing what to do and where to go. It had the look of an illegal drag race or something. I felt like a girl in a poodle skirt was about to jump out and wave a flag! I kept half-joking that I would be mortified if I was to blame for getting Jeff Smith lost in the middle of Maryland en route to a fictitious karaoke bar.


(Photo totally stolen from Brian Heater at the Daily Crosshatch)

Luckily, it all worked out because Zane and Robin remembered where the place we went to last year was and told everyone how to get there. The one problem left was Mr. Phil and the people in his cab – we didn’t know how to get in touch with them! We all had Charlito’s number but no one had Mr. Phil’s (“the price of being so quiet,” we joked).


(This photo was taken by none other than everyone's favorite Colleen Venable)

However, the ridiculousness of Maryland’s street “grid” worked in our favor because the street we were on was incredibly short, so anyone driving around looking for this place wouldn’t be able to go far without us seeing them drive past. Zane got out of the car and stood down by the street and waved his arms around when he saw the cab which contained several people. He gave them directions, and that cab radioed one of the other cabs, and we were set! Everyone then headed off in the RIGHT direction and ended up there soon after! Hooray!

We got one of the “big” rooms but it turned out to not be big enough for the HUGE amount of people that showed up! We all crammed in there, one on top of the other, people standing on the couches, people spilling out into the hall, and we made it work! Douglas Wolk was one of the first to get singing and BOY could he ever belt out a tune! I don’t know why I was so surprised that he was such a good singer, but he was! Then me and Colleen did a spirited rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Alec and I did a great version of Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” (we also decided that it would be a new tradition that he and I have to sing Weezer songs together whenever we are doing karaoke because we did it at Aaron’s birthday party a month or so ago too).

The best photo of the night has to be the one where Zane managed to catch Jeff Smith's face at the back of the room, crystal clear, looking on in approval amidst the insanity of it all:



For more photos, check out my Flickr.

EVERYONE got into it, everyone sang (even if it wasn’t into the microphone), and everyone danced like crazy on the floor and on top of the couches and into the hall. It was AWESOME! Anyone that decided not to come really missed out on probably one of the greatest SPX after-parties EVER!

It was really difficult to pull off, and when we all got lost and ended up in the parking lot I thought to myself “Okay, I’m NEVER going to try and organize something this big EVER again! Clearly this is over my head.” But once we all got to the karaoke place, and everyone was singing and dancing and letting loose, and telling me it was the best time they had ever had… well… I definitely HAVE to do it again next year!

Here's one of the videos Zane took with his PDA (this one is me and Alec doing Buddy Holly... not that you can even really tell):



If anyone wants to see the rest (there's one of Joe Flood doing Brown Sugar, and a few other people doing other songs) check out my YouTube page.

And let's not forget the lady who came up with the idea for karaoke in the first place at SPX 2006, Katie Skelly, presiding over the madness as the Karaoke Kween herself:


(This photo was taken by none other than everyone's favorite Colleen Venable)
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Comments {27}

(Deleted comment)

Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
Link

That's what everyone who missed it LAST year said! Learn your lesson and come next year, okay?

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(Deleted comment)

Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
Link

Yes! That! Do that. You woulda had so much fun!

I discovered this year that not drinking more than one beer the entire weekend was really a VERY good idea! No hangovers, no muss, no fuss! Who knew that NOT drinking could actually make the weekend MORE fun??

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mattious

(no subject)

from: mattious
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
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Aww, thanks sweetie! Unlike the others though, I really could not have gone even if I'd wanted. I packed all weekend, and I'm also working on 4 different scripts all at the same time, plus I'm still seeing some people in Maine before I leave. Nooo time for a convention.

I missed you too though! You and Zane are wonderful people, and any missed opportunity to hang with you guys is certainly a pity.

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
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Aww shucks. But next year you HAVE to come, okay? Zane lamented your absence aloud when we went to karaoke because who else would act out "Crazy Train" in the corner of the room? Good luck with your move, by the way! I fully expect photos of the new place on your blog as soon as you get settled in!

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mattious

(no subject)

from: mattious
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
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What Liz fully expects, she shall receive.

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Rachel

(no subject)

from: xcentrikka
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
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Alas I cannot read this all now what with the impending 10 page paper that I have STILL not started. But I wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday! Yay!

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
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Aw thanks! I understand. Good luck with your paper!

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(no subject)

from: oharlene
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
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Happy belated birthday, Liz!

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks!

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josh·u·a post meridiem

(no subject)

from: joshpm
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
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Aw man! I didn't know it was your b-day!! ah well,I'll have to sneak attack you next year with fancy wrapped gift comics.
I had a great time at the Nerdlings!!! You guys are all 1) awesome comic artisters 2)really really fun to hang out with!

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Link

Oh shucks! Thank you.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - comics people are hands-down the funnest to party with. For some reason people keep forgetting!

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josh·u·a post meridiem

(no subject)

from: joshpm
date: Oct. 16th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
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people are forgetful! whatcha gonna do!
I think it's cause these kinda expos just don't happen often enough!!!

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A Punk Rock Joan Holloway Trying To Be Ianto Jones

(no subject)

from: redstapler
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh man, I gotta come next year.

Need a booth bitch or somethin'?

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
Link

Nah Zane's got that job pretty much cornered. But you should come anyway! SOMEBODY'S gotta be the attendee, ya know?

But yeah you pretty much have to come one of these years. SPX is the greatest!

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marcosperez

(no subject)

from: marcosperez
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Link

nice report!

and thanks for the nerdlinger!

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks! And you earned it, buddy!

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i drink your milkshake, i drink it up

T

from: miraclejackson
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
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YOU DO NOT CROSS MY NAME OUT EVER EVEN IF I'M NOT THERE IT'S A RULE.

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Liz Baillie

Re: T

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
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You wanna fight about it or something? BRING IT. I'm trying to start a cartoonist fight club anyway.

You still won the award in abstract. Just not in the physical realm.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
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Stealer.

--Brian H.

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Link

And shamelessly so!

Though it's not TOTALLY stealing since I gave you credit and a link. But I'll let you continue to think otherwise.

In any case I'm very glad SOMEONE got a photo of the parking lot stuff. Go you!

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
Link

someone needed to fill in the alternative comics paparazzi void.

the world needs its fix.

--brian.

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Colleen AF Venable

(no subject)

from: colleenaf
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
Link

If I knew how to use a sewing machine, I think I know the outfit Liz Baillie would be getting for her birthday!

Thank you guys again, so so much for the ride down! You're lucky I'm not a better sewer, or you would TOTALLY wind up with this outfit.

psst...other pictures are here!

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Link

Oh man, awesome, thanks! I'm totally gonna upload that joint to my Flickr and add it to the entry! You rule!

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Colleen AF Venable

(no subject)

from: colleenaf
date: Oct. 17th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
Link

My friend Leah took this Journey gem I had to pass along...



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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 17th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
Link

Dude that is a sick shot! I totally look lilke I'm EATING THE MICROPHONE! Thanks, I'm gonna drop it in my Flickr for safekeeping!

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Daniel Barlow

(no subject)

from: danielbarlow
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
Link

It was my first SPX and I found it to be, uh, a weekend-changing experience for me. Will be back next year.

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Liz Baillie

(no subject)

from: lizbaillie
date: Oct. 15th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)
Link

Yay! I think this year's SPX would have been a pretty decent first one. Better than sitting at home, that's for sure!

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