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So lots of stories about this weekend's SPX convention in the news.  Mike Rhode interviewed SPX Director Warren Bernard and TCJ also had an interview with Bernard that focused on the new Small Press Expo at the U.S. Library of Congress.

And here's some other interviews with creators who will be appearing at SPX :

The Small Press Expo Collection at the Library of Congress

The Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons, is pleased to announce the establishment of the Small Press Expo Collection at The Library of Congress.  In a first of its kind relationship, SPX is creating with the Library of Congress an ongoing collection that will focus on the craft and diversity of the independent comics community. Only those who have attended SPX as guests or exhibitors can have their works considered for the collection.

SPX Events to benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons, is pleased to announce two fundraising events that will occur at the 2011 festival.

Roz Chast original cartoons: New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, known for her single-panel cartoons, illustration work and children's books, will draw and sell original cartoons at the SPX signing table. Proceeds will be divided equally between SPX's new Graphic Novel Gift Program and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Pen and ink drawings will be $25 and watercolor drawings $50; Ms. Chast will be drawing on Saturday,  1:30-3:30PM and  5-6:30PM, and on Sunday from Noon-1:30PM. Additionally, books will be available for purchase at the signing table from our good friends at Politics & Prose.

Jeff Alexander Memorial Benefit Auction: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the organizers of SPX are proud to honor the memory of former SPX Executive Director Jeff Alexander by launching an annual benefit auction in his name. Jeff Alexander was a friend to the small press community, both as a cartoonist and an organizer of SPX and the Ignatz Awards.  He passed away earlier this year.

Small Press Expo welcomes guests from the The New Yorker, ‘70s Comix Underground, and animated political cartooning

SPX boasts an exceptionally diverse exhibitor and guest list this year, featuring one of the long time top cartoonist working at The New Yorker, a vanguard editor/creator in Underground Comix, as well as a Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist and animator.

It's a Month for Conventions

I'll be wandering around SPX on Sunday (can't make Saturday this year) with no official duties except seeing as much cool comics as possible.  DC Comics blogger Mike Rhode has interviews with artists attending SPX including Alexis Farjado and Keith Knight (psst - I just reviewed his most recent collection).

The weekend after next is Intervention -- I hope to be there too but haven't 100% firmed up my plans.

Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil


Zahra's Paradise has been serialized on the web since February 10, 2010. The book will be available in mid-September.  This is a powerful, moving book that is a fantastic, gripping read. It is also an important book and deserves wide attention.

Will Wacom Inkling Replace the Scanner?

By now I'm sure you've seen announcements of the new WACOM INKLING product -- sure does look cool doesn't it? 

Amulet 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

The Last Council, the fourth book of the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi is truly its Empire Strikes Back moment.  The tone is much darker, things go badly for our heroes and a fairly dramatic reveal occurs that changes and broadens the scope of the saga.  The first three Amulet books built to bigger and challenges and larger triumphs and so it is a fairly significant shift for the fourth book to dramatically deepen the challenge and leave Emily and her fellow heroes with even bigger odds to overcome than they imagined at the start of the series.

Too Small To Fail: A (Th)ink Anthology by Keith Knight

When I think of Keith Knight, I think of The K Chronicles, a multi-panel weekly look at culture and politics which ran forever in Salon before that website foolishly abandoned several series it had long featured.  But he's been creating the single panel comic (Th)ink for just about as long.  I reviewed (Th)ink way back in 2004 (although sadly all of the links to individual comics I embedded in that review no longer work).  (He's also the creator of The Knight Life which is syndicated in newspapers.)  He has a new collection of (Th)ink out called Too Small To Fail.

Ratfist by Doug TenNapel

I've gotten to know Doug TenNapel's work through his graphic novels for kids, including his most recent Bad Island.  It's fair to say I have become a fan of his work.  This year he also serialized his first webcomic, Ratfist, which will be collected in a print edition to be published by Image this December.  Clocking in at 150 pages, Ratfist shares a lot with his all ages work, but in other regards is completely different.

It's about the adventures of a superhero of sorts named Ratfist, although we are introducted to him as he is about to retire (or at least say goodbye to his partner, a rat) in order to propose to his girlfriend Gina.  Since we don't get to see his actual adventures beforehand, I'm not entirely sure he's not just a deluded guy who liked wearing a costume and has a pet rat.

There's much less coherent world-building going on in this story than what I've come to expect from TenNapel --  it has much more of a, "yeah, let's throw that in too!" feel to its disparate elements which range from angels to aliens (tiki-aliens) to time travel to science fiction.  It looks like TenNapel's having fun with the comic, but for me it doesn't really hang together as a convincing world.  Part of the problem to me was the introduction of TenNapel himself as a character which doesn't seem to serve any real purpose other than to emphasize the fictional nature of the story we're reading.