Wow! SPX and Intervention in one long weekend of comics; it took me awhile to recover and get back to writing up lessons learned. I felt a little stretched trying to cover ground at both conventions — but it looks like no one will have to do that again as Intervention will almost certainly be on a different weekend in the Fall next year. Ideally, Intervention would be in the summer or spring to really separate it from SPX, but co-creator Oni Hartstein explained that a Spring date for the show would be cost prohibitive.
SPX was more of the same as it has been since the move to the Bethesda Convention Center — one big room filled with rows and rows of comic creators talking about their comics with books and swag to sell. The presence of webcomics at the show grows every year — this year Kate Beaton was the rock star of the show, with lines longer than anyone else had. Jeph Jacques' table and a whole group of webcomics at one corner of the room were all pretty constantly crowded from what I could tell. It's kind of a no-brainer when you say it out loud, but if you have a webcomic with a decent to more than decent sized audience, SPX is potentially a really good show. People are there for the comics and outside of New York, this is one of the best places on the East Coast to see a whole lot of the entire spectrum of comics.
I also saw a lot of all ages comics throughout the floor of SPX this year — I don't have anything to do with SPX right now but I will suggest to the organizers the possibility of doing something to promote all ages comics next year. Some panels, maybe a portion of the floor for all ages comics only and ideally a break on the admission fee for kids. There was easily enough work there for kids in 2010 to make this a really good idea for next year's SPX.
I really enjoy SPX and I always find some interesting books. Whether it's valid or not, every year I notice the overall quality of the room creeping upwards. This has more to do with seeing fewer and fewer iffy works than some dramatic increase in masterpieces, but at least anecdotally I think it's a great sign of the growing level of talent in comics.
Intervention was in its first year and it's impossible to compare it to SPX fairly. It does strike me as something with a lot of potential — since SPX is firmly about comics, Intervention is all alone in bringing other "Internet" stuff to DC – this year alone it had workshops on ComicPress from Frump, music from the FuMP project, Super Art Fight, and Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School. But it will have to grow its audience to make it worthwhile for the bigger comics creators to make it part of their regular convention schedule. I do think it can work – the organizer, Oni and Harknell really did amazing work getting the first year's edition off without too many hiccups. Because Intervention was a bit less crowded this year, for me anyway, it was a great opportunity to chat with creators like Brad Guigar and David Willis. I also bought my new favorite t-shirt from H. Caldwell Tanner.
For SPX be sure to check out Tom Spurgeon's list of links to reports, photos and videos of this year's edition. I did several short interviews there with Jerzy Drozd, Sara Turner, Katie Sekelsky, Ben Costa and five other indie comics creators. In addition, here's another one I did with writer Sam Costello:
For Intervention be sure to check out some photos here. I had a panel on blogging with Mike Rhode from Washington City Paper and the ComicsDC blog plus Kara Dennison. I also did a couple interviews there – one with Chris Impink and this one with Ben "Tovias" McCormick, creator of the webcomic Reality Amuck:
It was a bit exhausting, but worth it to chat, even briefly, with a lot of people making great comics. I wish in retrospect I had spent more time organizing interviews and my schedule, but I'm happy I was able to do more this year than anything in past years. Not sure if I'll be able to be more ambitious in 2011 but I'm looking forward to seeing how what's next for these two conventions in 2011.