I volunteered at SPX this year, and attended both days. It's a great experience. I didn't meet a single person among the volunteers who wasn't just great, and the volunteer coordinator is pretty awesome, and made me feel welcomed and useful, even when I was standing around with nothing to do. They keep a good number of people on hand just in case anything comes up, and I stayed and worked when there was something I could do, so I didn't feel like a freeloader. I carried a ballot box around for the Ignatz ballots so that exhibitors could get theirs turned in without having to leave their booths, and later I went around to a couple rows of exhibitors to show them where to go when they left for the day. It was fun, and it was a good way to get around and make eye contact with a lot of exhibitors. For instance, I really wanted to meet Kate Beaton and say hi, and tell her the usual 'your stuff is really cool, etc' but there was always a crowd around her... So instead, I got to tell her where to exit when she left... it was almost like talking.
Some high points for me from Saturday were getting to meet Eden (from the comicsgirl blog) and Dan Govar (Saulone on Zuda, creator of the comic Azure) in person. I walked around the exhibit hall with Dan, and it was a lot of fun. I have been watching him draw on livestream and chatting with him a good bit lately there. Eden is responsible for my even knowing that I could volunteer, through her enthusiastic advocacy of volunteering at spx, etc. It really was a great experience. I also got to say hi to a good number of people I had met the previous year, and meet a variety of new and awesome people. I really enjoyed meeting Miss Lasko-Gross, and the other folks in the House of Twelve booth. She was funny and nice, and I had a lot of fun yammering at her. I hope to buy 'a Mess of Everything' at some point in the future, but it wasn't in my budget for SPX.
I attended one panel on Saturday, and it was the critics roundtable. it was absolutely worth sitting in on, and I will make a point to get to that sort of thing any time I can. It was absolutely packed with a pretty broad range of people who write or post about comics. It helped me understand some things about myself, and appreciate some of the panelists a little better.
I was absolutely dead and my feet were screaming in pain when I got home last night, but I took a hot bath after my Wife and daughters wouldn't stop laughing at my wincing everytime I moved my legs. The bath and sleep certainly helped.
Sunday morning I got up and went back. I picked up most of the things i had made mental notes about. I stopped and saw Joe Flood again and picked up a comic I had wanted to get from him. I attended two panels, One was the Carol Tyler conversation, and the other was about comics and community. The Carol Tyler one will be the subject of its own post at some point. She was wonderful and insightful. I broke a rule of my own and risked castration by walking right out of the panel when it was done and buying her book so that I could have her sign it, but most importantly because I have to read it now that I have heard her talk about it... It's become important to me. Seriously, It was a funny and touching and insightful talk. Things like that really make a good con even better. The comics and community one annoyed me a little, but was not without some good stuff, and was still worth attending. My thoughts on it will probably pop up again somewhere.
I will make a point to volunteer next year. There was no downside to being there... If I had to pick one, it would definitely be:
Rob makes an ass out of himself in front of people he respects... SPX edition.
I was running around telling the exhibitors how to leave the showroom when I walked up on Joe McCullough and Tucker Stone talking to people at one of the exhibitor's tables. I am a big fan of both Joe and Tucker. Joe writes insight filled smart wordy posts with a comics scholar's knowledge of the material and the greater 'world of comics' that it exists within, etc. I did an ok job telling him how much I respected his work. Tucker was talking to someone, so (assuming they are friends, as they drove down together I think, and they seem to have some camaraderie at least), I then rambled like an idiot to Joe about how much I appreciated Tyler's work as well. Sometimes I can't make myself stop talking. I related that when I first read Tucker's work I was appalled by it and wanted to act as sort of the anti-him, but then I read more and more and realized that regardless of how he was conveying it, his words generally echoed my sentiment, just with the word 'fuck' appearing more in his work, and with his showing a bit more passion and a sharper sense of humor. I think at the core of his criticism is some of the most honest comics writing you will get. It doesn't wear a pretentious overcoat like a lot of people with his kind of exposure seem to, and I appreciate it.
So instead of saying anything coherent directly to him I think I made Joe worry that I might have had a knife on me or something, or wonder how I had changed out of my hospital gown on my way to the expo...
It was still a good time.
Coming soon I will start reading and posting on the great volume of mini and not so mini comics I picked up at the show.