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3 September 2008, 4:00 pm No Comments

Events: Queers at SPX

Event Details: Queers at SPX - :
On the way to my folks’ place in Newark, Del. this weekend, I stopped halfway in Hampden, Baltimore at Atomic Books–arguably the area’s best place to find all the indie, small press publications you’d have to straddle at least four stores and some Web sites to accomplish in D.C. proper.

I’m not telling most people anything new, but Hampden is also a nice place to amble along the streets, have a delicious burrito, and rifle through vintage ephemera. The neighborhood has been fodder for the John Waters canon, you’ll see a constant stream of MICA art fags and meth heads along the Avenue (the main street), and it’s ground zero for the annual Miracle on 34th Street near-pornographic display of Xmas lights. For me, though, it’s always been about the shelves and shelves of comics at Atomic. Small Press Expo (SPX) is only a month away, and I needed to establish a solid catalog of who to stalk at this year’s show.

My love for comic books swings all ways—queer, straight, dude, lady—if it’s a good story, I can get down with it. It’d be nice, though, if SPX corralled all of the queer comic book artists, and all the queer content, into one corner of the exhibit hall. It’d make fawning so much easier. In lieu of that, I went to prismcomics.org and pulled up the profiles page for every queer comic book artist, and did a line-by-line comparison with who’s showing at SPX this year. This is what you do in the Delaware suburbs, after you’ve finished lighting all the candles on the obligatory Biden shrine installed in every cul-de-sac.

In years past, SPX has put together queer panel discussions as part of their programming. They haven’t announced the schedule yet, but I’m hoping that this sizeable list merits a discussion beyond isolated interactions at vendor booths. Here’s the list of homos showing at SPX this year:

Y’all know Robert Kirby, and if you don’t, check this site Friday for the latest (and final?) installment of Curbside. Liz Baillie’s comic “My Brain Hurts” follows the misadventures of queer punk kids Joey and Kate (pictured, above)–SPX will cap the release of the last issue of this series, but I have faith that Baillie will continue to queer up the comic zine scene. I’ve run across Jen Camper and Joey Sayers’ stuff before, but otherwise, this list is a lot of new-to-me artists.

Alison Bechdel, Abby Denson, and Diane DiMassa round out the queer comics sitting on my shelf. Beyond those, I keep a bald eye out for queer themes—David Heatley’s self-deprecating exploits in Dead Pan occasionally dip into gay territory, Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings pairs the protagonist with a dyke sidekick, Daniel Clowes’ art school opus in the anthology 20th Century Eightball isn’t afraid to go gay for a day, Milky Boots is a comic zine written by a lady named Virginia who seems down with the bros and the hos, Phoebe Gloeckner’s autobiographical A Child’s Life should get honorary queer status by dint of being so fucked up, and anthologies True Porn and True Porn 2 definitely feature some homoerotic (if not blatantly queer) content.

The truth is, SPX can be a bit of a straight bro-down. So for the queer-minded, or lady-centric comic book readers out there, check this list, make your own, buy something you’ve never read before, and take a risk that you will find your new favorite comic. That’s how I found Vanessa Davis’ Spaniel Rage and Lauren Weinstein’s Inside Vineyland. If you want to cast a wide net, check out anthologies like Mome, Kramer’s Ergot, thematic collections like Isn’t it Romantic and Roadstrips, or R. Crumb’s collaborative zine, Mineshaft. Or go with people working under the same publishing house–odds are you will like other artists at Slave Labor Graphics, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, and Microcosm, if you like one.

Okay, sorry to wag on about that. Tell us who you’re reading, and stay tuned to TNG for future SPX 2008 coverage!

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  • Liz Baillie said:

    Thanks for the shout-out! There are always TONS of great comics at SPX, it can be impossible to keep up with them all.

  • N. Pantz said:

    wow! thanks for all this compilin, coach! i love lots of these folx! i do think that, even though she’s all L word now and shit, every baby dyke should read the ariel schragg series…high school + sexuality = painfully delicious!

  • milkyboots said:

    Thanks for the shout out also!