Small Press Expo
|Small Press Expo|
|Organized by||SPX: The Small Press Expo|
The Small Press Expo (SPX) is a registered 501(c)(3) that was created in 1994. Every year since its inception, SPX has put on a festival, known as The Expo, that provides a forum for artists, writers and publishers of comic art in its various forms to present their creations to the public and to expose the public to comic art not normally accessible through normal commercial channels. The annual SPX festival, typically held in the fall in Bethesda, Maryland, rivals the Alternative Press Expo as the premiere convention for alternative comics creators and fans. SPX is unique amongst the various comic conventions as it does not allow retailers to have a formal presence at the convention. Only creators and publishers are allowed to set up at the festival, although retailers can and do attend the show with the general public through paid admissions.
SPX is closely associated with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). A portion of the profits from the annual SPX festival including raising activities that take place during the convention weekend, go to the CBLDF. Since 1997, SPX has been held in conjunction with the International Comics and Animation Festival (ICAF) many times.
SPX was founded in 1994 by a group of Washington-Baltimore area retailers to promote diversity in the comics marketplace. It also coincided with Dave Sim's "Spirits of Independence" tour. Attendees of the early years often speak of the close-knit community that was attained during the convention, citing offbeat occurrences such as James Kochalka's nude musical performance in 1998 and the annual pig roast/picnic.
Both the Expo and ICAF, scheduled for September 14–16, were cancelled in 2001 due to creators' travel difficulties related to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The so-called SP-Xiles event was held on September 16 in Brooklyn, New York to in some ways replace the canceled Expo; it raised $1925.00 for the American Red Cross and the New York Fire Fighter's 9-11 Relief Fund.
In 2011 SPX began a new charitable initiative, the Graphic Novel Gift Program. Through this initiative, SPX purchases graphics novels on behalf of a local library system, as selected from a list of works from participating publishers. SPX provides participating libraries with a pull list and a budget. The selected books are provided to the library as a gift of the Small Press Expo. Artist Lili Carre created a special book plate that is included with each volume provided through the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program.
From 1997–2004, SPX published an annual anthology as a companion to the convention. The first edition (1997) was in standard comic format, while all subsequent editions were in digest format. Contributors included Alex Robinson, Frank Cho, Marc Hempel, Brian Ralph, and many others. The anthology was discontinued as an annual production after 2004.
- "Small Press Expo Initiates First Festival Prize for Comic Books: Ignatz Award," Comics Buyer's Guide (Sept. 12, 1997), p. 8
- "Newswatch: SPX/ICAF Cancelled in Wake of Terrorist Attacks on New York and Washington DC," The Comics Journal #238 (Oct. 2001), p. 100.
- "New York: Impromptu SP-Xiles Event Raises Funds for Charity," The Comics Journal #238 (Oct. 2001), p. 101.