Small Press Expo Debut Highlights
Small Press Expo 2016 is one of the convention highlights of the year for me. The annual festiaval is an amazing convention focused on indie comics and small press and a convention where you find comics you won’t find anywhere else. I always walk out of the convention with my wallet hurting from all of the purchases.
The convention takes place September 17 and 18 at the Marriott North Bethesda Hotel & Conference Center.
Below is just a sampling of the over 200 comics debuting at the show.
After Land Vol. 1 by Chris Taylor
Publisher: Floating World Comics Price: $19.99
The debut graphic novel from illustrator, designer, and musician Chris Taylor. A science-fiction soap opera featuring the exploits of a no-nonsense detective named NONO who is a composite of two females named JO and DO. JO has the mysterious ability to ingest the milk from the Madeleine Flower and enter an ethereal realm known as PURE INTUITION where she can spy on the unconscious minds of humanity. JO shares this information with DO and together, as NONO, they sell it to the highest bidder in the cloud.
American Blood by Benjamin Marra
Publisher: Fantagraphics Price: $19.99
American Blood is an unholy collection of cartoonist Benjamin Marra’s provocative short stories from the past several years, including “Gangsta Rap Posse,” “The Naked Heroes,” “Lincoln Washington,” “Ripper,” and “The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd” (in which the controversial political columnist must fight off fanatic White House officials and Hezbollah commandos in time to file her most important column yet, and make a date with George Clooney). Born from the crucible of 1980s trash culture and exploitation entertainment and focused like a laser through the prism of Marra’s brain comes this nasty brew of revenge, power, and passion. It is a reflection of the things that America celebrates and for which it is scorned, and often blurs the lines between the two. This is the definitive assembling of Marra’s most underground work.
Band for Life by Anya Davidson
Publisher: Fantagraphics Price: $29.99
and for Life is the story, told in comic strip form, of a noise rock band and their community of friends and acquaintances based in an alternate reality version of Chicago. Though beset with disaster at every turn and frequently reduced to squabbling, they stick together because the band is the fulcrum of their otherwise confounding lives, and together they help each other find their way. Fusing elements of the classic British sitcom The Young Ones, as well as classic kids comic strips like Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and John Stanley’s Melvin Monster, Band for Life is a work of dark humor, but also infused with genuine affection for its cast; in many ways it is a love letter to creative people compelled to create, with no hope of financial reward.
Cicada by Joni Miller
Publisher: Self-published Price: $10
A short horror comic about a freelance writer and a sacrificial insect.
Cook Korean!: A Comic Book With Recipes by Robin Ha
Publisher: Ten Speed Press Price: $19.99
Picture It: You Can Master Korean Cooking
Fun to look at and easy to use, this unique combination of cookbook and graphic novel is the ideal introduction to cooking Korean cuisine at home. Robin Ha’s colorful and humorous one- to three-page comics fully illustrate the steps and ingredients needed to bring more than sixty traditional (and some not-so-traditional) dishes to life.
In these playful but exact recipes, you’ll learn how to create everything from easy kimchi (mak kimchi) and soy garlic beef over rice (bulgogi dupbap) to seaweed rice rolls (gimbap) and beyond. Friendly and inviting, Cook Korean! is perfect for beginners and seasoned cooks alike who want to try their hand at this wildly popular cuisine.
Copra Round Four by Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Bergen Street press Price: $19.95
COPRA Round Four marks the return of the world’s favorite revenge team. The psychedelic suspense builds at a fantastic speed while featuring enough bone crunching brutality to satisfy the most ardent hyper-violent enthusiasts out there. Check off Copra’s international kill list at the peak of their mondo bizarro bloodlust.
DC Punk Issue 3: Nation of Ulysses part 2 by Evan Keeling
Publisher: DC Punk Price $5.00
Revolutionaries, fashion plates, juvenile delinquents, political party, manic punk rock band, Nation of Ulysses has been called all these. This is the first of multiple issues that will chronicle the four years of the bands existence. Taking place between 1990 and 1991, Nation of Ulysses embark on their first tour, record their first album and meet people they will form long term alliances with.
DC Punk is a series of comics about the DC punk scene. It is currently focussing on the 90’s era.
Extinction by Sanjay Kulkacek
Publisher: Self-published Price: $12
Extinction is a collection of nine tiny stories by Sanjay Kulkaček about the inevitable loss of every organism on the planet.
It is hopefully bittersweet, funny, and good.
It is definitely 72 pages, black and white, 5.25 inches by 8.125 inches, and soft-cover.
If you would like to read it beforehand, it is available on Gumroad at https://gum.co/xtinction where you can name your own price for the digital book.
Go Fuck Myself! by Mike Freiheit
Publisher: Self-published Price: $6.00
Join Mike Freiheit and a cast of colorful creatures as he travels through time trying to decode a very important question: where did all of this go wrong? 40 pages of short stories all tied together to create a weird narrative.
How To: Dating and Relationships pt. 1 by Ed Siemienkowicz
Publisher: Self-published Price: $5.00
Men and women have been pairing up for as long as humans have existed, but why is it still so complicated and awkward?
Cartoonist Ed Siemienkowicz shares his advice on dating from the ground up: the first move, what to say, consent, and DIRTY PICTURES.
Hungover: Stories from the Bottom of the Barrel by Various
Publisher: Ink and Drink Comics Price: $12.99
After dutifully capturing the essence of every genre from every angle our mad minds could think of, your comic-making compadres at Ink and Drink Comics greet the morning after, buzz-brained and bleary-eyed with Hungover: Stories from the Bottom of the Barrel, a collection of stories that weren’t quite ready to go home when the editors previously yelled “Last call!” But these comics are no mere leftovers… no, these lost dogs have bite! From the twisted truth behind the lost Roanoke colony to rowdy ‘rasslers (human as well as dinosaur!), from vengeful queens to warm Christmas scenes, this book has something for everyone. If you know Ink and Drink, you know the quality herein. If you don’t know us, then the richly varied stories in this “odds and sods” anthology make for the perfect taste test.
I Thought You Hated Me by Mari Naomi
Publisher: Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics Price: $9.00
When MariNaomi first meets Mirabai in grade school, Mirabai seems to be more of a bully than a friend. But over the course of time, their relationship shifts from tense to friendly, to drifting apart, to reconnecting and finding something much deeper.
I Thought You Hated Me is a comics memoir about female friendship, a story that doesn’t involve stale tropes like acrimonious competition or fighting over boys. It explores the complexity and depth of this particular friendship through snapshot-vignettes of relevant moments over thirty years, painting a portrait of something unique but relatable, common but extraordinary.
Jacob Bladders and the State of the Art by Roman Muradov
Publisher: Self-published Publisher: Uncivilized Books Price: $16.99
Jacob Bladders, illustrator, braggart, and victim of assault by thugs sent by the mysterious Charlie. Part satire of commercial art, part noirish detective, part puzzle to be solved… or left in pieces. Roman Muradov’s forgotten 1948 classic is an ink-smeared Blakean vision of 1940s New York where twitter exists as a network of pneumatic tubes, but artwork is still delivered by hand.
Launch by Josh Dykstra
Publisher: Self-published Price: $5.00
A new mini comic from writer/illustrator Josh Dykstra. Lizabeth is a girl stranded on an unknown snowy planet. She is determined to survive its harsh environment. Only with the help of her dog Fraggle and her mysterious yet powerful bazooka does she have any chance for survival.
Mana by Priya Huq
Publisher: Self-published Price: $6.00
Samudra is on a lonely journey to find the “ocean,” a concept she’s only dreamt about. On her way she encounters ghosts, all of whom seem to show Samudra special interest…
This is a preview comic of an upcoming installment of Mana, which updates for free online at mindheartmemory.tumblr.com.
Mooncop by Tom Gauld
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly Price: $19.95
The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. Each day that the Mooncop goes to work, life gets a little quieter and a little lonelier.
As in Goliath, Tom Gauld’s retelling of the Bible story, the focus in Gauld’s science fiction is personal–no big explosions or grand reveals, just the incremental dissolution of an abandoned project and a person’s slow awakening to his own uselessness. Depicted in the distinctive, matter-of-fact style of Gauld’s beloved Guardianstrips, Mooncop is equal parts funny and melancholy. Gauld captures essential truths about humanity, making this a story of the past, present, and future, all in one.
Munch by Steffen Kvemeland
Publisher: SelfMadeHero Price: $24.95
An extraordinary and inventive graphic biography, Steffen Kverneland’s Munch explores the relationships and obsessions that drove the artist behind ‘The Scream’. Using text drawn from the writings of Edvard Munch and his contemporaries, this extensively researched and beautifully drawn graphic novel debunks the familiar myth of the half-mad expressionist painter – anguished, starving and ill-treated – to reveal the artist’s neglected sense of humour and optimism. Born out of a life-long fascination with all things Munch, Kverneland’s award-winning seven-year project is the funniest and most entertaining portrait yet of a complex man and a pioneering artist.
Steffen Kverneland is an award-winning comics artist. He is the author of biographies of Henrik Ibsen and Olaf Gulbransson, among many other books. He lives in Norway.
My Car’s a Spaceship, And My Spaceship’s a Boy! by Kris Mukai
Publisher: Self-published Price: $10
32 page comic about a young street racer whose car is a spaceship and a boy.
Our Best Shot: Disclosures of Unlawful Compassion in the United States by Anonymous
Publisher: Silver Sprocket Price: $4.00
The first hand account of a secret Supervised Injection Facility (or “SIF”) operating illegally in the United States against the disastrous “War On Drugs.”
Despite the existence of needle exchange programs of questionable legality scattered throughout the country, drug policy in the United States remains a horrifically immoral mess, costing thousands of lives and millions of dollars every year.
Our politically motivated drug policies are divorced from shared goals of helping addicts get off drugs, improving public health and safety, rehabilitation, and crime reduction.
Supervised Injection Facilities are proven to save lives, save money, prevent crime, and serve as a gateway to treatment everywhere else in the developed world, yet they remain illegal in the United States.
This comic book is the true story of one such secret facility.
Refugees by Pablo Leon
Publisher: Self-published Price: $15.00
Refugees tells the true stories of people migrating from Latin America into the United States, and why anyone would take such a risky journey. Immigration affects everyone, and things aren’t as simple as “just go home.” There’s always a story behind them.
Rolling Blacouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly Price: $24.95
Cartoonist Sarah Glidden follows up her acclaimed debut, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, with Rolling Blackouts, which details her two-month long journey through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Glidden accompanies her two friends–reporters and founders of the journalistic non-profit The Seattle Globalist–as they research stories on the Iraq War\’s effect on the Middle East and, specifically, the war\’s refugees. Joining them is a former Marine and childhood friend of one of the journalists whose deployment to Iraq in 2007 adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.
The crew works their way through the region with the goal of asking civilians, refugees, and officials: \”who are you?\” Everyone has a story to tell: the Iranian blogger, the United Nations Refugee administrator, a taxi driver, the Iraqi refugee deported from the US, the Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria, and even the American Marine. The journalists struggle equally with how to tell these stories and with how to market them into articles people will want to read.
Glidden records all that she encounters with a sympathetic and searching eye–What is journalism? What is its purpose? What is honesty? Painted in her trademark soft muted watercolors and written with a self-effacing humor, Rolling Blackouts cements Glidden\’s place as one of comics\’s most original nonfiction voices.
SP4RX by Wren McDonald
Publisher: Nobrow Price: $18.95
SP4RX, a young hacker who lives off grid, hacks into corporations and sells stolen data to wealthy buyers on the black market – just your average thief. Mega corporation Structus Industries introduces a welfare programme called the “Elpis Program”, which allows the working class to apply for Cybernetic implants to make workers more efficient. On the surface, it seems like a programme to empower the poor and allow them to rise to the ranks of the elite. But SP4RX soon discovers all is not as it seems… SP4RX and Structus are set on a collision course with the fate of humanity at stake in Wren McDonald’s latest sci-fi tale of survival and corruption!
That Time I Met Bill Clinton… And He Stole My Favorite Pen! by Rachel Scheer
Publisher: Rachel Comics Price: $4.00
Using her own autobiographical experiences with the event, Rachel examines the short-lived phenomenon that was “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” in the early 1990s. (The event has since been re-branded as “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”.)
When Rachel learned she would actually be visiting the White House herself, her highest hope was to see Socks, the Clinton family cat. Little did she know there was a bigger surprise waiting for her — one that would prove to be bittersweet when it cost her a treasured possession…
The Coyote by Alison Wear and David Caldwell
Publisher: Self-published Price: $6.00
On a farm in the Southern Appalachians, the coyotes have been picking off cattle. But when neighbors organize a hunt, old wounds and rivalries resurface while they wait for their prey. A short story from artist David Caldwell and writer Allison Wear. 32 pages black & white
The Trial of Roger Casement by Fionnuala Doran
Publisher: SelfMadeHero Price: $19.95
In 1911, Roger Casement was knighted by King George V for his groundbreaking humanitarian work in Africa and South America. Five years later, he was hanged for treason. The Trial of Roger Casement charts the events that led a man renowned for his compassion to the noose.
Based on real events, Fionnuala Doran’s absorbing graphic novel explores Casement’s startling downfall, from his efforts to secure German backing for an independent Ireland to his disastrous return home and subsequent arrest. Condemned as a revolutionary, his sexuality laid bare by the circulation of his private journals, Casement’s fate was all but sealed. And yet, on his final day in the courtroom, he delivered a brave, impassioned speech that would resonate long after his death.
Fionnuala Doran is an Irish artist, living and working between Scotland and England. She graduated with an MA in Visual Communication from the Royal College of Art in 2015 and is senior lecturer of Teesside University’s newly launched BA in Comics, Graphic Novels and Sequential Art. Winner of the 2014 Comics Unmasked competition at the British Library, she has worked between fine art and comics, acting as a director of Catalyst Arts, Belfast’s foremost artist-led gallery, and as co-editor of Modern Times, Britain’s first magazine of graphic journalism since the 19th century.
Toward a Hot Jew by Miriam Libicki
Publisher: Fantagraphics Price: $25.00
In her first collection of graphic essays, Miriam Libicki investigates what it means globally and culturally to be Jewish, dating from her time in the Israeli military to her tenure as an art professor. Toward a Hot Jew is a new high watermark in autobiographical comics and shows Miriam Libicki as a powerful witness to history in the tradition of Martjane Satrapi and Joe Sacco.
Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore
Publisher: Silver Sprocket Price: $5.00
Your Black Friend is an open letter from your black friend to you about race, racism, friendship and alienation.
This is a new edition of Ben Pasmore’s previously self-released comic.