Small Press Expo Announces its 2021 Virtual Programming Slate

Small Press Expo

In addition to the previously announced live-streamed Ignatz Award ceremony, the Small Press Expo is pleased to announce that there will be a full slate of programming on Saturday, September 18th, and Sunday, September 19th, 2021.

Beginning at 11:00 AM EST each day, the panels will stream on the SPX YouTube channel. The programming includes a documentary about the diverse creator voices at SPX and workshops from Liz Reed and Tom Hart. There will be panels on Queer Joy, innovation in the use of color, starting your own local comics scene, and many more. The Spotlight panel will be on Bill Campbell and Bizhan Khodabandeh’s book The Day The Klan Came To Town, moderated by ICAF’s Dr. Qiana Whitted.

Check the SPX 2021 Program Schedule for an up-to-date list of everything that has been announced so far, and
Following the program schedule at 8:00 PM on Saturday, September 18 will be the livestream broadcast of the 2021 Ignatz Awards ceremony, also on the SPX Youtube Channel.

All the action begins on Saturday September 18th. 

SPX 2021 Programming

(All times are Eastern Time)


Enemies of the State
Join moderator Alex Hoffman and fellow critics Rob Clough, Daniel Elkin, and Jules Bakes for a special SPX edition of the podcast Enemy Of The State. The panel’s special guest is artist E.A. Bethea, whose Francis Bacon was nominated for a 2021 Ignatz Award. They will ask her in-depth questions regarding the comic and its remarkably dense qualities.

Personal Comics from Color, Shape, Line … and Lyrics!
You can make comics only with an open heart and whatever materials you have lying around. In one of the favorite workshops at SAW, Tom Hart will guide you through making 8-page mini-comics that uses song lyrics, personal memories and simple drawing and painting to make a personal comic that says what you feel and has a magic all its own. Suitable for all ages.

Comics, Bodies, and Embodiment
Bodies take many forms, and our relationship with one’s own can shift throughout our lives. Comics are a powerful tool for understanding and accepting the bodies in which we live. Joel Christian Gill, Tatiana Gill, Ashley Robin Franklin, and Robin Smith discuss their work as a means of exploring the corporeal form in a discussion led by Alison WIlgus.

Queer Joy and Queer Friendships
Join moderator Carta Monir and guests Emma Jayne, Crystal Frasier, and Walter Scott in a celebration of queer joy in comics. This discussion focuses on the power of queer friendships and happiness as both driving force and radiant rebellion.

Ourselves, In Stories: A Documentary Of The Small Press Expo
Award-winning documentarian Marjee Chmiel screens her documentary on SPX. Titled Ourselves, In Stories, it takes a look at the challenges, obstacles, and rewards of crafting new stories and redefining our cultural vision for whose stories are heard. Moderator Warren Bernard joins Marjee after the screen to ask her about the inspiration for and making of the film.

The Local Scene: Shows, Publishing, and Getting Started
While not every city has congregations of cartoonists like Chicago or Portland, every city has its own particular advantages and special qualities that can create its own unique scene. Join moderator Robin Enrico along with publishers and scene-makers Juan Fernandez, Jamila Rowser, Avi Ehrlich, and Neil Brideau as they discuss ideas regarding pedagogy, connecting with local schools and institutions, and incorporating other media and art scenes in creating your own.

Playing With The Medium
The familiar grids and linear storytelling of comics have stood the test of time. However, there are always innovators looking to stretch the formal limits of comics. Be it creating metafictional narratives, creating constraints on a page, or integrating comics with other media, there’s a rich tradition of playing with the medium of comics. Formal comics expert Dr. Craig Fischer will engage with experimental cartoonists Matt Madden, Shing Yin Khor, Nguyen K. Nguyen, and Joe Kessler on their formal experiments.


Comics and Meditative Intention
What mindset is required for cartoonists to work? Is drawing a form of work or play? How does this relate to Lynda Barry’s conception of play as a serious, meditative activity? How do artists escape thinking about whether or not their work is good while they are doing it? Moderator Rob Clough discusses these and other questions with Hartley Lin, Keiler Roberts, Jason Shiga, and Luke Kruger-Howard.

Mixed Media Storytelling
Liz Reed of Cuddles and Rage walks you through how to sculpt Zombie Strawberries from C&R’s graphic novel Bites of Terror. This online workshop is designed to use clay and household materials to create your very own mixed media comic at home. The materials needed include: white, green, and red clay (polymer or air dry), foil, toothpicks, q-tips, a paintbrush, a gray marker or paint, cotton balls, glue, and a cutting tool. We’d love to see your zombie strawberries in action! When posting to social tag @spxcomics and @cuddlesandrage. Bites of Terror is a mixed media horror anthology by Cuddles and Rage from Quirk Books. You can find Bites of Terror online wherever books are sold or buy the book directly from Cuddles and Rage on Etsy.

World-Building And New Futures
What does the world become when any future is imaginable? From the smallest details to -all-expansive histories, alternate worlds provide a glimpse of what is possible. Alice Santos joins Kevin Czap, Maki Naro, Casey Nowak, and Alissa Salah in an exploration of the process of constructing these new futures.

Focus On The Day The Klan Came To Town
This is a special spotlight on The Day The Klan Came To Town, a powerful work of historical fiction. It’s based on the real events in 1923 when the KKK came to a small Pennsylvania town to make an example of its largely Jewish and Catholic populations, and how a group of people made a stand. Join moderator Dr. Qiana Whitted and creators Bill Campbell and Bizhan Khodabandeh as they explore the event and their adaptation.

Color and Narrative Innovation
Color is often secondary to line in comics, but a number of cartoonists have experimented with bringing color front and center. Not only that, but their innovations have included making color central to the emotional narratives of their stories. Moderator Rob Clough talks to Dash Shaw, Shira Spector, MariNaomi, and Tillie Walden about their challenges and experiences using color in bold, new ways.

Buer’s Kiss
Büer’s Kiss is a genre-bending live comics performance combining projected images, voice actors, and foley effects for an unforgettable adaptation of cartoonist Carl Antonowicz’s graphic novel of the same name. This recording was made during the show’s debut in 2018 at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theater.