I attended two panel discussions at SPX. The first was “European Comics and the Absurd”, with Joan Cornella (Spain), Brecht Vandenbroucke (Belgium), and Bendik Kaltenborn (Norway) who were interviewed by Bill Kartalopoulos, the editor of Best American Comics. Bendik was involved with the Dongery collective and also does editorial illustration work, and talked about how he is able to successfully keep the silly/absurd nature of his comics in his editorial work. They discussed the political aspect of their comics, as well as how they began creating comics and their career. Joan Cornella expressed that he was heavily influenced by Brecht’s work, and all three artists mentioned that they were inspired by Herr Seele and Kamagurka’s work in the absurdist comic strip Cowboy Henk.
I also attended the panel “It’s a Small, Small, Small Press World”, with Lara Antal of So What? Press, Box Brown from Retrofit comics, Francois Vigneault of Study Group Comics, and Kevin Czap of Czap Books. This panel was moderated by Isaac Cates. Most of these small press publishers began as creators who decided they wanted to publish the work of others as well as their own. Study Group comics publishes a lot of webcomics, and Vigneault discussed the fact that this makes it easier to publish riskier or less well-known creators because you don't take any financial damage from unsold, printed copies. They also discussed what the right size is for a typical run of prints. All of the small press publishers in attendance expressed that it is very important to have a presence on social media, but they also made the point that popularity online has very little direct correlation to real-world sales. They advised that, if you’re serious about publishing small press comics, it’s a good idea to have a partnership in which one partner handles the creative side and the other is more involved in the business side.