There are over a hundred cartoonists I'm interested in seeing at SPX this upcoming weekend (October 4th and 5th). Many of them publish with companies like Fantagraphics, Sparkplug, Drawn & Quarterly, NBM, etc. I'd like to identify six self-publishers worthy of greater recognition who will be attending the show. I've reviewed many of their comics (mostly mini-comics) over the years, and this group of artists represents a fairly wide range of styles and tastes.
1. Leslie Stein. The creator of the Xeric Grant-winning YEAH IT IS is now creating my favorite minicomics series, EYE OF THE MAJESTIC CREATURE. The current issue is up for an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series, and it's well-deserved. There's a manic quality to her drawing, and the newsprint she publishes her comics on adds to the gritty, visceral feel of the series. Snap up every issue of this bit of autobiographical surrealism. She'll be at table W49b.
2. Juliacks. Her SWELL is up for a Best Minicomic Ignatz, and I thought it was the best minicomic released to date in 2008. Her integration of text and image is ambitious and unusual, while her page design is truly innovative. She's one of many multimedia artists now working in comics, bringing a unique voice to the medium. Find her at table W40.
3. Will Dinski. I've been reviewing his minis for quite a long time, and his progression as an artist has been remarkable. His recent comics ERRAND SERVICE and BEAUTIFUL, COOL AND IRREPLACEABLE were two of the best minis of 2008. There's a tartness to his wit, a painful cynicism, that makes the twists in his comics all the more painful. He'll be at table D3.
4. Molly Lawless. Lawless's comics are crisp and witty. She writes about topics not often seen in comics, like her experiences as a marathon runner or major league baseball's least glamorous moments (especially in the deadball era). Her recent collection INFANDUM! AD INFINITUM is a great place to start with her work. She'll be at table D11a.
5. Jesse Reklaw. Reklaw's been around so long (having created SLOW WAVE as a weekly syndicated strip for a number of years) that I think he's become underappreciated and taken for granted. As such, I was happy to see SLOW WAVE nominated for a Best Online Comic Ignatz award. While SLOW WAVE continues to be good fun, his best work has come in the form of some remarkable minicomics. COUCH TAG #2 and #3 were simply stunning autobiographical works given distance through the use of certain strategies. BLUEFUZZ, up for an Ignatz for best minicomic, was named minicomics of the year for 2007 by Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter. He can be found at table G11 and will have copies of his new SLOW WAVE collection, THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE.
I could very easily come up with several more lists of five artists to seek out. Here's a partial list of some more artists to consider: Katie Skelly, everyone at the Sundays anthology and One Percent Press tables (all former CCS students), everyone at the Closed Caption Comics table, everyone at the tables for Partyka, Fantagraphics, D&Q, Sparkplug, Secret Acres, Bodega Distribution, PictureBox, Buenaventura Press & Tugboat Press, the mighty table featuring Julia Wertz, Sarah Glidden, Laura Park & Shannon O'Leary, the table with MK Reed, Robin Enrico & Liz Baillie, John Kerschbaum, Kelli Nelson, Ed Piskor, Joey Sayers, Raina Telgemeier, Marion Vitus, Rob Ullman, Drew Weing and Eleanor Davis....and more still that I'm forgetting.