Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ten Artists To Seek Out At SPX 2017

I will be attending SPX this weekend; as always, it will be in North Bethesda, MD. Be careful not to get tripped up by the Juggalo gathering. I was co-programmer this year, and there's a great slate. I'm personally moderating the Koyama Press 10th Anniversary panel on Saturday and one I've been thinking of a long time: Motherhood, Mental Illness and Memoir, which will be on Sunday. As always, I will be accepting comics for review and wearing a black hat.

1. Carta Monir. Her debut from 2dcloud, Secure Connect, was a remarkable exploration of trans identity & technology and the ways in which the latter both bridges and has the potential to obscure the former. She's at the vanguard of a group of artists whose drawing style, interest in futurism and frank explorations of sex and emotional development all converge in distinctive ways.

2. Tyler Cohen. Not a typical autobio cartoonist, her Primahood: Magenta mixed a highly unconventional and boundary-breaking account of being a mother along with depicting a tribe of surreal, distinctively crafted women whose ferocity nor nurturing ability was ever in question. Cohen writes a lot of hard truths about guiding a child as best as one can in a world still heavily controlled by patriarchal thinking.

3. Sophia Foster-Dimino. Koyama Press just released a collection of her Sex Fantasy minicomics, and this brick of a book is filled with stories that are layered, hot, personal, emotional, quirky and even poetic. Like many on her list, her style is familiar in some ways and sui generis in others.

4. Katie Fricas. Her intimate, intense scribbly style has an immediacy and expressiveness to it that makes it fascinating to read. She's also hilarious, often approaching the darkest of events with a penetrating and self-deprecating wit.

5. November Garcia. All the way from the Philippines, Garcia is a funny, frank, crude, and thoughtful humorist and memoirist with a visual style that seems simple but is actually conceptually complex and even rigorous at times. Her keen observational skills and sharp timing are on display both in longer narratives (Foggy Notions) and gag strips (Malarkey). She'll be with her publisher, Hic & Hoc.

6. Aaron Lange. Comics' #1 purveyor of filth is also one of its keenest minds, sharpest observers and poetic hearts. His Trim series in particular has plenty of dirty gags, but there are also thoughtful meditations on his family, scrupulously-researched biographical pieces, musings on art and culture, and warts-and-all accounts of his youth. It's all told with a lively, naturalistic line.

7. Mardou. Sacha Mardou has been doing some of the best slice-of-stories in comics for quite some time, but the first volume of her book Sky In Stereo is clearly the best work of her career. This is somehow her first SPX, and she'll be doing a panel and a workshop in addition to showing off her work.(Correction: this is her first SPX since 2005.)

8. Avery Hill Publishing. I've enjoyed the eccentric, poetic and understated releases from this British publisher making their first appearance at SPX. Publisher (and writer) Ricky Miller and publicist (and cartoonist) Katriona Chapman will also be there, along with Tillie Walden. The two-time Ignatz award winner will be at her first SPX as well, and while her big book Spinning was just released by First Second, it was Avery Hill that took a chance and published her first three books. Check out Miller and Julia Scheele's Metroland, and anything by Simon Moreton.

9. Radiator Comics. This is Neil Brideau's new venture, and the Chicagoan is publishing and distributing all kinds of interesting comics. A few are directly published by Radiator, like Coco Picard's The Chronicles of Fortune. Chicago is one of the greatest of all comics cities, and Radiator has an interesting cross section of them. Sam Sharpe, Penina Gal, Luke Howard, Cara Bean and Coco Picard will be at the table this year.

10. Summer Pierre. In a very short amount of time, Pierre has become one of my favorite memoirists, thanks to the strength of her writing and the versatile quality of her art. From quotidian observations to life as an artist and mother to grappling with her own personal demons, Pierre's comics are beautiful and endlessly fascinating.

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