Wow… SPX just passed 10,000 followers here on Tumblr. We couldn’t be more humbled or more grateful. Thank you all so much for giving a little bit of your attention to SPX and thanks as well to Tumblr for their kind support in promoting SPX to their users. If you don’t mind, I want to take a moment to re-introduce ourselves to you fine people.
SPX is a non-profit dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving independent voices in the comics medium. As an all volunteer organization - every penny we make goes to our charitable programs or internal investments. SPX receives no funding outside of what is raised by our annual events, which we would really, sincerely love for you to attend.
Most of you are probably somewhat familiar with the annual SPX comics festival that takes place in Bethesda, MD. The Small Press Expo started out in 1994 as a regional indie comics show and has steadily grown in size and scope to become arguably the preeminent such event in North America, with top-flight guests and an excellent slate programming.
It looks a little something like this:
Last year over 3,000 artists and enthusiasts attended The Expo, along with special guests that included: Craig Thompson, Jim Woodring, Diam Noomin, Roz Chast and more. Our guests for 2012 include some dudes you may have heard of: Chris Ware and Dan Clowes with many more soon to be announced. Full info for the 2012 show is right here.
Please do think about making the trip. We can hang. It would rule.
THE IGNATZ AWARDS
Since 1997 SPX has been the home of the Ignatz Awards, celebrating excellence in independent comics. The Ignatz is unique in comics as afestival prize, with winners selected by attendees of the Expo. The only way to vote is to attend the show itself. The awards and after-party are open to all. NOTE: There will be a chocolate fountain.
While the annual SPX comics festival including the Ignatz Awards, is understandably how most people probably think of us, that doesn’t mean that the SPX team isn’t working hard for independent comics the other 363 days of the year…
Here’s what we do:
THE CBLDF DONATION
The proceeds from SPX’s annual festival are used to support a variety of charitable initiatives. Our longest standing relationship is with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. As their name implies, The CBLDF acts as a bulwark against censorship for comics creators of all stripes and provides an important voice in support of creative freedom. We’re extremely proud to have the CBLDF as the primary beneficiary of the SPX Festival.
THE LIBRARY GIFT PROGRAM
While our annual comics festival is the primary way we draw exposure to the best and brightest talents in independent comics, last year we added a new wrinkle. With the overwhelming support of several independent comics publishers, the Small Press Expo began an endowment program for local library systems.
Each year SPX will select several libraries for participation and these libraries will be provided a budget to select graphic novels at a reduced cost from participating publishers. SPX handles everything, making it simple to get independent comics on the shelves of cash-strapped local libraries where that work can be accessible to all.
We piloted the program in our home district, Montgomery County, Maryland, delivering more than 200 graphic novels into local libraries. For 2012, we’re aiming to line up participants in Maryland, Virginia and DC. SPX loves libraries! And we love to provide new avenues for young people to discover the fine work of independent comics artists.
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS COLLECTION
Ok, this is the one that gives me chills.
2011 was a huge year for SPX. Not only did we launch the library gift program. We also saw the realization of something a long time in coming. Executive Director Warren Bernard spent over a year in negotiations with the Library of Congress in Washington, DC to facilitate a permanent repository for the work independent artists featured at SPX.
The SPX Collection at the Library of Congress was established to preserve the history both the artistic output of the creators who come to SPX, as well as the art that SPX itself generates as part of its yearly festival. The donated works will enter the Library’s permanent collection of comic books and comic art. Truly unprecedented!
At the 2012 Ignatz Awards, Warren spoke about the LOC collection rather movingly. I’d encourage you to give his remarks a look if you’ve missed them.
So that’s SPX in a nutshell.
We’re here for comics.
I hope you’ll stick around and, come September, pay us a visit in DC!