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Catching up with Roger Langridge at Small Press Expo

Roger Langridge 2 for webWhile at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, I had the pleasure to chat briefly with Roger Langridge, creator of Fred the Clown and the Eisner Award-winning Snarked!

I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman –  what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!

Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?

Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.

What book were you debuting there?

I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.

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Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]

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Small Press Expo 2014 from two perspectives

The SPX room before the show started.

The SPX room before the show started.

As is usually the case, the 2014 Small Press Expo was a whirlwind affair, full of panels, hurried greetings, bumping into people while walking along the aisles and comics, comics, comics everywhere you looked.

Both Brigid Alverson and I were there, although we never actually managed to meet up (while SPX isn’t a large show by national standards, it’s still easy to miss people). Rather than write separate stories, we thought it might be fun to post a back-and-forth dialogue, similar to our MoCCA report from a few years back. Be sure also to check out Brigid’s great photos from the Ignatz Awards if you haven’t already done so.

Chris Mautner: How many times have you been to SPX before this, Brigid? What’s your previous experience with this particular convention been like?

Brigid Alverson: This was actually my first SPX, which surprised a lot of people — clearly this is a show that you come back to over and over. I have been going to MoCCA and TCAF for the past couple of years, so I’m familiar with a lot of the artists and the work. I felt there was more commingling at SPX, partly because everyone is staying in the same hotel where the show is, and also because the organizers made the effort — there was a meet-‘n’-greet for exhibitors and press the evening before the show, and the Ignatz Awards/mock wedding on Saturday. Maybe because of that, I really got a sense of community from this show.

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Comics A.M. | Longtime retailer Steve Koch passes away

Steve Koch

Steve Koch

Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]

Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]

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Shiga, Alden, Tamakis win Ignatz Awards

Ignatz Awards presenters James Sturm and Sasha Steinberg

Ignatz Awards presenters James Sturm and Sasha Steinberg

The Ignatz Awards were handed out Saturday night at Small Press Expo in a ceremony that culminated with a mock wedding in which Simon Hanselmann married Comics (represented by a stack of graphic novels and real-life creator Michael DeForge).

Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the festival prize recognizes achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists, and then voted on by SPX attendees.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Small Press Expo

SPX

SPX

Conventions | With the 20th Small Press Expo kicking off Saturday in Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post’s Lori McCue singles out three of the show’s biggest draws: appearances by Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Bob Mankoff. Meanwhile, Michael Cavna spotlights Fear, My Dear, the new release from convention guest Dean Haspiel. [The Washington Post]

Creators | As he prepared to head out to Small Press Expo, Farel Dalrymple paused for an audio interview about his newest book, The Wrenchies, which will debut at the show. [Comics Grinder]

Creators | Writer Tom Taylor teases what we can expect in his new Superior Iron Man series. [Previews World]

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Six by 6 | Six tips for attending SPX

spx 2014Small Press Expo, that magical indie-comics festival that takes place each autumn in Bethesda, Maryland, is upon us once again. The show is traditionally thronged with noteworthy cartoonists and graphic novels, and this year proves no different, with folks like Emily Carroll, Jules Feiffer, Renee French, Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Raina Telgemeier and Brandon Graham scheduled to attend.

While the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel isn’t a labyrinthine structure that requires mapmaking skills to traverse, if this is your first time at the show, or if it’s been awhile since you last attended, you might be looking for some helpful advice on how to navigate it. Here then are six suggestions on how to get the most out of your SPX experience.

1. Get there early. The first thing you can expect to see when you enter the hotel is a long entrance line that snakes around the hallway. While it tends to move (somewhat) quickly, if you’re not a fan of standing in line I’d recommend getting there early. Or at least preparing yourself to spend some downtime waiting for your turn (which, honestly, you’re going to do if you want to get a book signed by, say, Jules Feiffer).

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SPX adds Carroll, Friedman, Graham and Pond

through the woodsEmily Carroll, Drew Friedman, Brandon Graham and Mimi Pond will make their Small Press Expo debuts, joining previously announced guests like Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm at the Sept. 13-14 event in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Having Brandon, Emily, Drew and Mimi for the first time at SPX is a great thrill for both the SPX Executive Committee and the SPX community,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Their diverse styles and the mediums they work in really reflect the wide view that the SPX community has of the comics world. We are totally stoked about them coming to this year’s show.”

As we noted just last week, it’s been a particularly good year professionally for Carroll, who won both the Cartoonist Studio Prize and a Doug Wright Award. The first print collection of her fairy-tale horror comics, Through the Woods, will be released next month by McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

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SPX to celebrate alt-weekly comics with Feiffer, Barry & Sturm

spx 2014Small Press Expo has announced that Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm will be among the special guests Sept. 13-14 for the 20th anniversary event, which will focus on alt-weekly newspaper comics.

“This spotlight on the cartoonists of the alt-weekly world for our 20th anniversary show is long overdue,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Starting with Jules Feiffer almost 60 years ago, the unfortunately now-declining alt-weekly has a rich heritage whose influence extends into today’s  graphic novel and comics scene.”

An Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Feiffer is considered the godfather as alt-weekly comics, as his strip Feiffer ran in The Village Voice for more than 40 years. Barry, whose new book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, arrives in October from Drawn and Quarterly, is well known for her long-running comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which began in the Chicago Reader in 1979. Co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Sturm also co-founded The Onion and Seattle’s legendary alt-weekly The Stranger.

Other announced guests include Tom Tomorrow, French, Box Brown and Michael DeForge.

‘I always want to be joking': a chat with ‘Reggie-12’s’ Brian Ralph

reggieGiant robots and wisecracking cats. They’re such great cartoon tropes that you wonder why someone hasn’t tried to mesh them together before now. But mesh they do in Brian Ralph’s Reggie-12, an episodic comic strip about an constantly plucky, ever-optimistic Astro Boy-like robot who constantly is saving the city he lives in from danger (usually in the form of other, bigger robots), only to face withering indifference from everyone back  home, especially the afore-mentioned cat.

Originally serialized in the pages of Giant Robot magazine and other assorted comics anthologies, the Reggie-12 strips have now been collected in a handsome, oversize, hardbound book from Drawn and Quarterly. Ralph was at the Small Press Expo this year, signing copies of his new book and generally helping man the D& Q booth. I pulled him away for a bit and, once we found a place to sit down, peppered him with questions about Reggie-12.

Chris Mautner: When was the first appearance of Reggie-12? Do you remember when you started these strips?

Brian Ralph: You know, I don’t. I had done comics in Giant Robot earlier before Reggie-12. There was this thing I did called The Legend of Giant Robot. It wasn’t funny. It was trying to be an ongoing serialized comic. I just didn’t have the storytelling chops yet. I ended it and wanted to start something new. That’s when Reggie-12 started and it was such a better fit for the magazine. It’s hard to do a daily strip in a magazine that comes out every month. I got so much more story packed into a smaller space. I don’t know the exact year [it began] though. Ten years ago?

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Report Card | ‘Buzzkill,’ Daredevil’ and more

rc-sept2213

Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.

So read on to find out what we thought about Daredevil, Buzzkill and more.

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Five quick takeaways from SPX 2013 plus a look at some things I bought

A view from the SPX show floor.

A view from the SPX show floor.

As promised, here are some thoughts on this year’s SPX, along with some sorta short reviews of some of the more notable comics I picked up at the show (that I’ve read thus far.

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Roger Langridge’s missed connection at Baltimore Comic Con

langridge

If you paid Roger Langridge for a sketch at Baltimore Comic Con but never came by with your sketchbook to collect it, he has a message for you on his blog:

[...] I’ll start posting some of the sketches I did, which should keep us busy for a while. First, though, a plea to whoever it was at Baltimore who asked me to draw “my favourite childhood cartoon character”. According to my list, you paid me money for this one and were going to bring your sketchbook along later for me to draw your picture – but you never came back! I would like to either refund your money or send you this picture which fits your brief – it’s Frankie Stein, a big favourite with me when I was a lad, created by the great Ken Reid but drawn (very nicely!) by Robert Nixon by the time I discovered him in the pages of Shiver and Shake.

Hopefully the lucky person will step forward and collect his or her original sketch, but in the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy it as well. Langridge was in town for both Baltimore Comic Con and Small Press Expo, so watch for his sketches and impressions of both cons over the next few days.

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Comics A.M. | Gilbert Hernandez wins PEN Center USA award

Bumperhead

Bumperhead

Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]

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A look at this year’s Small Press Expo via social media

Through these doors lie comics. Or at least they did this past weekend.

Through these doors lie comics. Or at least they did this past weekend.

I’ll be posting some thoughts on the Small Press Expo, along with a short rundown of the more notable books I received, later this week. For now, though, here’s a varied look at this year’s convention from various folks’ Twitter feeds and Instagram accounts that I culled together using Storify. Enjoy!

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