Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the Frontline: Kou @ SPX2011

This year's valiant journey to Bethesda, Maryland was a first for me, so may I humbly present to you with the best of my abilities...
Laura Knetzger and Adrian James [front], Eric Alexander Arroyo and Kou [back]
The Cartoon Allies Go to the Small Press Expo 2011

By the sixth hour of Saturday morning, dawn had just begun to crack over the distant horizon, gently washing away the dark blues of the night sky.  Members of our group found each other along the way and by seven, the whole of us had gathered, patiently awaiting the Chinatown bus.  Good fellow Hondo was kind enough to bring us snacks and fruits to help us maintain energy throughout the four hours of our ride and the rest of the weekend.

After passing the hurdle of the DC Metro's ticket dispenser, the group was on its merry way through D.C.'s magnificent tunnel subway.  At last, the Mariott Hotel in all its glory was before us as we carried along our baggage, minutes away from joining our President, Hilary, at our table. After exchanging hugs with our dedicated leader, we witnessed our latest addition in action: the hot rod red Char Custom Comics Rack.

I must say I enjoyed the atmosphere of SPX very much.  I loved to watch the people pass by and adjust the corners of our mini-comics every two seconds.  I loved it a little too much and didn't really eat until... later, but who needs to eat, am I correct? Yes?  I'm sure many others would agree.

That evening, after resting up and reading comics from our first day's haul...

...we all walked out to the balcony outside the halls, where the parents of one of our officers had set up a delicious banquet for us.

Because it is important, I must repeat:  it was the most delicious food.  There were three gorgeous and mouth-watering salads, grilled chicken, home-made bread loafs, cookies, lemonade, and apple cider.  It was so beautiful.

Wyeth Yates, Hilary Allison, & Laura Knetzger
That night, the lot of us stood shoulder to shoulder with many other artists and convention attendees in watching the commencement of the Ignatz Awards Ceremony.  Although it was quite stuffy in the room, it didn't stifle any laughter from the witty comments some of the award presenters shared and all in all it was a ceremony I enjoyed quite a lot.  I think the best part about it was how there was a very "cartoony" atmosphere to how the ceremony went, as opposed to any other generic awards ceremony where it's overly-long and sometimes dull.

For those that do not know, the Ignatz Awards are based off a running gag in the classic comic Krazy Kat.  Krazy is madly in love with Ignatz the mouse.  Ignatz despises Krazy and constantly throws bricks at Krazy's head, but the cat misinterprets this as a sign of affection.  Hence, at the Ignatz Awards Ceremony, real bricks on wooden stands are given as trophies to winning comic artists in various categories.  I thought that was pretty swell.

Also there was chocolate fondue. 
Major Arroyo doesn't understand the meaning of "restraint"
The second day consisted mostly of working the table in shifts and occasionally replenishing ourselves with nutrients called food and drink.  I would sometimes get too caught up in pondering over the wonderful comics that were catching my attention all over SPX and end up leaving my station for too long.  Also, many comics were bought. (I REGRET NOTHING.) Sales at the SVA table also did pretty well on Sunday, so everything was incredibly rad.
As SPX drew to a close, it was announced over megaphone that we had ten more minutes and that everyone was awesome.  There was much cheering!!  It was a lovely thing to hear.
Kou is a paragon of resourcefulness
We packed up right on time and quickly began our move back to the D.C. subway and reached the bus stop in the nick of time.

This is where the party split, a few deciding to stay in D.C. to have a more relaxing dinner while the rest of us got onto the 8:00 bus.  Apparently, the others, who were supposed to get on a 10:00 bus, had to wait a while longer, watching the bus not open their doors until a lot later.  They are alive and well now, so eventually I suppose the magical doors finally parted ways for them.
Meanwhile on the long exhausting ride back into Manhattan, some of us made deep and meaningful conversation about Gundam and My Little Pony and life to pass the time.  Ah, priceless educational bonding. Eventually, the bus stopped in our homeland and we bid adieu to each other, living happily ever after.

Thus concluded our glorious SPX weekend together!  The Small Press Expo was a wonderful success and it was a beautiful convention this year!  I'm so glad I got to experience going with the best group ever.

Kou and Wyeth Yates on the Metro back to DC
Thank you for reading thus far, and I bid you good evening and good day!
Kou Chen is a sophomore in the School of Visual Arts'  Cartooning program. He lovess to watch movies, pet cats, make spaghetti, and daydream.  This is his first article for the Cartoon Allies blog.

For our last adventure to SPX, check out Major Arroyo's report from last year.


  1. We at SAW were next to the SVA table and you guys were great table mates. Always love to see the new work, and thanks for wearing the SAW shirt, Hilary!

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