This year's theme was a celebration of the alt-weekly cartoons, from Jules Feiffer to the end, which I believe was reached sometime last week. It's something that is long overdue. The peak of the genre, from 1985 to 2000, produced, in my opinion, the finest, most original comix of the time. Discounting hacks like me, of course. But we were always kind of the bastard stepchildren of both the mainstream comic strip community and the indy comix community. I always felt like an outsider to both. Now I'm a B-minus Indy Comix Star, so those days are behind me, as are comic strips, but it's nice to see the genre finally get it's due.
It's hard to believe the weekly comix genre is over. Those that are still at it have morphed into the web model. What still blows me away is that monumental talents like Lynda Barry and Matt Groening, etc were chased out of weekly papers. That's right, they were basically told, sorry, we have no use for you. Good gawd, what were those chowderheads that ran those rags thinking? Well, they weren't thinking, and that explains those rags' (those that survive) current irrelevancy and fast-fading fortunes. Tom Tomorrow told me The Village Voice, once the headquarters of great weekly comix and currently home to none, is maybe 20 pages thick and rots, ignored and unread, in news boxes on the streets of Manhattan. This would have been unimaginable when I started my strip in 1990 with dreams of someday making it into the Voice, then the gold standard of weekly papers. Back then, it was 200 pages every week and wasn't free. You had to buy it! Two or three bucks, as I recall. That's how good it was. Outside of a couple 6 month stints, I never did make it into the Voice. I ran instead in the NY Press for a decade, which was a weird libertarian weekly– high on nasty snark– but had a fabulous selection of comix, better than any other weekly in fact. It closed several years ago, after a long period of decline. Pretty much sums yup the whole weekly biz.
For me, who was toiling in the wrong genre anyways, the incompetent groupthink of weekly editors was a huge favor, because it chased me to graphic novels. I'm sure Alison Bechdel would agree. Arr. I get mad just thinking about it. But here at SPX, it was all good, because it was about the work and the legacy.
How good? This group shot of the featured guests says it all. Front row L-R: some douchebag who looks awfully pleased with himself, Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor, Jen Sorenson. Back row L-R: Shannon Wheeler, Tom Tomorrow, Charles Burns, Mimi Pond, Keith Knight.
Above: A signed, limited-edition poster of the SPX badges. Mine-- starring Otto!-- is upper left. Allegedly, I'll be receiving one of these, which gets framed and slapped up on the studio wall in short order.
And now, a selfie bonanza!
With old pal Ruben Bolling.
With Keith Knight and Lynda Barry.
With Tom Tomorrow and Jen Sorenson
With Dean Haspiel and Christa Cassano.
With Josh Bayer.
With Mimi Pond.
With Frank Santaro, one of my éditions çà et là colleagues.
In the bar, with Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow (obliterated by my giant head).... and Jules Feiffer! Jules regaled us with great tales of the early days of the Village Voice and hanging out with Hefner and the literati at the Playboy mansion! I just listened. What a fabulous evening.
Who's this creep?
The awesomeness that is SPX.
Here's Noah Van Sciver modeling my badge.
And Shannon Wheeler, modeling my Joey shirt (available here in the Derf Store.... hint hint).