For me, the end of the summer has become a time of year when I get to work extensively with our independent comic materials in the Small Press Expo Collection. Every year since 2011, staff from the Library of Congress have attended the Small Press Expo, a festival dedicated to celebrating all things indie comics, cartooning & graphic novels. An entire weekend in September where creators and publishers converge and fans have a chance to buy new comics, chat with their favorite artist, attend a talk or workshop, or just generally geek out. Read more about the collection from some earlier blog posts here (and here and here).
For my part, I get to see artists I have come to know, meet new artists, and then return to the Library with comic books to add to the collection! There are currently over 1800 items listed in our catalog that are part of the Small Press Expo Collection and there are many more yet to be cataloged!
In preparation for attending the festival, we also receive materials submitted for Ignatz Award consideration that Library staff then select from to add to the collection. Here are just some of the items we received this year so far:
This year’s nominees will all become part of the collection here at the Library. We try to display some of the winners from the previous year in an exhibit case in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room – here’s what’s on display right now.
In addition, we have the web archive collection Small Press Expo Comic and Comic Art Web Archive, which went live last year. You can browse web comics nominated for the “Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic” as well as historic versions of the Small Press Expo website itself. For example, even though it’s no longer freely available on the web, American Elf – the 2003 and 2004 winner – is preserved here in its original form which I think is pretty amazing. That’s what we do here at the Library – we build a universal collection to document the history and creativity of the American people and we secure, preserve, and provide access to these materials.
And we love it when we get the chance to bring creators to the Library to talk about their work and share it with the public. Every September the Library of Congress hosts a lecture the Friday before the festival, bringing in artists, publishers, and others to speak. For those of you who can’t be with us in person this year, we’ll be recording the talk which will be available through the Library’s Webcasts page. A list of previous SPX talks (and links to the recordings) can be found here.
This year’s talk from artist Carol Tyler titled, “Comics to a ’T’: The Triumphs and Troubles of Telling the Tyler Story,” will be Friday, September 14, 2018, 12:00-1:00 PM, in the West Dining Room, 6th floor, Madison Building. Please join us! Speaking of talks – since 2013 SPX has sponsored two creators to present at the National Book Festival every year as well! Maybe you’ve been able to catch them at the Graphic Novel Program at the festival? If not, you can see the video recordings on the Library’s Webcasts page!
I’m really looking forward to meeting Carol and seeing her talk, and then on Saturday and Sunday doing all things comics! Are you heading to SPX this year? If you see me wandering around, jaw dropped while I’m scoping out all the amazing material, come say hi! Tell me what you’ve seen and what you’re reading!