Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Small Press Expo

A few months ago I attended the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s one of the major showings of independent comics in America.

Most of the work, sad to say, was awful. Worse, I could see how many of the artists invested enormous amounts of themselves in their work.

In the extreme cases, the raw pain and emotion in their work looked as though they’d cut off their arms with hacksaws and stuck a post-it note to the pile of limbs that read “My Comic.”

To deride the comics as badly made seems cruel. Many of these artists were expressing their innermost feelings with great fervor. But they didn’t temper their emotion with artistic control. And so the works weren’t good.

“But I’m expressing my truest self!” they cry. “Isn’t that important?”

Yes, but self-expression isn’t enough. Screaming can be cathartic for you, but why would I listen? The pain and anguish must be worked to become greater than itself in order to be considered art. Otherwise it’s just despair in ink, unredeemed by anything finer.

I felt like a rat-bastard for refusing these honestly-offered exposures of heartfelt emotions, but I stayed away from such comics.

Poor bastards.