SPX 2010: Survival Guide

This is more or less the same one as last year, but with a few new things. If you committed that one to memory, you’re good. In fact, even if you haven’t, you’re going to be good anyway. Still, if you want to maximize your Small Press Expo experience, here’s a few tips.

  • I don’t think I need to say this, but bring cash with you. A few of the bigger publishers do take credit cards, but mostly, you want cash. There is an ATM on site (the line can get long, though, and last year, it ran out of money. As did another nearby one). Smaller bills are the best, overall.
  • You’ll also want to bring a bag. This may seem obvious, but it’s really not — you’ll want something to put your comics in because trying to juggle your purchases as you go through the show isn’t fun. Those snazzy reusable shopping bags are good as are messenger bags (which is typically what I use). If you forget, some exhibitors did give out bags with purchases, like Drawn & Quarterly did last year. And you’ll get to be the coolest person at the grocery store
  • You’ll probably want to wear layers. Since SPX is a bit earlier this year, fall hasn’t quite hit the D.C. area yet, but right now, we’re looking at highs in the lower to mid-80s with lows in the mid-60s and possible thunderstorms on Sunday. You say “Yes, but I’ll be inside most of the time.” This is true, but last year, the exhibit hall was freezing on Sunday. Having a jacket on hand may be helpful.
  • Check out the programming. Yes, I know it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of time, but the programming is an under-appreciated part of SPX. I’m totally excited about this year’s line-up and the Animation Showcase looks like it’s going to be a great addition.
  • Likewise, check out some of the Ignatz nominees. You can’t be expected to buy them all, but they always highlight a diverse group of comics.
  • Buy mini-comics. I am broke (and I’ve reported widely in the past) so my purchases will be pretty limited this year. Still, I will set aside some money specifically for mini-comics. They are a great way to support creators and find new things you might like. Or hate. Most run $1-3 and it’s a good value for your money.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break. The North Besthesda Marriott actually has a lot of nice, comfy places to hang out if you just want to sit and read for a bit. You can decompress, check out what you’ve bought and then go back for more. Just don’t sleep in the middle of the floor, OK? I saw some people doing that last year.
  • Be courtesy and thoughtful with regard to the other events that are going on in the hotel. I’ve only heard a couple of reports of bad behavior at SPX, so I trust everyone, but SPX usually isn’t the only event going on. Last year, there was a gospel revival, a fancy-dress fundraiser and an expo or some such for beauty pageant contestants. Don’t be rude to people there for other events and always obey hotel and SPX staff. Somewhat related, if you’re sick, please stay home. Yes, missing SPX sucks, but getting other people sick isn’t very nice.
  • If you had fun, strongly consider volunteering next year. SPX is a labor of love — it’s run completely by volunteers, by people who just love comics and the event. It’s always a good time — you get to meet a bunch of cool people and make friends and be a part of something really awesome. We have cookies and temporary tattoos. I don’t know what else I have to tell you to sell you on it.

Tomorrow: Where to eat!
Thursday: Other stuff to do in the area!

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