Small Press Expo 2011 reviews: The Ladies!

Don’t you worry — I will get to comics by men I bought at SPX. I just needed a way of breaking them up. Sometimes I sort mini-comics into alphabetical order, or color, or size and then just divide them in half that way. The divisions are usually fairly arbitrary and just whatever entertains me.

This time, though, I do want to highlight some of the awesome women who exhibited their comics at SPX. I always seek comics by women and I don’t think Small Press Expo made much of a secret of how much we support women making comics. I think it was determined that 40 percent of our exhibitors were female — we have a list! While I totally understand that a good number of female creators just want to be seen as creators (and that’s something I absolutely get), I also don’t want their contributions to get lost or overlooked.

Vezere Valley Venture!Megan Baehr

This travelogue chronicles Megan Baehr’s trip to France to view cave paintings as she does research for her upcoming graphic novel, The Lore Keeper. Like most travelogue comics, there’s not really a specific plot but just movement from one event to the next. Baehr’s artwork is crisp and clear and her enthusiasm for her subject matter is infectious. I’d already been interested in The Lore Keeper‘s progression, but this definitely pushed me into the realm of excitement.

Bug Boys #1-2Laura Knetzger

These are cute. While I think Laura Knetzger still has some growing to do as both and artist and a storyteller, I admire her playfully inventive stories about a pair of beetles and their world. I definitely think the concept is there and I came to enjoy her cartoony, surreal art as I saw more of it. She’s someone I’m going to be watching, definitely.

Frog & Owl: Regret Is for the WeakMolly Lawless

Molly Lawless did not have her baby during Small Press Expo (although there was a period of time on Sunday she was away from her table and I was trying to start the rumor she had gone into labor. It didn’t work). That’s too bad because I’d told her that if she did have her baby at SPX, her baby would get in free for life. (It’s just as well — I probably didn’t have the authority to offer such a thing, anyway.)

Frog & Owl collects Lawless’ webcomic of the same name. It’s ridiculous, weird, incisive and hilarious. There’s no coherent storyline that connect the comics — instead, it’s just quips and random observations. The oddity and the strange formality of Lawless’ art may not be for everyone (although I don’t know who you people would be), but this is definitely the best comic you’re not reading. You should feel lucky that it’s not too late to start.

What’s the Word?: True Tales of a Woman on the GoCathy Leamy

I will always buy comics by Cathy Leamy every time I see her. Always.

What’s the Word? is a series of vignettes all based around single words — everything from “vacay” to “multitudes.” Leamy’s spirit and sense of adventure shines through and the expressive way she draws herself and others communicates simple, every day moments beautifully. Her comics are always a good time and this was no exception.

The Bad-Ass HabitLaura Terry

I honestly think in any other year, Laura Terry’s gorgeous and inventive “Morning Song” would’ve easily won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Mini-Comic. I don’t have any issue about Box Brown’s win there — it was a strong list of nominees, after all — but Terry’s comic was one of those instances where it was like “Yes, this is why I’m reading comics.”

The Bad-Ass Habit … well, yes, this is why I’m reading comics, too. It’s a nun fighting werewolves! What’s wrong with you if you don’t like that?

Terry’s art is refined and powerful and this comic feels delightfully too short and the action speaks of a greater promise. I want to know more about this werewolf-fighting nun! Why is she fighting werewolves? I want to see her fight more werewolves! I’ve spent the past couple of days recommending this to everyone (and they’ve all said “That sounds awesome.”)

YakitoriAndrea Tsurumi

I enjoyed Andrea Tsurumi’s Terka 1 that I picked up last year (and I guess, sadly, I didn’t realize there was more of it out this year …) so I was interested to see what else she’s done. She’s a young artist with a fairly clear vision, and I like weird horror that she creates. Yakitori evokes Japanese yokai fairly obviously and menacingly, and I love her well-detailed, open pages. I’m absolutely going to keep going back for her comics.

Menstruation Station: Menarche AboardJen Vaughn

Jen Vaughn is one of those people who is incredibly good for comics. I am absolutely serious. You need to pay attention to this woman.

These stories deal with the various aspects of a woman’s period — from the metaphorical (“It feels like a circus down there!”) to the disappointingly practical. It’s probably uncomfortable subject matter for some (in other words, men) but all too easy to relate to for the rest of us (in other words, women). Vaughn’s art has a lovely precision that’s not too formal and retains a sense of fun. She moves between reality and weirder realms with an understated ease.

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