But enough self flagellation and on to the show….
This was my first year at PIX: Pittsburgh’s Indie Comix Show. I believe this was the third PIX held over the past four years and its first year at the Federation of Teacher’s building on the city’s south side. Seems like I’m often on the cusp of change with shows. Last year my first trip to SPX was the first year of expanded floor space and my first trip to MoCCA was the first year of the Society of Illustrators running that show. I’m happy to note, that unlike SPX and MoCCA, PIX didn’t have any half-drunk show veterans wandering around grumbling about how things were better in the old days.
One of the things I really liked about the set up of the show was that the organizers managed to strike the proper tone between casual and chaotic for set-up. I arrived at 8:30 and was pointed to my table which had a plastic tablecloth in package and two bottles of water waiting for me. No standing in line for a badge or searching for a table number… Just bam, there’s your spot! Get to work! I love that.
Another thing that the organizers did right in my mind was making the show free to the public. I think that took a lot of pressure off of them workload wise. Not only did they not have the hassle with a cashbox or making tickets, but it allowed them to forgo the badges for exhibitors as I mentioned above. Since no one is paying to get in, no need for the caste system of badges. Also, I always feel like the bar for entry to these kinds of events should be as low as possible. The lower the price, the more feet through the door and the more open wallets will be.
So… Excuse my using “organizers” as a short hand. I know Bill Boichel from the terrific Copacetic Comics shop was a big part of things and Seth Fronzoli of Poverty Row Comics was running around like a mad man helping set up, but I’m sure there were others.
There was clearly a lot of thought put into the vendor placement. I was very close to Columbus buddies Tom Williams and Bob Corby. Bob of course shilling for SPACE, just three weeks away! I shared a corner with Don Simpson of Megaton Man fame and fellow rock ‘n roll comic creator Bruce Worden whose “Good Night Keith Moon” parody children’s book is HI-larious. As I was setting up, Bill Boichel made a joke about hoping that Don and I would team up to do a satirical rock n roll superhero comic for Nix. (That deal didn’t get struck, but how cool would that be!?)
I think I actually got a little swoony when Trina Robbins came by to chat up Don. Don is someone whose work I admire (In fact, in the 80s the presence of Megaton Man was one of the benchmarks of a quality comic shop to me.) but Trina is someone who I admire both as an artist and as a pioneer. Trina Robbins helped expand not only what comics can be about in terms of subject, but also reshaped what a comic creator looks like. There just aren’t very many such folk, and fewer who are as smart, funny and charming as they are important. (I mostly had my shit together, refusing to give in to full swoon until she came back to compliment me on the copy of Nix Comics Quarterly #3 I gave her. That made me channel Goofy for a “ahuh-ahuh-gowrsh…”)
Frank Santoro was nice enough to make a trip to my table to pick on a conversation we started the week before at his Billy Ireland presentation on the influence of modal jazz on his Pompeii graphic novel. Super enjoyable. The man really loves his craft and it comes through in everything he says and does. In fact, that seems to be a common thread among the Pittsburgh comix luminaries like Frank, Ed Piskor, Tom Scioli and Jim Rugg. They take the creation process, including research, very seriously without getting bogged down in being serious, if that makes sense. I wish I had been able to stick around to see them talk some about the ins and outs of working in indie comics later that evening!