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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SPX PLUS

It was time for SPX, the best comics show in the country, so Noah flew into Milwaukee and we got in the car.  We decided to head south a bit first, to visit Springfield, Illinois, on the way.  Noah's new book on Abraham Lincoln, The Hypo, had just been published by Fantagraphics, and was debuting at SPX.  Since Noah had never been to Springfield we thought it'd be good to pay our respects.

Getting gas at the Road Ranger in South Beloit before heading out.

On our way down we stopped in Normal, Illinois at ACME Comics, and I sold some copies of the new King-Cat and looked around at horror comic reprints.  But time was wasting.  In a few hours we got to Springfield and headed toward Lincoln's house, now a National Park Service site.  After the house tour we wandered around the neighborhood before driving up to Lincoln's Tomb.

Approaching Lincoln's Tomb.

Apparently it's good luck to rub the statue's nose.

The grandeur and solemnity of the tomb was quite powerful.  Inside, it consists of a circular hallway adorned with statues of Lincoln from throughout his career, interspersed with engravings of some his most memorable pieces of writing.  At the far end of the circle is his actual burial site.  The sense of history and loss was palpable, and very moving.

Next we made our way down to St. Louis, where I sold King-Cats to Star Clipper, and we visited the great cartoonist Tim Lane.  We stayed up late talking about comics and life, and after Noah and Tim had put away three bottles of wine, and began shouting at each other about Mad Men, I went to bed.  Above, Noah enjoys Tim's copy of Four Color Fear, finding a copy of which became a kind of holy grail of the trip.

A page from Tim's sketchbook, with nary a drop of White-Out to be seen.  Amazing.

Another page from his sketchbook.

On our way out of town we stopped at the Sheldon Gallery for a retrospective of Al Hirschfeld's portraits of Jazz and Theater legends.  They wouldn't let me take pictures of that work, but I was able to snap a few of the neighboring exhibit, Turtles Can Fly: The Art of Artists' Children.  Above:  From Cat Town, an installation of drawings by Li Hodson.


Down the block from the Sheldon was this abandoned church, which I've driven past several times, but never stopped to inspect before.




Then we headed back east, into Illinois once again.  (One of the earliest drawings I ever made was of the spaghetti bowl of highway ramps found as one crosses the Mississippi into St. Louis, above.)


Can't stop, won't stop.

Giant roadside cross outside Effingham, Ill.

We drove on through the night.  I'd wanted to stop in Indianapolis and Columbus to sell comics, but we got to them too late, so decided to skip it until the return trip.

Sleeping at a rest area in eastern Ohio, this was our view in the morning.

Fog approaching the West Virginia line.

Zzzzzzz.

Mr. Narrator.


That last stretch on Interstate 68 is beautiful, but loooong.  We made it into Baltimore with an hour or two to spare before Noah was to read at Atomic Books' SPXplosion party.  Ran into Dan Clowes and Alvin Buenaventura, who were doing a signing at the shop beforehand.  We had a few laughs and some iced tea together.

Ramsey Beyer reads at SPXplosion.

No-aah!!!

Then to Bethesda to check into the hotel.  SPX was beginning the next morning with set-up at eight.  True to form, we got very lost (who knew there were three Marriotts in Bethesda?).

NEXT:  SPX

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