So, there is still plenty of time left in 2015 for wonderful, terrible stuff to happen, but in the world of comics, things every year start to wind down about now. CAB was a few weeks ago, Milwaukee Zine Fest was last weekend [historically my last (and favorite) show each year]. The publishers are dropping their final holiday-hoped releases on us. So, time to pause and reflect.
I feel like I was on the road non-stop this year, but actually I did a few less shows than usual. That goes to show you how many festivals there are now. Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter reflected recently on the unavoidable scheduling conflicts coming up nowadays, with two, sometimes three competing shows all scheduled for the same weekend sometimes. C'est la guerre.
I LOVE shows. I rarely feel more alive than I do while behind the Spit and a Half table putting great comix directly into the hands of readers. But the ceaseless travelling wearies. In a practical sense an artist or a publisher travelling great distances, paying for a table, paying for lodging, food, gas etc all to sell a comic book to someone is not exactly the most efficient way of doing business. But what else do we have? Aside from our handful of generous, open-minded retail outlets, from Desert Island in Brooklyn, to Copacetic in Pittsburgh, to Quimby's in Chicago, to Seite Books in LA, the general comics shop market continues to remain ignorant or even downright hostile to "Art Comics." Most people looking for unusual or challenging or non-sexist comics fled the comics shops a generation or two ago, but nothing substantial has risen up since to cater to those folks. So the shows fill a gap in the market.
Let me pause to suggest that good old-fashioned mailorder is maybe the best way to get these comics if you can't make it to the shows, or don't want to wait for a show to pick up a new title. I'm biased of course. I've run the Spit and a Half distro off and on for over 20 years now. One of my biggest accomplishments this year was bringing the website into the 20th Century (!) (Thank you Fran López!) with a cart, automated postage calculator, online checkout, etc, and the results have been great. More customers come through all the time, but I would say my total business is still about a third of what it was in the 90's, when mailorder was generally the only way to get these comics. I think and hope the distro will continue to grow as more people find out about it. (And of course there are plenty of other comix mailorder distros out there-- see the sidebar on my site.)
Looking back I feel like I barely got anything done this year. I'm STILL adding books to the distro site that I picked up at SPX or earlier, and all the travelling left little time or energy for drawing. When I really think about it though, over the course of the past year and a half I drew almost 300 pages of comics (producing both The Hospital Suite and King-Cat #75) -- still, the creative work seemed to get swallowed by the busy work this year.
I do have a head start on #76 and hope to have it out "early"-ish in 2016. I'll be travelling a bunch in 2016 too, but I'm trying to visit some of the shows and cities I've missed in recent years. We'll see how it all goes.
Anyhow, thanks to everyone who came out to signings, picked up a King-Cat somewhere along the line, visited my table at shows, and so on. Once the tired fog clears from my eyes, I realize what an amazing time for comics we live in. Here's to next year!