With the uncertainty of a new location and lots of familiar faces unable to make it this year, no one knew what to expect from this year's Small Press Expo.

Would it live up to the awesomeness of years past, or would it be a huge disaster? I was determined to have a great time, and I'm proud to report it was a rousing success on all levels. Here's what happened:

It's a nice drive from Pittsburgh to Bethesda. The show was just hours away and the excitement was churning inside me, so I pulled over at a Maryland rest stop.

The convention moved to a different location this year, the brand-spanking new Marriott North Bethesda. I missed the old Holiday Inn, but these swanky digs were nice, too.

This was more or less my view from behind the table. I was so busy hustling comics I barely had a chance to get away and look around.

I'd purchased a half-table to exhibit my wares, and didn't know who I'd endup sharing space with. Fortunately, Jen Hachigian was a great table-mate!

Stan Yan, creator of "The Wang" and king of the double-entendre.

Here's some folks manning the Found Hat Press table.

I can rarely think of anything very wild or creative when I do convention sketches, but somehow I had a burst of inspiration when I came up with this one.

"Charlito" of the awesome comics podcast Indie Spinner Rack.

I took this picture of J. Chris Campbell during the show, and he said "Be sure to take one tonight when I'm drunk so you can do a before and after."

...so I did.

Here is Jennifer Omand, creator of the swearing-animal autobio strip "Squarecat Comics."

Joel Priddy and Chris Pitzer, sharing the love at the AdHouse Books table.

Liz Baillie and her husband Zane, at the Ignatz award ceremony Saturday night.

Awesome! Hometown girl Paulette Poulette was nominated for an Ignatz for her minicomic "Comicore Jr." Sadly, she didn't win, but judging from the applause, hers was an audience favorite.

My pals and Friday-night roommates, from left to right: Matt Hawkins, Katie Skelly, MK Reed, and Robin Enrico.

Fluff In Brooklyn crew member and superknitter Marianne Ways, who was my Saturday-night roommate, if you know what I mean.

SPX Volunteer Coordinator Karon Flage, who next year will be running the whole show. I'm confident she'll do a great job.

Here's some of the guys from Wide Awake Press. I was honored to have a little story in their sweet anthology "Wide Awake 666," which you can order from me!

Look! I got my picture taken with guest-of-honor and Ignatz award-winner Tony Millionaire. I think he maybe had a few drinks in him?

Patrick Dean and the awesome David Yoder re-enact my soon-to-be-famous Tony Millionaire photo.

Imagine my surprise when, later that evening, I went upstairs to discover that Mr. Millionaire had abandoned the copy of my comic that I'd given him on an end table in the hallway, along with his Ignatz award. I felt that both items should go to someone more appreciative: me.

After pretending to be an Ignatz winner all night, I decided to give the award back.

A few days later, I got an email from Tony Millionaire, explaining his motivation behind leaving the stuff in the hallway. It's good to know he's not a jerk, and better to know he doesn't think I'm one, either. I'm going to do everything possible to make sure my SPX trip report doesn't give people the wrong impression about one of my favorite cartoonists, who is actually a really gracious guy. Here's what he wrote:

To: pat@lunchbreakcomics.com
From: "Tony Millionaire"
Subject: please post this reply!


Damn! I knew I'd get in trouble for leaving that brick out there. The problem is that I have a tiny carry-on bag and can't fit all that stuff in for the trip home. The brick was too heavy, I had to leave it, but I measured it and kept the stand. I will replace the brick with a new one from the hardware store tomorrow. As for your mini, people are very generous, and gave me 20 pounds of comics this weekend. I spent hours reading them Sunday morning, they were great, I really love comics, the more home-made the better. I can't keep them all so I abandoned the whole 20 pound pile so that everybody from janitors to cleaning ladies to SPX stragglers could get some free good comics.

Thanks Pat, and thanks to everybody who gave me a comic, I know how much work goes into them and I love them all. Even the really really shitty ones (I don't mean yours, yours was very good).

Tony Millionaire

PS I love that photo.

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