The following interview appears in EXPO 2001: The Comic, available through the CBLDF www.cbldf.org
EXPO: When did you first attend the Expo and what were you doing in comics then?
CRANE: That would have been for Non # 3, which would have been 1998. I had just moved to Boston and had a month and a half earlier met Brian Ralph and weíd just got done silkscreening a poster for Non #3.
EXPO: What was striking about the show in comparison to other conventions?
CRANE: It just felt more intimate. It had a less conventioney feel, which was probably due, to a huge part, to it being held in a hotel.
EXPO: What sense of community do you find at SPX?
CRANE: SPX seems to be more welcoming and encouraging of new directions in the art form and of new artists especially. Thatís unusual in a high profile convention, and I see SPX as a pretty high profile convention. My first year there everybody was very nice to me. The people running it addressed me by name and were very personable. Everybodyís really nice and they take care of you. Itís very creator focused. Thereís lots of parties that everybodyís welcome at. Itís very inclusive and welcoming. They give everybody a good status and make you feel like youíre wanted.
EXPO: Do you feel the show promotes a level playing field between guys making minis and bigger names?
CRANE: Thatís the whole spirit of the convention. Like, this anthology aggressively seeks out people that arenít published or are published in mini-comics or low print runs. That spirit in the anthology is very close to the spirit of the convention. With table organization even. Of course everybody wants to be in the room with Fantagraphics, and while everybody canít be, there are a lot of new artists alongside guys with big booths. There arenít any special cordoned off areas that not everyone is welcome at.
EXPO: How has the comics community at SPX affected your work as editor of Non?
CRANE: I met Dave Kiersh at the show and was excited about that. Dave was just amazing. Iíd never heard of him and he came out of the blue and plopped his work on my table. It was just awesome. I can say thatís what had the biggest impact on Non.
EXPO: What kind of interaction have you had as an artist with the community at the show?
CRANE: Iíve met lots of people, lots of creators, and we just talk comics. I met Craig Thompson there and we talked about nerd stuff. It was awesome to meet some of the international people, like Max. The show is a good chance to think differently about the medium.
EXPO: What sort of discourse or exchanges about comics do you think the show encourages?
CRANE: Thereís the panels, which I think are a really great thing because oftentimes theyíre more specific than the ones at other conventions. They talk very specifically about one thing or in deeper terms about a broad topic. Like the new creators panel last year had each artist talking about their motivations for making comics. Some creators on that panel said things that really made me question my motivations. I think thatís really interesting and it makes me look at why I do things and what is important to me. Thatís a constantly changing, ongoing thing, of course.
There was that Internet panel last year where Devlin said some awesome things heíd never expressed, even though we always hang out. That was awesome hearing about how heís trying to use web comics. Thereís a lot of good talking that goes on outside of that as well, but I think the panels are one of the best things about SPX because of their close look at the creative process. No other conventions really appreciate the creativity aspect of it. Itís more marketing your comics to a 14 to 24 year old age group, and thatís bullshit that doesnít have to do with the bottom line of making the actual comics. SPX focuses very heavily on that.
EXPO: What kind of audience do you meet at the show?
CRANE: A pretty wide-ranging and diverse one. There are the standard comics people, but sometimes you meet people youíd never expect to read or like your work. Like Quentin Tarantinoís mom, Connie Zaspoutil, was introduced to me by Chris Staros one year and she bought some of my pages. Or there was this big, beefy guy who said, ďI hate indy comics, I think theyíre bullshit, but I really liked The Last Lonely Saturday.Ē It seems that a better sampling of the real world is at SPX than at other conventions.
EXPO: Tell me your best story of something that happened to you at SPX.
CRANE: Kurt Wolfgangís Ignatz speech last year was awesome, that was probably the best acceptance speech thatís gonna take place at any awards ceremony ever. But that happened to an entire audience not just to me. I gut really drunk and didnít know what my hotel room number was when I stumbled into my hotel. I proceeded to name everybody who the hotel room could have been under and because of how drunk and how ragged I looked they didnít let me into my room. So I had to wander around until I found a floor to sleep on, which is nothing out of the usual I guess. Going to SPX I had to stay awake for 53 hours with Kurt Wolfgang getting there. That was really great. I think one year Brian and me and Tunde Adabimbe managed to consume something along the lines of 83 ounces of beer and we were pretty happy about that. I donít know, I guess thatís not that much.
EXPO: How do you feel about comics when you walk away from the show?
CRANE: Last year I was revitalized. It was pretty awesome. As soon as we left the show Kurt and I stopped at this roadside diner and then Tony Davis from the Million Year Picnic comes in with Stacy and Jen who work there. We were all really psyched about these signings coming up at the store and I was so pumped up that I was like, ďIím gonna make posters for all of them!Ē And I did. I was really excited about the possibilities of comics after SPX. It is certainly the only convention that I walk away from feeling excited about comics rather than like, ďFuck. Another convention of barely breaking even. I paid for my plane ticket, fuckin a.Ē Not SPX. Even If I donít break even, that doesnít matter because the people are so awesome. It gives me a good feeling.
[This message has been edited by Charles Brownstein (edited 09-15-2001).]