The Swirl of The Indie Comics World

Artist-writer Jules Feiffer speaks today in Bethesda. Above, an image from his
Artist-writer Jules Feiffer speaks today in Bethesda. Above, an image from his "Passionella and Other Stories." (Copyright Jules Feiffer)
Friday, October 13, 2006

The Small Press Expo independent comic book showcase sprang up in Bethesda 12 years ago for reasons that are contrary to logic. The area's not exactly a comics publishing capital.

But the indies are such an open world; even the creators, after all, self-publish on the Internet and elsewhere from across the United States, and they're used to going to great lengths to promote their work. In this environment, the expo's thrived, luring high-profile guests over the years, including Frank Miller ("Sin City") and comic-book writer Harvey Pekar. Such is the spirit of the event that aspiring comics creators approached Pekar last year with samples of their work, and he actually looked at them . In all, about 300 artists and publishers come to meet readers and one another, to promote their careers and talk trade -- keeping it real (and indie), of course.

This year, the big star is Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist (and writer) Jules Feiffer , whose strip ran in the Village Voice for decades. He'll visit the expo today at 3 p.m., when he'll be interviewed by Tony Millionaire, creator of "Sock Monkey," "Maakies" and the new "Billy Hazelnuts." At 4, Feiffer will sign books and meet-and-greet.

Among the panels to catch : Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., "Graphic Novels: First Authors" will feature new authors Austin English, Megan Kelso and Matthias Lehmann talking about making conceptualizing novels and making the transition from short-form cartoonist to full-fledged graphic novelist. At 2:30 p.m., Ted Rall, Tim Kreider, Mikhaela Blake Reid, Jen Sorensen and Rick Veitch talk about political cartooning in the current clime.

(Many of the creators will also be heading to Politics and Prose for events; catch Rall and company there tonight at 7, and Feiffer there tomorrow night at 7. 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-364-1919.)

Today 2-8 p.m.; tomorrow 10 a.m.-7 p.m. $8; $15 for two days. Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd. 301-822-9200.

-- Lavanya Ramanathan

© 2006 The Washington Post Company