ON SUNDAY, we were able to watch #SPX trend on Twitter for both the best and most frustrating reasons.

At noon EDT that day, Small Press Expo 2013 opened table registration for this September’s event.

The good news, in terms of teeming popularity among exhibitors, was that the event quickly sold out.

The down side, though, was that SPX’s Internet service provider apparently was unprepared for the digital onslaught — as servers crashed and would-be exhibitors grew agitated.

Warren Bernard, SPX’s executive director, gives us the lowdown about the crash:

“Well, I can tell you this,” Bernard tells Comic Riffs with characteristic wryness. “The web site was — pick one — a. the Hindenberg at Lakehurst, N.J.; b. the Titanic on its maiden voyage; c. the Fukushima Nuclear reactor after the tsunami.”

Seriously, Bernard says, our ISP “misled us about their capabilities, had a lot of trouble diagnosing the cause of the problem — apparently ‘Failure to Connect to the Database’ is not in their run book for problem diagnosis — and when the reason for the crash was discovered, they flatly refused without any discussion to up a parameter for one measly hour that would not have harmed anyone else on the server on a Sunday afternoon. ...

“They did not care that SPX had hundreds of customers trying to access the site, even after informing them [more than] a week in advance this was going to occur.”

The ISP, Bluehost, did not return calls seeking comment.

Fortunately, Bernard says, the SPX team was able to react nimbly.

“That disaster aside, [assistant director] Kevin Panetta and [digital strategy director] Mike Thomas set up an alternative path for asking for tables, which worked,” Bernard tells Comic Riffs. “After that was up, it literally took like 30 minutes — tops — for us to sell out. And then some.

“We are sifting through the digital debris ... ,” he continues. “There is flotsam and jetsam all across three e-mail accounts, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter [that] we are cleaning up right now.”

So, to recap: The good news?

“We sold out ... as fast as the World Series.”
The bad news?

“We sold out ... as fast as the World Series using a process that is causing us much pain today and over the next few days, as well as causing heinous and uncivilized amounts of pain yesterday to all involved.”

Always a gem of a show, SPX will be Sept. 14-15 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda. The special guests will include Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Seth, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro.


. (courtesy of SMALL PRESS EXPO /.)