SPX 2011 :)

Thu 9/15/2011

Sure, SPX was a bummer this year, because of Dylan's passing, but some really GOOD stuff happened at the show too. So here's a separate blog entry, focusing more on that positive stuff.

The show was very well attended and SPX announced they are going to expand the convention hall for next year. I sold a bunch of comics, did a ton of trading, and got to meet a few Phase 7 subscribers in person, which is one of my favorite things about going to shows.

On Saturday night, Dustin Harbin did an amazing job as the emcee of the Ignatz Awards. It was hard to know who to root for, because I had multiple friends in a few of the categories. I will say though, I was VERY excited to see my buddy Joe Lambert win two well-deserved Ignatz awards (Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Collection) for his book I Will Bite You.

Even though I have not yet read my comics from the 2011 MoCCA or Stumptown festivals, I bought a BUNCH of books because there was just so much good stuff at the show. By the end of the show Saturday, I felt like I had already spent too much money, so I wasn't planning on getting anything on Sunday...

But then everything went kind of sideways on Saturday night (see previous blog post), and I showed up at the show on Sunday very, very sad and not looking forward to my 12-hour train/bus ride home the next day. So then I went a little CRAZY.

See, MONTHS ago, it was announced that Craig Thompson's long-awaited new graphic novel Habibi would be debuting at SPX. But then a few weeks before the show, the organizers sent out an email informing everyone that actually there would only be 100 copies of Habibi at the show and they would each cost $100, with all of the proceeds going to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

So I walked over to the CBLDF table on Sunday morning and saw that they still had about 20 copies of the book left. I bought one. I know, I know, if I had just waited until next week, I could have bought the book for $35. But here's how I looked at it: 1) It's not overpaying for a book, it's making a $100 donation to a very good cause (plus, my CBLDF membership has gone unrenewed for a few years now) 2) I bought Blankets at its debut in 2003, so it felt right to buy Habibi at its debut in 2011 3) I got a cool letterpress bookplate, signed and numbered by Craig 4) at 672 pages, that's still only 15 cents a page and BELIEVE ME, it's worth every cent!

The next morning, tired and emotionally worn out, I got on the train, cracked open Habibi and dove into its world. I read it straight through in one sitting (well, with two bathroom breaks and a lunch break) which took me nine hours. It is, without a doubt, the most beautifully drawn graphic novel of all time.

Dave Sim has a theory that a cartoonist has to draw 2,000 pages of comics before one really finds one's style and starts drawing "good" pages. With this book, Craig has completed his 2,000 pages and has now entered his "master" phase. There is nothing he can't draw and it will be so exciting to see where he focuses his skills next.

The story is so layered and complex I'm not even sure I know what to say about it. I feel like I need to reread Habibi another two times before I'll be able to pick up on all the different layers of meaning that Craig has loaded into every panel and page. It deals with language, math, religion, geometry, slavery, survival, the destruction of our natural resources and so much more. It's a REALLY good book. Well worth the wait, and certainly worth $100!

Craig came up to CCS a few days after SPX and we were lucky enough to get a glimpse into his writing and drawing process for Habibi. It sounds like it was one hell of an undertaking. The fact that he finished this book - that he didn't give up and saw it through to the end, even though it took eight years - it makes me feel like ANYTHING is possible. Needless to say, you need to buy this book! It raises the bar for what is possible in comics and challenges us all to make better work.

15 comments on this entry

Dude I just finished reading it! Just now! I want to get like every decorative element tattooed into the insides of my eyeballs it's so good.

MK Sep19

Well, that's one hell of an endorsement for Habibi. I need this book ASAP.

Nice, I can't wait to read this.

(Uh, and I still need to read Blankets... I've only read Goodbye, Chunky Rice)

Ryan Sep20

You have some very enjoyable reading awaiting you, Ryan!

Alec Sep20

Just got the book in Cambridge,saw him talk. Really nice guy excited to read it!

joel gill Sep22

it's not related to what you wrote but you can see how worn the spine is on understanding comics! scott mccloud must be blushing!

It is a well-loved copy, Zack! ;)

Alec Sep22

I read Habibi in one sitting at my shitty movie theater job and was in tears by the end of it. Breathtaking! I recently finished a comics self-publishing program here in Portland and Craig was kind enough to visit our class with some of the sketches and finished originals of both Blankets and Habibi. Needless to say it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in person.

Also, I noticed Pantheon just put out a hardcover version of Blankets to complement Habibi. Must....resist....purchasing....

Joel H Sep26

That's great that you got to see some of Craig's originals Joel! The Hardcover of Blankets does match Habibi, but it was published by Top Shelf: http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/blankets-new-edition-hardcover/763

Alec Sep26

D'oh! I was wrong on the Internet!

Joel H Sep26

Connie Grube received a copy of Habibi for her birthday last week. It kept her up 2 nights in a row.

Stefan Sep27

I just picked up my copy of Habibi. It looks stunning and I can't wait to dive into it fully. Already hit the first 40pages and I'm captivated.
I don't know if I can handle it yet as I just read Jaime Hernandez' The Love Bunglars, and was just blown away by that one. What a story! I've been reading Love and Rockets since I was 16, and I'd equate this experience possibly with your reading the last issue of Bone, Alec. Just a tremendous story. It feels like an ending.

Cam Sep27

Hey Alec, just curious... a large portion of the gold ink printing on the cover of my copy of Habibi has faded to the stock colour in several spots (including the author's name). Did you encounter anything like that on your copy?

Cam Sep27

I didn't have any trouble with the foil on my copy Cameron. Maybe yours was misprinted or something? You might be able to get a new copy, depending on where you bought it!

Alec Sep27

That's a burn. I'll do that. Thanks Alec.

Cam Sep27

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