SPX 2007 imageDespite my best intentions -- also lacking the time and a plane ticket -- I'll be very sorry about missing this weekend's Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Md., one of the most enjoyable weekends of any year for fans of independent comics.

SPX represents the last major independent show of the year, after STAPLE!, APE and MoCCA, and it's my favorite of the bunch. I'm partial to the D.C. group of retailers and, now, friends of retailers who have managed to expand the reach and scope of their show to a larger audience over the past decade without losing its indy feel.

I suspect it's a geography thing: SPX is just far enough away from California and NYC not to be the "trendy comic book thing" to do (for now anyways) and important enough to attract special guests the likes of Matt Wagner, Bill Griffith, Jeff Smith and Gilbert Hernandez, heavyweights by any measurement.

And, like MoCCA, you'll discover treasures you'd never find at your local comic shop.

Case in point: Dead Man's Hand, a new anthology of westerns published by Tree Fort Press that features stories by students at the Center for Cartoon Studies along with veterans like the ol' Tyrant himself, Steve Bissette and Web cartoonist Cayentano Garza (Magic Inkwell).

Since I'm partial to Western comics, I think I'm going to order one of these online just to be on the safe side.

If you can't make it to Bethesda this weekend, maybe you should too...

Dead Mans Hand image