Back From the Small Press Expo

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Back From the Small Press Expo

I have returned from the great annual comics fest in Bethesda, Maryland known as SPX, where a bevy of altweekly political cartoonists were on hand for this year’s election-themed programming. Suffice it to say, there was much bantering about the presidential race.

Promotional poster by Tom Tomorrow

I’m not sure we reached any grand conclusions, aside from the fact that McCain and Palin have made our jobs infinitely more fun recently. Referring to Palin’s professed friendship with gays, one cartoonist quipped "Sarah Palin can see gay people from her house!" There was speculation that DC would be overflowing with Palin costumes this Halloween. (You betcha it’s gonna be!)  Conversation also revolved around SNL’s parody of the debate, which you must watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

One of the highlights for me was getting a special tour of the Library of Congress’s archive of original political cartoons. I saw several Thomas Nasts — along with the intricate wood-block carvings that were used to print his work in Harper’s. The blocks were carved by other artists who traced sections of Nast’s drawings and assembled the pieces into whole cartoons. (Note to C-VILLE: When do I get my own wood carvers?)

Also impressive were elaborate Civil War battlefield illustrations done by what we now might call "embedded cartoonists." Some of the artwork had blood on it; the curators explained that the artists were often shot in the line of duty. Now that’s some live-blogging! (Note to C-VILLE: I will not be doing that for Final Countdown.)