Finish off your day of SPACE, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo happening THIS WEEKEND, with an interview with the show organizer himself, Bob Corby!
Bob Corby is the founder and show organizer of SPACE and an independent comics creator and publisher. Despite being a week away from the con, Bob took the time to stop by The Outhouse to answer some questions about SPACE with the Outhouse's resident indie comics expert InDiy Hunter.
InDiy Hunter: Hi Bob! (Editor's Note: Take a drink.) Can we call you Bob, or do you prefer Mr. Corby?
Bob Corby: No, Bob is better.
IH: Space is 13 years old this year, Bob, and of course you've been there from the start. How has the event evolved since it began?
BC: The first SPACE in 2000 had 40 exhibitors and about that many people coming through the door. This year we have about 170 exhibitors and the people coming through the door will outnumber us. When I first started and was handing out flyers at stores and coffee shops etc., I would have to explain what SPACE was. Now they say stuff like, "SPACE, cool." Since we started, we've gone from one day to two days. This year, there's even related events starting on Thursday, and we have things scheduled after hours on Saturday. Most of our advertizing has moved from flyers and newspaper ads to social media.
IH: What kind of things, if any, would you say influenced the creation of SPACE and the way it's evolved?
BC: The two events that influenced the creation of SPACE were "Oh,Comics!" and the Spirits of Independence shows from the mid-90's. In 1988 I started "Oh,Comics!" which was a small press anthology a dirty word in comics at the time) at the Mid-Ohio Con. At that show, about 15 small pressers (or people doing their own minicomics and trading or selling them through publications like "Small Press Comics Explosion", "Fantasy Frontiers" and "ComicsFX") showed up at my table. It gave me the idea to try a show but I doubted it would work.
Then, in 1995, Dave Sim of Cerebus fame started a series of small press shows across the US and Canada. The very first one was here in Columbus and was somewhat successful but never occurred again. After a few years I just decided to do it myself.
The evolution of the show from that point pretty much occurred on it's own. As different people come to the show different ideas took form. The SPACE Prize evolved from Dave Sim's Day Prize. Brian John Mitchell came up with the "SPACE Anthology" two years ago. I think our poster artist, Tom Williams, started the program book.
We also kind of evolved in comics formats. In the beginning it was primarily black & white photocopied minicomics. Now there are more standard full color comics and graphic novels, and there is definitely a large webcomic presence.
IH: How does this year's show compare with last year's?
BC: That's a tough question to answer until the show is over. There are about the same number of exhibitors as last year mostly because we have maxxed out the venue. We could have had about 30 more if we had the room. Last year there wasn't as many on the waiting list.
We also seem to have experienced a small jump in the number of female exhibitors this year.
This is the first year the SPACE Anthology will be available in print form. The last two years it's only been available digitally.
We are also trying to expand the SPACE Prize categories by the sale of the print version of the anthology and also looking for sponsors. Go to http://www.backporchcomics.com/space_prize_sponors.htm for more info on that.
Sorry I saw an opportunity to put in a plug.
IH: Where do you hope to take SPACE in the future?
BC: The only real change I'd like is to increase the audience so more people get to see all the great work that shows up there. The show is about as big as I can handle now. There would need to be a major change in organization and venue if it were to expand. Any change in venue would need a large jump in attendance to sustain it.
IH: What should visitors expect to find at the show? What will they take away from it?
BC: See the answer to the next question for the first part.
They will take away a stack of great comics that they probably will never find all in the one place anywhere else and a kind of great creative buzz that makes you want to try harder.
IH: And what about participants, the creators and publishers?
BC: I could fill up pages here. Go to
http://backporchcomics.com/exhibitor_info.htm for a full list of all the exhibitors, http://backporchcomics.com/premier_comics.htm for a look at all the books that will be premiering at SPACE and http://www.backporchcomics.com/program.htm for all the panels and events.
IH: How would you compare SPACE to the mainstream comic conventions that have grown so popular in the last decade?
BC: We're just about comics. No costumes. No TV stars. Nothing off-topic.
IH: As an independent creator and publisher yourself, what have you got to promote at the show?
BC: I'll have Oh,Comics! #20 "Air", my annual small press anthology (a much more acceptable word now), which includes my 4 pager, "B-Valve". I will have a full color minicomic, "Vugz Fragments," which is a collection of all my "Vugz"strips for "Oh,Comics!" and the "SPACE Anthology."
IH: Any last words?
BC: You said 5 or 6 questions? Just kidding. Thanks. (Editor's note: Sorry about that.)
To find out more about SPACE, click here. To read more about how SPACE started, click here. For more info on Bob's Back Porch Comics, click here. SPACE is happening THIS WEEKEND!
Remember, all day today, The Outhouse will be showcasing SPACE! Starting at 8AM Central, we'll be posting something new every two hours, including more information about the con and its atendees, and some interviews with several guests! And we've got even more planned for later this week! Keep checking back all day for more SPACE as we kick off the week leading up to the event with SPACE Monday!
The Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE)
The Mid-West's Largest Exhibition of Small Press, Alternative and Creator Owned Comics
Over 170 exhibitors
April 21 & 22 Saturday 10am-6pm Sunday 10am-5pm
Ramada Plaza Hotel And Conference Center in Columbus.
4900 Sinclair Road Columbus, OH 43229
Off I71 at the Morse / Sinclair exit. Free Parking!
Admission $5.00 per day and $8.00 per weekend.
Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror