Switching to two days from its previous three-day format seemed to work well for the 13th annual Small Press Expo, aka SPX, held just outside Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Md, October 4 and 5. By every measure, this year's SPX looked to be a success, drawing an impressive number of attendees to its new Saturday/Sunday format. SPX director and exhibitor coordinator Karen Flage said the show featured more than 400 publisher and artist exhibitors and unofficially attracted more than 1,700 people with about 1000 on Saturday and solid crowds on Sunday. Exhibiting publishers and artists approached by PW were all very happy with both the attendance and sales for the weekend.

SPX showcases the work of small and independent comics publishers as well as self-publishers and mini-comics. The show also hosts the Ignatz Awards—hosted by PW’s Heidi MacDonald—named after the zany brick-throwing mouse in George Herriman’s classic comics strip Krazy Kat. Indeed the award itself is an actual loose brick in a wood setting. The Ignatz Awards are presented to the year’s best indie comics, graphic novels, webcomics and mini-comics and showoff the impressive range of talent in the indie comics community. This year’s graphic novel winner was Skim by the cousin-creator team of writer Mariko and artist Jillian Tamaki, published by Groundwood Books. Chris Onstad’s Achewood won an Ignatz for the best webcomic and his award was accepted by a man (Onstad?) in a gorilla suit.

Among the books generating buzz and sales at the show were Ignatz winner Nate Powells’ new hardcover graphic novel Swallow Me Whole, from Top Shelf; Book Two of Jason Lutes’s Berlin: City of Smoke from D&Q; Paul Sizer’s new self-published full-color graphic novel BPM: Beats Per Minute; and Oni Press’s debut of Chris Schweizer’s hardcover Crogan’s Vengeance, an all ages pirate adventure story. And first time SPX exhibitor U.K./Spanish publisher Fanfare Ponent Mon was on hand with advance copies of the much-anticipated nouvelle manga The Quest for the Missing Girl by Jiro Taniguchi. All profits from SPX are donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.