Who’s excited for the Small Press Expo this weekend? I know I am! I can’t wait for all the best small presses, creators and fans to flood D.C. with awesome art and captivating cosplay.
But conferences are always a little overwhelming. If you’d like to sneak away but still surround yourself with excellent comics, here are some great options!
Head over to the book nerd’s heaven, the Library of Congress, to check out the Small Press Expo Collection–a display of the print and online work of previous Ignatz winners, unique art created at and for the Expo, and comics that otherwise would not be archived at the Library. It’s not just a record of the event; it’s also a way to pull together the creative might of small presses and artists.
Ready for more nerd history? Head over to the American History Museum to check out the Muppets display! Kermit and Miss Piggy have been in the news lately for their relationship troubles, but this exhibit’s trip down memory lane would bring any couple back together.
Follow in the footsteps of Alex + Ada, from their home in Bethesda to the sentient-rights protests on the Mall; local creators Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna include excellent little details about the city in their D.C. scenes.
Speaking of protests on the Mall, this would also be a great time to dive into the first two volumes of March. Congressman John Lewis recounts his days as a civil rights activist while also observing the present-day inauguration of President Barack Obama. This is a must-have for any political junkie or anyone interested in civil rights.
District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC provides a fantastic graphic account of D.C.’s history, from the early days as a settlement near a swamp to its present role in global policy. If, like me, you’re a sucker for reading about the history of places you visit (or live near!), this anthology is a perfect addition to your SPX reading list.
Y: The Last Man takes place, in part, in D.C., and Zodiac Starforce is set in nearby Alexandria. And I’m not even counting all of the references in comics to fictionalized versions of our nation’s capital! The more you look, the more you’ll find a strong comics culture in the District.
D.C.’s local comics shops are a haven for comics-lovers all year round. No visit to the area is complete without stopping by a few of them! (Here’s a handy map to help plan your excursions.)
Big Planet’s Bethesda location is the closest comics shop to the Marriott Bethesda, where SPX takes place. And their store is College Park isn’t too far away, either. But I’m most familiar with their DC shop on U Street (easily accessible on the green and yellow lines at U St station). I love walking into the store—it always feels like I’m entering a cave where untold adventures await, or a womb where my love for comics grows ever stronger. Big Planet is also the co-publisher of Retrofit Comics, a small but mighty press worth visiting at SPX (section D8).
Bethesda: 4849 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814
College Park: 7315 Baltimore Ave., College Park, MD 20740
DC: 1520 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Vienna: 426 Maple Ave. E., Vienna, VA 22180
Con-goers can easily hop on the red line to Dupont Circle to check out another of D.C.’s gems, Fantom Comics. This large, sunny store has a great selection and a friendly staff, making it one of my favorite happy places in the whole world. But the shop’s events might be the best part, with rad book clubs and ladies’ nights. In fact, if you get to DC early, check out their “Epic Comix Hangout” on Friday night!
2010 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Other Shops in Maryland
8317 Fenton St., Silver Spring, MD 20910
11242 Triangle Lane, Wheaton, MD 20902
Other Shops in Virginia
586 S Washington St, Falls Church, VA 22046
Game On! Comics
310 Dominion RD NE, Vienna, VA 22180
142 Maple Avenue West, Vienna, VA 22180
1304 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314