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Last Dance

 met cross continental travel in our home town of Brooklyn on the way to Maryland for the Secret Acres gang’s Small Press Expo 2017 odyssey. Our man from Amsterdam, Michiel Budel, broke his jet lag the hard way, heading straight for the airport to our beloved Desert Island, for our evening with Hic & Hoc and November Garcia, where we finally opened up a box of Francine. Yep, Michiel’s bad girl hit the streets this weekend, lord help us all.



We almost didn’t make it, with Michiel stuck at customs behind a woman trying to sneak a dog in her purse into the USA. Michiel says the dog was cute, at least. Poor Gabe and November had to share Desert Island with luggage from Amsterdam and Tel Aviv both, as Keren Katz came directly over as well. Only at Desert Island can one expect the likes of Katie Skelly, Dean Haspiel (who is keeping it real on LiveJournal) and Gabrielle Bell to drop in for a signing. What a honor to have these comics legends show up for our little shindig. Matt Moses was there, too.



We packed what we thought was more than enough books. The Beat herself, Heidi McDonald, remarked on Saturday that our tables were looking a little thinner than usual. The post-lunch rush accounted for half of our weekend sales over the course of three hours. This included the requisite moment of terror watching a little girl flipping through the pages of Francine and Wayward Girls. We let her because we’re those horrible people who don’t have a kids’ book imprint. We sold out of Keren’s Ignatz Award nominated book, the Academic Hour, for the third time in three comics shows in a row. Fool us once, shame you. Fool us three times and we get it already; we need to bring more books. Heidi was right.



With Michiel and Keren and Rob Sergel, with Rob’s host of minis surrounding SPACE, his Eschew collection, and a guest spot from our local hero, Eamon Espey, and with Barry behind the tables (for the last time) we had enough coverage to make it to a panel even. We picked Genderfluidity, Technology and Futurism, moderated by old pal, L. Nichols, featuring Jeremy Sorese, Carta Monir, Kevin Czap and Rio Aubry Taylor (who gave it up for free, comics-wise). Mercifully, Keren’s prom date (and our TCAF comics mule 2017), held a spot for us, because the line was very Hall H. Carta forced us to bite our cheeks bloody to kill the giggles after her description of prose writing’s failure at subtly identifying trans characters: “Her Adam’s apple glistened in the sun…” Have we mentioned how much we love our LGBTQUIA+ sisters and brothers and others? Back when our man, Edie Fake, picked up an Ignatz for Gaylord Phoenix, we felt like the doors were finally maybe opening for POC and for queer comics. Now? Just try to find a straight, cis, white guy with a brick.



Speaking of, Warren Bernard, Mr. SPX himself, gave a special shoutout to Barry for (almost) ten years of service to Secret Acres, right at the end of his opening speech at the big awards show. Barry bawled like a big baby. He claims he was sweating, out of his eyes, a lot. Thanks for that, Warren.



Keren also made history, losing two Ignatz awards by one vote each in the same year. How is that even possible? We declare the Ignatz Awards 2017, the Tear-Jerker Edition (looking at you, Emil). All this failed to deter Keren from breaking a sweat at the prom and losing her voice at karaoke. We grown-ups stayed up on the patio.



These days, and they’re some dark-ass days, we really, really, needed this SPX. There’s no taking these moments with the people we love and admire for granted when so many of us are living under what feels like constant assault from above. We promised to mention Frank Santoro and his Sluggo necklace that Gary Panter made for him. We got to watch Michiel meet Simon HanselmannFrancine cover-blurber, for the first time. A hug from Chris Pitzer, an ab check from Annie Koyama, and some real love and support from our friends old (Hi, Laila!) and new (Hi, Carta! Hi, Rio!) counts as necessary. Hopefully, we’re sending Michiel and Keren and Rob home safe with a smile. If this is where Barry signs off, he chose his spot wisely.



The rest of us have a couple more shows left on the docket for 2017. See you in a few…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon


  • Rob Clough says:

    I am so glad you liked the Genderfluidity panel. I designed that one with those artists in mind, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least that they killed it.

    Expect to see more queer-oriented programming in the future.

  • Leon says:

    Oh, that panel was maybe the best queer comics panel ever. Yeah, it was well thought-out, especially for such an intricate topic, but even with all the serious stuff, it’s worth watching again for the laughs alone.


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