To SPACE…No More!

It’s been just over a week since I got back from SPACE so I’ve had time to rest and reflect on the experience. In case you’ve never heard of SPACE the small press & alternative comics expo, it’s been an annual event for the last 16 years held in Columbus, Ohio. It was the first comic show that I worked as a creator.

Back in ’06 Janet & I rented a car and drove through the desolate wasteland that is Indiana to the buckeye state and spent two nights there for the one day show on Saturday. It was held at some masonic hall with really creepy photos of past members on the walls. Cerebus creator Dave Sim was there.  My first book, Complicated Hair #1 was all I had literally on the table. No cloth, signage or promotional items, just a lot of excitement and determination. We ended up selling probably less than ten books but we did meet some really cool people. Moreover, now I felt like a professional comics creator because not only have I written & drawn a book and had it printed but I finally get to be on the other side of the table something I’ve wanted to do my entire life.

The next SPACE trip was 2013 and that was my first road trip to a con since the “06 show. I didn’t have really high expectations but expected to do much better this time simply because I had four other books and other things like sketch cards & magnets. To my surprise my sales were similar to the first trip!

The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin' interior and loaded with options that I didn't figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael,"does it feel like we're doing 90"?
The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin’ interior and loaded with options that I didn’t figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael, does it feel like we’re doing 90?

So now to the latest trip. I decided to give SPACE one more chance. Plus my friend Michael who accompanied me on the last trip wanted to see the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. We did see the museum and I’ll recount that experience in a future entry. I was worried that we couldn’t set up the day before but setup went smoothly Saturday morning. There seemed to be decent attendance but it was well after noon before I got a single sale. By the end of the day I was ready to slit my wrists. In my limited experience doing comic shows this was one of the worst days ever.

First sale of the day around 12:30.
First sale of the day around 12:30.

Sunday we roll in about half an hour late full of a good Bob Evans breakfast. Since I’m selling next to nothing I took a few minutes to look around and check out the other artists. By the time I finally got to my table I’d accepted the reality that it was all a loss and was having a conversation with one of my neighbors that had a table literally in a dark corner when Bob Corby the show’s organizer appeared at my table.

Harvey Pekar's widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
Harvey Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he's doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he’s doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple'a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that's almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple’a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that’s almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!

Bob is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. This show is a labor of love for him. So Bob tells me that a spot just opened up in the main room. Apparently somebody got sick and left early and the spot that was open was the first table on the right as soon as you walk in. This has to be what they had in mind when somebody came up with the saying”closing the barn door after the horse is gone”. I kindly accepted Bob’s offer and moved. At the very least the energy was better at the new table since for the first time I got some not so friendly neighbors. The new spot was prime and right next to the front door which made for easy load out.

Without knowing I had booked the room at the same Best Western Janet & I stayed in my first time in Columbus. How fitting to come full circle with this SPACE experience. This will be my last SPACE experience. Even though it’s a wonderful idea and the people are awesome, for whatever reasons it’s never been a good show for me. Maybe it’s a regional thing. The cartoonists and fans of Columbus are very lucky to have a show like SPACE. There is no show that is equivalent to it in Chicago which really sucks when you consider the size of this city and the talent here. Sure there’s CAKE but that’s a curated show that’s difficult to get in for some people whereas SPACE is first come first in. I wish everyone involved well but I shall not return.


Disco Demolition Remembered

Yesterday July 12th was the 36th anniversary of the infamous Disco Demolition promotion at old Comiskey Park. I have vague memories of my 21 year old self attending that twi-night double header having no idea that I was about to witness an historical event.

Steve Dahl was a DJ on what was then the premiere rock station in town WLUP. Steve had recently been fired from WDAI who used to be top dog until they literally went disco overnight. I was a regular listener to his morning show on WDAI and was shocked when I turned on the radio and heard some announcer welcoming me to the new Disco DAI! I thought it was Dahl pulling a prank.

Steve Dahl and Loreli the original Loop girl.

There were several reasons I hated disco.

1) I can’t dance. Apparently just being black does not guarantee you will have moves.

2) I couldn’t afford a white 3 piece suit. To be a rocker all you need are jeans & t-shirts.

3) Disco seemed to glorify this shallow superficial lifestyle where you are judged on how well you dance, what you wear and how big a schmuck you are.

So when Dahl organized this demolition thing I was all over it.

So I was able to rustle up 98 cents and a disco record (I think it was “shake your groove thang” by Peaches & Herb) and headed off to the ballpark.

By the time I arrived they were telling people to just keep their records and pay the 98 cents. Sweet! I get in the event and get to return my roommate his disco record. I don’t remember much about the game which I believe the Sox lost, but I do remember records flying through the air like frisbees and an odd mix of people that could give a shit about baseball and were only there to see Steve Dahl and watch some records get blowed up real good.

It’s like That 70’s Show for real! Where’s Fez?

Fast forward to the ceremony. After Dahl & his crew blew up the records there was a thunderous response and then somebody ran on the field. Then 2 more ran on then 10 then 50. I had seen old footage of fans running on the field to celebrate, like when Bobby Thompson hit his famous home run. So I’m thinking. when am I gonna get a chance to do that? Right now that’s when! As I hit the field I head right for second base because I thought it would be cool to say I slid into second in a MLB ballpark. Second base was gone.

Bedlam I tell ya!
Bedlam I tell ya!
Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

All the bases were gone, literally stolen. They would have taken home plate if wasn’t a big slab of rock. Well then. I remember jogging past the dugouts and seeing a look of pure terror on the faces of the players & coaches. This was officially out of hand. I remember standing amid the chaos and looking up to the stands from a view I had never experienced before taking in the surreal moment. Then it dawned on me that now was probably a good time to get my ass off the field. I had been back in my seat for 15-20 minutes when the Chicago riot police arrived on horseback to the cheers of White Sox fans.

7/13/1979 -- The White Sox scoreboard message goes unheeded as thousands of spectators engulf the field during an anti-disco demonstration that caused the second game of a double-header to be called off. Detroit won the opener 4-1. UPI photo by Hank DeGeorge.(demolition,Comiskey park,baseball pro,Chicago)
Damn! That dude looks familiar!

When I got home that night my roommates had seen the whole thing on the news but since there was no social media or even cable news it would be weeks before we knew the significance of that night. Steve Dahl and his partner Garry Meier went on to become two of the most famous and well paid radio personalities in Chicago, disco did indeed die a few years later and the music they called rock is now “classic rock”.

There’s nothing short of an earthquake that could get me to run out on a ball field these days. Disco Demolition falls under the category of dumbshit I did and lived to talk about.