You know those ideas that you’d never think of yourself, but when you hear about them, they’re so brilliant and so obvious that you wonder how you couldn’t have thought of them? This is one of those ideas: The Library of Congress is creating The Small Press Expo Collection, with the intent of adding a gravely under-preserved area of comics to the permanent archives of the United States’ official storehouse of knowledge.
Spearheaded by SPX executive director and chairman of the board Warren Bernard, the Collection will serve multiple purposes. It will archive the ephemera of the Bethesda-based alt/indie comics convention itself, including the posters, badges, and programs created by cartoonists for the Expo, and even each year’s SPX website. It will also include every print comic nominated for the Expo’s festival award program, the Ignatz Awards. (For the time being, only the winner of the Best Webcomic Ignatz will be digitally archived.) And it will collect a selection of the comics that are available for purchase at each year’s show — a selection dominated by minicomics and other self-published works that are often difficult if not impossible to find once their tiny initial print runs have sold out.
As someone who’s gotten a lot out of SPX over the years, I think this is providing a vital service — a time capsule of the state of alternative and art comics, updated yearly. An Please read TCJ.com editor Dan Nadel’s entire interview with Bernard about this fascinating project. Then be sure to go to this year’s SPX next weekend, where my fellow Roboteer Chris Mautner and I will be hosting panels about the kinds of comics that will soon make the Library of Congress their permanent home.