Meet an SPX Cartoonist: A Chat with Mike Dawson
Mike Dawson stays busy. In addition to doing his graphic novels, he hosts two podcasts—Ink Panthers and TCJ Talkies. He'll also be presenting one of the Ignatz Awards this year at SPX, having won the Outstanding Online Comic category last year (and lost as Outstanding Artist to Eddie Campbell... if you have to lose to someone...). His new book debuts at the show.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Mike Dawson: I have written two graphic novels and published a collection of short stories. One of the graphic novels was an autobiography, and the other is a work of fiction, about a troop of Boy Scouts away at summer camp. So, I guess the type of comics I do could be described as realistic, slice-of-life sort of stuff, though I've also done some humor (Gabagool!) and superhero comics (Ace-Face: The Mod with The Metal Arms) in the past as well.
MD: Either my Queen-fanatic-Comes-of-Age memoir, Freddie & Me, or my new graphic novel Troop 142. I hope Troop 142, because I think it's the better book. I'm also probably known to some people as one of the co-hosts of The Ink Panthers Show! podcast, along with cartoonist Alex Robinson, and also my own creator interview podcast, TCJ Talkies, which live on The Comics Journal website.
WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
MD: Right now I use a crow-quill pen and ink on smooth bleed-proof paper. I do clean-up and coloring in Photoshop. I used to use a brush to draw, but I've given up on that.
WCP: Can you tell us a little about your books that you'll have with you at SPX?
MD: I'll be debuting Troop 142 at the show, with my publisher Secret Acres. It follows Boy Scout troops as they spend a week up at summer camp in the summer of 1995. Alan is a father to two of the scouts, Jason and his younger brother David, but has never been at camp before. He finds himself in conflict with the alpha-male scoutmaster, Mr. DeMaria, and the tension between the two builds over the course of the week. Meanwhile, Jason and his friends have brought LSD to take during the campfire, and David is having trouble fitting in with the rest of the troop.
MD: I've been coming to SPX since the late 1990s. It's my favorite comic convention of the year. I associate it with my early days as a comic creator, first discovering the wide range of what comics can be. I was first introduced to the work of many of my favorite creators through being exposed to them at SPX. Last year, I won an Ignatz Award for online comics, which meant a lot to me, since I've felt such a connection to SPX for so many years.
This year will be especially fun for me, as I have a book debuting. That always makes the show more exciting. Plus, I am on some panels. I'll be appearing on one on Sunday, about today's publishing landscape, along with Julia Wertz and Meredith Gran, and I'll be hosting a panel on Saturday, focusing on Ink Panthers co-host Alex Robinson's career in the last ten years since he first released his book, Box Office Poison. I'm looking forward to that.
MD: I always buy quite a lot of things at SPX. I am hoping to get a copy of Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant for sure. I also really enjoy buying original artwork and prints at shows like this. I think comic conventions of this sort, are wonderful places for buying unique and affordable pieces of art. It's not like at mainstream conventions, where a lot of the art is just original pages from published comics. A lot of small press cartoonist do great stand-alone pieces. Silk-screens, T-shirts. There's always lots of great things to find. I always try to find a hand-made toy of some kind to take home and give to my daughter.
The Small Press Expo takes place 11 am–7 p.m. Sept. 10 and noon–6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda. $10-$15. spxpo.com.