In a climate where San Diego’s Comic-Con can make or break blockbuster film franchises and The Big Bang Theory is loved by millions, the stigma surrounding comic-book collectors has largely vanished. And yet attending a comic convention is still mildly embarrassing, a step beyond normative nerd-dom that evokes images of middle-aged Star Wars re-enactors or, worse yet, furries. The Small Press Expo is not that. Rather, the annual event, in its 15th year, brings together some of the industry’s finest artists in a delightfully low-key and accessible atmosphere. This year’s lineup includes the New Yorker’s resident hypochondriac cartoonist Roz Chast, Blankets author Craig Thompson, and cartoonist Chester Brown. Brown’s recent book, Paying For It, is a matter-of-fact comic memoir about his appetite for prostitutes; it’s likely to provoke a debate far more heated than the direction of the new Justice League series.
The Small Press Expo runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda. $10 for one day, $15 for both days.