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The sales boom that hit the comics industry in the ’80s and ’90s was as powerful as any bomb ever developed by your typical half-crazy, half-absurdly dressed supervillain of the era. And the effects were every bit as far-reaching: As big publishers became more intent on protecting their bottom lines, writers and artists were forced under ever-intensifying deadlines to produce comics that would fly off the shelves faster than a speeding bullet. On the outskirts of the industry, however, lies a contingent of artists who have distanced themselves from the pulp stereotype. The 12th Annual Small Press Expo will showcase more than 300 such independent artists and publishers—those who have worked to develop a following for alternative comics.(Paul Hornschemeier’s Let Us Be Perfectly Clear is pictured.) Now considered a legitimate and refined art form, indie comics are generated mainly by individuals and can be geared toward readers of all ages. Featured SPX artists include Tony Millionaire, known for his extraordinarily rendered chronicles of the nautically bound and suicidal Drinky Crow and Uncle Gabby. Millionaire is up for an Ignatz Award in the category of Outstanding Artist for his chimerical book, Billy Hazelnuts, a story about the trials and tribulations of a Frankenstein-esque creature composed of garbage. Billy Hazelnuts may not be as recognizable as The Toxic Avenger—but, like the titular hero, the stories reek significantly less of shit. The Small Press Expo runs from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda. $8–$15. (301) 822-9200. (Sean McArdle)