Since I've been posting bios of artists and publishers exhibiting at this year's SPACE, I thought I would round out the series by giving you some insight into the man behind all this comics craziness, Bashful Bob Corby himself.
What follows are excerpts from an interview I conducted via e-mail with Bob for the short-lived publication The Atomic Tomorrow back in 2005:
OK, I know we covered this the last time I wrote an article about SPACE, but why did you decide to put on your own small press comics convention?
The inspiration for SPACE was the Spirits of Independents shows back in 1995. They were great. I found more comic titles I loved and actually sold more of my own comics at those shows than any other conventions.
How did Dave Sim get involved?
When I decided to do SPACE which was to be a successor to the long departed Columbus Spirits show I contacted Dave about being a part of it. He declined the first year stating that he wasn’t doing any more conventions and just wanted to concentrate on completing Cerebus. He was about 4 years from completing his 26-year task. The second year I contacted him again just to keep him informed. He called me and said he was interested in coming because he wanted to start the Day Prize there.
How has Sim's involvement helped the show?
Dave's involvement did help SPACE a good deal. The first year attendance was dismal. I only started arrangements for the second year because most of the exhibitors were willing to try it again. I was going though the motions but was pretty sure that the result would be the same and I’d call it quits after the second flop. Then I got the call from Dave and we drew a lot more people and I think the show became credible. Last year with Cerebus ending the month before SPACE we drew even more people.
SPACE has grown and changed quite a bit in just six years: Has it turned it into what you envisioned it as? Or is it not quite there yet? Or has it become something you hadn't really foreseen?
SPACE has grown a little larger than I first envisioned it. It also has become something I hadn’t envisioned. The work that shows up at SPACE and other small press shows is not part of the general public’s perception of comics. I think it’s a great opportunity to start changing that perception and show people the possibilities of the medium. That idea has given me a sense of a mission that wasn’t there at the beginning. Hell, I was just trying to sell some of my comics.
What do you see in the future for SPACE?
I would like to see it grow and bring more people in. I’d also like it to stay rooted in the small press. I’d like to continue to see things there you can’t buy at your neighborhood corporate chain store.
Tell us about the history of Oh! Comics:What is it? How long had you been doing it? How many issues?
Oh,Comics! started as a charity book at the Mid-Ohio Con back in 1988. The name comes from Ohio Comics because it was originally intended to only have work by people from Ohio. In the second year I couldn’t find a charity that was interested in working with us so it became an ad financed give away book for a few years. That never really paid the printing bills and in the mid-90’s the bottom fell out of the comic shop business where most of my ads were generated so it became a regular comic with free ads for the contributors. There are 17 issues in print 1 though 15 and also issues 8-1/2 and 10-1/2.
("Editor"s Note: At the time of this interview, Oh! Comics was "on haitus". Bob returned to publishing his signature anthology last year with issue #16.)
Perhaps next time, I'll let you in on my own deepest darkest secrets.