Comic conventions have had a moment in this country. Utter "Comic-Con," and thoughts drift to celebrity panels, merch vendors, overcrowding. The San Diego convention has become a global multimedia spectacle, and, in ways, the art has been lost in the noise.

Comic conventions have had a moment in this country. Utter "Comic-Con," and thoughts drift to celebrity panels, merch vendors, overcrowding. The San Diego convention has become a global multimedia spectacle, and, in ways, the art has been lost in the noise.

When Bob Corby was organizing the first-ever Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in 2000, his mantra was simple, he says: "It's all about the comics, the creators-no distractions." While the Columbus-based convention has grown considerably since then-jumping from 40 exhibitors to more than 200 in 15 years-Corby has never lost sight of his vision.

This year's convention (July 18 and 19) is the first to be held at the Northland Performing Arts Center. Admission is $5 for one day or $8 for the weekend, allowing guests to browse tables and interact with artists at their leisure. Food trucks will also be on hand.

"We see a lot of CCAD grads," Corby says of the convention exhibitors. "Their students are incredible artists. The bulk of our talent comes from Columbus, some from the West Coast, quite a few people from the Washington, D.C., area and some from Michigan. There's so much variety, so much original work. It still surprises me." backporchcomics.com