10 April 2010


We were definitely bummed out over missing Wonder Con in San Francisco last weekend, but where comics are concerned, there's really no better place to be than Portland, Oregon.   Aside from the numerous comic book shops, galleries, and artists studios throughout the city,  and the fact that four of the nation's most prominent independent comics publishers (Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, Bluewater, and Top Shelf Productions), along with a veritable 'Who's Who' of today's most prominent comics creators, call the state capitol home, Portland is the only city in the nation able to celebrate Comic Book Month

For the third year in a row, Rose City Mayor Sam Adams officially declared April to be Comic Book Month at the 01 April opening of the sixth annual Stumptown Comics Art Show. The exhibit, sponsored by the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Stumptown Comics Fest, and the Sequential Art Gallery features work by 45 local comic book artists, including Paul Guinan, Erika Moen, Garrett Izumi, and will be on display at the Antoinette Hatfield Hall, 1111 S.W. Broadway, through 31 May. 

Portland's Comic Book Month is book-ended on the  far side by the Stumptown Comics Fest 24-25 April. Founded in 2004 by a group of local artists, the 'Fest has become a draw for mainstream and independent creators nationwide.  One reason for the 'Fest's growing appeal may be its relatively unconventional approach to the convention scene:  where larger cons like Wonder Con are dominated by work-for-hire publishers and top-dollar vendors, the Stumptown Comics Fest keeps its focus on the creators and their work, on the art of comics rather than the brand.

This year's 'Fest boats a terrific line-up of special guests, including independent rockstar comics artist Paul Pope, the super-talented New York comics illustrator Dean Haspiel, as well as one of their own, Seattle-based artist Matthew Southworth, co-creator (along with Portland writer Greg Rucka) of the very appropriately-named Stumptown missing persons crime noir series from Oni Press.  Stumptown Comics Fest will be held once again at the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel, and additional info and directions can be found-  here.

An amazingly long list of awesome area events fill the days between 01 April's Art Show kick-off and the Comics Fest near month's end, and Portland's world-class comics shops are at the forefront of Comic Book Month activities. One of the city's pre-eminent shops, Floating World Comics , kicked-off the month with an exhibit of their own -  Stumptown: The Art of Matthew Southworth. While we would've loved to be on hand for April Fool's, the good news is the store is running the exhibit through 25 April, so maybe we'll see you there.

In full-swing even right this very moment is Cosmic Monkey Comics' third annual 24 Hour Comic Event: Drawpocalypse 3 Professional and amateur artists sharpened their pencils as early as 10am this morning, their goal to each produce 24 completed pages of comics before the clock runs out tomorrow - Sunday 11 April - at 10am.  Fans, on-lookers, late-night shoppers, and insomniacs of all colors and kinds are encouraged to stop by the store's new location at literally ANY time to see the artists in action.   Cosmic Monkey is located at 5335 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland as well as online, here  If you're not in Portland, chances are one of your local comics retailers will be sponsoring their own 24 Hr Comics event this year, too.  Find out on the 24 Hr Comics Day national website  - here.

Portland's Comic Book Month reaches its half-way point next week, welcoming actor, filmmaker, and comics creator Kevin Smith as it does. Smith takes his unique, uncensored brand of storytelling to center stage at Portland's McMenamins Crystal Ballroom for An Evening with Kevin Smith this Monday, 12 April, beginning at 8pm. 

Our entire Office is excited for the show, despite the fact not a one of us owns a ticket. But again, good news is to be had: seats for Smith's three-hours of irreverence are still available. We found some sweet ones at TicketMaster  [here] for $50 plus their rather pricey $10 fee. To steep? Our internet search revealed several other online vendors, but time's short and the only better deal for An Evening with Kevin Smith you're likely to stumble upon is that $2 Clerks rental at the corner Blockbuster.  Unless, of course, the one on your corner's been closed. Seriously, Blockbuster's going under, but that doesn't mean you have to  go with them. Y'all are welcome to come with us instead; so, man up, dabblers, and get those tickets tonight!

We've only just scratched the surface of that comic book celebration going on 90 miles to our North, and there's no way we'll be able to do Portland's Comic Book Month the justice it deserves. Other than throwing the idea out to the comicsblogosphere that maybe we should all start clamoring for a National Comic Book Month, we're outta here for the night and leave you in the informative and oh-so-capable hands of the Stumptown Comics Fest folks as we go. 

You can find a wonderfully detailed schedule of every Comic Book Month event you'll want to be at on their website HERE - with links a plenty that'll take you exactly where you want to go.  You may also want to give a listen to  S.W. Conser, host of  Words and Pictures on Portland's KBOO Community Radio. Conser recently welcomed Stumptown Comics Festival director Shannon Stewart and Stumptown Comic Book Foundation president Kaebel Hashitani to his talk show, and it's a half-hour run-down of everything going on up the road you might not want to miss.  Give your peepers a pause and give a listen HERE.

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