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Friday, April 30, 2010

Heart Stolen By Stumptown

I have to admit something: I love Portland. And I heart the Stumptown Comics festival. Though April was comics month in Portland, I think it may be this wonderful all the time there. A good omen for the weekend was when I opened up the two weeklies and saw full pages of comics reviews in anticipation of the weekend. Alison Hallet of the Portland Mercury reviewed Market Day and starts her review with A stomach-dropping parable crammed into a slim hardback graphic novel, James Sturm's Market Day distills anxieties about art and commerce, supporting a family, and how precarious life in a market economy can be.

Over at the Willamette Weekly, Casey Jarman reviewed Market Day calling it a A lyrical vignette; spotlighted Masterpiece Comics--book's catnip for comics-loving English majors; as well as Black Blizzard stating the Hitchcockian 1956 murder mystery novel holds up.

Speaking of Tatsumi, I was able to visit Powells, where I saw this great Manga display. How many D+Q books can you count? Love it.

If you do not know Powells, it is called the City of Books for a good reason, it takes up a full city block in downtown Portland. An amazing institution. And if you are there on Sunday May 16th, please be sure to stop by Dan Clowes' WILSON event.

So as I have called out before on this blog, Portland should be called the city of comics. It took me all day to visit four stores, and I didn't even make it to Guapo or Reading Frenzy. Apologies! Next year!

I made it to Bridge City Comics which has a gorgeous storefront and amazing windows.

I made it to Floating World which is on the edge of Chinatown and is like a little secret of all things awesome.

And I ended up at Cosmic Monkey and met the delightful proprietor Andy. See behind Andy, those clearly label shelves, oh how I love that!!!!

This piece of yellow and green kangaroo art that I spied at Cosmic has nothing to do with comics, except that I thought it was a little Moominesque and I wish I owned it. And here's the most amazing comics tidbit about Portland, not only does it have great comic shops, but get this --they all like each other!!!

Ok so on to the con. First off, special thanks to one of my best friends since middle school Krissy Pedersen, who helped me with the booth, so I didn't have to do it totally "chief style" and whose hospitality in PDX made the whole trip possible. Thanks KP!

OK, so for all the convention nerds keeping score out there, let's just get one thing straight. Stumptown the comics festival is AWESOME! The space is located on the ground level with wall to wall windows on all three sides, it is part of a Doubletree right on the East Side of Portland over the bridge from downtown, quite possibly the best location ever. Also, did I mention all the windows? One can never stress the importance of windows, light and air in comics enough.

And the convention was quite possibly the smoothest convention ever. No hiccups, sweet staff, great volunteers, and an operation that had their act together complete with this fellow who passed out trays of water to exhibitors.

And a staff photographer who came around to make sure he got a shot of each exhibitor. This is a thoughtful touch for posterity's sake that I thought was smart and sweet. Much better than a video camera in your face.

Different convention, different coast, different set of faces. Let's begin.

I showed up on Saturday to get my publicist feathers all riled up as who should be getting interviewed with camera and lights in front of my booth but my old coworker at DC Comics now copublisher of Secret Acres Leon Avelino! On Sunday, I was even able to have lunch with Leon and Barry in the park across from the hotel.

Leon then stopped by the booth to buy Wilson.

As did Mike Allred.

And it's not comics in Portland without a shot of Mayor of Milwaukie Mike Richardson.

But really, it's not comics in Portland or anywhere without the fantastic Diana Schutz. Seriously people, Diana may be the most awesome person in comics. I always love talking to her and special thanks to her and Michael Martens for giving me a tour of DHHQ.

With a pose like this, Douglas, I think I may just have to refer to you as "Wolkian" from now on.

Miss Chloe Eudaly.

So perhaps the best thing about Portland you ask? It was the contest to see who could be a nicer and sweeter host...

Zack Soto or

T Edward Bak (who is raising money for Alaska!!!) or

Brett Warnock

I also gabbed and gossiped with Jeremy of Little Otsu, who I forgot now lives in Portland. (or the better, nicer San Francisco, as I like to call it, just joking San Fran!, ok, maybe a little)

I saw Vanessa Davis of the soon to be MAKE ME A WOMAN fame with the adorable Dave Lasky, who I have never met before.

A lovely lady who had Seth's Strand tote bag.

And I was charmed to meet Carla Speed McNeil who excitedly came over on Sunday to buy whatever we had of our John Stanley Library. Carla was a guest and flew in from Maryland, so when you are willing to take home not only a Melvin Monster but a 13 Going on 18 in valuable carry-on luggage, that is a sale with a lot of heart.

I met superstar Rina Ayuyang, who is adorable and I feel like I have known her for years.

Oh and it wouldn't be a con without at least one costume would it? This is Danger Man, I think, and I think the only thing dangerous was his Sunday funk from two days in the same costume. Cruel, I know, but the minute one puts on a costume it's fair game.

But really I wouldn't have been to survive the weekend with the superstar pairing of James Sturm and R. Sikoryak who were champs.

Portlanders were genuinely excited to see them both, it was great. Both Bob and James had spotlights panels and came back raving about them.

I brought "MoCCA quantities" of each of their books, thinking that if we didn't sell them there would be enough stores to sell them to on Sunday. Well, no need to think about that. I sold out of both their books mid-Sunday afternoon. This is James with one book left.

And speaking of "selling out", I SOLD OUT OF ALL OF MY BOOKS, at about 4:45 PM, with the con ending at 6. In fact, Shannon thought I packed up early and was angry.

Maybe Shannon had heard my early bitching about the show starting at 10 AM. 10 AM! I thought, what kind of small press show starts at 10 AM?! Well, I can admit when I am wrong, this joint was hopping by 10:15 AM. And 10-2 was the busiest part of Saturday.

This is my "Yes, my second show in a row of selling out of stock" pose. Maybe only my fellow publishers can really understand the pure joy one feels when they realize they have nothing to pack, ship or carry at the of a con.

So when I saw Shannon, I assured him that I was nothing less than absolutely thrilled with all of Stumptown and would be doing it again in 2011. Shannon and James doing their best Frank Miller.

Thanks everyone! Until the next time!

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