“MAYBE WE’LL HAVE a whole line of people from Dark Horse come in who don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re away from comics for a day,” joked Jeff Parker as I was leaving Portland’s Periscope Studio on July 3rd, my day off from work for the Independence Day holiday.
Periscope, formerly Mercury, has become an important institution in Portland’s comics scene, rivaling some local publishers in notoriety and far exceeding several in sheer size. Not a studio in the sense of accepting contracts and assigning a couple of members to work together to complete it, Periscope is instead a collection of over 20 comics writers and artists who share and contribute to the rent on an office space in downtown Portland. Projects range from high-profile work for DC and Marvel to members’ own comics and webcomics.
Members include names familiar to mainstream comics fans like Steve Lieber, Paul Tobin, Matthew Clark, Terry Dodson, and the aforementioned Jeff Parker; as well as artists of the independent and webcomics worlds, like Jonathan Case, Terri Nelson, Ron Chan, Dylan Meconis, and Erika Moen. There are several tiers of affiliation, beginning with interns, then artists who work there as assistants, and full members. Some, like Moen, are classified as “floaters,” who, though full members, do not have a designated work space and work at whatever desk is available.* Since I don’t work downtown, I’ve never been able to make it over during business hours, but I had a standing invitation from Moen to check it out, so called her up, and she offered to give me a tour.