Leivian stands in front of art from March’s “Repeat After Me” show of work by Sean Christensen, Catherine Peach and Stefan Saito
THINK OF THE MORE VENERABLE COMICS SHOPS in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and you’ll likely come up with stores like Excalibur Comics, the local back issue heavyweight, or Things From Another World, Mike Richardson’s chain that spawned Dark Horse. However, the city’s newest generation of shops offers a very different kind of comics experience. Among them is Floating World Comics, focusing on independent comics, original art and being a hub for the Portland comics scene, and the only one with the foresight to open within walking distance of my apartment (a business move that has made it my regular shop). The store is located in Portland’s trendy Pearl District, where it sits amongst the area’s old industrial buildings-turned-art galleries and, through the efforts of proprietor, Jason Leivian, is a part of the district’s thriving art scene.
Every month Floating World participates in First Thursday, an area-wide open house in which galleries put on special shows, receptions and other events. On a given First Thursday, there will be original art by comics artists and––increasingly––other types of art, like paintings and photography, often accompanied by in-store appearances by artists. These events, as well as others like book release parties, attract many from the local comics scene, pros and fans alike. And of course, the rest of the time, Floating World is an attractive, friendly store with a diverse selection of books. (View Tom Lechner’s panoramic photo of the indie comics section of the store, taken at the Friends of the Nib event in February 2008. The main room, featuring mainstream comics, is visible through the window.)
I spoke with Leivian about the store, his thoughts on original art and the Portland comics scene, and some of the shows and publishing ventures he’s getting into on March 19th at the Ash Street Saloon in NW Portland.