It’s Comics Month again! (A drunken dispatch from Portland)

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IT’S HAPPENED AGAIN!

Once again, representatives of Portland’s Stumptown Comics Fest stormed City Hall (where apparently security has not been improved) last month, demanding that Mayor Sam Adams declare April “Comics Month,” as his predecessor did last year. They came brandishing Hulk Hands, and, his administration rocked by a sex scandal earlier this year, Mayor Adams lacked the political capital to ward the Stumptowners off.

Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian, via Associated Press

And so, once again April is Comics Month in the fair city of Portland, with a massive array of events planned throughout the month—culminating of course in the Stumptown Comics Fest April 18th & 19th.

Tonight was no exception. Every month Portland holds a city-wide set of gallery events for “First Thursday,” and this Thursday was packed with comics events. I went to three of them, though it’s not a Wright Opinion report unless I forget to bring my camera, so unfortunately I have no pictures.

First up on my circuit was Paul Hornschemeier’s gallery show at the Charles Hartman gallery. Hornschemeier (whose The Three Paradoxes I reviewed when he was last in Portland) is on tour for the new Fantagraphics edition of his debut graphic novel, Mother, Come Home, and the included pages from several of his books, as well as covers and other design elements. Considering that Hornschemeier sells them (the gallery had pieces between $600 and $1,500), I was surprised that so many covers and key pages were still available, and it was a treat to see them. Hornschemeier works mostly in blue pencil, and it was fascinating to look at all the changes made from penciling to inking, since there’s no need to erase. One piece in particular had a figure with several versions of a hand penciled in, but none of them inked, as Hornschemeier had chosen to leave the hand out, but the pencils remained, detailing the process.

Next, it was on to Floating World Comics for an exhibit of David Mack’s artwork from his recently collected Kabuki: The Alchemy from Marvel Icon. As I arrived, Mack was giving a slideshow presentation on his artistic process, talking about a page of The Alchemy that integrated pieces of mail sent by readers from around the world. He went on to describe his collaboration with Joe Quesada on Daredevil, explaining that he wrote a detailed script and provided layouts for Quesada, and was impressed by the how Quesada built on them. He also discussed his work with Brian Bendis, who was in the audience, and when one attendee asked if the pair would ever create a project with Mack as writer and Bendis as artist, Mack answered, “Yes,” while Bendis said, “No.” More questions elicited Mack’s thoughts on the thematic motifs in his work and his philosophy toward writing.

Finally, I visited the Sequential Art Gallery to see Erika Moen (whose DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary I reviewed after last year’s Stumptown) and Dylan Meconis’s “Lady Parts” joint show of erotic art. As one enters, Moen’s work, sex toy cut-outs and Sex Toy Goddesses, was on the left, while Meconis’s, fanciful portraits of lesbian couples, was on the right. The Sequential Art Gallery is hardly larger than a closet, and was packed, so I was out fairly quickly, but it was a delightful show, especially Moen’s large tableau of an orgy (drawn with Lucy Knisley), a collage of all manner of sexual play, which exemplified the tone of the show: sex as a whimsical and even innocent thing, a breath of fresh air in our puritanical (sorry, Sarah Vowell) culture.

Then, this being Portland, it was time for a friend and I to hit a pub and enjoy Portland’s wealth of local beers. And now, home again, here I am typing instead of packing for tomorrow’s trip to the Emerald City Comic-Con. All in all, a great evening of comics culture, and a true reminder of how apt the mayor’s declaration of Portland as the city of comics is. It’s only April 2nd, and most days the rest of this month will have at least one comics-related event, so there’s a lot still to come, including Stumptown.

But now, Seattle . . .

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