Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Tempest in a teapot continues! 

Wow: The Stumptown comics fest got even more ink in the Portland Mercury. That makes three weeks in a row, now. This reply to Heather Lockamy's angry letter appears in the latest edition:



This is for "Ms. Real Geek" Heather Lockamy ["Letters," June 10, in which the author bemoans "hip" people starting a comics convention]. Hey Heather, we went to high school together! You might recall me playing Magic during lunch, or getting shoved around by meat-headed jocks between classes. You won't recall my table at the Stumptown Comix Fest, though, because it seems we just weren't geeky enough for you! Ho ho, observe the irony.

You imply that the comics scene is in danger of losing its "underground coolness." Yet it's the Portland Comic Con you defend which pushes the corporate, mainstream, spandex-dependent comics, and which relegates independents to the fringe in favor of guests from barely related, well-funded, globally distributed entertainment like Xena and DS9. The only thing underground about the Portland Comic Con is its location in the basement of the Memorial Coliseum; I'll also concede that it stays cool down there, even during the summer months.

Hey, just because we're independent doesn't mean we fit your own ugly stereotypes about "scenester fucks." It just means we love comics, and we make ours against the mainstream grain.

John C. Worsley, Stumptown Comix Fest Exhibitor

I agree with the defense, though I think Richard Finn, the hard-working promoter of the Portland Comic-con, has been treated unfairly in this discussion. Putting together a regional comic book show, even one that's largely mainstream, is hardly the road to riches. And he has always made room at his shows for local small press talent. In most towns, the space he's made available would be more than sufficient. One reason there's a need for a small-press show here is that the mass of Portlanders who make comics is a good deal larger than the population that just reads them. In a cartoonist-rich environment like Portland, there are artists who could double their audience just by handing out free books to all the other exhibitors.

Speaking of which, major talent David Chelsea gathered a bunch of Portland cartoonists together to produce 24-hour comics. Here's a short comic about the event, and here is Chelsea's finished comic. Look at those cityscapes, and in a 24 hour comic, no less. There's a reason the guy wrote a book on perspective.

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