From the Better-Late-Than-Ever Department:
STUMPTOWN in Portland was only my second out-of-state show, and like that previous WIZARD WORLD TEXAS, I had a great time at the convention and in the city.
I left LA on Friday around Noon and arrived in beautiful Portland, Oregon at about 3:30pm. My good friend Jason Martin picked me up and from there it was a non-stop 5 days of tourism, conventioneering and talkin’ comics! I’m glad I took the extra days to spend time in Portland, because what usually happens whenever I do any show in a city that’s not my own is I never really get to enjoy the location outside the exhibition centers, other than the inevitable dinners with friends and fellow artists.
Even as my plane descended on the city, I could see the lush forests and greenery surrounding Portland, that in itself was pleasant. Jason’s a great tour guide, as he’s been a resident in the area all of his life. Two things that floored me immediately where the fact that A) there is no sales tax in Oregon and B) you do not pour your own gas into your car!!!
Good-bye LA, hello Portland!!
We capped off that Friday with a huge Mexican meal and a pitcher of strawberry margaritas, then headed back to his home where we watched a DVD his wife had recently purchased…C.H.U.D. Luckily, we had some homemade cocktails to get us through that one!
So the next morning we hit the convention Downtown. I was surprised by the rather large exhibit hall, and even more so later when I would see rows upon rows of artists occupying those tables. By mid-Saturday, the room was packed with fans filling up every single isle. This show, like the A.P.E. in San Francisco, was comprised of true
Independent/indie artists. From mini-comics and zines, to traditionally printed comics, all the books were created by independent creatos and publishers. There were people selling sreenprinted comics, T-shirts and even stuffed toys. The roller-skating fan got around pretty good!
I got to see several friends of mine, including local resident Ethan Nicolle, who’s new series, CHUMBLE SPUZZ has found a home with Slave Labor Graphics.
And Stan Yan made the trek all the way from Colorado to attend the show! Stan’s another great creator I’ve know for quite some years now, mostly through San Diego Comic Con. Both of these gents will definitely be guests on my show in the near future.
It’s interesting, Portland is divided by the Willamette River. Both sides of the city are connected by numerous bridges every several blocks. So it shouldn’t have been too surprising that there were two Jason Martins exhibiting at the show! One for each side of the city?
Jason, being local and all, was able to bring his full line of display fixtures to maximize his presence. I was able to interview him on my radio show the previous week, helping to publicize his appearance and the debut of a new book he’s publishing, GNOME, by cartoonist David Dwonch (who was also on my radio show).
Me, I was able to spead out my twin creations, EL MUERTO and DEMOLITION DOVE across all 8’ of table space. I had Muerto comics, buttons and DVDs, and also the new Demolition Dove Preview Book available.
I even had some of the limited edition sketch covers of the Preview Book, and couldn’t resist doing at least one El Muerto/Dove 'cross-over'image!
Good thing too, as one of my biggest fans made the trek from Washington to see me at the show. Good ol’ ‘Juny’! And his friend Brice (black hat) came down as well, whose turned into a big Demolition Dove fan (he loves the Punisher, so the gun-toting Dove gwets his approval). These guys were really fun to talk to, and it’s very nice that Juny’s mother brought them down to visit.
DEMOLTION DOVE got the usual hoped for reaction , an incredulous smile. But the interesting thing was, since no one really was familiar with me or El MUERTO, I didn’t get the ‘whoa, you came up with this?” reaction I would get when I debuted the new book in the LA area!
The show overall was very well attended, particularly on Saturday. Admittedly, I wish I had sold more product, but then again, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes you have to be a repeat exhibitor to start getting people’s attention. I had already planned to attend next year’s Stumptown, and nothing that weekend changed my mind.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m glad I took the time to stay in Portland a few extra days. Thanks to Jason and Tami for having me in their home, and to their little Chihuahua Choco for warming up to me in record time!
Jason took me around and out-of-town on Monday to sample the sights. Among the great locations were local burger chain BURGERVILLE, Multnomah Falls, a state-of-the-art dam and even a quick drive into Washington.
Later that evening Tami joined us for dinner at P. F. Chang’s and then we spent a couple of hours at the word’s biggest bookstore, POWELLS. I kid you not, this place occupies one city block, is four stories tall, and is divided into nine rooms!! Sheesh, their art/film/music department is as big as some bookstores I’ve been in!!
Those five days went so quick, to be honest. I wouldn’t have minded staying there longer, but it was time to get back to Whittier. I sure would consider staying in Portland over a summer. It’s a beautiful city, rich with artists and cartoonists, and I’ve got several friends in the area. And it would be nice to skip out one of LA’s sweltering hot, smog-filled summers!
I flew back into LAX later that Tuesday. And who better to great me there, after spending the whole weekend with Super Real creator Jason Martin? Well, howzabout Sonambulo creator Rafael Navarro?! Complete with Arriving Passenger sign…