“Comics is a format, not a genre,” Stumptown Marketing Director Aaron Duran dutifully recites, in the tone of someone repeating a well-worn aphorism. And while to an outsider the world of comics and graphic novels can seem insular and intimidating, the Stumptown Comics Festival is an annual invitation from Portland’s close-knit community of comics creators to come see what all the fuss is about.
This culture of support has played into Portland’s status as an emerging comic mecca. It’s something that the comics fest has helped develop and, according to Duran, it’s a process that hasn’t even neared completion. “When Stumptown invites an artist to come to the festival, it’s not like it’s just a little mid-size city in the Pacific Northwest,” he says. “We’ve got three publishers and a bunch of fantastic creators, so it becomes a big deal to come to this show. So it kind of steamrolls and becomes a bigger and bigger source of attention—it feeds on itself in a positive way.”
The Daily Crosshatch has a good overview of the show.Guests include Jeff Smith, Carla Speed McNeil, Gail Simone, Craig Thompson, Hellen Jo, and tons more.
The social calendar — as you might expect, given that Portland is Comicstown, USA — is packed with events, including a star-studded fundraising dinner, a party tonight at Guapo, and the Stumptown Trophy Awards tomorrow night.
Other notables: Dark Horse will be exhibiting and running a talent search.
Also, check out Sparkplug’s debut comics:
DEPARTMENT OF ART by Dunja Jankovic
REICH #6 by Elijah Brubaker
BIRD HURDLER by Andrice Arp, Theo Ellsworth, Farel Dalrymple, Zack Soto, Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg and Julia Gfrörer (this is a free book of original material co-published by Sparkplug, Teenage Dinosaur and Tugboat Press)