Farel Dalrymple 12nov08

“We’re sold out of Pop Gun War,” the comics retailer told me. “They’re teaching it at Portland State University.”

“Teaching it?”

”They’re using it in a graphic novel class.”

I went to the fourth floor of Neuberger Hall and stepped into the English department office. The guy at the desk and a middle-aged woman were laughing about Moby Dick. My presence must have signaled back-to-work because she stepped out and the guy looked up brightly and supplied all the information about contacting Michael Ward, the teacher who had chosen Farel Dalrymple’s book, Pop Gun War.

At 12:45 on Friday, I walked in Shattuck Hall and sat down next to a girl near the door. A group of 35 students spread out among four stepped rows of desks, each with a copy of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. I asked the girl next to me if Continue reading

Nate Powell at Floating World Comics 05nov08

Nate Powell draws a dragon into the flyleaf of his new book Swallow Me Whole and says, “I think comics readings are kinda weird.” An ebullient voice and light frame, it seems gravity is the only force keeping Nate on the ground. While signing a copy of his book for a fan in Portland, Nate muses, “I wanted to read a Garfield strip–where no one can see it–and I just describe what’s in the panel and read the dialogue.” A small group of people have gathered at Floating World Comics to meet the author and buy his new book. “It came out at SPX a couple weeks ago. There’s only as many copies as can fit in the trunk of my car. In a couple weeks we’ll have more copies.”

Brett Warnock, Top Shelf co-publisher is at the reading to support the release. Nate won a festival award at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this October. “There’s like 30 nominees, so it’s a much harder award to win,” Warnock explains. All the people in attenance voted, and Swallow Me Whole won an Ignatz Award for Continue reading

Jesse Reklaw 29oct08

Wake up in the morning with a dream you vaguely remember. Sit down at the breakfast table and open up the comics page to see your dream illustrated by Jesse Reklaw. Ha! You’re still dreaming. Maybe. Pinch yourself, and then get to the computer and type that illustrious vision into http://www.slowwave.com and push Submit Dream. Your chances of reading that dream in the paper have just improved, if only slightly. Jesse Reklaw is on the other end of the channel, receiving some 30 odd submissions a week. He might be too tired still to draw yours.

“I wish I could every morning, but often I am just too sleepy,” Jesse admits. “But the days when I can wake up and go straight to the drawing board are best. Drawing comics cheers me up, and I often forget that.”

Slow Wave was one of the earliest Webcomics, and after twelve years, it’s likely the longest running. The weekly strip can be read online or Continue reading

Theo Ellsworth 22oct08

Theo Ellsworth pulls his book out of a manila envelope and sets it on the table. “Officially it went on sale October 6th–the day I came back.” Theo has just returned to Portland from the Small Press Expo in Maryland. His publisher, Secret Acres, brought him out there for the book release. “I also did a reading in Baltimore with Jesse Reklaw and five or six other cartoonists.”

A performance of sorts, one-panel projected on the wall, Theo read all the voices and used a hand-held recorder to playback sound effects. “Before I left New York, I helped my publishers ship pre-orders.”

He unwraps an autumnal colored scarf and unbuttons his jacket. His green T-shirt draws my attention, a print of Sesame Street’s Bert with a third eye. Theo wears a groomed beard, short cropped hair. His features are delicate and birdlike.

“I’m going to get some tea,” he says and leaves me with the book. The shimmering feathers and plants growing from the characters are the flesh of innervision, emerging from Continue reading

The Great Outdoor Fight Book Release at Floating World Comics 12oct08

Standing behind the counter, Chris Onstad and his publicist Jacquelene talk with fans at Portland’s Floating World Comics about “The Great Outdoor Fight.” The Great Outdoor Fight? There are posters taped to the counter reproduced from various decades–each marked by the era’s graphic design–and I’m thinking, did these fights happen?

“What is the Great Outdoor Fight?” I ask Chris, referring to the posters.

“It’s completely fictional,” Chris says, “but it makes sense . . . an enormous outdoor brawl.”

I thought it happened as advertised.

“The poster is promo . . . I worked as a graphic designer.”

A beaming young couple approaches the counter. The woman pulls out a mailing tube and Chris says, “hey, I recognize that.” She takes one of his posters out of the tube–this one circa 1950 with an illustration of Continue reading

CAMERA-SHY

by Arthur Smid

A ghost eats what can be forgiven of its body
The weakest things, its higher calling to make love

The sun spreads over me
at the table when I look
You are becoming a body of light

An echo for the voice it vanished from
Saying, I don’t believe there’s a mirror to my soul

Not seeing you’re alive
I step outside and look
You are becoming a body of light

Stepping out the door, you enter again
Again and again and we become so close

I’m falling slowly rising
Lights burn the darkness
I am becoming a body of light

*

An echo for the voice it vanished from saying, I don’t believe
There was a mirror to my soul not seeing you
But you’re still alive and camera-shy.

TAKING TARZAN SERIOUSLY

by Arthur Smid

You are what you are trying to become
Aware of awareness, the evolution
Of consciousness expanding to survive.

Leaping into the branches of the trees
Rapidly through the forest could it be
He was trailing a man? Raised by apes
At his side the hunting knife of his unknown sire.

Evolution. Evolution. Evolution.
He did not know what she meant.
He had no words for his love to be real.

You mastered me. There’s a lord of the jungle
Alive in your heart, a world to be born.

To be born. To be born
Alive in the world, a man to be born
Evolution. Evolution. Evolution. Evolution.