Attended the Bridge City Comics Stumptown Hard Cover Signing on Friday March 25th with a couple friends. We arrived there a bit later than expected due to some family issues on my part.
This was my first experience with Bridge City Comics and I’ll have to say it looks like a great store to service the North Portland area. The shop is a bit small and crammed, but it’s well lit and clean. Not at all like the dingy, spooky local shops of our imagination. All the staff seemed friendly enough – there were some ladies sprinkled in amongst the mens and even some parents with their kids.
Because it’s completely out of my territory, I probably won’t do a lot of repeat business at Bridge City unless there’s an event there. But I always make a habit of buying a book when I attend a free event. Baby’s gotta eat, ya know. BTW – we also bought two X-Factor trades, which I’m looking forward to reading in the next week.
It’s funny, I was chatting with a nerd friend yesterday about how comics is a struggling industry, and sometimes that’s such a difficult concept for me to grasp from this vantage point.
Portland is a city that is a complete outlier when it comes to comics. Instead of shops closing down left and right, we have new ones opening. Portland really does love comics, and that’s why it’s so strange to imagine that the industry could be struggling nationwide…because it seems to be growing in our city and the Pacific Northwest in general.
Especially the convention aspect. Stumptown Comics Fest is upgrading to a larger venue, Emerald City Comic Con has grown every year and it’s not even been around for a decade, and a new GeekGirlCon in Seattle is rising up this year to join the ranks. Conventions have almost become the hub on which most pop culture runs – sucking in the television, movie and even sometimes book publishing industries.
But comics, as an art form, may be dying. It’s tough for me to chat with folks who’ve been collecting longer than I have and hear them reminisce about the days when conventions were only for stocking their long boxes. We have something like that here in Portland – the Comic Book Show. We can purchase back issues, graphic novels and trade paperbacks tax free without having to drive three hours away. I like that it’s low-key. And honestly – it’s where I do most of my shopping.
This has kind of turned into rambling about the Portland scene in general, but I do feel like it’s hard to see where some of the comic book sages are coming from. The medium has been transformed in the last ten years and sometimes it feels like the publishers aren’t really completely on board with what is happening. Some people have stopped collecting floppies. Lots of folks are welcoming a digital comics revolution and/or reading webcomics. There are Kindles, Nooks and iPads roaming the streets consuming paper print media in their wake.
The comics industry IS struggling because of those things, but it need not be the end of the medium as we know it.
PICTURES AND VIDEO BELOW THE RANT
Originally had planned to write a recap of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena but that will have to be put on hold. Instead, I bring you something that immediately inspired me as soon as I saw it.The Nerd Bucket List.
It was actually brought to my attention by another female comic book enthusiast who goes by the name of Jill The Nerdy Bird and guest writes for Newsarama.com. She penned up an article there with her own very specialized Nerd Bucket List as opposed to one that must be adhered to by all nerds.
So, you probably guessed by now that the remainder of this entry is going to be about my own personal Nerd Bucket List. The very exciting thing is that I’ve managed to cross off quite a few things on the list already! These are in no particular order or sequence, as all things are equally important to a nerd like me. 😉
MINDY’S NERD BUCKET LIST
Meet Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos. Obviously – she is my female heroine idol and it would be the shining moment of my days to shake her hand and tell her that she totally changed my perception of what a female heroine could be with her performance. I would also HAVE to ask her, “What do you hear Starbuck?” Because no one
has ever asked her that before. 😉 And Edward James Olmos is like the Grandpa I never had. His gravelly voice and reading glasses and general demeanor are as comforting as a glass of warm milk. I’m especially excited to learn that he might return to the BSG Exhibit in Seattle this year for another script reading. I’m so there.
Visit NYC and lurk outside the Marvel Office. They don’t do regular tours, but I can still be a creeper and maybe snap a few pictures with an editor or something out on the street. Or maybe contact them ahead of time and see if a tour is possible. Or rewind time back to 1998 and be this kid.
Cosplay as a sexy superhero. This is probably something that should be done before I turn 30 (so like, next year) because after 30 I’ve decided is the cut-off for any kind of sexy cosplay. Please time, do not make a liar of me. I don’t know though – Steampunk has made dressing up in costume at any age a work of art, so that might be the loophole in the future. Not sure what superheroine I would like to attempt. I’ve done Rogue before for a superhero party and all that hair dyeing was such a hassle. Any suggestions?
Participate in Thrill The World in full zombie regalia. At least once. Complete with zombie eye contacts and a clever costume.
Obtain a comic book artist portrait. That sounds so ridiculous, but I’ve always fantasized about becoming a comic book character. Not sure what the process would entail either – probably scouting out a decent picture and passing it off to the artist at a convention. Thinking Pablo Raimondi, Pia Guerra or Joelle Jones. Unless someone has an alternate suggestion?
Join or lead a geeky volunteer group. Like the PDX Browncoats. As mentioned before, this would unite my passion for contributing to the community AND displaying geekery in all it’s glory. Plus meeting and hanging out with a group of like-minded folks. Hopefully that can be checked off in the near future!
Sketch from Alex Maleev. Dude, he lives here in Portland but I haven’t seen him attending one convention in the last year. He was even noticeably absent at SDCC. What gives? He is elusive as fuck, which makes a sketch from him about as prized as a Unicorn horn.
Sit inside the cockpit of a Colonial Viper. It wasn’t just enough to SEE them. Seriously. It’s the equivalent to some fans of LOOKING at the Millenium Falcon. Want to touch! Want to see what it would look like if I was flying through space, blasting some frakin’ toasters. So say we all!
Create a comic book. I’m no artist, but I’ve dabbled in all forms of writing save one (or two) and it seems especially strange given my passion for comics. How hard would it be to work up a script? Probably not that difficult. The scary part would be in finding an artist who would be willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to see those words brought to life.
Meet Joss Whedon AND Brian K. Vaughn. The last of the comic book scribes whose work has inspired and thrilled me over the years. They are both hugely talented and the opportunity to shake their hands or stare at them obsessively while my mind goes helplessly blank and my knees give way would be truly special.
Complete all Assassin’s Creed games with 100% achievements. Just cause.
Finish up the Phoenix Tattoo in the next two years. Provided both the DH and I can find stable employment situations. Have had to reschedule twice now, so London no doubt thinks I’m a flake. But I don’t intend to have a half-finished tattoo on my body forever.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS ALREADY COMPLETED
Attend San Diego Comic Con At Least Once. This was listed as one of the top items on the collaborative nerd bucket list, so I believe I can safely assume the mantle of nerd for the rest of my days – having traveled to the geek mecca and survived the eye-gouging dangers of Hall H and witnessed the glory that was the Avengers Panel (even if we were in the back row and it was on the jumbo-tron). Check out the recap of SDCC 2010 starting here.
DAY THREE RECAP: DARK HORSE PANEL, STUMPTOWN SIGNING, GEEKS AND GOOD WORKS PANEL AND TONY HARRIS SKETCH
We woke up fairly early on Sunday to grab breakfast and doughnuts before Smalls had to board her train back to PDX. After discovering only crazy
expensive breakfast places within walking distance, hampered by my jacked up knees slowing down any further searching, we decided on breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Starbucks which is totes appropriate cause we were in Seattle. Grabbing the sandwiches also left us plenty of time to hit up the real treat of the morning – Top Pot Doughnuts.
HELLO PEOPLE OF SEATTLE – THESE DOUGHNUTS ARE FRAKKIN’ DELICIOUS!!! Why there wasn’t a line out the door and snaking down the sidewalk is beyond me. The only one I could stuff in my already fairly-stuffed maw was the Raspberry. RASPBERRY DOUGHNUT. With no nasty creme or berry filling. So heavenly I’m imagining how long it will be before my next trip to Seattle and thinking…not that long. 😀
Everyone snacked on and enjoyed at least one doughnut (my ma purchased a dozen) before we moseyed on back to the hotel, packed, loaded up the car, checked out and hit the Con floor.
Just in time for…
THE DARK HORSE PANEL
Since we’d missed the BPRD Panel the previous day where they announced Guy Davis leaving, we thought it would be appropriate to drop in and see if one of our favorite local publishers had anything exceptionally interesting to say about their books, aside from the news that exceptionally interesting people are leaving.
Turns out – the lovely Ms. Felicia Day was sitting in on the opening of THIS panel as well to chat about The Guild comic book series. Looks like each character will be getting their own one-shot origin via Dark Horse -Vork’s was released on December 22nd, 2010. According to Felicia Day – Bladezz will be released next (within two months or so) and then one can only assume that Tinkerballa’s will be out after that, given the signed prints that were being offered up at their booth this weekend.
Zaboo’s book will be co-written by nerd hunk and scribe Sandeep Parikh and drawn by the lovely Becky Cloonan, whom I follow on the Twitter because I like her drawerings and because she’s funny. She also did the art for DEMO.
Felicia also mentioned she has decided NOT to pilot for anything this season that is not Science Fiction related. Or I suppose she could have meant “SyFy” – either way she hasn’t piloted YET so one can either assume that there is a small market for scifi this year or that SyFy isn’t producing any new shows.
My vote would be for her to appear on BSG: Blood and Chrome (which sounds eerily similar to Spartacus: Blood and Sand). People of Syfy, make it happen! Though she is so funny and sweetly charming I’m not sure how well she could fair on the intense drama of the BSG Verse. Balls.
ANYWHO – back to comics world. We then sat through about 20 minutes (or 2 hours) of Axe Cop panel which boasted a 6 year old making crazy bird screeching noises, eating candy and offering it to everyone in sight. It was cute bordering on annoying but I really love the concept of the book and the collaboration between the brothers, as I imagine it would be difficult to find something to bond over when your sibling is 25 years younger than you are. The book is probably a bit too ridiculous and comedic for me…but the folks involved seem successful and happy with the work they are doing so props to them. If you like the random imagination of five year olds, you should check it out.
Scott Allie revealed he WILL continue to edit the work of Joss Whedon who signed on to write Buffy The Vampire Slayer through Season 10. Whoot to BTVS fans everywhere!! I dropped out in about the middle of Season 8. Hopefully a collection will be published soon so I can catch up before the next season hits the shelves.
Allie clarified there will now only be 25 books per season (maybe he meant 24?) to keep them at two years versus four. Everyone involved recognized that was far too long a “season” for even the most die hard fans.
Apparently there’s some other big news in store for Buffy that Allie is waiting to reveal at Wondercon, so keep your ear to the ground if this book is your cup of tea. Change is a-comin’.
We arrived at the Portland Hollywood District Things From Another World store around noon, and were greeted by a herd of pirates. They had muskets, maces and one was even sporting a whip (pretty sure it was real). A father with his daughter dressed as a princess and son as a storm trooper wandered out of the store clutching their Free Comic Books.
We entered and picked up a couple of the free books for our nephews – they didn’t have any of the adult books (sounds so naughty) I’d scoped out. Ah well, this was more about getting out to the stores to show support, and nab some freebies for the nephews.
Then lots of browsing occurred – they were selling a whole folding table full of trade paperbacks for 60% off, along with some Alex Ross posters and a couple Darth Vader backpacks. Not sure if Dan and I will ever be nerdy enough to sport that kind of look. We purchased Whiteout: Melt to score a Steve Lieber autograph on that copy. Later on, we can get Greg Rucka to sign it and have the complete set.
Around 2pm Mr. Lieber showed up, and we descended on him with the Greg Rucka signed Whiteout book. He ASKED US if he could do a sketch in it. Are you freaking kidding me? Yes please!
Of course, he was another cool and laid back dude who was totally willing to chat while he drew. He spent a little time pimping Underground (though I asked him to) and dropped a hint about a Vertigo project he’s attached to, but couldn’t release any information just yet.
He’s part of the 22 person Periscope artist studio here in Portland, and really enjoys the supportive arts community that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
After he finished up the awesome sketch of Carrie Stetko:
he politely posed for a picture:
Then we stopped over at Cosmic Monkey Comics (it was just up the street) and picked up six issues of Madame Xanadu. We ran into the stunning Carolyn Main, and a few other comic book friends we’d met at Stumptown Comics Fest. It was great to see so many folks out supporting the art form and the event – and all the kids!
Posts regarding the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 will be dominating this blog for the weekend – I’ll also be doing a lot of tweeting with pics and some footage from the different events I attend, so prepare for some uniquely Portland, Oregon content gracing these walls. The agenda breaks down in the following days.
Celebrate the start of the Stumptown Comics Fest in style! Featuring a book release party, slide rule comic strip slideshow, $450 in prizes. Art exhibit by Graham Kahler.
– Arrive at the Fest at 10am to get volunteer badge and schmooze a bit
– Enjoying the Fest until our volunteer gig starts 4pm-6pm
- Scoring a signed copy of Spell Checkers from Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
- Visiting with Natalie Sept and Matt Howard (HS friends who are exhibiting)
- Hitting up the Dark Horse Comics booth for some promised free goodies
Other than that – just soaking up the atmosphere of Portland’s Big-Little Comic Book event. I’ll try and do as much live blogging as is humanly possible!
Let me know if there’s something I’m missing folks. 😉
Hoping to return with more reviews and other kinds of love next week.
My friend Hisham loaned me a couple issues of Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics: Batwoman run, and after reading through, I decided this series might be a gateway into the DC comics superhero world. I actually started scanning the interwebs for news of a series devoted to Kate Kane.
Sadly – this is not to be. At least not a version penned by Greg Rucka.
Many of you might have already heard – Greg Rucka has left DC Comics. Not just the Detective Comics series – he is dropping any books he was writing for them. Here is a post from his website explaining his reasons.
This follows quickly on the heels of my learning last week that the Spider-Woman series will be limited to only seven issues, as Alex Maleev, the artist is unable to continue with the demands of the motion-comic and the physical product. But Bendis assures us she’ll be in Avengers. Doesn’t that make you want to run out and pick up a copy?
Not me. Not really. If my post last week didn’t clarify my reservations about getting into female superhero comics, the blows dealt to heroines in the last month should help reinforce my hesitation. Not only are superheroes complicated investments of time and money, but the female-centric books are cancelled after brief stints, despite popularity, awards, steady sales and accolades heaped on them.
It’s sad to think that women may only fair well as characters in an alternate universe where we have equal standing with men. Perhaps my disillusion with superhero comic books these last few weeks is merely a symptom of my greater disillusionment with gender inequality in society.
It’s hard to blame dudes like Bendis and Rucka for trying to bring fully realized female characters into the spotlight. It’s not their fault they can’t rewrite reality.
But women aren’t asking male comic book writers to magically gift us equality, we’re simply requesting women characters with as much intelligence, strength and intrigue as men. We want women who are strong, like the mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, co-workers, and friends that surround us.
The kind of equality I seek is not in completely abolishing the unique aspects of gender that make men and women different. Those elements help create personality and character depth. What most comic books need is a writer who can create human beings with depth, nuances and character struggles. And then make an equal number of these human beings female.
Lastly it’s up to the artists to clothe them properly.
It’s a simple formula, but one that takes an incredible amount of work. It requires that you respect the experiences and viewpoints of people with whom you do not share the same sex. It might also require more females writing comic books. Sadly, it seems that none of these are things DC or Marvel or many of the smaller publishers want to commit their resources to.
That’s fine – I’ll commit my time and money to those who do.
It’s about ten times easier to write a review of a new comic book series when you’ve read Issue #1. Who knew?
To make a long story short: picked up what I thought was issue #1 of Stumptown published by Oni Press, written by Greg Rucka and inked by Matthew Southworth, only to realize it was actually #2. Having the entire story skewed can really effect your perspective, so I’ve had to re-adjust my opinions of the book based on all the new information about the main character and story. It was a good adjustment, by the way.
Dexedrine Callisto Parios – better known as “Dex” is a private investigator on the mean streets of Portland, Oregon. Which elicits a bit of a chuckle from me – I get that Portland has a criminal element, but it contrasts a bit with our image as the cleanest, greenest city in America. Whatever the prevailing ideas about the city are – Dex is a woman who knows how to find trouble wherever she goes, or at least encourages trouble to come find her.
It’s a classic hard-boiled detective, crime environment – not usually my style but my affinity for Rucka, Portland and resilient comic book heroines make this book a shoe-in, right? Sort of – I wasn’t really in love with this book by the end of Issue #2.
What I took for false machismo in the second issue really fleshed itself out in the first, and my initial trepidations about embracing her started to fall away. There was more background in Issue #1 – a closer examination of her faults, a better definition of her relationship with her mentally handicapped brother, and further defining of her sexuality.
Why do tough chicks always have to be gay? Or viewed by other characters as being gay? Is it impossible for a woman to have typically masculine qualities (strength, intelligence, strong opinions) and not be labeled as homosexual? I was disappointed when Rucka went that route with Whiteout, and was feeling doubly irritated when I opened up my first issue (Issue #2) and Dex is loving up on men and women. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with representing homosexuality or bi-sexuality in comic books, but making a tough female character a lesbian is a straight cop-out, indicating that women cannot be strong, independent and heterosexual. *sigh*
Rucka’s ability to write women has evolved since Whiteout, and after only a few issues, Dex already seems like a person who is defined more by her choices, behaviors and attitudes than by her sexuality or gender. She’s got less intensity than Carrie Stetko – Rucka peppers Dex’s conversations with humor and gives her tough persona a nice balance with her devotion to her brother.
Don’t get me wrong, she is still defined by her sexual preference (we all are), but I’m hoping the need to assert it so prominently will drop into the background as the series progress and lets the stories, personalities and relationships take center stage.
Cynicism and disgruntled feminism aside – I’ve got to give props to Rucka for writing strong women characters and putting them in books with a low sleaze factor.
And more props to Matthew Southworth for working diligently to capture the true Portland feel. While the rough, scratchy inks are not my preferred comic style – it pairs very well with the cloudy Portland atmosphere and the detective-noir feel of the book. The darker earth toned coloring by Lee Loughride works nicely with the art and it’s compelling to flip through the book and see the individual scenes mapped out with a different color scheme. It’s like a new lens applied to each part of the story – quite effective.
And who wouldn’t love seeing their city displayed on a comic book page with such attention to detail? Seriously – from the Craftsman style homes – you know Dex lives somewhere in North Portland. The sequences with the St. Johns bridge featured prominently are particularly stunning.
It’s especially exciting to read the commentary by Southworth on the back pages, as he describes his process of cataloging the unique visual elements of Portland and translating them to the pages of Stumptown.
The plot itself – the case Dex is working to solve over the first few issues features many Oregon elements as well. Dex gets the case from a Native American casino owner and those involved with it ending up taking her all the way to the beloved Oregon Coast. She survives a beating on what looks like the SE Portland streets, and then takes two gun shots down at the base of the aforementioned St. John’s bridge.
She’s a hard woman to kill. My hope is that this series survives long enough to fully develop her, and it’s story into something that surpasses merely a genre piece. And becomes a great piece of fiction. It has promise.
Dan and I hit the road around noon yesterday, on our way up to the Seattle Comic Con – otherwise known as Emerald City Comic Con. We had tentatively planned this trip a few months ago, dependent upon funds and time and the aligning of the fates.
Well, at some point last week, on the verge of deciding not to go, I checked their site to see what exciting guests might peak my interest and swing the vote. Turns out – a few, including:
Pretty kick ass line up. Then I spotted in the artist/writer’s tables Mike Mignola and Greg Rucka, and was sold even further. So – Dan and I debated up until Friday evening about whether or not we would attend. Saturday morning, we decided yes.
We didn’t arrive in Seattle until around 2:30pm, and felt discouraged about attending the Con with only a few short hours on the docket. Also we were fairly sure we’d missed an opportunity to take pics with Tahmoh (my goal for the event). Instead, we secured some wireless internet – located lodging close by (a stunning Motel 6 in SeaTac) and tucked in for the night.
After a fitful night of sleep, we checked out of our motel, hit up a Denny’s and arrived at the con a mere 1.5 hours later than we had intended. Oh – not to mention that whole day we missed too. 🙂 More madness behind the link…
Just wanted to clear things up – this is not a blog about the ingenius correction fluid otherwise known as “liquid paper” created by a secretary Bette Nesmith Graham – mother of Monkees alumni Michael Nesmith.
This series was originally suggested to me by one of the producers of Villanelle – Hisham. At one of our meetings, he produced a stack of comic books that he thought I’d be interested in reading, given my proclivity towards strong female characters (well written of course). It was only the first issue or so, and I set it in a pile, intrigued, but most likely distracted by shiney objects.
Well – during the 100 degree weather stint this weekend, Dan and I ran some errands about town to get out of our stuffy condo and into some air conditioning. I happened upon both “Whiteout” and it’s sister “Whiteout: Melt” at one of the library branches.
My new ploy is to visit the graphic novel section of whatever public library branch I’m at and scour their pickings. So far it’s yielded some positive results. But there’s been a lot more drek than diamonds.
Getting back to it: I was drawn to the book.
What immediately struck me about the artwork and the character of Carrie Stetko in particular is that she is not beautiful or even conventionally attractive. She is short – has “scraggily” hair – and a full figure. It’s rare to see “full-figured” or even short women in comic books (even though they are making appearances on television shows – America Ferrera and Sara Ramirez being two examples). It’s even rarer to see them in lead roles. I was pleased, to say the least to find that Rucka/Leiber were willing to bypass convention to tell a more realistic story.
What was not so pleasing – the untactful insinuations that Carrie is a lesbian by nearly all the men around her. That she is frigid because she won’t put out. Granted, she is frigid, but by location and circumstance, not by sexual desire or orientation. And of course in this particular remote setting and environment, these kinds of things would REALLY get said. The reality is there, I’m not denying that.
But – as people remind me quite often – movies, TV and comic books have very little to do with reality. So – having men question Carrie about her sexual orientation IS annoying. And here’s why: whenever a strong female character is introduced, her sexuality has to be established before we can start to take her seriously. She needs to prove herself to the characters around her, as well as the audience – before most of the action can take place. And mostly – she has to prove that she loves the cock in order to be taken seriously.