It's hard to believe I've been in Portland for a year now, which means that it's also time for the second Linework NW show! This time, the comics and illustration festival will be two days, April 18th and 19th, returning to the Norse Hall in inner Southeast Portland, OR. What's also new is that for the most part, it will be an entirely different show and lineup each day of the festival. Taking a page from the Brooklyn Zine Fest, the organizers have created a few core tablers, and then the rest are available either Saturday OR Sunday. That sucks if you can only go one day and will miss someone cool, but overall, the fact that they've managed to double the amount of potential tablers and participants while also giving exhibitors a day to relax and enjoy the show themselves is pretty awesome, when you think about it.
I had a wonderful time at Linework NW last year, even if I had just moved 2700 miles and couldn't really buy much of anything. The show was packed, had a ton of interesting comics, and best of all, people were actually buying stuff from the talented exhibitors. With even more folks coming, many of whom are people whose work I really dig, this show should be a blast!
As we have time this week, we'll be featuring some of the creators who will be at Linework NW this weekend. There are a ton of talented people coming, and some I'm looking forward to checking out after knowing them by reputation. Here's my breakdown for each day of the creators you should be on the lookout for as must-visit stops at Linework:
Adhouse Books is one of my favorite East Coast publishers, headquartered in Richmond, VA, and is a mainstay at shows like the Small Press Expo. Chris Pitzer's eye for talent is second only to being such a great guy (even if he is a Nats fan). Some of the creators he's worked with include Jim Rugg, Noah Van Sciver, Katie Skelly, and Stuart Immonen. Those who may be seeing AdHouse for the first time need to make this a must-stop on your Linework NW visit.
Alternative Comics, run by Marc Arsenault, also publishes Noah Van Sciver. (Maybe that was one of the requirements for two-day consideration?) This imprint was brought back by Marc after a few years out of business, and it's come back in a strong way, with books from Derf Backderf, Sam Henderson, Reid Psaltis, and more, along with reprinting classic material from James Kochalka, anthologies like Big Feminist Butt, and more.
Dark Horse Comics is one of the two local publishers getting the two-day treatment. They don't publish Noah (at least not yet), but please don't hold it against them. I'm hoping this show will bring a lot of their creator-driven books, like Alex de Campi's Grindhouse or the Joelle Jones/Jame S. Rich Lady Killer. You'll also find mainstays like the latest Hellboy spinoffs, too, along with their Project: Black Sky titles, I'm sure.
Fantagraphics Books is the last publisher on our list that does in fact carry work by Noah Van Sciver, so if you weren't able to get one from Chris or Marc, see if the Fanta crew can hook you up, perhaps with Noah's newest, Saint Cole. Lincoln fans should also look for The Hypo, if it's still in stock. Naturally, Fantagraphics is a table where you can spend all of your budget, and then some. They've got the Mickey Mouse/Peanuts/EC Comics reprints, just to start, to say nothing of Love and Rockets, Dash Shaw's amazing Doctors, and plenty, plenty more. There's a reason they're one of the most-reviewed publishers at Panel Patter.
Nobrow is relatively new to me, but I'm really digging their stuff. Some of the things in my review queue include their excellent biography of Robert Moses, Art Schooled (a fictional look at being part of an art program), and Fantasy Sports, which is a crazy mash-up of old-school manga, capering, and fast-paced adventure.
Oni Press is also located in Portland, and while it may not get quite the headlines of some of the other publishers with weekly books, they've got a ton of great things going for you. 6th Gun might scratch your Western itch, or perhaps you'd rather romp with a girl and her T-Rex in Terrible Lizard. There's also graphic novels like Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell's Meteor Men. You can find a wide variety of books, ranging from all-ages fare to more adult work from Oni, and it's very high quality stuff.
Periscope Studio is a grouping of some of the most talented people to work in comics in Portland, and let me tell you, that's saying something. Cat Farris, Ron Chan, Paul Guinan, Ron Randall, and Lucy Bellwood are all expected to attend. You won't find better work from one gang of people who all work together
without driving each other crazy while keeping relatively sane. They also happen to be really nice people, too, so make sure you say hello.
- Sam Alden's linework and attention to craft and what comics can do as a visual medium is outstanding.
- Aaron Conley of Sabertooth Swordsman swings a mean pen, with some really outrageous visuals that make you stop and linger over the little details and amazing flow of the lines.
- Evan Dahm of Rice Boy and other long-form comics work will be back again this year. He's the person you want to see if you enjoy worldbuilding and fantasy.
- Farel Dalrymple has really exploded in popularity, and rightfully so. His It Will All Hurt and The Wrenchies show what can be done with watercolor, and his storytelling matches his visuals. Make sure you check him out.
- Negative Pleasure Publications is a micro-press that does very solid anthologies. They should have Felony Comics 2 out for the show (I loved the first issue), and also have Jeans, Night Burgers, and other comics for you anthology fans out there.
- Reid Psaltis was mentioned above as part of my notes for Alternative Comics. I love his work in black and white, and he draws some great creatures across a variety of mini-comic series.
- Reading Frenzy is a local, cool bookshop with comic and zine ties. Not sure what they're doing for the show itself, but if you're a Portland local and haven't been to their store yet, you should go.
- Luke Ramsey is the first creator I've met who can pack more into one page than Sergio Aragones. His complex, intricate, interlocking illustrations and comics are a must-see and definitely cross the border between comics and art.
- Uncivilized Books publishes Sam Alden, David B, and many others. They're another publisher who's a bit new to me, but I'm really digging what I get from them.
- Malachi Ward does some nifty work with his Ritual Decay series and other comics.
- Lucy Bellwood is really breaking out as a creator, and that's a good thing. The nautical-themed artist behind the Baggywrinkles series has been getting featured regularly on The Nib and now is the time to get some of her work before she really explodes in popularity.
- Kory Bing is the inker on Eth's Skin, and also has their own their own comic, skin deep, which will be available at the show. Kory's got great talent and is another person not to miss.
- Michael Fiffe is the driving force of Copra, a series designed to homage the good version of the Suicide Squad. If you like seeing indie creators take on mainstream ideas, look no further!
- Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg's autobiographical comics show deep thought and meaning, as she looks at what it's like to turn 30 or just general observations. Fans of folks like Liz Prince or Jeffrey Brown definitely should stop by to see her.
- Study Group Comics is the place where you can get really outstanding webcomics that fall more into the experimental/alternative genre than you normally see online. This is their place for the print versions, so go catch up on some great work from folks like Zack Soto, Francois Vigneault, and more.
- Liz Prince just wrote her first long-form graphic memoir last year with Tomboy, one of the best books I read in 2014. She comes from zines and mini-comics, and that astetic has never left her work, which is brutally honest--the only way I'll read an auto-bio work these days. Another East Coast person, make sure you see Liz if you come to the show on Sunday.
- Josh Simmons is a horror comic master. Wanna get creeped out before going back to work on Monday? Josh is your man.
- Sparkplug Books is a micro-press here in Portland, run by a wonderful person (and creator in her own right), Virginia Paine. She's carrying on the work that the beloved Dylan Williams started, which this year means publishing a series of limited-edition mini-comics. The show should be the debut of Suzette Smith's new mini, CE/ZE.
Now that's just the folks I know easily by name. There are others I've heard of who look cool, and last year, the quality of the exhibitors was extremely high, and I see no reason why that won't continue in 2015. There may not be an appearance by Noah Van Sciver, but hey, no show's perfect!
Linework NW was a great comics and illustration festival in 2014. It's bigger and set to be better in 2015. Why don't you join me there? I hope to see you! Please don't hesitate to say "hi!"