After Stumptown Comics Fest ended last year, there was a Portland-sized hole in a lot of cartoonist’s lives. How could we dare call Portland “ComicsTown USA” (trademark pending) without an independent comics show?
A new group of organizers, including Francois Vigneault and Zack Soto, raced to fill this gap. Linework NW had its first run last weekend. Held in a funky dance hall, Norse Hall, Linework crammed in about 100 cartoonists with barely enough room for attendees. And I mean just barely. The first three hours of the show, there was hardly room to move from table to table. Stumptown, in its last couple of years, moved to the convention center. Rather than increase attendance, however, the cavernous space seemed to make the dwindling crowds even more noticeable. Linework proved that, if you hold an indie comics show in a poorly-ventilated, cramped environment, people will come. Perhaps there is something to be said about our need to be closer to each other, especially if we share such quaint predilections as drawing funny pictures on paper then printing them in small batches. Whatever the reason, Linework was a rousing success.
I’m going to contradict myself now by saying I hope they can find a slightly slightly larger venue next year, if only to fit in a few more tables. I’d love it if my friends in far off places could come. With space so tight this year, it was a minor miracle I was asked to exhibit. This is one of the main issues I see with conventions this year: the number of tables is not keeping pace with the increasing number of cartoonists applying. The talent is not thinning, either. It’s getting harder to get into even what I considered a sure thing a year or two ago. Don’t mistake this for a call for gigantic comics conventions across the country – that, I think, would result in a lot of sparsely attended events. We might consider, however, at least one very large indie comics show. To be clear: I am not volunteering to organize.
I was especially glad to table next to Reid one more time. He’ll be leaving the comics scene for nature and science illustration in the fall. I’ve dubbed this the Reid Psaltis Victory Tour ’14.
At the end of the show, Francois declared that, like James Bond, “Linework will return.” I hope to be there when it does.