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goodbye stumptown love fest for comics

stumptown stumpStumptown Comics Fest was the first comic convention I ever attended, way back in 2009. One year later, it was the first comic convention I tabled at. Located that year in the Lloyd Center Doubletree ballroom (really one floor of a parking garage with carpet installed), Stumptown set the tone for me for how comic conventions should be. It was packed with interesting people, some of whom I now proudly call my friends. It taught me about trading the comic I made for another comic somebody else made. I met famous cartoonists, who mingled with us self-published nobodies and didn’t even complain about our smell.stumptown comics festWas Stumptown perfect? Heck no! Cartoonists love to complain as much (if not more) as other people. But I’ve come to realize that the “faults” of a show can also give it character. Make it special, even. MoCCA is held in a century-old armory that is stuffy in even the best weather conditions. Emerald City promoted Patrick Stewart every day for nearly a year but failed to mention all the cool kids in Artist Alley. SPX’s website crashed the second it was open to the public. In the end, these bumps bring us together, or at least give us fodder for in-convention sketches to pass around.stumptown-table

The last few years it was pretty clear that the directors of Stumptown had lost interest in the show. I can’t blame them for wanting to move on. Organizing a comic convention every year can be sweaty thankless work. If you’re not 100% into it, you shouldn’t force yourself. Having the mantle of Stumptown hanging over your head, while dreading the angry tweets from indie cartoonists if it doesn’t go well, is no way to live your life. Better no Stumptown than a Stumptown everybody hates.

I’m sorry to see Stumptown go, but am forever grateful for the world it opened to me. My path in comics would be quite different had Stumptown not existed. To use a handy metaphor, Stumptown is my George Bailey.

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stumptown 2013

Welcome…to the Oregon Convention Center!
jurassic park gateThis year Stumptown was held in the tropical rainforest known as the Rose Quarter.
The dinosaur attacks were kept to a minimum, and a safe, fun time was had by all. Life found a way.
Table leftTable rightTable wholejosh shalekThe 10th Stumptown Comics Fest was the fourth I’ve exhibited at, and it was a homecoming of sorts. Stumptown was where I met Kenan and HUGE INDIANA JONES FAN Reid, and where the group of traveling cartoonists I proudly call my friends began. Neil was there with The Plot issues 1 and 2, Tyrell brought the complete Gary, and Matt offered poems on commission (a first for a comics convention?). We were lucky to table in the same block, making ours a hotspot in the center of the convention floor. It was amazing.

I bought and traded for a number of remarkable works of comic art. Here is a pictorial representation of said acquisitions, followed by links for the curious.

Stumptown comics

Li’l Depressed Boy by Sina Grace

Fugue by Beth Hetland

Runner Runner edited by Greg Means

Mara with art by Ming Doyle

Vampires Need Love Too by Brian Cattapan

minis by Mita Mahato

Wings for Wheels edited by Nomi Kane

It Will All Hurt by Farel Dalrymple

Cat People/Dog People by Hannah Blumenreich

prints by Kevin Uehlein

Simon Immolate by Tyrell and Logan Cannon

John Day National Monument by Matt Sundstrom

Titan by Francois Vigneault

Outfoxed by Dylan Meconis

Space Race by Tom Clohosy Cole

I will close with a print of Captain Picard. Although Patrick Stewart was unable to attend this convention, his spirit hovered over the Oregon Convention Center like a benevolent spacegoing craft.

Picard print

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where the cool kids at

Wondering where to find the coolest comics at Stumptown this weekend? Neil and Kenan put together this handy map:
Stumptown 2013
Stop by, say hello, “raise” the “roof.” We’re game.

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stumptown a-brewin’

This is a friendly reminder that I’ll be at Stumptown Comics Fest right here in sunny Portland, Oregon. Stop by and say hello!
stumptown fullApril 27-28, Oregon Convention Center, table I-05.
stumptown stump

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welcome back to falling rock

issue-1-cover-joshshalekThe wait is almost over. The first issue of Falling Rock National Park, the comic book, is headed to the printer.

As longtime readers know, my comic strip Welcome to Falling Rock National Park ended in May of 2012. I made the hard decision to change formats. Although I love comic strips, newspapers are all but extinct. I cannot compete with both legacy strips (that is, comic strips drawn by the grandchildren of legendary cartoonists) and the shrinking marketplace. Webcomics are wonderful, but I always wanted to be in print. I grew up reading comics in print and so that was my goal.
Rather than mope about like a boozy novelist, I set about determining what people are reading in print nowadays. Many of my cartoonist friends have been self-publishing comic book series with great critical (and, once in a while, commercial) success. The comic book is the most vital format today. It has the serialized nature I love about comic strips, but allows for much more diversity in terms of storytelling.

The first issue costs $4 and will be available by the end of February. I’ll soon post a link on my Buy Books page and I’ll have it with me when I head to Emerald City in March, Stumptown in April, San Diego ComicCon in July, and Tucson ComicCon in November. (More dates TBD!) There will also be a subscription for Falling Rock National Park – $20 for four issues (includes postage). Subscribe if you want to have new issues mailed directly to you the instant they get back from the printer!

That’s all the news so far! I’ll let you know when the first issue is ready to be read.