autobiography Blog comic con

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 2011

Last weekend I exhibited at the Stumptown Comics Fest right here in Portland.2011-stumptownThanks to all the fine folks who stopped by table C-13 1/2 to chat or buy books.  This being my third year as exhibitor, I saw some familiar faces which of course expanded my ego to an embarrassing size.  If this is a taste of fame, I’m going to need a bigger skull.

Where would I be without my convention comrades?  Kenan, Neil, Reid, and Matt all made the show feel like a weekend-long hangout.  The highlight of the show was a jam comic that we all drew for Matt’s birthday.  Not only did we each draw a page, but we got such luminaries as Farel Dalrymple and Brandon Graham to contribute.  It might be the best comic about a guy who gets locked out of his car and falls asleep, ever.

I met Portland mayor Sam Adams, who was wearing a faded flannel Columbia shirt – very appropriate, as Columbia Sportswear is proudly located here.  He neglected to buy any of my books, which means he has lost my vote next time.  Just kidding!  Forcing a politician to buy something in exchange for a vote is probably illegal.

Scenic Byways continues to sell, climbing up the charts all the way to number 4,465,987,098.  If you missed your chance to pick it up at the Oregon Convention Center, it’s still available online.

Thanks also for all the trades!  I’ve yet to begin my reading from Stumptown and MoCCA, but the pile of comics beckons me and I dare not resist much longer.

My next convention is none other than the San Diego Comic Con in July, where I hope to get my book into the dainty yet masculine hands of John Lasseter.

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stumptown 2010: a tale of love, betrayal and redemption

stumptown-2010 What you see here is my haul from this year’s Stumptown Comics Fest, the best darn comics convention this side of the Sandy River. Stumptown is my favorite comics festival because last year it was the first in which I exhibited. This year I was back with my new book See America First! and my first foray into the Five-Page Folded Comic (titled “A Special Message from Ernesto and the Cookie Monster”).

Unlike today, the weekend’s weather was beautiful: perfect comics weather. I was so happy to see the good people of Portland (and beyond) come out to see the plethora of comics available.

Of course the show would not have been the same without my talented table-mate Kenan Rubenstein. Aided by Girl Cate, Kenan showed us on the West Coast how comics are done Brooklyn Style (lightly grilled on one side, then tossed with leafy greens and cumin). He will someday be my editor, adviser, manager, agent, and lawyer, but for now we just split tables at comic conventions. His work is nuanced and pure, his foldies just keep getting better and better. One day he’ll put them all together and it will take hundreds of folds to open completely.

Kenan came to this show with new prints, which sell better than comics because you can hang them on your wall and you don’t have to suffer through some nincompoop’s egotistical manifesto.

Fortunately, the color schemes we each chose for our table halves match; we had a decidedly nifty-looking table. It’s hard to stand out in a crowded comics fest, especially when some of the comic creators are girls.

By now you’re probably wondering what to take away from the overflow of talent emanating from the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel. Locals included Reid Psaltis, whose foldies are superb and whose new comic Carry On, Carrion is a laugh-and-a-half about the death of a bird (no, seriously). Aron Nels Steinke, who turned me on to the good folks at Pinball Publishing, had his book Neptune as well as the addictive ongoing series Big Plans. Greg Means had his anthology series Papercutter, which never fails to impress (if Saturday Night Live had the guests Greg manages to get, it would be super-awesome instead of merely super). The impeccably-dressed Theo Ellsworth, who was responsible for this year’s Stumptown poster, had prints as well as the Secret Acres-published book Capacity.

What would Stumptown be if it were not for the out-of-towners? Neil Brideau, from Chicago, gave me a sad, beautiful story called “I am in Love with You.” We looked into each other’s eyes for a moment when our fingers touched, but totally not in a gay way. The living, beating heart of comics, Alec Longstreth, flew in from his current outpost in Vermont to bring Phase 7 (including the story of Basewood) to the yearning masses.

I consider all cartoonists my friend, but some of them may be slightly freaked out by that bit of intimacy. A few cartoonists I met at Stumptown of whose work I am staunchly a fan included Raina Telgemeier, Steve Lieber, Graham Annable, Craig Thompson, Scott C, and Joey Sayers (whose story about the strange and twisted life of a comic strip is brilliant – read it in Papercutter #12).

A big thanks to Joshin Yamada for taking so many great pictures of the event.

My big news was that I am now officially sold out of my very first Falling Rock collection, Owl and Other Comics. It seems there are a lot of fans of both owls and Allen Ginsberg. I have noted this for future reference. For those of you with copies, time to sell ’em on ebay and make a fortune. I updated my Buy Books page to reflect the change in status. From here on out my “first” Falling Rock collection will be the Great Wave of Falling Rock. The comics contained therein marked a transition of pens for me as well as a honing of the Falling Rock characters we all hold so dear.

I need to stop blogging now so I can read some comics, then I need to stop reading comics so I can draw comics!

spiegleman-hetero(Art Spiegelman knows comics)
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stumptown is happening RIGHT NOW

stumptown comics festStop by Table 99 to see me!
Kenan and I are partying like it’s Table 99.
Directions and relevant information HERE.
Blog friday robot

friday robots

Make sure to see me at Stumptown Comics Fest tomorrow and Sunday! It’s going to be a rip-roarin’ good time.And now, may I proudly present this week’s Friday Robots:friday-robots-4-30-10


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stumptown a-comin’ ’round th’ bend

stumptown comics festCheck out this awesome poster by Portland cartoonist Theo Ellsworth.Saturday and Sunday April 24th and 25th is the Portland Stumptown Comics Fest! I’ll be sharing a table with the Creator*, Kenan. Make sure to stop by and say hello!

*…of the 5-Page Folded Mini-Comic


self-serving link round-up

Cartoonists and bloggers (as well as the overlapping “cloggers”) make great friends. In the past week or so I’ve seen an outpouring of news related to Stumptown, all of it good. I should point out that the majority of it is not about me, but the following is a list of links that do mention my name. In collecting them here, I wanted to prove that we cartoonists (and cloggers) are a generous and gorgeous breed.

From pre-Stumptown, this wonderful review of Falling Rock from partner blogger (and clogger) Stabbone and McGraw.

boy blue productions, the superhero alterego of Kenan Rubenstein, has a nice write-up of Stumptown including a mention of yours truly.

Midnight Fiction has a picture show of a few of the creators of Stumptown, including me in my Arnold Is Numero Uno shirt.

Neil Brideau, a guy who claims to have not attended Oberlin but hangs out exclusively with Oberliners, snapped this shot of Stumptown with me blocking a perfectly good view of the carpet.

Joshin Yamada took this picture, possibly the only photographic evidence of me in an Obama shirt. (Just kidding.)

In non-me related news, Stumptown neighbor Dennis P. (or D. Pacheco), creator of Neon Girl, finished drawing and coloring TEN BATMANS. I’ve only drawn Batman ten times in my whole life. Okay, maybe twenty. But never all at once, all in the same pose.

Thanks to everyone for your write-ups. I love you people.

autobiography Blog comic con

the cartoonist is [IN]

stumptown-table Stumptown was a blast. I stood, I talked, I sold and traded comics. I can’t imagine a better first convention. It was great to meet people who had already heard of Falling Rock and to introduce Falling Rock to some new friends, too. My ego has expanded to galactic proportions. It now contains billions and billions of stars.

My neighbors, Dennis and Robyn, really made the experience for me. I mainly watched Dennis draw Batman over and over again. He’s got this trading card project he’s working on for DC Comics. (He draws sketches of superheroes and they put them (the originals) into a deck of cards. Sounds pretty cool.) My “help” consisted of making suggestions on how to draw Batman better. Draw him with a tail. Draw him sniffing cantaloupe at the supermarket. Draw him biting the head off a real bat at an Ozzy Osbourne concert. Dennis sighed and continued to draw Batman for the tenth or eleventh time.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my across-the-hall neighbors Neil Brideau and Kenan Rubenstein. Definitely check out their work, accessible through the handy links provided. I would like to mention everybody by name, but this picture will have to do. If you want to know more about any of these books, leave a comment.stumptown-trades
Between stints bothering my neighbors, I bothered my old college drinking buddy Alec. We used to brew up moonshine in our fraternity’s basement and then go cow tipping until the sun came up. This weekend was more about comics, but I did see Alec secretly tipping back a flask every now and again. It’s just like Picasso said: if you’re not drunk, it isn’t art.

There was so much talent in the Doubletree Exhibition Hall it would be impossible to describe it, let alone name all the names. Cartooning superstars Jeff Smith, Keith Knight, and Craig Thompson were there, mingling with us lesser known comic artists. It was a real positive weekend.

The good vibes will undoubtedly last me a long time. I hope to do more conventions; this was a highlight of my cartooning experience. We draw alone, we write alone, and there are many days when I wish for more interaction with those brave souls who read my comics. I can’t say I’m a great salesman, but it was great to see so many people.

Thanks to the coordinators and volunteers of Stumptown 2009. I hope we can do this again next year. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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Stumptown Love Fest for Comics

stumptownCF2009You’ve been hearing about this Stumptown Comics Fest thingy from me, and now it’s here. I will be there selling my comics to the lowest bidder. Stop by, say hello, or just walk past my table and give me a weird look.

10AM-6PM Saturday and Sunday, Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel Exhibit Hall
Nearest MAX stop Lloyd Center

And if my presence wasn’t enough incentive for you, Jeff Smith is gonna be there! I’m so excited I can hardly breathe.

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Falling Rock Book 3 order form UP

SHALEK_COVER-3Beginning now, you can purchase your own piece of Falling Rock National Park.

Click here to go directly to the book order form, or use the handy icon to your right (it’s the image with all the books in it).

Falling Rock Book 3 contains 32 pages, 67 (give or take) high-quality jokes, printed right here in Portland, Oregon on recycled paper and utilizing the latest in soy-based ink technology. (WARNING: This is not the same thing as a book made of tofu. Do not try to make a stir-fry with this book.)

If you’re going to be in the Portland area on April 18th or 19th, make your way to the Stumptown Comics Fest, where I’ll be hawking my wares with the rest of the Portland comics community.

Order up!