Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Portland Show 

This morning I was walking around the neighborhood with Allison in the backpack and stopped by Share-It Square (a play on Sherritt St, where this little project is). The four corners of the intersection have different swap stations, where you can leave things you don't need and pick up something you might want. It's part of a community project to... build community, I guess. There never seems to be anything there that I want, but I like the idea of it and drop clothes and things off there all the time. Today it was a book-on-tape and a comic book I didn't want anymore. One of the stations has a bunch of cups and a thermos setup for people to get free tea or coffee, and the best corner is a kids' playhouse built out of branches and rainguarding material, full of toys and chalkboards and fun stuff. As we strolled back towards home a guy on a bicycle rode by, sporting an enormous flag with Planet Earth on it. Just in case I wasn't sure I was in Portland.

Which reminds me, I was at Richard Finn's Portland Comics Show Sunday, a bi-annual show that boasts the biggest dealer room in the Northwest. It's almost redundant to go to a comics show here, because the whole town is like a comics convention. I think cartoonists are 33% of the population now. Take a good long walk and you stand even odds of either seeing Brian Bendis cycle by you or Joe Sacco buying coffee. I think Alex Maleev just moved here too.

Or you can go to the show at the Coliseum, where I was a guest. Richard rotates through the comics community to give attendees new people to see, and he brings a few in from far away. The line-drawing visitor this day was Billy Tucci, and he was doing a great job of crowd-pleasing. Unfortunately, the line kept naturally wrapping in front of my table, putting me in the bad guy position of telling people to "Vamoose!" and "Scram!". There's a weird thing about Line Mentality, I've seen people watching a line forming and just go get in it even though they don't know what it's for. It has an awesome pull for the group mind, and I guess the same impulse keeps us all driving on the proper side of the road. Of course, people don't look down at me or Anne Timmons and think "huh-- I wonder if they'd like this space clear to meet people and sell books." They think "Billy will sign all of these comics" and "I will watch his movie about hillbillies flying a plane". Tucci himself though is a very nice and thoughtful guy, and he felt horrible that he left some t-shirts sitting on the corner of my table, though I never noticed-- we had nice big tables!

I was so casual about setting up since it was a home show that I forgot half the things I normally bring. Lieber to the rescue. He grabbed some text off my website and made a promo sketch card, then even stopped by Kinko's to print me up a batch. I'll be using these li'l rascals in LA next week, too. I did a couple of sketchbook pieces I was happy with, having had plenty of sleep this time. One was a "Desire" for the web's biggest Sandman collectors, and I finally did a Fantastic Four piece I'd promised Jim D at Emerald City the week before...

I saw my old pal James Dineen from when I worked at Sony Animation, and introduced him to my family. I forgot to tell him that Darwyn Cooke is a big shot in comics now, back then he was a director on the Men in Black cartoon. Speaking of men in black, Matt Haley showed up later, as usual, with a girl. And wearing all black. He said something about some sweet job he had going, but his voice was froggy so I really couldn't pick up any useful details. Haley looks from side to side a lot when he's talking to you, or maybe just to me. The managers from the city's comics retail institutions, Excalibur and Things From Another World were making the rounds. As usual I ask readers I meet where they get their books, and I heard several praises for both stores. There's also a new store in town, Cosmic Monkey, but I've not met them yet. I may get out there this week now that I've got their address.

As the show wound down I talked a bit to Paul Ryan and his wife, and Kurt Busiek set me straight on the fact that Luke Cage didn't say "Sweet Christmas" in the early days. Kurt explains that he either would say "Christmas" or "Sweet Sister!" He might as well have told me there ain't no Santa. The show folks were collecting guests' parking cards and reimbursing the $6, but I'd left mine in the car across the street.

Proving my cartoonist credentials, I lugged my stuff out to the car, got the ticket, and came back in for the six bucks.


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