2009 Portland Zine Symposium
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The ninth annual Portland Zine Symposium was held last weekend at Portland State University. It began Friday afternoon and ran all day on Saturday and Sunday. As was the case last year, admission was free and the event was held in the Smith Memorial Ballroom with almost 200 zinesters participating. Although I tend to frequent the tables with mini comics, I love the mix of perzines, chapzines, crafts, shops, books, and everything else. The room is filled with laid back enthusiasm and a spirit of fun. I spent several hours at the show on Saturday and covered somewhere around one third of the tables.
Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg had several zines for sale including one called I Cut My Hair #2. I first saw her work in this year's Portland-based free comic book day anthology, Bird Hurdler. She also has a story coming up in a future issue of Papercutter that she was drawing inbetween zine sales at the show. Her website Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg is under construction, so bookmark it for later. Top
I met Sean Christensen who was sharing a corner of the Sparkplug Comic Books table and selling issues of his comics Awesome But True and Miranda Baby. He was very patient with me as I tried several times to take his picture, but due to operator difficulties, it wasn't meant to be. Top
Jesse Reklaw was on hand with a nice collection of his books, including Blue Fuzz, four issues of Ten Thousand Things to Do, and of course, his recent hardcover The Night of Your Life, a collection of his Slow Wave comic strip published by Darkhorse. Reklaw also told me the Independent Publishers Resource Center (IPRC) is planning a certificate program which will begin this fall. The program will offer two tracks the first semester, one on creative writing and one on comics. The second semester will cover production, publication, web design, and promotion. Sounds like a real boon for Portland zinesters. Top
Julia Gfrorer was selling copies of Ariadne Auf Naxos and some other items. An excerpt from issue two is the opening comic in the Bird Hurdler anthology, but if you want the full story see Ariadne Auf Naxos #2. Top
Zach Mandeville has written and published four issues of Funwater Awesome, a zine based on the city he lives in, Tumwater, Washington. I believe the first two issues contained writings about the local sites to see and things to do, but issue three features the first two chapters of a book, which is set of course, in Tumwater. It's about video games, brothers, and busses. I believe issue four presents chapters three and four. Mandeville said he has a good outline for the whole thing, but he's writing it as he goes along publishing issues of his zine as he finishes the chapters. Funwater Awesome is $3 a copy. Send an email to Zach Mandeville for ordering info. Top
Ian Sundahl had a collection of Mars Comics for sale including Nevada Lapunar, Social Discipline, and Looking. You can order from Ian Sundahl on Angelfire. Sundahl is also an experimental filmmaker who works through Phobos Films. Top
Emily Nilsson was tabling for Sparkplug Comic Books where I picked up The Shortest Interval by David King, which made its debut at the Symposium. Nilsson was also selling her own zine, I Was Born But...#2. This is the weird issue, a collection of weird anecdotes and commentaries. For ordering info contact her at Emily Nilsson. Top
David Wood recently started posting comics on his blog Doing Laundry Right Ways All the Time. He was tabling at the show and debuted his first collection in a zine by the same title. You can contact David Wood through his blog for ordering info. Top
I was particularly looking forward to this year's symposium to see Aron Nels Steinke and his first graphic novel, Neptune. Published in partnership by Tugboat Press and Sparkplug Comic Books the book made its simultaneous debut in Portland and San Diego. Steinke drew at least four different covers for Neptune until he got one he really liked. Tugboat Press Captain Greg Means was sharing space with Steinke and offering up issues of my favorite comics anthology title, Papercutter. Issue 10 is out now and many of the back issues are still available, so get 'em while you still can. At $3 and $4 each, they're a great value and as a collection represent a terrific sampler of many of today's small press rising stars. Top
I first met Brian Cattapan at this year's Stumptown Comics Fest. He's recently put out the eighth issue of Zeek and his third Vampires Need Love. He's also collected the best of Zeek into a trade paperback, Zeek the Martian Geek, available through Powell's Bookstore.
Joshua Kemble was selling copies of Polynothing #1, his Xeric Winning Numb, and a mini comic called Three Degrees. He reports he's completed half or more of the graphic novel, Jacob's Apartment, that he's writing and drawing for NBM Publishing. Top
David Drexler was tabling several issues of his illustrated Out of Control zine about abiotic vampirism. Past issues have explored subjects like technophobic delusions in schizophrenia, compulsive hoarding, parasitism, and the toadmasters.
The amazing Theo Ellsworth had copies of his Secret Acres book with him as well as prints and zines. His Capacity trade paperback is a collection of material from back issues of his Capacity zine as well as a substantial amount of new material. Imaginary Homework is a new zine that grew out of a class he taught. One of the recurring images in Ellsworth's work is a hat with a house or city on it. He actually made a whole-head house mask out of heavy illustration board. It's large enough to fit over someone's head with window cutouts to see through and a large doorway for food. He said he wanted to add some pictures to the walls inside so the person wearing it would feel more like they were inside a house. Top
Marri Gamard is publishing a chapter book through a collection of zines. Her first edition of How Wally Met an Alien includes the first seven chapters. You can read the first chapter on her blog, Stories and Art by Marrimg.
Although I didn't get the names of the folks at the tables, a few—and I mean a few—of the other zines being sold were Pipe Bomb (now with an amazing 41 issues), Steampunk Magazine, and The Way Things Used to Be by Erica Schreiner. Top
Julie Sabatier is a great supporter of the zine community. Her radio show/podcast Destination DIY is dedicated to documentary-style features about revolutionary do-it-yourself projects. This year she had a new zine called How to Make Radio filled with tips on broadcasting and podcasating. Check out her Destination DIY Audio Library to listen online. Top
It was great to see Celso Monk at the show. I've been enjoying The River and the Sea that he and Sophie are self-publishing. They collected the first three issues in a special bound edition that's quite impressive. He told me they're planning seven issues for the series. Send Celso Monk an email for more information.
Beside directing the Olympia Comics Fest every summer, Chelsea Baker has been busy drawing a daily diary comic in her sketchbook. She's collected the first set into a zine she was selling at the show. Top
Vancouver's Cloudscape Comics was well represented by Jonathon Dalton and Jeffery Ellis. Dalton had three issues of his beautiful A Mad Tea-Party, which you can read on the Jonathon Dalton website. Top
Jeffery Ellis was selling Dreamgirl (a 24-hour comic) and Goodbye, which was written by Robin Fisher.
A few of the folks I've seen at other shows, who are listed in the program but I missed, were Annie Murphy, Erika Moen, Reid Psaltis, Rio Safari, the men of Robopocalypse, Shawn Granton, and Tom Lechner.
It's been a long running tradition for laid back shows like this one to have a table or two filled with free items. But as the popularity of these shows increase the free table spaces are getting smaller. Fortunately, the Portland Zine Symposium managed to squeeze out some space this year. A few of items on the free table this year included a CD by The Sour Grapes called No More Drama, produced by Tugboat Press; the Top Shelf Comix 2009 catalog; and a flyer for Portland Radio Authority (PRA), a non-profit, listener-supported radio station.
It was another great Zine Symposium. Many thanks to all of the organizers who worked so hard to make it happen for Portland!
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Original content Copyright © 2009 Richard Krauss.
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