Saturday, April 26, 2008

Comics For the People

Allison Hallet wrote a great article (see here) for the Portland Mercy about how comics have changed to become accessible for all and some of the reasons why Portland is at the epicenter of comic creation.

It’s a nice primer on the morning of the Stumptown Comics Fest.

Here’s an excerpt.
There has been a distinct cultural shift in the last decade, as graphic novels have gained a wide readership, superhero comics have been mined for both academic and "literary" material (see: Douglas Wolk, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon), and girls weaned on Japanese entertainments like Pokémon have gravitated en masse to manga. Put another way: Even my mom has read Persepolis. Anyone who still has hang-ups about buying comics need only set foot in the casually welcoming Cosmic Monkey Comics or North Portland's sleek Bridge City Comics to dispel all lingering stereotypes about the Comic Book Guy. So by now everyone in Portland knows that, to quote one of the most clichéd newspaper headlines ever, "comics aren't just for kids anymore." (Kapow!) You may not know, however, that local publishers Top Shelf, Oni Press, and Dark Horse have all had a hand in this shift. With April's designation as Comics Month, as Oni Publisher Joe Nozemack puts it, "Finally, the city is paying attention."

The root of Portland's comic book ascendance arguably rests with Dark Horse Comics' Mike Richardson. As Richardson himself says, "I helped bring a huge part of the comics industry here." Dark Horse is both the oldest and the largest of the three local publishers, and many folks in the industry who moved to town to work there have gone on to other projects in the area. The company, which Richardson started in 1986 with a $2,500 credit card, has grown to become the third-largest comics publisher in the United States (behind DC Comics and Marvel). From their Milwaukie headquarters, Dark Horse publishes series like Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the television show was cancelled after seven seasons; season eight is currently running in comic book form), as well as well-known titles like Frank Miller's Sin City and Mike Mignola's Hellboy. They're also the longest-running publisher of manga in the US; Richardson's early embrace of Japanese comics proved prescient, as young women have flocked to manga in droves (pounding a few more nails in the Comic Book Guy's coffin).



Hypatia said...

You are blessed! Be thankful and multiply your sayeth

Don Snabulus said...

Wow, a non-ignorant comics article in a local newspaper! Obviously not the Oregonian :D.

Looks cool. I am trying to see if I can hit the show for a little bit on Sunday with my niece and her son.


pidomon said...

amazing how we are almost main stream now!

rob! said...

where was the "Pow! Biff!" headline??

Dr. Zaius said...

If only CNN would change to a comic strip format.

Eaglewing said...

Maybe I should move to Portland. I wish I had a shop even remotely close to what your Cosmic Monkey looks like from your photos. It's still "Comic Book Guy" around here, but I'm glad comics are making some inroads.

Dean Wormer said...

Doesn't the Willamette Week now do a comics deal?

I'm so proud that Portland is starting be known for comics. Usually it's known for stuff that doesn't make you so proud.

Tonya Harding said...

I'm so proud that Portland is starting be known for comics. Usually it's known for stuff that doesn't make you so proud.

You'd better watch out buddy or I will put my cigarette out in your eye.

Swinebread said...

Hy – Tis truth you speak and I vouchsafe yon collegiate view

Snab – I heard you made it! I bet you had a good time huh?

PIdomon – Imagine that!

Rob! - I think its fading from memory… thank goodness

Dr. Zaius – Now that would be awesome! Some news should be in comics format IMO.

EW – Things take time I guess. Portland was lucky to have a company like Dark Horse survive and thrive in the area. It all blossoms from there I think. Hopefully you can make it out here someday.

Dean - yeah, I think they do at least occasionally. The Portland Mercury is a lot more consistent with local comics coverage.

Tonya – boy howdy!