13 April 2014

[art] LineworkNW … The First Issue

In the middle of the day, yesterday, we took the time to visit LineworkNW … the premiere issue. It was dropped at Norse Hall, at the corner of NW 11th and Couch here in Portland, and my word, it was of a brilliance.

Comic and Illustration conventions have become huge business and überfashionable. As such they are usually located a)in places I can't usually get to and, even if I can get there, b)I can't afford 'em. Last year, Stumptown Comics Fest folded itself into the Rose City Comic Con, leaving a big hole for what makes Portland comic art so special and unique: heavily indie, madly and fiercely passionate, and intimate and approachable.

Enter LineworkNW: a 1-day festival, free to go to, easy to exhibit at, all about creators and the things they create and how they connect to the people who love the work they do … all the good things about Indiewood's culture, the stuff that made Portland popular to begin with.

We must never forget our roots.

Brief abashed confession here: I nearly didn't go. A moment to sing the Third Shift Blues: If I want to do anything nifty on Saturday, I wind up staying up more than 24 hours. This sort of schedule distortion has played havoc on many things, from my creative inspiration to some thought processes, I've become convinced; as The Wife™ and myself browsed the copies of Soylent News™in the Midland library, I was leaning toward going home and chilling out. But, in the A-and/or-E section mentioned LineworkNW, and The Wife™saw it, and insisted.

This is why my The Wife™ is awesome. When I run out of gumption, she gives me the kick.

So we decamped from the library, made an errand-stop on our way overtown, and, just before 5:00 PM, on an inordinately-pleasant Oregon spring afternoon, we came to the Norse Hall. Any doubts that LineworkNW was going to go over well were, if not dispelled by the news of the immense response, completely cast away by the traffic around that corner.

For a small festival, it was huge.

Parking our battered steed a full block and a half away (in a space that had opened up just a moment or two before), we walked over and entered.

Here I can tell you what the beauty of a one-day con is: if you get there half way through the day, and can only stay a little while, you don't feel like you're missing out. Every slice you take from this cake is good. Because, cake.

The exhibition floor was thronging, as you can see in these photos. So many people, you can scarcely see the merchandise for the crowd. Intimate doesn't begin to describe.

I was, as stated before, on the latter half of a very long day, so I can't give a complete rundown of all the awesomeness I saw there. But it was awesome. Creators were on hand to comment on all their work. There was Fantagraphics, there was Reading Frenzy (I think that's Chloe Eudaly there on the right of the photo, at the RF table), there was DarkHorse; there was Know Your City and their wonderful Oregon History Comics zine series (we got 3 more of them, my favorite was the Dead Freeways volume), Fantom Forest (I got the wonderful PDX/100 by Matt Sundstrom).

We had at $20 budget and still we found nifty stuff. We'd have bought most of that room if we could.

We could attend one panel as well. The title was Line/Work, and it was about creators and their creating.

From right; one of The Little Freinds of Printmaking, Bwana Spoons, The other of The Little Friends of Printmaking, moderator Jason Sturgill
It was a general talk on everyone's creative process, what they did to do what they did, which even touched on such things as why Portland instead of Los Angeles, and whether they preferred working out of the home versus a studio (my question. Surprisingly, the studio crowd outvoted the work-at-home crowd. It helps, apparently, to sharpen one against one's tribal fellows on a daily basis).

From right: Meg Hunt, BT Livermore, Kinoko
Sitting back absorbing this with the assistance of indulging in a Bitsburger Pils was a privation I was perfectly willing to bear up under.

Word is that they're going to do this yearly, and keep it small. Damn fine idea, I say. One of the things I have a problem with, in reclaiming my inner artist, is thinking that people who do this on a regular basis are some sort of elevated being, and I am not that being. Well, they are sensational people, but they aren't supernatural … they just do what they do and it's awesome. And they share what they know. And that's aspirational.

LineworkNW was brilliance, and I'm glad as hell someone did this. Thank you. I'm grateful.

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