31 August 2015

[art] Jake Weidemann, Master Penman

Of all the things I do, my handwriting is perhaps my proudest thing. I have developed a personal italic script that I feel is rather unique, and am always tuning it with interesting things I have seen. When I found that my natural handwriting closely resembled the italic style that Fred Eager promoted or the ones currently promoted by Getty and Dubay, you know I had to be pretty gratified by this.

There is a level to which one can aspire even above that of beautiful, calligraphic everyday handwriting. The IAMPETH – the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers*, and Teachers of Handwriting is an association of people passionate about penmanship … the sort of thing they used to teach in colleges, the sort of skill you needed to get ahead in business. They certify Master Penmen (and presumably, penwomen). In design,  you learn how to paint with type. Penmen paint pictures with the most exquisite handwriting you've probably never seen, and almost certainly never were taught.

What follows is a lightly-sponsored UPROXX video giving a glimpse of what the most recently-matriculated Master Penman … Jake Weidemann … does and a hint of that passion.

The IAMPETH is located on the web at http://www.iampeth.com/, and anyone can join … you don't have to be a master penman, though if that's on your bucket list, this would be the idea place to start. Non-members  have access to community and back-issues of the newsletter, but anyone can take advantage of the protips and see the art and watch the videos.

* An engrosser, in case you were still wondering, with respect to handwriting, is someone who copies out text beautifully.

30 August 2015

[branding] When Dead Celebrities Endorse

If they had only checked out the time they brought Orville Redenbacher from the dead. If only.

In May, 2015, KFC, as everyone by now knows, reincarnated (reintarnated, one could say) the legendary founder characater, Colonel Harland Sanders, in a series of slightly twisted commercials which simultaneously touched on KFC's heritage as well as dark places in our collective id that shouldn't have been touched; my recollection of the most-used adjective to descirbe SNL-alum Darrel Hammond's cackling Colonel is 'creepy'.

So, in July, KFC changed Colonels, literally. Now, filling the white suit is also-SNL-alum Norm Macdonald, a curious choice to portray the man if ever there was one. This USA Today article details some of the dissonances by some of the people who knew him. The narrative seems to be him, the real, sincere Colonel, coming back into play because some celebrity impersonator tried to take that identity. He's here to get it back, and to assert that you just can't throw a white suit on some super-funny Hollywood actor and have yourself a real Colonel, amusingly and metareferentially doing it while putting on a clip-on ribbon bowtie and, through quick-cuts, throwing a white suit on what appears to be a super-funny Hollywood actor.

I can't shake the idea that KFC has some sort of surreal long-game here. The self-referentially sarcastic frame is too plain for me to ignore. The USA Today article suggests that KFC's trimming everything in weird to refresh the brand, and maybe that's so.

But I still think everyone in branding who's trying to revive an old founder as a brand icon should see this 2007 ad for Orville Redenbacher. He was born in Indiana and died in California in 1995. There was, therefore, no live Orville to do a commercial with, and they wanted to touch on the country's history of using him in those aw-shucks commercials that he used to do so well.

So, what did they use to bring him back? CGI. The result is the scenic overlook to the Uncanny Valley:

I can't watch that without wondering what Outer Limits episode it was supposed to go in on. Response was in accordance; the brand's attempt to re-animate Orville pretty much stopped there.

Still, I can't help but giggle at the KFC Commercials … the oddball approach seems to be working, at least that way. And Macdonald is actually a slightly funnier Colonel than Hammond was, because Macdonald plays it so dry and straight ahead.

The bigger question I have? Why is it that suddenly American comedy is powered by SNL graduates. They seem to be taking over.

Now, there's a conspiracy story that needs to be told. 

27 August 2015

[pdx] Morrison Street Bokeh, Portland, Sunday

I wasn't going to post this at first, but it's kind of grown on me.

I shared this on Facebook and got an unexpectedly positive response. I wanted a shot down this street (SE Morrison, coming west from SE 12th Ave)  in this light, the light at sunset as the smoky inflection from the east side infernos were finally getting out of town. The camera sometimes finds something in the foreground work focussing on and the everything else stays out of focus. Since I was in a a moving car, the moment passed very quickly, and I had this thing-of-the-moment.

Bokeh is, apparently, the artistic aspect of blur. This shot is loaded with it, the contrast between the reflections in the windshield in front and the back ground which is nothing but blur, and suffused with the amber light, all creates a feeling of subjection and atmosphere which is hard to quantify. You can see the Weatherly Building on the left there, but you'll find there anything you wish.

So, for the permanent record, here it is. Unexpected art. Maybe all that is why, even though I wasn't at first impressed with it, I kept it anyway.

It got a hold on me.

24 August 2015

[pdx] Portland Amber Evening with Moon Shot

By last evening the extraordinarily thick haze from the wildfires in the east had cleared from the Valley somewhat, and visibility was much improved. But, as atmospheric events like this are wont to do, the visual aftereffects linger. This was downtown Portland, taken from the intersection of SE 12th Avenue and Morrison Street, looking west at about 7:00 PM:

I understand that glowing thing in the sky is a thing called "the Sun". Whether or not this is a cause for alarm remains to be seen.

The Coffee Room at Powell's City 'o' Books turned out to be a site for astronomical photography experimentation, naturally unexpected. The Wife™ saw what looked to be a half-moon setting over the Buffalo Exchange building across the street, and wanted a picture of that. Nothing really worked, and then I started playing with the camera a bit. Went into Manual mode and played the hell out of exposure and focal length, jacked up the zoom into the virtual range, and this is what I got:

As awesome a camera as it is, the Canon PowerShot S100 isn't the ideal camera for astronomical photos, and this won't get published in Astronomy magazine, but it's not too terribly bad, and much better than I expected. If I had a tripod with me and weren't taking pictures out of a fully-lit room, who knows? I could have gotten clear craters maybe.

[liff] Neil Armstrong: Straight Outta Wapakoneta

Neil Armstrong is one reason I don't do bucket lists.

Why should I? I'm not only never going to the moon, he sharked being the first guy to do it. I mean, think about it. If he were still alive, no matter what you were doing, no matter what your peak experience is, even if you're in the middle of it, he could walk on stage, take the spot from you, say "I'm Neil Armstrong, and I'm the first human being ever to walk on a celestial body that isn't Earth", and that's history's mic drop right there. You can never compare to that. How can you? Are YOU going to the moon, chump? No. Even if you could, are you getting there in 1968? No.

And then he just retired and lived a quiet productive life, like OG Astronauts should. Zero shame in that game.

Neil was the luckiest human being who ever lived.

Just sayin'.

23 August 2015

[pdx] Day of the Wildfire Smoke, Part 3

Near home, in the David Douglas community on the deep eastside, and it's getting on toward sunset. And here's SE Stark Street near 102nd:

The real landscape wasn't at dark as that, but I wanted to show the redness of a a sun that was as much a red rubber ball as the morning's was.

This all calls to mind the old maxim:

Red sky at morning, Sailor take warning,
Red sky at night, Sailor probably lives in Portland
and is about 80 miles away from several major wildfires.

Or something like that.

[pdx] Day of the Wildfire Smoke, Part 2

From Southwest Portland and the Terwilliger Blvd Parkway we proceeded east over the Hawthorne Bridge into the Hawthorne District (a/k/a Chicville, Lower Cascadia).

This was the view from about 28th and Hawthorne looking west …

… and this was closer in, about 18th Avenue or so.

It bears remembering, I think, that the points-of-view in the above two photos were in areas that were, because of the miasma, not visible from the viewpoints on Terwilliger in the last posting.

The above is looking down Hawthorne east from about SE 35th Avenue. That dark area above the horizon in the distance is Mount Tabor. For comparison, this, taken in 2014 at the Hawthorne Street Fair, which isn't in exactly the same spot … but it's close enough.

What a day, huh? This is your world … and this is your world on global warming.

Any more questions?

[pdx] Day of the Wildfire Smoke, Part 1

The numerous wildfires in the eastern 2/3rds of Oregon and Washington are usually things those of us in the Willamette Valley hear of on the news, complete with pictures and live remotes.

Usually. Because this year, since the fires are so numerous and all following the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Wildfires (Rules 1-6 read 'burn everything', and rule 7 is 'when in doubt, see rules 1-6), and since we are afflicted with yet another continental weather system providing us with abundant offshore flow (a Pacific Northwest weathercaster term meaning the winds all go to the Pacific), this hellish fire season, everyone west of the Cascades gets a taste of it, and those with respiratory issues are strongly advised to stay indoors.

The day, Saturday, August 22nd, dawned auspiciously. Red sky at morning, Oregonian take warning; the morning sun was shinin' like a red rubber ball.

The above was taken at about 0715, as I departed my work site. The morning was remarkably amber from then on; the quality of the light in the air was more appropriate to sunset than not long after sunrise. And, all that day, I found myself wondering how much worse it would get. It's a good thing I got pictures; I myself couldn't foresee how sepulchral it would eventually get.

From about noon through to about 6 PM I spent the day in the company of some of my chums from high-school, and a better gathering could not have been had by anyone. The location was in Tigard, which is as far as you can go in the SW direction and remain in the Portland urban agglomerative disk. The haze thickened over the day. By the time we left and worked our way back through Tigard, this is what SW Pacific Hwy near SW 72nd Avenue and the Fred Meyer store looked like:

… and this was SW Barbur Blvd in the vicinity of SW 30th Ave (which is the light in the middle distance):

Despite the lateness of my day, I thought a viewpoint was needed. Portland's SW Terwilliger Blvd is famous for places to park and take in the pulchritdinousness that is Portland's city landscape from a point with a view. But today, this is mostly what Portland looked like from Terwilliger:

My city was gone.

The Tilikum Crossing:

Bridge of the people; smoke from the distant wildfires. More like Twilight of the Gods around here.

And this, the Marquam Bridge:

Absolute visibility here is something less than 2 miles. Clear visibility? Much less than that.

This view point is good for framing downtown Portland with views of Mount Saint Helens. Today's shot makes us imagine downtown Portland if Loo-Wit has erupted the other direction.

Another angle on the Marquam Bridge. Those buildings are new hotels and condos in the Riverplace and South Waterfront districts.

Our adventure continued east into the Hawthorne district. About which, anon.

19 August 2015

[art] Rotring Tikky Graphic – The Return Of The Rapidoliner, Kinda.

This makes me happy.

Does anyone remember the Rotring Rapidoliner? This is not to be confused with the iconic pen line Rapidograph, mind you, which, I understand, is still available (I have a set of steel-tipped Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs myself, these apparently being the American version of the Rotring pen system).

For those who don't know, there are these things called technical pens, originally developed to create a precise line for those who did drafting – technical drawings. They came in a range of sizes, and the tip … the nib … was a steel tube with a flat end. a wire, with a weight, ran through this tube, and the contact of the wire with the paper jiggled the weight and provided flow.

Tech pens are challenging to create are with, yet rewarding; they require skill, patience and finesse, and were ideal for people who loved obsessing over detail in drawing, like me. They had their flaws, though … they were touchy to keep clean, especially in the finest points, and unless handled with care, prone to leaking. One travelled with them at their own risk. They had a pocket clip on the pen top, but I found it inadvisable to travel with them in your pocket.

That was why the Rapidoliners were so cool. They were a disposable version of the Rapidograph, and while the refill seemed a tad wasteful (it actually took up most of the pen, which was just really a tube that enabled you to hold and cap the refill), it was a much, much more portable version of the Rapidograph and went just about anywhere.

About 10 years ago, I think, Rotring stopped making them. In the succeeding years, Stadtler, LePen, Pigma, Sakura and others started making hard-tipped markers with precise widths and archival pigmented inks, and I imagine that even the Rapidographs are starting to see a greatly-decreased demand. But when we are +Muse Art and Design during Hawthorne Street Fair and I asked what was new, they pointed me at the pen display and I saw one of these:

This, my friends, is the Rotring (they like to style it rOtring) Tikky Graphic pigmented ink marker. The look of the pen, with its brown barrel and its red band, spoke to me so loudly in design that I thought for a minute that Rotring was bringing back the Rapidoliner. Well, no, but that's cool. This is a high-quality, smooth-writhing, precise-line marker, with a well-balanced feel that's kind to the writing and drawing hand. The ink delivery system seems to be akin to the fountain-pen delivery system common in pens like the Pilot Precise line, and the ink is kind to the paper I wrote that on, not bleeding.

It comes in the range of line-widths you expect from a line of archival, precise-line markers, and it just has that great Rotring professional-look that I learned to love so very much.

So, no, the Rapidoliner isn't back and I don't expect it back anytime soon. But this is the next best thing, and a worthy successor.

If it's good enough for Shoo Rayner, an award-winning childrens' book illustrator from Britain, then it's good enough for my diary. In this video, the affable illustrator gives you a tour of the Tikky Graphic.

[brand] Vern Fonk's Iconic Pitchman, Rob Thielke, Passes at Age 50

The bald guy in the Vern Fonk ads is as Northwest as they come.

In the world of late-night ads, you have to have that certain something in order to become an icon. Back in the early 90s, we had started to run low on ad icons … Tom Peterson had gone into retirement, the blond "More Cars, More Trucks, More Credit" Scott's Auto Sales lady had abruptly left the scene after that business had failed.

Then along came Vern Fonk. Oh, he wasn't really Vern Fonk. But more on that momentarily. Vern Fonk, the company, started as a high-risk insurer with several locations in the Seattle area; eventually, it opened branches here in PDX. And then the commercials happened.

They seemed to center, most of them, on this strange, animated, bald fellow. He played an astounding array of roles and you could never tell what he would do next. They broke through to the big time with one word … Shapoopi. 

This was broadcast on Leno. For a short time, everyone had their version; even KPTV's Good Day Oregon got in on the fun (sadly, I can't find the video. It seems to have fallen off the intermets).

At Fonk's acme, they were even riffing on Brad Pitt, in a way:

And, along the way, that strange, funny, slightly edgy bald guy actually became so identified with Vern Fonk insurance, that people thought he was Vern Fonk. He wasn't; he Rob Thielke, a man with as singularly strange sense of humor and an adeptness, with his brother Kevin, in making memorable late-night commercials for the company he worked for. At the time of the Fonkvasion, he was office manager of the Everett office; eventually, he would rise to be the president of the Company (Vern Fonk himself having retired some time previously, and also having passed in 2006).

When we had heard that Thielke passed away, at the surprisingly tender age of 50 this week, we were quite shocked. It did indirectly proffer an explanation as to why we haven't seen a Fonk ad in a while. And we're mightily unhappy about this; he really made us laugh, the way he would push things to a Theatre of the Absurd level for ads for an insurance company. Obviously he could inject bizarre humor into anything. Not even holiday greetings were safe:

I mean,  Ram-aAAAAaaa-DAAAAAAN! , right?

Vern Fonk's current FB avatar.
But Rob's no longer with us. Has he died and took Vern Fonk's brand with him? Impossible to say. Now, if you want to see any of his divinely-inspired weirdness, just head to your favorite search engine and put in "Vern Fonk Commercials", "Vern Fonk Vision", or anything like that, and it'll come tumblin' out of the YouTube like … well, like something YouTube probably has lots of.

Somebody better step up quick to become the Pacific Northwest's late-night advertising icon, or I'll have to do it.

And nobody wants that, I'll clue you what.

11 August 2015

[pdx] Classic Neon, 20th and East Burnside, Portland

Last posting was a long look down East Burnside from NE 20th Avenue. Here's what I stopped to pict, though:

Super cool, and look really nifty late at night, QED, as they say.

The two buildings are on opposite corners of East Burnside Street and NE 20th Avenue. And they've been there for a long time, a very long time. Of the two, the one with more vintage is the Tip Top Cleaners' sign, which shows its age most proudly. The words are in two horizontal bars, with a bending arrow running through them, going from absolutely vertical to pointing at the front door, as those signs used to do. It has no animated effects, but I'll bet at one time that arrow was a running animated series.

Also, it's delightfully multicolored.

The other one, above and to the right, belongs to the Willoughby Hearing aid center concern on the NW corner. It's only one color, the bright red, late at night; the sign sprouts as a semi-futuristic and minimalist layerd trilon from the building's corner.

What it misses in vintageness it more than makes up for in MadMen-style coolness and simplcity. If the Tip Top's sign was the art-deco dude in shiny-lapelled tux and tails, the Willoughby sign is the Rat-Packer, cool in his slender-cut black suit and his skinny tie.

The visual loveliness isn't only limited to the neon on this corner. The window to Tip Top, here lensed by The Wife™, is very sensitive to not only its vintage, but it's sense of Portland place.

That fat type on the bottom and the art-deco flair framing the mountain? Awesome. 

10 August 2015

[pdx] East Burnside, Late Sunday Night

Looking west, down East Burnside Street from 20th Avenue, late Sunday evening.
That is all.

[pdx] Classic VW Beetle (Type I), NW 9th and Flanders, Portland

Driving across Northwest Portland, in the Pearl District, on the way to our weekly bout with Powell's City of Books, we come up to NW 9th and Flanders and we see this sweetie parked at the corner, in front of the Ann Sacks store:

I'm not sure what year this one is, but that rear bumper indicates it's 1967 or before. The rear-window is one of the larger ones, so it's probably a mid-sixties Beetle.

Judging by the condition of the car, it's a daily driver. Judging by the parking ticket under the windshield wiper, someone should have been paying more attention to the meter.


Lovely car, though. Of course.

[comics] Modest Medusa Merch from Artist Alley

So in an earlier missive I promised I'd share some stuffs that I got from Artist Alley Comics Fest. Here's the first bit.

I've already declared my affection for Modest Medusa and so a big goal for me was to get something Modest. Jake Richmond was there (and I broke Chocodile bread with him, so that was pretty peak right there). He had a great deal of stuffs for sale, including all seasons of the story published so far (he breaks the narrative into TV-series-like 'seasons', which allows for story arcs and subplots which weave in and out of the world in that same way, which is very appealing). I was unable to purchase for now (his prices are wholly reasonable, it's my budget that isn't). But, as I said in an earlier post, there was all sorts of niftyness at all sorts of prices.

Here's what I scored from Jake:

Two 24-Hour Comic mini-comics and that spiffy promo card. The two mini-comics will hold me until I get his bigger books. They are two sweet and silly snake-girl stories that can't help but make me smile.

The first, simply titled 24-Hour Comic, is just that – 24 hour in the life of Modest and Jake, one hour per panel. She eats noodles for lunch, hangs out with Jake and his comicking buddies, plays with MLP figurines, has fun drawing, and eventually goes to bed (under protest) … only to start it all over again. Anyone who's ever loved a kid, this'll speak to you.

The second, Taco Tuesday, is another 24-Hour Comic, and reveals what happens when the day-person Modest negotiates the acquisition of taco components given that … well, she really doesn't know what a taco is … 

My favorite exchange comes earlier in the day, when a telemarketer tries calling the Jake household only to get Modest on the phone …

Modest: "Hello?"
Caller:"Hi, is your dad home?"
M:"No. What's a taco?"
C:"Excuse me?"
M:"Do you know what a taco is?"
C:"A taco? Like the food?"
M:"Is it a restaurant food?"
C:"Ummm … yes, you can get tacos at restaurants."
M:"Okay. Goodbye!"

Modest muses this new information and then the telemarker calls back:

C:"Uhhh, hello again. Is your mother home?"
M:"My mom is a snake."

That is some tight comedy writing. Its economy is its beauty, and what makes it funny.

Anyway, there's only two left of that one, and I got one of those two. So that makes me lucky, too.

More in a future post.

07 August 2015

[liff] Salem's Courthouse Square Transit Station, Feb 2008

I was born, as I've said before, in Silverton, and some assembly was required there; in about 1976, my family moved to Salem, where a lot of the preliminary finishing happened.

The years in Salem were mostly happy, at least as far as those of a kid of no obvious talents except hangin' on could be. Found my first passions, my first group of permanent friends, did some healing at the same time some other wounds were being inflicted. Life is such a mixed bag, even tho' it beats the alternative.

I spent a great deal of time with my first real freedom other than my bicycle; Cherriots. I've mentioned Salem's bus system before, in other contexts; in this one, it was my car. They let you attend any high school in Salem you could haul yourself to, just as long as you showed up; my endless quest to move off Square One led me to Sprague High, and Sprague High is where I spent my secondary school career. I don't regret it.

Throughout my mid-late teenagehood in Salem, though, Cherriots was the way to go, as far as it went. Service was only hourly, coverage was pitiful when the money wasn't there to run it, and Salem, as long as I've been alive, has never had Sunday service (now, it has even less, but they appear to be working on that).  Also, the form of the facilities has changed over time. As long as anyone's known, the central transfer point for all radiating routes has been the corner of Court and High Streets. Before the early 80s, the buses lined up along the south side of Court Street between High and Liberty and the west side of High between State and Court. Following this, the transit center moved to an island comprising the entire block of High Street between Court and State, now in front of the Marion County Courthouse; a one-block (Salem's downtown blocks are verrrry long, to a Portlander) transit mall of sorts which occupied the eastern 2 lanes of High. North and west-bound buses departed from the east side of the island; south and east from the west.

They called that Cherriot Station.

In 2000, the downtown Salem transit station finally grew up. The buildings on the north side of Court between High and Church were pulled down … including the venerable old Senator Hotel … the block was cleared, and, bingo, there was Courthouse Square and the downtown Salem 'transit mall' … the south half of the block surrounded by Chemeketa, High, Court, and Church Streets was a new, brick-covered, five-story building, and the north half was now a four-lane transit center with spacious walkways, angled turnouts. Very polished, and very nice. Well, it was until 2010, when it was discovered that the construction wasn't as sound as it should have been, and it was declared a potentially dangerous place to be.

Now, in 2015, after a flurry of legal action and a monumental and commendable repair program, as of 2014, Courthouse Square is now safe and sound and in regular use as Salem's transit hub again. Good on them for getting the job done, and more power to them.

Cherriots is in what they'd call a rebuilding year; the agency is getting set to implement a major route realignment and increase service during the days it does run (Currently Monday through Friday only), and they're beginning to plow the PR field to cultivate the idea that Salem's voters should not only re-inaugurate Saturday service (cut a few years back because the voters said 'no') but also, finally, expand to Sunday service. I hope they make it happen; Salem isn't as easy to get across on ones own as it should be. So I sincerely wish them luck here.

But I digress a bit. Let's set the time machine back to February, 2008, more than five years ago. This is long enough ago that not only did Cherriots have different routes, evolved from the original routes of the 70s that I knew so well, they still have the classic names. Routes like South Commercial, State and Fairview, 12th and Sunnyside, and Lansing and Claxtar. They still have a certain ring, even today.

The following were taken in February, 2008, with a ViviCam 3705, the old plastic fantastic.

This green banner welcomes you with a promise of service in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

The simplicity … and somewhat aggravating lack … of service at the time is aptly represented by this display on an informational kiosk. These are all departure times, on all routes, for all days of operation. Notice the red times? Those are the runs that only happened on Saturday. All times in black departed all five weekdays, Monday through Friday, but not on Saturday.

There was no Service.

A closeup of the schedule for Route 1 - Commercial Street, a major trunk route serving the commercial corridor extending south from downtown along Commerical St SE, with about 30 departures over the service day. Most AM runs didn't operate on Saturdays.

This photo is one of a diagram of the bus bays and where the routes dock. Very nice and ordered. I noted at the time that the font used in the bus symbols was pretty much the same as the old route-number-name font that Tri Met used at the time. I liked it. It gave it a big-city feel. As did the whole production.

This next diagram is the route network in effect as of February 2008. It's notable that Cherriots had grown from around 14 routes when I was in high school to nearly 25 routes by then. Interesting topology there, I always thought … the Salem street network is visually interesting, and the way the transit route net minimized it is a pattern I still find interesting today.

… all this on one of two informational kiosks, one at each end of the transit mall area, such as:

The 16-Four Corners bus held special nostalgia for me. When I moved into Salem from Silverton, it was the Four Corners neighborhood that I found myself in.

… and here is a long shot of the then 9-Kaiser Central bus. The color scheme of the Cherriots is simple and practical … hardworking yet unique in its way.

There were to be more pictures, but a sudden end to my photo safari, which was just to document this place for my own nostalgia and satisfaction and maybe artistic inspiration, but …

Well, it was interrupted. More on that at a later time, though.

06 August 2015

[comics] What We Saw At The First Artist Alley Comics Fest

Southeast Portland can hide things, tuck nifty things behind other nifty things. These things are worth the effort in finding.

Comic-cons, for instance. Oh, they're there. Hidden behind awesome little comic-cafes. I give you the corner of SE Powell Boulevard and 59th Avenue, on the border of South Tabor and FoPo.

This is a building containing a hair salon (The Phix), our comix cafe (The Spritely Bean), a print shop, and a good-bad-for-you food cafe (the mighty Steakadelphia). Behind, there, you see a tent or two peeking out? Why, yes you do. Let's explore, shall we?

When we get cross the wide, wide demesne that is SE Powell Boulevard, this is what we see.

This is the First Annual Artist Alley Comics Fest, presented by The Spritely Bean and supported by some worthy supporters, one of which be +Muse Art and Design . The artist alley, as I understand it to be, is an area of a comic-con where artists set up to sell, see, be seen, and meet fans and interested people. Much goodness for sale there. Being that this is set up in the parking lot behind Spritely Bean's building, it's like being in an alley, making this a true artist alley.

Well played, SB, well played.

One of the sponsors, Muse, sent along one of their people to rep the shop. This is one of them:

The tie of the day.
… our friend Vaughn Barker.  I've told you about Vaughn, the alter-ego of Valentine Barker here: http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2015/03/pdxart-illustrator-vaughn-barkers.html, where you can go to find about about his awesomeness and his art and his general Zenitude, so he's worth your time. But this time, it's kinda about the tie.

That is one hell of a tie, man. Straight up.

The hair salon has the delightful name of The Phix. They had a backdrop up and they were showing off some of their work. We almost missed all of that pageant, as we showed a bit more than halfway through the afternoon, but we did see this fellow …

Character? Yes. Comic? No.
… who was as rockstar with his attitude as he was with his hair. Damned affable, too, as far as that goes.

Being tucked away in Southeast like it was, I was worried that there was going to be a gentle response. Adam and Huynh were taking a bit of a chance, I thought, and since I love, so far, everything they do, I was a little anxious for them.

I shouldn't have worried.

A person who's become a dear friend to me, +Donna Barr , creator of Stinz and The Desert Peach, proved that the tiny-con could work, and work well, even out at the end of the road. The Clallam Bay Comic Con, a small event, was none the less energetic, complete with dealer's room, panels, and a party. See here for her result: http://donnabarr.blogspot.com/2015/07/small-but-fierce-2015-clallam-bay.html.  The micro-cons are a boon because you can have all the creator-awesome without all the corp-overhead, and this is the sort of place where the indies can be the stars of the show.  Linework NW proved that it could shine as a vibrant smaller-sized, creator focused and driven event.

And now, AACF proves that small can be beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, and that tiny can have a big attitude. And nothing but indies! I'm going to show off individually what I got perforce, but there were big and small productions, and if you didn't come on over with a huge budget there were nifties, small comics, and things to get at a whole range of prices. There was brilliance available for a $20 and awesomness available for a $2 bill.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't get as many pictures as I could. Seen and enjoyed but not pictured:

Coffee. The Spritely Bean is a coffeehouse, of course, and Adam and Huynh's fine wares were available. I enjoyed two of their divine cold brew iced coffees, bold, velvety and just the thing for the ├╝ber-humid afternoon. Also, macarons! I had heard about them, trendy as they are, but I'd never had any before then. EXQUISITE! Best cookie ever. Wife asked for a Italian soda, it was mint and came back Amalfi-style … it was like drinking a York peppermint pattie.

Jake Richmond. One of my more favorite recent discoveries is Modest Medusa, by Jake Richmond. Follow that link there for the skinny on the snake girl. I got to meet Jake and had the a great chat with him. He's part of a crew of SE Portland illustrators (Including Barry Deutsch and Ben Hsu) who were there en cartel, madly creative people who do work which tends to move into your mind and live there. He has a generous spirit and talked at length with me about his creation. There was also a Chocodile, which I consumed. Modest is right … they're quite tasty.

Brett Carville. I've also written about Brett, who is another recent favorite discovery of ours and just one of the nicest guys you'd want to meet. We'd seen him at Linework and it was amazing to see him here too. I got a look at something he's doing called Life of Craig, and I'll have more to write about that in another post in a few more days.

Donna Barr proved that you could have a comic-con anywhere. Linework NW proved that if you made it all about indies, it'll have meaning and velocity.

AACF proved that if you hold it … especially in Portland … they will come.

Hail, Eris.

04 August 2015

[pdx_comix] Artist Alley Comic Fest I, The Haul, Group Picture

We hit that Artist Alley Comics Fest I, last weekend, Sunday, August 2nd. If you didn't go, my friends, you missed out on a fine scene indeed.

I'll detail my favorite bits in subsequent missives, but for now, here's a group shot of the haul. There were things for every budget. Just because you didn't bring a pocket full of cash didn't mean you had to go away empty handed. Anyway, here's my stuff.

We'll take a little tour in a subsequent article.

All praise to +Spritely Bean.  Straight up.