A handful of cities could claim to be the American capital of comic books, but Portland, Oregon, makes one hell of an argument. The largest comics publisher—Marvel—may still reign in New York City alongside smaller operations like Valiant and First Second, but the Big Apple doesn’t hold its former ubiquity since DC swapped coasts to Burbank, California, two years ago. Conversely, the emerging capital of the Pacific Northwest houses both the third, fourth and fifth largest comic generators in the direct market after Image planted its flag last year and IDW opened a second office. (Dark Horse is technically in the Milwaukie suburb, but close enough.) Scott Pilgrim publisher Oni also plants its flag in the city.
Even if PDX didn’t support so much comic business, the sheer number of creators who call the city home is staggering. From Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis to the Milkfed Criminal homestead of Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick and indie luminaries like Anders Nilsen, it’s hard to hit a coffee shop without seeing a professional sequential artist dripping sweat on a laptop or sketchpad.
This is all to say that a comic convention within Portland’s borders feels more like a family reunion than the feverish, pop-culture bacchanal of San Diego Comic-Con. Rose City Comic Con is a leisurely, friendly event bolstered by a rigorous artists alley without the onslaught of paralyzing crowds. It’s the type of convention where you can hold a conversation with uber-popular MLP: Friendship is Magic veteran Katie Cook for 10 minutes as neighboring artists chat about what they’ll wear to Image’s homecoming dance, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Paste roamed the halls to capture the convention’s unique tone last weekend, as seen in the gallery above. Check back next month when Paste heads to New York Comic Con.