Portland's comics scene saw two intriguing arrivals last year, new shows that made successful debuts and are now back for a second term. The pop-culture oriented Rose City Comic Con was by all accounts a success, and it returns in September; and the ambitious, focused little show The Projects just released the program for their upcoming festival of "experimental comics and narrative arts."

This year, The Projects has expanded beyond the IPRC to satellite events at Gallery Homeland, the Hollywood, and elsewhere; highlights of the program include a Chopped-inspired collaging contest, a concert, and tons of free and open-to-the-public workshops conducted by local and visiting artists.

I asked festival organizer Jason Leivian to explain how the festival has evolved from the first year, and what he's particularly excited about this time around:

This year's fest will be more organized and more clearly laid out at the IPRC. We noticed that when people showed up last year some folks looked a little lost. They weren't sure what to do or how to jump in on a project. So all of our workshop stations will be clearly labelled with instructions and it should all feel more inviting. But it will still be easy to drift in and out of the various areas. There'll be a lot of fun stuff going on with plenty for people to do.

I'm really excited that CF, Edie Fake and Robert Beatty will be here. I think the Portland community will be excited to meet them, hang out and collaborate. And again, I'm super excited about the flow of our program. The way each day moves from creative projects to shows and parties at night is a lot of fun. And this year we're doing something different on Sunday: We're hosting a free book fair at The Cleaners which is sponsored by the Ace Hotel. It'll be an opportunity for people to debut creations made over the weekend and also put a book to some of the faces they've seen.

The Projects is also running a Kickstarter to help cover some of the costs of the festival, which is free to the public. The Kickstarter ends on Tuesday, and as of this writing it's about $5,000 shy of its goal, so if you want to support an ambitious local festival or pick up some prints, books, or obscure Croatian art comics, now would be a great time to check out their rewards and throw in a few bucks.