I really love this critique! I am an organizer for the Portland Zine Symposium that first started by volunteering at Stumptown Comics Fest and then PZS 8 years ago... Alison puts it very well, listing reasons I stopped volunteering for SCF and devoted myself to PZS in a way that's always been a struggle for me to articulate.
I feel I watched SCF tailspin from what I thought it was (based on it's marketing when I first heard of it)... A community event focused on indie creators. I also feel that I watched people in "power" in the SCF ranks take advantage of the disorganization of SCF for the sake of their personal and selfish goals. As an organizer of a different convention, I saw the prices of event spaces while searching for new homes for PZS, and I was baffled at the way prices for SCF increased for a table... As well as increases in fees just to get in the door! It didn't add up for a "non profit." With PZS, I saw that they did not do that because PZS was started as a non profit with firm community roots and listens to our community's feedback, there is a real accountability going on... I gave up on SCF and devoted myself to PZS because I saw that it was really working to serve independent press and community. Our fest is FREE to attend, we have a year-long schedule of community-building and fund-raising events, we follow press release guidelines by the merc because we care about people reading about our events, we don't allow publishers to have 4 tables and the symposium, we attend other community events to table and reach out to new fans, etc...
I have a lot of hopes for Shawna Gore taking over as director, however, as I am acquainted with her and she seems very selfless, very driven, and very ethical. So, I am hoping critiques, like what Alison has written here, don't fall on deaf ears. As SCF becomes a non profit and is run by more accountable people, we may see it change. I think this is the chance for SCF to reform and get into actually being a sustainable, creator-driven fest... Not a fest straddling the line between fanboys and indie-lovers trying to desperately sustain itself as it passes hands between power-tripping organizers. I am interested in going to see if a tablet device has a booth or how many booths the Dark Horse company has, but maybe if SCF will start keeping that space open for local creators of awesome comics. And, if it does not manage to weed out some of the profit-driven commercialism this year, maybe it will next year, when the organizational legs are more stable. SCF has a lot to recover from. Maybe it will be a fest I am interested attending in the future, much less in tabling at some time again in the future.
I'd like to present another possible solution to the venue size issue that Alison brings up:
I can see the option of scaling back down to a smaller venue like YU (which is pretty great) being resisted for multiple reasons, one of which could be the appearance of having not been able to "make it" at the bigger venue. Whether that's a fair read to make or not, (I personally don't agree) I can see people making it, and it would make sense to try and avoid that perception if possible.
But maybe instead of scaling down the whole festival, maybe scale up the ambition in deciding which guests to go after. This years lineup is great, but would anticipation for this weekend be just a little bit increased if they could have scored two or three of the following names in addition?
Brian K. Vaughn/Pia Guerra
Brian Michael Bendis
Frank Miller (It'd be a spectacle, definitely)
Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird
Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie
I mean, yeah - that's a wishlist, definitely, but some of those names have been panelists/guests before, and probably would be again, as some of them live near here/have connections to this city. But still, I recognize there are costs incurred beyond me just sitting here and dreaming up names of comics creators that I think could draw crowds. You gotta pay for those people to come out, you gotta pay to put em up, all that stuff. It's not as easy as just dropping an email into their inbox and crossing your fingers. It'd be unfair to suggest otherwise.
But if staying at the Convention Center is the current plan, I don't see how pursuing names like the ones above (and there are plenty more) is out-of-the-question. And honestly, it could be the case that those plans are already being made.
I like the phrase "narrative eddies." Also, without having read the thing, I agree in advance that those character names don't work. It still sounds like an enjoyable read.
I wonder indeed if someone somewhere is going to hate it just because it's only about white people...even though that would make it a fairly realistic portrayal of Portland. I suspect the same person who would level that criticism is also the first person to call bullshit if Monica Drake decided her narrators should be an Eritrean family from Lents. Hehhh...
hahaha-- Janey is a guy, first off. And the Merc has been great at covering all types of literary events in Portland. Cheers to Hallett for pointing out that women STILL don't get an equal voice in literature.
Is it cool to snack there?
Yes: it's totally super feminist to only review female authors that come pre-approved by Kevin Sampsell at Powell's, and to only cover literary events that happen at Powell's. That bookstore also happens to be the place where I regularly purchase books that have been sold by the Mercury to Powell's. You are ridiculous, and should be ashamed.
The patches say "League of Adult Babysitters" - not "bartenders". Cool that she's able to quit bartending and pursue illustration full time! Great work!!
This is like comparing apples and oranges, Rosecity is going into year 2 and Wizard has been around 15-20 years or so. ECCC also started out small and now price wise they are on par with Wizard World.
I agree with JK that there was a lot more wrong with comics in the 90s than just Liefeld, but JK also minimizes Liefeld's influence. Liefeld's artistic style took everything that was idiosyncratic with comics and turned it up to 11. His work is not solely responsible, but it is characteristic of that bad trend.
While I understand your complaints about the pricing and timing of both the announcement and of the con itself, it unfortunately worked in my favor. It's in a convenient location, and there are some names that I haven't seen go to a con (like James Hong). Yes, it's more mainstream, but mainstream also means more well-known names (and with it, higher prices). I love Portland, and helping local cons/businesses/events, but does that mean we have to say "no" to everything that isn't Portland?
Blaming the "debilitating stroke [comics] suffered in the '90s" on Rob Liefeld of all people is outright lazy reporting, blatantly untrue and a cheap, tired jab. (And yes, full disclosure, I've been employed by Rob in a freelance capacity, albeit years after the time period discussed.)
Said "stroke" was in actuality a perfect storm, with Rob of all people playing an especially minor part. Did it help he solicited titles which came out at, at best, an unreliable schedule, if at all? Of course, absolutely not. Yet it's so minor compared to, say, the 'Distributor Wars' with Marvel purchasing HeroesWorld, using them as their sole distributor and the fall out which followed. This alone put a lot of people -- retailers, distributors and publishers alike -- out of business. Then there was Marvel's staggered release schedule of X-Men #1 covers, then there was the even greater issue with DC promising retailers their Return Of Superman would be even a greater deal than his Death, which subsequently flopped. Both of those examples are merely the largest in a series of poor decisions made by virtually every single publisher working at the time -- cash-ins and collector's items, enhanced covers and variants sold with the promise to make speculators a lot of money, instead of the promise of storytelling. Of course, these ended up largely worthless, causing stores to shutter their doors and speculators turn away from an industry -- publisher, retailer, distributor and, yes, sometime creator -- that lied to them.
On that note, you know how many variant and enhanced covers Youngblood #1 had?
Zero, save the second printing after the first sold so extraordinarily well.
It was a time of immense greed, to be sure -- one Neil Gaiman smartly compared during a 1993 retailer summit to the 17th century Dutch Tulip boom/bust. Rob's certainly guilty of taking part, but giving him the blame is just ridiculous.
I get what you were going for. A lot of people go for the ground-level low hanging fruit of taking a stab at Rob. It'd be nice if they went for something new, perhaps even factual.
This is a great breakdown for those who arent part of the normal comics community and already imbeded in the culture to understand why this convention upsets so many locals and really is such a concern. At one level I hope Wizard World succeeds because if it does maybe it will bring some new life to our community by getting them active possibly in other local cons, but on the other end it does take ALOT of money out of local wallets with the blatant hucksterism of the whole thing (as Dawn so conicsely pointed out).
I imagine (or, rather, hope) that most locals don't feel too warmly about the craven hucksterism of these sorts of corporate cons. It costs $30-$40 for a one-day pass just to get in the door. Want a autograph from one of the featured guests? That's another $40. Want your picture taken with Bruce Campbell? Shell out another 90 bucks. It seems like an especially ugly way to fleece fans, and antithetical to the spirit in which Portlanders embrace the industry.
Stares at a rooster? Hmm
Went to Dr Laura for advice....puts weight into what a psychic has to say...??
She worked as a Karate Janitor at the Paragon Club? Interesting...
Nice work, Ring. Now nail down a decent sci-fi license and you'll be set for life.
I've flipped through this book at work. It looks interesting, and I really like her style. Plan to read it soon. Should've gone to the reading.
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