IF YOU'VE NEVER PICKED UP A ZINE, you're missing out on a crucial chunk of Portland's creative culture. It's safe to say that our fair city is the zine capital of the entire United States of America—thanks in no small part to the Portland Zine Symposium, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a mind boggling 230 vendors. Multnomah County Librarian Emily Jane Dawson hits up the symposium annually in search of new, exciting work to build the library's roughly 1,000-title collection of DIY comics and writing. Dawson helped me (a volunteer zine librarian who can be found Sunday at the Independent Publishing Resource Center table, FYI) put together this list of don't-miss-'em artists.
Action Bookbinding—Skylaar Amann
Amann is a professional bookbinder, but what really caught librarian Dawson's eye last year was the vividness of the zinester's full-color comics. "The colors are so bright," says Dawson. "She does them with a color photocopier, but because she's a bookbinder, the zines are really well put together."
Destination DIY—Julie Sabatier
From backyard farming to gender expression to homebirth, Sabatier has been compiling audio stories about Portland's self-made culture since 2006. This year she hit the big time, scoring a space for the show on OPB (it helps that Sabatier's day job is as a producer for Think Out Loud). No doubt she'll have exciting new work to share.
Crappy Comics—Tim S. Root
You already know Tim Root's work: He's the cracked-up genius behind Stumptown Coffee's hand-drawn advertisements. The people in his comics are just as wrinkly and wonderful and odd as they explore Root's world of metal shows and backed up toilets. He also has a line of comics made just for the children!
Global Hobo—Jesse Reklaw, et al
This table is setting up hobo camp for a bunch of Portland's best "hand-made, hard-to-find" comics. Artists include Jesse "Fear Me! I draw your dreams!" Reklaw of Slow Wave fame and Thingpart artist Joey Sayers.
Stop by Oleksyk's table and give her a big high five (plus maybe a couple bucks) for finishing her epic graphic novel, Ivy, a cleanly-drawn, five-episode series detailing the life of its namesake disgruntled teen.
King-Cat Comics—John Porcellino
King-Cat is a long-running comic that comic artists love, which should tell you something. The photocopied format and crisp, simple drawings are the stuff good old-fashioned DIY comics are made of.
Invincible Summer—Nicole Georges
Adorable badass Georges has just finished a brand-new issue of Invincible Summer, the Portland diary comic to end all Portland diary comics that combines Georges' skillful drawings with short tales about her dogs, dreams, and favorite vegan food.
Four editors pull together writing and art from locals to build a fatty zine around a different central theme each month. "It's super ambitious, I can't believe how much work they've put out," says Dawson.
Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go—Kim Riot
This LA-based group of about three women does outreach with zines and art around their city. "A couple of years ago we bought some about DIY veterinary skills and another about buying a house. They're always interesting," says Dawson.