Portland spring emerges from her dainty (organic, grass-fed) clamshell and unpacks her greens, her rains, some guys that want to yell at you, and a hot mess of new releases from small press comics publishers. So it’s appropriate that the small press comics festival Linework NW also happens in spring at the beautiful Norse Hall. This year, the Linework NW organizers are trying something new—two days of comics, with different vendors each day, which means so much more to see, and an inevitable sea of display tables. Linework NW launches with an opening party at Hellion Gallery, 19 NW 5th, #208, Friday, April 17, from 6-9 pm. The festival continues through Sunday at Norse Hall, 111 NE 11th.

We've broken our list of picks down by day for easy scheduling. Here’s where to dive in.


Snakebomb Comix: Jack Hayden runs a risograph print studio and distributes and publishes comics with a DIY “bedroom HQ” aesthetic. He publishes a lot of punk-themed comics, with some sci-fi and drug-themed comics mixed in too. The spring catalogue for Snakebomb Comix promises a mini-comic treatment of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 film Strange Daze reconstructed from memory by cartoonist Josh Burggraf. Hayden’ll also be delivering a third installment of Andrew Scully’s one-man horror anthology (mutant humanoid rats are involved). Finally, Snakebomb’s also releasing an art zine featuring eight years of regressive crude dude drawings from San Francisco skateboarder Pat Hayden. “Your parents,” Jack promises, “will be extremely disappointed when they find this zine under your mattress.”

Teenage Dinosaur Press: Tim Goodyear is a friendly dude and keeper of the denim tuxedo fashion faith. He always talks to me at comics festivals and trades me his toner-lush Video Tonfa zines about cult films. Goodyear’s small press, Teenage Dinosaur, might be the most obscure micropublisher on this list, but from Matt Furie’s Boys Club to Julia Gfrörer’s Ariadne auf Naxos, nearly every artist Goodyear’s taken a chance on has gone on to blossom into indie comic gold. Teenage Dinosaur was the first press to publish a comics collection by Dash Shaw, Goddess Head, which contains some of my favorite comics short stories of all time and is still available from Goodyear. Teenage Dinosaur’s also set to print Too Small Comics by indie comics legend Bobby Madness, and Tad Martin’s grizzled-looking Sick Sick Six.


Tugboat Press: In the world of zines and self-published comics, every new book bought at a convention can feel like a gamble, so it’s a real pleasure to check in on Tugboat Press and know their books and collections will always be good. You may remember Tugboat for the wonderfully curated emerging comics artist anthology series Papercutter; Papercutter’s run is over, but Tugboat publishes a free anthology called Runner Runner every spring (Tugboat founder Greg Means is a longtime lover of Free Comic Book Day, coming up May 2). This year’s Runner Runner features Sam Sharpe, Evan Palmer, Joey Sayers, and Andrice Arp.

Sparkplug Comics: Full disclosure: Sparkplug is publishing one of my comics. But when I was a fledgling comics-maker baby, Sparkplug founder Dylan Williams worked one-on-one with me as a mentor, bringing me into the world of Portland comics. Williams founded and ran Sparkplug from 2002 until 2011, when he tragically passed away from complications related to cancer. Williams’ protégé, Virginia Paine, carries on the Sparkplug vision and the press’ extensive distro. In true Sparkplug style, Paine’s list for 2015 contains artists majorly unknown to me: Naji aka Nallieli Sierra, O Horvath, and Ebin Lee.


Study Group Comic Books: Study Group is a webcomics site and micropublisher that operates on the idea that people who read comics online will also want to buy them in high-quality printed editions. The gamble seems to have paid off: This spring, Study Group will release two books by the site’s co-editor Zack Soto, the mysteriously titled Maps of the Unknown World and the Kickstarter-funded Secret Voice #2. Study Group will also print Francois Vigneault’s Titan #2, a science fiction comic funded by the same Kickstarter campaign, about a middle-management space boss falling in love with a moon giant. Rounding out Study Group’s spring collection is the second part of Farel Dalrymple’s series It Will All Hurt, a companion story to The Wrenchies, which Dalrymple released this year to heavy acclaim (from everyone ever, including us).

Floating World Comics: Floating World Comics is my favorite comic book store anywhere. It’s also the only publisher on this list with a physical storefront (at 400 NW Couch). To my mind, Floating World is most famous for publishing an exhibition book of the Bartkira project, when a collective of international artists pooled their efforts to recreate the ’90s Japanese comic book Akira with Simpsons characters. (Was it legal? Nobody’s really sure! Profits went to charity.) I’ve listened to Floating World’s owner Jason Leivian discuss mainstream comics extensively and enthusiastically with his customers, but his own publishing tends to skew more experimental (as does his work on the annual Projects festival of comics and art, which he co-organizes). So it’s not surprising that Kevin Hooyman (First Sign of Anything, Freakers) is on Floating World’s list for spring, plus Tim Goodyear’s collected Video Tonfa zines, and a new comic from Florida noise musician Carlos Gonzalez (Slime Freak) called Test Tube.

Gridlords: Gridlords is a name to grind. It’s the name of a monthly comics/audiovisual performance showcase generally held at the Hollywood Theatre, and the name the show’s organizers use for themselves and their collective. Sometimes, Gridlord Sean Christensen gets carried away and shouts at the audience, “We are all Gridlords!” The Gridlords organizers may not seem like natural publishers, but they’ve already released three anthologies: the romance-themed I’m Not afraid To Love, their extra-dimensional/alternate reality collection Other Worlds, and their newest, Chase Scene, forthcoming this spring. At a furious 170 pages-plus, Chase Scene features a variety of unique artists, including Asher Craw, Yumi Sakugawa, and Kevin Hooyman, as they think and outthink the cliché of the chase scene.