"I hear that in Portland, the streets are paved with mint-edition comics," Fresh Ink's Blair Butler joked on Twitter last week. "In downtown Portland, caramel apples are tossed from every rooftop with mini action figures in the cores," local comics creator Mike Allred responded. And... it's kinda true. April in Portland is celebrated as "comics month," linchpinned by the Stumptown Comics Fest and featuring tons of ancillary events around the city. With the fest just around the corner, there's a slew of comics-related art shows opening on First Thursday—one of them, it just so happens, is a show and book release party devoted to the work of Allred himself.
Floating World hosts the show, dubbed I, Madman, a winking reference to two of Allred's projects. First and most notably, Allred is the creator of Madman, AKA Frank Einstein, a superhero who gained his powers after dying and being resuscitated by two scientists, who named him after Frank Sinatra and Albert Einstein (the nomenclative resemblance to a certain death-defying monster is, of course, pure coincidence). Allred has been writing Madman comics since 1992, and the series ranges from dazzlingly inventive to pure fun—there are alien space battles, mad scientists, cheesecake romance, and no shortage of existential soul searching. Thursday marks the release of two new Madman books, but Allred's also currently handling the art for I, Zombie, a stylish series about a cute zombie chick who works as a gravedigger in order to ensure a constant supply of fresh brains. It's a less daunting entry point to his art than Madman—I, Zombie's only been around for about a year, and the first trade paperback came out just a few weeks ago, offering a fun, clever twist on the now-ubiquitous zombie genre.
And sure, Allred's show promises a karaoke party, but there's plenty of other First Thursday comics fun to be had. Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg and Terry Blas will be showing work at the IPRC (917 SE Oak, #218); the Sequential Art Gallery (328 NW Broadway, #113) features work from Lukas Ketner, from the forthcoming miniseries Witch Doctor; and Pony Club (625 NW Everett, #105) has a stellar roster including Jesse Reklaw, Farel Dalrymple, BT Livermore, and more. Finally, People's Art of Portland (Pioneer Place Mall, 700 SW 5th, 3rd Floor) is opening The Comics Show on Friday, devoted entirely to artists who will be at Stumptown. Streets paved with comics, indeed.