A guest post from my husband on Portland’s comic book scene. He shares his favorite reads and his favorite stores.
Sine I know little and he knows lots, today I will be letting my husband share his experience with comic books, where he likes to shop and what he likes to read. Here’s Jacob:
I read comics as a kid, and eventually quit when my allowance wouldn’t support my appetite. For a long time, I viewed them as childish, and a waste of time/money. But in college, I picked up “Notes from Sarajevo” by Joe Sacco, a book that blurs the lines between comic and journalism. It fascinated me that I could learn something from a child’s toy. After exhausting his works, I began looking at comics in a new way. At their core, comics are a diversion, and at their best, they are extremely entertaining. But we are currently in a new era, where the comic book can be both entertaining and intelligent, much like the world of cinema. As the great Roger Ebert once said, “Art is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.” And when done well, comic books can be that type of capital “A” art.
When I go to a store, I like to get recommendations from the “experts” about what’s new and what I may enjoy. In no particular order, here is a list of the local places that have helped me the most:
1715 Broadway St, Vancouver, WA 98663
I have to say, this store wins the award for friendliest clientelle. The manager is engaging, and I credit him with bringing me into the world of Preacher, an amazingly grotesque battle/adventure that examines the deep philosophical questions of what it means to be a hero, how our relationship to a higher power influences our choices, and what kind of meat makes the best sex doll.
5335 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97213
This is the store that first brought me back and it was here that I first got into The Walking Dead, which has entered the mainstream due to a TV show with a well deserved popularity. The comic is a different animal from the show, being much closer to Robert Kirkman’s individual vision of a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse. Unlike some adaptations, where reading the source material can spoil the discovery of the show, I’ve found the two work in concert with each other, describing alternate universes with similar principle characters and events, but much different subtext. Also, it showcases a great advantage that comics have over television. It is much easier to kill a character in a comic, than it is to remove an actor from a TV show…
2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
Excalibur wins the award for sheer volume. Well organized and friendly, I found a huge number of Groo The Wanderer here, a notoriously difficult comic to complete. Groo is a story of a witless barbarian who tries to help, but can’t help destroying the world around him. Excellently drawn by Sergio Aragones, of Mad Magazine fame, and written by Mark Evanier, this is far and away my favorite comic.
1847 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214
This is a stuffy little store in the basement of a building on Burnside. It has very good selection of books, and is the type of place you’ll find that one last piece for your collection. This is where I finally found a missing piece for my Astro-City collection. I have had the pleasure of meeting the writer of the series, Kurt Busiek, several times, and I love to hear the way he talks about comics. He has become an expert at using the background characters to tell extremely affecting stories of how ordinary citizens cope with the increasingly absurd world in which they live.
3725 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
This is a smaller store in the trendy Mississippi area. Although they don’t have a large back issue selection, their graphic novels are well organized, and I have found some interesting reads here. I picked up the trade paperbacks for Saga here, a Romeo & Juliet type story that has enough new wrinkles to make it fresh.
Things From Another World tfaw.com
Floating World Comics floatingworldcomics.com