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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stumptown Comics Fest: Remarkably on the Ball!

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 10:44 AM


The Stumptown Comics Fest isn't until April, but I've already received my first press release, which most notably announces a change in venue—the show will be moving from the Doubletree to the Convention Center. Dates are announced as well (April 16 & 17th) as well as just a few of the already-confirmed guests (Carla Speed McNeil [!], Molly Crabapple, Kurt Busiek, Larry Marder, and Barry Deutsch).

The fest has suffered from some serious organizational issues in the past few years—no one ever wants to talk on the record, but I've heard a fair amount of backstage griping. This year, fest founder Indigo Kelleigh returns to the helm as festival director, which suggests that those issues have been acknowledged and are being addressed. Their press outreach bodes well, at least. (To put this in perspective, last year I received a press release in April. For the festival... in April.)

At the risk of alienating even MORE people in the comics community, while I'm glad to see the fest is shaking things up, I'm a little bummed that two of Portland's biggest books festivals are now being held in the Convention Center. As I wrote about Wordstock a few years ago, "there's really only so much fun to be had pacing the interior of the convention center while clutching a tote bag." When I interviewed Wordstock Executive Director Greg Netzer a few years ago, he acknowledged the limitations of the venue and spoke to the importance of organizing satellite events throughout the city—moving the fest outside the convention center—which is something I hope to see more of with Stumptown as well. (They've got a good start with this, as there are generally a number of "Comics Month" activities planned around the fest.) They definitely needed to move out of the Doubletree, though—it was getting pretty packed in there.

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