The Stumptown Comics Fest was started almost on a whim in 2004 by a small group of Portland-area cartoonists lamenting the lack of local convention-style outlets. While there were certainly other comic book shows in town, there weren’t any that gave much attention to the artists themselves. The dream was to design a festival with the creators as its focus, rather than dealers and work-for-hire publishers.
Art Battle ‘04! Using local resources, the first Stumptown Comics Fest was pulled together in just 4 months, thanks to the largely volunteer group at its nexus. It was hosted on a rainy June 6th afternoon by the Old Church, a non-profit organization whose goal is to preserve, well, an old church. The church was the beneficiary of the raffle held at the festival. All 22 exhibitor tables sold out for a full house (most of them being shared by several creators).
Cartoonists came from not only from here in Portland, but from all over the country as well - from as far out as San Francisco, Seattle, and even Detroit, Michigan, and all of the exhibitors in attendance reported it to be an excellent experience. Even with little time to promote the show, the Fest still saw a respectable attendance of 150 comics fans, and garnered favorable press from the local arts weeklies. We were also host to the second ever Comic Art Battle, put together by Portland expatriate Ezra Claytan Daniels.
The second Stumptown Comics Fest, in 2005, moved to a larger venue. The 5800+ square foot Smith Memorial Ballroom on PSU campus (also home to the 3-day Portland Zine Symposium) held over 80 tables, almost four times as many as were at the previous Fest. We also nearly quadrupled the number of exhibitors, and played host to over triple the number of attendees.
Attendance continues to increase substantially with each show. To accommodate, 2006 brought the Fest across the river to bigger and better spaces, first at the Oregon Convention Center, and subsequently settling at the Lloyd Center Doubletree, where it thrived for four years. In 2011 the Fest returns to the Oregon Convention Center for its largest show ever.
In 2012, the corporation formalized a name change to Stumptown Comics, Inc, reflecting the broader scope of our intentions and goals, and our website was restructured to act as a community calendar for ‘all things Comics’ in the Pacific Northwest.
Our goal is, as ever, to take over the world with comics. Help us, won’t you?
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232