Comic City, USA

Character from Bandette by Colleen Coover. Courtesy of Colleen Coover

August 12 – January 31, 2017

  • Free for Members
  • Family-friendly
  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Location:
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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With recent blockbuster smashes featuring superhero legends, the comic book industry has experienced a surge of popular support. While there are many Oregonians picking up a comic book for their first time, the comic industry in Oregon has a long and influential history. Comic City, USA celebrates this history and profiles fifteen of the most iconic artists that have made the industry into the global powerhouse it is today.

Oregon is known globally for its impact on the comics industry, with many artists, writers, and designers living, working, and discovering their inspiration here. Portland and its comic publication industry remain at the forefront of innovation as a central location to several publishers including Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, and Shadowline, the Image Comics partnering studio. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Oregon had notable comic artists in residence such as Homer Davenport, Carl Barks, and Basil Wolverton, establishing a rich foundation for future cartoon artists. With the founding of Dark Horse in the early 1980s, a new model of comic creativity began to attract additional artists and publishers to Oregon, quickly making it one of the largest centers of comic publication in the United States.

With over $579 million in national comic sales in 2015, the popularity of what is known as “The Ninth Art” is only expanding and gaining more recognition. The power of the comic industry in Oregon is undeniable, evidenced in the range of mediums at play and the growing popularity of Rose City Comic Con, which celebrates its fifth anniversary next month.

Comic City, USA highlights fifteen Oregon comic artists, writers, and cartoonists:

In addition to displays on each artist, the exhibition will offer interactive experiences, from a comic book store style living room for flipping through comics, a station where people can design and print their own comic book, and a photo booth complete with superhero inspired props.

This exhibition is designed to share an important part of Oregon history, inspire people who wish to communicate through an artistic medium, and fascinate those who already have an appreciation of this continuously evolving art form. As editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman admitted in an interview, “I really feel like I am doing the work of my career, and I enjoy each day. I started winning awards when I stopped thinking about winning awards. I started liking my work when I listened to my own voice, and not feeling so constrained by the old model. When you like your work, others will probably like it too.”

News Coverage

On the Go with Joe at Comic City, USA

FOX 12 Oregon, August 18, 2016

Joe V. was in downtown Portland at the Oregon Historical Society, checking out Comic City, USA. To celebrate Oregon’s thriving comic industry, the historical society will be displaying several popular comic book artists and cartoonists. Guests can flip through comics and enjoy other interactive experiences at the museum.

Oregon’s Been a Comics Capital for Longer Than You Think (Like, Waaaay Longer)

Portland Monthly, August 11, 2016

It’s no secret that Oregon is a hotbed of cartoon-and-comic talent. The Beaver State calls itself home to the likes of juggernauts Dark Horse and Milkfed, Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions, not to mention individuals such as David Walker, the man behind Marvel’s Power Man and Iron Fist series, and Erika Moen of Oh Joy Sex Toy fame. But Oregon’s graphic history stretches far beyond the late 1980s revolution that brought powerhouse Dark Horse to the forefront of indie comics publishing. In fact, our history of comics and cartoon artists stretches back well over a century, with Oregon artists creating everything from political cartoons to now-famous comic adaptations of movies such as Star Wars and Alien.

Comic City, USA

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