Friday, October 21, 2016

Trip to Oregon, October 14-15

For some bizarre reason, Oregon, specifically the Portland area, spawns a lot of cartoonists and animators, and it's for that reason that I re-visited the Beaver State to attend three cartoon-related events.

The first one was a wonderful exhibition at the Oregon Historical Society, called Comic City USA, where they had wonderful displays and descriptions of cartoon luminaries as Homer Davenport (19th century political cartoonist superstar), Carl Barks (creator of Donald Duck comic books), Basil Wolverton (MAD cartoonist and R.Crumb influence), Joe Sacco, John Callahan (paraplegic cartoonist), Matt Groening, Mike Richardson (Dark Horse Comics) and myself.

                                              Basil Wolverton's desk on display

It's a beautiful exhibition and you can even create your own cartoon in the space. The "Comic City, USA" exhibit runs until January 31, 2017 at the OHS, 1200 SW Park Ave, in Portland, so please go check it out!  For more information, please visit:
The second event was Anne Richardson's "Underground USA" symposium at the White Stag Auditorium, an exploration of the early years of Portland's alternative comics culture.  Some of the artists involved were David Chelsea ("David Chelsea in Love"), Matt Groening, and of course, myself.  Since at the time covered I was spending more time in New York City than in Oregon, it was a real education for me to find out the roots of cartoon culture in Portland.

The early publications "Willamette Bridge", "The Scribe" and "Willamette Week" were my first outlets for getting my political cartoons published.  At the symposium, I told the story about a big-time editor at the Oregonian, asking me to illustrate his article about how great nuclear energy was (and this was right after the incident at Three Mile Island) and when I politely declined to do the illustration, he freaked out and had me blacklisted for years from that powerful newspaper.

                                Maurice Isserman shows examples of the Willamette Bridge

                                   David Chelsea recounts his career on the Portland Scribe

                                                    Matt Groening and Walt Curtis

                                                  Portland's legendary Voodoo Doughnuts

                         From left to right: Monte Wolverton, Patrick Rosenkranz, David Chelsea,
                               Maurice Isserman, Bill Plympton, Matt Groening, Richard Gehr,
                                     Norman Solomon with Walt Curtis kneeling in front.

And the third event was a Bill Plympton extravaganza at McMennamin's Mission Theater.  I did my usual showcase talk about indie animation to a large crowd.  But the cool thing was, they put me up in the McMennamin's Crystal Hotel, a refurbished pioneer-style hotel.  In the basement they created a huge communal co-ed hot tub/jacuzzi/spa-like pool that seemed to be very popular with the guests. 

I want to thank all the people who helped put these events together, especially Anne Richardson, Dennis Nyback and Tim Hills, and I hope we can do it again sometime.

--Bill Plympton

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