Portland Zine Symposium. Clocked.

9 Sep

After the longest break of my five year career, I have returned to New Zealand refreshed, inspired, and profoundly depressed. Depressed mostly because travel is an experience that reminds you that even your proudest moments pale in significance to the achievements of others around the globe.

I spent three of my four weeks abroad in Portland, the largest city in the State of Oregon. The city itself is about the size of Wellington, New Zealand, and like Wellington, the neighbourhoods that surround the city centre are as vibrant and interesting as the city itself.

Highlights included sipping on $2 tallboys of Pabst Blue Ribbon, seeing San Francisco’s Little Wings perform to about 30 of us at a house party in North Portland, hearing Dunedin band The Clean on the sound system at a fancy restaurant, and seeing an actual real-life racoon.

On my first weekend in town I visited the Portland Zine Symposium, where I met a whole bunch of really nice people who reminded me almost exactly of the zine types back home. Portland being the comic mecca of America, there were a lot of graphic novelists in attendance, but many of the zinemakers too had travelled from California and further afield to be at the event.

In the interest of transparency, I’ll admit that I am not the world’s biggest zine fan. My very talented and hardworking pal Tess has been running Auckland Zinefest for the past few years, and she loaded me up with leftover bits and pieces to trade with folks at the Symposium. I ended up trading most of her zines, plus buying a bunch I thought I might be interested in with my own, real money.

I even bought a zine about feminism. I’m not sure why I did that. I suspect collecting political zines is like eating vegetarian food – it becomes instantly intertwined with your sense of personal identity until the smug, important feelings are all-consuming, and you are transported to a place where you are definitely a better person for having a feminist zine tucked under one arm. Then you wake up the next day to find the feminist zine on the floor and think – God, what was I thinking to even spend $2 on that illiterate snot-rag?

Anyway, the event itself was actually a whole bunch of fun and almost everyone I met was very sweet and willing to listen to my excited ramblings about New Zealand, as well as entertain my stupid questions about America.

I wasn’t exactly sure of the address, but as soon as I saw a few dozen vintage road bikes chained to a fence, I knew I had to be warm.

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