I left Oregon in 2011 to go to school down in Southern California. In that time, somehow Portland became a hotspot for comic books. The moment I found myself living where I thought all of the hustle and bustle would be, conventions began to pop up in my home state. I felt both enthralled and disappointed. Enthralled because all of the things I love finally gained ground where I grew up, disappointed because I wasn’t there to experience it. After college I moved back to Oregon and a little earlier this month I finally got to attend the gem of Portland’s comic convention scene: Rose City Comic Con.
I’m slowly earning my way into convention veteran status and with two years of San Diego Comic Con under my belt, I’ve been feeling pretty good about navigating my way around smaller conventions. Really, I enjoy smaller ones more and more, and I think Rose City Comic Con has skyrocketed to number one on my list.
I couldn’t have asked for a better venue than the Oregon Convention Center. It was easy to find an affordable hotel within walking distance in downtown Portland. The center itself was well organized and spacious even when crowded. The crew did an amazing job funneling people into the various lines they needed to get into and I never once felt frustrated out in the hallways trying to get where I needed to go. The best part was the fact that there are numerous entrance points into the dealer’s room so it was easy to get to artist’s alley, the vendor area, or autograph/photo op area, without having to actually walk through the throngs of people booth hopping.
There were also a lot of food options both in and out of the convention. Not surprisingly, food inside the convention was expensive but there’s a lot of great food choices in Portland that there’s no reason to spend the money except for convenience. My sister, who accompanied me, and I went to an awesome restaurant called La Cocina and if you’re ever in Portland looking for authentic Mexican food, look no further.
I was impressed with the panel line-up. I didn’t end up going to a lot of them, but there were a good mix of interests. I attended part of a Godzilla panel where they counted down the ten best moments in Kaiju history, compliments of the people over at Kaijucast. I also went to the Wil Wheaton panel which was great. Other than that, I was pretty busy out on the floor so I didn’t really get a chance to see the other panels. Again, I was pleased with the selection though and could have easily spent the day panel hopping if I’d had the time.
The majority of my time was spent in Artist’s Alley, getting to know some of the local and non-local artists alike. I actually had the chance to sit down and talk with Justin Zimmerman, who is a good friend of the blog, and he kept handing me way too much free stuff. There will be an interview with him coming later. I also had the chance to interview Brett Weldele about his work on Darkhorse’s Pariah. Finally, I got to meet a fannibal artist, Ryan Incandenza, who is a Portland local and all around awesome dude. Interviews with them will eventually be up on the site, but talking with them and more was a great experience.
Between panels, snooping around Artist’s Alley, and checking out the vendor booths, I was never bored. Saturday was insanely busy and I definitely didn’t mind getting out of there a little earlier than usual considering how packed the vendor room got. Sunday, though, was the convention’s day to really shine. There were fewer people, but it allowed for more foot traffic and I enjoyed watching people actually stop and talk with the writers, artists, and other talent. Sunday had more of a comic book feel to it, which gave it a more laid back atmosphere because the focus was on comics and not the buzz surrounding the celebrity guests.
All in all, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back next year. It is one of the best conventions I’ve attended to date and even though it is smaller than beasts like San Diego, it was a solid convention. I’m excited to hopefully get the chance to experience its sister convention, Emerald City Comic Con, in Seattle in the spring. If you’re a nerd of any sort in the Portland area I’d definitely recommend checking out Rose City Comic Con next year, but be warned: this year even if you bought an online ticket you had to turn it in for your pass and the line for that on Saturday was huge. It was bigger than people paying cash/credit on site.