Slowly but surely, Portland is building a comics empire. Not only is it home to numerous big names in comic publishing like Dark Horse and Oni Press, but it also boasts an impressive stable of both rising and established stars in the industry. Here’s a list of local comic artists and writers that we think you should keep an eye on as they proceed on their respective onomatopoeia-filled paths to fame.
Sam Alden’s Haunter is a special kind of gem. Presented in eye-catching watercolor and without a hint of dialogue, Haunter tells the story of a hunter that awakens something terrifying when she enters a watery, ancient temple. Moments of pristine beauty are paralleled by moments of absolute savagery, all without the guiding hand of language. Alden seems to have come out of nowhere, but since 2013 he has been making a name for himself in the Portland comics scene.
Erika Moen is perhaps best known for her comic Oh Joy, Sex Toy, a weekly educational sex-positive series that explore all things relating to sexuality and the sex industry. Oh Joy, Sex Toy focuses on reviews of sex toys, conventions and birth control, among other things. Moen’s art has been published by Dark Horse, Image Comics and Penny Arcade, among others. Moen got her start with her autobiographical series DAR!, which recounts her journey of self-identity.
Ibrahim Moustafa is one half of the duo responsible for High Crimes, a thriller that weaves the tale of some unsavory individuals tasked with retrieving bodies from Mount Everest. Moustafa worked with writer Christopher Sebela to create High Crimes from scratch, and their dedication shows. High Crimes was nominated for two Eisners in the categories of Best New Series and Best Digital/Web Comic. Moustafa’s art is crisp and clean, bringing to bear the stark whiteness and impenetrable dark of the highly mythologized mountain. High Crimes began as a digital comic, but a 12-issue series will be collected and released in hardcover format by Dark Horse in 2015.
Benjamin Dewey’s Tragedy series might be the best source of advice you’ll find anywhere. A collection of existential, educational comics, the Tragedy series teaches the difference in reception between cat ladies and lady-cats, as well as the technology required to woo a mermaid. A member of Periscope Studio, Dewey is a freelancer who frequently works with the likes of Marvel, Dark Horse and IDW Publishing. Both a writer and illustrator, Benjamin Dewey is a name you should be watching out for.
For many, Steve Lieber will need no introduction. Lieber has been working in comics since 1993, when he started his work on Hawkman. You may also know Lieber for his work on Whiteout and its Eisner award-winning sequel Whiteout: Melt. Lieber is a big name in the comics industry, but he still finds time to attend conventions and will occasionally review convention-going artists’ portfolios at pre-designated booths and times, with emphasis on pre-designated. Do not try to get Steve Lieber to look at your portfolio while he’s buying a convention hotdog.