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Loose teeth. The phrase brings to mind childhood angst, or those creepy dreams in which you start losing your molars one after another.

Loose teeth. The phrase brings to mind childhood angst, or those creepy dreams in which you start losing your molars one after another.

A much nicer connotation can be found in Loose Teeth Press, an independent book publisher hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia. This Thursday, Loose Teeth founder Mike Lecky and a handful of his cohorts will be presenting samples of their writings in Portland. To sweeten the deal even further, Ninkasi Brewing will be offering up free, tasty libations.

Loose Teeth got its start in 2005 when longtime friends Lecky and Joey Comeau joined forces to publish Comeau’s debut novel, Lockpick Pornography. Lecky, who had been editing for a student newspaper, handled all of the design elements for the book, including typesetting and cover layout. 

Ever since, Loose Teeth has been turning out high-caliber work from a variety of writers and comic book artists. If there is a common thread to be found in the Loose Teeth canon, it’s probably an endearingly skewed sense of humor. For example, Zache VandeZande’s comic strip, Animals Have Problems Too, features a Galápagos finch with a superiority complex and a raven that can’t remember its e-mail password.

VandeZande, Lecky and Comeau’s presence in Portland is part of their annual Loose Teeth Press Tour. According to Lecky, this is the first time the tour has blazed a westward trail.

“For three summers in a row we’ve done an East Coast tour, so we decided it was time to do the West Coast instead,” Lecky said.

Their travels will take them from Victoria, British Columbia, to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. After a quick jaunt over to Toronto, they’ll make their way across the pond to check out London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Paris. Lecky said this is their most extensive tour to date.

The concept of travel is amusingly explored in Lecky’s own zine, Bruce Springstzine, from which he will be reading on Thursday. The zine documents Lecky and Comeau’s experiences at last October’s CanZine Fest, a Canadian zine festival held in Toronto. Due to work obligations, the pair had exactly 36 hours to spend in Toronto before catching a plane back to Vancouver. As a journalistic experiment, they decided to stay up the entire time and chronicle every moment.

“We loaded up on booze, pills and notebooks, and wandered around for 36 hours,” Lecky said. Afterward, Lecky pieced together a narrative from his entries, and Bruce Springstzine was born.

“One of the reviewers described it as a sort of ‘Fear and Loathing at the CanZine Fest,'” Lecky said. It certainly evokes Hunter S. Thompson’s brand of joyously demented gonzo journalism.

In addition to excerpts from Bruce Springstzine, Thursday’s event will also feature readings by VandeZande and Comeau. VandeZande will be reading from his novel, Apathy and Paying Rent, which is composed of chapters that relate to tracks on a mix tape. By visiting the book’s Web site you can read a selection of chapters and even listen to the corresponding music, which features songs by Jawbreaker, Les Savy Fav and many others.
After VandeZande presents, Comeau will take the stage to read from a selection of his works, including his latest book, Overqualified. The novel tells its story through a series of hilariously audacious cover letters that include everything we might want to say to a prospective employer, but would never have the gall.

All told, this will be a vivifying evening of prose from some of the best the indie press has to offer. Grab a beer, open your ears and leave the dental floss at home.