Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I have never been to Portland. In fact, I have never set foot in the great state of Oregon.
I've never been to Voodoo Doughnut. I didn't grow up watching "Bumpity." I haven't witnessed the eclectic frights of Baron Von Goolo's Museum of Horrors. And, tragically, I haven't made it up to the Stumptown Comics Fest.
None of this has hindered my love for CulturePulp.
Mike Russell is a comics journalist (as in a journalist who works in the medium of comics, not a journalist who writes about the comics industry) whose work frequently appears in The Oregonian, Portland's daily newspaper. In most CulturePulp strips, Russell's alter ego takes us on a tour of Portland's local color, covering events, hanging with Portland personalities, and exposing cultural phenomena from Browncoats to Piratecore. It's fascinating to visit another city through the medium of comics, but what makes CulturePulp truly special is the sense of fun that permeates every strip. It would be easy for Russell to poke fun at the oddballs who populate Portland (certain UFOlogists come to mind), but he's more interested in letting these people tell their own stories and explain why they're so captivated by View-Masters or dressing like faeries. It helps that he's got one of those cartoony styles that lends itself to wry exaggeration without grotesqueness.
Even if you're not so hot on learning the ins and outs of Portland culture, it's worth checking out some of CulturePulp's less local strips. Russell occasional provides comic primers on wider cultural phenomena such as Hellboy and Aeon Flux -- not to mention writing one of my favorite send-ups of disaster movies.