|Portland! (Trip Part 2)
||[Apr. 30th, 2010|08:30 pm]
Okay, so we made our flight to Portland, although there was very little time to find a decent breakfast at the airport. We had heard so much about the awful traffic in Chicago, and it figures that we’d hit it for the first time, leaving, trying to catch a plane. Cue the scene from Home Alone, where the entire family is running through O’Hare…
--Wednesday. Upon landing in Portland I was instantly comforted by the site of pine-covered hills. The west coast feels so different from the giant eastern cities I spend so much time in these days, and it’s always welcoming. The rain and clouds, not so much; the trees and greenery, always.
--Dave and I checked into the Marriott Residence Inn for a few nights, mostly ‘cause they had a pool. Somehow they had upgraded us to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite, which felt really luxurious! We rang in our first night in PDX by doing laundry, and then going to dinner with my sister Amara, who is now a Portland resident three years running. I had a veggie burger. It was pretty all right.
--So we didn’t know this, but the Residence Inn has a bunch of crazy perks, one of them being, FREE BREAKFAST BUFFET EVERY DAY. We were expecting the usual ‘continental breakfast’ of coffee and croissants…we weren’t prepared for fruit, donuts, make-your-own-waffles, biscuits, gravy, cereal bar, soy-friendly products, hot items like eggs and sausage, and even a full JAPANESE BREAKFAST, featuring rice, miso soup, and eggy furikake. Dave and I puzzled over the fact that Portland is kind of the ultimate breakfast town…and yet, we didn’t want to turn down the amazing free food. Let’s just say a lot of eating got done in those few days.
--Back to Thursday. We were picked up by Sara Ryan, who it turns out is every Sara Ryan I have ever heard mention of, all rolled into one! Sara escorted us to the super-posh Kenton Branch of the Multnomah County Library, which just opened a few months ago. I was there to visit with fourth graders and talk about comics and Smile. The kids were simply fantastic, all with prepared questions and notes and artistic talent. I had a grand time with them!
--Next, we were invited to come hang out at Periscope Studio, and eat lunch from the food carts! I got a taco. The studio is lovely and light-filled and stuffed to the brim with amazing artists, and I can only imagine how much productivity such an environment would foster! (When they’re not busy trying on robot helmets, of course.)
--Finally, we hit up Powell's, because that's what you DO when you're in PDX! We found Smile in the young adult graphic novel section, downstairs in the Rose Room.
--That night we made a point to RELAX for a little while. We had dinner a few paces from our hotel, at the Newport Seafood Grill floating on the Willamette River. The riverfront was bustling with dragonboat racers, and a really nice place for a stroll on a warm evening.
--Friday, after another free breakfast, we headed off to brunch with our friends Hope Larson, Lucy Knisley, John Horstman, Erika Moen, and Matt Nolan. I put in a vote for Tin Shed early on, as the memory of my last TS brunch in Portland was such a good one. The biscuits were overbaked, but otherwise everything was great.
--Thanks to Erika and Matt’s local guidance, we took the bus downtown and visited our friend Erin’s new store, Small Victories, which sells an assortment of lovely, covetable handmade goods. The store is on the second floor of a loft that Erin shares with the Tribute Gallery…which currently has a show dedicated to BEARDS! You should definitely stop by if you’re in the area. It was nice to catch up with Erin, and meet her dog, GoBlazers!, too.
--That evening, after we kicked around at the mall for a little while (where there was a ridiculous Pirate themed store), my sister picked us up for dinner (Pastini!) and then she and I made out way over to the Secret Society for the west coast iteration of Drink and Draw Like A Lady. We had a nice time! Although I was pretty tired out at that point. I think the highlight was talking to Vera about some good stuff. It’s all kind of a blur! Oh, but I did eat a tiny cupcake.
--Saturday. We are now in the final stretch! And we were in a new hotel again, too, this time the Doubletree where the Stumptown Comics Fest was held. We got a nice spot on the floor right across from Jenn, Kip, and Barry (and Taran!), and after a slightly slow morning, things REALLY picked up! I did a panel about Comics For Young Readers, moderated by the lovely aforementioned Sara Ryan, and featuring myself, Hope, Alexis Fajardo, and surprise guest Matt Holm! Wow! We had a pretty stellar turnout, a lot of kids, and people asked us GREAT questions. I could have stayed up there talking comics for another hour, I think!
--A big highlight of the weekend, for me, was meeting Valerie, a 5th-grader who had come on a roadtrip with her parents all the way from Idaho, just to meet me. I’m telling you, 10-year-olds these days…Valerie was smart, articulate, gracious, and oh-so-polite. Her appearance coincided with my busiest couple of hours during the entire weekend, and I wish it hadn’t been so because I would have loved to talk to her more. Still, I was so happy to meet her!
--The rest of Saturday and Sunday at the con were a whirlwind of comics, new friends, old friends, books, and drawing in books! I got a lot of really neat comics over the weekend; special shouts out to Breena of Easel Ain’t Easy, Emi of Emi Town, and Sarah (whom we had actually met the week prior, at C2E2) of The Complete Ouija Interviews fame. I got a bunch of other stuff and met a bunch of other cool people, too!
--Saturday night we kicked it with Toby and Dalton, over milkshakes (or low-fat yogurt shakes, in my case) at Burgerville, before heading over to Cosmic Monkey. There I had the pleasure of quickly chatting with Zack Soto and George Rohac, before leaving pretty early in favor of hitting the sack. After 11 days on the road, I was tiiiired.
--Sunday dinner was back to Pastini, with George, Charlie Chu (whom we had just met, but who had already got in some lovely photographs of us--click his name to see!), and my sister. It was a very Hollywood-centric conversation, which doesn’t typically happen at small press conventions! We have recent LA-transplant Charlie to thank for that. And I have Charlie to thank for the single bite of his molten chocolate cake after our meal, which was amaaaazing. I went into food-coma pretty quickly thereafter! We called it a night pretty early, and went back to the hotel to pack for the trip home.
--The trip home was uneventful, save for our first flight being delayed which led to a little bit of concern over our transfer in Denver. But we made it, our second leg was smooth, and then I came home and literally slept for almost the entire next day!
You can see all the photos from our trip here!
So, that's it for the first leg of the 2010 Smile tour! Things aren't stopping anytime soon: I'm doing an event at Books of Wonder TOMORROW, May 1 (I know, I probably should have mentioned this earlier...), and next weekend we're hitting the road again for TCAF in Toronto, ON, Canada! Then I'm flying to Pittsburgh for a school visit; we'll be heading up to Maine for MECAF; spending a weekend AT HOME FOR ONCE for our birthdays; heading down to Charlotte for Heroes Con, speeding over to Michigan for Kids Reading Comics, and tentatively going up to Halifax a couple weeks later for an event I'm still working on details for!! I'll post better updates about each and every event over on my website as they get closer.
Now, if Scholastic can just get the reprint of Smile here quickly, I will hopefully have some books to sell at these events...
(The first post about our trip, to Chicago for C2E2, can be found here!)