This Saturday, October 15th, I will be taking part in UNDERGROUND USA, a one-day symposium examining Portland’s radical past through the history of its underground newspapers, The Willamette Bridge and The Portland Scribe. Or, to quote the copy from the event’s official website:
UNDERGROUND USA is a one day public history/arts education event focusing on one chapter of Oregon print cartooning history.
Two underground papers, the Willamette Bridge (1968-1971) and the Portland Scribe (1972-1978), provided first jobs for a generation of artists and writers who went on to have national careers. Oregon Cartoon Institute invited five of them – artists Bill Plympton and David Chelsea, and writers Norman Solomon, Richard Gehr and Maurice Isserman – to return to Portland to taIk about these early experiences.
Among the questions they will address: What makes Portland so comics and cartooning friendly?
Two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton drew covers for the Scribe. Political journalist Norman Solomon wrote for it. Historian Maurice Isserman edited it. Graphic novelist David Chelsea illustrated it. Village Voice columnist Richard Gehr sold it on the street.
Patrick Rosenkranz, the author of Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, is our keynote speaker. He too worked for the Scribe.
What was the underground press?
Who read it?
Who wrote it?
What role did underground comics play in creating the sensibility of the underground press?
Was Portland’s current affinity for comics/cartooning already in evidence during this forgotten period of regional media making?
Through talks, presentations, onstage conversations and one gigantic culminating panel discussion, UNDERGROUND USA participants will explore these and other questions.
UNDERGROUND USA is open to the general public. It is presented by Oregon Cartoon Institute in partnership with UO Comics & Cartooning Studies and PSU Comic Studies, and with support from Oregon Historical Society.
David Chelsea is reading: War in the Neighborhood
by Seth Tobocman
Continue reading This Saturday: UNDERGROUND USA