I was going to try and write some kind of "Seventeen reasons why Stumptown Comics Fest is the greatest comic con around" post this week, but all of those seventeen reasons all boiled down to one basic one: It's not a convention.
Oh, I mean, it is in a lot of ways. People looking at it from the outside could definitely see that there are guests and there are panels and I'm pretty sure being held in a convention center is a sign of some kind of conventioneering spirit, after all, and sure: Stumptown has all of those convention staples. And yet... I don't know, there's something entirely appropriate about it calling itself a "Comics Fest" instead of a con. There's an attitude at Stumptown that's so much more festival-like, more celebratory and less... business-oriented than other conventions I've been to, even something like APE in San Francisco, that makes it feel like a meeting of people who love comics as opposed to a meeting of people who work in the business of comics and the people who buy their work, if you can understand the difference.
It helps that the guest list is always such a good mix; this year, you can see Brandom Graham - who also designed the poster and t-shirt to accompany the show, both of which are as spectacular as you'd expect - Nate Simpson, Molly Crabapple, Rick Remender, Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover, Julia Wertz, and many more - There's no bias in terms of guests or programming, and also a sizable webcomics and small-press contingent alongside more established names to reinforce that... well, comics is comics is comics, really.
(There's really an embarrassment of riches when it comes to people who you can find there this year: Here is the exhibitor's list, and just look: Vera Brosgol! Erika Moen! Bill Mudron - who, if you haven't seen his work look here and you'll understand! Sarah Glidden! David Chelsea! Carla Speed McNeil, people!)
For those who've never been to the show before but have the ability to be in Portland, Oregon this weekend: You should really make the effort to go. It's small enough that you can see the whole thing in an afternoon, and yet, the kind of show that there's no way you won't be able to leave without having fallen a little bit further in love with all of comics as a result.