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Oregon’s Print Cartooning History Featured in Oct. 15 Symposium

October 6, 2016

By Anne Richardson

On October 15, 2016, Oregon Cartoon Institute will present UNDERGROUND USA, a one day public history/arts education event which focuses on one chapter of Oregon print cartooning history.


Journalist Norman Solomon wrote for the Portland Scribe, two-time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton drew covers for it, graphic novelist David Chelsea illustrated it and Village Voice columnist Richard Gehr sold it on the streets.

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. Five of them – artists Bill Plympton and David Chelsea, and writers Norman Solomon, Richard Gehr, and Maurice Isserman – are coming to Portland to talk about these early experiences.

Among the questions they will address:

  • What makes Portland so comics and cartooning friendly?
  • 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 a culminating panel discussion, UNDERGROUND USA participants will explore these and other questions.

Patrick Rosenkranz, author of Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, will give the keynote address. He will speak about two powerfully influential pop culture practitioners from Oregon, Carl Barks (1901-2000) and Basil Wolverton (1909-1978), and the impact they had on the cartoonists of the underground press.

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.

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