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Portland's zine scene promotes local coolness

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Six things you'll find from the 30-plus zines, part of Travel Portland campaign


COURTESY: TRAVEL PORTLAND - Portland's creative culture shines in its independently published zines, which started becoming popular in 2001. The annual Portland Zine Symposium has been held every July for 16 years. Want the low-down on Portland’s pizza scene?

You could go online for the same old reviews. Or you could go retro and pick up a copy of the tiny, adorable, independently produced zine “Portland Pizza Guide,” by Sam Larson. In it, you’ll find hand-sketched graphics for pizza topping choices and a cross-section of the best spots in town, including graphics on crust style and gluten-free and vegan-friendly options.

The simple artwork is entertaining and a fun way to see the difference between the large, foldable New York-style pies at Escape from New York Pizza and the sturdy wood-fired creations at Oven and Shaker, with exotic toppings ranging from apple butter to octopus.

The pizza zine is one of 33 Portland zines to date — on a broad range of topics, from food and music to biking and shopping — that have been published with the help of Travel Portland and Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center, to celebrate the city’s historic and robust creative culture.

The playful titles include: “Donutacalypse” (a doughnut coloring book), “The Sleepwalkers Guide to Portland,” “Portland in Poems,” “Tiny Bars,” “Unsung Food Trucks” and “An Octicorn’s Guide to Portland.”

“These guides gave us the opportunity to dive deep on neighborhoods, topics and themes that are of interest to visitors, but may not be something you could fully dive into in traditional visitor guides or websites,” says Megan Conway, a Travel Portland spokeswoman.

Travel Portland worked with Weiden + Kennedy to promote the zines at pop-up art galleries in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, showcasing original sketches and images from the zines.

People “soaked up the content,” Conway says, affirming the authenticity of Portland’s makers.

Here are six quirky tidbits you’ll find by checking out Portland’s zine scene:

• “Interviews With the 12 Most Interesting People in Portland,” by Boaz Frankel and Brooke Barker — Brian Kidd is famous for playing bagpipes while riding his unicycle, often dressed as Darth Vader. He’s performed around the world and even on “America’s Got Talent.” But he hasn’t quit his day job. He oversees a fleet of aircraft and a team of 50 employees who collect geospatial and hyperspectral data to make topographic maps.

• “XXL (The Extra Extra Large Sights of Portland),” by Danielle Delph — Where can you find a giant rubber ducky in town? Atop the roof of Perierra Creperie, a food cart in the Cartopia pod on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s just one of Portland’s oversize roadside attractions, including the 25-foot-long loaf of bread at Franz Bakery, a giant electrical plug, a massive pint of beer and a supersize carrot.

• “Black Portland,” by Intisar Abioto — Tory Campbell, whose grandparents founded Campbell’s BBQ in Southeast Portland in the 1980s (which recently closed), continues the tradition by producing his own line of artisan hot sauces through Felton and Mary’s Artisan Foods. He’s one of many makers, artists and activists in the Portland African-American community photographed and celebrated in these pages.

• “34 Things to Do in the Rain,” by Cassandra Frances — Put your raincoat on and check out these inspiring activities in January: Basecamp Brewing’s third annual Collabofest (featuring 16 collaboration beers, Jan. 28); Portland Area Theater Alliance’s Fertile Ground Festival (featuring dozens of creative local works, Jan. 19-29); Chocolatefest (Jan. 20-22 at the Oregon Convention Center); Reel Music Film Festival; and Chamber Music Northwest’s Winter Festival.

• “Viet Portland,” by Christine Dong — The classic banh mi sandwich — a ubiquitous lunchtime staple found throughout the city — dates back to French colonialism, borrowing French ingredients such as baguettes, paté, jalapeno and mayonnaise, along with Vietnamese ingredients including cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, as well as cold cuts like sliced pork, pork belly or liver paté.

• “About Last Night” (live music guide), by Ian Shaine Edwards and Lloyd Eugene Winter IV — The 100-year-old Wonder Ballroom was a former boxing school, home of the Catholic Youth Organization, community center, place to disseminate updates during World War II, and key organizational site for anti-KKK activists during the 1920s.

For more and to view the zines online, visit: www.travelportland.com/zines.

@jenmomanderson