Comic Shop Focus: Floating World, Portland, OR

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“I feel really lucky to have this location,” Jason Leivian admits, adding that students, office workers, city officials, and lawyers all come in to buy comics. A young woman with green-rimmed glasses walks in Floating World Comics and says, “I had no idea you were here.” In July of 2006, Leivian opened downtown Portland’s only comics shop.

In 2005 my girlfriend brought me to her house. She lived in a shared house with two young artists from Phoenix; Leivian was at his computer working on music. The shelves of his room lined with books, art books, comic books. His demeanor and expression were gentle and open. In the basement they had set up a performance space with chairs for the audience. He played guitar in a rock band and he was busy, but we did play. And when I fell out of touch with my girlfriend, she said it was okay to come by the house to play music, but I didn’t.

I didn’t see Leivian again until the the fall of 2006. His picture in a local paper alongside an article about his comic book store. I never imagined it, but this fit: there he was surrounded by books. I went down to visit him that day; and two years later, he’s going strong.  “I think of my shop more like having the vibe of a record store, even though we mostly sell paper and books,” Leivian explains. “It’s like a combination of three stores: we carry mainstream books for Wednesday customers, indie and alternative like Reading Frenzy, and a good selection of international art books and magazines.”

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Nate Powell at Floating World Comics in Portland

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Nate Powell draws a dragon into the flyleaf of his new book Swallow Me Whole and says, “I think comics readings are kinda weird.” An ebullient voice and light frame, it seems gravity is the only force keeping Nate on the ground. While signing a copy of his book for a fan in Portland, Nate muses, “I wanted to read a Garfield strip–where no one can see it–and I just describe what’s in the panel and read the dialogue.” A small group of people have gathered at Floating World Comics to meet the author and buy his new book. “It came out at SPX a couple weeks ago. There’s only as many copies as can fit in the trunk of my car. In a couple weeks we’ll have more copies.”

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Chris Onstad The Great Outdoor Fight Book Release at Floating World Comics

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Standing behind the counter, Chris Onstad and his publicist Jacquelene talk with fans at Portland’s Floating World Comics about “The Great Outdoor Fight.” The Great Outdoor Fight? There’s posters taped to the counter reproduced from various decades–each marked by the era’s graphic design–and I’m thinking, did these fights happen?

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