Dirk Deppey is the newly-appointed editor of The Comics Journal at Fantagraphics. Over the past year and change, prior to his appointment, he worked in Fantagraphics’ catalog department and launched and edited what quickly became the most-read comics-oriented web site (in my opinion, that is – I never saw the traffic logs), ¡Journalista!, on hiatus while Deppey settles in at the CJ.
¡Journalista! provided a daily roundup of comics news links from around the web, and the maniacal amount of work that Deppey put into the site was plainly apparent. It was the most comprehensive daily link-roundup site I’ve ever seen on any topic.
I spoke with Dirk on February 17, 2004, in preparation for an article to appear in The Stranger.
Tell me about the Seattle comics community compared to Portland.
DD: There actually seems to be a livelier comics scene in Portland than there does here. The old Fantagraphics scene from the late eighties to mid-nineteen-nineties seems to have largely drifted away. I mean a lot of the people who were in have either moved elsewhere or um just generally dropped out altogether. I know that Rick Altergott and Ariel Bordeaux are in Rhode Island now. . .
Roberta Gregory and Donna Barr have both moved out of town – they are still in the state but they’re out of town. Jesus. I’m drawing a blank.
Relative to the national activity you’ve observed as you gathered links for Journalista, is Seattle doing well or poorly?
DD: I’d say it compares fairly weakly. We have a couple of small-press to the point of self-publishing publishers here aside from Fantagraphics. There’s MU Press, and I think that is probably the second largest; and then there’s a couple of others, whose names escape me. But they amount to – I guess the closest point of comparison would be when Gary and Kim were just starting out with Fanatgraphics, in the late seventies.
Take for example Portland. Portland’s got, for example, both Top Shelf and Dark Horse. It’s also got a self-publishing scene aside from that. It also seems to have a fair amount of alternative and editorial newspaper cartoonists there as well.
The Seattle scene. The only really active cartoonists of the new generation that I can think of offhand are Dave Lasky and Jennifer Daydreamer. I’m sure there are others. I was gonna say Elijah Brubaker but I just got an email from him inviting me to his farewell party – he’s moving to Portland.
I was speaking to Craig Thompson earlier today and he said that Portland’s lower cost of living makes it an easier place to live for artists.
DD: Yes. I’m coming to this from the perspective of someone who moved up here three years ago from Phoenix, Arizona. And uh, I was just astonished at the real estate prices up here.