By: Erin Olson
Check out your newspaper’s entertainment page and you’ll likely run across comic strips like “Garfield” and “Dilbert.” If you live in Portland, Ore., and subscribe to The Oregonian, however, you might also stumble upon a local comic called “CulturePulp,” drawn by M.E. Russell. (It’s also available at culturepulp.com).
The major difference between national strips like “Garfield” and the local “CulturePulp” is that “CulturePulp” is an entirely non-fiction strip. Russell reports on colorful events in the area — concerts, drawing contests, movie screenings, and, well, drag queen reviews, to name a few — using illustrations and footnotes.
“It is, I believe, one of the only reported non-fiction comic strips of its kind in a major-market newspaper,” Russell said. “It’s definitely the only one with footnotes.”
The comic, which started running in the Oregonian last April, was Russell’s brainchild. “There is a precedent for it; there’s a lot of non-fiction comics that happen in an alt-comics realm,” he explained. “But I hadn’t seen it in a major newspaper in a while.”
Russell pitched the idea to his editor, Grant Butler, who told him to draw a prototype. Butler liked the prototype so much that it became the first published strip, and Russell has been drawing it every other week since then. According to Russell, Butler sees the strip as “yet another way to give information” in a newspaper.
“I’m working on the sixteenth one right now,” Russell told E&P in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “It’s a dream job, it’s an absolute amazing dream job. I would love to see more stuff like this in other papers across the country.”