By Jack Rubinger
Riding my bike on a gorgeous June day, I stopped by the new Books With Pictures site (1401 SE Division St.) near Abernethy Elementary School hoping to connect with Katie Proctor, the proprietrix.
Taking a break from remodeling the space, sanding, sweeping, and painting, Proctor enthusiastically agreed to sit down for a chat, so we walked to the sunny apartment she shares with her two kids, Jasper and Kestrel who attend the school across the street.
As part of the remodel, air conditioning was installed for the family’s comfort.
The new store continues to showcase both new and vintage comics, graphic novels and children’s picture books encompassing queer identities, female protagonists and people of color. The store gets new comics every week.
“My only rule is that every book has pictures,” said Proctor.
Amazingly, Portland has fourteen comic book stores. “They’re all a little different. Everyone has their own identity and we’re all friendly,” she said.
Proctor has received a lot of help from friends who’ve helped both financially and artistically with the move and the remodel including artists Gerard Way and Steve Lieber.
She’s forged ahead with Kickstarter campaigns, formed an LLC and worked out an installment plan with Nile Hagen who sold her the old building.
The new Books with Pictures has a clean industrial look with wood tones and lots of cubes to show off colorful comic books and graphic novels. Plans call for a kids area, event space, a basement record store and food carts in the parking lot.
The space offers about two hundred additional square feet in usable space compared to the old space on Division St. in the former Jimmy’s Tire building.
Proctor shared some of the building’s history, including earlier bookstore stints, life as a brake and clutch shop and its beginnings as a grocery and butcher shop in the 1950s.
When Longfellow’s was closing, I scooped up stacks of vintage Downbeat, Life and Look magazines, stacked up at curbside.
Proctor reports the old basement was a mess, and filled with magazines from floor to ceiling. In its new life as an indie pop record store, My Vinyl Underground, the business within a business will feature DJ sets, and live music performances, according to co-owners Thomas Mosher and Chris McFarland, who used to own Jigsaw Records in Seattle.
“This move wouldn’t be possible without the support of so many people: our investors, our Kickstarter backers, the creators who have offered up time and art to the Kickstarter, the friends and family who have turned up for work days, and so many more,” Proctor said.
“We want friends and neighbors to discover new things, do some crate-digging and enjoy our 1300 square foot space,” said vinyl Underground’s Mosher.
The new store’s mission is to be explicitly inclusive, to strive to be a welcoming space to people who love good stories without regard to age, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability status.
Proctor believes that representation of diverse perspectives is crucial to the mission, so stock content reflects that belief.