est. July 2009

Lisa Krause's Artwork (2003-Present)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Portland- Stumptown Comic Fest and Gridlords: SONGS OF THE ABYSS tour

We arrived at the Hollywood Theater on Friday afternoon to unload our show for Saturday’s Gridlords 12 performance.  The Hollywood is an impressive old art-deco theater from the early 1900s.  

We got there a little early and saw the show listed on the marquee, as well as our photo on the upcoming events poster.   

After meeting some of the theater’s staff, we were shown around.  The room where we would perform seats around 300 people, and has a stage and large screen for film/projection.  We were led through a dressing room area past the mirrors and makeup lights to the back stage area.  The room had ancient wooden floors and old cinema equipment with the large letters for the marquee stacked in neat piles on tables.  We picked a safe space to store all of our stuff and headed out to start unloading the car.

During that time, we met Sean Christiansen- the organizer of Gridlords, Emily Nielson who would co-M.C., and several of the other artists who would be performing with us.  

Sean and Emily during Gridlords 12.
Sean had been amazing the whole time preparing for the show.  He arranged for interviews and did amazing publicity for the show.  As more people arrived for tech meetings, we all got more excited.  Having an event at a venue this large was a first for both Gridlords and us- and it was looking to be a really great show.  I really admired Sean’s excitement and ability to organize such a huge ongoing event series for Portland’s comics community. 

We unloaded into the theater and spread our things across the stage.  We began building our puppet stage so that we could spike the projection screen to make setting up for  Saturday’s show as easy as possible.  We were one of 4 acts performing, but the show also included projections and live music. Lots to stage manage!

We chose to go first because of our setup/breakdown time and stored our things before going to check in at Stumptown Comic Fest.  I grabbed the poor broken Ishi marionette and we headed over to Oregon Convention Center in our much lighter car.

busted marionette.
After checking in, Eamon returned to the car with our badges- remarking about how huge the place is.  This was our first time on the west coast for a comic convention, and we were excited to be there in support of Eamon’s new book, our tour, and Secret Acres.  Next to fix the puppet.  We then headed to the hardware store near Scott Harrison’s house, where we would be staying for the weekend.  Scott Harrison is a renowned tattoo artist, painter, and raconteur.

I was excited to meet Scott, because Eamon has talked about him so highly over the years.  He had been an influential teacher for Eamon when he was in school, but their relationship flourished over the years as penpals.  Sharing work and ideas through writing, they’ve discussed everything from technique to personal politics to health issues and the joy and pain of following your artistic goals.  Scott swung open the door and gave Eamon shit immediately, in the manner of one of my favorite type of Chicago smartass friends.  He then got me to work immediately fixing my marionette in his impressive basement woodworking studio.  In a short while we headed out to get some drinks while the glue dried.

It was a nice evening meeting Scott and his wife Jennifer.  They were very warm and welcoming, and we were able to really relax with them.  During our stay we got to see some of Scott's most recent paintings, as well as some older work. 

so good it hurts

Scott Harrison

Saturday morning we left for the convention.  We’d heard that “Stumptown ain’t what it used to be” but we were still looking forward to the convention.  I always find the comic fests to be pretty fun, because there are always really excited people there and lots of interesting things that people make.  They can be exhausting, but its fun for me because I get to talk about the great work by all the artists Secret Acres publishes and explain the things I like about each of the books. I imagine its harder if you actually are one of those artists representing yourself.  Its also great to see old friends from across the country. 

Eamon and I at Stumptown.
The fest had a really positive atmosphere. While there were a few weird costumes of mainstream superheroes or steampunks, they kinda kept us from getting bored because it was unusual to see people in costume at any comic show I’ve ever been to.  Plus they kept acting weird so it was pretty funny.

Steampunks IRL- featuring awesome home-made costumes.

I had a lot of fun and Eamon sold many books and a ton of T-shirts.   We promoted the Gridlords show while talking to people about our wares and many people were excited about coming to the event.

The show that night was insane.  Nearly 200 people came to watch.  We went first.  By the time we’d gotten to Portland, we had performed the show 10 times and felt totally ready.  It was very exciting to do our show in such a professional venue.  It was also very meaningful because while many people there were friends others were also comic artists familiar with Eamon’s work that may not have known what to expect when hearing that he’d co-created a puppet show.

Before we started, I noticed Scott sitting front and center as well as a few other friends. 
I was excited to perform with Chelsea Kamm, a friend from last year’s Bread and Puppet internship.  I had invited her to join the show, and couldn’t wait to see her shadow puppetry with Many Fur Puppet Troupe. 

Photo by Kinoko

Photo by Kinoko

Many Fur Puppet Troupe


Highlights of the show included seeing Chelsea’s beautiful shadow puppetry live, Lori D’s animation and Wally C & Alex Chiu’s incredible Marsuplala!

At the convention on Sunday, many people came to our table remarking about how much they loved our show.  It meant so much to me.  We have a lot of respect for the independent comics community in Portland- especially those closest to Dylan Williams.  I’m happy that they enjoyed our performance.

Here's what Scott Harrison had to say about our show on Instagram.

Sheep on the way to Eugene.
After the convention we headed to Eugene to stay with Chelsea.  We had a fun night talking with her, and said goodbye in the morning as she headed to teach her German students. 

We went to breakfast at a hippie place in town. As we were paying for parking, a serious burnout was leaning over a newspaper box near the train station.  He was intently staring at his ticket.  Without looking up he said  “…Hey. hey dude.  …What does this mean: ‘RETAIN during trip’…does that mean they’re going to be watching me?”   Wow.  It was like he was hired to fulfill the stereotype of Eugene.

Everything in Eugene seemed to move at that pace, and as we drove we felt we were on a spiral of some sort, until we found the Jiffylube where we obtained the fastest most non-bullshit customer service of our lives.  The people that worked there were seriously running from car to car- shouting information and recording things as if it was an Emergency Room.  I couldn’t believe how they worked.  It was as if the entire life force of city’s population was demonstrated by the 5 people working there.

We headed out of town for a strange trip down the California coast, made stranger by a slowly developing head cold that Eamon first attributed to the strangeness of Eugene, and later Eureka.

Next up: Northern California into San Francisco and Los Angeles to Joshua Tree.
Including shows: Alter Space in San Francisco Thursday May 2nd and The Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles Saturday May 4th

1 comment:

  1. Truly it was an amazing show and good to know that you arranged it. Even I recently arranged a similar show at seattle convention center. Many people visited my event and praised us for arranging such a wonderful show.