Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stumptown Comics Fest

There are too many nerdy geniuses in the world. Well, actually it only seems that way right now because I just spent all afternoon packed in a big room with hundreds of them. The nerdiness was overpowering, but I plowed through it and left with a bag full of zines and graphic novels. Standing in line to get a book signed by Craig Thompson, a guy wearing a "Girl Watcher" button asked me if I liked British TV shows. That was his pick up line. It just so happens that I do like British TV shows, but I wasn't about to get too friendly with a guy wearing a "Girl Watcher" button. Why doesn't he just wear a button that says, "I'm Creepy"? How about a T shirt that says, "I like to stand uncomfortably close to girls and ask them if they like British TV shows"?

I waited an hour to get my book signed. That is the longest I have ever stood in line for an autograph and that really goes to show how much I like Craig Thomspson, especially since I'm willing to wait that long with a girl watcher standing next to me. After I chatted with Craig and he drew a bunny in my book, I felt the reward was worth the wait.

Strolling around the aisles, I realized how much I need to plug into this new world of creativity. Anybody can make a zine and sell it, and I think that accessibility will bring more and more people together. I found a lovely zine called "Bookulele: A Love Story" by Skylaar Amann. I got it for my mom because she plays the ukulele. Now my mom and I are both enchanted with this beautifully illustrated book.

I was mainly on the lookout for dream comics. I found two that are part of a series called "Night Life," by Tom Lechner. His drawings remind me of M.C. Escher's work because they're so detailed and he does a great job of showing sequenced events, so I really feel I am following the complete span of his dreams. I hope he expands his series so I can get more of his books.

At the Dark Horse table I asked for the book "The Night of Your Life," by Jesse Reklaw, recommended to me by Craig Thompson. A guy handed me the book and when I tried to pay him, he said, "Just take it." Wow. A free book. A totally awesome free book about dreams that I can't wait to read.

Comics really do make the world a better place.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In the mood for music videos

When I was a little girl and I saw Lisa Loeb's video "Stay," I thought my future was assured. I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be a spectacled, mousy-haired woman with a bias for black dresses. At 26, I am exactly what I thought I would be . . . at least as far as appearance goes.

Another video I was obsessed with when I was younger was "Let Forever Be." I love how it zips back and forth between this woman's pink and silver nightmares and her black turtleneck existence. It reminds me a little of the Steve Martin book "Shop Girl" and of "Pig Tales" by Marie Darrieussecq, two weird books about women who sell frivolous products in department stores. I always imagined that this video took place in London and that this girl would make a fascinating character in a work of fiction.

I am enamored of the writer/director Michel Gondry. He directed "Let Forever Be" and the Foo Fighters' "Everlong." He is probably best known for writing and directing "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep."

In his music video, "Lucas with the lid off," Gondry echoes the song's fusion of old-fashioned and contemporary with black and white scenery, reminiscent of classic movies. I want to live in this video! It makes me feel sooo good. I hope everyone who watches it enjoys it just as much as I do.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Everybody must read Blankets.

The graphic novel "Blankets" is a perfect revelation of a life. I LOVE this book! The word "blankets" is so bland and yet, that word conjures up so many memories and images. I marvel at Craig Thompson's ability to draw 600 pages of gorgeous artwork, artwork which is funny and heartbreaking all at once.

The scenes depicting sibling rivalry are hilarious. During the first childhood fight is when the blanket theme is slipped in. This theme is the most poignant when Craig's high school girlfriend gives him a quilt she made. Craig's stifling religious upbringing is like a blanket thrown over his eyes, and one of his great challenges is learning to prosper as an artist and as a free thinker.

I knit scarves for people, but seeing as how scarves are not as useful as blankets, I don't think my gifts would inspire someone to write a graphic novel called "Scarves." I would love to learn how to quilt, but I have too many hobbies already and not enough time. I think giving this book as a gift to someone would be just as wonderful as a handmade quilt or scarf. This book is so beautiful, it will resonate with just about anyone.

In The Flesh

When I was browsing the huge collection of graphic novels at the Portland State Library, I was looking for covers that featured real people, no superheroes or monsters, although sometimes I'll gravitate toward cutesy animals. I picked up "In The Flesh" by Koren Shadmi and I was blown away as soon as I started reading. Each story is about a twisted relationship, ground in reality, but wafting through a realm of magic. My favorite story is "What Is Wrong With Me?" I like it because it shows the contrasting activities of two people after they just spent the night together. The stories go from funny to serious, and I think they were arranged that way on purpose. Each story is tinged with sadness, so this book really pushes the boundaries of human emotion, in a good way. Reading this book is like drinking too much at a party, laughing with friends and then inadvertently crying over some sensitive topic.