Redwood Live Sketches from Portland Center Stage

Every so often the cartoonists of Portland get an open invite to a local theatrical production. Sometimes it’s the children’s theater, other times the opera. Occasionally it’s something with extravagant puppets. We get free tickets to whatever’s on in exchange for producing a batch of frantic live sketches, which  then get used to promote the production. 

This month the call was for a world premier play called Redwood, a story about race and heritage and relationships, intergenerational and otherwise. I’d gotten a mailer for it a few days earlier and really wanted to go, so when the invite to live sketch a dress rehearsal came in I was all over it.

Lucy holding a pair of clip lights up to her head like a pair of antennae.
Thank you JJ for this very good photo.

They issue all the cartoonists with these goofy clip lights and send them to sit in a row towards the back of the theater. We then have to do our darndest to draw like the wind throughout the entire show, capturing gestures, faces, moments, scenery—whatever we like. Here’s what I came up with! These sketches were all done straight to ink with a Pilot Carbon Desk Fountain Pen (the least well-named implement in my arsenal).

It’s a challenge for sure, but one I always come away from feeling surprisingly accomplished. It’s also nice to be drawing for folks who aren’t visual artists themselves, because anything you produce seems like wizardry.

I’m really glad I made time to go see this production—it was powerful and moving and laugh-out-loud funny. You can catch it at The Armory here in Portland through November 17th!

Zombie in Love at Oregon Children’s Theater

Last weekend I was super thrilled to visit the Oregon Children’s Theater to live sketch their production of Zombie in Love — a world premier musical based on the children’s book written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Scott Campbell.

OCT invited Mike Russell and I to come draw one of the performances, and it turns out they also invited Scott Cambell himself to visit and see the show! Watching all the kids in the audience just mob him to get autographs in their zombie books after the show was super cool, as was watching their eyes widen while Mike drew for them.

I also got to show my sketches to Scott, which was a big thrill considering I’ve been reading his stuff since I was in middle school. The first time I met Scott I was a little babby comics fan at the Stumptown Comics Fest in 2009, and somehow here I am five years later introducing myself as a cartoonist. It is unreal.

So not only did I get to say hello to Scott, but he also brought Graham Annable (another longtime inspiration) along for the ride, so I got to meet him and hear about his upcoming feature with LAIKA (The Boxtrolls!) and see his beautiful live sketches as well. You can see Pat Moran’s lovely photos from the meet and greet after the show right here, and Mike Russell’s hilarious live sketches right here.

Aaand here are mine!

The show was totally charming — I even enjoyed the musical numbers, which usually aren’t my thing — and the actors were all astonishingly good. Also: so many groaner puns. It was great!

Thanks to OCT for inviting us. I look forward to seeing more of their productions this season!