From 2009 to 2012, I drew “live comics adaptations” of Portland Opera productions -- speed-sketching the major story points as they unfolded onstage, then turning the drawings into little comics. “Opera, Drawn Quickly” collects them all. And now you can download it as a free 79-page ebook.
Full backstory after the jump.
In May 2009, the Portland Opera invited me and five other writers to participate in a “Blogger Night @ The Opera” performance of “Rigoletto.”
We got a backstage tour and sat at a special table in the lobby. Before and after the show and during intermissions, we were supposed to live-blog our “Rigoletto” experience.
At first, I took notes and tried to write posts on my laptop. But before the show started, I realized there was no way I was going to out-blog my pal Geoff. He’d filmed the whole backstage tour with his Flip camera and posted the video on YouTube before the show even began.
So I did the only thing I figured the rest of the live-bloggers couldn’t: I broke out a Sharpie and tried to draw a “live comics adaptation” of the performance instead.
It went like this: I sat in the audience with a sketchbook and tried to speed-draw the major story points as they unfolded onstage. (This quickly ended up being an athletic rather than artistic feat.) I was lucky that the paying audience members sitting next to me were cool with this. When the lights came up, my pen went down.
During intermissions, I took pictures of the drawings and posted them to my Twitter feed with smart-ass captions. The day after the show, I assembled the drawings into a little comic book.
The Opera’s hilariously open-minded marketing team -- which included Jim Fullan, Julia Sheridan and Claudie Fisher -- thought this was pretty funny. So they kept inviting me back.
In September 2010, for our third go-round, Julia had a brilliant idea: Invite the rest of Portland’s comics community.
I kept making my live comics adaptations, only now at the dress rehearsals to be less disruptive. But we also started inviting other cartoonists to come to those rehearsals, take a backstage tour, and sketch whatever they wanted. Usually the Opera invited us to Morton's beforehand for a glass of wine. The Opera then displayed everyone’s sketches (and gave away my minicomics) in the lobby during opening-night performances a few days later.
(If you click the “Opera Comics” tag on my website, you’ll find links to everyone else’s artwork.)
Anyway. This booklet collects all my “live comics adaptations” of Portland Opera shows from May 2009 to October 2012.
Thanks to the Portland Opera for including me in their PR experiment, and for letting it take on a life of its own. Thanks to General Director Christopher Mattaliano and his entire team. This is one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been involved with as a cartoonist. (Particularly the part where we got to pet the albino boa constrictor they used in “Carmina Burana.”)
I learned a lot about opera (they're filthy, for starters), I enjoyed the performances, and I loved meeting the passionate human beings who work so hard to create them.
Opera, Drawn Quickly (PDF, 79 pages, 11.3 MB)