20 September 2015

[comic] In Which We Visit Modest Medusa's House

There's a lot to like about southeast Portland. The rents are (well, relatively speaking) still cheap there. There's a lot of old buildings that hold on to the longtime working-class character of Southeast and a lot of new stuff happening, too. There's a big interesting diagonal road … northeast Portland has Sandy Boulevard, but southeast Portland has the mighty Foster Road. And every year there's a street festival called Fun on Foster.

Curiously, this year, Fun on Foster seemed kind of MIA. But there was fun to be had on Foster Road. You just had to know where to look.

We knew where to look.

On the north side of SE Holgate Boulevard, just east of its' highly-acute crossing with Foster Road, and across the street from a wedge shaped green space called Laurelwood Park, is a strip of older storefronts. On the corner is a tango studio. Next to that, an old-school barber shop. And, next to that … SharedSpace. This is a storefront with a distinctive and unique sign and what appears to be a wonderful mission … desk space rental for those of us who want to run a creative practice but don't really feel ready to go for the whole office nine-yards. For a long time, going from here to there in Southeast, we've driven past it occasionally. The only thing I had to recommend it was that funky typography in the sign … until now.

When I got turned on to Modest Medusa over at The Spritely Bean more than a year ago, I had yet to meet or get to know the creator. Time and events have healed that breach, and I've since found that Jake Richmond is just as smart and witty as the comics he creates. In the void that was the apparent lack of Fun on Foster, he went ahead with a plan to have a table sale and a semi-open-house, and if only for that, this was put on our calendar. From noon there was a table of merch of many prices. Not only was there Modest Medusa, there was also a RPG that is crazy weird and brain-bending that you doubtless hadn't heard of called Tokyo Brain Pop! (Manga schoolgirls with superpowers), and Jake's two other comic creations (the superhero comic Ghost Kiss and his Legend of Korra fan comic Asami Loves Korra) as well as some posters (one of which I have, about which more perforce), and some giveaways (little Modest Medusa pins for the lapel, yes, thanks!)

The space itself is funky, filled with great posters and buzzing with ebullient fans on this fine day. In the above picture, that's Jake there on the left. The red-haired lady was a particularly delightful person, and was inspired in not only her fandom of Modest but in the funny and passionate fan art she produced, a few items of which were in an etagere to one side of the counter, and a couple of which she brought in. Colorful bead art:

… and a whimsical bit of preparedness:

You can never be too sure.

The chatter when you are in a scrum like this talking about a favorite comic with its creator is a little hard to classify and retain, but there were some high points. I'm late to the part on Modest, but learning about how much of Jake goes into the creation of Modest's world impressed me in the way that it's got to be a very brave thing to do, to take things from one's own life and recast them into a fictional realm. It's Proustian, in a certain way. Some great drama and story results. Jake's work, as the characters in Modest Medusa have come, gone, and evolved, and the reasons why, are axiomatic there.

The real high point of the conversation for me was where Jake and I disagreed on something. In speaking of of a certain work whose comic tropes didn't speak to him, I found a lot of value … I like what I like, but I don't require anyone else to like it. Attempting to view it from the point of view of someone who spends the majority of their time creating, especially when coming from the point of view of someone who mostly takes in those creations, throws an unexpected illumination on the subject. On a personal level, I like anyone who is going to be candid about whether or not they find something speaks to them. Art is personal, storytelling art even more so.

So, Jake is a sharp and witty creator … and I was grateful for the chance to have met him and talked to him a bit more.

Anybody reading this who didn't take the chance to go down … you missed out, my friends.

Also, free chocodiles. We shall brook no further argument there.

Chocodiles, and their bouncer.

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