Two Invitations For Today and Tomorrow- UPDATED!

Two cool things you can do... today's is for anyone in the world, tomorrow's is for Pacific Northwest types.

Today I'd like to invite you to check out Roberta Gregory's books.

Most of you, if you know her work, know Bitchy Bitch or Naughty Bits.

As it happens, Roberta Gregory herself is a lovely person, not bitchy at all. We've been seeing her at shows and so on for years and she has been a great friend to my students, often trading her own books for theirs and doing sketches for them and just, well, being really sweet. I often use her wonderful cat strips or her 'travel' stories in my Cartooning class as an example of how comics can be about anything.

So I'd recommend her books any time just because they're good. But I'm specifically recommending them to you TODAY, on her web site, because you would be doing something nice for one of the nicest people in comics.

Here's the situation. On her way to the Clallam Bay Comic-Con, Roberta's car broke down. She was fortunate that it happened close enough to a garage that she was able to nurse it to a mechanic-- most of the road to Clallam Bay is surrounded by nothing but forest-- but it turned out the cooling system was shot and repairs are going to run about two thousand dollars. Which is most of her savings.

Julie and I were in this exact position back in March and it's just goddamn terrifying. You think you're being a responsible adult putting away funds for a rainy day and then the disaster happens and PFFT it's all gone. What's more, Roberta recently retired from her day job that was covering things like health insurance for her.

The comics community dug in and helped us when we needed it. And we dug in for the Sakais, and Bob Larkin, and Norm Breyfogle, and so on and so on. I know it's a long list. The Hero Initiative exists simply because comics people don't have recourse when these disasters happen. The reason we need to keep asking the community for help with things like this is because we're all we've got.

But this isn't charity. You actually would GET something. Today I'm asking you to give some thought to buying Roberta's books because it would help her, yes, and buying directly from her cuts out the middleman stuff and its attendant delays that she'd have to deal with from somewhere like Amazon. But it's a PURCHASE, of some really cool books, and what's more, she does personalized sketches in all the stuff she sells on her site.

I'm not making this recommendation blindly-- we own almost all of these and Julie enjoys them as much as I do. All of it's good and of course the Bitchy/Naughty Bits books are all famous and so on, but truthfully I would suggest Sheila and the Unicorn, True Cat Toons or Follow your Art, which collect the other, non-Bitchy stories. It feels to me like she puts more of herself into those strips, they seem more truly representative of the Roberta we know; the thoughtful pleasant lady we've been seeing at comics events around town for years.

I think they're terrifically engaging and you can share them with the younger folks in your life as well (though a couple of my Young Authors kids came home from Olympia with Bitchy Strips collections and no parents squawked at me about it.) You know, whatever. Bitchy Bitch or Sheila and her Unicorn or just the funny stories of Roberta's travels. It's all worth your time. So get yourself a present-- come on, comics fans do this every Wednesday, admit it, it's why we're such hell to shop for-- only this time, if you order directly from the artist, you'd be doing a solid for one of the nicest people we know. Win-win.


The other thing I'm sharing with you all is just because I was so thrilled to find out it existed. Some of you may recall that Julie and I spent one of the most delightful afternoons of our lives at Portland's Trek In The Park a few summers ago. It was the last show of the 2012 season-- their production of "Journey to Babel."

We missed "The Trouble With Tribbles" the following year, sadly, and that was it for Portland's Trek in The Park, 2013 was the last one. We were very sad to see it go, but consoled ourselves with the fact that at least we'd gotten to attend ONCE.

But I just discovered this week that it's still happening-- and right here in our home town of Seattle.

This one's done by a completely different outfit, nothing to do with the Portland production-- but it's still Star Trek in the park. This will be the fifth year of Hello Earth Productions staging Outdoor Trek and frankly it looks like tremendous fun.

It's a smaller show than the Portland one, and clearly they have a smaller budget. But they're having just as good a time. These photos are from last year's "Mirror Mirror" -- you know, parallel universe, Spock with a beard. This year, they are doing "Amok Time" -- Spock in heat-- and it opens tonight and will run every weekend through August 9th.

Schedule here, directions here. Julie and I will be at tomorrow's show at two PM-- pre-show starts at one.

If you are NOT a Pacific Northwest resident, you can console yourself with this video of last year's "Mirror Mirror" in its entirety. You'll note that they cast without regard to gender or race which for us adds tremendously to the fun. Kris Hambrick as Kirk and Helen Parson as Spock are both talented ladies and the gender-flipping somehow adds to the sheer joyous enthusiasm of the thing. Your mileage may vary but we got a HUGE kick out of watching the female Kirk and her hulking hot guy Marlena talking about being a Captain's woman. The crowd did too from the sound of it.

Anyway, the video sold us and we'll be there tomorrow. (Julie can't stop giggling about gender-flipped pon farr. "Galactic PMS," she says, and then dissolves into laughter.) If you see us, do say hello. We'll be the bespectacled middle-aged couple with canes, probably near the front.

Everyone else, see you next week.

EDITED TO ADD-- A reader very kindly let me know that Helen Parson, who plays Spock, is also a cartoonist herself.

I've been reading her stuff off-and-on since the comment went up and I find her strip Secret Life to be really engrossing. The storytelling is a little raw but I am completely in love with the art style. Here's the link-- it works better if you atart at the beginning.

Also, turns out that we might possibly run into-- wait for it-- Roberta Gregory at today's Outdoor Trek performance. Swear to God, the world of comics is about four feet wide. If that.

See you next week.

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