Art by Matt Wagner; photo by Mike Russell
  • Art by Matt Wagner; photo by Mike Russell

Okay, so the Portland Opera made a really good PR move, and we're biting. On Monday, around 20 Portland cartoonists were invited to attend a dress rehearsal of Pagliacci/Carmina Burana, and "draw whatever inspires them about the production." Colleen Coover, Matt Wagner, Erika Moen, Steve Lieber, Shannon Wheeler and more took up the offer—the sketches are compiled here, though they're regrettably tiny.

The project was inspired by Mike Russell, who began drawing great little opera-based comics during last season's bloggers' night at the opera series. I gotta confess to having had a real problem with that particular series—no blogger is going to write a critical review of a show after free tickets and a behind-the-scenes tour, particularly not a blogger who's an inexperienced arts writer. The ick factor is gone with this comics thing, though; sure, the opera has figured out a way to get comics people to advertise their shows for free, but there's no pretense of criticism, and it's really fun to see the different ways these artists chose to render the show. Mike's is linear and quite funny; Natalie Nourigat went the diary comics route; Ron Chen just drew sketch after sketch.

Hey, other local arts orgs, are you kicking yourselves right now? You should be. This is savvy.