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Tuesday, September 28

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Events Wed Jul 25 2012

Brain Frame Reading Celebrates its First Anniversary

Brain Frame.jpgIt must be the year of the comix on some weird calendar, maybe a Far Side page-a-day or something. Early in the year there was the University of Chicago Comics Philosophy and Practice conference in May. Then there was the first Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) in June. And this weekend, brings the one year anniversary of Brain Frame, a "performative" comics reading.

The brains of the operation, Lyra Hill, began the reading to help an out-of-town comic artist looking for a show. What came to follow was an experience. "From the beginning, I have maintained that there is no standard way to read a comic, and I invite the performers to interpret their work in the strangest ways possible," says Hill. "I want people to surprise me, and I want to understand good comics from the artists' perspectives." The show has kept the energy going now through its first year.

Brain Frame mixes it up with a wide variety of comix artists ranging from sci-fi to autobiographical. There is always a balance of men and woman readers. Hill aims for a wide reaching audience; she isn't trying to appease a specific community. "It's really important to me to reach beyond the comics community as well. Anyone can read at Brain Frame, as long as their presentation is somehow defensible as related to comix. That's the only rule."

Curating a lineup in this fashion, balancing the various mediums in which artists work, has to be a tedious task. "I'm thinking all the time about what good combinations of comics would be," says Hill. Then there is the process of taking art and preparing it to be screened which is a task unto itself. Technical difficulties can make or break a reading. The first Brain Frame had its share of technical snafus, yet the audience stuck it out in anticipation. "It's a DIY no-budget event, but it's fastidiously crafted."

Hill has gained support from independent publishers, artists and illustrators. Chicago's underground arts community has helped the growth of such an event. "Chicago has the most happening comics scene in the United States right now," says Hill.

Like all good things, Brain Frame might have a time stamp on it. Hill has grand plans that include possibly taking the show on the road. "I want Brain Frame to have a night in every city on the North American continent with a strong comics community." Take advantage this Saturday, July 28 for the first anniversary show featuring Hill
and a cast that includes Andy Burkholder, Mairead Case (collaborating with David Lasky), Ian McDuffie, Nicholas O'Brien and Leslie Weibeler. The show begins at 10pm at the gallery formerly known as Happy Dog, 1542 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd floor.

Artwork by Edie Fake and Lyra Hill.

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