DJ Hostettler

Motionary Comics returns — with costumes in tow

By - Apr 28th, 2011 04:00 am

Real Life Super Heroes on patrol

Kurt Hartwig and Tea Krulos aren’t saying there’s going to be a rumble at Moct on Friday night. And there’s really no reason why they would; the likelihood of the Third Ward bar getting leveled by warring factions of costumed vigilantes and villains is almost disappointingly low (not saying we want to see Moct leveled, but hey…warring factions!). However, both men have guaranteed that Real Life Super Heroes and Villains will be in attendance when Motionary Comics returns to Moct’s hallowed halls of justice this Friday, April 29, so it would be logical to assume that some sparks will fly, yes?

Motionary Comics is a collaborative art project where twenty-four artists work to create a semi-improvised comic strip mural on the walls of the bar.

“It was actually a development of the first idea we ever played with for [art/theater group] Bad Soviet Habits, just with a lot more detail,” says Hartwig. “We tried to do it at Hot Cakes, but Mike [Brenner] was afraid (not knowing us, and dealing with artists all the time) that we were only crazy and messy. When I decided to develop it for Moct after they asked me for some art event, I figured a story line would help audiences, and big painting plus story seemed like comic strip.”

Comic artists take over Moct.

The first Motionary Comics event was held last April and was a rousing success. The project’s basic plan of attack leaves lots of room for the artists to play around: a pair of choreographers place five volunteer bodies against the wall; they are then painted by a team of colorists as they produce a backdrop directly over the volunteers, leaving silhouettes when they step away. The silhouettes are then filled in by a team of local comic artists.

From there the images take more shape on each successive pass until local journalist and Real Life Super Hero expert Krulos attempts to make sense of it all by adding the text of his story.

Sounds like a glorious mess, doesn’t it?

“Last year’s event went remarkably well,” explains Hartwig. “Few things stayed according to the time table—for example, colorists didn’t finish their pass in the scheduled one hour—but that rarely mattered because they were far enough along that the illustrators could still start.

“The big thing I learned was that it would be helpful to have a single ‘creative producer,’” says Hartwig. “I really like how the whole thing is very improvisational and collaborative, and that entails a certain amount of mess. I’m good with that. But last year, while trying to explain the idea to everyone, I used the fairytale Rumplestiltskin as my example. I think that was necessary at the time – we all knew the story, and it meant that we could move forward. Eventually, though, that ended up hamstringing the artists in some ways. That’s why this year I asked Tea Krulos to be the creative producer.”

The Watchman (left) and Blackbird: two of Milwaukee’s Real Life Super Heroes.

The other big change this year, of course, is the presence of actual Real Life Super Heroes like Milwaukee’s The Watchman and Blackbird—normal, everyday people who at some point decided to design their own hero tights and take to the streets to make their cities safer. Their presence (as well as the presence of heroes from Chicago and other cities) is largely related to Krulos’ involvement in the project, as he not only runs a blog dedicated to tracking this nationwide movement, but is working on a book about these caped crusaders.

But wouldn’t most super heroes eschew celebrity public appearances, preferring to operate in the shadows? Excepting the occasional glory-hound like Iron Man or the Human Torch, most of the good guys in the funny papers aren’t exactly lending their services to the local auto dealership’s grand opening. Aren’t Blackbird and The Watchman putting innocents in danger by broadcasting to their arch-foes where they’ll be?

Krulos confesses that he has already heard from one Real Life Super Villain who plans on disrupting things—the “brilliant maniac” Dr. Lupus and his Team Werewolf (and for the record, yes, I am typing this with a straight face). “Here’s what I know- he has a monocle. His labs are located high on the peak of Mount Lupus, and he loves evil laughter. We’re being told he’ll be sending a series of video messages to Moct making threats that he will be showing up in person with his werewolves if the artists don’t create a piece that glorifies his image.”

Um…this concern you at all, Mr. Hartwig?

“There’s been some smack talk, I understand, but we all know that werewolves aren’t real, so I remain unconcerned…especially about the Doomsday Were-Machine. That’s entirely fiction.”

Motionary Comics 2.0 begins at 5 p.m. at Moct (240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.) on Friday, August 29. It ends at bartime or when the National Guard shows up to save us all from werewolves, whichever comes first.

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