Ray Troll

Alaska artist Ray Troll hit on a good idea in the ’80s, which was to mock our Northwest love for salmon, and from that he spawned—sorry!—a cottage industry of illustrations, coffee mugs, and T-shirts that are now familiar from Dutch Harbor to Portland. He’s both an ichthyologist and an inveterate punster; an illustration called Hook, Line and Thinker, for instance, takes the figure by Rodin and places a fly rod in his hand. Yet it’s not all fish and wordplay in his colorful collection Something Fishy This Way Comes (Sasquatch, $19.95). Like his fellow naturalist-cartoonist Gary Larson, Troll finds much to amuse at the intersection between man and beast (or between pan and feast, if you prefer): overcrowded fishing holes, fishermen weighed down by too much gear, overconsumption, and human vanity. And, like the short, cyclical lifespan of our precious salmon, death is a constant presence in Troll’s whimsical panels. In one poster image, people cavort in the sun with fish and other living creatures; yet beneath lie the fossils and bones of all those who came before—the fertilizer stack to which we’ll all be added. “Life is good,” reads the inscription, but “death is not bad.” BRIAN MILLER

Tue., Nov. 9, 7 p.m., 2010

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