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Jellyheads

Tectonic Jelly’s surreal search for the world’s last live venue
Detail from Aaron Sullivan’s Tectonic Jelly
Detail from Aaron Sullivan’s Tectonic Jelly

Two dudes standing behind a service counter, slinging cheesecake for the masses and, during down times, brainstorming a tangle of ideas about music, movies and the end of the world: This is the genesis of Tectonic Jelly, a deliciously bizarre short film and companion comic book series that gets its first public airing Thursday, July 17, at Bijou Art Cinemas.

The two dudes responsible for Tectonic Jelly are Aaron Sullivan and Dylan Keim, who at the time their project began taking shape were pulling shifts at Eugene’s legendary Sweet Life Patisserie. A budding filmmaker, Keim took Sullivan’s idea of a post-apocalyptic hero who, with sword and electric guitar in hand, goes on a surreal search for the world’s last live venue, and asked, “Why not make a movie?”

The result is a no-budget fantasia that spools out like some bastard child of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Land of the Lost and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome — a trippy, sexy and hilarious adventure that borrows elements of ’60s psychadelia, ’80s glam and Armageddon punk, all held together by a spirit of DIY joy that is infectious.

Of course, like all renegade art projects hatched and patched together on the fly, Tectonic Jelly morphed over its two-year gestation period. “So it originally was going to be a video that we wanted to show before these live footage DVDs of bands we were recording at my studio space,” Sullivan explains. “It turned into more than that, because we only got to film two more bands before the space shut down.”

And so one door closes, and another opens: Sullivan and Keim decided to make Tectonic Jelly (the movie) its own unique entity, casting other Sweet Life employees in supporting roles and shooting digital footage around western Oregon. And all this time, Sullivan, who studied graphic arts at UO, was slowly putting together a series of comic books that expanded on the story told in the film.

“The comic book came to be a companion to it,” Sullivan says. “I would think I was devising an idea at the time the movie was being made and filmed, and it got kind of merged in my mind with this idea I was working on at the time for a comic book.” As filming progressed, Sullivan, who plays the movie’s loin-clothed hero, found that he was building a sort of mythic universe in which the movie became a story within a story, mirroring two post-apocalyptic worlds.

“It’s H.P. Lovecraft meets The NeverEnding Story,” Sullivan explains. “I really like narrative ideas getting squished together.”

Tectonic Jelly, the movie and the comic book, receive its Eugene (and world) premiere 6 pm Thursday, July 17, at Bijou Art Cinemas, with creator Aaron Sullivan in attendance and copies of the comics for sale; for more info, visit bijou-cinemas.com.