Credit: Courtesy Red Hen Press

Hopefully you’ve been following our recent comics journalism pieces on art and artists created by Reader contributor and former Chicagoan Coco Picard (her latest, an interview with artist and professor Nick Cave, was in our August 18 issue). If you’re intrigued by Picard’s comics style, check out her debut novel The Healing Circle, a magical tale including a terminal diagnosis, motherhood, Munich, and an aloe plant called Madame Blavatsky. The book was released this month by California’s Red Hen Press, and Picard is back in town tonight to celebrate at the Comfort Station (2579 N. Milwaukee). The event includes a discussion led by writer Suzanne Scanlon with Picard, writer and violinist Tricia Park, and artist Anna Martine Whitehead, as well as a performance from musician and artist Todd Mattei and a “plant performance” from artist Dao Nguyen. The event runs from 6-9 PM, and it’s free to attend. (SCJ)

Barbara Hammer’s Nitrate Kisses is playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State) at 7 PM tonight as part of the center’s Pioneers of Queer Cinema. As I pointed out in my review of the series, the programming is most worthwhile for its openers–rarer shorts, many of which haven’t been digitized–but this feature is one of the lesser available and more experimental headliners. Barbara Hammer is one of the best-known lesbian filmmakers. Using a mix of archival footage, documentary footage, and interviews, she touches on the criminalization of varied sexual expressions over time as well as how racism, ageism, and other systems of oppression go unchecked within queer communities. She also celebrates the richness and complexity of queer experiences. The evening opens with works by Kenneth Anger, Mike Kuchar, and Zackary Drucker–all of which experiment with avant-garde documentary approaches to cultural history. Tickets are $12. Can’t make it? Catch the lineup again on Saturday 8/27 at 2 PM. (MC)

Excerpts from Zachary Drucker’s 2011 film At Least You Know You Exist

Chicago Movie Tours offers a free and entirely online look at the S.S. Eastland disaster, the 1915 shipwreck that resulted in the loss of over 800 passengers and crew after the ship rolled over onto its side while tied to a dock on the Chicago River. The tour company will offer a virtual presentation including insight from a cigar maker who lost family in the disaster, as well as recently unearthed film documenting the tragedy. It’s viewable on the Chicago Movie Tours Facebook page tonight at 7 PM. (SCJ)

The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West) offers some grit and glam in their programming tonight as they serve up a slate of local punk rock as part of Promontory Goes Punk. Expect loud and fun vibes as the bands We Weren’t Invited, Atheena, and Kangaroo Court take the stage; as well as Lollygagger, who Gossip Wolf singled out in July for their new album of “nine rippers” Total Party Kill. Doors open at 7 PM for this all-ages affair, and the music starts at 8 PM. Tickets are available via Eventbrite. (SCJ)