I'll take more time in the next week to fill you all in on what's been happening in my world over the past month, because there's frankly a lot to tell you about and I'm just sitting down with a coffee in the minutes before work. I don't want to play the hype game and tell you “big things are on their way,” because that feel presumptuous, so instead I'll say...wheels are turning, and in the right direction.
To keep you up to speed on the most immediate stuff, I have a show opening at the Lake Country Art Gallery tomorrow afternoon. Big Fish is a group exhibition exploring ideas around narrative, truth, and storytelling curated by Wanda Lock, and it's shaping up to be an excellent body of work. Swing by the gallery tomorrow (Saturday the 14th) at 1pm to catch an artist talk/panel with the lot of us as we discuss the ways we understand Story and how that brought us all to a point where we could make art and stuff about it. The opening proper will happen after that, from 2-4pm. I suppose I should add: this is the first gallery show for which I'm being paid CARFAC fees. It's a milestone. This is me stepping boldly forth into “professional artist” territory, I guess.
Well, we're in the throes of Inktober once again, and as I'm trying to keep up with my daily drawing duties over on Instagram, I'm also pulling things together in preparation for a trip into the Canadian Midwest. In a little under 3 weeks I'll be in Winnipeg for Canzine Central, a small-press/comics/zines/self-publishing festival hosted by Broken Pencil magazine. Some of you sought me out last year at Canzine West in Vancouver; this time, I'm headed for the prairies to see just what they're cooking comics-wise out there.
So if you're in and around Canada's windiest city on October 22nd, swing by the Millenium Library (251 Donald Street) and say hi. I'll have some comics, buttons, block-printed bookmarks, and some original art up for sale. Also of note: this event takes place in conjunction with the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair, so if you're of a Punk persuasion or just feel like picking up some serious indie lit for a change of pace, it's the place for you.
Normal - Installment 1: A Novel by Warren Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It took one of my favourite futurist writers releasing a digitally serialised novel about a rehabilitation facility filled with broken futurists for me to take the plunge and install the Kindle app on my phone. I don't do digital books; it's the main reason why moving house is such a pain in the ass these days...but for Warren Ellis, the man with the robot head of Jack Kirby sitting on his desk, I have made an exception. He doesn't waste any time setting up the fractured mindset of his protagonist, an analyst of networked surveillance culture who has developed a severe case of Abyss Gaze ("Everyone here gazed into the abyss for a living. Do it long enough, and the abyss would gaze back into you."), or wrapping you up in the positively phildickian madness of the totally off-the-grid asylum that is Normal Head. "Normal" is shaping up to be anything but, and so far it's a rollicking good read.
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The minis are going for $3 apiece, or both for $5, and a free button with each comic you buy! The buttons themselves are $0.50 each, or the set of three for a buck. If you're after prints I'll have as many on display as I can get away with, with prices posted. I'll also going to take a stab at the commissions game, so if you want me to draw stuff for you I've got pens, watercolours, and a variety of paper; come talk to me, we'll figure something out.
Here we are again. It's coming up on 8 months since the last post I wrote on this blog, and it's high time I gave you folks an update on what's been going on in my working life. For starters, I spent most of those 8 months pouring my energy into the final two classes needed for my Bachelor of Fine Arts: an upper-level printmaking course, and an English literature class focused on female warrior figures. I handed in my last assignments mid-April, received my grades a couple weeks ago, and was approved for graduation just last Wednesday...so, I'm pleased to announce that I am officially finished my BFA, short of actually putting on a gown and crossing the stage in June. It's kinda the end of an era. I spent six years navigating my own changing artistic and academic interests, trying to find some sort of middle ground that would best suit my goals and equip me for a Masters of Something-or-other down the line, and I think I pulled it off. Anyway, here I am, finished school and gazing off into the wild blue yonder wondering what comes next, and knowing that, more than anything right now, I need a break.
Which isn't to say that I don't have some plans for the coming years, or even things that are keeping me busy right now. Most pressing, to be sure, is the rapidly-approaching Vancouver Comic Arts Festival...it's freaking me out a bit just how quickly that weekend is coming up. I'm still desperately trying to get my stuff ready for the festival, while experiencing more keenly than ever doubts about the validity and quality of my work. Maybe that comes along with the knowledge that I'll soon be showing that work to a larger gathering of comics folks than I've done before, but I don't feel like a cartoonist who should be tabling somewhere like VanCAF. I still feel like the guy who should be on the other side of the table, walking around the convention and asking creators if they have time to look at this thing at my, or to give me a quick portfolio review. In short, I feel like a fraud, but I'm not a driven enough narcissist to make a comic about my fraudulence.
So, if you're in Vancouver on the 21st or 22nd I'd love to see you at VanCAF, standing across the table from me and giving me your honest-to-god opinion about what I've been making. I'll be there with some comics, buttons, and a range of silkscreen and engraving prints, and I hope I can give you something that maybe you've never seen done before, perhaps even something that you'd like to see more of, and I hope you'll let me know.
In other news: back in March I had the privilege of once more attending the annual national conference of the Popular Culture Association, held this year in Seattle. I had been invited to present my research on Muslim superheroes, in which I was focusing primarily on genre theory and how matters of reader identity as bound up in a genre's particular semiotic code are complicated by the entrance into that genre of a new character archetype. It was my first time presenting research I felt truly confident about to a professional academic audience, and I left the conference greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm with which my work was received. It was also my first time meeting other members of Sacred & Sequential in person; my religion-and-comics colleagues Dr. David McConeghy and Dr. Hussein Rashid were also attending the conference; David and I presented our papers together on a panel titled "Muslim Superheroes: Comics, Religion, and Diversity". After our panel I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the International Journal of Comic Art's editor Dr. John Lent, who asked whether David and I would submit our papers to the journal's Fall issue. I've thus refrained from posting the current form of the paper anywhere online; it needs some refining before you folks get to see it in proper academic print later this year.
I have some other academic writing (and academic drawing) on my plate right now as well, but for now I have to keep it under wraps. Once I get the all-clear from editors and collaborators to put everything out in the open, I promise I'll keep you all posted.