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.
All of these exciting opportunities really add up to one thing, though, which is that the much-needed post-graduation break from deadline-driven projects that I feel I ought to take is still a few months away from being possible. There's a lot I need to get done before I reach a point where I can stop worrying about getting anything done, and just do whatever strikes my fancy. I look forward to having time to just fill sketchbooks without worrying that it's time I should be spending working on a deadline. I'd like to get back into tabletop gaming, GM a series of short campaigns in a variety of genres for my friends, flex some storytelling muscles that I haven't used in a while. Heck, I have a whole box full of unpainted minis that require painting to boot. I want to pull my longbow out of storage and stretch those muscles again; it's been over nine months since last I shot an arrow...I'm sure I'll be absolutely terrible when I finally start practicing again. Oh, and I want to record an audiobook, or at least record myself reading some of my favourite short stories and put them up online.
I've got some other exciting stuff to bring you up to speed on but it comes wrapped up with a whole pile of thoughts on comics culture and whatnot, so I'm saving it for the next post. From the outrageously sunny Okanagan Valley, that's all for now. Cheers!