May Recap – Events, contemplative background panels, lotsa backgrounds.

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Hello everyone! Are you all doing alright? I got the good juice earlier this month, and whew! It sure lifted a weight off of my shoulders. To top it off, the curfew was lifted a little less than a week ago and life is slowly starting to come back to normal. Yeah… I’m ready… *laughs nervously*

Like the light at the end of the tunnel, May was the month were live events started popping up in my calendar. Events like the Pop-Up des Cools, a 4-weekends long pop-up shop in St-Henri, which was a success! Signing books and talking to people, how I’ve missed it. The MCAF festival also ended a few days ago and I got the chance to participate in a few remote-drawing activities as well. It’s not the same as in person but it was still very fun! And lastly, we did a signing event at our lovely, new local bookshop, Le Renard Perché. Did I ever tell you how much I love bookshops?

I also went on another vacant lot safari (it’s for research! I’m not weird!) and the thought of one day doing something with the hundreds and hundreds of photos I’ve taken over the year, started blooming in my head. When I get a better idea of what it’d be like, I’ll let you know! In the meantime, here’s one of the nice vistas Montréal-Est has to offer!

Since I was working on the next Utown chapter, I haven’t done much drawing this month. I tried to, got mad and quit during a sketch, which doesn’t happen a lot. Sometimes, it’s better not to push it. Besides, the Utown storyboard was a huge undertaking by itself (it’s long and it’s stuffy) so I don’t feel too bad. It’s a background-heavy chapter, and I honestly can’t wait to get to the pencils. For once, I kinda wish it was a colour comic…

…But seeing how much work it was to colour 9 pages of comic for a pitch, I’m not too sad about doing Utown in black and white!

…Holy shit! It was a BUSY MONTH! Here’s what got me pumped up in May!

In my ears: A lot! In the Spirit World, by Ceremony, A delightful post-punk album. Pink Dogs on the Green Grass, by Paul Jacobs. Another discovery, which I think will be one of the summer’s best soundtrack.
On the screen: Call my Agent (10 pour cent in its French version). My new obsession is a French drama series about an acting agency. One of the best written shows I’ve seen in a long time, that tackles very current subjects head-on. An absolute must-watch.
To read: Occupez-vous des chats, j’pars! by Iris. Iris travelled a lot, drew her trips and drew the food she ate. A lot of food. It is both amazing and cruel.
Artist: Adam Volker, aka @volketron . He’s a master draftsman who can draw pretty much anything using energic colored lines. I love his concept art on Stonefly (that just came out!)


2020 Recap – 2021 Goals

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Hello everyone! I thought I’d do the same exercise I did last year to start off the year fresh! It’s been a hell of a year for everyone, but pandemic or not, time did not stop (although it felt like it at points!). I took my daily planner out and spent a moment looking over the year and what I had accomplished. It felt more important than ever to be reminded that, in spite of it all, I made it. So here’s a little recap of the year, what went right and what went differently than expected. The things that got me through this wretched year and finally, a few goals!

Monthly recap

January
  • For the second part of the school year, I now tackle color theory with my students. I come across Johannes Itten’s Art of Color by a karmic stroke of luck in a used bookstore. At this point, I spend most of my time working on my classes.
  • On January 23, I launch the Utown website and the webcomic to the public. It’s a huge step for me.
February
  • I kinda lose it because of the school workload. My anxiety peaks and I consider quitting the teaching gig. It’s a shit month.
March
  • Thank god for the Spring break. I spend a long week-end with friends in a cottage, watching the news about a certain pandemic. On my return, school’s cancelled and thus begins the spring quarantine.
  • My favorite coffee shop launches a funding campaign in order to stay open. I promote a print I’ve made of their storefront and raise about 1400$. The people at the post office become my second family.
  • I get a Switch from my friend Boum! I discover Animal Crossing and I am never the same person again.
April
  • I get an Aggretsuko cover gig from Oni Press.
  • I start working on CSI Ruelle 2.
  • Mustering all my courage, I send the Utown pitch to Top Shelf. It gets rejected in its actual form and even though I understand why, this response plunges me in an abyss of self-doubt. I can’t write for weeks.
  • I take my bike out and my mood immediately gets better.
May
  • I eventually start writing Utown again.
  • The Montreal Comic Art Festival is entirely virtual. I get my ass kicked during a drawing battle with Alex A. I watch a lot of interviews and panels.
  • Confinement measures loosen up. I start going back to the studio and seeing friends.
June
  • I make stickers!
  • My classes end. I’m sad I didn’t get to see my students in person in the end. I’m super proud of their progress and I get a little emotional!
  • Studio Lounak moves! We empty out our crusty local and drag our junk three floors down, where I used to teach (the irony isn’t lost on me).
  • I finish CSI 2. I’m absolutely burnt-out and announce a hiatus on Patreon.
July
  • Summer happens. I see friends, I bike, I go to the studio and I go to my friend’s pool. It’s a wonderful period.
  • I leave for an entire week at a summer house with friends. Probably one of the best month of the year.
August
  • I get a rush concept art gig for a TV series pitch.
  • After close to 8 years of residency, I take the heartbreaking decision of leaving Studio Lounak.
September
  • I start working more seriously on a new comic project with Axelle.
  • I’m tasked with updating the Front Froid logo.
  • The government announces a strict, 28-days quarantine. I get the last of my stuff back home for the studio. I have a little cry about it.
October
  • For the first time in years, I decide to skip Inktober.
  • I work on character designs for our new project.
  • I wreck my back and promise myself to be more careful…
November
  • With the holidays around the corner, I set up my most ambitious merch promo plan. I make new prints and get ready for Black friday sales.
  • I draw Christmas cards!
  • I go to the post office and the printer’s weekly! Yay!
December
  • Holidays!! Cooking! Gifts!
  • I have to re-storyboard part of my fifth Utown chapter. Making comics, amirite?
  • I get one last illustration gig. I’m exhausted from the year and I give up on trying to reason my now deliriously anxious brain. I wait for the year to end.
  • It does! I survived 😀

Highlights

  • Launching the Utown official site. I wanted a nice-looking website, even though webcomics are most often found on social media or Webtoon-sorta platforms now. This website is a perfect collaborative work between me, who did the design and Ken Mallar, who did the web development.
  • I set a 800km bike goal this year and I totally did it (more even!) I also started working out at home and I’m absolutely seeing a difference. Goodbye back pain!
  • It was a very good year on Etsy!
  • I’m extremely lucky to have been able to keep a steady flow of work despite the pandemic.
  • More cooking! And getting better at it!
  • The friends I have, holy shit. They are the best and the walks around the neighbourhood were all moments of great joy.
  • One of my goals last year was to say no more often and geez, did I follow through with that!

Lows

  • I wish my first experience as a teacher had been easier. Everything that could’ve gone wrong, did. I was left on my own, given very little material to build a course and had to switch to remote teaching halfway through. It was overall very rewarding, I liked my students, but the context was so difficult. This entire endeavour took so much out of me that all my plans concerning Utown have been disrupted.
  • Putting out a webcomic in 2020 ain’t the same as it was in 2013. I had this big ambition that writing it in English was gonna get me tons of readers and that I’d at least see a nice, steady increase in visitors and pledgers. It wasn’t the case. I found it very disheartening because I was always convinced that good work inevitably gets noticed. I guess that when algorithms and private interests are at stake, that nice sentiment is no longer relevant. Ultimately, I realize that social media have done close to nothing in helping me push my comic. It’s a crisis of faith for me, because I’m a DeviantArt kid, and putting art online has always been a source of joy. But now, I’m at a crossroad and wondering if I should still invest time and effort in promoting myself online or if I should just slowly focus my energy elsewhere.
  • It’s only recently that I came to peace with the fact that I have some sort of anxiety problem. Even if acknowledging it is the first step, I still feel powerless when things don’t go as planned and my chest starts to tighten. The pandemic made it even more difficult to even think about consulting.
  • I got lonely a lot.

Oufff! That was a bit of a (necessary) bummer! It wasn’t all that bad though. As a proof, here are some awesome things that lightened up the last months.

Favorite things

Goals

  1. Learn to deal with guilt and recognize that it’s a pattern that’s been influencing my decisions all my life. I used to think it was a good motivator but I’ve learned that doing things because I want to, and not because I have to, has even greater power.
  2. Taking time off, more than ever. Away from screens, away from The Noise (aka, everything), whenever the need arises.
  3. Make time for physical activities. Since I don’t commute anymore, I have a feeling the ol’ running shoes are gonna make a comeback!
  4. Fall in love with music again.

So I hope it might inspired a few people to take some time off to reflect on the past year. Thank you for sticking with me, thanks for reading, for commenting and such. I wish you all to reach your goals, to be kind to yourself and to have fun! That’s my motto for this year!


December Recap – Holiday cards galore, festive mode activated, all hail deadlines

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Deck the hall and something something, falala lala la la (that’s my French Canadian version of the song). Hi! I hope everyone had a decent Christmas night/day/other! My Christmas was relatively quiet, so I took on the task of making a traditional meal regardless. Amidst all the gift shoppin’ and food buyin’, the time spent in my kitchen, making meatballs and gravy was one of my favorite moment of the month.

Last month, I prepared for my most aggressive Etsy promo/marketing plan ever. I wrote how the Thanksgiving sale was a success in the November recap. I’m happy to report that it kept going STRONG in December, even more than I had expected! Twice I had to go back and get another batch of cards printed! (Maybe I should’ve planned I was gonna mess up folding a cutting a few ones…. whoops!). I’m very grateful for everyone who ordered and I’m sure my prints found good homes.

After food was made, gifts wrapped and last emails answered, I allowed myself to do a little holiday drawing. It’s been a bit of a tradition of mine over the years but 2020 needed something extra cute.

The next thing on my list is to make a goal and recap post for 2020. I’m excited to revisit the year nonetheless. It’s always an enlightening exercice!

December was a race to the end, but here’s what got me excited this month.

Reading: The Remain of Days, by Kazuo Ishiguro. It feels like an ocean of calm during these crazy times.
Watching: Bill and Ted, which I watched on Christmas Eve. Don’t ask, dude!
Listening: K.G by King Gizzard and the Electric Wizard. It’s… hard to describe but it’s absolutely worth a listen!


September recap – Moving out, catching up on comic pages, social media overdose.

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Hello everyone, I hope you’re all doing okay (all things considered), wherever you are. It is now fall in Montreal, the leaves are starting to change, and there’s a thin, pink, 15% Overlay layer on everything. Apple deserts have been eaten, sweaters and leggings purchased, tea restocked, fleece bed cover spread. As I write this, the Quebec government announced a 28-day quarantine for the two biggest cities in the province and their surroundings. I won’t be able to see my friends and family in an indoors setting and with the temperature quickly dropping, meeting in parks and for walks won’t be an option for long. The only thing left to do is to brew various hot beverages and work, work work!

The announcement came two days after I hauled the rest of my studio gear back home. Talk about a close call… So this weekend, I plugged in everything and got the ol’ desktop computer running again. Working on a full-size screen instead of a tablet is a welcome change. Not gonna lie, I got teary before leaving Studio Lounak for good. I’m gonna miss the mediocre coffee and my studio mates!

September kept me real busy, with a quick concept art gig, some logo work and Utown, as usual. I’m desperately trying to build up a comic buffer again, but it’s so tricky! September was rough on Patreon: I posted some solid, story pages but also lost a whole bunch of patrons. Like, right before some good plot reveals. Of course I try to not let it get to me; I don’t claim to know why people pledge and why they decide to stop and it’s perfectly fine this way. But you know, you want your creative endeavors to go in one direction: up! Still, working on Chapter 4 brings me great joy, and for now, that’s all that matters.

Speaking of promotion, the idea of starting a newsletter has been gnawing at me for a while and I would absolutely love to have a first draft by the end of October. I have no idea if this would even work, but it’s something I really, really feel like trying. It might be a bit old school, but I truly believe there is power in reaching people directly by mail, instead of through some random, punitive social media algorithm. Ultimately, I want to kick one social media platform out of my life; if I can retain some fans with a newsletter, great. If not, well… my mental health will still improve, nonetheless. A blog and a newsletter: 2005, here I come!

September was… nice. Despite everything, it was a good month. Here’s what got me excited this month:

Watching: Schitt’s Creek, which I started less than a week ago. I can’t express how much of a feel-good show this is. I also binged The Great Pretender, a very nice looking anime that has a certain Cowboy Bebop flair to it.
Listening: 30 years late, I discovered Curve, a heady, UK electro-alt band that makes me want to paint my nails black a lot. And when I thought 2020 was beyond redemption, Doves released their first album in eleven years.
Reading: Fangs by Sarah Anderson. It’s a lovely little comic book about a werewolf guy and a vampire girl, in their everyday relationship. It is very simple, yet very endearing.
Artist: Will Kirkby Wonderful, funky lineart with a very marker-y, loose coloring style. He does really good, chunky character design.


Taking the “fine” out of “confinement”.

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This is an obligatory update, after (a mere) four days of self-isolation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to take some time to write about the current status of things, and how this unprecedented event will inevitably affect my future projects.

First of all, I’m fine! Almost everyone at Studio Lounak (the studio I share with a bunch of other amazing artists and entrepreneurs) decided to stay at home during the two-week quarantine period. The elevator buttons alone are probably a hotbed for nasty diseases… Now, I’m used at working from home. But working on a 12.3 inches Surface is… really taxing on my shoulders. I really do hope we can safely go back to the studio soon. But meanwhile, here’s my home setup, with Sasuke as my judgemental boss. He knows when I’m dicking around on the internet.

As of now, all comics or books events are being cancelled. TCAF made the announcement yesterday, and it was the one that hit the hardest so far. I’m not too hopeful for MCAF, our own outdoor comics festival. It’s really a bummer because I booked my own table for the first time at this event. I was really looking forward to MCAF (FBDM) to promote Utown and of course, make a bit of money. This, along with the loss of income due to the closing of the school I teach at, is… not fun.

The upside to all of this is that since I’m stuck at home with a sub-par working station, pretty much the only thing I can do is WORK ON UTOWN! YAY!! Okay, I -could- probably honor my other contracts but for now, Utown is the one of the things that brings me the most joy and comfort.

So that’s it for now. I don’t know what the next weeks will be like. I’m in a good enough position, with a project in production and contracts that, so far, are still going through. The school I teach at is closed for another week and there is no way to tell how this will affect the rest of the year.

My print shop is still open, even though my merch and shipping supplies are at the studio. In these weird, bizzarro times, it’s very awkward to ask for contributions. But even if it’s only one dollar, please consider joining my Patreon. Working on Utown is what gets me through the day, even though it’s not –useful– or –life-saving-. Just knowing that there are people out there reading it is so, so important.

One last thing! The English version of L’Esprit du Camp, Camp Spirit, by Axelle Lenoir, (colors by meeee!) is coming out in a few weeks. The timing is Not Great but it is what it is! I had a glimpse at the actual book yesterday and WOW! A nice, thick brick that holds both volumes into one glorious book. Pre-orders are opened!

That’s that! Support independent creators if you can! And stay safe everyone 🙂


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