2020 Recap – 2021 Goals

Category : Uncategorised

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

Category : Uncategorised

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!


November Recap – All the promotion, spooky house, and a review of the 99PI book

Category : Monthly recap

Hello everyone! How’s it going? Yes, I’ve reached the point where I’m talking to the void of the Internet. Two months of confinement will do that to ya. My weeks are long strings of more or less the same routine of working, playing the Switch, running errands, going to the post office and fighting off very intense cravings. I want to eat chips so bad. Like, all the time.

One task that broke the monotony though, was getting ready for Thanksgiving sales on Etsy. Each year I plan better and further ahead, because I’ve been caught off-guard too many times in the past. So this year, I spent a lot of times making visuals for ads, taking pictures of prints (you know how much work it takes to make a sprawl of prints look like a candid shot?) and scheduling posts. Now that the sale is over, I realize how exhausting this all was, even though it was absolutely worth it in the end. That kind of obsessive planning and stats-checking is like the perfect drug for someone with high-functioning anxiety like me. One time I misspelled the URL of my shop in a Twitter post and almost had a heart attack. You ever see someone hit the DELETE button 5000 times in the span of 1,2 seconds? Next year, I’ll try to pace myself!

So in the spirit of the Holidays, I decided to include a free greeting card with every order. I think I’ll do that each year, because cards are just such nice little paper objects!

While I’m not super vocal about it, I’ve been working on a comic pitch with fellow cartoonist extraordinaire Axelle Lenoir. We’d rather keep the project under the radar for now, but I decided to share one piece of location design I drew. Enjoy!

Last month, I said in my recommendations that I started reading The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, a book based around many of the topics of the wonderful 99% Invisible podcast. I cannot recommend this book enough. 99% Invisible City is a field guide to the obvious and conspicuous elements of the urban built environment: the history of the utility pole, how curbs came to have a slope on their corners for wheelchairs and strollers, and how raccoons and squirrels came to be part of our weird, urban ecosystems. Amongst many, many other things.

It’s written in the form of broad chapters (Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape, etc) and separated into dense half-page or page-long exposés, so it’s like getting concentrated shots of super interesting facts about well… everything! I loved how it weighed in on how some design decisions inevitably affect marginalized citizens, without taking side. A good example was an entry about “hostile design”, that aims at making public seating uncomfortable, not to attract homeless people. I was downtown last week and immediately noticed that vicious form of design on some benches around Concordia Universtity that had that weird, useless “armrest” in the middle (plus the utility markers in pink! there is also an entry on their meaning!). I also loved the part about Moonlight Towers, huuuuuge arc-lamp light posts that cast insanely bright light in certain US cities. This is the kind of thing that I’d read about, put the book down and immediately loaded Wikipedia on my phone because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had to do this a few times, to look up pictures of famous buildings (like the Lincoln Tunnel ventilation buildings!) so it made for a very engaging read.

If anything, this book is a praise in favor of paying attention when walking about. That’s something I’ve done most of my life and this book felt like I wasn’t a total nutcase for taking pictures of crooked stairs, holes in subway stations or… hidden fallout shelter panels. And as an added bonus, the book itself is a beautiful object, ripe with illustrations. My only complaint is that it’s very, very US-centric, but it didn’t ruin the book too much for me. In terms of non-fiction, this is probably the most fun read I’ve had in years.

Anyway! November is over, so here’s what has kept me excited this month:

Reading: I’ve been thinking about this little text “Death to Bullshit“, especially in regards to the Facebook user experience. I’ve done so much promo and posting on my business account this month that I grew increasingly aware of how mind blowingly bad Facebook’s interface is. It really tested my patience. It is the pinnacle of bullshit.
Playing: Hades, on the Switch. I am Very Bad at it! (but I think that’s the whole point?!
Listening: I’ve been writing and storyboarding to some fuzzy stoner rock and shoegaze playlists. I’m not really paying attention, but Somali Yacht Club caught my ears!
Artist: Why not check out Patrick Vale, the illustrator responsible for the marvelous line-intensive drawings in the 99% Invisible book!


October Recap – Confinement, maintenance, not-Inktober

Category : Monthly recap

Hi everyone, tout le monde, friends and les amigos. How are you holding up? Between the now renewed, strict Quebec confinement rules, the upcoming American elections and that end-of-fall, nearly-winter gloom, I think I might guess the answer. As for me, I survived the first 4 weeks of confinement without too much trouble. There has been a LOT of walks with friends, which I recommend whole-hardheartedly. Getting out of the house is what has kept me sane and in relatively okay shape for the past months. That’s especially true for freelancers! And as Austin Kleon said in his book “Keep Going”, the demons hate fresh air.

When the government announced that we’d all be spending October indoors, I thought “great! Time to write a HUGE to-do list for this month! (seriously, it takes up an entire page. It’s terrifying). So of course when I reviewed my planner to see what the hell I had done this month (it went by so fast), I revisited the dreaded list and… half of the stuff remained unchecked. Not wanting to fall into a spiral of guilt, I (surprise!) went out for a walk to chase the oh-so familiar feeling of failure nagged at me. So what, I didn’t get to work on setting up the mailing list, like I said I would. Comic pages were still done, damn good pages too! It’s so easy to lose track of actual goals when you have to juggle 7 tiny jobs at once. A friend on Twitter wrote recently that there are actual people getting paid to manage social medias, come up with clever marketing plans and make sense of the algorithms and trends and whatnot. I am not one of those people. Last time I checked, I was still just a cartoonist. The newsletter will wait for when the time is right and I will not be losing sleep over it (in case you couldn’t tell, this is me trying to convince myself). How do you get your little guilt-trip demon to shut up?

But thing, Utown is still a webcomic. Which means, I kinda HAVE to put in work to get people to read it. So this month, between Chapter 3 and the start of Chapter 4, I did a lot of low-key maintenance on my portfolio, the Utown website (now with a retro RSS feed!) and redid the visuals for the social media excerpts I post each week for the public website. I’m sure I can hear some of you going “uuuugh, boring” but I really enjoy that kind of work. “How can I get people to read the comic I’m making, as easily as possible, while still putting out nice visuals”, is like, my quest, as a graphic designer and a cartoonist. And when I do find solutions, it’s the nicest feeling! Yes, I get very excited about making Twitter headers like this one:

This was also the first time I didn’t do Inktober in years. Lack of time and energy, mostly. Still, I did a weekly update with the four best drawings from each year. Here are my four favourite of all time I guess?

And of course, I couldn’t pass up the occasion to draw a little something for Halloween!

October was rough on the body (guess who hurt their back and tripped on the sidewalk in the same week?) but here’s what got me through it, with or without the help of muscle relaxants.

Reading: 99% Invisible City, aka the Book Made For Me. I got emotional reading the introduction, thinking “other people pay attention to these things?” And by things I mean, emergency staircases, utility poles and ghost signs painted on buildings. (I’m a nerd). I will definitely be writing about this (beautiful) book when I’m done.
Watching: I finished Schitt’s Creek and a good, ugly cry at the end. It is an absolute masterpiece of character writing. And just before Halloween, I started “What We Do in the Shadows” (the series). Now, if I was allowed to pick one otherworldly power, it’d be to turn into a bat, while shouting BAT!
Listening: Partner’s In Search of Lost Time. The first song is about being high at the groceries and there’s another one describing the joys of watching shitty afternoon shows when sick and home from school, all in perfect late 90’s pop punk fashion. And gay.
Artist: Gareth Davies. His body of work is crazy impressive, but what I like most are his recent doodles. He managed to draw the best dirt bikes I’ve ever seen?


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

Category : Uncategorised

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.


August Recap – Big decisions, nostalgia and new projects

Category : Monthly recap

Hello world! How’s the “end of summer” treating you? Here, it’s hay fever season. Ever woken up while you were sneezing? It’s brutal and very confusing. Do not recommend.

So August went by in a flash! After taking a nice week off, (in nature! far from work!), I took a big, important, and somewhat heartbreaking decision: I’m leaving Studio Lounak. Y’see, in 2013, little baby-me submitted Hiver Nucléaire to my soon-to-be publisher, Front Froid. If the project was selected, I’d get not only a publishing deal, but also a one-year residency at their Mile-End HQ, Studio Lounak. You know the rest…So there I was, newly unemployed–I mean, freelancer–ready to settle in a big studio, in a gigantic concrete sweatshop, with a bunch of top, pro comic book artists. I was absolutely star-struck, and not at all deterred by the lack of furniture and um…questionable cleanliness of the place. Over the years at the studio, I built friendships with artists from various backgrounds, sat on the board of Front Froid, worked on countless projects (sometimes late at night), threw away tons of moldy containers from the fridge, looted furniture from all over the building and more. Those 7 years, going on 8, at the Studio were… how can I say… absolutely memorable. I would walk in sometimes, amidst the mess, the clutter, the mountains of action figures and bookshelves of comics, giant drawing tables, and just… take it all in. But most of all, it was the conversations, sometimes casual, sometimes extremely passionate, standing over my studio mate’s tables, that I’ll miss the most. Artist workshops, those places where like-minded people can come and make a mess, are so, so fucking important. I’m forever grateful I was given the opportunity to live this experience. So, why am I leaving, after all these years? Logistics, mostly. Public transit, during a pandemic, is not something I’m excited about, and if I can avoid it, I will. It was a hard decision but I’ve been essentially paying rent and not going. There’s no way this will change when winter gets here. So… yeah. This is my last month…!

My first setup! There was nothing…!

Other than that, I’m -still- working on Utown. After a long, painful writing slump, I got it through my thick head that no scenario was going to be perfect on the first draft. Who knew that putting too much pressure on myself would had this effect!! But as always, everything made sense when I finished storyboarding. It took a while to get there (it’s a long book), but there’s some tension starting to build up, and the plot is starting to take shape. It’s very rewarding!

There’s also this other project with fellow comic artist Axelle Lenoir, but it’s too early to get into details. I am VERY excited about it!

Speaking of feeling creative, I received the Art of Invader Zim artbook two weeks ago and read it cover to cover in two sittings. It’s full of old concept art, storyboard and gorgeous background artwork from the new movie. What I liked the most though, was the retelling of the early production days, when the IZ team was seen as the weird misfits of the Nickelodeon studios. I’ve read a lot of artbooks in the past years (mostly from animation series), but this one hit home, thanks to all the early 2000’s references. Seeing blown up panels of JTHM in an artbook, I dunno, legitimized this weird, cult comic I was convinced no one else liked but me. And made me dream about having one day, my own animated series 😀

So that’s that for August. Here are a few things that I liked this month!

Reading: Southern Bastards book 1, in small increments. It’s…woof, it’s bleak, bust masterfully done.
Watching: Aggretsuko season 3. It’s surprising how cinematic this show gets sometimes. Season 3 had me on the edge of my seat!
Listening: A loooot of shoegaze and dreampop. My favorite album this month is Gentle Grip by Public Practice.
Artist: Charmaine Verhagen. I’ve been following her since the wee days of DeviantArt! I think she’s just the coolest.


July recap – Production, playlists and vacations

Category : Monthly recap

Hello everyone! With July behind us, we’re now entering my second favorite time of the year, where the weather gets less cruel and the light is extra special.

July was honestly quite good. I finished the storyboard for Utown Chapter 3, after litteral MONTHS of putting it off for various (mostly legit) reason. I was so happy to start penciling and inking again. It’s crazy how time-consuming writing is. Whenever I’m in front of actual pages, on paper, drawing, I think of how small of a portion of the work it is. It takes as long to letter a page than inking it. It’s… baffling!

My update hiatus dragged on a little longer than I had expected as well. So in order to give a bone to my fine Patreon pledgers, I posted my most intimate work yet: the Utown playlist. For some reason, divulging my music preferences was always very nerve-wracking for me. The six-hour-long playlist is an ongoing project on itself! I made an illustration especially for that occasion because I’m weird like that!

And finally, to top off this month, I did something I hadn’t done in 8 years as a freelancer: I took a week off. Real vacations, as in, outside of the city. The last year has been so crazy, so draining and so…weird, that there was nothing I wanted more than to get away, in a cottage, with friends, for a year. I drew a little bit, played a lot of Animal Crossing, but no work was done. And that’s FINE.

So now I’m back, ready to work on Utown full-time until the end of 2020! It should be interesting 🙂 As always, I post progress shots, thoughts and sketches on Patreon, so check it out!

July was surprisingly okay! Here’s what I enjoyed this month:

Reading: Rumble, volume 3 and 4. Still a wild ride, still enjoying it!
Listening: Nothing sounds quite like Garbage’s first album. What can I say, I’m a nostalgic!
Watching: The Old Guard and Warrior Nuns, because we all need badass women dressed in black kicking major ass in old churches. My Neighbors the Yamadas, another lesser-known Ghibli movie about a charming, ordinary Japanese family. It’s such a feel-good movie!
Artist: Zoe Thorogood, for her wriggly, thin lineart. I can’t wait to get my hands on her book, the Impending Blindness of Billie Scott.


June Recap – Comic hiatus, stickers, Z?

Category : Monthly recap

Hello everyone! Summer’s officially here and I’m getting that nice biker’s tan: nose, arms and everything from the knees down. Spending some time outside, be it in parks, on a bike or on the balcony is good for the soul. I need my daily sun intake!

June has been a month of change. My teaching job ended at the end of the month and it lifted a big weight off of my shoulders. I also finished working on the second volume of CSI Ruelle Verte, a cute book series I’ve been illustrating for part of last year and this one. Two big engagements, over! Yeah!

Just before the pandemy started, my studio mates and I learned that the spot in which Studio Lounak had been for the past 15 years was gonna have its rent go up by 30%. Yeouch. Luckily, another spot in the same building opened up, so we embarked on moving years of accumulated junk into a smaller space. It took three days just to get me settled in! The new space is nice and clean! Unless we’re mistaken, we came to the conclusion that Studio Lounak is now Montreal’s oldest, still-running comic artist workshop. Pretty neat, huh?

All this commotion took time and energy, and I had no choice but to announce a hiatus in Utown updates, after the end of chapter 2. Truth be told, writing and boarding chapter 3 turned out to be lot more challenging than I expected. Self-doubt crept in after pitching to a publisher. Even though I love this project with all my heart, I began questioning the strength of my scenario. And to top it off, a few really bad nights confirmed what I’d been suspecting for a while: I’m pretty sure I have obstructive sleep apnea. Seeing a specialist might take more than a year, but I check all the boxes. The lack of restorative sleep has been slowly gnawing at me; on bad days, I can barely function and I drift in and out of sleep all day long, to try and catch up on zzz’s. Thank god, the really bad days are few and far apart: on the okay day, I can get a few hours of work done, with the help of my friend coffee! In life, I rolled a pretty low constitution score; I don’t do all-nighters and I simply can’t work if I feel tired. For all these reasons, I fell behind on Utown and had to take a break. And who says announcements says new drawing!! It had been so long since I drew for myself, on paper, that I did this entire illustration in less than a day. Don’t they look cozy? Maybe I’m projecting!

STICKERS! I’m super picky when it comes to merch but I have a soft spot for stickers. I waited until I could score a deal on die-cut stickers before ordering in a bunch to FINALLY finish my 3-piece set. Tags were printed, packs were assembled and the first Utown Pack is now on sale on Etsy!

June was hectic but in a good way. I’m looking forward for the second half of 2020 (am I jinxing it?!) Here’s what I enjoyed while deliriously sleep-deprived!
Listening: Shitty Times Vol 1 by Crocodile. I do love a good garage band. (Appropriate title, much?)
Reading: The Dregs, a comic about a homeless man scouring Vancouver’s Downtown East-side for his lost friend, amidst plans of urban renewal. It hit a chord.
Watching: Dear White People, Queer Eye and Ghibli movies! Enough shit going on in the world, I need some escapism!


May recap – Virtual festival, rewards, printing stuff again.

Category : Monthly recap

Hello world! While some of you have been having what we used to call spring, here we had a TURBO SPRING. In the span of three weeks, I went from heating to installing my AC amidst one of the hottest week we’ve had in May ever. Talk about fast…

May flew by more quickly it seems. There were exciting things coming up, like MCAF and my birthday! We also learned that outside gatherings were going to be permitted, which chased off some of the gloom. Of course, the Montreal Comic Arts Festival still happened virtually, but it was so well done, with panels and talks and activities, that I got to “attend” more events than ever! I’m still bummed about not tabling but I’m excited for next year! I’m very grateful for all the effort and hard work the organisers and volunteers put into this year’s “online” edition.

Thanks to the support of my dear patrons, I reached my first Patreon goal earlier this month. The reward, a nice desktop wallpaper (I’m old-school) is available in various sizes and colors on Patreon. Here’s a little preview! I might turn it into a print…

Speaking of which, the company I use to get my Etsy prints done (partially) re-opened. This means I ordered a big bunch of prints that have been out of stock for the past few weeks. Going to the post office is still an odyssey but hopefully shipping and managing prints will slowly go back to how it was before.

Utown was in the Journal de Montréal! And I gave an interview to Baron Mag. Looks like Utown is starting to stir up some interest!

May happened. The events in the States, the (very justified) yelling on social medias is the reason why I’m posting this recap so late. I just… couldn’t. But there’s always art and music so here’s what got me going this month.

Watching: Finished She-Ra, had a lot of feelings! I’m still recovering from Dorohedoro, which has shots of delicious-looking food and the next minute, absolutely brutal scenes of violence, blood and body horror. It is very strange.
Watching (streaming edition): My friend Sam play the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I had a lot of GASP, SHOCK, AWE moments. Everyone is very attractive. The ending was very confusing. I kept calling the Whispers “the flying dirty socks”.
Listening: The new Dears album. I can’t stand anything too aggressive these time around so this works.
Reading: Again, not much. I borrowed some comics so I should have new recommendations 😀
Artist(s): I would love to highlight all the artists I discovered while perusing the #drawingwhileblack hashtag on Twitter but there are soooo many! Here are a few!
https://twitter.com/QueenKhameleon
https://twitter.com/kvjous
https://twitter.com/euqinimodar
https://twitter.com/evan_monteiro


April recap – Fanarts, Utown chapter 2, Animal Crossing is now my life

Category : Monthly recap

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all in good physical and mental health. Me, I’m this close to expecting Sonny and Cher’s “I got you babe” to come on every morning. In terms of weather (my second favorite topic in these recaps), April was just the March sequel nobody asked for. My big “getting back into running!” plan pretty much went down the drain, alongside the 56 000 metric tons of trash that the city hasn’t cleaned from the streets yet.

Speaking of neglected inner-city neighborhoods, the second chapter of Utown has started! There was such a big break between the production of each chapter that I feel like it’s a different project! I really like chapter 2, I like the pacing, the characters get their best moments and best of all, it involves breakfast. I’m starting to think food is a theme for me…

Bandwagon time! The 6 fanarts challenge was just the excuse I needed to draw a bunch of characters I liked, doing nothing but posing. Not gonna lie, Tails is my favorite of the bunch! And whaddya know, Cybersix is still fucking fantastic.

Another thing I worked on is a blend of digital drawing and photography. I have hundreds of reference pictures with no one in it, so I tried merging illustrations into them. It was HARD but a real fun technical challenge. I want to do more but finding interesting photos with a good enough resolution isn’t as simple as I thought. If this works well, I’ll try to make a “Polaroid Pack” or something for sale. We’ll see!

Oh! I was invited not once, but twice, as a guest on Les Mystérieux Étonnants, a long-time running podcast about culture. It was a lot of fun and it’s the longest I got to see my friends (in a video call) in… a real long time.

That’s it for the fun stuff! I spent the rest of the month doing the usual, prepping my class, working on the second volume of the children’s book I’m illustrating, taking walks whenever I can, avoiding going to the groceries, etc. AND PLAYING ANIMAL CROSSING.

So April has been the same week over and over, between repaying debts to my one and only overlord Tom Nook, eating sandwiches and missing my friends and family. Still! Here’s what got me through this endless loop!

Listening: Hot Chip’ 2019 “A bath full of ecstasy” because if I can’t get out of my house, might as well dance in the living room. Hot Chip is a band I keep coming back to when I feel down!
Watching: Community, which I absolutely loved for two seasons. And immediately started hating once the characters become aggressively aware of how tropey they are. It was fun while it lasted. Midnight Gospel also landed on 4/20 and trust me, it’s better enjoyed sober.
Reading: The rants of half a dozen very cute, but very needy villagers.


March recap – What is even

Category : Monthly recap

Hello everyone! Whew! What a month, right? What a 17-year long month! I’ve resorted to keeping track of time by counting the squirrels that walk on the wires outside my home office. In which I now live, apparently. When I got my Surface last year, I cleared my desk of all the wires and clutter, dusted, installed a nice plant and thought “this is an interior design blog-worthy desk!” Oh boy, that went out the window REAL FAST in the past weeks.

Alright. First of all, I hope everyone is in good health, still sane, with enough food to avoid going to the now forsaken grocery stores. I won’t get too much into the pandemic, because I wrote about it two weeks ago. Since then, not much has changed. I go on walks, I talk with friends via Facetime, I work a little and I spend an unreasonable amount of time doing dishes. There are always dishes, I swear… Taking it one day at the time is pretty much the only thing to do right now. I’m incredibly grateful to still have work, projects and healthy relatives and friends I can call when I need. This situation made me realize… I’m lucky.

When I learned my favorite local coffee shop launched a GoFundMe to stay in business, I decided to give them a hand by advertising the illustration I made of their storefront last year. The response has been overwhelming! Tons of people bought the print and I was able to make a donation that I couldn’t have made out of my own pocket. I really hope it can make a small difference. It’s still available for sale on my Etsy store! I’m gonna need help packing and shipping everything 😂

So amidst all this chaos, some work got done, at least. I finished the second Utown chapter, sketched some covers and managed to survive giving my first remote class. My anxiety levels have gone up and down throughout the month but each new hurdle is a learning experience. I now know how to stream Photoshop on Discord, and what it feels talking alone in front of a screen. Hint: WEIRD.

What even was March. Here is what kept me semi-sane during the month. More than ever, music, movies and books are a lifeline.

Listening: I returned to Bandcamp after years of neglect, because it felt right to start paying for albums again. I bought some stoner rock by King Buffalo, and next on my wishlist is Little Dragon’s new album. The title “New me, Same us” is strangely appropriate? And because it feels like the end of the world, some Muse is always in order.
Watching: Oh hello binge-watching! Beastars was pretty good, shocking even. I’m in no mood for heavy, serious gritty series, unless it’s animated! Enter Castlevania, in which you can tell what characters are important based on their hotness level. That simple! It had some pretty dope fighting sequences as well. And why not marathon Lord of the Rings, the ultimate escape? All of this, in three weeks. Geez.
Reading: Rumble, a beautifully rendered comic about old gods and immortal warriors caught in a battle in modern time.


Taking the “fine” out of “confinement”.

Category : Uncategorised

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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