At the Calgary literary festival in October, I was honoured (and stressed!) to be part of a panel with Alicia Elliott, author of the incredible essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, and David A Robertson, GG-winning author of comics, novels and kids’ books. The sold-out event was called Honest Talk About Mental Health, and it was moderated by the fantastic writer, broadcaster and mental health advocate Shelagh Rogers. We talked about portraying mental illness in our writing and comics, as well as our experiences with mental illness in our own lives. It’s the first time I’ve discussed my struggles with anxiety in front of an audience. We laughed much more than I anticipated. And in spite of how nervous I was to do it, I was fine! You can listen to a 25-minute edited version here on Shelagh’s CBC Radio show, The Next Chapter.
That experience gave me extra inspiration to keep digging into my Therapy Pony project on Instagram, where I’ve been exploring depression and anxiety, among other things, in stories about ponies, mice and birds. I’m just following where my characters go and trying to be open to whatever comes. I’m finding out that this is a way for me to finally write/draw about experiences and feelings I’ve wanted to explore for a long time. These are a couple images from a recent comic, Dance Lessons, featuring anxious Mouse.
I can’t believe Agnes has been out in the world for almost four months! I’m keeping track of all the media coverage on the Agnes page, if you’re curious. I’m particularly grateful for Becky Toyne’s review on CBC Radio — be sure to click on the Listen link to get the original audio — and Andrew Woodrow-Butcher’s review in Quill and Quire. You can hear me talking about some of my influences and creative process in this interview with Matthew Parsons on North by Northwest.
In October and November I got to meet and read with writers and cartoonists I admire, at literary festivals in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary. So far in 2020 I’ll be at the Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver, the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. You can see all upcoming events at the bottom of the home page.
After nine years of thinking, writing, drawing, procrastinating, freaking out, eating lots of snacks, drawing some more, revising, revising, and revising, I finally let Agnes go to the printers in June. Plans are being made for launch events in October, and I’ll have news to share soon about festival appearances. Agnes looks forward to meeting you. Well, in her own way she does.
I’ve been working on my current project, Agnes Murderess, for many years. It can be hard to stay on track over the long term, especially given everything else I have to do every day besides make art. Jessica Abel’s fantastic teaching has been a big support for me, as have my friendships. It was great to talk about all this with Jessica and my dear friend and accountability partner Susan Olding. The Crowdcast format worked really well, too — our audience of about 100 stuck with us for the whole hour +, and made some great suggestions in the chat sidebar. It’s so important to have support around you when you’re pouring yourself into a creative project.
I have been super bad at updating this website. Mostly because every spare second is being spent on either teaching or getting my book done. You can catch me on Instagram if you miss me. Flowers, dogs and bits of my work in progress.
I’m excited about exhibiting at the Short Run Comics & Arts Festival in Seattle November 4! I’ll have a bunch of new mini-comics to sell, for the first time in many years. So many of my favourite cartoonists will be at this festival. Can’t wait!
I have started a small publication on Medium to collect students’ comics: Dispatches from Comics Class. I like it because students post the work themselves as opposed to giving me permission to post it here. All current and former students can contribute, and I’ve also contributed a few posts about things I’ve done in class. Check it out!
I haven’t updated this website in forever, but I have been posting some diary comics from time to time on Medium.
I’ve also created a publication on Medium, Dispatches from Comics Class, where students from my comics classes at UBC can post their work. I’ve also included a couple posts about my teaching. I hope to keep adding content here as I continue working with the wonderful students at UBC. This past year was my first as a full-time lecturer. This sounds super cheesy but it is totally true: the students blew my mind with their curiosity, enthusiasm and hard work. It was also exhausting! This summer I am finishing some new comics, mostly about having a partner with chronic pain and fatigue, as well as continuing work on my graphic novel, Agnes, Murderess. More work will be posted soon. Until then, back to my drawing board…
Ugh. I am not doing much besides class prep + working on my book… But sometimes I post these little drawings on Medium; it’s a series I’m calling “Creature of love.” Then I wonder if I should be doing Instagram instead. Then I think about that and research it for a while and then I don’t draw and then I do self-recrimination. But in between I draw these little guys.