Friday, May 22, 2015

Springtime Update!

It's been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened in that time! Notably, the snow has melted and the trees have leaves again. I'm also pretty close to having my second book finished and preparing for its release this fall. My life has been a balancing act between the very solitary act of drawing at a desk and the ultra social aspects of performing improv and attending comic festivals. I've also got a pretty steady routine (which I enjoy very much and miss when I'm traveling,) that consists of teaching a weekly improv class and taking aerial silks and contortion classes 2-3 times a week at a circus studio in my neighbourhood. I've been running a lot as well and I'm training for a 10km race at the end of June.

Aerial silks and my improv students back in February.
 In April I went with Conundrum Press to NYC for MoCCA (the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Arts Festival.) It was great to see some American pals there, and make new friends. I bought a ton of books, though not as many as usual because the exchange rate was super bad. Still, I had some good reading material for the train ride back to Montreal. 

MoCCA Day 1 at the Conundrum Press table, photo by Publisher's Weekly.
MoCCA Day 2 at the Conundrum Press table.
While there I stayed with my friend from the photobooth community, David Greg Harth in Brooklyn. My trip to NYC was very brief but Harth made sure I still used a chemical photobooth during my visit. He and I used this booth together, it's in a restaurant, The Smith, in the basement in the middle of the washroom. Our presence may have unsettled some bathroom-goers.

Almost two weeks ago now was, of course, TCAF (the Toronto Comics Arts Festival!) I knew this TCAF would feel different for me because I didn't have a debuting book but I did still feel that I had a good reason to be there because Photobooth: A Biography was nominated for a Doug Wright Spotlight Award. The real highlight for me this year was the number of new friends I made. I got to know some folks whose work I've admired for a while and got to connect again with friends from afar.  I feel super lucky to be part of this very supportive and friendly community.

TCAF Day 1 at the Conundrum Press table.
TCAF Day 2 after a panel on History Comics, photo by Jody Culkin from Publisher's Weekly.

Publisher, Andy Brown and I, photo by Christy Ann Conlin.
To my delight and amazement, I won the Doug Wright Spotlight Award, also known as "The Nipper." The award recognizes a work deserving of wider recognition and usually goes to an artist for their first or second book. The best about getting the award was probably all the silly and kind things that Seth (the cartoonist) whispered to me as we awkwardly arranged the physical award on stage. He's one of my art idols and it's surreal to me that he even read my book. On my way back to my seat, the legendary Lynda Barry squeezed my arm and congratulated me. (That woman just radiates joy.) All the nominees in the category were entirely deserving of the award and at the end of the day it comes down to the preference of the three-person jury (which changes every year.) I'm most happy that this means the book will reach a greater audience and more people will learn the story of the photobooth!

This week I'm off to perform in the Combustion Improv Festival in Toronto! I took a three and a half year hiatus from improv, and though I've been performing regularly for the last 16 months, I haven't played with these old friends. I've got butterflies in my tummy about it, good butterflies.

I've got a summer filled with more comics and more improv. Boy oh boy, I'm excited!