davemerrill @ 11:18 am: your TCAF report
It was TCAF time in Toronto again and we went down on Saturday. Got there a little later in the day, so we only had time to buy Kupperman's new Tales book and get it signed. We were in line to get a book from Lisa Hanawalt signed but it got to be time for her to go, so that didn't happen. The upstairs small-press room was filled past capacity and there was a line of folks waiting to get in. I've never seen it that crowded. We went to Kupperman's talk at the Pilot and he did a slideshow reading of some of his comics and showed a new Mark Twain animated short he's produced that will be going online at some point soon; it's pretty funny.
Afterwards we got lunch at our usual TCAF/Yorkville destination, Flo's Diner. We killed some time and then went back over to the Marriott for the Doug Wright Awards, the annual Canadian Comics award ceremony named after the famous Canadian cartoonist Doug Wright.
The host this year was TV's Scott Thompson, you might know him from "Kids In The Hall" or lately from NBC's "Hannibal." I was thinking that the show would be pretty crowded considering the host, but the ballroom in the Marriott was not that large and while it did fill up, it wasn't as packed as I'd thought. To be honest this is the first big comics award thing I've ever been to, and I had no idea how formal or glitzy the proceedings were going to be. As it turned out the whole thing had the air of a high school graduation - lots of friendly applause, banter between guests and presenters, and technical goofs aplenty. We had to endure some fire alarm nonsense at first, too.
Thompson absolutely killed. He gave a good talk about how working on his own graphic novel helped him through his recent bout with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (his hair is back and it's fantastic), but he's far enough removed from the comics world to absolutely not care who he's zinging, whether it's mocking the copy written for the nominees' work or fighting with David Collier for the mic. Awards ceremonies need more MCs like this.
The comics nominated were a mixed bag of autobio and experimental; some of it was to my taste and some of it had me rolling my eyes. Of the works I was unfamiliar with, I think Jacobs' BY THIS SHALL YOU KNOW HIM was the most interesting. Quebecois comics legend Albert Chartier was inducted into the Canadian Cartoonists Hall Of Fame along with some interesting tales of the complete lack of any kind of comics industry in Quebec in the 60s and 70s - apparently returned copies of French comics like TINTIN, PILOTE, etc would simply be shipped to Quebec for newsstand distribution. Unsold copies from Quebec would be then shipped to Haiti, from there to Senegal, etc. It's hard for local culture to thrive in an environment of cheap import product, and this sort of thing goes a long way towards explaining why Canada now has Canadian Content regulations.
I took some photos of the awards and of the event but the camera, the camera is not behaving when it comes to getting the pix out, so photos of Scott Thompson battling David Collier will come later.
It was my full intention to return to TCAF on Sunday, but we wound up getting Shain a new PC and doing some banking and generally going further afield than we'd been expecting. The weather was... well, it rained, and it hailed, and it sleeted, and it snowed, and then the sun would come out, and then it would start the cycle all over again. This is the craziest May weather I've seen so far. Between lunch and the PC and the bank and having to get a new keyboard, it was 9pm before we were back home, and for me that means it was time to get started on my own comics commitment for the week. I was not happy with last week's page, and I think the sequence I'm currently in will undergo serious revision when this is all done, but I'm moving forward and this week's page is a considerable improvement.
davemerrill @ 10:54 am: it's friday already
The weeks have been whizzing by. It's already time for TCAF, the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, downtown at the main branch of the public library. It's a free show. The main floor of the library is taken over by displays and exhibitors and author signings, and upstairs they have halls full of small press comics, and there are talks and panels and the Doug Wright Awards, this year being hosted by Scott Thompson from "Kids In The Hall". The guest lineup is impressive: Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez, Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly, Bill "Foxtrot" Amend, Taiyo Matsumoto, Chip Kidd, Lisa Hanawalt, Kate Beaton, Ivan Brunetti, Andrew "Homestuck" Hussie, Michael Kupperman, Ken Steacy, Adam Warren, KC "Gunshow Comic" Green, and a whole boatload of others. If you're anywhere near Toronto you're stupid not to come. It's free.
Honestly this is not the worst Star Trek parody comic in the world. A fanzine or an APA would be a fine and appropriate place for it. But as a single issue professionally published and distributed comic book, it wiggles around too much on the fine line between parody, homage, and the legally actionable. Paramount has been really, really, really lax on stuff like this over the years - you'll notice nobody is publishing similar parody Star Wars comics, because Lucas will cease and desist your ass.
ravenworks @ 10:32 am:
I'm gonna try and keep this brief so it doesn't defeat its own purpose.... so my boss said he's in support of me trying to make money at my own projects on my own time, and agreed that we'll phase into the four-day week over the next little while. (That's a bit vaguer than I would have hoped, but I won't let it slide.) So I started thinking about what makes me so uncomfortable about this job... and beyond just general social anxiety, it's mostly the way their total and utter lack of understanding their own schedules leaves me worrying that I'm going to be stuck unable to get any sleep because of how they've quadruple-booked me....
and then it hit me, that the one flaw with this argument, is the assumption that I have to do whatever they tell me. I very regularly wind up staying late to finish things -- I could stand here and write stammering paragraphs about the totally arbitrary and unproductive random task switches the project managers (managerS!) have me do to try and make themselves feel productive, while of course never relenting on their original demands that I need to have spent "a full day" on their project, regardless of each other or their own subsequent pre-empting of that demand.... But the fact is, as much as I feel like project scheduling meetings are people sitting around debating over how heavy to make the collar they're screwing my neck to the wall with, like.... they aren't standing on either side of my chair with weapons. (They do often stand on either side of my chair, but, they've usually gone home by the time my workday is over :P) I can say "I didn't get it done" and get up and leave -- I can stop enabling their random requests. I'm just so programmed to go "don't disappoint the authority figure, don't disappoint the authority figure, DON'T DISAPPOINT THE AUTHORITY FIGURE" to myself that I've never bothered questioning the validity of their authority.... here I am giving myself sleep deprivation -- and making myself a sweaty anxious wreck by living in fear of sleep deprivation -- for fear of losing a job THAT I'M TRYING TO QUIT!
And that's the significant thing! I'm just so conditioned to see myself as a passenger in my own life..... I've spent all this time and energy being mad at my job.... when I've completely failed to play any role in making my job be what it should be! I've just been silently fuming and wishing for it to become something else, and making plans to leave it entirely, because the thought of making plans to change it seemed like making plans to fly to work like Superman; it's not a thing that happens. Except of course that for normal people, it is. x_X
Anyway, I'm going to get going, I do want to try getting in earlier more consistently.... it's just been a weird wakeup call to understand that I'm one of the people in my life, and that failing to choose is still actively making choices, just not necessarily the choices you'd like to be making..... envisioning myself as a paralyzed passenger child surrounded by the adults who make the decisions, however automatic and intuitive it is, is completely delusional, and only makes it harder for other people to interact with me, because they're seeing an adult human behaving strangely, where I only see a pair of floating eyes surrounded by scripted events that push it around like an on-rails shooter....
ravenworks @ 01:39 pm:
So, this post is technically two days premature, but, since I'll be at work on monday, well, for all intents and purposes....
I honestly keep having to triple-check what year it is, because I'd swear I'm only late-twenty-something, but..... nope, the big three-oh. Three decades safely out of the way.
For the most part, I don't think I'm as upset as most people stereotypically are about this milestone -- for most of my life, I've only wanted to be older, and it's still largely true...! Every year of my life I've come more and more into my own, and while I'm starting to be happy with where I am, there's definitely still a ways to go.... My body is starting to not be as resilient as it once was (I never would have described it as such in the past, but it's even less so now!), but it's still at the point where I can feel good if I take care of it (be conscientious with food, eating, stress...) I definitely need to find time to do more exercising, but, well, that ties into my next point.
The only part of this milestone that I'm not happy about is where I stand on a sense of accomplishment! I thought I would be further on the road to proving myself and having some kind of freedom to pursue interesting projects by now.... but work has sucked up more and more of my time, and more importantly, energy. My projects are actually better than ever -- as I get better at managing my anxiety, I'm actually becoming a better and better programmer and problem solver, I can feel myself comfortably grasping problems that used to panic me... and I'm actually better than ever at plugging away at things without panicking and jumping ship for something impossibly ambitious, as I used to do... :P But regardless, even simple projects just take such an absurd amount of time, when I'm squeezing them into weekends, while also trying to relax from the week, and catch up on chores, and (at least intending to) do something outside the home now and then... And the job that I'm giving up this time for is becoming consistently less and less satisfying -- I've gone to a position of being made to constantly play catch-up on fixing a half-dozen outsourced projects, and even when I DO occasionally have a project I directly control, I have so little time left for it that I'm made to rush it out half-finished just to be able to get home not too late...
Honestly, I can't complain too much -- the pay is pretty good, it's still a reasonably good opportunity to learn skills on the job (though less and less with every passing month)... the overtime isn't as bad as it used to be, and they're pretty accommodating of my quirks. In today's economy, it's a hard deal to say no to.
But honestly, I'm a good programmer -- a creative programmer -- I know I could be making money other ways..... I'm still young, single, I've got like no expenses, and a year's salary sitting in my bank account (ON TOP of what I've paid into my retirement, and paid off on my home). Other than potentially getting my home completely paid off in a few more years, I'm never going to be in a better position to take chances business-wise.... I've got a reasonably-solid bread-and-butter plan (sell games to advertisers, which there's always a market for), and a huge glut of secondary plans that I'm dying to discover the feasibility of (or at least say that I've done, even if there's no money in it)....
Gah, I'm sorry, this turned into a big rant about my job :) But, it's kind of the lynchpin of everything, from what I can see! All of the ways that I want to improve my life (more exercise, more time with friends, more creative expression) require more free time -- or at least more-FLEXIBLE free time! Part of me is worried that I'm just looking for excuses not to improve my life until some future goal is taken care of -- something I know I've been guilty of in the past -- but the only reliable free time I have lately is on weekends, and there's just too much to squeeze it all in... If I had a work-from-home schedule that I could determine myself, I could get up, do some work, go out for a walk/jog, do some work, get some chores done, and relax in the evenings... (This all comes down to how many hours of work a week it would take to make a living, of course...)
Anyway! The more I read from people on twitter and tumblr, the more I realise that life is too short and too valuable to settle without even taking a stab at making a name for yourself.... I don't want to be famous, just to have the freedom to be creative, get some ideas out.... and this job is getting less and less worth holding onto. (Besides the fact that it's my FIRST JOB -- even if I were to come back to office work, I don't even know what the rest of the market would be like...! I mean, I've heard horror stories about programming jobs, but... this is a reasonably good city for this kind of work, there must be other places that wouldn't torment their workers...)
Anyway, yeah! I guess this really is mostly about work :) My body's got some wear and tear but it's manageable.... my anxiety still causes me stress, but it's leagues better than it's ever been.... my identity is starting to take shape, though I'm still shy about showing it.... with a streak of gray in my hair and some fashionable glasses, I'm prettier than I've ever been.<3 The only thing bothering me is, I've probably got all kinds of opportunities to make my life more my own (instead of it having to mostly be my employers'), and I just need the time, and the nerve, to go through with it! I've only got a limited number of decades to turn these spinny thoughts into something concrete that people can play with, and anything left at the end just vanishes, never being seen... so there's no good reason that should keep me from spending my time doing that!
I'm sorry, I'm repeating myself. :) It's just been... so frustrating, and so scary. I want to move forward with this, but am paralysed by time, and the fear of telling my boss that I want to leave..... the sane money is on testing the water BEFORE quitting... so I'm holding my tongue, even though I would SO like to just get away from that chaotic mess of bureaucratic shortsightedness. So the whole thing has me a little pent-up.... I have so many daydreams that end in telling them I'm leaving. Ah well. Maybe if I were working on a game instead of writing this post... ;)
Anyway! I'm a thirty-something! Whoa. :) I've got more possibilities in front of me now than I ever thought I'd have -- but yet less to my name than I expected.... hopefully this will be the decade where that changes? ;)
Thank you everyone for putting up with me all these years -- hopefully there will be some return on your investment soon. ;)