October 31, 2013

Toronto's Wrecking Ball.

WARNING: Political cartooning. Also... partial nudity.

Toronto doesn't deserve this.

...and Mayor Rob Ford needs to get help for his addiction problem.

October 29, 2013

Dear Diary,

I found my old diary from when I was twelve. It was one of those cheapo ones with the crappy lock on it. I guess reading it made me want to try writing like that again...so here goes.

Did you keep a diary when you were a kid?

October 27, 2013

The Systemic Disrespect of the Artist

Every couple of months someone gets the gumption up to ask me if I'll illustrate their book. Assuming their book theme interests me, I always ask the same questions:
  1. Is this a paid gig? ("No...but I thought we could be partners.")
  2. Do you have an agent or interested publisher? ("No, but I know lots of people!")
  3. How many drawings are we talking about here? ("Uh...what.")
I'd love to illustrate all of them, but I've had to prioritize putting food on the table. Then about a year ago I was approached by someone I considered a social-media friend. In order to protect their identity, I've depicted them as a gender-neutral Alien.

The Alien in question is fairly well known on the Internet. Widely followed and trusted in their niche. Respected. A solid reputation earned over many years of web presence. And also quite like-able.

Collaboration's gotta be a good fit from every angle, ya know?

I weighed the offer: I'd worked with the Alien on smaller projects and it had gone well, the book project inspired me, and it was viable...so I decided to make time for it.

We made a plan: I would do three illustrations for a book proposal that we could shop around. There was already an interested publisher from my side. It was exciting!

We moved forward with mutual trust, respect, and enthusiasm. I began to draw.

The Alien gave positive feedback on the first illustration.

And on the second illustration. Two down, one to go! It was going well. 

Then I sent the third illustration...

...there were some issues with it.

The Alien scrapped it and suggested I try another.

It's crucial to be able to clearly explain to an artist why something's not working. It's equally important to be able to accept criticism constructively and apply improvements for the good of the project. You can't be precious about your ideas.

So I went back to the old drawing board.

A fourth illustration was sent.

And the Alien said...nothing.

No response. It was like they'd vanished into thin air. Either that, or I was suddenly invisible.

I waited, thinking perhaps the email had got lost, or that the Alien was away on a trip. I made allowances. After a few months, I reached out again.

And I heard...nothing.

I worried, maybe they're ill? I thought of contacting the family. But a quick check of the Alien's social media accounts revealed they were alive and well and communicating with the world as usual.

I'm a big girl. I've been working commercially for over thirty years. I'm used to making changes and adjustments in response to client comments. Big clients, like Coca-Cola and Nestlé, with big agencies. I've collaborated on TV series for international co-productions with international broadcasters. It's a point of pride for me to be able to either defend my vision or adjust it creatively to meet revisions.

I've rarely encountered a client or collaborator who's preferred to cut all communication rather than either do the work, or end the partnership. People do change their minds; it's possible that I wasn't a good fit for the Alien's book, after all.

But all I heard was nothing. Which was disappointing and shitty.

A whole year passed, during which time I put this behind me. Then a few weeks ago I was at an event where the Alien surprised me by marching right up to greet me.

The first thing that came out of the Alien's mouth was not an apology. It was BLAME.

What would you say? I found myself slipping into, "yeah, I am really busy..." But I had made the commitment to the Alien's book project and had given it my time and energy. I decided to force the issue.

And then came the apology. I couldn't interpret actual sincerity in the moment, but I've given the Alien the benefit of the doubt for this drawing....

...but not for this one. Because I don't believe it. To blame me for their cowardly behaviour was galling.

My intention here, is not to "out" the Alien. I don't wish to shame anyone, or get revenge. Rather, I want to shed light on what I consider to be at the heart of the systemic abuse of artists: a lack of fundamental respect.

Think this story is trivial? To a greater or lesser degree, it's playing out all around us. Ego, cowardice and a lazy work ethic are no excuse.

Paid or unpaid, the Innerwebs have opened a million doors to mistreat writers, musicians and visual artists. There's no shortage of seemingly "nice" people out there, trustworthy, respectful and professional people, who turn around and truly believe it's okay to treat an artist like this.

Well I say, it's NOT okay. So just don't do it.

And if you're an artist? Then you call that shit out.

October 22, 2013


A couple weeks ago, it was my friend Jasmine's birthday. Last spring Jasmine and I pushed through an intense situation that 'sploded all over us with dreck. I like her - and you know why? Because she's truly awesome.

I made her a birthday card.

Derby rays of awesome.

Jasmine is a top quality human: she strives, she questions and she reaches out. She listens. She cops to it. She's a critical thinker. She plays Derby.

Maybe YOU know someone who is also awesome. Maybe you like their ideas, attitude or sense of humor, or even that they leave the room to fart. Tell them! Draw them a card!

Or you can use these - free awesome cards. (I am nice.)

Safe for work...or kids.

F-Bomb awesome.

Print, Pin or post one of these and tag someone that you think is awesome. Go forth and hand out the awesome freely.

October 19, 2013

Ball...(part 8).

...continued from here.

This is the story of my ball. (It's a series. If you're new you can start at the start.)

They said they could help me and I wanted to trust them. So I told them that I'd lost my ball.

Do you want to find out what happens next? To be continued... in a book.

October 15, 2013

The UN-Bucket List.

You've heard of the Bucket List, a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket? Well this is my UN-Bucket List.

My trusty assistant, PickleWeasel, will demonstrate!

There must be some shit you never want to do.

I made this list with Listly, so please feel free to vote up or down, or add to it - it's interactive - what's on your UN-Bucket List?

October 8, 2013

#TOONswag - Live-drawing #BlissDomCA

BlissDom Canada conference, Toronto.

When I sit down to live-draw someone new, I think to myself, "...can I do this?"
Every. Single. Time.

Going to a conference to meet a lot of new people can have the same effect on me: What if everyone finally finds out that I have no idea what I'm doing? I'm getting better at pushing through that.

I have to start at a pre-Blissdom meetup here in Montreal - organized by Fariha Naqvi who blogs at Canadian Mom Eh. You may have seen her in the media lately speaking out against the Quebec Charter of Values. We met for coffee and I totally toonswagged her!

Super-cool @JackiYo finally posed for me at BlissDom Canada. She blogs at What Did She Say? I've met her a few times now.

This is Jason Theodor aka @jted. His session at BlissDom - The Art of Creativity - was amazeballs. This man is truly gifted at wordgenesiosis. Watch for his upcoming book at JasonTheodor.com.

I met @ActiveKidsClub at BlissDom's Great Canadian Outdoors Party, which was a good fit for someone who blogs about getting kids outdoors at Active Kids Club. I was smitten by her pink stripey billyboots and sparkley silver top. Toonswag ensued.

Kirstine Stewart, Head of Twitter Canada, was giving a brilliant keynote at BlissDom about Twitter "moments" when I drew her. But when I tweeted out the image, I sent it to @KirstenStewart. OOPSIES.

Twas the jugular of irony. Luckily @RadioRedHead was on the ball and made sure @KirstineStewart got the tweet.

And she used it as her profile pic.

I know, right?

Which culminated in a perfect Twitter "moment" for me, #toonswag and #BlissDomCA.

Of course, I didn't want Kirsten (Kristen?) Stewart the actress to feel left out, so I drew her too. I can't even tell which account is actually her! What a debacle; I blame menopause.

What is this woman's Twitter handle and can Kirstine Stewart get it verified for her?

After four years of Innerwebbing I met Tamara McPherson of WonderMoms.ca at BlissDom Canada. And she posed for me. It was her birthday, so she didn't hold still for long.

Silver crowned loveliness! @RossanaWyatt showed off her groovy necklace. She blogs at Being Gluten Free.

Sandy Macnamara invited me to be BlissDom roomies at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel. We stayed up late chatting and getting to know each other; it was like super-concentrated friendship. I miss her already.

@ToyWithMe on Twitter, Sandy runs an adult toy review site called Toy With Me. Go check it out: it'll be your pleasure.

This woman is @ShannonFisher - a blogger who walks the delicate line between courage and vulnerability. She's got a zillion watt smile and writes with her heart on her sleeve at Truthfully. We had recently bonded over the Mrs Hall blip and Shannon posed for me at BlissDom.

Who's the Daddy blogger with the biggest heart? Chris Read! If you sit near him, you can actually hear it go BOOM. This dude blogs at Canadian Dad and tweets as @CanadianDadBlog

Finally, closing up the bookends with another homie, @MoxieDude! Also known as Mona Andrei, she blogs at Moxie-Dude (as in "she's got moxie, dude!"). Ask her about the hamster.

Mona drove us to and from Toronto for BlissDom. She only hit the rumble strip twice and I'm pretty sure one of those times was to wake me up.

One conference, eleven TWELVE toonswags.

Who's next?