My part in Yakuzine will primarily be poorly drawn joke comics, I'm not sure if doing this traced study of Majima will result in anything, but it was fun. I have observed him, VERY CLOSELY. I told my fellow zinesters:

tracing Majima's lips was like...touching them...indirectly

digital black and white sketches of Majima Goro from Yakuza series, all traced from various screenshots.

IMO it does take some good art sense to trace well (haha), especially if the subject is 3d. You have to make judgments about where the edge/line should be.

I also drew these Majimazations. I made that word up. I crossed Majima with some of my favourite characters/animals...

Digital black and white sketch of Majima Goro from Yakuza series crossed with other things that Dirchansky likes, including: shrimp, Sally from LINE friends, Kuchipatchi from Tamagotchi, and a possum)


I was lacking hardware I needed to do some of my work efficiently, so I invested in a Framework laptop for its by design repairability.

Photo of the framework laptop box and modules.

Mine is a DIY edition where I got to pick the expansion cards (ports) and I bought my own memory and storage locally. The laptop works well and it was very easy to insert my own parts and take it apart, as the instructions show. I had used various macbooks for school/work and a PC tower for my home stuff, so I'm hoping this will be a laptop that I can use for a decade.

Photo collage. Left photo shows the interior of the Framework laptop box, which has recyclable packaging, stickers, tool, and interior illustration in the top lid. Right photo shows the laptop, opened to 180 degrees flat.

I ordered mine without an OS, hoping that I could try out a Linux distribution (in efforts to get off the very non-private Windows...) as the main, but unfortunately it didn't work out. I watched hours of Linux videos, picked 3 "easy" or "beginner" distros (Elementary, Zorin, Linux Mint) to try out in a virtual machine. Elementary OS's installation screen was cut off so I couldn't advance in the installation because I couldn't see the continue/next button (ahaha). Next was Zorin, which refused to work in full screen and perma black screened after I mounted the recommended guest additions in VM. Linux Mint was the only one that worked decent enough for me to keep in virtual machine with a Windows host. I am bummed out, but also not technical enough to troubleshoot in Linux! I tried to install mysterious old drivers for my extremely old wacom intuos 3 tablet, but it was too complicated. Kernels? Packages?! Guest additions?! Terminal? Command line? Flatpaks? IDK! Aurevoir! I'm also under the impression that using graphics / drawing software isn't particularly great in virtual machine anyway...but who knows. Pat myself on the back for trying!

I feel like I tainted the laptop by installing windows on it, but unfortunately it is needed for my collaborative work :(. Grateful to Wai who saved me a long time ago by making a windows boot disk for me, when my previous hard drive bricked!!


Today's music post: Jajja Alimuffe by Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

For the past few years, my friend Andrew T puts together a list of Toronto/GTA organizations to donate to—#Draiser2022. Every year I look out for it and try to donate through that. Sometimes it's hard to know whether your donation is going to have impact, so it's nice to have a curated list like this. I've also look at sites like Charity Intelligence for some guidance, though ultimately didn't dig too far into it.

A few other organizations that I've contributed to~whether donation or volunteering!

FoodShare

At FoodShare, we aim to centre food justice in our work by collaborating with and taking our cue from those most affected by poverty and food insecurity — Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, People with Disabilities. Our goal is to inspire long-term solutions for a food system where everyone has access to affordable, fresh, nutritious food.

I've packed their Good Food Box before. Now I subscribe to their Good Food Box too!

Homeless Connect

Homeless connect toronto is committed to helping individuals connect the dots to end homelessness in their lives.

When the event was in-person I helped out on site at Mattamy, clothing donation sorting too.

Prison Correspondence Project

The Prisoner Correspondence Project is a solidarity project for gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, gendervariant, two-spirit, intersex, bisexual and queer prisoners in Canada and the United States, linking them with people a part of these same communities outside of prison.

In-person volunteering became challenging so I also tried to find other ways to help out. My latest penpal got COVID-19 (!) in the prison system and told me so many terrible stories. Now she's released!!!

Toronto Trans * Toolkits Collective

Our Goal: To support trans*, two-spirit, and non-binary people in Toronto dealing with gender dysphoria by delivering personalized toolkits of gender essential items.

Toronto Comics Arts Festival / TCAF

I've helped in a variety of ways, like prepping TCAF volunteer shirt vectors, investigating accessibility, providing exhibitor feedback, helping Kim with Word Balloon Academy and the Nuvango x TCAF OFF PANEL exhibit a few years back, etc.

Zine/comic libraries

I've donated to zine and comics library before (material donations). In Toronto there's the OCADU Zine Library, Toronto Zine Library, Canada Comics Open Library. There are more libraries on Broken Pencil's website.

Fun fact: while looking up library URLs, I discovered that OCADU, Seneca, and CCOL (thanks Vic!) have had Life on the Hill on display...hahahaha.

Patreons/Ko-fis

I treat these places more like donation rather than...expecting something in return.


Today's music post: Oracle by Stoney Creation.

December media round-up

What I read/watched in December 2021.

Cover Image

I purposefully took a backseat to reading long stuff this month to focus on my own writing...but still managed to fit in a few reading/watchings!

World Piece by Josh Tierney and Agroshka

The comic starts in Toronto! But soon goes into sci-fi world after, haha. The shrinking world swirly cloud scene was so impressively done!! I could really feel the movement. I'm very curious about this doppelgänger character's intentions. Also this stoic glasses man is ~ my type ~ and Lully crying every time they used her card was a mood.

When the Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (colours by Iman Geddy)

Maybe because this was created with a younger audience in mind, I found it to be a nice balance of "narrative" and "dialogue" which some books geared towards adults struggle with (e.g., they become way too wordy). I felt that I was able to get enough context for an unfamiliar circumstance (living as a Somali refugee in a UN refugee camp in Kenya for over a decade) but could still make the connections to understand the story. I liked that the tensions that Omar felt, more or less remain, but he finds a way to live with them and do what he thinks would be best.

Shoujo manga: the power and influence of girl's comics (featuring Deborah Shamoon, Mia Lewis, Kazumi Nagaike and Erica Friedman)

They covered a lot of different topics during the talk, e.g., CLAMP's visual execution differences across shounen/seinen/shoujo manga magazines, influence of shoujo manga on contemporary queer stories/creators, BL/fujo/queer community tensions (re: queer appropriation/fetishization), etc. I knew a lot about this stuff, inherently, perhaps as both a reader, creator, and from what I've seen in discussions. I drew way more fanart for shounen series for some reason...but my heart belonged to shoujo manga. My defining moment was tracing a panel of a profile view of St. Tail's main character, crying, in Nakayoshi, back in the early 90s. Maybe because it was the first time I really saw a young emotional girl as a main in comics?! I still love to draw people crying HAHA. I also traced DBZ holographic trading cards, but with white glue, for some inexplicable weird reason. All this says a lot about what I draw now—a weird mix...

Snow White with the Red Hair #14-15 (by Sorata Akiduki, translation by Caleb Cook)

Thank you to the author for including this Mitsuhide / Kiki extra chapter. The 00 Days of Summer Vacation was very good too. Mmm shoujo manga...good.

TwoSet Violin virtual tour

It was like watching a story/improv skit/musical/concert at the same time, same flavour as their videos. Full of cringe and bad acting (as expected) and their lovely violin playing. I don't ship Eddy and Brett but this made me laugh really hard:

Two men composing music together. There is a cheesey semi translucent heart object overlaid on top of them.

The Editor(s) need a raise.

Two men playing a single violin together. Eddy is controlling the bow, while Brett is holding the violin.

Eddy what are you doing?

Two men playing a single violin together. Eddy is controlling the bow, while Brett is holding the violin.

EDDY!?

Also through this I learned that Tchaikovsky was probably GAY!!! Anyhow is you've never heard of TwoSet Violin, they're Eddy and Brett and their mission is really about sharing education/love for classical music, especially to make it relevant to a newer audience. My friends say that I am more like Brett, cause he's deadpan and makes these chaotic musical creations.

Though I don't practice 40 hours a day, and I was 100% pity minimum-passed my grade 8 piano Royal Conservatory exam decades ago. I have zero musical skill...


I activated a search bar on the sidebar because my entry count has grown and sometimes I have trouble finding my old stuff. I also found a way to self-host my own videos so I don't have to rely on third party places (that track you). Behold—a repost of an old video, now self-hosted with the power of CumulusClips (cause it was already in my cpanel's Softaculous, but I had to do a bunch of manual editing/config in cpanel for it to work)! The other HWA animatic that I am too afraid to touch because my skill doesn't meet my expectation haha.

I sent my comic book script to the editor! I really like how the book came out (storywise) so can't wait to see it come to life. I fell...in love...with these characters! Now I'm a bit of an empty, creative husk. It became a fairly emotion/feels-driven book.

Have to turn my attention to Yakuzine next~


Today's music post: Continuing the anime fever from last post, I found a 1994-1996 anime OP playlist and it's filling me with nostalgia. I forgot how much isekai I watched before the recent isekai boom came about. EL HAZARD...so much harem...I don't remember the plots of the majority of these shows but I remember these songs like yesterday.

2021 retrospective

I lived another year.

Dec 29 was Sabina's birthday. I didn't do anything...I'm sorry Sab!!!!!!

Another year with COVID. A year. A weird arbitrary "end" to an era of our lives, as defined by some people who made up calendars.

Creative/work

I always see these 2021 art summaries floating around and never do them because I don't do standalone illustration enough—well this year I didn't even draw that many COMICS (sob)!! As expected, it was a struggle to compile, due to lack of art.

Collage of illustrations I made, from roughly every month of 2021

  • Jan-Mar: "Finished" HWAnimation snow scene, Many learnings and many things to do better, "next time" murghhhhh!
  • Mar - Aug: Work took over my life until the end of summer. It was a challenging and demanding, not in bad ways, but in ways that didn't leave me much mind space for anything creative of my own. I tried to draw stuff for HWA OC's birthdays where I could. I discovered that 100% cotton watercolour paper is indeed, better. I enjoyed revising my foolish process of creating Come For A Drink for its 3rd anniversary. This is also the official era of drawing myself as a fish for autobio, which I also enjoy more than drawing my real face.
  • Sept-onward: Left my FT job and tried to re-orient myself towards my creative work. That meant writing the next arc of HWA, working on ch.13 (which is a beast), writing an outline/pitch for comics, and various other things. Had time to think and experiment—which led to some genius/chaotic productions like my possum song, Sneak and Snack that I made in Pixitracker. I waffled about moving, which lead to a lot of household item purging and cleaning.
  • Oct-onward: Got back into contributing to a webzine that I illustrated for over a decade ago. I do a lot of organizing myself, so it's nice to let someone else take the reigns. Such a great zine, and great for me personally to push myself a bit more into unfamiliar places. I started responding to other comic creators on Tapas forums to share tips and whatnot :).
  • Nov: I saw a big roach on my blinds and was sad. Cleaned my apartment up well. Now I'm constantly thinking that any speck in my house is a bug, though 95% of the time it's chipped paint, dust, or a power cord.
  • Dec: writing/thumbnailing 120+ pages of a standalone comic (that isn't HWA). Also writing song lyrics for this comic. I used to write (bad) songs in my past life (haha) so lyrics that are actually singable and rhythmically decent are important to me (but as a result, then take very long to write/tweak).

I continued the habit of reading more, which I started in Fall 2020. Got back into reading manga even more this fall/winter. What a great medium. I really do love comics.

Compared to last year, it feels like I didn't accomplish much, but once again I have to remind myself that...I have done a lot of behind-the-scenes work but it just hasn't all come to fruition. Last year felt like a big year of productivity for me because i was working FT and finished HWA book 1 (sent it to print), BLTease, etc. though sadly those never hit the con circuit in the way I wanted them to!

I ALMOST wrote freetalk EVERY WEEK in 2021?!

Stationery

I've sampled so many! I have too many! It was great and fun!

Yes, I journaled every day of 2021, with ease. Next year I'm using the same system, where I have 1 constant ToC-like notebook (with yearly/monthly views, habit tracker, and lists) and separate notebooks for daily journal entries as paper tasting.

Photo collage of 4 photos showing the interior of a notebook, with hand-drawn calendars inside.

One of the reasons why I don't toot as much is because I end up writing it down instead.

Gratitude

  • For people who remember me and take the time to drop me a note here :)
  • For more people coming to realize that they don't have to be extraordinary to live a good life, however they define that
  • To be surrounded by people who care
  • To have the privilege and time to work on creative endeavours
  • To those who are pushing back or questioning the status quo/norms
  • For not being on big social media
  • Surprise snail mail (or digital, but that's even less frequent)
  • To folks who have taken time to write/draw stuff for me, like fluffyfied's drawing of Austin/Jake, and this drawing of Pinkey (???) by...someone...?

Ink drawing of a sheep/bear thing. The writing on the image says "Sheep? Bear? I don't know"

Small hopes for 2022

  • I've committed my time to a few freelance projects already in 2022, so we'll see how that affects my work/life balance.
  • Yakuzine will be put out as a webzine and as a paper zine (maybe).
  • I told TCAF I'd do animal comics if I got in for 2022 show
  • More HWA more regularly
  • I think my voice is under-utilized because of lack of social interaction; miss going to karaoke and screaming jam project's SKILL. These vocal muscles need exercise but I have...neighbours...
  • I want to take the free Indigenous Canada online course through University of Alberta
  • Wanna see Turning Red, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Spider-man: Across the spider-verse (part 1)
  • Contribute regularly to the webzine!
  • I suppose I should work on Awk & Cheese...? Maybe I can work with more voice over artists again (they're the bomb). Come collaborate with me??????
  • That this secret book comes out in 2022 and people enjoy it like their favourite bag of chips. A tasty snack.

Hope your 2022 is full with goodness!

Photo of a small plush reindeer sitting in a food basket

Today's music post: I went back to the height of my ANIME days when I was obsessed with Macross 7's Basara (was it the glasses?!?!?!). The OPs Seventh Moon and Dynamite Explosion are still amazing (the animation...camera work..) and Yoshiki Fukuyama's vocals!! In hindsight, Basara is a really big himbo, and probably... ace?!? Which is probably good!? I had to reread the wiki to remember the plot. I have so many Firebomber albums in my childhood storage. Mylene's music hits differently (less rock but more dreamy, e.g., Pillow Dream and Sweet Fantasy) but is still good. Her singer is Chie Kajiura! I watched this entire live concert earlier this week.

HWA anniversary!

Here We Are (HWA) webcomic 3rd anniversary

For those who celebrate it, happy holidays. I don't celebrate Xmas, but enjoy the quiet weeks when everyone else is winding down for the year.

Instead I'm celebrating Here We Are's anniversary! I started posting it Dec 2018, so that makes it 3 years...but I haven't posted in a whole year already, haha (shhh, I'll get there). I haven't drawn any "serious" colour illustrations for this series, so I set out to do that as a form of celebration/commemoration. I quickly regretted it, but I forced myself to keep going.

I present to you, the fake comic cover anniversary edition of this image. Took me a while to figure out what to do with the negative space. Digital illustration of Austin (reading a book) and Jake (playing a handheld console game) hanging out in a corner of Jake's apartment. They're sitting on pillows and a fluffy carpet. The text on the image says 'here we are' and 'dirchansky'.

Historically I'm very bad at using pose reference, but this time I went and used ALL THE REFERENCE. Enjoy this strange walk-through. One day I will learn how to use those 3d models in CSP, but not this time...instead I used these two creepers. They're posable figures, around 6" tall (1/12 scale).

Photo of 2 miniature posable models/figures, posed in a seated position, leaning their backs against some boxes.

I already had Jake's room built in roomstyler, so that became the starting point for the room/lighting reference.

3d render of a room, with a window on the back wall and a shelf on the right side. The flooring is wood plank laminate.

I drew over the pose photo reference, making adjustments where needed. The models have no softness or slack to their joints, extra weird spacing and sockets, so their poses inherently look stiffer.

Digital sketch of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I took additional photo ref for Austin's hand. It's kind of weird book hold, where the pinky and thumb are holding the book open. I've never formally read this book, but I received training from the author's organization before, haha. It's The Coaching Habit.

I'm not adept at choosing harmonious colours, so I usually select haphazardly (left) and then use a colour layer to adjust (right). In this case I used a light blue layer on top of all the flats at "soft light" layer effect, but other times I've used other layer effects (like multiply) or changed the opacity instead.

Digital screenshot comparison of flat colours. Left shows unaltered selection of colours by artist, right shows modified colours with a blue tint to them.

This results in flats with a bit of a cooler/blue tone to them. The books are Around the Bend, Cook and Cry, and a made up book called Saving Pando, which is on brand for Austin.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with flat colours shown.

Since the flats had a cool tone, I assumed I'd want a warmer highlight and a cooler shadow. More recently, I've been painting the light/shading separately so I have flexibility to futz with the colours whenever I want. Generally I have layers for light, shadow, and then reflected light.

I love high contrast (that's why I mainly work in B/W), but when applied to shading, the result is that sometimes the image (if going for, more naturalistic lighting) can become too harsh. This KIND OF happened here, but trust me, I already dialed back how harsh the lighting was...it was...like a bright turquoise before HAHA.

I applying shades in harsh shapes, then use the blend tool in CSP to taper the colour out, where (seemingly) appropriate. My shadow layers, mostly blue, on layers set to 'multiple'.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows shown.

The lighting and reflected light are mostly orange. Yes, I abused layer effects 'colour dodge' and various others.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows and warm highlights shown.

When I turn the flats back on it turns into this.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I'm really into DoF and lens blur, so I wanted to apply that to this image. I drew the plants on a separate layer so I could do this. I exported the flat image into Affinity Photo to use their DoF filter and auto-level/colour/contrast. It looks like the colours were changed to be slighty warmer.

I ended up cropping most of the image off (haha) but here's the uncropped version.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.


Just applied to exhibit one final year IRL at Toronto Comic Arts Festival/TCAF 2022. Applications are open until Feb 7 2022 and there are spots for in-person (Toronto) and/or online. I promised to make some pretty weird comics to make my application more TASTY. Good luck to everyone who applies!


Today's music post: Smokin Out The Window by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic. I'm linking the video because there's a part where Anderson .Paak falls to the ground dramatically (~1:36) and lies there while Bruno Mars takes over, and it is chef's kiss, on top of the cheesy retro fade in/out overlays.