2020 retrospective

Cover Image

2020 was a strangely garbage year, but let's not forget the things that we were able to achieve and our resilience during these hard times! If you are reading this, hope you have a happy new year!

Positives

  • Read a lot of books and increased my knowledge
  • Finished Here We Are book 1!!!!!! MY FIRST BIG SOLO BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many sweat and tears hahaha
  • Finished BL Tease. Big heartfelt thanks to Linda for leading and Maguro for bringing it to physical life. This is on top of their existing excellent design work and story/comic contributions. I am truly privileged to have such great collaborators!
  • Helped a friend bring her baby/parent book to life :)
  • Lived on an island and worked with a slew of strangers for a couple of months
  • I can (but barely) lift my cast iron pan with one arm
  • Starting exercising routinely in September...then exercised daily since October (though this is both positive and negative as I still don't particularly enjoy this HAHA)
  • Published freetalk posts every week since the summer! This was not my intention, but I'm glad I did it, even just for practice. I noticed that I have to do a lot of editing for these posts to be coherent. I tend to insert a lot of extraneous words, adjectives, and phrases: I think, perhaps, maybe, just etc. Good self awareness.
  • Drew 31 tamagotchi for tamagoctober. I put my tamagotchi on pause afterwards because it was a lot of work.
  • Did a bunch of updates and upcycling with existing materials (apron, tshirt, tarp, etc.)
  • Tried out ink marbling/suminagashi
  • Made a cute and fun card game with ittybeatty in December 2020! Concurrently, we learned how to the use Affinity suite to do all the illustrations and design (weaning ourselves off of Ad0be...)
  • Started working on HWAnimation (though there is still much to be done)
  • Getting suspended from birdsite even though I didn't post anything HAHA
  • Began HWA arc 2 with chapter 12
  • Organized and hosted many boardgame arena sessions to stay connected with people
  • Got more fountain pens and I think I'm done...I have a good lineup!!!!!
  • Convinced more people to play Yakuza and fall in love with Majima Goro
  • Made a solid switch over to non-g00gle things for everything that I need
  • I drew this very good raccoon plush
  • Donated $ to a good handful of organizations!

Photo of comic thumbnails and finished comic pages, featuring Sabina from Here We Are

Memorable moment of 2020

I was on a Jackbox games group call, playing Fibbage: Enough About You, which is a game where you answer questions about yourself. Other players can add their own responses to the same questions, based on what they think you'd respond. One of the questions was something along the lines of

If Dirchansky had a Ph D in a topic, it would be in [fill in the blank]...

The false answer that was chosen the most by other players was old man yaoi hahahahahaha...is this the reputation that I have among the youth?!

Negatives

  • Travel and vacation plans destroyed
  • Couldn't really enjoy life because of various-stages-of-lockdown
  • Cockroaches appearing inside my apartment during lockdown WOOOOO (still going through chemical warfare)
  • Accumulated more plastic and waste because of lockdown (take-out, groceries, etc.)

Reflection

On December 31st, 2020, Koyama Press is closing down. They've been a mainstay in the Canadian comics/indie publishing scene, and I've been personally blessed by both Annie and Helen's generosity throughout my comics-life in Toronto. We officially got to get to know them because we travelled to Kaigai Manga Festival (2012) and exhibited next to them in our little Canadian Comics TCAF corner. Since then, they've come to Love Love Hill's table at TCAF to chat and grab our newest releases and treated us to all sorts of wonders (meals, snacks, drinks, karaoke, stationery, reference books, etc.). There are countless other stories like this from other creators over at Quill and Quire's article about Koyama Press. Most of all, they were absolutely unconditionally supportive—they made you feel supported, seen, and respected. When you're too shy to reach out, they'll find you and drop some love bombs on you. I'll miss them, wish them the best, hope they get some downtime/relax time, because I know they've worked incredibly hard for our community. Koyama Press's existing books will continue to be available, while stock remains, at your local bookstores!

As I've been getting older, with less brain and physical capacity to do things, I'm taking a long hard look at where I should be spending my time and efforts.

I've been quite successful in de-coupling my self-worth from what I produced (in a quantity, artistic sense). Visual arts and comics have been part of my identity and being for over 20 years. I've funneled most of my time, energy, and money into art/comics as a "hobby". Do people usually exert this much money and labour into a hobby that brings them a mixture of positive self-improvement, pain, stress...?! What return on effort/investment am I looking for? What's in it for me? What am I hustling for? What/when is enough? I wonder whether I should continue to be a content creator, and if so, how and what kind?

Should I continue to share my work? If people aren't going to see it, why do I even have social media or a website? I don't know the answer to that right now. For a long time, I hoped to be able to help grow a community, but the horrible data privacy practices of major social media and chat sites pushed me away. I like to help others, I like to be kind to others, and I like to use whatever limited/meager resources and voice that I have, to uplift others. I don't want to be on those platforms and I wouldn't want people I care for, to be on those exploitative platforms either (e.g., read this article by RainyLune on IG's algorithm.

Maybe someday, I can be as selflessly generous as Annie Koyama.

Things to look forward to in 2021

  • New planner: I'm particularly excited to have a calendar that starts on SUNDAYS again (instead of MONDAYS; I'm not used to it)
  • Paper tasting: trying out a lot of notebooks (I bought a handful of lower page count notebooks to try out throughout the year)
  • Playing Yakuza 3-7 on PC; goodbye life
  • Continuing to evolve and to improve myself and the community (e.g., be more understanding and forgiving)
  • Release at least one HWAnimation video, if only to showcase the people that contributed their skill and efforts to the project
  • Maybe vaccines will be deployed to people who need it and there will be a gradual shift to a new normal?
  • Becoming more unknown and more obsolete, or finding some more ethical/reasonable ways to put myself out

In the meantime, I'm counting down the days to meet my favourite fictional man again in the new year...

photo of a notebook spread, featuring hastily drawn sketches of Majima Goro from Yakuza

Today's music post: Moonchild's Cure from their Voyager album.

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