My busy morning
But today, I actually did get all that stuff done... except for the part about actually doing some work. That's still a fantasy, alas...
How the playgroup saved my life
"It is certain my Conviction gains infinitely, the moment another soul will believe in it." – Novalis
After I drew this picture of my playgroup (coming up, below), I thought of that quote - which, apparently, Joseph Conrad quoted at the beginning of Lord Jim, according to this handy little article. (I had no idea. It doesn't appear in my copy of Lord Jim!) No, I know Novalis (he's the guy in the picture) - and that quote - from a long-ago German literature class, from which I took away: great language, not so great literature.
I didn't really like Novalis. I remember really not liking this quote, and putting it up on my wall just so I could look at it and feel disdainful. My thought was: Shouldn't you stand by your own beliefs, whether anyone else believes them or not? Novalis sounded to me like the person in the Bob Dylan song, about whom it's said: "You need a watered-down love." No watered-down love for me. Give me John Proctor, the hero of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, who couldn't bring himself to confess to a witchcraft he didn't believe in, even though the confession could have saved his life. No, as I suddenly remember having read a while back: "I define my humanity by trying to do the right thing even when no one is looking." Which I guess is exactly how I'd sum up Lord Jim, come to think of it - epigraph or no epigraph.
But how did this turn into a diatribe on ethics and literature? All I wanted to do was post this comic strip about my playgroup and how the positive feedback of my peers made me feel just plain awesome:
After I had my first baby, the playgroup kind of saved my life by providing a weekly chance for socialization, constructive feedback, learning opportunities, and just plain fun. Even though I may have started out having nothing in common with those guys other than the fact that we were all parents, by now, after all we've been through together, we have a history. That's why their kind words about my new baby meant so much.
So, yeah, I guess my Conviction may have "gained" a bit, once I heard that some other "souls" believed in it. But once in a while, a little moral support from a few other souls can be a good thing, right? Especially when it's about something as emotional, hormone-charged, terrifying and magical as having a baby.
So maybe Novalis should have said, "My Conviction gains infinitely, the moment a member of my playgroup believes in it." Not just any old soul will do.
Mike & the mamas
By the way, here's another note about playgroups while we're on the topic:
A little while back I happened to read an article in Metro by local writer Jeremy Klaszus about how Calgary's parenting scene is a lot more about the moms than the dads. (You can read the article in this online edition of Metro.) For example, he notes, you can't always count on finding change tables in men's washrooms. And an informal organization of parents and children is often known as a "moms & tots group." What about the dads?
Rather than "the moms & tots group," my own group has always just been called "the playgroup." However, my son had another name for it when he was two. Thanks to the presence of one lone dad who came regularly with his boy, Alec dubbed the group "Mike & the Mamas." Alec was just calling it what it was, but it did draw attention to the fact that the presence of a dad was a bit anomalous (as well as making it sound like we were going, not to the playground, but to jam with our band, or something like that).
From what I've seen in this city since I became a parent almost five years ago, it does seem accurate to say that there are a whole lot more moms - and nannies - out and about with their children, than there are dads. But these dads do exist, and they're in a tricky spot. I'd like to add my voice to the chorus of Calgarians who would like to see more dad-inclusive events and venues in this town. (Who knows... maybe if enough "souls" believe in that one, we'll see some changes!)
And now. To wrap this up, just a page about the playgroup from Alec's Yearbook:
Lost Comics Unearthed!!!
Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up. If you've been reading this, you know by now that I've been putting together some little comic books about the exploits of my son Alec. Today, I picked up the final copies of Alec's 4th Year Book (from the wonderful - despite their lack of apostrophe - Rileys). So I have all the books. I'm ready for this weekend's Calgary Comics Expo. And to make everything even better, my last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants InvestYYC campaign to raise the money to have my books printed, has taken off like a rocket - thanks to some amazingly generous donors (some of whom I'm lucky to have as friends too!). So that's it! Happy ending to this tale!
But no! I have a confession to make. There's something I didn't tell you.
The Alec's Year Book stories are made up of daily entries in a series of sketchbooks that I've been keeping since Alec was born. For the first couple of years I kept them in green sketchbooks like this one. But then those sketchbooks were discontinued (don't you hate it when that happens!?) and I had to find something new (see below). So there was a period of a few months in which I didn't have any steady place to keep track of my comics. And somewhere in there... some comics were LOST.
I was sure I'd drawn a few pictures at the beginning of 2012, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Ever since I decided to compile the last two years' sketchbooks into two new installments of Alec's Year Book - which was this January - I've been hunting for those lost comics. But to no avail. So finally - deadlines being deadlines - I just decided to go ahead and have the final book printed without the missing pages.
This afternoon I was getting some stuff ready to take to the Expo and I opened up an old portfolio. You've already guessed what was inside.. yes. The lost sketchbook. Did I mention I'd been looking for this, for almost four months??? Did I mention I just picked up the book from the printers', about two hours before this??? There's a rule about this kind of thing, right?
Well, it's too late to print them now, but I'm going to put them all up here - for posterity!
Thanks to everyone who's been so supportive of my Alec's Year Book campaign (and at the time of writing, there's still ONE DAY in which to do so!) - not just the awesome donors but all sorts of others such as my colleagues on the Ramsay community newsletter editing team, who right this minute are proofing our monthly intake of content so that I'll have free time to get ready for the Expo (of course, here I am frittering away that valuable time on this blog...) - thanks everyone! I couldn't do it without you!
"My Letters & Pictures"
I think this page from Alec's Year Book pretty much sums up what it's like to be a freelance comics person/full-time parent. At least, the full-time parent of this particular precocious kid.
Only three more days to help me raise the money to publish this little book series! $10 will get me to the halfway mark! Here's where to find out more about that. Please check it out... and thanks!
By the way - did I mention that Rileys (awesome local business and supporter of the arts) is doing the printing? They've printed just about everything I've done in the past ten years or so, and I wouldn't go anywhere else. You should check them out, too!
Another donation to the comics campaign at InvestYYC - my friends are so great! This one's for you, Franki....
And now - just one week left to raise the rest! Watch this space for more comics!
While rushing around getting ready this morning, I asked Alec if he'd like me to post any new pictures from the latest, almost-ready-to-pick-up-from-the-printers' Alec's Year Book. He said he'd like this one about his objections to me leaving the house. Here ya go.
I also wanted to put up something from Alec's Year Book this morning, as a big THANKS to a neighbour of mine whose donation to my InvestYYC campaign, with one week to go, has just propelled it into a new category (i.e. wow, I'll actually get some funding - so awesome!). Check out this exciting development HERE. More on that later - but now it really is time for mama to go!
The best toilet in town
Here's a page from the most recent "Alec's Year Book" that provides the unlikely reason for our love of Phil & Sebastian's Marda Loop location. (I love the coffee, too of course!)
Take a look here to see how you can contribute to my fundraiser for this local comics project. Only two weeks before the Calgary Comics Expo, and I still need $40 in order to be eligible to get any funding. Check it out!
So, I've just just started up a campaign at InvestYYC to raise the money to print two little blue comic books: the latest in what I guess you could call the Alec's Year Book "series". (Find out more, here!)
I thought I'd post an image on the InvestYYC site to give people an idea of what these books are all about. But somehow the image didn't upload (I'll have to look into that) - so here it is, instead. Today was a good day for stepping in puddles (if you're four years old, at least), so it reminded me of this old puddle-themed page from Alec's Year Book from a couple of years back. Stay tuned for more pages during this breakneck-paced campaign!
Alec's Year Book
First of all, let me just say: if you can get through all this text, there's a comic strip at the end.
So, if you're reading this, chances are you've heard about a little local party that happened last year... Calgary 2012, a year-long celebration of the arts, in honour of Calgary's being named one of 2012's "Cultural Capitals of Canada."
Well, the year may be over, but the fun hasn't stopped. Calgary 2012 ignited the city's arts community and the flame is still alight. One of the legacy projects that has emerged from the program is an innovative local crowdsourcing site - that's right, something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo - for Calgary arts projects. It's a website that allows people (anybody, no matter where they live) to donate to fundraising campaigns for artists and arts organizations. Take a look for yourself to get a taste of some very cool-sounding in-progress arts projects gathering momentum in Calgary: the site's called InvestYYC.com.
So why am I telling you about this? Well, I think more people should know about it! But, yes, there is another reason, too. I couldn't resist posting a very small project of my own. Don't get me wrong - I have lots of ideas for big, ambitious projects, too. But the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo is less than a month away. So my campaign is just to raise the money to print two little blue comic books.
Please take a look here to see more about Alec's Year Books. Or read on:
When my son Alec was born in 2009, I knew I wouldn't have as much time for ambitious art projects, so I began writing a simple strip about life with my son. I decided that, whenever I could find the time, I’d put down a simple vignette, or even a single image, that would capture the events of one day.
Since Alec was born just over four years ago, I’ve created about 40 strips each year. And each year’s worth of comics has been collected into a little blue book. A story that captures moments from the first few years of my son’s life - funny, sad, and sweet - has started to emerge. The strips are written from a parent’s perspective, but can be enjoyed by parents and non-parents alike.
"Alec's 1st Year Book" and "Alec's 2nd Year Book" debuted at the 2012 Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo. The Calgary Expo, which takes place at the Stampede’s BMO Centre every April, is the main event for Calgary’s comics scene, and is fast becoming one of the hottest comics events in the country. Bringing together creators, publishers, retailers, superstar media guests, and (most of all) fans from all over the world, the Expo is the ideal place for Calgary comics creators to showcase their work and meet their audience. In fact, artists come from all over Canada to secure a coveted spot at the Expo.
As one of Calgary’s few “indie comics” creators, I’m excited to represent our city at this year’s fast-approaching Expo. This year's event would be the perfect place to launch the next installments of my current series: “Alec's 3rd & 4th Year Books.” After all, this is what I want people to see: it's the project that’s closest to my heart.
So - head over to InvestYYC.com and search for "Alec's Year Book" (or just follow this direct link). You'll find more details, such as: THE PERKS OF MAKING A DONATION! Yes, there are rewards for all donors! And even the smallest amount will make a difference towards the printing costs for these little books (my total fundraising goal is just $550).
But you need to act fast - the campaign ends on April 25th, the day before the Expo. And I've already taken up far too much of your time with this long post. But come back soon - more updates (and teaser pictures) to follow, like this one:
Bump! Bump! Bump!
I just read that the bouncy castle at the Kingsland Farmers' Market is all set up and waiting for bouncing children. My son will be happy to hear this! I took him there for the first time last summer (he was three), and it must have made a big impression on him, as you can see in this comic strip from a few months ago:
This comic strip is part of a new little series that seems to have been unfolding since Alec's birth. It started with "Alec's First Year Book" and I'm now on the fifth. The idea was just to draw simple, quick strips once a while, so I'd have time to actually spend with my son rather than just spending all my time drawing pictures of him. You can see the early ones here on my website. The first two books are finished, in print, and for sale! (Well, right now you can find them at Edmonton's Happy Harbor Comics, or you can just send me a note.) The next two still haven't been printed, but I've been thinking I might get them ready for the 2013 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo... what do you think?
I am a graphic recorder based in Calgary. I like local stories. I write comics when I have free time. And I leave eraser shavings everywhere I go.
Looking for a
Some nice things people said about my work:
“If Breitkreuz and Foong [founders of the Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo] represent the Type-A side of Calgary's self-publishing community, Hester may be the community's right brain.” – Tom Babin, FFWD Magazine
“…A strong graphic style similar to other autobiographically-inclined Canadian cartoonists like Chester Brown and Julie Doucet.” – Gilbert Bouchard, Edmonton Journal
The 23rd Story: an indie comics creator's tales of life in Calgary