I get a little personal, an impromptu contest, and substack chat
SPRING FORWARD, AS THEY SAY…
We’ve had a an unseasonable warm April here in Toronto, and I took the opportunity to take my motorcycle out of storage (a friend’s garage) and bring it down to my place. This will allow me to do some basic maintenance on the bike a bit earlier than expected - and in turn give me a longer riding season. Something I haven’t been able to indulge in as much as I would like over the past 5 years - and definitely something I want to rectify.
The last lengthy ride I enjoyed was in the summer of 2017, when myself and a caravan of bikers traveled north along Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula to end up camping at Manatoulin Island’s Eco Park and enjoying it’s DarkSky preserve. Since then it’s only been quick little day excursions at most.
Why the lack of rides?
Let’s do something I don’t normally do - let’s get a little personal…
THE LAST 5 YEARS, GIVE OR TAKE / Part 1
As with most of the world, since the spring of 2020 I dealt with the repercussions of a global pandemic, and its lasting effects. Everyone’s experience here was a unique and personal one. For myself, it was a double edged sword of both positive and negative.
Just prior to the global pandemic and the world shutting down - two things happened that monopolized my life. In 2018 the studio that I was the official “cat herder” of was forced out of its location, a building we had been in since the early 2000’s, and had to find a new home. In the intervening years since the studio was formed, rent had skyrocketed in Toronto and finding new “affordable” accommodations would prove difficult. Especially finding a place to house 16 artists.
We found a space - but it was far from turn-key. It was beyond raw and needed to be stripped down to its bare bones and re-fashioned into a workable space. To make this move, plus be able take out the required loans to build our new HQ, I had to incorporate and put up my home as collateral. Something that began as a spit-and-a-handshake kind of scenario amongst friends and colleagues, became much more real, and a very heavy financial burden — and risk. We all agreed to make the move. But, what started off strong and united, began to crumble and fall apart a year down the line - just months before the pandemic hit. In the spring of 2020 business’ began to shutter their doors, and people began to work from home - and a shared workspace was the worst business to be in.
While the ensuing years were difficult, good hearts prevailed, and in a way, the pandemic kind of saved RAID. I’ll share more next month in Part 2 of this tale.
In the midst of the studio falling apart my dad had a terrible accident. He was found incapacitated, nearly dead, and would spend the next 6 months in a hospital. His recuperation would not be good. He would lose use of his hands and arms due to extreme atrophy, and would have to go into a care home to live out the rest of his days. Coupled with Parkinsons and Alzheimers his mind and body would deteriorate. Being my father’s POA - meant I took the responsibility of his life.
There’s a lot more to this - but I’m not ready to share all the details.
To further exasperate his situation, the pandemic was awful for people in care-homes. Residences were locked down to an almost prison-like state with no visitation opportunities, and only video calls allowed for communication. This continued off and on till only recently where my dad is now allowed more than one visitor at a time. At one visit when I was finally able to visit him in person he broke down in tears as he thought friends and family had forgotten about him.
These days, when I visit, my goal is to make his day a little brighter with smiles and laughter.
WHY AM I SHARING ALL OF THIS?
The reasons are many.
Mainly though, I think, is that I’ve been carrying this for quite a while — pent up — and I needed to shout it out into the ether. Get it out of my system. Purge. I’m not looking for responses, or support, I just had to get it out.
Normally I don’t share much - I keep my private life very private, even from those close to me. This is by no means a good thing - it’s just who I am. A by-product of my life. But, I’m getting better at it. Slowly.
The reality of my dad’s state, his accident, the life he intended to live, and the life he ended up with — its been a constant in the shadows of my mind — it’s made me truly reassess my life moving forward. A life that has been greatly out of balance.
Now let me be clear — I’m not saying the preceding years were all bad. Yes, my dad’s accident was horrible, and yes the fall and rebuilding of RAID both monopolized my time, and took a heavy emotional toll on me. But — the last 5 years also gave me some of the best and happiest days of my life. A love like I’ve never experienced with a partner like no other. Travels to new and exciting places. New friendships — and the strengthening of old ones. It’s been such an emotional rollercoaster, of the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, compressed into such a short time.
THE NEXT 5 YEARS AND WHY.
As I alluded to in my last newsletter, it’s a year of big changes. While I’m not where I expected to be, I’m in a decent spot — and as I move forward balance is my defining mantra.
I love what I do, draw, create, tell stories, and helping others do the same — but the next 5 years are about better balancing that aspect with life, love - and my personal goals of creating stories to share that are my own. I’m not an idiot, I know it will never be a perfect balance, but that’s okay.
I now see my pops every couple weeks - and my mum too - and I’m getting to know them a better as people, not just parents. RAID is growing, housing a combination of old and new faces — and it’s the best space ever. My load of responsibilities has lightened and I’m feeling good.
And — two months from now — I’ll be hitting 50.
Oh yeah, that.
It’s definitely been a part of my outlook, and has brought a clarity and perspective.
People have been asking me what I’m going to do to celebrate, as they know I love a good party. To bring this one-sided conversation full circle, I’m going to give myself the gift of time — a “me-moment” — and go for a ride.
I’m going to take my motorcycle, a bed-roll, a knapsack, and do something I’ve wanted to do for decades; travel across this great country of mine.
I’ll keep you posted :)
Thanks for reading, and listening.
This is newsletter from an artist, so I should share some art - right?
Since completing my run on STILLWATER (the last issue came out a weeks or so ago, and the 3rd and final trade collection should be out shortly) I’ve done a series of variant covers for a variety of publishers. I’ll share those here when I can.
The one below just came out - it’s for The Neighors a new horror series from BOOM! It’s a wonderful series - please check it out if you can. When approached to do the variant cover - my editor asked that it be a homage to a classic horror film - so, if you’ve read this far, and you’re the first person to tell me what movie poster I am homaging I will send you a signed copy of the book…
Next update I’ll share a bit more about Kukuburi, Part 2 of my 5-year tale, and upcoming projects. In the meantime tho, as I’ve been less active on social media, I wanted to try a new way to connect with all of you should you be so inclined — please read on.
In an effort to better connect with you, today I’m announcing a brand new addition to my Substack publication: the Cranial Percolations subscriber chat.
This is a conversation space in the Substack app that I set up exclusively for my subscribers — kind of like a group chat or live hangout. I’ll post short prompts, thoughts, and updates that come my way, and you can jump into the discussion.
To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app, now available for both iOS and Android. Chats are sent via the app, not email, so turn on push notifications so you don’t miss conversation as it happens.
HOW TO GET STARTED
It’s quite simple really…
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Substack Chat is now available on both iOS and Android.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.
With algorithms, curated content, and ads it seems like growing your community has become increasingly difficult on most social platforms - unless you have money to throw at them. Thank you for reading, if you enjoy my newsletter or my work in general - please share! Your support is truly appreciated.
You can also support by…
Backing a Kickstarter from RAID Press or myself.
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