Mama Pérez, Balance, Art, and of course Life.
Man, where did June go?!
Missing last month’s update means this one's a doozy — or at least it feels like one. After a busy spring, of about six conventions, I attended my final show until Fan Expo Canada rolls around at the end of the summer. Thanks to all who came by and said hello — it was a wonderful show, and it was exciting to have it be our first US show presenting as RAID.
The aforementioned Fan Expo Canada is a big one, and it’s our home show. We go all out — and this year will be the first year we’re bringing back the RAID Social — an industry party we’ve held during the convention for 7 years, but paused over the pandemic — for two years it was for obvious legal reasons, but last year we were unsure if people would want a public gathering, and boy were we wrong. We were peppered left and right last year asking about the party — to which we sadly responded: “No party this year.”
Needless to say we're excited to be throwing the industry party this year and bring our community together for a few drinks.
Alright, enough of my preamble — let’s roll…
HEY MUM, WATCH THIS!
I’ve chatted a bit about my pops in the last couple of updates, but I wanted to give proper credit to Mama Pérez. She’s a tough cookie, who after my parents split in 1981-ish took on the full-time job of raising my sister and myself, with no immediate family on hand - and very poor alimony which was unfortunately the case back then. This in turn made me part of the latchkey generation — also known as Generation X — where I’d be coming home to an empty house, heat up some leftovers my mum had left for dinner, and look after my kid sister. When she had to work a night shift at the hospital — a babysitter or friend would be called in, till we were old enough to handle the evenings alone ourselves.
While my father was more old school, my mother — though roughly the same age — was much more modern. She came from a big city — Warsaw, Poland — and emigrated to Canada on a whim while she was visiting an uncle. She had met my father and they hit it off — and, essentially, never returned home from her holiday.
Ballsy move mum.
I’ve been sitting and chatting more with my mom these days. Getting stories from the old country — and discovering her journey. There are bits I knew, but many I’ve discovered in recent conversations.
My mum was born during WW2 in a bombed-out Warsaw. There was no bathroom in her home, which she shared half of with another family. She’d have to climb over rubble and debris to make her way to an outhouse near her home for even some time after the war, as Warsaw was rebuilt. She recently shared with me stories of her and other kids playing in bombed-out buildings, and destroyed cellars. At times coming across un-detonated bombs in the neighbourhood. Some kids, unfortunately, lost their lives to these bombs that would detonate from time to time as kids played on them.
Surprisingly — to this day — undetonated WW2 ordinance is still found!
As a kid you often miss, or take for granted the things your parents do for you. Looking back, my mum did some pretty cool shit for me.
She took me to see Star Wars on the big screen in Poland; at 9 years old she took me to see KISS live at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto — my favourite band as a kid (I’ll share my 9 year old metal head photos one day); and she put me in evening art classes with adults, not children, when I was in grade 5! Speaking of, she’ll often take credit for my artistic skills — as she gave me rudimentary lessons at 3 when she was pregnant with my sister. I recall her drawing faces - pretty ladies with almond eyes and bouffant hairdos.
Both she and my dad had decent art skills. I’ll see if I can dig up some examples sometime. My dad was probably a little better — using his skill to help define his mechanical and automotive visions. While neither pursued art, they still appreciated it, and it was front and center in our home. We had a variety of wonderful original oil paintings by Spanish art students hanging in our home. Kudos to my mum for constantly pushing me into the arts, and helping me refine my skills — that would lay the foundation for my future.
IT’S ALL A JUGGLING ACT
In a 1967 Batman episode titled “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!” the Joker plans to become the king of surfing, hoping the fame will give him control over the hearts and minds of Gotham City… a solid plan if you ask me.
I was a Batman fiend when the show was in reruns in the 70s and 80s. This was MY Batman and I loved the Joker — Cesar Romero killed it, even if he refused to shave off his moustache when playing the role. So it was rather perfect, that a couple of friends, for my birthday that just passed bought me a statue of Cesar Romero’s Joker cresting a wave on his official Joker Surfboard!
Their reasoning was — it’s about balance.
Something I’ve often chatted about with friends, fellow colleagues, and even touched recently upon on Inkpulp with Shawn Crystal, Eric Canete, and Matteo Scalera. Despite all the conversations — by no means have I gotten it right — in fact I often fail miserably. The last couple of years, in 2022 especially, my life was truly out of balance. Work and responsibility weighed heavily on my shoulders. I felt like I had barely any time to myself, let alone important people in my life. Life felt like a long string of obligations.
I vowed to initiate change and be on a new, better, path in the fresh new year of 2023. January 1, 2023, came and went, and so did the spring and — POOF, JUST LIKE THAT — it’s the summer. 2023 has definitely seen a better balance between work, life, and especially passion for the work that I do. It’s not perfect yet, but change takes time — and things always take longer than you expect them to as life continually moves forward and constantly throws new things your way.
But, as we cusp the halfway mark of 2023 — I’m happy with the way things are settling in. One thing I’ve learned though, is not to feel guilty for “working” too much. Something that always weighed heavily. I love what I do — especially when I have the opportunity to work on things that are mine or of my own initiative. For me, there's joy in getting lost in the brush strokes, the book design, or even building renovations, late into the night. It’s as stimulating as having a round of drinks with friends.
But then again I’ve always been weird like that — even as a kid and would be deeply immersed in my latest Lego build oblivious of the world around me.
We’re never too old to learn and grow and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
TRAVEL ADVENTURES DELAYED - BUT SHENANIGANS CONTINUE!
Back in April/May I had been planning a little birthday road trip escape on my BMW Motorcycle. Much of it involved travelling north, visiting friends, and discovering parts of northern Ontario. Unfortunately, with all the forest fires that erupted across this vast nation — a fire ban was put in place across this province — and most likely all the affected provinces.
What’s the fun of camping if you can’t have a nice fire to light up the evening?
So — for the sake of fun — I’ve decided to bump my adventure to the fall sometime. I’m thinking early September — I’ll keep you posted.
That’s not to say I didn’t celebrate — the trip was shorter, visiting my good friend Eric in London, ON. who offered up his home for my birthday celebrations. Friends came up and w killer weekend was had. I am spoiled with amazing friends — a big sloppy wet kiss to all of them for bringing the love, and a perfect birthday.
As mentioned above I got some sweet gifts from all — the aforementioned Joker statue — and a whole lotta tequila. I mean a lot. The gentlemen know me well.
I did end up treating myself to one thing for my birthday though — a dream come true really.
Earlier this year at Chicago’s C2E2 I met an art collector (he was looking to commission an original piece from me) and we got to chat about our mutual love of art and the artists we admired. Over the course of the conversation, it came up that he, and another collector, had a few original Robert McGinnis pieces for sale.
Most of the pieces were completely out of my budget. But as our conversation continued one of the pieces, and earlier one of McGinnis’ became somewhat attainable. I had always dreamed of owning an original McGinnis — but thought it impossible. But here it was, opportunity knocking — so after some short internal deliberation I said FUCK IT and made the deal.
The original now hangs in my home, where I can see it everyday. McGinnis has been a long time a constant inspiration — and now that inspiration comes everyday as this lovely lady gazes at me from across the room. Her eyes follow you like that of the Mona Lisa. I am smitten, and overjoyed to have this art in my life.
Never say never.
While not as cool as McGinnis, let’s talk a bit about some of my work 😜 as I did mention art in the title of this newsletter after all…
Over the past few months I’ve been putting together our RAID CREATOR VISIONS Series 1 Trading Card set and it’s been a whole lotta fun! With the cards locked in — a few weekends ago (there’s me working a weekend again) I dove into designing the card packaging and hobby box. I love the problem-solving element of design — visually balancing everything out, gauging how the individual will interact with the item, open it, and experience it. I’m by no means Chip Kidd — but I enjoy every bit of the process.
Here are some images and mockups I put together…
The project took longer than expected — but I’m thrilled to have this card set come out. It showcases some amazing indie talent — and I think it’ll be as fun to collect as I had fun making it! I have several crds in the set featuring Kukuburi, Butternutsquash, and a couple other upcoming projects I’m developing.
If you’re keen — card packs, and hobby boxes, are currently available for preorder at RAIDpress.com and all profits go into helping RAID, and all those involved, create.
COVER ART SNEAK PEEK
As mentioned last month I’ve been doing a variety of variant covers for upcoming releases. Unfortunately, none of those have been announced or revealed as of yet. That said, I thought I’d share snippets of the upcoming covers — y’know, to tease a little…
If you can guess what books these variants are for — I’ll send you a signed copy of the book once I receive my comp copies. Since I have four covers shared up top, the first four correct answers to name an individual book in the comment section below will receive said variant!
THE STATUS OF THE KUKUBURI KICKSTARTER
It’s a little quieter on the Kukuburi front this month, as I busily wrap up some other work. That’s not to say there’s no Kukuburi progress — as there’s always something happening! Below is a production proof from the manufacturer of the limited edition Kukuburi coin that backers of select tiers will be receiving.
Well, I think that’s it for this month. I have more stuff to chat about — but this newsletter is already feeling a tad bloated, so I’ll save it for next month.
Before I go, here a bit of art from my issue of Deep Cuts #4.
Till next month,
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