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Farewell to 2020, part 1

We’re all very glad to see this year fade away. It was fiery pile of trash. No one will argue that. It’s also not going to change drastically overnight, just because we’re dropping a zero and adding a one. But it is ending with glimmers of hope, and that’s more than we can say about almost every single day we lived through.

Personally and professionally it’s been a hard year. I lost my dad in August, moved back to Ottawa after almost ten years in Toronto, and almost left animation entirely. I’ve had a chance to really reassess my priorities and focus on what’s important. After a late-in-life diagnosis of ADD, a lot of things make a lot more sense, and the meds I’ve decided to take have been a real game changer. I’m also mostly on the other side of a very real and very extended bout of depression. The last 2 to 3 years were hard, and it came as a huge relief to notice about 2 months ago that I had referred to depression in the past tense. With a lot of love and support, I finally got to a place where I could get help, and I’m very happy to say, it worked.

So, while it has been one of the hardest years of my life, and in that, I know I’m not alone, it’s also been a year of positive steps forward.

Oh, and I’m also about to become a grampa. Like, literally at any moment. My step daughter is almost a week overdue. That’s going to be a gas.

The site is finally evolving. We have a very stripped down redesign that is mostly doing the trick. It’s all a template, so over time I’ll be doing a few customizations and adding a few widgets. But for right now, I actually enjoy looking at it, and feel mildly renewed to engage in it again. You may have noticed that over the last month or so there’s actually been content here that wasn’t a job post! I KNOW! Finally.

And this is where it begins again. This site has been around a very long time, and I’ve tried over and over to get the energy together to push it further and do more. But it wore me out. And I apologize for that. I tried, I really did. But the ingredients just weren’t there. Once again, however, I’m feeling hopeful. We launched the redesign, we’ve started a Discord server, here’s the invite link, but I think they expire. I’m still figuring that one out, but it’s fun and kinda exciting.

We’ve started working on a podcast too. Basically taking what we did at Startoon a few years ago and continuing it here. Lots of interviews. The Nick Cross talk I did with TAAFI a few weeks ago was kind of a warmup. If you liked that, I’ve got a really great list of names staring back at me from my whiteboard that you should really enjoy. We’ll put them up on Youtube, but we’re also going to make them available as audio-only so that they can play in your ear while you work without overloading your system. Without the Startoon mandate, we can take the podcast in more directions.

Not Muppet Mathias Horhager.

As much as I love hearing about people’s animation journeys and talking about how things get made, we’re also going to just do mini-episodes that focus on really specific bits of some of my favourite humans’ particular obsessions. For example, Mathias Horhager, the guy who directed the One Day at a Time and Blackish animated episodes? He’s a nut for Sesame Street and has very strong Muppet opinions. So we’ll give him an outlet.

I’m also going to branching out a bit with the podcast, launching something a little less animation-oriented called the Hug Death Podcast. It’s just something I need to do. I’ll still be talking to a lot of cool creative people there, but it won’t be as animation focused. Hopefully it’s not terrible.

I’m taking suggestions for the animation podcast though, so if you know of someone that you think has cool stuff to say, and that they deserve a platform from which to say it, just let me know.

I’m also looking for contributors from other parts of Canada. Someone from BC, the Maritimes, and Quebec. We’ll work on that, but again, I’m open to suggestions.

I’m going to dump the Cartoon North Patreon too. I’m thankful for the small group of contributors who have done their part to support what we do here, especially when we weren’t doing a ton of it. I’ve launched another Patreon, one that encompasses all the things I do, including this. So if you still want to support, we’re over here.

A little look at a Taking Flight design.

I’ll be making a bunch of stuff available on there, including the toolkit we produce in my classes at Algonquin and Seneca, it’s an evolving career toolkit that includes tips on taxes, branding, resumes and portfolios, a breakdown of the animation industry in Canada including the various production centers, stuff like that. It’s also where I share behind the scenes stuff from TAKING FLIGHT, the totally unofficial Alpha Flight fan film that I’m making. There isn’t a ton there yet, but I’m working on it. I did share part one of my personal feelings about good character design, with very anecdotal talk focusing primarily on my experience working on the mid-nineties series, Savage Dragon. Some of that content will navigate over here, but it’ll probably be a little more edited. So basically, the Patreon is the insider stuff.

I’m figuring this out as I go, pretty much the same way I did 11 years ago when I started this thing. I hope it’s worthwhile. I hope there’s a place for it in the new online landscape. There will still be job posts, but there’s going to be more. When I launched Canadian Animation Resources it was a place to share all the stuff I was reading and enjoying, and to sometimes write stuff. I want that back again, and I think there’s room. So we’ll try a few things, see what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully find our way back to being a hub for you guys.

So that’s the end of year update from here. A lot of shit went down in 2020 that didn’t involve me, so I’m going to get to some of that next.

Thanks everybody. Be kind to each other and stay safe.


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