Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Welcome to 2014. Now Get to Work.

Well. Here we are. It's a brand-new year, a bracing new semester, a brave new world. And, frankly, the size of that open horizon of opportunity is daunting.

Probably because mine isn't nearly as open as I like to think it is.

I have a bad habit of piling my plate high with every project that catches my attention. My eyes are far larger than my calendar, and it tends to get me into trouble. I would do exactly the same thing with my course schedule, if time-slot conflicts weren't standing in my way; I would sign up for six or seven classes per term in an endeavour to learn, do, and write all the things, and go well and truly insane/broke in the process. Thank goodness for institutional restrictions. So, I have to make do with extra curricular activities to make my life a tightly scheduled and overbearing hell. It's good times.

Here's a glimpse of the coming year.

First and foremost, I have my BFA exhibition to worry about. The key word in that last sentence was worry. Hence, this is the the single most high-pressure and important semester of my entire degree. In theory, what I accomplish this term is what I will be showing to grad schools in the future. I have set myself goals that seemed good in the planning stages and seem insane, now, as I jump into the creation process itself. Long story short: I am writing a comic book, drawing it, and then turning it into a three-dimensional, walk-through, reader-activated media installation. Yes, that is as complicated as it sounds, but I believe it's an important formal exploration. How do you effectively take a traditionally 2D narrative form and translate it into 3D space? I aim to find out. If you're interested, and unafraid of reading, you can check out the rough-up of my research thesis on the matter here, on my portfolio site (bit.ly/AJKart).

I have a list of conferences that I want to attend this coming year. They made up 3/4 of my New Year's resolution list on Twitter last week:
I have high hopes for this year; can you tell? In April I'll be traveling to Chicago, where I am presenting at the annual conference of the Popular Culture Association of America. My paper is titled Out of a Diasporic Metropolis: An Exploration of Jewish Comics Creators in the Urban Landscapes of the Early 20th Century. Yes, the rest of the paper is just as long-winded as the title, and I have a lot of editing to do yet. But it'll come together. The other project on the drawing board right now is one I cannot speak too much about, simply because everyone involved is still hashing out the shape of whatever it is we're trying to build. Suffice it to say that myself and a number of other comics scholars under the leadership of A. David Lewis are working together to start a conversation at the junction of Religion and Comics. Stay tuned; this could get exciting.

So, PCA/ACA '14 is on the list. Small Press Expo out East is on the list, and Toronto's Comics Arts Festival is on the list. And, as always, the Emerald City Comic Con is on the list, though I doubt that I will have the time or the money come March to make the trip to Seattle. There are a lot of excellent creators slated to be there this year: among them, Jeff Smith (Bone), Brian Clevinger, and Scott Wegener (Atomic Robo), Greg Rucka (Gotham Central), and David Petersen (Mouse Guard), all men whose work I deeply admire, and Kelly Sue DeConnick, a woman whose writing on the Image series Pretty Deadly has set my imagination afire and prompted me to buy a t-shirt, which I have been wearing far too often lately. If there is one person at ECCC this year whose brain I would love to pick, it would be hers.

PCA, SPX, TCA, ECCC, SDCC...in 2014, I want to attend all the acronyms. It sounds like fun.

The other part of the aforementioned tweet, of course, is number 4 on the list, "Go to Scotland". I'm mid-way through applying to UBC's exchange program in hopes of being able to study English Lit in the fall Edinburgh, home to the world's oldest English Lit department. I nearly went to Scotland a year and a half ago, for the third year of my degree...but, there was a girl, and a long-standing tradition of men making silly choices for women which I yearned to be a part of. So, I'm in good company. Any hope of that relationship is well and truly behind me, and nothing (paperwork excluded) is going to stand twixt me and the highlands this time.

This post has shifted insidiously from a declaration of my over-commitment and poor time-management to me daydreaming verbally through my keyboard about white shores and far green country. I may be overtired (despite having done nothing of note today except not get hired for a part-time job), so I'll wrap it up. I have a heavy few months ahead of me. I have rather a lot of reading, writing, and research to undertake and I have a daunting piece of media-installation-comic-art to tackle. I have classes to attend in the Digital Humanities and in Posthumanist Theory, areas I have no experience with. The work will be thrilling, and it will be gut-wrenching. The work will be broken up by gaming, by traveling, and by late nights at the pub griping about it all with friends. I am, I believe, going to love every bit of it.

I'll keep you posted.

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