Category Archives: Livejournal


Hit a strangely good stride today while drawing.

Started pounding out compositional roughs that will be interior illustrations for the Exalted book “Savant and Sorcerer”. The images are Tarot-esque, with gobs of symbolism and what-not in them. The first couple chicken scratch thumbnails took forever but as the day went on I got more confident with my gestural drawing and hit a pretty good pace. I can visualize how they’re going to come together in the final and I really want this to work out well.

Looking at how many pieces I have to do for the book before Gala and I take the drive down to Atlanta… It’s horribly intimidating, but exciting too.

In the art notes, Geoff (the Developer) wrote:
“An opportunity for artists who are into symbolism enough to understand that they need to use Exalted’s symbolism, or who are setting followers… if we have any of those (the cheerful dude from Udon strikes me as perhaps one of these people).”

So he sort of asked for me to do these pieces. I know I don’t have to, but it’s kind of a challenge and I want to meet it.

It’s easy for me to shy away from tough art assignments at Udon because I’m generally the one assigning them to people… other people. I can focus on art I like to do or subjects that interest me. I’ve given myself a few doozies, but even still.

These pics are going well. Roughed out 6 so far and want to rough out another 9 between now and tomorrow night. Even if they’re all approved, the tough part will really start… getting them all done full size and detailed.

The card game art that I feel really good about won’t be visible for many months. I want something to come out this summer that I can show people and say “I did that… and it’s pretty damn spiffy.” I have some pieces in the books that are good, but I have others that annoy me. I want these to really push my abilities. I want to get to the next plateau artistically.

I also want to spend some time with the lady before she’s gone for the summer. Aye, and that’s the rub.


Gotta balance these tasks against everything else and ride the keen edge between to victory. Wish me luck.

Oh yeah, Cornflake did this kick ass sketch of me while warming up today:

Jim from epic days of yore.

Crick In My Weekend…

Slightly frustrating weekend, but overall okay.

Just before I went to go teach on Friday I pulled a muscle in my neck, leaving me in brutal pain through the weekend. It usually happens to me once or twice a year, taking me mostly out of commission and forcing me to wander around with my head in the locked, straight ahead position like some kind of robot.

Waking up on Saturday, I was sore, but determined to take some painkillers and go check out a matinee of the new Hellboy movie. Hellboy is a great comic, and the trailers looked amazing for this flick.

Overall, okay…probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I would have never read the comic before. I prefer the comic, where the Bureau goes to little spots in Eastern Europe or out of the way places to battle folklore, demons, ghosts and the occasional big threat… In comparison, the big city fight scenes, “Hellboy in the news” type stuff didn’t ever feel right to me.

Hellboy in the comic was a well read paranormal investigator who talks a bit like an old man half the time and can lay the smackdown on evil. Hellboy in the movie seemed like a big jock with a crush. Same thing with the villains: one note personalities with none of the dark flavor they had in the comic.

The high-tech facilities and romantic triangle didn’t feel like Mike Mignola’s HP Lovecraft meets Jack Kirby monster-style creation, you know?

Great visuals in the flick. Great FX. It was well directed too. That creature from the other world was amazing! It’s definitely a movie worth checking out

Even still, I’m disappointed. It was good, just not really the Hellboy I read and loved. The story deviated strangely from the source material, tuning out traits I loved about the characters instead of enhancing them.

I was hoping for quirky cool and got Hollywood heroes with some awesome Lovecraft inspired creature visuals. Oh well…

Got home from the movie and my neck was really, really hurting even though I’d kept it really well padded during the movie. Grabbed a nap and took some Advil. Gala and I were supposed to go to two different Birthday parties on Saturday night, but it just wasn’t do-able. With my neck throbbing, it would be irritating driving downtown Toronto and then just sitting in a corner wishing the pain would stop. That coupled with the fact that it was impossible for me to turn my head while driving to check my blind spots, and we figured it would be better to stay in.

Last night I chatted with Mike and Tanya about the pub gathering/memorial they had for Jordie. Seems an appropriate way to remember him. Really wished I could’ve been there to share the tears, smiles and drinks.

This morning I’ve got more range of motion, but am far from 100%. Gonna lay low until I’m back up to par and then do some social calls to friends, I think.


A close friend of mine named Jordie passed away last week and I just found out a couple hours ago.

Any other introductions I type would eventually wind their way to this point, so I thought I’d punch myself in the stomach and just start with it.

Tanya called to let me know. I hadn’t talked to her in years. She called the Operator in Toronto to find my number so she could let me know.

Let me know that Jordie had committed suicide. He hit his lowest point and hung himself.

Her voice was a trickle of vocal ups and downs punctuated with tears, then memories washed over me because Jordie’s really gone. Minutes later, my stomach’s tightening, my lips are going dry and the tears are welling up.

Adventures I had with Jordie… the kind of Zub Tales that I relish telling people from time to time, making them laugh until they cry. Tonight instead is big wracking sobs, sucking in the hurt until you feel like you’re going to burst.

Jordie and I turned Lake Louise upside down, we danced, we drank, we sometimes waxed philosophical. Staring out into the stars over that ski weekend, he told me to burn that sight of Banff into my mind and I did. It’s still right here…

I talked to him about my nerdy dreams in comics, animation and the RPG business. Funny when you look at what I’m doing now. Life grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, hurtled me around the country and I lost touch with him. Out of sight, out of mind… Some of you who read this probably feel the same way about communication with me now. Always busy or making excuses, never enough time for anyone or anything.

I don’t feel guilty about his decision to die. The pain cuts deep because I knew a great guy and shared his friendship for a while.

And now he’s gone. No double-tap punches, Ecstasy-laden raves or Strongbow will bring him back. Tanya and I used to worry that he would never settle down with a girl or slow down enough to appreciate the things around him. We were right.

You chose wrong, Jordie. But I salute you as the man I knew, not the one you became.

Moving Anxiety

Up early. 5am kind of early…

My stomach is a bit in knots. So much to do and I just want to sleep.

We picked up the keys to our new apartment yesterday. Looking through the empty rooms and imagining where all the furniture will go while our voices echoed off the walls…it felt good. I want all of our stuff to be there now, but I know that it’ll be a weekend of shifting and exhaustion before it’s at that point. But it’s getting closer and I’m nervously excited about it all. Phone service starts there on Saturday. Internet kicks in on Tuesday.

More projects came in for Udon. My God, I don’t know how we’re going to get them all done. My boss had to scoop some of the artists I’d earmarked for other projects so that some new comic work could get done. I think I can give every one who’s left a little bit more and make it happen. I’ve just gotta make sure that the styles of 5-6 different artists isn’t too jarring to any of the projects. I know it’ll work out, but being in the midst always looks like it’s overwhelming.

As far as the Exalted card game goes…we’ve got over 50 of them colored and approved so far out of 300. Not as many as I’d like, but reasonable given everything else happening. Once the move is done I’m going to power through some of the coloring I haven’t had time for and drill out some pictures for Aspect Earth and the Warcraft: Lands of Conflict RPG books.

Got a great haircut late last week from a strange lady. She never asked me to change my head position while she cut, she just grabbed my face and pushed it around, or crooked my head at a weird angle and held it there with her left hand like some kind of pinching crab claw while she cut with her right one. I was really irritated in the midst of getting twisted and pushed around, but I had to admit that the final product was really good. Gala told me I had to go back to this woman next time I needed a cut, even if she was a crazy crab-handed bitch.

Heard news that Helix, the studio I worked at in Halifax, just laid a ton of people off leaving a virtual skeleton crew. Guys who had been there for years are out of a job, including my buddy Cornflake. It really reinforced, again, the smart risk Gala and I took by coming back to Toronto. If I would have been trapped out there without a job, I don’t know what I would have done or how that would’ve crushed my self esteem or my relationship. Things were already rocky in Halifax with Gala and I when we left (notice the lack of Newsletter updates during those months)…that would’ve probably shattered it. Obviously, things are amazing now in comparison.

The weather’s slowly warming up here and the sun’s staying up longer in the evening…good things are happening. My brain’s awake even though my body wants to rest.

Looks like the body loses out today. Too much to think about.

Concentrated Lines…

Gal kicked me in the head on Friday when she correctly pointed out that I was procrastinating on artwork for the Exalted card game. I was so wrapped up in managing the rest of the crew, teaching, running around and video games that I was slowly slipping behind on my own deadlines.

Every so often it’s good to get your ass kicked like that, get up and energize yourself. So I set goals over the weekend and met them, tearing into more art roughs and coloring other pics I’d finished drawing. I really took my time to color up a pic I did of the Exalted equivalent of a Goblin (the Fae Hobgoblin) and it came together really well. One of the best things I’ve colored.

Then tonight, a really good drawing groove…

Back at Aurenya, Nick and Omar used to drill me on my quality of drawing. My lines weren’t precise enough, I wasn’t thinking when I laid down form and detail. I would argue and go back into my shell, wondering if I’d ever improve…sometimes I’d go over a week without practicing drawing at all, stupidly.

Sometimes I get a good drawing and I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Usually my skills waffle back to their old mistakes.

Tonight though, I really felt like it clicked with the two characters I drew and I think I can make it click again more consistently. My quality of line is improving and my understanding of line and form is moving forward…strange that I’m stepping back and seeing it now.

Confident, fine lines instead of my usual hesitant, shivered and feathered shapes. Angles with curves and strong overlaps instead of easy angles and blobby soft shapes. Looks like someone else drew it. Somebody good 🙂

The ultimate irony is that I can’t show any of you this stuff. White Wolf has got a lockdown on this artwork until they start advertising the Exalted card game. As proud as I am of the work, it stays under wraps for now. *sigh*

But the pics are here in front of me. Maybe I’ll look at them tomorrow and see mistakes, but for now, they look good and that’s worth recording here.

Web Comic Wobble

Yesterday, Joey Manley at Modern Tales asked me if I would mind giving up my spot on the website so a new cartoonist (a cartoonist who’s actually updating their work) could move in with some new material. It makes total sense from a business point of view and as the editor, I would’ve probably kicked my own ass out many months ago once it became obvious that I didn’t have time to create new web comic material. Joey’s always polite and I appreciated that he asked me about it instead of just bumping me out. I haven’t added content to Modern Tales since May 15th of last year, 9 months ago.

It feels strange.

Joining Modern Tales was a tiny step in validating my artwork and/or telling myself that I could do this for a living. It wasn’t some huge amount of money, but it was mine and people were reading it and putting it on Modern Tales in some small way made me a “professional”. I might have gotten more people to read the story if I’d kept it free, but I wanted to hook up with the crew that Joey had formed and see if I could help them pioneer something different on the web. In turn, I met some great people, went to San Diego Comic-Con and inadvertently changed my life.

I’ve still got the first e-mail where Joey asked me if I’d be interested, back on January 26th, 2002. 2 years later…man, have things changed.

I still have stories to tell, but now I don’t know how much time I have to get them all drawn and colored up. I still want to create things, and the art I’m doing for work has been a great way for me to improve those skills. I look at some of the pages in Makeshift Miracle and they look raw and messed up. But warts and all, they’re part of the path I was on, finding my way. Having those 3 pages a week to see that evolution in my work was really important.

Joey is hoping that I can find a good printer and have Makeshift collected into a little graphic novel format. I’ve got to do some looking around here and call people about printing rates. Probably won’t even be able to do that until after the March 1st move.

In the end I guess it’s a little change with big memories attached.

A Little Sore, A Little Tired

But overall… things are going pretty good. Haven’t been as productive on my own artwork as I have been in managing other people’s, but I should still be on target to hit my deadlines.

It’s quite the maelstrom lately managing all the artwork for the upcoming Exalted Card Game. So many pieces to pour through. Last week I had every Exalted RPG book laid out on the floor double checking what pieces we needed on the company FTP so that the artists would have enough reference to draw from.

February is going to whip by and then Gal and I will be in the new apartment. I can’t wait to get that all organized and build our place up bit by bit. Both of us can keep some odd hours and it’ll be more relaxed doing that in our own place.

I think we may have a housewarming sort of party once we settle in. Gala and I went to a nice dinner party at our friends Veronica and Joel’s a few weeks ago and that spurred the thought of us having one too down the road. A dinner party sounds really formal and adult. Next thing you know I’ll be wondering if my dishes match my dining room carpet or something. Hmm, we’ll have to liven it up then. A theme of some sort, or just good old alcohol.

Zubby Newsletter – February 7, 2004


Oh shit, it’s February.

Um, hi…sorry I haven’t been in touch very much since Christmas time. The whole mad schedule and all that. Things are changing as always and time is moving at faster than expected speeds around me, through me and under my feet.

The new year is starting off strongly however. Lots of work, teaching, artwork and projects to manage. Probably one of the busiest times I’ve had at Udon mixed with the new part-time teaching position at Seneca. It’s a good kind of crazy schedule.

Gala and I found an apartment and we’ll be moving in March 1st to the new place. My Aunt and Uncle have been wonderful and staying here helped us get back on our feet after the financial hit in Halifax. We’re coming out ahead and looking forward to unpacking boxes that have sat at my Grandmother’s in storage for almost a year.

Unbelievably, this is probably my last Newsletter e-mail. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t want to stay in touch. I just realized how much easier it is to put the journal on the web instead of trying to keep up with people’s e-mail addresses and dodge their junk mail filters. From now on, you can keep up to date with me at:

All the old Newsletter e-mails are archived there, crazily enough. That’s 130 posts dating all the way back to March 1999. If you ever wanted to read and see the ebbs and flows in my life, you can start here:

and click the little “next post” arrow through as you read each entry up to the present. Archiving them brought back a slew of memories, good feelings and bad. It made me glad I’ve kept them and helps me put a date to events I might have forgotten. I need to add some more photos, especially to the convention posts from this summer, but everything else is there.

If you have a live journal, feel free to send me the link if I don’t already have it.

So, now your e-mail In-Box is free from my pelting. I hope you stop by the journal site. Feel free to comment or send me e-mails.

Zubby Newsletter – December 30, 2003

Another Christmas come and gone. That didn’t take long at all. Another year hurtling past me and the excitement continues. I hope everyone had a fulfilling holiday with family or friends close at hand.

The Udon Christmas party was fun. It was amazing having almost all the crew there in one place at the same time. Even though I knew that the company had around 30 artists, I was still surprised at seeing and interacting with so many all under one banner. We held the party at a huge Buffet place in Scarborough and after the food passed out gifts randomly based on who’s name was drawn from a box. I ended up with a “Duff Beer” Simpsons baseball cap. I won’t wear it much, but it’ll sit somewhere prominent in the studio space anyways.

Heading to Edmonton for Christmas was a good little break. It was a good way to change the scenery for a bit, see Gala’s family and unplug. My allergies nagged me for a bit out there, but allergy medication came to the rescue and all in all, it went quite well. With so many people packed into the house and the chaos that Christmas can bring, there were definite moments where I wanted to just vanish and be a hermit, but I think that comes with any social overload.

Christmas with Gala’s family at the farm is so different than with my family in Toronto. The orderly course of events that my family has gives way to a strange anything-goes at Gala’s. It has its advantages and disadvantages, of course. It’s not a restrictive and can be extremely comfortable, but occasionally you have no idea when anyone is going to be making a meal or even what people are doing for entertainment. We had fun; Gala’s sister Arwen gave us a solid stone Gargoyle that will have to be shipped to Toronto and on Christmas Eve we shot fireworks off into the pitch blackness of the night sky.

Gala and I went to see Return of the King last night. I won’t spoil it for any of you, but I will say this: it’s possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen. It’s a ride that will make your jaw drop and your heart swell, seriously. I thought the other two films were good and this one is so far above and beyond them that I couldn’t believe it. The audience was stunned into silence, no word of a lie. You could hear the odd sniffle of tears, that was about it.

Walking out of the theatre, Gala and I hugged and had a moment as rain sprinkled down on us. In the three years that the Lord of the Rings movies have come out, we’ve seen each one in a different city where we were living. Calgary, Halifax and now Toronto. What a crazy ride. The only constant in our lives over the past 3 years seems to be the two of us together and watching those movies each holiday season. That probably sounds overly dramatic, but I don’t really care because it makes sense to me. It was the right time and a good moment to see what the two of us have been through together. The relationship and our love has been yanked across the country, ripped out by its roots and replanted twice, torn holes in our heads and hearts but it’s still there. That has to mean something…I just want to figure it all out so that it lasts.

Moving back to Toronto in April, joining Udon in June, teaching again in a couple weeks…2003 has been a great evolution and a big surprise. I don’t think 2004 will have as many changes and upheavals, but I’m okay with that. The road I’m currently on feels right so far, so I’d rather just accelerate instead of look for an off-ramp.

Zubby Newsletter – December 21, 2003

The year is winding down, Christmas is almost here and the last couple of weeks have streaked by and hyper speed. Work, Christmas shopping and lots of errands before Gala and I head to Edmonton have made things even more chaotic than usual.

Gala and I were actually able to get away for 2 days to my parent’s cottage, which was a much needed breather and a chance for her and I to spend some time one-on-one. That kind of time has been preciously small lately, so we both pushed to make the cottage trip a reality. When it was all done, we were both really glad we’d done it. It was a nice drive, some hiking and just hanging out with a roaring fire. Good memories built there and conversation like we haven’t had in many months.

Back home, work has been a bit of a scramble, but now seems finally under control. A couple big projects will be starting right around the same time I start teaching, which should make things positively frantic, but always an adventure. 2004 is looking to be just as wild as this year was, and that’s saying quite a bit.

The Udon Christmas party is tonight and it looks like it’ll be a good way to touch base with almost all the artists. Food, drink and some business conversation will creep in there. It’s really rare to get so many of the artists together because we’re all working from home, so it’s important to have these types of get togethers.

My brother, Gal and I got my Dad a neat Christmas present. He opened it yesterday so he could see it before I left on my trip. We snuck out his favorite album of Russian orchestral music and had it digitized as a high quality CD. You can’t buy that album on CD (trust me I looked) and him being able to always have it without it degrading any further really surprised him. He actually got weepy when he played it, which is always the sign of an important gift. It’s getting harder and harder to buy gifts for my parents, so finding unique things like that is a plus.

The books and projects I worked on over the summer and fall are finally seeing print. The latest issue of Dungeon Magazine (#106) is out with my collaborative cover image and a few pieces inside too. The Exalted RPG book Kingdom Of Halta is out as well, with interiors by me and other Udon members. An Everquest RPG book, as well as a Warcraft one should be out any time now and more magazine stuff next month as well. Before the summer, 6-7 more books will be out. Strange and wonderful times indeed…if you’d have told me a year ago I’d be doing this, I’d have told you that you should be committed. Now, I’m just riding the roller coaster and trying not to lose my lunch.

Saw a pile of people downtown at Dave’s new LARP game; A strange mix of old and new players getting into a new game. It was a bit surreal, but quite fun as well. If my schedule holds up, I should be able to attend the sessions once per month. Unlike the old game, we’re all far too busy to get together every two weeks.

That’s the rundown. Christmas loot and a recap of the Edmonton trip should be in your In-Boxes before New Year’s Eve. To all my friends and family on this crazy list: Happy Holidays and good cheer.