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Showing posts with label I AM STILL YOUR CHILD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I AM STILL YOUR CHILD. Show all posts

Megan Durnford, her film LAST RESPECTS, and the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary

Megan Durnford with her Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary. Photo by her daughter Charlotte Dunford-Dionne
Megan Durnford (photo courtesy of Charlotte Dunford-Dionne by way of the Westmount Independent

Well, in the category of “better late than never,” I just discovered that Megan Durnford won one helluva an award back in May*. The award is the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary and is for Megan’s short documentary LAST RESPECTS (more on that in just one sec). As some of you know, Megan is also the writer and director behind I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, a documentary dealing with so-called COPMI (“Children of Parents with Mental Illness”). Yours truly was in that film, dealing with my mom’s diagnosis of schizophrenia and what growing up in that environment was like.

Regrettably, I have not seen LAST RESPECTS as of yet, but the film deals with a part of our culture that is really never talked about, at least publicly. As Megan noted, “What happens to Montrealers who die alone and whose bodies are not ‘claimed’ by loved ones?” As she began doing research, she came across a short article that discussed Father Claude Paradis and his annual ceremony for these forgotten people of Montreal. Rather than have me blather on about it, though, you can read Megan’s own thoughts about the film by reading her essay at https://povmagazine.com/reflections-on-the-making-of-last-respects/. The trailer for the film is on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8vOsGlC5BQ

The film also led to a really unique collaboration. Megan worked with her son, Hugh Durnford-Dionne, a cinematographer and editor in his own right and the two were able to mesh their skills as they developed the film project. While I’ve only met Hugh briefly, it is really neat that the two of them were able to work together in such a fashion. Not every family could actually complete a journey like that.

As the HOT DOCS — Jury statement notes, “For its human, simple and necessary approach to the universal theme of the dignity and value of every single life that stands out by virtue of its compelling, skilfully crafted visual language as much as its personal story and message.” And Instagram has a snazzy photo of Megan accepting her award!

I would encourage you to seek out the film, as I plan on doing, and also follow along with Megan’s career. And remember: she is not only a filmmaker, but is an author.

Salut, Megan!

* Yes, May, but I only came across the news yesterday courtesy of Westmount Independent, based in the island of Montreal.

The State of WOLF'S HEAD

Teaser image for Wolf's Head on KindleWhew, boy, what a tough couple of months. While there has been some joy (receiving the City of Ottawa grant and being shortlisted for the Peter Honeywell award being the best), for the most part it has been one helluva frustrating slog. I’m going to do my best to outline what the current situation is, mainly to help solidify my own thoughts on what’s gone wrong. Or, to put it another way, what hasn’t?

To put it bluntly, sales are not good. Worse, every attempt I’ve made to mitigate that has failed. What’s discouraging for me is that I clearly have no fan-base. How do I know that? Well, sales (both in print and digital) are the biggest example. Sales are extremely poor and are not getting better. In fact, they are getting progressively worse. In different circumstances, that would be enough to shut the series down. In fact, I have done exactly that in the past (specifically with my previous graphic novel series STARGAZER, ended after two volumes, and with the digital-only series METAL GODS, ended after four issues).

What makes WOLF’S HEAD different from those two? The biggest difference is that WOLF’S HEAD has never reached the Direct Market and, as a result, has been cut off from its largest potential audience: comic book fans. Mixed in with that are the aforementioned awards and grants; these have been especially important in teaching me that WOLF’S HEAD does have merit in certain (local) art circles, but there’s a “circuit break” between that and the larger comics community world-wide.

In fact, one of the biggest examples I could point to in terms of specific my role with in the comics community is the utter lack of media coverage and interest in my work. Not just with WOLF’S HEAD and not just recently; a significant disappointment to me was when the documentary film I’m in (titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD) received no traction whatsoever with comics media. If the film had been covered, then more people might have been introduced to both me and my work. I had partially launched WOLF’S HEAD with exactly this in mind: maybe my role in the film would help galvanize interest and awareness in the series. Since that didn’t happen, WOLF’S HEAD did not receive the momentum from the film that I hoped it would.

Diamond and the Direct Market

Teaser image of Lauren Greene, the main character from Wolf's Head, on KindleTeaser image of various scenes from Wolf's Head on KindleThis has been difficult for me to place, mainly because getting a direct answer from Diamond Comic Distributors has been so difficult. For those who don’t know, Diamond is the largest distributor of comic books in North America and Great Britain and they also distribute comics and related merchandise throughout the world. Prior to 2020, they were a de facto monopoly in the world of comics; however, with DC Comics breaking from Diamond in early June 2020, the monopoly label is harder to apply. Diamond was also a de facto monopsony; though that, given DC’s departure, is harder to apply, too.

For a small press like Von Allan Studio (that’s me, folks), Diamond plays a critical role in facilitating sales of comics and graphic novels to comic book stores. Fortunately, I have an account in good standing with Diamond; in fact, STARGAZER was distributed into the Direct Market (under Item Numbers NOV101057 and AUG111259) through Diamond a decade ago. Unfortunately, my amazing sales rep departed the company and his replacement has been fairly problematic. This is key: while Diamond never outright rejected WOLF’S HEAD, they’ve never accepted the series, either. In other words, WOLF’S HEAD exists in a sort of limbo for the past few years.

That has been dismaying for a few reasons:
  1. WOLF’S HEAD is a far stronger work than STARGAZER and it remains baffling to me why the latter was accepted for distribution while the former hasn’t been.

  2. “Limbo” also means that WOLF’S HEAD could be accepted for distribution with Diamond tomorrow… or never.

  3. The specific format of the print versions of WOLF’S HEAD was a result of attempting to meet Diamond’s specifications.

    While I don’t want to stray too far into the weeds here, the basic process works like this: once Diamond has agreed to take on a title for distribution, each issue/volume has to maintain a minimum sales threshold or risk cancellation. That threshold is based on total dollars; so selling 1,000 copies of issue 1 of a $2.99 US series results in a total dollar amount of $2,990.00, but selling 600 copies of issue 1 of a $9.99 US series results in $5,994.00! But that requires a print format that justifies the higher cover price. To do just that, I went with a trade paperback trim size and approximately 60 pages of content per issue for WOLF’S HEAD. I felt that this would give the series the best chance of meeting Diamond’s benchmarks while still giving readers a terrific experience.
Now, if Diamond had formally declined distributing WOLF’S HEAD, then I would have went in a very different direction with the print version of the series. Since I was in “limbo,” however, I decided to go ahead with it, hoping that, as the series progressed, Diamond would get on board and distribute the series. Sadly, that has never happened, leaving me with a print format that I’m not particularly happy with.

I did manage to get a few Canadian stores to pick up the series. But a combination of the pandemic (see below) and bad luck have basically ended that experiment. The store that did the best with the series was Librairie Astro in Montreal. Sadly, they closed in the summer of 2018 and I lost one of my biggest advocates. Strange Adventures in Halifax was carrying the series, but has apparently stopped. I say ‘apparently’ because I’m not exactly sure what happened; I suspect the audience simply never developed for the series.

What format would I be happy with? Well, either a saddle-stitched periodical series (i.e.: ye olde 32 page comic) or, better, a beautifully produced hardcover series that collected each story arc.

As it stands, I suspect the next release of WOLF’S HEAD (issue 7) will be the last with this 60 page format.

Comics Media

Teaser image of Sanko the dog and his best friend. Both star in Wolf's Head on KindleTeaser image featuring the first six cover of Wolf's Head on KindleWithout Diamond distributing the series, gaining media attention for WOLF’S HEAD from “comics media” (for lack of a better phrase) has been problematic. Some of this is understandable; a lot of comics media supports the Direct Market and are very plugged into Diamond’s distribution cycle. WOLF’S HEAD lack of distribution with Diamond falls outside of this purview and, as a result, few media outlets have been interested in discussing the series.

What’s been frustrating to me is that WOLF’S HEAD is broadly distributed. Finding the series is not difficult for either readers or retailers, primarily because WOLF’S HEAD has world-wide distribution through Ingram. This also means that the series is easy to find at online at retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Waterstones, and so on. However, from the point of view of “comics media,” this isn’t enough. Worse, this lack of distribution from Diamond has also disqualified WOLF’S HEAD from the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards (while I’m not positive on this score, I believe that the “Shusters” require distribution through Diamond for eligibility).

More importantly, the lack of media attention has meant that the series is pretty much unknown with the audience I need the most: comic book fans. Especially comic book fans who like independent or alternative comics (or “comix”). It is very hard to grow a series if your key demographic doesn’t know you exist.

Comics Media are also tricky to talk about because there’s a split in what and who receives coverage. More mainstream sites like Comic Book Resources or Bleeding Cool tend to focus on corporate intellectual property. This means titles from Marvel, DC, as well as licensed properties. Sites like The Comics Journal focus on more literary titles. Unfortunately, either due to the lack of distribution from Diamond or other reasons, I’m persona non grata with both. And that’s certainly not for lack of trying on my end.

The knock-on effects of all this is problematic. As a simple example, there is now a great deal of scholarship being conducted on comics with some truly fascinating insights from some remarkable scholars. Unfortunately, comics scholars aren’t, as far as I can tell, aware of my work. Or even aware of me, for that matter. A second example are librarians. Librarians have become key advocates of comics, but I’ve never managed to gain library support for WOLF’S HEAD outside of my own local Public Library. WorldCat certainly illustrates this plainly.

This is disappointing because my work has been in libraries in the past, but without awareness of the series it would be difficult for a librarian to justify the purchase of the series, especially given the times of austerity we’ve been experiencing for the past twelve years.


The pandemic has effected everyone. In the face of the death toll (it boggles my mind that 200,000 people have died in the United States alone and we’re not that far from 1,000,000 dead throughout the world), it’s a bit hard to think of anything else, but there have been knock-on effects for everyone, even those who haven’t directly been hit by the virus itself.

Obviously declining retail sales are a significant example. The effects are more horrifying when you think about food scarcity, layoffs, evictions, and the like. Yes, it could certainly be worse; in fact, I’d argue that one of reasons that COVID-19 has not been as horrific as, say, the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic is that there are still enough social programs by various levels of government to help prevent the situation from spiraling out control. Plus science has a far greater understanding of how pandemics spread than it did back in 1918-19. Still, the official governmental responses has been problematic (really? 200,000 dead in the US?) and we are clearly not out of the woods yet.

Since art tends to be a discretionary purchase, in the face of the global pandemic my print sales have declined. Not that sales were robust before 2020, but the pandemic has destroyed them. While book sales in general slumped when the initial lockdowns occurred, there seems to be some evidence that book sales are now stronger, at least in some markets. Unfortunately, this has not led to any sales growth for WOLF’S HEAD or any of my other backlist, though this is not surprising given what I’ve outlined above.

Digital Comics

Teaser image of Wolf's Head issue 6 on KindleTeaser image of Wolf's Head issue 17 on KindleWhat about digital sales? WOLF’S HEAD is available on both ComiXology and Kindle and released in periodical format (i.e.: approximately 30 pages) for $1.99 US each. This format has not led to strong sales. In fact, sales have been very weak. Kindle is almost a non-starter; while it doesn’t take too much work to format titles for Kindle (using the Kindle Comic Creator software), I’ve only had a handful of sales in this format. My ComiXology sales have been marginally better, but ComiXology (and Kindle, for that matter) really require reader awareness and interest when seeking out titles. What do I mean?

Well, there’s a conundrum with digital discovery that I don’t think has been solved yet. In a ‘brick and mortar’ environment, people can stumble across titles that they might not have known about simply because they are on a shelf, let alone activism from a passionate sales staff. While COVID-19 has obviously effected the ability of people to enter into retail stores of all types, this is still a key element of what makes ‘brick and mortar’ stores so compelling. Wander in, stumble across something interesting, buy it, and try it. With digital comics, it would appear that you really need to know what you’re looking for. I realize that digital does allow some degree of browsing, but (at least from my point of view and experience), this doesn’t seem to work all that well in practice.

As a result, my digital sales have been very poor. What I find interesting about this is that my 2020 experiences with Kindle and ComiXology mirror my 2014 experiences with ComiXology and my series METAL GODS. Things really haven’t changed all that much at all.

Where Things Are At

As disappointing as this has been, the good news is that the comics art grant from the City of Ottawa has helped mitigate some of the damage detailed above. In fact, if it was not for the art grant and the Peter Honeywell award shortlist, I suspect I would cancel WOLF’S HEAD immediately. As it stands, WOLF’S HEAD will continue, at least through the current story arc, and then I’ll revisit in 2021.

Self-publishing is hard. Frankly, I’ve never wanted to do it, not because I’m against self-publishing per se, but because of the immense amount of work involved in doing it. Hell, I already wear all the hats (writing, art, production, etc…). Adding “publisher” to that list is a bridge too far. I badly need a publisher. I badly need an agent, too.

With WOLF’S HEAD, it’s hard to know how things will go. My efforts to find a publisher for the series will continue, though that is one helluva slog right now (my jealousy of authors with formal publishing contracts knows no bounds!). For the short term, this means that WOLF’S HEAD will probably be turned into a webcomic.

Webcomics actually terrify me. While once-upon-a-time I did do a webcomic through Girlamatic (THE ROAD TO GOD KNOWS...), that was both a long time ago and with a group of allies. Doing it alone is scary. And WOLF’S HEAD was never designed to be a webcomic; I’m leery of how transitioning the series to that format will work in practice. At the same time, I know that a WOLF’S HEAD webcomic might be the best (only?) chance that the series has to find a real audience.

To paraphrase one of my favourite movies, “art is a cruel mistress, but she is her own reward.” Easier said then done. I don’t like writing and drawing in a vacuum. While I’ve never minded the solitary nature of the craft, my stories are meant to be read. I’ve never wanted to make ‘outsider art’ that few if anyone reads. My goal was never to ‘hermetically seal’ my work from the world at large, either.

It’s not a fun feeling to be where I’m at, struggling to find an audience and struggling to make a living at it. Solutions are difficult to find. And the loss I’ve been feeling is difficult to place. Given the state of the world (not just with COVID-19 but with the wildfires in California and Oregon, the explosion in Beirut, and so on), there’s a lot to be thankful for. There really is. Art and writing bring me a great deal of joy, not to mention the fact that I’ve grown a great deal as an artist.

I’m extremely proud of WOLF’S HEAD, despite the terrible sales and lack of awareness that it even exists. I think it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done. And it’s been a joyful experience, too.

It would just be truly awesome to be able to share that joy with readers.

City of Ottawa Grant Support

Cover of the City of Ottawa 2022 Grant Funding ReportIn a surprise (well, at least to me!) turn of events, I’ve received a $4,000.00 grant from the City of Ottawa’s Arts Funding Program (the PDF announcement from the City is here). The grant is in support of my ongoing comics project WOLF’S HEAD and represents a significant step in my arts career. Why significant? Well, bear with me here for a sec and I’ll try to explain.

As I’ve struggled to cobble together an arts career, there have been a number of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome. This is not unique to me, unique to Canadian comic artists, unique to visual artists, or unique to the arts in general. Despite certain stereotypes of artists (“heads in the clouds,” blah, blah, blah), it’s quite a tricky career to manage. There is not a lot of support “out there” for artists, either. Most artists I know are forced to manage their careers as best they can and there really isn’t a road map to help along the way. That’s been very true for me. While a lot of words come to mind to describe this — ‘challenging’ being a very good one — it just is what it is. And there is a certain truism to the notion that by the time acknowledgement does come (usually in the form of awards, accolades, and sales), the artist doesn’t need as much support as they once did. That’s definitely not true of me.

Let me say that again: That’s definitely not true of me.

It’s been a fight every step of the way. The first fight was simply to become competent and that might have been the toughest battle of them all. The learning curve, at least for me, has been extremely steep with a lot of false starts and dashed hopes along the way. Then, the next fight is to survive. Truth be told, that’s been tough, too. Being pretty much a fringe artist at the best of times and a true Outsider most of the time meant that building awareness for my work has been a never-ending struggle. Pragmatically speaking, surviving as an artist means generating an income. In my case specifically, that primarily means selling my comics. And that has never been easy.

Wolf's Head Book 1 cover by Von AllanAs some folks know, I really had hopes that I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the documentary film I’m in, would help build awareness for my art. That really hasn’t happened, at least so far, and the disappointment was hard to place. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of my role in the film. Far from it! And I still think the film is important for shedding light on parental mental illness, a taboo subject to this day.

That said, as my wife is fond of saying, the film was ‘kindling’ for my arts career and represented a milestone in its own right. While it hasn’t changed awareness of my work in the larger comics community, it has led to growing awareness in the local arts scene. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been a finalist for the Peter Honeywell Award without it. And I certainly wouldn’t have won a CBC Trailblazer Award without it, too.

And with today’s announcement of winning a grant from the City of Ottawa, I’m pretty confident saying that it wouldn’t have happened without the film and the other awards. One thing does lead to another. And the grant is important from another point of view; it really does give some much needed financial support for my comics endeavours. As I’ve noted, being an artist is not an easy path and every little bit of financial support helps. When a jury of my peers determined that my application was worthy of financial support, my jaw dropped. And it’s taken a bit of time for me to really get my head around it. I’m both honoured and pleased as punch to receive it. And in these pandemic times we live in, it is one helluva lift.

So yes, Von Allan Studio (that’s me, folks!) gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa. Boy, do I!

City of Ottawa logo

Recent Podcast Interviews with Von Allan

I've recently been a guest on three different podcasts chatting about comics, art, COVID-19, and mental illness. In no particular order, here goes:

I was interviewed by Tim Midura and Kyle Welch on their Pages and Panels Podcast. This is a wide-ranging discussion of comics, my ongoing series WOLF'S HEAD, the situation at Diamond Comic Distributors, the documentary film I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, and on and on! I really enjoyed this one and I think you will, too. The interview can be found at https://pagesandpanels.squarespace.com/blog/2020/6/12/pages-and-panels-vol-2-23-von-allen-and-wolfs-head or downloaded directly as a MP3 right here (just right click to download).

Not to be outdone, I was also interviewed on the Out of the Basement podcast. Out of the Basement is a local podcast from here in Ottawa, but with social distancing due to COVID-19, it was handled remotely. This chat ranges from comics to D&D and was a lot of fun. This interview can be found at https://outofthebasement.ca/pod/ootb/out-of-the-basement-podcast-episode-91/ or downloaded directly as a MP3 here (again, just right click to download).

Lastly, the always lovely Kevin Midbo had me on to chat about the early stages of COVID-19 and how it was effecting folks in my neighbourhood here in Ottawa. Kevin is great and the discussion, while short, was terrific. It can be found at https://www.vancouverislandmentalhealthsociety.org/artist-and-comics-creator-von-allan-on-life-during-covid-19/ or downloaded directly as a MP3 right over here.

Panel Discussion from 2018 Low-Beer Memorial Lecture

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo On September 27, 2018, I was part of a panel discussion during the 2018 Low-Beer Memorial Lecture that followed a screening of the documentary film "I Am Still Your Child." The film and panel discussion were presented by AMI Quebec (Action on Mental Illness) and was held at Concordia University's Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in Montreal. It was a pretty amazing evening!

The panel discussion was moderated by the always awesome Loreen Pindera from CBC Montreal and featured Megan Durnford (the film's writer and director), Rebecca Heinisch, Marie Leavens, and myself. AMI Quebec's Dr. Ella Amir added closing comments. It took a little while, but I'm very pleased to announce that the audio recording of the panel discussion from the panel discussion is now available! Yeah!

The MP3 can be played directly in your browser at http://vonallan.com/Audio/Low-Beer-Memorial-Lecture-September-27-2018.mp3. You can also directly download the MP3 by right clicking on the link and choosing "save as" (or whatever is appropriate in your browser).

It can also be played in the audio player below:

Panel Discussion from the 2018 Low-Beer Memorial Lecture:

Oh, and some additional photos from the events can be found right here.

2019 CBC Trailblazer Award

2019 CBC Trailblazer Award for Von Allan aka Eric Julien
It’s always a bit weird to be writing this, but here goes. I’m one of the winners of a 2019 CBC Trailblazer Award. With a trophy and everything! I have to admit to having mixed feelings about awards*, but it’s still pretty neat to have won one. And since this is the second award I’ve won for my art-related activities, it is another “arrow in the quiver,” especially given how hard it’s been to get to this point.


Hell, yeah.

Art, as a career, is not the easiest thing in the world to make a “go” of, especially given the austerity-fueled times we live in. And it has taken me a long time, longer than I would have liked, to reach the point that my art is, for lack of a better word, “professional.” ‘Course, one of the interesting things about art is what one means by “professional” can take on all kinds of different meanings. It really depends on who you are and what you like.

In my specific case, I knew I was pretty rough, but we really do learn by doing.

“Doing” also meant falling on my face. A lot. I’ve covered that in a piece I wrote called “On Getting Stronger” so I won’t cover that again here.

I think one of the interesting things about the Trailblazer Award is it really is recognition for the work I continue to do around my first graphic novel, the road to god knows... Who knew, when I first self-published it almost ten years ago, it would still be finding a life now? That’s in large part thanks to the documentary film I Am Still Your Child, written and directed by Megan Durnford, produced by Katarina Soukup and the fine folks at Catbird Productions, and supported by all the creative folks behind it (including “behind the scenes” people like Alex Margineanu, Howard Goldberg, Kathy Sperberg, Stéphanie Couillard, and Sara Morley, as well as folks like Jessy Bokser, Sarah Leavens, and Marie Leavens who I shared screen time with). The film gave a “second life,” so to speak, to the graphic novel and has led to speaking engagements, panel discussions, Skype conversations, and on and on.

Judith Lee Julien and me
And, more concretely, it’s given me an opportunity to talk about my mom. Not just her battle with schizophrenia, but also the poverty we battled combined with the lack of social programs to help her. To talk about the immense courage she showed (courage I’ve really only became truly aware of as an adult) while she fought a lonely and often terrifying battle to navigate a truly unforgiving health care and social aid system. And what it was like to grow up with her, for both good and ill.

It’s funny; my mom died pretty young, at 48. And I’m slowly but surely approaching that age myself. In fact, I’ve now lived longer without her in my life than I did with her (she died when I was 20, and I’m now well-past 40 myself). But the memory of her stays with me still. That’s partially because I loved her, of course, but also because I still find, to this day, how unfair her situation was. And the fact that it never had to be that way. Despite all of the “by your own bootstraps” nonsense we live in (you know, that idea that any failure, let alone any health issue, is a sign of personal rather than societal failure), what happened to my mom was grossly unfair. What is heartbreaking to me is that the unfairness she experienced is experienced by so many other people right to this very day.

Yeah, yeah, awareness about mental health and mental illness is better. There’s more open and frank discussion around it. Sure. But poverty has not gone away. The lack of social support really hasn’t changed. Welfare rates for anyone (let alone single moms) have, if anything, gotten much worse. We can talk about “resilience” and “perseverance” as much as we’d like. We can even point to individuals who’ve managed to do just that, but what about those who can’t? There’s still a chronic lack of systemic support. There’s still a culture that desperately needs healing (don’t believe me? Look at the suicides that are still occurring in the wake of the Parkland shooting).

I’m pleased to do what I can to help. And I’m proud, damn proud, to talk about my mom. To help put a face on what otherwise might be simple dry statistics. To use my art, as best I can, to show what some of this is like. But it’s hard not to escape the idea that in a very real way, the 2019 Trailblazer Award should not have gone to me.

It really should have gone to my mom.

She died in 1994, alone and isolated. I had moved out some months before because I had to, for my own sanity and self-esteem.

What I try to stress to people, though, is that she had hopes and dreams. Things she still wanted to accomplish. Who knows what she might have done if she had managed to beat a truly vile disease and get healthier? She’d be 73 right now, probably feisty as all get out, and probably telling her own story to people, trailblazing change.

I don’t doubt that for a second. But it was not to be.

Judith Lee Julien, age 14
I placed, a long time ago, the grief along with the disappointment of what could have been. It is what it is and it happened a long time ago. But other people, right now, are going through similar things. And even if mental illness is not a part of it, there is still crushing poverty, a cold and often hostile health and social services system, kids going hungry, massive personal debts, and horrible unhappiness. All the celebratory economic statistics in the world doesn’t change that. There is a lack of solidarity with each other, not just with our fellow citizens but a lack of solidarity and fellowship with people around the globe (don’t believe me? Look at all the hate against immigrants and refugees we’re seeing now).

We have to overcome this.

And what about me? Well, I continue to grow and get stronger, especially with my art (both visual art and my writing, too). And with my art I try to not just focus on the past (though always to honour it), but to move forward with new stories and new adventures. One of the things about falling in love with art, with comics, and with visual storytelling, is that the growing and learning never stops.

Using comics to tell stories has been, I think, the most rewarding thing I’ve done as an adult. And I can still remember where I was when the journey started to where I am now. Harder than hell, yeah, but rewarding all the same.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

* The late Harlan Ellison, back on the “Awards” episode of the TVOntario program PRISONERS OF GRAVITY said it best: “I think awards are bullshit. I think awards are detrimental to the writers…You win a Hugo, you win a Nebula, you win a Horror Writer’s Award, you win an Edgar, I’ve won all of them in multiples for god’s sake. What you’re getting are popularity awards. If you were a good boy that year. If you were published in the right place. If the right people read it. If stories that were five times better than yours were published in places no one saw them. Then you get an award. They’re meaningless.

They had value, years ago, as being, you know, you could put them on a cover of a paperback. “Hugo Award Winner.” Well, every book you pick up now is a Hugo Award Winner or Hugo Award Nominee. Or someone thought this should have won a Hugo. They don’t mean squat.

The minute you start thinking that you’ve won an award because you’re a terrific writer, you’re dead.”

Always good to keep in mind, right?


Here's the CBC Video Interview with me about the Trailblazer Award:

Interview with True North Country Comics Podcast

I recently did a Skype interview with the fantastic John Swinimer, host of the True North Country Comics Podcast. John and I covered a range of subjects, including my recent comics work (WOLF'S HEAD!) as well as the documentary film I'm a participant in (I AM STILL YOUR CHILD). We also talked about mental health and mental illness in general and how my mom struggled with schizophrenia, a pretty vile disease.

I love talking comics and creativity and this interview has quite a bit about that, too! There is something about storytelling, and comic book storytelling in particular, that I find exciting. I think the visual language of comics is endlessly fascinating, something I hope that I bring to my own work, not to mention how comics unites words and illustrations in a really neat way.

John was a great host and hopefully I did a good job as a guest. Give it a listen, eh? The MP3 for the podcast can be found at the links above or directly at https://truenorthcountrycomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Von-Allan-Jan-2019.mp3

CBC Montreal interview with Von Allan on Homerun

Just prior to the screening of the documentary film I AM STILL YOUR CHILD in Montreal as part of the 2018 Low-Beer Memorial Lecture (photos from the event are here), I scampered over to CBC Montreal to do an interview with Sue Smith on the drive home show "Homerun." And thanks to the CBC's Loreen Pindera, I now have an audio copy of the interview I can share!

You can listen to the interview by clicking here or by clicking play on the old timey audio player below.

Low-Beer Memorial Lecture Photos

As I noted in my last post, I was invited to participate in AMI Quebec's 2018 Low-Beer Memorial Lecture that featured I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the documentary I'm involved in. The screening and subsequent panel discussion was held at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall on Concordia University's Loyola campus in Montreal. It was a terrific evening. Possibly the best part for me was just being able to reconnect with so many of the awesome people who were involved in the film (writer/director Megan Durnford, producer Katarina Soukup, designer Sara Morley, as well as film participants Jessy Bokser, Marie Leavins, and Rebecca Heinisch). And to meet new people, including our fantastic moderator Loreen Pindera of the CBC and AMI Quebec's Dr. Ella Amir.

What follows are various photos of the event. These are courtesy of myself, I AM STILL YOUR CHILD's twitter page, and AMI Quebec's Facebook page. The panel (from left to right) featured Rebecca, Marie, Loreen, Megan, and me.

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture photo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture

I'm very pleased to announce that the documentary film I AM STILL YOUR CHILD will be presented at the 2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture in Montreal on September 27th 2018. The film is presented by AMI-Quebec Action on Mental Illness. Even better, there will be a panel discussion on the film featuring myself, Jessy Bokser, Sarah Leavens, Rebecca Heinisch, and Megan Durnford, the film's writer and director. It should be a pretty special evening and I'm really looking forward to it!

Update! Charlie Fidelman did a lovely piece on the film and some background on the screening in the Montreal Gazette on September 25, 2018. 

Here are the specific details:

Thursday, September 27 at 7pm
Oscar Peterson Concert Hall
Concordia University
7141 Sherbrooke West
Free admission
Presentation in English

The poster is below. And a PDF of the poster can be found at http://vonallan.com/press/I-AM-STILL-YOUR-CHILD-lecture-in-Montreal.pdf

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture

The film's trailer is below:

Glashan Symposium on Student Wellbeing and Mental Health

Glashan Symposium on Student Wellbeing and Mental Health poster

On April 20th, 2018, Glashan Public School hosted a symposium on mental health. I was invited by principal Jim Taylor to be one of the guest speakers at the event. It was a little daunting for a couple of reasons.

First, I'm actually a former Glashan student and, since my time at the school was not the happiest, stepping back inside was going to be weird. I literally hadn't been inside the school since I left it on my final day of grade 8. As it turns out, it was a "good" weird, but weird all the same.

Second, I was going to be talking a lot about my mom's struggle with mental illness. And since my mom died quite young, it was going to be emotional. On top of it, this is intertwined with my own memories if being a young teen while I went to Glashan.

It was, I'm very pleased to say, a very positive experience. All of the staff as well as the students helped me feel very welcome. I led two sessions of grade 8 students in a discussion about all of this. Probably about 30 minutes each, maybe a bit longer, plus a Q&A after. A number of kids approached me after each session to chat a bit more, too, which I take as a very good sign.

And if anyone wants to get a sense of what it all looked like, Glashan's Instagram page has a number of photos from the event. They're right here.

To prepare for each session, I made quite a few notes. I'm including them below (because, why not?) but the interesting thing is that I wound up not referring to them during the actual sessions. I felt comfortable enough and prepared enough not to need them. That doesn't always happen and I wasn't sure it was going to happen this time, but it did and I think (well, hope) that it means that it was a more natural conversation then a dry presentation.

Anyway! Here are my notes. A little stream of consciousness, but remember that these were here to help guide me if I needed them.

Starting with the Ending

I’m going to do something weird and start with the ending. So! My mom was diagnosed with mental illness when I was quite young. Maybe when I was around 8, but it may have even been earlier than that.

So, the bad news and the sad news was that my mom died quite young. 48, when I was 20 years old. It wasn’t her fault and it wasn’tfair. Life’s like that sometimes, but it can be very hard to place.I’ll get into the specifics in just a sec.

My mom was never able to recover or lead a normal life. I don’t really want to say “beat” or “defeat.” It’s not that simple. But she could never find the right mix of medication to help her lead the life that she wanted to lead.And as she got older, she got physically sicker, too. It was a double-whammy; she was struggling with schizophrenia and everything else and then her physical health declined, too. Partially because she was getting older and partially because it was hard for her to look after herself.

This can be an issue with mental illness; it’s hard, very hard, to exercise and eat right when getting out of bed is almost impossible. That made everything worse. She didn’t have a lot of “reserves.”

This is important: she didn’t make a mistake and get mental illness. She didn’t make a bad decision and get mental illness. It just happened.

But, at the same time, it wasn’t like it was always bad. The danger in talking about situations like this is that it tends to make them seem worse then in some ways they were. Compressed.

My mom wasn’t sick every single day. She’d have good days and bad days. Good weeks and bad weeks. And sometimes even good months and bad months. We did have fun together. And there were good times mixed in with the bad.


I was born in Arnprior.

I’m an only child.

My mom and dad split up when I was around five years old.

My dad moved to Ottawa shortly after that for work. His health wasn’t great, either, but it was all on the physical side. A lot of surgeries and a lot of pain. And he was ex-military, so he and I had very different personalities.

My mom and I moved to Ottawa when I was eight.

I went to Mutchmor and then Glashan and eventually Glebe high school.

Through it all we were pretty poor. A lot of poverty. There was never much money and it meant everything was a constant compromise. My mom went to food banks. Declared bankruptcy. We were on welfare. It was pretty tough.

And slowly, over time, I was becoming aware, probably around the time I was eight or nine, that my mom wasn't like other moms; but I didn't really understand why. She was my mom. And I think, looking back, she probably tried to hide some of what she was going through, too. Until she couldn’t anymore.

My Growing Awareness

Only later did I realize that what she was going through had names. Mental illness. Schizophrenia. Anxiety disorder. Nervous breakdown.

These descriptions are not well-defined. And, to make it even harder, science is still figuring it out. So, “schizophrenia.” What does that mean? Practically, it means that my mom couldn’t deal with things very well. She’d hear voices. Her sense of time (hours, days, weeks) would be very distorted (she’d say something happened yesterday that happened last month). Her thinking could be very confused. It was very hard to know if what she was saying was true or just what she thought was true.

What about “anxiety disorder?” Well, sometimes she’d get very, very worried and have a very difficult time calming down. She would imagine the worst (often involving me), focus on it, and be unable to imagine anything positive. This could go on for days.

What about a “nervous breakdown?” Well, generally it means that someone just can’t cope anymore. But what does that mean practically? In my mom’s case, everything became so overwhelming she’d be almost paralyzed. In these cases, she’d check herself into the hospital and get help. I can’t imagine the courage that must have taken. And how scary that must have been. She wouldn’t have known how long she’d be there. She wouldn’t know what would happen while she was there or when she got out.

And, to make it worse, she was also on medication and that would have an effect on her, too. Sometimes she’d be very, very dopey. Sleepy, but more than that. Other times the medication would work great and she’d be herself. It was just very unpredictable.

And, of course, it meant that my childhood and teenage years were pretty different from a “normal” one (whatever that might mean).

And there wasn’t much support. My grandparents and aunts and uncles didn’t understand and didn’t help much. My dad was there, to a point, but he didn’t understand, either. We’re not close, but to his credit he did help, especially when my mom was hospitalized. I could stay with him for a few weeks and that gave me some stability. There also wasn’t much government support (aside from welfare) and there wasn’t much in the way of education.

I also felt ashamed. It was hard to be poor. Hard to be embarrassed about my mom and my home. I rarely invited anyone over. And it was hard to fit in. It was hard to afford nice clothes, good school supplies, and all of that stuff.

It also meant I was pretty shy. Shy, quiet, poor, fat. So there was bullying and whatnot, too.

And sometimes it was hard to go to school. It felt kinda surreal compared to what was going on at home. Managing as a student was really hard sometimes. You need to have homework done and you need to be in school and all of that stuff. I’m not saying that school isn’t important, but there were times I’d get home from school and my mom hadn’t gotten out of bed all day. Or there were a few times on a school night that she passed out and I was picking her up off the floor. And then, of course, there were the times she couldn’t function at all and wound up being hospitalized. Or times where she just couldn’t function but wasn’t hospitalized. That meant she couldn’t be a mom. And there were times where she wasn’t even herself. Like a stranger had taken over.

Compared to that, things like homework didn’t seem that important.

Confusion and Stress

In my case, there was also a lot of confusion. No one really ever told me anything. And I didn’t know what questions to ask or even who to talk to.

There weren’t any supports at the time. Or at least none that I was aware of. It’s hard to know what to ask for when you don’t have the right information. Or who to talk to. Or who to ask. And remember this was pre-internet. I didn’t know who to turn to and there wasn’t anyone I could really ask.

No one really explained it to me; my mom tried, but it was very hard to understand what she was going through. It was pretty scary and it left me feeling very insecure and shy. This also meant that I didn’t talk to anyone about it, so no one knew what was going on.

Other parents didn’t know because I didn’t tell my friends. Teachers didn’t know, mainly because there weren’t any teachers I felt really comfortable about talking to. And I didn’t talk with guidance councillors because I never really trusted them.

And I was scared; what if I talked to a parent or teacher about this stuff and then they called social services? What if I was taken away from my mom? I loved my mom and I didn’t want to be separated from her.


But...the weird thing about this is that in some ways it got easier as time went on. What do I mean?

Well, at first I didn’t know what was going on and I was scared. A lot. And unhappy. A lot. And stressed. A lot. There was tension all the time, mainly because my mom’s struggle with mental illness meant that, emotionally, she was really up and down.

But slowly, I got better at taking care of myself.

The big thing that helped me was escaping. Just being able to read books or comics and kinda lose myself in them for awhile. Hang out with friends, playing games or watching movies or whatever. And exercise helped, too. I started doing a lot of biking.

Basically, getting away from it sometimes and learning to give myself a break.

I don’t mean running away. And I don’t mean pretending that everything was okay (though I did some of that). What I mean is just finding some joy, some happiness, and taking a break from the crap that was going on around me. I realized that I had every right to be happy.
Also, my mom did start talking about it, on her good days, sometimes. She was seeing a psychiatrist and was more open about what was happening with her. And she had a lot of hope.

And I got more experienced. The first time she was hospitalized was very scary. But it got less scary as it happened a few more times. I started to have a better sense of what to expect.

I realized, and this was hard, that I couldn’t fix this for her. I could support her as best I could. I could love her and be there for her as best I could be, but I couldn’t fix it.

And I started to understand that the mental illness is just that: an illness. It wasn’t my mom’s fault.

And, you know, my mom was a pretty amazing person. She was very kind, very loving, and very courageous. She liked to read. She taught me a lot about life, about being thoughtful and compassionate. I didn’t doubt, through it all, that she loved me. And she was a teacher. Despite all the ups and downs, I consider myself very lucky to have met her.

And you know, I started to realize that mental illness isn’t that scary. Yes, there are scary moments. Sure. And yes, it can be weird. And yes, it can be really frustrating.

Again, mental illness is an illness, just like any other illness. Science and research are getting better and better all the time. If someone was in my mom’s situation now, there’s now a whole range of options that weren’t there for her. So there’s a lot of hope.

A really good example is here, right now. When I was at Glashan, an event like this would not have happened. It just wouldn't have.

A lot of things are changing for the better. How we, as a society, approach mental illness. How science treats it.

It’s really amazing. We have a long way to go. There is still stigma and resource issues and all of the rest. But there's a lot of hope. And a lot to fight for.

I Am Still Your Child Canadian National TV Broadcast

I Am Still Your Child, the documentary on parental mental illness, will have its national broadcast premiere on Saturday, March 31st on CBC television! It's at 1:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. I'm really excited it to see it broadcast this way!

CBC's TV program guide is at http://www.cbc.ca/programguide/daily/2018/03/31/cbc_television/. You should be able to find the film in your time zone.

Speaking of the film: writer/director Megan Durnford was interviewed on CHML's Health and Wellness Show a few weeks back. If you'd like to get a glimpse of what went into making the film, please give it a listen at https://omny.fm/shows/chml-news/14-health-wellness-mar-11-2018. On top of it, Westmount Magazine did a great story on Megan and her work. It's at https://www.westmountmag.ca/megan-durnford/

I Am Still Your Child documentary film logo

Documentary Short - Coping Strategies

I'm one of the subjects of a documentary titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, dealing with parental mental illness. In conjunction with the film, a number of short videos have been released; kinda like extra features on a film. The below deals with coping strategies. In my case, my mom was dealing with schizophrenia and it led to some pretty rough experiences. Being able to escape into comics as well as sci-fi and fantasy really helped. Sarah and Jessy, two other subjects from the film, also talk about their strategies in the short.

The entire short series can be viewed on the film's official Youtube page. They add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

Documentary Short - Financial Impact and Poverty

The filmmakers behind the documentary I'm involved in, I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, have released a number of short supporting videos that focus on different aspects of living with a parent struggling with mental illness. The one below deals with the financial impact of mental illness. Simply put: it ain't easy.

The entire video series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

Ottawa Citizen front page article on Von Allan

Well, this is pretty neat! Reporter Blair Crawford along with photographer Julie Oliver from the Ottawa Citizen did a feature story on yours truly. The story explores my childhood, my mom's struggle with mental illness (specifically schizophrenia), my graphic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I'm involved in titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD.

The full article can be found online at the Ottawa Citizen's website at http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-child-of-schizophrenia-graphic-novelist-von-allan-on-growing-up-with-a-mentally-ill-mother

I should add that the online article also contains a short two minute video interview with me. Plus the great and mysterious Corbin makes a surprise guest appearance! I've embedded the video below:

Scans from the Ottawa Citizen are below:

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child

And the interior page (the scan is a bit hard to read, but the full article can be found online here):

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child


As it turns out, the Citizen's sister paper the Ottawa Sun also ran a story. This is pretty much the same thing, though there are a few minor differences. I'm not crazy about the headline, but pretty neat all the same.

Ottawa Sun article on Von Allan, the graphnic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I Am Still Your Child

Ottawa Sun article on Von Allan, the graphnic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I Am Still Your Child

Potential Repercussions - Documentary Short

As I noted previously, the filmmakers behind the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD have released a number of short supporting videos, including the one embedded below. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

In this short, the three subjects of the film (Sarah, Jessy, and myself) all talk about the repercussions of living with a parent who has a mental illness.

Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent - Documentary Short

In conjunction with the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the filmmakers have released a number of short supporting videos. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

I embedded one of these shorts below. Titled "Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent," it showcases all three subjects of the film. For my part, I talk about my mom and her sensitivity and compassion. And, as a special bonus, Corbin makes an appearance!

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Young Girl and Father Poster Process

Continuing the series of background "process" art for the poster series for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today's poster features a young girl handling her father's medication. I knew clarity would be a problem, so I decided to go with a low "eye level" or horizon line. In this case, right at the ground plane. Why? It allowed me to put the medicine bottle strongly in the foreground and hopefully clarify what's actually happening. It also allowed me to make the young girl slightly bigger (closer to the viewer) than a more normal eye level would allow.

In discussing it with Stéphanie Couillard, my contact at Catbird, we decided that it still might not be clear enough so we added dialogue for the father just to be safe. There are no "right" answers with this; sometimes you want to be subtle and suggestive and other times you want to be crystal clear. In this case, clarity was one of the most important criteria.

Again, here is the Final Press Version with logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Young Girl and Father for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (approximately 2 inches in height). You can also see that I was initially thinking of making it daughter and mother:
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

A tighter rough, though still very small. The father was giving me some drawing problems at this stage, though it works itself out soon enough:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils along with perspective grid and background:

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:
Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

As always, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Upset Girl Poster Process

As noted yesterday, I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today I'm looking at the development of another poster for the film and the support website. This one is a good example of how the process develops from rough concept to final version.

My initial thinking was that I wanted contrast between a very upset girl in the foreground and an adult, possibly in trouble, who isn't even paying attention. Initially I thought she'd be starring at the girl, but not really seeing her. Later, I changed my mind and had the adult sitting with her back turned. As the process continued and I received feedback from Stéphanie Couillard, my main contact for the poster series for Catbird Productions, the poster evolved. You can see that in the following sketches and I think the piece is much stronger based on Stéphanie's comment. 

Again, here is the Final Press Version with that great logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Upset Girl for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (as always, this is done very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small. You can also see that the foreground character is slightly off-balance here. It happens, but it's the kind of thing I correct as I go:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with that original concept of a "neutral" adult in the background:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

This is where a number of things changed. A very different adult figure appears. She was roughed out and tightened separately and then digitally added into the piece. And the background finally shows up, too. Little bit of cheating here, but you can't tell. I hope!

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

You can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Poster Process for Girl In School

I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film project (titled “I AM STILL YOUR CHILD”) that I've been involved in. The goal was to create a series of stand-alone pieces that feature characters dealing with parental mental illness. Unlike traditional comics, these wouldn't have a narrative save for that unifying theme. And they would also need to be very bold and graphic to catch the eye and presented in black and white to ease desktop printing. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. The full poster series can be found at the documentary's official website.

Beginning today, I'm going to go through the creation of a few of these posters. I was given a great deal of creative room by the production crew; they encouraged me to draw on my own thoughts and feelings, especially relevant given my own background with my mom's schizophrenia (developed more full in my graphic novel “the road to god knows...”). Some of these images were inspired directly from my own experiences while others were “pushed.” In other words, still drawn from my own life but dramatized to some extent.

The one below is a good example; I was very shy at school, especially at this age, but showing emotion was something I tried very hard not to do (though how successful I was in a different question). This girl, on the other hand, is very upset. That was something I tried very hard not to show at school.

What follows, then, is a pretty good breakdown of how this poster came together.

First, this is the Final Press Version with a terrific logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Girl in School for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils (figures only; this is slightly deceptive since I drew each character separately and then digitally composed the image to finalize their positions):
Initial rough layout sketch for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with loose backgrounds and perspective grid:
Tighter pencils with loose backgroundsfor Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Final inked version with completed background:
Inked final illustration for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan
I should add here that sometimes I do pretty tight background renderings and other times, like here, I keep it pretty loose and finalize in ink (albeit digital ink since I use Manga Studio EX 4 for inking). Manga Studio also allows for some really nice shortcuts for tones, hatching, "zipatones," and splatters. I've done them manually (the ol' toothbrush and ink immediately comes to mind for splatters) but I much prefer doing them digitally now.

And that's that. Again, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And don't forget that the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

Wolf's Head by Von Allan

Link to Von Allan's Wolf's Head comic book series

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I Am Still Your Child Trailer

Documentary Film Excerpt