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2020: Half-time reflection

It’s been, in general, an interesting half a year, to be sure. In the first couple of months, I was recovering from 2019 teaching and spent four weeks in Europe to visit in-laws. During that trip, I spent a considerable amount of energy and ‘holiday’ time working on a pictorial proposal for DIS2020. Designing Interactive Systems is a prominent HCI (Human-Computer Interface) conference, to be held in The Netherlands. Luckily and with the help of the other members of our team, Hilary Davis and Ivana Randjelovic, the pictorial was submitted on time and, amazingly, accepted. This conference has a low acceptance rate, something like 20%, so we were stoked with the result. It made all the time spent on it, instead of frolicking, totally worthwhile.


I’ve been making comics for Kontext, a German psychology journal. Kontext is a German psychology journal focusing on Systemic therapy. In psychotherapy, systemic therapy seeks to address people not only on the individual level, as had been the focus of earlier forms of therapy, but also as people in relationships, dealing with the interactions of groups and their interactional patterns and dynamics. Wikipedia

Kontext have an ongoing strange sense of humour as they continue to publish my comics inside their quarterly publication, along with scholarly articles and research.

It’s funny to think my humble doodles are out there circulating in an otherwise quite dry, foreign language academic journal.

Redo everything!

Once back from travels I prepared for semester one 2020. I put in a considerable amount of work in preparing a cohesive and well thought out study plan for the students. Of course, by the time semester rolled around the ugly head of Covid-19 was looming ever larger. By week two we were already preparing materials for a week of online delivery ‘just in case’. As it happened, the preparation was prophetic, and the university took a ‘pause’ the following week to move completely off-campus and online. All the plans, the learning content, and the interlinked activities had to be reconsidered (and largely abandoned) for an approach that would work online. This being a mode of delivery that we had not really used much before, and certainly never relied exclusively upon.

My Corona

After a week of preparation and coming to grips with video editing, online activities, and an overhaul of the student learning management systems, I had my first day of ‘class’. At the same time, we received a call to inform us that our house was being sold. This led to the most stressful month I can recall, which I documented as a comic. The ‘corona comic’ was published regularly on my Instagram, and then, on ABC ONLINE.


The #coronacomic triggered something for me, a change in the air. Opportunities began to pop up more frequently. Soymilk Studio’s very own Paul Lalo interviewed me for his website, Ozanimate, about my background, how i got into teaching, teaching online, and the gritty real story behind the Corona comic. You will be shocked.

You can visit the page here or listen to the interview below:

Since then it’s been a matter of finishing teaching into two units that I convene, ANI10002: 2D Production Techniques, and ANI30001: Major Project Preproduction and Development. A rough ride of accommodating student needs with university requirements, although we have the mix working pretty well by now. During this time I was also finishing a paper manuscript with Darren Paul Fisher from Bond University, Death of Duality: Reconceptualising the Post-Modern Superhero. This writing project has been going on for some time now, and as of the last week it is submitted to the Journal of Popular Culture. At the same time, I’ve put together a video presentation of the paper/pictorial for DIS2020, finished another Kontext comic, and all the other little bits and pieces that accrue over time.

What’s next- writing

I’m currently halfway through a two-week annual leave break. No international travel this time, just settling into our new house and trying to slow down a little. It’s been a hectic few months and the downtime is much needed. The next six months I plan to apply for promotion, and work on more paper submissions. I have perhaps two papers I can pull out of my exegesis, and a draft paper from the conference I attended last year in Manchester.

Something to draw?

There are also a few more creative projects on the boil. One with Hilary Davis for HALT (Hope Assistance Local Tradies), to develop visual materials for promotion and raising awareness of their work. Here’s a sneak peek at some initial character design.

Another project is in the early discussion stage with a research gun from Swinburne working in games, about his own experiences with real estate agents in this odd time. I’m also in talks to develop visual materials for Tenants Victoria, a community renter advocate focused NGO. Plus I’ll be picking up the art and narrative therapy workshops for an alcohol and other drugs support group, which was temporarily abandoned due to Covid-19.

How’s your year so far- are you managing to get stuff done despite everything? Let me know in the comments.


Wanna stick around?

Did you enjoy that? Why not head along to my online store and pick out some comics to read? They come complete not only with words but also pictures. Some of them are pretty good! I’m not saying which though. You’ll have to see for yourself.