feature: the comic creations of montreal based visual artist d. mathieu
By Eye Candy
July 24, 2015
My name’s Debbi Paul, aka “D. Mathieu” (my artist name). I’m a Montreal based visual artist, specializing in comics. I started doing art on a professional level in 2011: I was selling acrylic and aquarelle paintings in addition to starting an online blog about comics. Between that time and today, I’ve tried three times to go back to college to be either a 2D animator or a fashion designer. For some reason, I didn’t think being a cartoonist would’ve been my dream job. I thought for a long time that this career was nothing more than a hobby for animation movies producers. Oh, and also, I needed a diploma to make my mama proud. You know the pressure to be the third child and potentially the first one to bring back the academic treasure? Yup.
By D. Mathieu, AFROPUNK Contributor
In 2009 I was accepted into the contingent Animation Program at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal. I don’t remember the exact number, but I think they took something like 80 people out of the 200 who made the entrance test. Before telling you if you passed or not, they only give you your mark; and I haven’t taken art classes since the 8th grade (back in high school, they asked us to choose between Music class and Art class, and since I already knew how to draw, I took a chance to learn how to play the trumpet!). My animation entrance test mark was horrible. The only thing that saved me was the freestyle section; however aaaall these emotions forced me to give up on that course (psychological distress).
At some point, I stopped drawing and began a career in sleeping and crying. It’s funny because in the day time, I was a party animator for kids aged 4 to 12. Two years later, I move from Laval to Montreal, alone and jobless. I don’t know why I thought it was a brilliant idea, but overall it was the worst and greatest year of my entire existence. I was free. And freedom is so, so, scary. And ephemeral.
The lack of money forced me to draw anew. Even though I didn’t technically know how to paint, I started using the painting kit I received on Christmas a few years back. Once I deflowered the first canvases, I placed an advertisement on a classified add website saying I could make some personalized paintings. That’s how I found my first real-outside-of-my-family-and-friends customer, Jennifer. I bet she has no idea how important she is to me. The five paintings she has from me were the proof I could make money out of something that I like, without a certification. But see, I like painting, but I adore even more writing stories with visual support.
Paulo Coelho once wrote “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”, and I swear it’s true. Without getting into the details, animation wasn’t for me. That revelation then led me to the path of the comic book/ webcomic industry. I started to draw what would be an auto fiction, but it wasn’t that good and I wasn’t that consistent in my work. Yet, I knew that I had to refine that story and make it the best I could. Fast forward to 2014, I got a job in the library section of a supermarket and began an on and off relationship with college. I met all those wonderful and cultivated people at work and via these connections, I was offered the opportunity to collaborate on a new French speaking blog that review books and stuff. Next thing you know, I’m the monthly cartoonist guest on ‘Le Fil Rouge‘.
It isn’t until a few months ago that I decided to leave my job as a librarian and permanently drop out of college in order to work full time on my graphic novel, “Burr Rain Storm”. I’m super lucky to have a supportive mate who loves and believes in me. He takes care of most of our expenditures while my Mom helps me out too: she says I can reimburse her once I get rich and famous. I’m in a good place now: I’m currently signing my first contract to publish my first comic book and the first chapter of “Burr Rain Storm”, the bilingual-mostly-French version, is now online here.
“BRS” is a tale about depression. Obviously, it talks about race because of the West-Indian protagonist living in the really white province of Quebec, but it also touches on the idea behind religions, spirituality, sexual orientations issues, abortion, prostitution, happiness, and death. It may seem like a Humpty Dumpty’s Party Mix, but it only follows the mental evolution of the young Roots who truly wants to become a writer, but is afraid because it doesn’t pay that much. While she’s convincing herself that she’s worthless because of her career choice, she writes and writes, tales, dreams and reflections on life, until she falls down and deep inside the black hole of her Self. Oh! And also: Schizophrenia!! yayy!! I’m currently waiting for my best friend to translate it in English since she’s the only one I can pay with my Mom’s spaghetti. Stay tuned.
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