The Blogerati Files: Michael Cho's Sketchbook

This week in the Blogerati Files, Michael Cho's Sketchbook .

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
A sketchblog featuring my drawings, paintings and cartoons.

Why did you start blogging? What's your blog's birthday?
I started blogging 'cause my good friend and fellow cartoonist J. Bone encouraged me. It seemed a nice way to share my drawings and paintings with an interesting audience, rather than letting them sit in my filing drawer gathering dust. My blog's first entry was on January 5th, 2006 -- so I've been doing this for a little over a year.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
I moved to Toronto to attend art college so I've been here for over 15 years...jeez -- what a long time!

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto? Did you blog about it?
Oooh...the funniest and strangest things that have happened in T.O. to me aren't things I can really share! I usually just post things I've drawn on my blog, rather than tell stories. That's my G-rated statement.

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
It's pretty diverse, but the thing that catches my eye the most is the influx of commercialism here. Whether its seeing my favourite neighbourhoods being slowly turned into just rows and rows of franchise stores or watching the ridiculous expansion of condominiums into every nook and cranny of town, that commercialism is driving me bonkers. I used to visit artist friends who lived in warehouse lofts, but then those spaces have just turned into condos for lawyers with vespas. And where some of my favourite diners used to be, a Club Monaco or an American Apparel has taken its space. These days, I find I have to go further and further out of the downtown to find a neighbourhood that still has some flavour.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
Hmmm...tough one. I'm really not much about living in past eras, but I will say that I moved to town at the tail-end of the 80's when the queen street punk scene was kinda already ending and I miss that. I used to bus it into Toronto when I was a teen to shop for boots and hang out with older friends who lived here, and I really enjoyed that, even though I had to sneak into clubs to see shows and stuff. I really romanticized those places, and looked forward to being old enough to hang out more at places like the horseshoe and the old lizard lounge. But by the time that came around, that scene was winding down, those places weren't the same, and a lot of my older friends were getting into rehab. So, I guess I wish I could go back to the early part of the 80's and live that again -- but as an adult!

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Since I draw and write comics stuff, I really appreciate the fact that Toronto has such an incredible and diverse pool of comics-creators. Honestly, Toronto has one of the best concentration of comics people in North America. So many good artists have either lived at one point in Toronto or are still here now -- creators like Jay Stephens, Seth, Paul Pope, Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, Ramon Perez, Steve Manale and Diana Tamblyn. Does Chester Brown still live in town? If so, I guess he'd be my favourite.

Do you have a favourite free WiFi spot?
Nope. I don't even know how to hook that shit up.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog? Do you know your blog's most visited post?
Not really. I just keep posting new drawings/doodles/paintings/comics and hope people like them. I used to do signs and window displays for Pages Bookstore downtown and documented the creation of one on my blog, and I've gotten some nice comments from people I've met about that one.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
Well, these days its more like 15 seconds right? And I think I must be having them right now.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? If so, how did it go?
Yeah, I meet people who only know me through my blog. Usually it happens at a signing or a comic convention, because comic fans tend to seek out stuff on the internet. It's always flattering when I find people have checked out my blog and like my work. I'm always surprised and delighted.

Who are your favourite blogger(s)?
Again, they all tend to be aritsts who have sketchblogs like mine. My favourites to surf are J. Bone's blog, Jay Stephen's blog, Ramon Perez's blog and the blog maintained by the guys at Drawn! That blog is actually a really great source of info on interesting artists.

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
Well, as I mentioned, the condo-development craziness is hitting fever pitch. It's gotta stop, people! And its not just the condos -- its the townhouses and prefab communities. Whenever I go for a walk, I see another new fake neighbourhood that's just been plopped on top of an old toxic-waste landfill -- complete with quaint retro streetlights and deserted mini-parks. Ever see the one near the Gardner expressway with its 24-hour Dominion's supermarket and pet food store? It's eerie against the evening sky -- its just this retro-design faux-community that's sitting beside the giant neon-billboards that face the Gardner. It reminds me of a Hopper painting -- only as not as tragedy, but as comedy.

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
Cookies. Because cookies make the day OK.

Speaking of food, do you have a favourite Toronto lunch spot?
Saigon Pearl is great dim-sum. And for take-out goodness, I gotta go with the awesome Korean fast-food outlet Yummy BBQ. I know they're expanding everywhere these days, but the first time I saw the original location on Dundas West, I was in poor-boy-bachelor-heaven. I mean, they had like 20 different authentic Korean dishes -- all for takeout!

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
"Computers are the devil!"

Have any advice for would be bloggers? What do you think is the best route to raise a blog's profile?
Nah, I have no advice, since I'm not very knowledgeable about blogging or its history or its place in society. I leave that for 'real' bloggers. Mine is just a little sketchblog of drawings, after all.

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