As I’m writing this, it’s the night before the shop launches our used book section, and I’m relaxed for the first time in ages. This is strange.

At the end of 2014, I quit my job as a comic shop manager. The plan was to go freelance. That quickly changed as my heart missed the particular patter of the weekly grind. And also, I’m not good at writing or hustling. So.

2015 began with a new mission statement: start a business. Build a comic shop. Together with my wife, we came up with a plan. It was a really great plan, so I immediately got scared and compromised. When we launched that version of the shop in May of that year after months of long, restless days. The first day was a good day. There were quite a few after that too… but it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t what we’d pictured. In the fall of that year, things started to strain. In the beginning of 2016, things began to break. As voices raised, I finally realized what Danica had known all along, had been pushing for since day one when I got scared: this wasn’t what we wanted. This wasn’t where we wanted to be.

Flash forward to today. In the late spring, it was decided to split Variant Edition as it was, with Danica and I taking the comics elsewhere in the city. It came at a cost, and the dust is still settling on that front. So far, it’s been very amicable, with everyone taking responsibility for their resources offered, earned and used – costs, profits and all. Danica and I took our depleted energy and resources with us and began a fresh start. We worked hard for months as obstacles were thrown in our way, and… somehow… we’re now here. A few months in, at the precipice of something new. It looks a lot like our original vision… and it feels amazing.

For the first time in a long time, I actually feel like there is solid ground under my feet. For the first time in a long time, Danica and I are in control of where we’re going, and how fast we’re going there. What happens next is on us, and while others might affect our velocity, they can’t affect our direction. This is key.

Tonight, I’m feeling relaxed for the first time in a long time. It feels strange, but it also feels right. The compromising is at an end. Our path is clear and our hearts are full.

Now. To see if I can sleep.

Doctor Whooch // Episode A Hundred // Sober Reflection

In which we celebrate good times. C’mon.

On what is almost definitely Doctor Whooch’s first and only A Hundredth episode, we have a couple of guests that have never been on the show before… sober Brandon and Danica! No lies, this one is weird. But if you ever wondered how much of the show comes about because we’re drunk, and how much of the show is just us, well… you’re going to get your answer.

Thank you to everyone who listens to the show – you mean a lot to us, and we’re pretty fond of you. Here’s to many more over the next few years.

Outro music is “Hang on to The Night” by Tegan and Sara

Always Forward

Life usually shifts in small, unnoticed ways.

This isn’t a new idea. There are reams of words written on slow shifts – how we often accept a norm without thought or make small compromises on our way towards our goals, and suddenly… things are different then they used to be. Life, is usually passive and requires our quiet consent. Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be quiet.

On Sunday, I started the day with a panic attack. This tends to happen on occasions where I confront the idea of death. As it turns out, I’m not a fan of inevitabilities that are beyond my control and the idea of a stop, sudden or otherwise, fills my heart with dread and my lungs with poison. Danica calmed me down, as she always does, and I walked through the day with a brain filled with a dangerous electricity.

During these post-panic phases, I usually find myself reenergized. As ludicrous as this might sound, I repeat a mantra I discovered from comics – specifically an issue of Fantastic Four that was written by Matt Fraction a few years back. In the issue, Reed is confronting his own mortality in an overly bombastic super heroic way, and has left a message for his children. He speaks about not believing in an afterlife or a higher power, and notes that while some people find that possibility to be bleak, he derives power from it. He discards the idea that nothing matters if this is all there is. In fact, he states that if this is all there is, then everything we do now matters. How could it not? If this is it… if this is all we have… then it is only our actions now that have consequence.

I carry that idea with me. It is what fuelled me to start up a comic store with my wife, and it has been the fire behind the way we run our business, and the decisions that we have made for it. People often ask why we choose to be so outspoken about representation in pop culture as a business entity, when we could merely sell the product with greater ease by keeping our mouths shut. The reason? Our actions matter. Our inactions matter. It all matters.

In the past few months, there have been a lot of changes in my life – the most public of which was the moving of Variant Edition’s from Oliver, to the west end. This was a decision born from the idea that everything we do, matters. When it became obvious that the store’s original form wasn’t going to work with three different parties involved with very different ideas, we split, instead of letting things linger. Time, after all, is a limited quantity, and why waste what we have when we could all be sharper version of who we wanted to be. So, Danica and I moved Variant Edition’s out west, and took our ideas of what we’d like a comic store to be with us. It wasn’t the easiest path we could take… but it was, and is, the right one.

We are not content to let life slip by unnoticed. We want to do more, to be more, but… we also know our limitations. We’re just two people, with limited resources and circumstances. We can’t, won’t and shouldn’t speak for all – and we can’t, won’t and shouldn’t be everything to everyone.

What we can be, is the best version of ourselves, and of our store. We can put forward our ideas, and hope they are met with empathy and kindness. We can be a foundation… or at the very least, help build it, with your help.

The past couple of months have been hard… and while we would never change our decisions, we know that we would be in a far worse state if it weren’t for the community of people who have gathered around us. While our own insecurities cause us to scratch our heads in disbelief when others attempt to tell us about the good we do, we have appreciated all of the kind words, and all of the support that’s been provided to us over the past few months. Because of this… because of you, the store landed on its feet. We landed on our feet. We have the ability to move forward, and that’s saying something.

We are here, because of you. The people who see something in us that we can’t see ourselves. The people who believe in our vision. The people who arrived while, for a period of time, we let life shift around us and compromise where we wanted to go, and who we wanted to be.

Thank you for making us stronger, and for helping us get back to where we need to go.

We won’t let you down.


Doctor Whooch // Episode 099 // Call Me When You’re Old and Regretful

In which we are in fine form. FINE form.

On this week’s show: Danica and Brandon will babysit your kids! It could be the worst decision of your life. Also: they watch “Time Heist” from Series 8 and are… pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed it. Also also: they are pretty loopy tired from moving a whole comic store, so uh… strap in. It’s an interesting ride.

Outro music is “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.

The Next Chapter

August was a whirlwind of work and stress. Every day was packed full with two days’ worth of tasks and preparation, and sleep totalled less and less each night.

I am not complaining.

This was absolutely a stressful month, but Brandon and I have come out the other side. We still have a ton of work to do, yes, but we got this far. We definitely wouldn’t have made it without the support of our friends, family, and customers – so thank you for that. There is a post going more in depth on the Variant Edition blog about store stuff specifically.

One week ago, my life was completely different. Amazing what can happen over 7 days. Frankly, I’m amazed at what we did over 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) to be ready enough for our soft open on Wednesday. Over the next few weeks/months/years, he and I will go through our project list and work on what we can at a more comfortable pace. I’m thankful for that.

In the midst of everything, the apartment has been ignored. There are piles of paper I will need to go through and file, cat fur that I have not had time to sweep up, and clothes I’d like to bag up for the clothing swap at the store on September 10th and 11th. The cats – not used to us rushing home, feeding them, giving them quick hugs and pettins, then leaving again – will need warm laps and brushing. I will work on getting the apartment back to “guest friendly”, which I know “doesn’t matter”, but trust me, it’s no good right now, friends. I want to have people over. I want to have the time and energy to have people over, damnit! I see friends at the store, but I miss holding the occasional potluck and movie night. I intend to do that more in the future(hold me to this, friends!).

Doctor Whooch // Episode 098 // Space Sharpies Are A Thing

In which we are perilously close to falling asleep, but Martha Jones is there, so things are good.

On this week’s show, Danica and Brandon hit up “Smith and Jones”, and dig into some strangeness with a strange old lady wielding a straw. Also, the moon! Rhinos? Markers! Swooning! And other things that are good, like hair mussing.

Outro music is “Daft Punk is Playing In My House” by LCD Soundsystem

Doctor Whooch // Episode 097 // Tennant In A Tight Spot

In which we are too busy staring at a man in a blue suit to follow the plot.

On this week’s show, Mr. Butts and Mr. Peanutbutter take on another series 3 episode with “The Lazarus Experiment”. It’s a whole thing with Mark Gatiss being an old man who suddenly isn’t so old and is both a figurative and literal monster. Also, there’s a church, and like family stuff? Basically, there’s a lot to try and pay attention to while Tennant is swanning around making faces and ruffling his hair and stuff. Yeah girl, go get itttt.

Outro music is “Kokomo (Beach Boys Cover)” by The Vandals.

Monday Monday

That is what today is. So nice, we named it twice.

Either that, or we are really tired.

Here are a bunch of random updates. Enjoy?


As you all probably know by now, Variant Edition is moving in a few short days.

As you’re reading this, Danica and I are probably painting the new space. I say probably, because it might be super late at night when you get around to this, so we might be sleeping, or it might be midday, in which case, one of us is probably at the old location, selling comics on the cheap. Who knows!


As we get closer and closer to the relaunch date (August 31st!) we can feel the excitement rebuilding inside of ourselves. The past year has been difficult for several reasons, which caused us to realize that we need to take more of a direct approach to our life, grabbing as much control as random happenstance will allow and steering where we want to go. Whether or not we make it? Well, that’s pretty much up to us now, and us alone. It’s both terrifying and exciting, but no matter what, it just feels better. So there’s that.


We took the summer off from planning events at the store, partially because we knew the store move was coming up (although we didn’t know exactly when) and partially because it’s foolish to try and plan a summer event when there’s already so much happening in Edmonton over the summer. But now that August is coming to an end, it’s time to get right back into things, and we’re starting with one of our signature events: a Community Clothing Swap.

The rules, as always, are simple: drop stuff off and/or pick stuff up. It’s all free, and everything left over at the end gets donated to a charity. The only changes this time are the location (now at our new store – 10132, 151 Street) and the length of time the event will run (all opening hours on Sat Sept 10th and Sun Sept 11th).

We’re pleased to use this event as an introduction to our new community, and we’ll be continuing to announce more events in the days and weeks to come. Our goal, as always, is to continue the hard work we started – to build a place that doesn’t clandestinely build a secret community or clubhouse, but one that actively invites all inside to experience the joy of pop culture without barriers.

++ HIP

I don’t think I’d be able to post this batch of random updates without at least acknowledging The Tragically Hip concert that CBC aired this weekend. I want to start off by saying that… I’ve never really connected with The Hip before. I could recognize their ubiquitous presence in my life, but for whatever reason, be it the specific batch of chemicals that make up my brain or whatever, their importance never quite sunk into my heart and mind.

And then, there was this concert.

Admittedly, Danica and I were at the new location, doing some light space redecoration in advance of next week’s big opening. We didn’t have the internet, so we didn’t get a chance to stream the show at first, but we brought a radio, and listened to the event on CBC Radio One here in Edmonton. As we started to build something new, we had a soundtrack of pure Canadiana. Songs that we grew up listening to, that had somewhat inadvertently become a part of our life. As we built, those songs became a part of a new foundation. It felt… it felt right.

We managed to make it home before the concert ended, and treated ourselves to the live stream. CBC did a exemplary job of presenting this concert to the country, taking no opportunity to advertise in any way, shape or form. Olympic coverage on their main channels were halted in full for this presentation. Everything about this presentation said that this wasn’t about The CBC – it was about The Hip, and providing this moment in time to Canada.

Seeing the love, and hearing the words that had lingered in the background of my life float through the air, something inside me finally switched. “Yes,” it said, “This. Always this.” Of course, it took an ending to discover a connection, but everyone comes to things in their own way – and none of it is bad. It’s something that Danica and I try to build into the shop – we don’t judge where you’re going or where you’re coming from, and as long as you’re in our space, and as long as you’re not, say, disparaging others for their own journeys, you are welcome. You are home.

Others will be able to say what this moment in time meant a whole lot better than we ever will, but… I felt that it was important to share what it mean to us, regardless.

A great way to start a new chapter… even as one is drawing to a close.


Obviously, there’s a lot to be done. New store prep continues, as does wrapping things up at the old shop. Doctor Whooch’s 100th Episode is fast approaching, and we’re still attempting to get our voices out there in general, letting people know that we still exist, despite all the work that needs to be done.

More updates in the coming days, but for now, a very (all too quick) thank you to all of you who have helped us out during this crazy time. We can not express how much your support means to us, and how much it has carried us through these days. We love you all.

Talk with you soon.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 096 // The Bling of Azkaban

In which we tell you all our thoughts on God.

On this week’s show, Danica and Brandon are floating like leaves in the wind and rolling their eyes at a whole lot of things. Our hearts are cold and dead! Our livers are swimming! It’s a whole thing. Anyway, we watch “The Rings of Akhaten” which is hard to spell, and is full of tree hands and shenanigans. And is also fun. But you know, whatever. Also, there’s cupcakes, for REASONS.

Outro music is “Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla

Doctor Whooch // Episode 095 // Free Range Moffat

In which Danica is a war criminal.

On this week’s episode, we reach the end of The River Song Timeline with “Forest of the Dead”, in which there’s more flesh eating darkness and some heart rending sadness. People run! Some of them die. Others don’t? And then there’s a thing that happens with a screwdriver. So you know. Spoilers.

Outro music is “Confident” by Demi Lovato.