Calling It A Day

The Expo weekend really threw me for a loop, but I’m not using that as an excuse to not get my writing done. I’ve spent so much of my life shrugging and saying “oh, that can wait for tomorrow” – only to have things continue to compound into a wall of inactivity. Writing will happen. Things will get done.

That said, I am in a bit of a regroup mode. Tomorrow is the return of what I call my two hour morning. When Danica and I moved back into the city, we staggered our schedules a little to work towards our strengths. I usually function better at work in the afternoon, so I get a period of two hours in the morning to write and also watch episodes of The OC or Everwood or something. But mostly writing. Probably. Hopefully.

Oh my god, I’m doomed, aren’t I.

MEANWHILE…

As promised, the Indigenous Representation in Pop Culture panel made it out into the world in audio form as this past week’s episode of Yegs & Bacon. If I knock enough things off my list this week, I’ll be able to finally make a nice landing page for Yegs & Bacon with all of the interviews and panels that we’ve done in nice, prominent areas. But the list is… formidable, and very much like a hydra. So there’s that.

In less important news, I also posted my very own comic book origin story – if you’re at all interested in how I got into the medium. It’s the first in a series called Getting Into It, which will not only be about… well, getting into things in general, but will hopefully be about you, and how you got into things that you love. But more on that in the days to come.

STAY TUNED…

In the days to come: I will be attempting to complete a 24 page comic in 24 hours, and I’d love it if you stopped by to either do the same, or hang out with your writing tools and/or drawing supplies in a creative space. I think I’ll actually talk about this more in depth tomorrow. But we’ll see.

Room with a Vue

I should probably start by saying that I am grateful. I really am.

Last week, it was revealed that Variant Edition has been voted the 3rd Best Comic Shop in Edmonton by readers of VueWeekly – which is a pretty huge deal for a place that’s only been open for five months. If my sense of history holds up, this hasn’t happened for any of the other shops in Edmonton, and I am both excited and humbled by the whole thing.

That said, I have been confronted with my feelings on the whole voting process that Vue’s Best of Edmonton awards are based on. While working for Wizard’s Comics, I was always upset when the highest we would climb was this very spot. I would grouse and grumble internally and externally. It doesn’t mean anything, I would moan. It’s all just a popularity contest – it isn’t an actual reflection of the customer base. And let’s be honest here: it isn’t. It’s a great award, but I can guarantee you, getting those votes mean absolutely nothing in relation to a shop’s sales or full customer base. Like I said before, we’re five months in, and I’m 100% sure we aren’t the third top grossing shop in the area.

Now on the other hand, the award really does measure something important: a person or business’ connection to their audience – or to over simplify, it measures quality rather than quantity. If these awards were all about quantity, chart toppers would be a litany of large box corporations and entities – but of course, they are not. And if I’ve learned just one very important lesson over the few months this business has been running, it’s never about the quantity of your customers – it’s about the quality, and the experience that you share with them. It’s about connecting in some way, and bringing a smile to their faces. It’s about seeing these wonderful people almost every week, because they enjoy your business and the way you’re presenting it.

For some, that’s not a good measure of Best – but for me, that’s more than enough. Variant Edition is the third best comic store in the city for connecting and engaging their customers. We care about them, and they care about us, and when you’re running a small business, sometimes that’s all you need to keep your engines running as the hours continue to pile up.

So again, I would like to say thank you to everyone who frequents Variant Edition, and who voted for us this year. You’re amazing, and you keep us going – and we look forward to serving you and being a part of your pop culture experiences for a long time to come.

MEANWHILE…

This year’s Edmonton Expo has finally wrapped, and with it, a whole lot of work. I hosted three panels over the weekend (and I thought they all went rather well – I’ll probably have a recap up somewhere in the next few days) and handed out a few business cards to people that I haven’t seen since leaving my old work. There’s always a lot of rumours when it comes to the how, when and why Variant Edition became an ongoing concern (and I will definitely talk more in depth about that some other time), but suffice to say, I wasn’t thinking of opening a shop when I handed in my resignation, nor when I left. I was actually going to do some freelancing for a while, and see how that went – but other opportunities came up, and I honestly found myself missing comics retail more than I had thought I would. Anyway, the long and short of that is, for many people, I just disappeared from their lives without so much as a note, everyone expecting me to be quietly writing for the internet or what-have-you – and honestly, it was nice to see some of those old faces again. I hope that a few of them were happy to see me too, and might check out the store in the near future.

And speaking of the store, yesterday was our big Indigenous Representation Panel. Tomorrow, we’re releasing the audio. I’ll definitely be linking to that on this blog, but for now I’ll just say that I’m eternally grateful to the panelists (Richard Van Camp, Patti Laboucane-Benson, Kelly Mellings and James Leask) for participating. It was a great discussion, and I’m just glad to be a small part of putting something like that together, and getting it out into the world.

And with that, another day wraps! Tomorrow… stuff? Things? Honestly, I’m still catching up from the weekend, so we’ll see. Until then!

Low Content Day

Trying to stay off of the internet ahead of the store’s big Indigenous Representation in Pop Culture event tonight – and honestly, to let all the Spider-Mable of the day wash over anyone. Anything I have to post as a person or as a store can take a back seat to these more important conversations. I’ll be right back to white male-ing all over the place tomorrow with my privilege, dumb comments and opinions, and the season of promised content will continue apace.

And Many More…

September 27th.

Four years ago, on September 27th, I was working. Or I was at home, depending on the time of day. Regardless, I was existing and not doing much more than that. A few weeks before, I had resigned myself to being alone. At the time, it wasn’t a resignation, but a decision – a conscious choice that kept me from feeling so lonely. And it worked. I was… content. I had a decent life. Good job, good friends, nice place to live… it was good.

Then came October 1st. On October 1st, I was invited to my buddy James’ house to watch that year’s Doctor Who finalé (the end of the sixth series). I went, dressed as the 11th Doctor as a bit of a laugh.

About an hour or so after my arrival (I had gotten there fairly early, I believe), this woman walks through the door. This… instantly charming and beguiling woman. I stop dead from across the room when I see her. She’s taking off her shoes. I yell a greeting (probably too loudly) and she turns her head and… I see her hesitate slightly, and smile. She returns my greeting, quieter.

We often recount this moment. It seems like something out of movies – eyes meeting across a crowded room, and your heart skips a beat. It almost doesn’t seem real, but… it happened. Wow, did it happen.

I spent the night trying to cooly talk with this woman. I may have been (absolutely was) tipsy and so I definitely stumbled a bit. I remember thinking once if she was laughing with me, or at me. There was always a warmth to our interactions, and in hindsight, I know my brain was playing cruel tricks on me, second guessing smiles, and looks. This beauty of a woman. Surely, she couldn’t be interested in me?

After the party concluded, I drove her home. As I attempted to muster the courage to ask her out on a date, she very cooly and confidently beat me to the punch. I immediately agreed to the standard “we should meet for coffee or something”. After driving home, I knew leaving it so nebulous would drive me crazy – so I messaged her immediately, and somewhat excitedly, to say that I was completely incapable of playing it cool, and that we should absolutely meet as soon as possible. Thankfully, she felt the same way.

And so began our story. Two nerds making our way through space and time together, trying to be cool, failing miserably, but doing it together in our own wonderful and dorky ways.

Four years ago today, Danica was out having a party with friends – beautiful. Confident. The woman of my dreams who I had yet to meet. Today, I am lucky enough to say that we will be spending the rest of our time together.

My lovely Danica. I love you so and I always will.

Happy birthday, love.

Week One

As of this writing, Danica and I still don’t have the internet at home, which is… strange. I never realized just how connected I had become to things until I was forced to disconnect and to be honest with you, I kind of like it. For whatever reason, I seem to lack the willpower to stay on task when a roadblock pops up, and my brain says take a break and deal with this problem after checking Twitter. The problem being, Twitter usually sends me off running on a million different other things, and when I get back to what I was supposed to be writing, the old problem remains unchanged. Which is fun. So I dunno. I’ll be happy when the internet happens because it’s a little hard getting things posted when you can’t… you know… get the access to post things, but at the same time, it’s giving me a nice clear space to get things done.

What I need is something that’ll keep me on task, more or less. Something that blocks the internet from my computer for certain amounts of time maybe. There’s probably something out there like that. It’s probably just a google away, but uh… yeah. No internet.

Anyway. Today marks the end of the first week of this season of content. I’m really proud of everything that I’ve worked on so far. What’s more, people seem to really be responding to the stuff that’s getting out there, so we must be doing something right. And hey, with any luck, a lot of this will help the shop bump up to being voted the best in Edmonton by next year.

I suppose a guy can dream.

MEANWHILE…

Yesterday I started one of the more ambitious projects for the Something Different blog: Brandon vs. The Clone Saga. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like – a piece by piece look at the sprawling (and notorious) Spider-Man epic. I’m starting with the original Clone Saga from the 90s, and going straight through to the end of the Ben Reilly era of Spider-Man. If all of that sounds like nonsense to you, don’t worry – I’ll make it all make sense. Or at least as much as I can. 90s superhero comics are one hell of a drug.

STAY TUNED…

And that’s a wrap on the first week of the season – but the next few days should be pretty active. The Edmonton Expo  starts today, and I’ll be moderating three panels on three different days – and potentially doing a small tour of duty around the con floor. (Though probably not on Saturday. I’m… not great with crowds.)

Then on Monday, Variant Edition is presenting an Indigenous Representation in Pop Culture panel, which should be really great. And then there’s next weekend’s Community Geek Swap and 24 Hour Comics Day, and all the regular content you’ve come to know and love. Because hey, why not. We’ll see how the content survives through all of that. At the very least, there should be some decent recaps in store.

That does it for me until Monday. We’ll talk then!

Doctor Whooch // Episode 065 // #vodkabitches

In which we love all of our little muskox listeners.

Series 9 is here, and has somehow wrecked our alcohol tolerance, so we’re preeeeeeetty drunk. So drunk that we might have ended up offending German people definitely, Christian people probably, and potentially everybody else. So… par for the course? Anyway, if you’ve been waiting (WAITING) to hear us slur our opinions about The Magician’s Apprentice, then you’ve come to the right place. Oh, and at the end, we talk about racial issues and sexism on our drunk podcast and that’s definitely a thing.

Outro music is “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Subscribe to Doctor Whooch on iTunes

Somehow Better

So somehow, Variant Edition was voted Edmonton’s third best comic shop by Edmontonians – after just five months of being open. That’s… that’s pretty cool, considering how many stores are here. Next year, the goal is to be number one. It’s going to be hard, because the two sitting at the top are both well known and established in this city – and they do a lot for the pop culture community. I mean, there’s absolutely a reason why they are number one and two. But goals are always good to have, and sitting at the top after a year-and-a-half would be pretty cool.

Anyway, what else has been happening… um… well, as of when I’m writing this (mostly in advance, with room for touch-ups later), I’m just wrapping up the first week of content in this “season”, and starting on the second. There are a few bits that have already been written for other weeks, so that has me feeling pretty confident. I am not used to that feeling.

Being me, I’m already thinking about how the second and third seasons of content will go, and I’m hoping to be able to include some original fiction as part of those runs. That would take a lot of pre-planning though, because the schedule already fills itself nicely, and the break I’m planning in between seasons isn’t really long, so much as it’s timed so I don’t fall behind. I will probably always be making content, and skirting deadlines. So that will be interesting.

I really do want to get done at least one story starring the detectives I built for a NaNoWriMo a few year’s back. I’m happy with the characters, just not with the first mystery I want them to solve. I have solid mysteries planned for future cases that they solve, just nothing that screams “pilot” – though I’m edging closer and closer to a traditional A+B=C noir story with character traits I’ve given the two leads shading the story in different ways. We’ll see how that goes.

MEANWHILE…

Over at the Something Different blog, we’ve started up our Pod People feature – which showcases podcasts that we’re into. This time around, we talk about Karen Unland’s great Seen & Heard in Edmonton podcast, which focuses on Edmonton based digital content creators. For more, just head over to the post, or just go to Karen’s website.

Also out yesterday was the newest episode of Yegs & Bacon, where Danica and I talk about all of our store events (so many), and our favourite comics that are hitting the stands this week.

STAY TUNED…

In a few short hours, you’ll be able to listen to Danica and I slur our way through the newest episode of Doctor Whooch, posted right here at Submet. We’re heading straight into Series 9, and talk a little about our experience watching the finalé to Series 8 in the theatre with a large group of fellow Edmonton Whovians. It was pretty awesome.

Tomorrow will feature the wrap up of this first week of content, and a new feature over at the Something Different blog called 5 for Fridaywhich is the only weekly feature that has been added to my content schedule. Everything else functions on a strange and wonderful sliding timeline of my own mad concoction. I would explain it, but honestly, it barely makes sense to me. So. 5 for Friday. A weekly set of links to five things happening in comics, pop culture, or Edmonton in general. Ideally, all three, but we are beholden to the tides.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you tomorrow.

The Wednesday Crowd

When this goes up, it’s Wednesday, and I’ll be in the middle of new comic book day at the store. I always love new comic book day, because it gives me the chance to see some of my favourite people once a week, nearly every week.

In our spare time, Danica and I have been listening to this podcast about a comic store in the states that closed down after decades of serving a community. The stories they tell in this podcast are somewhat harrowing and perfectly describe society’s platonic ideal of an unfriendly, unkempt shop. When we listen, we’re generally flabbergasted at things like how there are sections of the store that are completely inaccessible (the dusty manga section) or the plethora of verbally abusive signs that roam free in the aisles – but despite this, I’ve come to recognize something that’s universal in terms of running a comic store, and that’s the strange sense of family that develops between yourself, and the customers.

If you’re running things well, a lot of your customers pop up frequently, many of them appearing each and every week to pick up a new batch of comics. These people quickly become part of your life. More often than not, I see many of our customers more often than people I would consider to be very close friends. I certainly see them more than I do any member of my family (other than my wife and the cats). These are people who, no matter what age you met them at, grow with you through the years. They find companionship. The break up. They buy houses, change jobs, get kids, or dogs, or cats, or hedgehogs. They tell you stories about their life, or… well, or they don’t, but you still see them each and every week, and you still smile at each other and recognize your mutual appreciation for each other and comics and the culture that you share in together.

It’s a great feeling, having this strange sense of place and family, and Wednesday is always the peak of that. New comic book day. As always, if you’re in the area, I’d love to see you at the store – even just to say hi. Especially, just to say hi. As wonderful as the shop can be, it’s also a black hole of time and energy, and it’s seeing everyone walking through those doors that make it all worth while.

MEANWHILE…

It’s been quite the week already, hasn’t it? I promised content, didn’t I? Again, we’ll see if this carries on through to the end of the intended thirteen weeks, but whatever.

Yesterday was kind of huge. In the Variant Edition Regularity (which you can subscribe to here) we announced the store’s next two Gender Is Not A Genre events. The first, is a generational panel of women from different backgrounds talking about their experiences with pop culture and genre in a male dominated society. We’re holding that one on October 10th at 7pm, and will be announcing the participants over the next few days. The second, is a Skype interview and signing with the one and only Kelly Sue DeConnick that will be taking place on November 15th at 4pm.We’ll be providing details about how you can get books signed by Kelly Sue when we have all the shipping details locked down.

In addition to that, Danica wrote up a fantastic organizational post over at the Something Different blog as we all prepare to declutter in advance of our first big Community Geek Swap on October 3rd.

And finally, this coming Monday is the big Indigenous Representation in Pop Culture Panel with Richard Van Camp, Patti Laboucane-Benson, Kelly Mellings and James Leask, and in preparation for that, we running content all week at the Something Different blog, hopefully offering some insight into some of the issues that will be discussed. First up, is a whole batch of articles by panelist James Leask.

STAY TUNED…

Today, there should be a new episode of Yegs & Bacon going up that we’ll link to in tomorrow’s round-up – possibly alongside a fresh episode of Podcast! The Comics! And tomorrow, a new Doctor Whooch arrives, and we’ll be talking about the first episode of Series 9, and our livers scream in agony.

Also? More big news that I can’t even hint at, but we’ll be screaming it all around the internet in just a few hours. Just you wait.

With a Bang

Well, the week certainly started off with quite the burst of content. We’ll get to that in a bit, though.

Next weekend, I’m going to be taking part in this year’s 24 Hour Comics Day challenge – which means I’ll be attempting to create 24 pages of a comic – story, art, lettering, the whole works – in just 24 hours. I’m notoriously bad with these challenges (see any comma all NaNoWriMo attempts) but I think doing that in a room full of people is going to help. I have a vague idea for what I want to do, and that takes the form of a webcomic I may or may not start running early next year. I always have ideas for various bits of fiction floating around in my head, but never the time or the means (or let’s face it, the discipline) to see those ideas through. Can this work? I… I really hope so. I’d love to have a way to release various pressures by retreating into a world that I create and control. We’ll see how that all goes, though. It’s not as though I’m not attempting to spin a million plates all at once as it is…

HIT THE LINKS

As promised, yesterday was a pretty big day. First up, I posted a brand new edition of The Retailer’s View over at Comics Beat – and this time, I started talking about the various ills associated with variant covers.

In the current order book, Marvel alone are offering 134 variant covers (this doesn’t include a few announced retroactively, which I’ll be adjusting during the final order cut-off period). Each and every one of these variants comes with a qualifier. Sometimes you just need to order ten copies of a certain book to get the aforementioned cover. Other times, you have to order 100. Then there’s the ones where you have to exceed 150% (or whatever number they’re using) of a different comic you ordered in order to unlock a particular variant. After you meet that qualification, you can order whatever you want. You just have to spend a lot of money for that “privilege”. The problem with that is simple: whereas the variant should be treated as the means for a customer to further connect with the product, it’s usually treated as collector bait, or worse: blackmail.

You can read the full article here where – yes – I explain how I can be so against variant covers and call the store I co-own Variant Edition. Because you know someone was going to ask.

And speaking of Variant Edition, the new season of blog content running there began strong with our regular Incoming post, and a brand new edition of #PickThree, where I find a comic series that intersects between Pushing Daisies, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Pride and Prejudice. I’ll give you one hint, and one hint only: it’s a super weird love story. Go ahead and take a look.

STAY TUNED…

The store is announcing our next two Gender Is Not A Genre events later today, and they are pretty rad. Oh, and ahead of our big Geek Swap next weekend, Danica has a great post going up about some easy steps to take towards decluttering. So many things. SO MANY THINGS!

Also, hey! Want to find Variant Edition at this weekend’s Edmonton Expo? Wellll… you can’t. Sort of. We don’t have a booth this year, but I will be moderating a couple of panels and will be doing some brief loops of the convention floor before getting myself back to the shop, for work purposes.

Season 001

Things are about to get a little crazy here.

I’m trying something new – though honestly, I’m always trying something new. I’m really into plans, but no so into seeing them through. I’m wondering if I can change that. Over the next 13 weeks, I’m working on a schedule. I’ve planned out my writing, worked ahead slightly, and (hopefully) built in some time for it to all fall apart. My biggest problem has been the fact that I always want to do too many things – and once the deadlines for those things start colliding with one another and compounding, I usually just wipe the slate clean and walk away. Again, there is a chance that this could happen again… but I really hope not. At 30, I want to be able to get my things done. I want to be able to write and feel that jolt of creativity when words start flowing onto the page. I want to chase that high that I get when I hit the post button, and see people react to the dumb things that I said.

Anyway, for the next little while, you should be seeing a lot of words from me. The schedule I’ve built will hopefully keep the workload down (I might talk a little about how I built the schedule after the “season” concludes… if I get there) and keep the content coming. The best laid plans…

Make sure to check back here periodically for updates on what’s happening, and other various shenanigans.

Stay tuned…