++INPUT/OUTPUT

Lately, I’ve been a bit blocked. This happens more frequently than I’d like (just by virtue of happening at all) and lately I’ve been having a harder time getting back into writing. So it goes.

A few days back, my lovely wife Danica sent me a link to a blog post about how output is sometimes (most times) related to input – meaning if a writer is not digesting, they have less reserves of energy to expend on creative endeavours. I’m starting to suspect that is the case with my current state of being. Running the shop has been a dream, but it takes up a lot of time and energy and creates a lot of stress. Some nights, it can be hard to sleep. Most days, it can be hard to take in anything substantial outside of the realm of comics – and as much as I love the medium, the work of it all sometimes gets in the way of enjoyment.

A lot of this problem, I bring on myself. In order to connect people with comics they will enjoy, Danica and I spend a lot of our time reading comics that we’re not terribly interested in. Most of them are very good comics – they just don’t match up with what we like to read aesthetically or stylistically. But as we continue to input items that don’t light our fires, we are finding that time to experience and digest things that we love is becoming scarce. Both of us are working on a plan to balance this out a little more in the new year. For myself, I’ve been trying to limit my “week of” reading to Tuesdays and Wednesdays, saving the other days for either books that I truly love, or endeavours that will bring me more joy. As of yet, I haven’t seen a drop in my ability to match people with books they’ll love, partly because reading every #1 still remains a solid part of the regimen. We’ll see if this gives me more time to tackle more non-work things. I kind of hope so, because we have such glorious plans for 2016.

++WORK RELATED
This past weekend was Local Comic Shop Day, which the store did not partake in. Structured to run like the exceedingly popular Record Store Day, there were quite a few reasons why we didn’t jump at the chance to participate in this event. If you want the long version, you can click here. The TL;DR version of it is this: we built Variant Edition with a core of providing comics to readers at affordable prices – focusing on content to read, rather than items to seal away and put into a box. And while there is nothing wrong with the collector’s mindset, we feel as though the market for readers is underserved and sometimes ignored – especially with events like this that provided very little in the way of new, exciting content (all were reprints with different covers or formatting), while committing the bonus crime of heavily allocating many items. That’s not an event that enriches the reading experience, it is one that enriches the collector’s experience, and that’s not something we wanted to encourage.

Again, the post I linked to digs quite a bit deeper into a lot of the hows and whys, but suffice to say, while we didn’t spend the weekend making some sweet, sweet speculator money, we slept well knowing that the products we sold that day were going to be read and enjoyed by the folks who purchased them. Turns out, being principled doesn’t mean you’ll be rich, but it can make you feel better about things.

++STAY TUNED
There’s a lot that I want to get to this week, and I’m hoping that I have the wherewithal to really dig in. I want to finish out the year having written 12 articles for Comics Beat, equalling out to roughly one a month, but that means I have to get cracking on… three? Yikes. Way to go, Brandon. But hey, I’ve had several articles percolating for weeks in my head. Now is the time to get them down onto a glowing screen.

In the meantime, be nice to yourself. You deserve it. Yes, even you. We’ll talk soon.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 074 // Dead Inside (And Outside?)

In which Brandon says far too many ridiculous things.

So we all know what happens in this episode, right? Like, we’re all on board? Because there’s going to be some spoilers. Just… alllllll kinds of them. So.

This week, Brandon and Danica are talking about “Face The Raven” – the 10th episode of Doctor Who’s 9th series. Maisie Williams is there! That’s not really a spoiler. Well it is, but… hey, you know what? Let’s not beat around the bush here. You know why you’re downloading this. You want to hear drunk people talk about the thing that happened. Well, we do! So yay? Oh, and then we wax poetic about Jessica Jones, because you guys, Jessica Jones is amazing and heartbreaking. Yeah.

Outro music is “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult.

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Subscribe to Doctor Whooch on iTunes

Doctor Whooch // Episode 073 // Sleepingtons

To sleep, perchance to dream of a better episode.

On this week’s show, Danica and Brandon drunkenly talk about this week’s… interesting episode of Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 9, “Sleep No More”. Basically, we kind of make fun of it, because… sleep monsters? Or maybe a legitimately viral video? Or something. We were pretty drunk.

And as an added bonus, Brandon forgot to edit the podcast on his day off, so uh… there’s that. Wait, is that what we call a “bonus”? Hmm.

International Mens Day

In my lifetime, I have never been told that I couldn’t do something. Instead, I’ve been told I could be something “better”. A doctor. A pharmacist. A lawyer. A teacher.  Something “more” than a retailer.

Setting aside the bullshit of what constitutes “better” when you’re following your dreams (because HI PRIVILEGE!), I think that’s indicative as to why International Mens Day is dumb. Every day is Mens Day. When a guy gets told what to do, it’s with the idea that they should be “more”. When a woman gets told what to do, it’s with the idea to be what she’s told to be. Not more. Sometimes less.

So uh… Happy International Mens Day, I guess. Maybe take the time to check your privilege or something. That’d be nice.

A Bundle of Useless Things

Because obviously, my little flounderings are a drop in a bucket. This has always been the case, but when Real World Events are happening, I usually squint at myself when I lament the size of my pay cheque, while I live safe and sound an apartment, with my loving wife and some indifferent cats without considerable amounts of trouble.

Hi there. My name is Brandon. Welcome to a new week.

++SUBMET INDUSTRIES
For the past few weeks, Danica and I have been discussing The Future, and where we would like to be within the next few years. It’s a conversation that we have regularly, which has thus far resulted in moving in together, getting engaged on our own time table, getting married on our own terms, and starting up the kind of comic shop we always wanted to frequent ourselves. Those projects already in progress, we’re starting to think about adding more focus and purpose to our various projects. The first bit of that has involved quietly getting this site into a place that’s strong enough to be a working hub – meaning more frequent (and regular) updates, and a lot of back posting. In the future, it’s going to mean quite a bit more, but honestly, you can’t build anything without a solid foundation to start from. So hey look: an attempt at building a foundation. Doesn’t it look neat and load-bearing?

++FUN FACT
This would be what I think of whenever anyone says the words “load-bearing”.

Bear Wall

Because it’s a load-bearing wall. Get it? Haha, everything is funnier when you explain it afterwards. (Laughs and slowly walks onwards towards oblivion.)

++GENDER IS NOT A GENRE
Yesterday, the shop was lucky enough to have the one and only Kelly Sue DeConnick Skype in to talk about Pretty Deadly (the new issue arrives this Wednesday!) and Bitch Planet. This is the kind of event that I always wanted to do when I was working at Wizard’s, but just never had the space, resources or support to pull off. And now? Well, we pretty much determine how to use our space and resources and can support whatever the hell we damn please. So: Kelly Sue DeConnick Skypes in to talk to a room full of folks about her comics.

I you missed the event, and you’re looking for a bit of a Kelly Sue audio fix, I highly recommend you check out the interview James Leask and I did with her back in April 2012. It goes a bit everywhere from talking about the soon-to-arrive Captain Marvel series to dealing with personal fears and self-doubt – and even has something akin to a “cameo” mention of what would become Pretty Deadly. To this date, it is still one of my favourite interviews that I’ve been a humble part of.

got-a-girl-e1447450837831

++SOMETHING DIFFERENT
I won’t always talk about the articles that go up on Variant Edition’s blog, but I will always talk about new instalments of Devin R. Bruce’s Seven Days columns. In a world where Danica and I are either at the store or reading comics for the store (or eating and sleeping), it’s great to get pop culture dispatches from Devin, so that we don’t completely lose touch with pop culture. And as a bonus? The dude is consistently finding cool things.

In this week’s instalment, Devin explores the twisted world of The Maxx, talks about a cool podcast that he’s been listening to, and then lets everyone know about a really cool band called Got A Girl. They’re pretty amazing.

++STAY TUNED
I think this week is the week some #YEGGeek stuff gets announced. Or at least when intents are announced. We’ll see how well I keep things together this week.

Until next time.

We Learned This In Kindergarten

So when I was in pre-school and kindergarten and… well, just all school in general, I would have the occasional bully. The advice I was always given was, bullies want a reaction. They want your anger. They want you to swing back, because then, they are justified, and they can, and will hit you back – or at the very least, be proven that their hatred of you, irrational as it might be, is just.

Paris, and anything like this, goes back to what we learned back then. You don’t respond to hatred with hate. That justifies actions, and makes you a part of the cycle. You swing back. The reaction you get justifies your actions, and the cycle continues, never broken.

What the world needs more than anything, is empathy, humanity, and understanding. Because with each punch thrown, from any side – ANY side, hundreds and thousands of people die. Fighting has never solved anything. It’s a cheap way to appear strong and it comes at the cost of lives.

Using words and rejecting the cycle of fear and hatred is a lot more terrifying, because it requires you to rely on the humanity and empathy of others. Sometimes, you won’t be rewarded for this attitude, and it will seem easier to fall back into old habits – but far less people die from the actions of empathy – and a cause has far less support if attacks are met with words.

The best thing that can be done in the face of Paris, is to be empathetic to those around you, and to show humanity to all. EVERYONE. The assholes won’t back down, but at least they’ll be alone against a united front of wonderful, patient and understanding human beings – which is something no one can fight against.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 072 // Sexy Allegories or Metaphors

In which, uh… we really liked the new Doctor Who episode?

Hey everyone: fun fact. It’s hard to be wacky drunks when an episode of Doctor Who is so good. Which means Danica and Brandon just watched Series 9, Episode 8 (The Zygon Inversion) and it was pretty amazing. That’s not to say they aren’t weird and stumbling, because they are. We are. Writing in the third person is hard, you guys. Also, they talk about some other shows probably. Scandal? I think? And something else. Remembering is also hard, when you WERE drunk, and ARE sober several days later.

Outro music is “War (What Is It Good For)” as performed by Cory and Topanga on Boy Meets World. Because of course it is.

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

White Dudes

I probably shouldn’t. But then again, I really don’t care.

This past week, I partook in what I think was my first ever Facebook debate, not for anything important, but for posting a link to this article about why retiring the Slave Bikini from Star Wars merchandising is an excellent move. Some people took acceptation to this. And by “some people”, I mean “white dudes” – which hey, full disclosure, I am too.

Anyway, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of it here. Suffice to say, I am in agreement with the article in question, and others are not, for their own reasons. We won’t ever see eye to eye on that, etc etc. What I want to talk about, however briefly and inadequately, is why I felt the need to so vehemently defend this position.

For the past few years, I’ve been learning more about gender inequality. It was something that I’d always been aware of, but hadn’t really sunk in until – quite honestly – earlier this year when I was watching a movie and realized that all of the female characters in this very serious drama existed only in reference to the male lead. One was his psychiatrist who was consistently stymied by her patient’s quippy comebacks, aghast at the male lead’s Complete Rightness All The Time. Another was the relentlessly doting mother who gave the main character everything, but would be treated to similar quips until she realized she should… give him everything but on his terms? And the other was the cheating ex-fianceé who realized too late how “amazing” this guy was, only to be Righteously Rebuffed in the end. Gag.

Anyway. Before watching this movie, I had long known the talking points behind gender inequality… but for some reason, this dumb movie crystallized things. A friggen movie did this. Not a personal experience, not an anecdote from my wife or another loved one, but an emotionally manipulative bit of drama built to lionize the hardships of a white dude with a medical problem. Kind of screams privilege on all levels, doesn’t it?

So yeah. I experience this shift, in the dumbest, most privileged way possible, and I go about my business. Together with my wife, and a third partner, we start up a comic store. We decided to build it as a place that is mindful of disparity, whether it be gendered, sexual, racial or what-have-you. We do this, because the comics industry is riddled with privilege, and we want to be better. In short order, we discover the only way to do this, is to be active, and mindful, but not cruel. Everyone will have their opinions and tastes, and some of them won’t necessarily line up with yours – and you will need to find a way to balance that out with the way you want to present your business. Our solution? If you want something, yes, of course we will make sure you can get it. But if we’re going to talk about books, or feature them, we want to be mindful that we’re not hitting the parade of best selling white male heroes or creators. In an industry in dire need of diversity, it is important to push, and make people aware of amazing products by amazing people who don’t usually get the spotlight for whatever reason. It is also important to be aware of things like the Slave Bikini from Star Wars, and be mindful of it’s context – and to say something, rather than remain silent. It is also important to speak up against differing opinions, not because the person is coming from a bad place, but because silence, and an adherence to the status quo is how the world got here in the first place.

I know I am absolutely not the advocate for this, but I can, at least, be a helping voice. I can speak, rather than remain silent, and I can challenge not just the ideas of others, but my own. I can try to be better. I do try to be better, and I hope and wish that what little I can do or say helps. I don’t want anything like this to be a victory for me, because white dudes don’t need any more victories, especially in the name of diversity. I just want to be able to lend my voice, and I think that doing so is important, in a small way. And so I do. And I will. Which I guess is how I start yelling at dudes about a costume from a fiction movie for far too long on the internet. But I guess at least I’m saying something.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 071 // Wife Law

In which we are brimming with allegories and metaphors, and totally know the difference between the two.

This week, Brandon and Danica are watching “The Zygon Invasion” (Series 9, Episode 7 of Doctor Who) and end up being drunkenly riveted by the whole episode. I mean really, you guys – this was a crackerjack episode. There was Osgood! Jokes! Doctor Funkenstein! Seriously, what more do you want? Some Once Upon a Time chatter? Maybe. Probably not, but we don’t care. WE DON’T. (We do. We love you.)

Outro music is “Hello, My Treacherous Friends” by OK Go

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Yegs & Bacon // Episode 027 // What Is Snow

It’s time to wake up and grab a fresh plate of YEGS & BACON – Edmonton’s very own pop culture and comics morning show!

On this week’s episode, Brandon and Danica are discussing the new Star Trek announcement, and the Preacher trailer – along with some drama that happened with comics journalism over the weekend. Then it’s straight on to comic book recommendations!

Bonus Note: Here’s a link that features pretty much all you need to know about the comics journalism thing.