MonthMarch 2016

Doctor Whooch // Episode 088 // Jerk Science

In which we forgot the title of the episode immediately after saying it.

On this week’s episode: we get afraid of wifi as we watch the series seven episode called… called… ugh. I think I lost the name of the title again already. Hmm. Well, whatever it is, there’s a heaping spoonful of misogyny in there because we can’t have nice things. Also, we talk about that. The part where we can’t have nice things, but we SHOULD, because sci-fi can be ANYTHING TO ANYBODY, so why not do that? And uh OH OH OH, it was called “The Bells of Saint John”. Ha. I KNEW I’d remember that.

Outro music is “Hey Girl” by Tacocat.


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Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook 
Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

March Madness (or) A Prelude

Wow, so I guess March is over? That is ridiculous. This is ridiculous. Though regardless, I think it’s time for a general progress report on how things have gone over the past month.


March was a very energizing month at Variant Edition. Not only did we head out to our first comics-related show, but we had a table at this year’s Edmonton Cat Show, as put on by the Edmonton Cat Fanciers, and both were rousing successes. At the Pop Culture Fair, we connected with folks within the comics community who didn’t know about the shop, and at the cat show, we helped people discover a love of comics they never knew they had through the power of cats. Turns out, cats are amazing and they can do anything. Except listen to direct instructions, I think. Anyway.

We were also featured on CBC Radio One twice – first during Edmonton AM’s trip to the Telus World of Science last Thursday where Danica and I talked about the shop and it’s everyone-friendly environment – and then on Monday, the Calgary morning show broadcast my sweet, sweet voice talking about how Gundams were primed to destroy our fair city. That… was a little surreal, and resulted in another batch of people discovering our store (and in some cases, rediscovering the wonders of comics!)

All of that has us charged up for the next round of things, which begins shortly. I don’t want to be too much a shill in this post, so if you want to know what’s coming up next, you can head over to the store’s event page for more info.


After a strong start of blowing through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Restaurant at the End of the Universe in two months, I stalled out at the start of the third book. I can’t remember why, exactly, because the second book ends on a bit of a dour cliffhanger, and I really want to see how that resolves itself. And yet.

When I was talking to a customer about this project a few weeks back, I had just finished up with book two, and he noted that I would definitely finish getting through all five books in the Adam’s penned Hitchhiker’s trilogy, but I warned him that my brain gets easily sidetracked – especially when amazing comics keep arriving at the shop each and every week, interrupting the reading flow. The trick will always be getting back on track. My aim is to get through book three by the end of April to give myself a good lead on the rest of the year.

Yes, I guess one of my problems right now is “having to read books that I know I will enjoy”. You probably feel absolutely terrible for me.


Of course I front loaded this with the good bits. Of course.

As many of you know, I have been dealing with some heavy lows as of late and I promised you all updates. So.

Things have been… a lot better. A lot better. There were another couple of really scary periods in the past month that hit me like a motherfucker. I think the worst of it is the fact that this all effects Danica too, who… while diligently making sure I remain all in one piece sometimes ends up neglecting herself. I know how that goes, because… well, we discovered a long time ago that we don’t think too highly of ourselves, but we’ll do absolutely anything for each other, and sometimes we end up being at odds in very strange ways. We’ve often had fights where we argue about which of us should be shouldering the burden of the other which is… far better than some of the alternatives. But we both recognize that we have to work to do internally, and we’re both trying. It’s hard, but we’re trying.

Posting here has helped. Hearing from all of you has been wonderful and uplifting. Without all of you, this road would be a lot harder to walk down and for helping us both move forward, we are forever grateful.


Next week, I have a personal goal of getting up something on this site each and every weekday. If all goes well, you’ll be hearing about the comics activism project in next week’s posts. With any luck, it will piss some people off.

That’s how we’ll know we’re onto something.

Closer To Free

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve been even harder on myself lately. It took Brandon telling me how stretched thin I was to make me realize I couldn’t handle more right now. Every day is a rollercoaster. I’m both empowered and weak, close to financial freedom and so far away from any savings, confident and terrified – and I need to somehow come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of everything right now. Frankly, I’m sick of it, but realize this is a long, hard road I must walk down.

Oddly enough, a podcast has been helping. I discovered a show called “The Big Payoff” ( ) the other week. They were doing a 4-episode series on women and their relationship with money, and I found the whole thing full of captivating and valuable information. Topics ranged from women being the breadwinner’s in their respective relationships to your money history and fantasies (dreams of a financial future come from somewhere). I know now I must have a closer relationship with money, so will be listening to more of their episodes in the future.

I spent the last decade thinking I would always be in debt. Very glad at least that’s progressing to a point where I can breathe a bit easier. Right now, I’m thankful to have that One Thing I can focus on completely obliterating from my life. One Thing that is under my control. Thank you for keeping me going. Thank you for giving me motivation when I was weak, and keeping my eye on the future when I have achieved this goal.

#MotivationMonday // Dreamer

Never Stop Dreaming

My Shopping Ban: Creating a Plan

Since I last wrote about my ban and student loans, I’ve since acquired a job, both dealt with and removed stress from different areas of my life, and am in a better place emotionally.

I spent some time one evening plotting out a payment plan to squash my student loan once and for all. Since I am being paid weekly, I will be taking out $15 of each paycheque and put it towards the debt. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is over and above the $200 I already have going out at the end of the month, so it adds up over time. My final $200 will be taken out of my account at the end of May, and I will pay the remainder (I’m estimating it to be around $100) that week. My personal deadline will be Friday, June 10, to send off my final payment.

It feels unreal to be this close. I grow impatient and want to pay it all LIKE RIGHT NOW, but I don’t have the money like right now. This way, I can pay it off and still grow the cushion back in my main bank account. I’m hoping with this job, I can put a bit into savings as well.


I’m getting time before the busy season to catch up on some reading in my lunch hours, which has been a nice treat. In the last week, I’ve read Letter 44 Vol 3, Astro City Vol 1, and am currently halfway through Civil War.

Letter 44 has been amazing, and I’m crushed we’re sold out of the single issues in store because I really really want to keep reading, but will *hmph* patiently wait for the next collection.

Astro City is kind of interesting. I may check out volume 2 to see if it’s enough to keep my reading.

And Civil War is making a bunch of stories I know make a bit more sense, so while it’s not great, it’s filling in a bit more of the timeline for me.

Otherwise, I’m reading Watchmen for book club, and it’s to be expected. I find it offensive, and boring, so congrats on doing that, writer dude.

Borrowed The Best Laid Plans (which won Canada Reads a few years back) from my dad, and I’m enjoying it enough.

Generation X is on the bottom of my bedside table book pile. Does that book make sense to anyone else? I’m thinking it didn’t age well.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 087 // Gentlemanly Dickery

In which we turn down for butts.

This week’s episode follows along the River Song timeline with a little ditty called “Let’s Kill Hitler” from Series 6. FUN FACT! This was the first episode Brandon watched live, which would lead him down the path to meeting Danica. Doctor Who is the best, you guys.

Also on this week’s episode: a deadly game of murder chicken, and a lot of singing. And a special outdo song you don’t want to miss. Trust us on this one.

Outro music is “Turn Down For Butts” by DJ Snake, Lil Jon and ???


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Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

Worth It

Let me unpack what’s been going on in the last week.

I have a job now. I have a job for two months and it is glorious. I love temp work because you get to try new things and learn new things and get paid really really well because you’re also not getting health benefits, but it’s alright because you are getting a Paycheque. And Paycheques feed your kitties and sometimes yourself. Frankly, I was more worried about the cats. That reminds me – I need to buy kibble this week.

But I digress.

So far, my schedule is working out well. I’ll be at the office week days and at the store on weekends. You may have noticed already if you’ve visted VE, but fear not, I will be there occasionally, shining my light on you and conversing on how to smash the patriarchy.

I also experienced some unnecessary stress, but because I am strong (I am woman, hear me roar), I didn’t put up with that bullshit. And I will continue not putting up with such bullshit in my life because I am above bullies. I will absolutely have my weak moments in the future, but I will remember to listen to Beyoncé or Fifth Harmony and know that I am Worth It.


This post is mostly an update about my mental state – but if you stay until the end, you’ll get rewarded with the whole #CatShaming business that happened this weekend. So there’s that to look forward to.

First, apologies for the gap between updates. I promised you all when I asked for help that I’d keep you updated, and that slipped away slightly. Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me through all of this. You are all amazing, wonderful people.

Over the past few weeks, Danica and I have seen our lives shift in both wonderful and interesting ways. You’ve seen a bit of it in a couple of articles she wrote here at Submet over the past few week, and I believe she has more to talk about in the coming days as well. Suffice to say, the way we started March definitely won’t be the way we’ll end it, both for good and bad. But we endure.

The best part of my life right now, is having Danica in it. She makes me stronger, and has helped me become a better person, and there’s no one in my life that I trust more than her. In grappling with the past few hard months, we’ve always been able to talk – sometimes curtly, sometimes softly, sometimes in disagreement and sometimes on the exact same page. Regardless, we’ve always talked. Even if we didn’t have solutions (and I guess especially when we didn’t have solutions), we kept that open communication going, something that we haven’t had in past relationships, and sometimes… that’s enough. I know it was enough to keep me on track and pull me out from a deep depression hole. Now I just sit on the edge of the whirling abyss instead of swirling around madly in the roiling dark. It’s… still there, but at least I feel safe sitting at the edge. And that’s because of her.

The past few months have been trying, both internally and externally. That will probably maintain for a little while longer, but as I said in a previous post, I can see a path of some kind. I can feel my feet meeting resistance on ground. The footing might not be sure, but at least it’s footing.

Before I sign off, I want to talk a bit about what I’m focusing on the help me along my path. It’s one of the ideas that’s been a guiding light for me for years. It’s the reason why Comics! The Blog began years ago. It’s the reason why I wanted to start Variant Edition just a little over a year ago. It is this: “do better”.

A bit of background: Comics! The Blog began after James Leask and I felt weary about the discourse in comics culture. It was one of constant complaint (and still is) so we created a site that wanted to do better. We would talk about positive aspects of the industry, as well as ways it could be better, instead of just complaining and offering nothing in terms of construction. We’ve been pretty lax on keeping that site going these days as our focus has drifted elsewhere in terms of energy, but in the end, that’s still a thing we carry with us. In fact, a modified version of that was what saw both versions of Variant Edition form.

Not a lot of you know about or remember this, but briefly, before Variant Edition was conceived as a store, it was going to be a comic book recommendation engine – a place where people could come to to discover comics they never knew they wanted to read. Then, there was a seismic shift in my circumstances, and the idea of starting a comic shop of my own took root. Again, the idea of do better was baked in from the start.

The industry was, and continues to be rife with regressive and backwards thought processes, all the way from the way books are ordered, to the culture that permeates a lot of stores. To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at one store’s recent signage redesign:


There’s more about this shop in an article at Comics Beat right now.

Gross, right? Or at the very least, reductive. To a large part of the world’s population, that is not a very welcoming shop, and sadly, this kind of thing is everywhere in the comics industry, if not displayed in full on the exterior, then on the interior, in the form of signage or opinions. Variant Edition was, and continues to be a place that not only actively rejects this kind of culture, but actively engages with the idea of how to do better. Granted, that’s hard when the industry you work in tries so hard to tell you that nothing is wrong with the way things are.

There is something wrong. And something needs to be done.

So. I’m focusing on doing better – not as an internal demand, but as a general state of thoughtfulness. I’m not going to beat myself up for the opinions of others, or the fact that some people will always be resistant to these kinds of ideas. I’m just going to focus on what I can do, and what I have at my disposal to do it with. Over the next month or so, you’ll be hearing more about a project that Danica and I both hope will go a long way towards doing better. But for now…

This ties in a little with some of the regressive things I talked about previously. Also: cats. Basically, this weekend, I was cat shamed when a nice old lady asked me if I was actually into cats, or if I was just pretending at a cat show. Danica and I and a few friends took to twitter and made a nice meal of it.


So there was that. Which was fun.

And with that, I start my week. I hope you all are doing well. I am… doing better, with hopes of more to come.

Thanks again. Talk with you again soon.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 086 // We Like Your Stupid Faces

In which someone pulls a Phillip K Dick move.

On this week’s show: we head back to Series 7 and take a “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” with a spaceship full of assholes. We also see various rooms from the TARDIS. And The Doctor is weirdly sexist? Or I guess more overtly. There was a thing. Many things. And drunkeness.

Outro music is “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.


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Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook 
Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

Debt, Fear, and Time Travel

When I think about all the money I needlessly spent in my 20s, I get a little sad. I realize now that I could have have paid off my debt by now if I had been more serious about paying it back when I was making more income. I often want to go back to my 20-something year old self and tell her to be more cautious with her money. But then I think, would I have gone to school, would I have moved to Vancouver(and returned to Edmonton less than a year later, broke and alone), would I have made similar enough choices to end up meeting Brandon? Then I get really sad there’s another me out there that didn’t end up with an amazing husband, two beautiful cats, and a business we can both be proud of. Or maybe she(I?) did, and they have six cats and have two separate jobs that aren’t anything alike, but they are still happy. Good luck, Earth 2 Danica. Hope you don’t have to worry about lizard overlords.

I have a lot of regrets in my life. Some of them are decades old, some are less than a year. I try my darnedest not to regret anything, but I am not strong enough for that. It’s almost ironic I didn’t get serious about paying off my debt until I could barely afford to.

When I think about my future, it still somehow seems attainable, even with my current financial status. I don’t have large dreams for retirement. I’ve always wanted a small life, and that won’t change when I don’t have to work anymore. I hope that I’m in a position to choose when I retire, that I have some control over my future in the future. I don’t feel that currently, and that scares me. My goal for this year is to get some of that feeling back. I will pay off my student loans, pay off my credit card should I be bringing in enough income, hopefully take a small vacation, get back to being more comfortable financially by having a little bit left over after bills each month, start building my savings again. I don’t think these are far flung goals. I feel they’re attainable, and I’m going to try my hardest to focus on the long term instead of This Exact Moment, which is what my depression wants me to focus on.

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