Category Archives: Comics

The Line Is Drawn // They Cry Moore, Moore, Moore

The Line Is Drawn features floating thoughts on recent comic book happenings. They may be gathered for a more substantial meal at a later date.

WITH A REBEL YELL

Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably experienced something co-created by the reclusive wizard Alan Moore. He’s the writer behind comics such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and a myriad of others. To many, he’s a god made mortal, spinning tales that are filled to the brim with craft. To others, he’s a dude who is way to into his own shit, building to please himself rather than satisfy with story. Regardless, he’s one of the big names in comics, and his influence can not be denied.

Because of this, and because of the way this industry runs, his ideas are coming back, without Moore at the helm. People are upset by this which… I understand. There are very few projects in media that seem to spring into life, and are left alone when the initial story and purpose is laid to rest. For most of Alan Moore’s career, he’s focused almost exclusively on ideas with with more of a finite being – in direct contrast to the bulk of the content in the comic book industry. Now, there’s Before Watchmen, a series Watchmen prequels. There’s Doomsday Clock, which brings many of the characters from Watchmen explicitly into the DC universe. And now, Tom Strong and Promethea (two characters from his America’s Best Comics line at DC) are popping up in comics that are about to hit the stands.

Naturally, there’s a debate raging on if the use of all of these characters are appropriate. Honestly? It’s something that I’m not sure of myself. As a person, I like a good finite story – one with purpose and meaning. On the other hand, I’ve helped build a business that thrives off of the never ending narrative… and quite honestly, built on the bones of a lot of poor creators. Some days, I have a harder time balancing all of that than others, but at the end of the day, I am in the business of selling this product to folks who really enjoy it – and I have yet to let the morality of, say, the creation of Superman or the Fantastic Four stop me. Which is where my disconnect lies.

I can’t quite reconcile all of the fervour that the use of Alan Moore’s co-creations get with the machinations of the rest of the industry. I understand that people can be many things, and have many opinions… but it always seemed weird to me that a line be drawn at Moore with sure passion, while everything else… just is. I can definitely appreciate the concern with which they bring up Moore’s contributions and wishes, just like I do when folks bring up Jack Kirby. I ache at the thought of where comics left Jack, and he wanted the industry’s respect. Moore almost clearly doesn’t – or at least he’s resigned himself to the fact that it won’t. If resignation involves kicking dirt when prompted.

It’s a tough thing. But at the end of the day… I’m excited to see what Jeff Lemire and Ivan Ries will do with Tom Strong and his family, and curious as to what the future has in store for Promethea in the pages of Steve Orlando’s Justice League run (which has many artists). I like those ideas, and I’m genuinely curious as to what another voice has to say about them. That might make me a bad person. Or at least a thoughtless one. But hey, I guess we’re still also reading Mister Miracle and I’ve heard significantly less hand-wringing about that book. So.

Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.

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Yegs & Bacon // Episode 001 // The Comics Industry Is Doomed

Welcome back to a brand new season of YEGS AND BACON!

On this week’s episode – is the comic book industry doomed? Yes! Or… no? Maybe. Danica and Brandon discuss what needs to change if comic shops want to see tomorrow, and they have the math to prove it.

All this, plus traffic and weather from Devin R. Bruce – and our amazing theme song by Apocalypse Kow

Show Notes:

Yegs & Bacon // Episode 000 // If You’re Just Joining Us

Gooooood morning Edmonton! Grab your coffees or your general morning beverage of choice, because YEGS AND BACON is here!

On this week’s PREVIEW show, we give our statement of purpose, ad talk about the days ahead. You want some feminism and general mindfulness in your comics culture? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Yegs and Bacon’s theme music is by the incomparable Apocalypse KowYou should give them money, because they are wonderful.

#VERecommends: Daytripper

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”

-T.S. Elliot

We meet Brás de Oliva Domingos on his birthday. He’s sitting at a bar, wearing a tuxedo, on his way to celebrate the life of his father, who has recently passed away. There is blood on his tuxedo. He is 32.

Death looms large in the life of Brás – a fact we are made privy to very early in the time we spend with him. He writes obituaries for a newspaper, describing lives through fondly sculpted memories. His work, though prolific in its own small way, is brimming with character. He describes the life of a famous painter, who had been in love with 274 different women in his life, proof of this being found in the portraits he would make of each lover, every painting carrying the name “Lola”. You know this painter for a fleeting moment, and yet a life has been spread before you, rife with nuance.

He is a master of words – a talent handed down to him from his father – though neither would openly admit this. Brás’ father was a famous writer and in his death, he was to be celebrated – though as cruel fate would have it, this celebration would occur on Brás’ own birthday. As he reads the paper detailing the soiree, he attempts to believe that his father would’ve balked at the suggestion of having the event occur as his son would begin another year of life. Reality says otherwise, however, and Brás is given a rough start to his 32nd birthday.

In short order, we see our hero struggling to stay above water, awash in a sea of memory. His typewriter was a gift from his father. A bad habit picked up from his mother bares his father’s fingerprints, the smoke coming from his favourite brand of cigarette. Throughout our inaugural trip with Brás, these themes of death, family and the attempt to live with and without both swirl until an ending. There is blood on his tuxedo. There is a gun in his face.

Brás dies on the date of his birth – and his story begins.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?

Do you remember your first kiss? Your first love? Your one and only love? How about first loss? Your first personal failure? Your first death? In Daytripper, recounted in stunning clarity, we see the most important days of a man’s life. We see the lessons he learns from these moments, and the way his old life dies – only to be reborn anew inside of a new phase – an ending making way for a new beginning.

Each chapter is told without an effort made towards linear chronology – in its stead, events enfold in such a way that themes bleed from one story to the next – love, leading to loss, leading to love, leading to life, and over and over and over. Viewing a life in such a way is far and away out of the ordinary, but much more fulfilling and hearty. Each note hits at just the right frequency, resonating in your bones before ebbing and transforming into a fresh one, lyrics dancing beautifully atop the music you don’t so much as hear, but feel. The tune is familiar, but surprising in parts. You live alongside Brás. You die with him over and over and over. You heart aches and your heart breaks. You are haunted.

STORYTELLING

“I guess everyone that likes comics and likes to draw has this kind of notion that the drawings are the most important thing. And we were like that in the beginning. Now we care much more about the overall story. We don’t make too much effort to determine who is doing what, because in the end all that matter is the whole thing, the story we create and put out so people can read it. We don’t care who’s drawing. The artist doesn’t matter; the story is what matters.”

-Fábio Moon from The Comics Journal No. 298, May 2009

The twins Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are phenomenal storytellers – though most people only know them from working with writers such as Matt Fraction on Casanova and Gerard Way on The Umbrella Academy. And while their art styles are certainly very accomplished and evocative, their greatest strength lies in the way they tell a story. In their projects with other writers, this storytelling aspect is limited, in a sense, to what they can convey using other people’s words. In such cases, their art works as a bit of a mixtape, using the poetry of others and infusing it with your own deliberate choices, in order to make something different than what would’ve been through one voice alone. Inside the pages of Daytripper – as well as other works where they act both as writers and artists, the twins are left to tell stories with their own words.

In describing what they attempted to accomplish with this story in the back of its collected volume, Fábio Moon stated, “We wanted that feeling that life was happening right there, in front of every one of us, and we were living it. And we did. And sometimes, we die to prove that we lived.”

The words sum up the work as a whole more beautifully than I could ever hope to capture it – present in every page is a life well lived – one perfectly realized and captured using the drapes of small moments, dressing the bones of large, personal events. While adding their own measure of the fantastic to the regular events in a life, the twins manage to allow this story to become larger in the readers minds. Really, the story of Brás is no different than the story of mine or yours – but by adding the aspect of death, these everyday occurrences gain meaning. As Moon said, “We die to prove that we lived.” Death gives all moments meaning.

Without thinking about the story first, and letting the art really become a part of that, to be in service of that, rather than the driving force, this point is made with a subtle touch, staying at the fringes of your mind as you continue through one man’s life. And then, of course, there’s an ending – just as there must be with everything.

BEGINNING

There’s a magic present inside Daytripper that I can’t even hope to capture. I could go on for hours, for days attempting to parse every nuance, but the would be an exercise in fruitlessness. The book is much better experienced as it was always intended – through the medium of comics, wherein words can inform pictures, and pictures can carry words. It would do your heart good to go out and experience this book. Do it soon – because before long, something new will have to begin.

Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.
Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

What Kind Of Wife Am I?

Reflections on Bitch Planet: Triple Feature

Recently, I re-read Bitch Planet Volume 2 for WTF+ YEG Book Club. This led me to shamefully admit to the group that I had not been reading the mini-series, Bitch Planet: Triple Feature!, even though the issues were conveniently located in my comics subscription file. I read the 3 issues that had been released so far a couple nights later.

As I was reading the short stories taking place in the world of Bitch Planet, but on Earth rather than the offworld jail of the main series, I couldn’t help but think about my role in this world as a married woman.

It’s not news, and there have been countless articles on Bitch Planet, but here I am anyway.

In my teens, I grew a fascination for 1950’s culture. Drunk on my white privilege, I reveled in boomerang tile and ranch houses, never once thinking of the pervasive racism of the day and gender roles women were forced into. I didn’t dream of being a housewife, but I sure as hell created a future for myself that may have ended that way. Nowadays, I’ve moved past that obsession and only have an attraction to the aesthetic. My current ideal space is a cozy mix of 1940’s minimalism and 1970’s comfort, and deep, earthy tones(oddly, both decades where women were expected to step up to join the workforce and the waves of feminism rose higher).

I grew up with little interest in marriage. I assumed I would get married “someday”, but never put too much thought into it. When I was very young, I believe 28-29 was my “someday” range – perhaps it seemed old enough. Or perhaps I was raised by society to believe that 30 was the End Times for a woman, so never questioned why I had put my nebulous marker ahead of this dreadful milestone. In my early 20’s, I was in a long term relationship with a man who I assumed I would marry. We dated for around 4 years, and it became quite obvious he was never going to propose. Around that age, I was full force into thinking that’s what a relationship needed to move to the next level. Of course, it ended with us falling out of love with each other, so really nothing was going to improve anything.

As it happens, I am currently married. I did not end up a 32-year old spinster. The best man I’ve ever known saved me from the terrible fate of Being Alone In My 30’s(sarcasm heavily implied). I knew marriage could be hard, but I didn’t realize that much of the stress would come from myself. I didn’t realize I had put myself in a box of my own making until I had been married a couple years. I stressed about Having It All. I was bound and determined to work a fulltime job AND cook dinner AND keep the house tidy AND feed the cats. I felt guilty asking Brandon to help out with housework, as if I was shirking my duties. I felt as if I had poured my own glass of the proverbial Kool-Aid and given in to what I thought a wife should be.

It took a long time, and I still have difficulties. Brandon and I are equal partners in many ways. We live together, own a business together, plan together, we make sure the cats are happy together. Reading Bitch Planet has been healthy for me, because I can often readdress who I am as a wife and woman.

I’m going to leave this idea to simmer for a bit. Please leave a comment below if the series has, or has not, made a similar effect on you. If married, did you have to fight against any gender roles to find a comfortable way to live with your partner? If not, how do you see a married you? And if marriage isn’t in your plans, do you have any issues cohabitating?

ha ha no

It’s a funny joke right? I mean, my first thought was to laugh, but after a couple of seconds, I just got tired.

Valiant is advertising the most gimmicked variant of all time for this December, and they’re asking retailers to order 250 copies of the new Quantum and Woody title to get it. And I just… no. No. You can’t actually promote how ridiculous stuff like this is and then turn around and ply your very own stipulations. It’s not funny, it’s part of the problem.

Sell us the story. Then we’ll talk.

Comics Are For Kids

“Kids are our future.”

You’ve all heard this. Whether it’s spoken in response to climate change, supporting girls to begin working in STEM fields or politics, or comic books. While I have opinions on many things, I’m an expert on one thing.

From day one, I wanted my store to have a vast all ages section. And not for the reasons many stores do. I have no interest in putting a child in a corner so their parents could get rid of them for a while. I am not a babysitter. I wanted somewhere kids would willingly go, a space that was all their own. I’m still building on that, but the section has come a long way since Variant Edition opened.

I’ll admit, there have been some drawbacks. Money is tight, so I can only grow the section when I have some room in the budget, but I’ve been able to find some amazing books along the way. There was the time a customer (who has two sons) asked if there could be more books with young boys in them. I had been growing the section for a fictional Young Danica, finding more and more books I felt would have had a positive impact on me as a child. I had neglected to add books with positive male characters. He was also kind enough to remind me to focus on books with boys, sans “punching is the answer” (you would be amazed to discover the number of male-focused books that contain this). I have the weirdest blinders on when I’m ordering, and a lot of my customers who are parents have been helping me immensely.

I’ve been keeping my eye out for books about talking out problems, about girls going in STEM careers, LGBTQ+ kids being loved and accepted, princesses who run their lives, dinosaurs who are helpful friends, anything positive that will help build a kid up strong when the world comes knocking to crush them down. And yes, I look for books that I believe make me stronger, even now.

Business talk time. When I see other comic stores ignoring what is a huge and growing market, I get sad. Angry. Disappointed at their unwillingness to be a better business. Yes, that makes my job easier, but wouldn’t it be nice if all children could go to any comic store and find something magical, just for them? Brandon and I work hard to market comics to all age ranges. It would be so easy (and limiting) to market to people our age and up. People who have been reading comics for decades and are somehow more “justified” to be in a book store. I see a lot of customers stepping on their child’s wonder, possibly destroying a habit before it’s formed.

You can’t raise a reader if you begin by teaching restrictions (and no, I’m not talking about age restrictions – I always read above my age group, but I realize there are limitations).

There is no such thing as a “boy comic” or a “girl comic”. There are stories, and if your child is interested in it, and the content is age appropriate, give it a try. This could be the gateway to a future career. It could be the start of a passion. It could just be a wonderful phase of reading about dinosaurs. We all had those. We’re not all archeologists, but wasn’t it nice to dream about digs in Egypt when we were 8?

Comics Taste Test for Sept 13, 2017

Happy new comic book day, party people!

Here at Submet, we’re starting up a weekly feature where we gather up all of our #preNCBD (pre New Comic Book Day) tweets into one easily digestible blog post so that everyone can get a little taste of what’s hitting the stands.

For a full list of what’s coming out, feel free to check out Variant Edition’s Incoming Post from this week.

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

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture // Submet on Facebook
Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Comics Taste Test for Sept 6th, 2017

Testing out a little thing in preparation for THE WORLD TO COME.

Hmm.

HMM…

 

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

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.
Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram