Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2013!

Hey everybody! I’m going to be at the Calgary Expo again this year, selling copies of FIGHT COMICS and an anthology of my older work, Warm Up Sessions. You can find me at booth S06!

(You can read both of those stories by visiting fightcomics.ca!)

I’m sharing a table with two talented artists, Neil Lalonde and my good friend Nick Johnson. You can find us by using the map below. Thanks to Neil for the adorable representations of us!

CalgaryConMap

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Warren Ellis Frustrated With Social Media; Highlights a Feature/Bug

Writer and internet presence Warren Ellis recently posted his observations regarding current social media: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14404

His complaints aren’t unfounded, and his observations are as ever, spot on.

What is interesting is that perhaps he’s coming up against are not failing of social media, but instead are the result of truly social networks. Facebook, Twitter, even Google+ basically exist to make one-to-one connections. Things start trending, peaking, hyper-sharing, whatever, when it grabs the public and the public movies it.

Warren’s big issue was numbers; too few people actually seeing his content in social media, compared to the much larger amounts of people subscribed to his accounts, pages, etc.

But that’s because he’s looking for a broadcast result in a medium designed to diffuse the content down to individuals interacting.
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FIGHT COMICS! At The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo

Welcome to FIGHT COMICS!

Five stories of conflict in five wildly different worlds!

These stories take a closer look at conflict. Presented here are five stories by five different artists, all looking at a similar subject in wildly different ways. From a bareknuckle boxing match to Renaissance duel, to the debates of beings in our distant future-past, all of these stories have something to say.

You can see more information here: fightcomics.ca

I’m going to be at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, from April 27 to the 29th. I’d love to see you if you can visit!

I’m afraid of a Wildrose Alberta


I’ve been disappointed in politics. I’ve been angry. But this is the first time I’ve been afraid.

The first scary thought? Conscience Rights: allowing a civil servant to not perform certain actions (like abortion or gay marriage) if their conscience is against it.

No one invokes ‘conscience rights’ if they don’t plan to use them. A party that advocates this is inherently approving of discrimination. This phrase is cloaked in ‘rights’ wording, but it sidesteps the fact that the people who are being given these rights are civil servants and health providers. It isn’t impossible to imagine law-enforcement being granted similar ‘rights’ on how they enforce the law.

Everybody knows at least one person that could be refused care or service based on conscience rights. Think of that friend or loved one (or yourself) not being served by conscience rights and the Wildrose. That puts a face and a reality to this obscure ‘right’ that civil servants might be missing.

(I’d also love to know how many civil servants chose their work resenting the fact that they have to care for people they disagree with. Up to now, it couldn’t have been much of a surprise, could it? Up to now, it’s seemed like part of the package.)

When other parties try to corner them on the issue, the Wildrose accuses them of ‘fear-mongering,’ and try to shift the conversation away from the issue, trying to sound like a victim (or better, a martyr) of the bullying press. Underneath that evasion is the fact that they don’t deny the policy.  They are fundamentally saying that some citizens are worth more to them than others.

There are numerous candidates of Wildrose across Alberta that have a history of discrimination, and even the desire to ‘limit human rights.’ I’ll direct you to here:

http://daveberta.ca/2012/04/danielle-smith-wildrose-candidates/

and here:

http://www.jeremyklaszus.com/questions-for-anti-gay-wildrose-candidate/

See for yourself. The important note here is that Wildrose has within its ranks people who believe that some people are worth discriminating against. That there are people who must be changed or ruled over.

While in the process of writing this post, the Wildrose party has had two scandals from within its ranks. Allan Hunsperger’s year-old blog post surfaces, indicating an intolerant attitude toward the gay community. Ron Leech stated that as a caucasian, he had an advantage in dealing with his constituents. (He also has a history of intolerance towards homosexuality: http://faithandmedia.org/articles/show/233)

Danielle Smith has boldly chosen to defend rather than chastise her party members, twisting the situation into a chance to defend free speech. She also states that her party has no desire to legislate on contentious issues and that they believe in a separation between church and state. If this is true, why do they have active, staunchly conservative religious leaders in their party?

Never mind what Danielle Smith believes, should we expect someone with these values to leave them at the door when deciding on provincial policies?

This led me to investigate on the Wildrose home turf: their policy book, available on their website. Specifically, page 124. (http://www.wildrose.ca/policy/policy-green-book/) They attempt to compare the current Human Rights commission system with their planned court-based system. Though the rhetoric is subtle, the shift they are creating places more emphasis on defending and minimizing the impact to those who have been accused of human rights offenses.

emphasis mine:

IF Advocate determines there are grounds to proceed, will proceed with the complaint.

Defendant has the right to make a full and fair defense in front of a judge.

Defendants found innocent will have their court costs paid for.

The language here clearly speaks of emphasizing the assumptive innocence of the defendant. But that little ‘if’… the person deciding that would be placed by the Wildrose. A party full of members who have a history of discrimination and intolerance. (Globe and Mail: Meet the Wildrose Bunch)

There are other promises coming from Wildrose that are tenuous at best, but what seems clearest is that this party wants to force the clock backwards, to a mythical, less complicated, and fundamentally less diverse, time. Their economic policies have been roundly criticized. But it’s not the more bureaucratic elements of the party that scare me most. It’s the people in it, and what they believe. I don’t trust them, and I don’t think you should either.

It all puts me in mind of a story that’s been moving around the internet lately, of Katherine Switzer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathrine_Switzer). One blogger put it like this:

Who are you in this story? The harbinger of progress and equality? The rallying troops willing to stand up for what’s right? Or just another Bull Connor, aggressively fighting against integration and inclusion?

FIGHT COMICS! Training Session: Ink On Paper

Image

(I’m getting closer and closer to having this book come out, and so I thought I’d write a few posts meditating on the process. This one focuses on some of the practical elements of getting the book out there, specifically printing. Need to know what this is all about? Take a look here: FIGHT COMICS! An Introduction)

I had a meeting today at a print shop. I was getting answers to questions, like what kind of page weight I wanted inside the book versus for the cover, what the turnaround time for proofs would be, and how to account for ‘bleed’ in the art. (The extra section of the page that will be trimmed off when the book is printed.)

I was struck by the fact that even at this most physical level of production, that these decisions are as artistic as they are practical. I want the book to feel a certain way, and that informs the choices. (In this case, I’m going for a non-glossy black-and-white book, something that feels like the comics I read back in the 80’s, where the newsprint paper seemed like it was just an avenue of getting the story into your mind.) But until I was at the print shop, looking at four completely different kinds of blank white paper, it hadn’t occurred to me.

When I started this project, I knew that I’d be learning a lot… I’d say I’ve learned even more. I’d written a few comics stories, and helped get the projects ready for print. I’d produced a few theatre shows, and even made a short film. I thought I had a handle on moving a project from idea to completion.

Self-publishing comics has been unlike any of those experiences. There have been some obvious similarities: writing the scripts, finding the talent, making creative choices. But dealing with technical issues about about page size ratios and grayscale, I feel like Rumsfeld and his ‘unknown unknowns,’ issues that I didn’t predict. I’ve had to answer each problem individually.

It’s turned out great; I’ve been lucky to work with great artists who are turning out work that shows not just their skill, but their range. I’ve had the chance to tell stories that I’ve been thinking about for years. (The whole thing has been a long time coming… two years from an initial idea to finally printing.) I’ve started to build up a body of work that will serve as a foundation for my future career.

I’m at peace with the time spent… I’m considering all of these lessons another part part of what I’m getting by paying the artists and covering all the other costs. The time and money spent is tuition, basically, and it’ll mean I’ll have an even tighter project the next time around. And I can’t wait to show you these stories in… (wait for it):

FIGHT COMICS! II
(Release date: unknown)

Before Watchmen: Defining the Argument

I was in the middle of writing an essay against the people who’ve been writing Alan Moore off as a crazy grumpy hippy, who just doesn’t want anyone to have any fun.

But then I noticed the trends on Twitter of how people are reacting to the whole thing. Quite a few are essentially trumping the argument by declaring it unimportant. They’re saying that this is an old issue, and advocate ignoring the whole thing in favour of something completely new and fresh.

While I would be ecstatic to see new fresh work from the industry (and with works like THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY and CASANOVA, I think we do see those stories) it’s also worth looking at the fact that the industry is choosing to create a work that will generate more buzz by its very existence than it would have on the creator’s merits alone. And that the dominant argument seems to be about if DC Comics has the legal right to create it. (Which they seem to.)
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Silver Lining in the Harper Overcast

There’s a story behind the story.

There’s a buzz in the air with same-sex marriage, on a justice department’s ruling on an attempt for two women, married in Canada, to get divorced. The law stated that for a divorce to occur, the couple needed to have lived in Canada for a year. The couple declined that option, and contested the ruling. At this point, the lawyer suggested an alternative; their wedding was never valid because their home nations (the U.K. and the U.S. respectively) don’t recognize same-sex marriage, and they never lived long enough in Canada to be citizens.

(I wonder if this alternative was suggested as a well-meaning attempt to give them what they wanted; out of the marriage.)
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