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Preview : Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret

Culture, Events, Interviews, Showcase

July 5, 2017

We recently interviewed Katie Sly of Too Queer: A Visibility Cabaret which will be at The Fox Cabaret on Friday, July 7

LMM: Can you give us a brief but fascinating history of how Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret came to be?

KS: Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret is an arts-based community engagement project I created in Toronto in 2014, in response to an absence of community events organized for and about bisexuality and pansexuality. Back in 2014, I knew only a handful of other bi/pan folks. On a message thread with the small group of bisexuals, I did know, we were sharing and complaining about perceptions of bisexuality. On that thread a friend of mine mentioned that someone should throw a performance event about bisexuality– and I immediately realized I had the requisite amount of know-how, rage, and connections, to actually make that happen. I contacted my friends William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill, who were running a storefront, independent performance venue called Videofag, told them I had no budget but a lot of passion to curate a performance night celebrating bisexuality and pansexuality, and luckily for what would become the Too Queer cabaret series, William and Jordan understood the bi and pan community’s need, and donated us their space. 

In 2014 when all of this started, I felt completely disconnected from a bisexual community and wondered if one even existed. At the same time, I encountered biphobia in my day-to-day life and in designated queer spaces, where I often saw that the B in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) was only welcome if it was silent. So in curating the first Too Queer event, I only expected a handful of people to show up. What happened instead was that the performance space was so packed, it was standing-room only about an hour before performances even began. I was shocked by just how many bisexuals, pansexuals, and our allies had been waiting for an event like this– had been waiting for a space where we felt welcome. There were people standing 4-deep outside the windows of Videofag’s storefront, trying to see the performances. For the first time in my life, I saw how large our community actually is. Immediately after that first event, the bi and pan community I had just discovered asked me, “When’s the next one?” 

That’s how this bi visibility cabaret series was born.

Since 2014, Too Queer has held four widely-attended multimedia performance events in Toronto, showcasing photography, illustration, storytelling, dance, burlesque, spoken word poetry, and music, among other artistic disciplines. In 2016 Too Queer held a day of free-to-the-public arts workshops, all led by artists who identify as bi or pan, working around the question, “How do we make bisexual art?” That day of workshops was followed a week later by another hugely successful performance event at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (the world’s oldest and largest queer theatre). In the words of Buddies’ Artistic Director Evelyn Parry, “There’s no project like Too Queer in Toronto. It’s time to expand the definition of what we think of as queer.” 

Now, with Too Queer’s first Vancouver event coming up this Friday, July 7 at 8 pm at the Fox Cabaret, Too Queer is the first and only bi-coastal (pun intended) bi and pan performance series. 

LMM: What are your goals with this event?

KS: Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret has three goals: combat biphobia, create a safe container in which bi and pan culture can develop and evolve, and serve as a cultural focal point around which bisexual folks, pansexual folks, and our allies can meet each other and form friendships, relationships, and community.

Biphobia, a form of discrimination distinct from homophobia and transphobia, takes many different forms. For example, a frequent form of discrimination bisexual people face is the assertion that bisexuality (physical, sexual, and/or emotional attraction to people of the same gender and of other genders) simply doesn’t exist, and is either an expression of confusion over sexual orientation or greed. Another form biphobia takes is the stigma that bisexuals spread HIV to the straight community. Biphobia also manifests in violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bisexual women experience a significantly higher rate of being stalked, attacked, or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner than women of other sexual orientations.

The denial of the existence of bisexuality manifests in the media through an absence of portrayals of bisexual characters and narratives, which in turn enforces the belief that bisexual people don’t exist. Through art, Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret attempts to combat biphobia by increasing the visibility of bisexuality, pansexuality, and polysexuality, and by creating an opportunity for art that addresses the bi spectrum to develop.

LMM: Can you give us a rundown of the artist you are working with and why they are in the show?

KS: Vancouver’s first instalment of Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret has a tremendously diverse line-up. We have, from Vancouver:

Video art about what it means to wear a Cochlear implant and thus, be a human cyborg, from bad ass deaf Asian warrior Jessica Leung.

Poet and virtual reality investigator Doctor Ray is looking at the intersection of art and technology, bringing us an art piece he will (literally) attempt to control with his mind.

Ruthe Ordare, Manda Stroyer, and Shane Sable of Virago Nation will be performing with us. Virago Nation is an all-Indigenous collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization.

Keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse, bi pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa will be performing compositions by a bi composer, and in so doing explore an awareness of global bi+ culture.

Dominique Wakeland, Alexa Fraser, and Matt Winter of Devil’s Threesome, a devised theatre performance ensemble emerging out of Simon Fraser University, will be sharing a hilarious and strangely sexy performance examining objects of desire.

From Toronto:

Queer and trans solo multi-instrumentalist Rory Jade Grey will be sharing their storytelling musical work on guitar and loop pedal. Rory has been a fan-favourite of Too Queer in Toronto.

We’ll be projecting visual art by Caitlynn Fairbarns. For our show on July 7, Caitlynn has taken stills from film and TV, of queer and bi characters, and has used paint to edit out their surroundings, so that the focus is brought to these queer and bi characters, whose identities are so often erased.

And last but certainly not least, joining us from across the border:

Los Angeles’s multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and LGBTQ activist Monique “Honeybird” Mizrahi will be performing. Honeybird has toured Europe, and her previous performance bookings have included Obama’s White House. Honeybird was part of the Obama administration’s summit on health and policy issues related to bisexuality. (The Obama administration is the only government in the world that has held such a summit). This will be Honeybird’s first time performing in Vancouver, and Honeybird’s music often explores themes of bisexuality. She is an important international advocate for our community, and will not only share her music but her stories as a bi activist.

The artists I’ve programmed for this event, I’ve selected because they are extraordinarily talented and daring artists who either self-identity on the bi+ spectrum or their work addresses themes relevant to the bi+ community. 

LMM: Do you have a mission statement or commitment to the community that you would like to share?

KS: Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret is an arts-based community engagement project, which has been making and holding space for art addressing bisexuality, pansexuality, and polysexuality since 2014. For the purposes of this project, bisexuality, pansexuality, and/or polysexuality are sexual orientations that describe attraction to persons of more than one gender. 

Too Queer stands in solidarity with trans communities, and believes that, to paraphrase bi poet and activist Lani Ka’ahumanu: bi folk, pan folk, genderqueer folk, trans folk, and non-binary folk– we are the sex and gender border bandits, and we need to have each other’s back. 

Too Queer gives the middle finger to viewing gender and attraction as an either-or. Every washroom at Too Queer is open to everyone.

Regardless of one’s sexual orientation, everyone is welcome to attend Too Queer. Too Queer is a space where you can be who you are, and be loved as you are.

LMM: Do you have any more events planned in the future? 

KS: In September 2017, there is a weekend-long Bi Arts Festival being organized by, among others, my colleague, bi activist Catherine Jones. Catherine and I are looking at putting together an edition of Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret for the Bi Arts Festival in Toronto in September. https://www.facebook.com/biartsfestivalTO/

LMM: Name a famous bi/pan performer that you would love to have as a guest performer in the show.

KS: It’s a real thrill to have an international artist like Honeybird joining us. Honeybird is an artist I’ve been trying involve in the Too Queer project for a year now.

Next on my list of artists to have work with Too Queer is a music act called Witch Prophet, who I almost managed to snag for this first Too Queer event here in Vancouver, before Witch Prophet got booked for a gig in Tokyo. So my chase of Witch Prophet continues.

One day, I’d love to have columnist and speaker Eliel Cruz be part of a Too Queer event. Eliel is one most vocal bisexual activists I can think of, and his work has been published in the Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, GQ, and Rolling Stone, to name a few media heavy-hitters.

And then, I’d like to have Anna Paquin perform at Too Queer. 

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627

Kurtis Wiebe on Rat Queens

Books & Writing, Culture, Interviews, Showcase

June 19, 2017

Kurtis Wiebe, writer of Rat Queens and Bounty and a host of other comics that we love, recently took the time to sit down and chat about his return to that title, his love of role playing games, the future of the Queens, and some of his other projects. It’s the sort of conversation that we’re delighted to be able to share, and so…

 

LMM: Hey, Kurtis, thanks for taking the time to do this with us. You’re back writing Rat Queens, one of the first – and, in our opinion, one of the best – dungeons and dragons inspired comics to feature anything other than male leads. Where did the original concept come from?

Kurtis Wiebe: Rat Queens was born out of the idea of taking fantasy in a direction I’d never seen before. I’d never come across a fantasy series, comic or fiction in general, that featured four female protagonists. I wanted to create a world where gender really didn’t matter when it came to career pursuits. So often when a woman is a warrior in these sorts of stories there’s always someone making a point of it. “You can’t do that, you’re a woman.” And then the story is about them proving that they can. I think it’s a fun concept that it’s just a universally accepted fact that a job is a job, no one questions the gender equation.

And I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a huge element of roleplaying game nostalgia mixed in for good measure.

 

LMM: You had initially intended to kickstart the series. What was it like getting picked up by Jim Valentino before the funding went live? What was your reaction?

Kurtis Wiebe: I think it’s sort of telling in a lot of ways. I never expected ANYONE to read Rat Queens. It was a series in a genre that traditionally was a tough sell in the comic market. It didn’t even cross my mind to pitch to Shadowline until Riley Rossmo read over the pitch and said I should at least try to talk to Jim Valentino about it.

Jim responded within a few hours and greenlit it. I think Jim saw more in the series than I did at that point and took a chance. I was pretty surprised, honestly.

 

LMM: What brought you back after your hiatus?

Kurtis Wiebe: Owen Gieni. I’d been talking to him for years about working on something together. We’ve known each other long before we both ended up in Vancouver a few years ago. (Though I’m no longer there, myself.) Owen and I met up and started hanging out in Saskatoon, Canada roughly seven years ago. We played RPG’s together, jammed on story ideas and spent a few nights around a campfire having drinks. Real classic small town Saskatchewan stuff.

I’d always hoped that Owen would come onto Rat Queens for a one shot at the very least, and I’d reached out to him about coming onto the series when  Stjepan was unable to continue working on it. It didn’t work out then due to scheduling conflicts, but I’m so glad he agreed to join me for the relaunch.

You have to understand that Owen brought an energy to the series that reignited the spark for me. I had fell out of love with the series for a lot of reasons but I am absolutely loving working on it again. The best part is the level of collaboration we have. We will break story together, scene by scene. Joke by joke. This new take on Rat Queens is a real blending of our combined humor and storytelling.

 

LMM: You’ve got an interesting cast of characters to develop stories with. Who’s your favorite, and why?

Kurtis Wiebe: Tough decision. I think Betty has become the most natural for me. I know her inside and out and her ability to love anyone, despite everything, is an aspect of her personality that is a real joy to write.

 

LMM: Speaking of that cast of characters… everyone is a lot deeper than they look at first glance. Where’d you draw on the gender issues that confront Violet, where do you see her brother’s involvement in her life going, and is the rest of her family going to get involved?

Kurtis Wiebe: For Violet, it was more about family expectation. Tradition for the sake of it. Never questioning the history that came before. And the reasons her father gave her were never enough. She needed to be heard and her father, and Barrie to a certain extent, weren’t able to do so. So Violet set out to create her own traditions that were personal to her.

Barrie is already part of the new relaunch, and it’s evident he still doesn’t understand her choices. We will be dealing with that in upcoming issues and more with her family later on.

 

LMM: Violet takes care of her Queens and the Queens look like the biggest gang of heroes in Palisade – how do the people of Palisade feel about that, and how comfortable is Violet with playing politics? Will the various nobles try to use Violet and the nobles for their own ends?

Kurtis Wiebe: I doubt Violet sees herself as a hero, that would be more of a Hannah thing. But the people of Palisade are much more accepting of the Queens after they saved the town from a potentially devastating attack in Volume 2. We’ll get into that more in the series as well.

 

LMM: By the same token, you have a similar but different issue playing out with the half-orc, Braga. What was it like getting to explore her backstory, and what’s it like having her officially join the Queens?

Kurtis Wiebe: I love the one shots for that reason. We have an opportunity to tell smaller stories that reveal the history of our side characters in the series. As far as Braga, she’s always been a fun character to write. Her backstory is sad in a lot of ways, but fits in with the overall idea of found family. She never fit in with her own orcish people because of their backward violent traditions. There’s some similarities to Violet’s backstory, but Braga left to see a bigger, more beautiful world.

It was a natural fit to bring her into the fold of the Queens. It’s definitely a different dynamic, and it takes some getting used to for sure. But I’m glad we made that decision.

 

LMM: Hannah has dealt with a host of abuses in the past. Has she laid her demons to rest, so to speak, or are they going to come back to haunt her going forward?

Kurtis Wiebe: Hannah’s story is a very big part of our relaunch. I’ve said before that everything that happened in the series before matters and the relaunch is going to be a little jarring at first. I can’t say much more without giving a lot away. But, rest assured, Hannah’s history and her decisions are very much still echoing through the story.

 

LMM: Hannah’s infernal heritage has caused her a lot of grief and turned people against her not because of who but because of what she is. Do you see who she’s become as a self-fulfilling prophecy given the way she’s been treated?

Kurtis Wiebe: It can go that way. Or maybe it has. Or maybe it will. Or maybe it hasn’t. Secrets.

 

LMM: Dee’s religious background is interesting – an atheist cleric who has seen the face of her god is kind of amazing. Where did the idea of her faith come from, and are we going to see it explored further?

Kurtis Wiebe: Dee’s religious background is a fundamental part of her character and we can’t tell her story without some part of that playing a role. A lot of her experiences are based on my own. I came from a Christian family and later on became an atheist. Through her story, I’m telling my own. Even working out some of the struggles I’ve had because of it.

And Dee’s vision of her god will definitely play a large role in stories to come. For now, Dee is preparing for a career change which will be more apparent in our second arc.

 

LMM: How does Betty live on nothing but alcohol, drugs, and candy?

Kurtis Wiebe: Smidgen resilience to pleasure overload.

 

LMM: You’ve used Rat Queens as a means of poking fun at fantasy tropes while exploring modern issues of privilege, gender and sexual identity, and politics. A handful of comics have tried to echo what you built – how do you plan on keeping Rat Queens ahead of the pack?

Kurtis Wiebe: I don’t really see it as a competition. Rat Queens mirrors the community of people in my life and that’s where I draw my inspiration from. I plan to continue to be inspired by that community and try as best as I can to replicate those relationships in the world of Rat Queens.

 

LMM: Rat Queens betrays a love and knowledge of pen’n’paper role playing. Do a favorite system? What games do you play? Do you have a favorite character you’ve played in the past?

Kurtis Wiebe: I love RPGs. I play anything and everything. I think certain systems are good for specific genres or types of players. Want to introduce complete newbs to RPGs? D&D 5th edition. Want to run a deeply character driven but hilarious short story? Fiasco. It all depends on the mood and the group, in my opinion.

And, to be honest, I haven’t actually played a character in about twelve years. I exclusively run games. That’s my jam.

 

LMM: What are the future plans for Rat Queens? You’ve done some crossovers with Vox Machina from Critical Role – a live D&D show played by voice actors – and done some work for the video gaming industry in the past; any chance for a Rat Queens video game? Toys? Board games? Maybe an actual D&D expansion?

Kurtis Wiebe: Well, it hasn’t been announced yet but I’m working with Wizards of the Coast on a Rat Queens adventure supplement for D&D 5th edition. I’d love to make an RQ board game, something like a dungeon crawler miniature combat game with a huge splash of humor.

 

LMM: In the first issue of the new series, the Queens end up fighting a Giant Canadian Goose. The normal-sized ones are terrible enough, but… are there stats for the Giant Canadian Goose? For reasons of I need to inflict that on my players.

Kurtis Wiebe: No stats yet. And you can thank Owen Gieni for that one. In the script I simply said: Insert flying monster of some kind. The rest is all Owen.

 

LMM: There’s been a host of other projects that you’ve been working on, all tying into the same themes that Rat Queens draws so much from – titles like Grim Leaper and Debris coming to mind. Is there any chance we might see more of them?

Kurtis Wiebe: I’m focusing all my comic energy into Rat Queens right now. It is my number one priority and my goal is to ensure we continue to come out with fun, hilarious and adventurous stories that are also hitting their schedule. Fun fact. When issue 3 came out last month, it was the first time in the series history that we had 3 issues in a row that came out on time. That’s the goal. Consistency in schedule and quality.

 

LMM: You’ve also flirted with horror comics, as seen with Green Wake. Where did the idea come from, how did you develop it?

Kurtis Wiebe: I wrote Green Wake while going through a divorce. It was the one place I could channel all those raw emotions and transform it into something that made sense of at least some of the pain. But it was entirely a creation of both Riley and me. It was an equal partnership in both storytelling and worldbuilding and I’m super proud of it.

 

LMM: While Rat Queens was on hiatus, you started working on the sci-fi series Bounty. What was that like, jumping from one genre to the next?

Kurtis Wiebe: I wanted to do a series for a younger audience that built on the themes I’d created in Rat Queens. I’ve received so many messages about wanting a Rat Queens style story that women could share with the girls in their lives that wasn’t R rated. And Bounty came out of that. Genre jumping wasn’t a huge difficulty, I have written in sci-fi settings before and narratively it was a world that was right in my wheelhouse.
It was a lot of fun to work on. Mindy Lee is an amazing artist. Her design sense is some of the best I’ve seen in comics and it was a real honor to work with her. It was one of those things where Bounty wouldn’t have worked under anyone else’s sensibilities.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Kurtis. If you’d like to chat with Kurtis you can do so on the twitters by clicking here or his personal page by clicking here. He’s good people. He also sometimes hangs out at Big Pete’s Comics and Collectables, where you can also buy Rat Queens and his other works. They’re also on Amazon, and you can find a helpful listing of his comics by clicking here. Thanks again to Kurtis, thank you for reading, and we’ll have more goodies for you as they crop up. 

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Review: Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night at the Rio! by Kitty Glitter and Geekenders

Burlesque, Culture, Events, Interviews, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

June 15, 2017

 This was a great show! Full of a love of the mythology and respect for the fandom,”Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night” gave the audience an epic quest and an epic burly-boner. Filled with the type of things a good show should have jokes, jiggles and just plain fun.
Our host(ess) for the night was Lady Galadriel played by Seamus Fit-It-In who was transcendent and regal. Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Poutina Turner and Kitty Glitter playing Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Jacob Woike and Jayne Fondue as Legolas and Gimli Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Sasja Smolders as Gandalf giving us some hot bearded wizard seduction. Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

“THE HAVE FIRE” Was gleefully screamed as we saw Lola Loops as Lord Sauron spin fire hoops the crowd was immediately turned up to 11 with excitement.  Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Vixen Von Flex as Balrog Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Andrew Lynch as Pippin and Neville Powerbottom as Merry Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Draco Muff-Boi as Gollum Photo Credit Photography

Kitty Glitter as Sam’s Taters Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Trixie Hobbitses as Treebeard the Ent doing the longest tease ever Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Ginger Femmecat as Arwen Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Twerk Du Soleil as Shelob spraying silk over the audience Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Orcs! Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

We also had the chance to talk to the producer of the show Kitty Glitter 
LMM: How long have you been working with Geekenders?
KG: I have been working with Geekenders ever since Jurassic Parody: The Musical (in October 2015). I saw the auditions listed online and knew I HAD to be in the show… It’s one of my favourite movies!
LMM: How do you pick the shows you produce?
KG: Most of the shows are picked about a year in advance. I have been involved with the company for a while now, and Fairlith Harvey (Owner/ Artistic Director of Geekenders)  trusts that I can put on a good show, so I am able to write my own shows (Mischief Managed, Lord of the Schwings), with help from my fiance, Seamus Fit-It-In.
LMM: Why Lord of The Rings?
KG: Why LOTR? Lord of the Rings has always been one of my favourite trilogies. It’s something that my entire generation has grown up with and loves unconditionally. The characters are so well known, and diverse. I knew we would be able to sell it out because pretty much everyone you talk to knows Lord of the Rings and loves it. Also, who doesn’t want to see Legolas strip?
LMM: Do you have any FAR OUR WEIRD ideas that you want to do but you are unsure if they would work?
KG: I have this idea of a men’s only burlesque show… but I feel like it might be hard to sell out. Seamus Fit-It-In and I are actually putting together a Tenacious D Burlesque Tribute show, which will be September 1st at the Rio Theatre. It’s also a bit of a “niche” crowd, but we hope that the fans are willing to come out to the show! We will have the “Hot & Heavy Band” playing all the songs live, and some heavy duty performers, so we know it’s going to be incredible.
LMM: What advice do you have for those who want to go into burlesque?
KG: My advice for people wanting to get into burlesque is first… GO SEE ALL THE SHOWS! You will learn so much. Also, take classes! Even if you think you are amazing, there is always something to learn. There are lots of classes around town… such as Burgundy Brixx’s “School of Tease” (http://www.burgundybrixx.com/classes.html)
LMM: If you had 20$ to spend at an airport what would you spend it on?
KG: $20 at an airport? Easy. Mini Eggs
LMM: Are their shows you want to promote either your own or others?
KG: Shows to Promote:

Harry Potter’s Burlesque Birthday Party – July 31 at the Rio Theatre
Lord of the Schwings REMOUNT – August 18 at the Rio TheatreTenacious D Burlesque Tribute with the Hot & Heavy Band – September 1st at the Rio Theatre

 

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508

Story Story Lie – The Devil Is In The Details

Comedy, Culture, Events, Interviews, Reviews, Showcase

May 27, 2017

On a balmy May evening, the din of the crowd at Cafe Deux Soleil is palpable from a block away. The venue is a well-loved place where the local community gathers nightly for improv, poetry, live music and for this night a story telling game show and podcast.

The premise is simple, listen to stories, pick out the liar, win fabulous prizes!

The show’s creator and host Jo Dworschak sat down with me for a quick interview on a hot sunny afternoon. I got to pet her bunny rabbit.

Floppo the Bunny (Photo By Anne Honeycutt)

 

LM: What is the inspiration of Story Story Lie?

JD: I moved to Vancouver and Vancouver didn’t have the variety of shows that I thought it should have. After travelling to Chicago to study with Second City I came back and thought about the type of show I wanted to do. My son and his friends had a game where they would tell two truths and a lie and it seemed like the best way to get storytellers involved.

Photo By Anne Honeycutt

LM: What is your selection process?

Jo explaining the show. (Photo by  Richard Glen Lett)

JD: I scout through shows in the area. I go to a lot of them and then sometimes I get recommendations.

LM: If you could have any person on the show living dead real fictional, who and why?

JD: My two personal icons! Who are Frida Kahlo and Leonard Cohen. They are just so inspiring to me.

LM: Who would be the worst person on your show?

JD: A Lawyer… *nervous laugh* actually not them because I am trying to get an online divorce attorney to sponsor the podcast.

LM: How do you get the cool and very practical prizes for the show?

JD: I buy random things off of Craigslist!

Travis Bernhardt talking about a magic act gone horribly wrong (Photo by  Richard Glen Lett)

LM: What would be your Hogwarts House or Star Trek Shirt Colour?

JD: Ops Gold

LM: If you were in an airport and you had time to waste and 20$ what would you spend it on?

JD: I wouldn’t buy a thing, but I would go get a quick pedicure and ask the person for their story.

If you are able to attend the next show June 10th at Cafe Deux Soliel please do. This is the type of show and cultural experiences that are awesome.

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182

Kurtis Wiebe on Rat Queens

Books & Writing, Culture, Interviews, Showcase

June 16, 2015

Kurtis Wiebe, writer of Rat Queens and Bounty and a host of other comics that we love, recently took the time to sit down and chat about his return to that title, his love of role playing games, the future of the Queens, and some of his other projects. It’s the sort of conversation that we’re delighted to be able to share, and so…

 

LMM: Hey, Kurtis, thanks for taking the time to do this with us. You’re back writing Rat Queens, one of the first – and, in our opinion, one of the best – dungeons and dragons inspired comics to feature anything other than male leads. Where did the original concept come from?

Kurtis Wiebe: Rat Queens was born out of the idea of taking fantasy in a direction I’d never seen before. I’d never come across a fantasy series, comic or fiction in general, that featured four female protagonists. I wanted to create a world where gender really didn’t matter when it came to career pursuits. So often when a woman is a warrior in these sorts of stories there’s always someone making a point of it. “You can’t do that, you’re a woman.” And then the story is about them proving that they can. I think it’s a fun concept that it’s just a universally accepted fact that a job is a job, no one questions the gender equation.

And I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a huge element of roleplaying game nostalgia mixed in for good measure.

 

LMM: You had initially intended to kickstart the series. What was it like getting picked up by Jim Valentino before the funding went live? What was your reaction?

Kurtis Wiebe: I think it’s sort of telling in a lot of ways. I never expected ANYONE to read Rat Queens. It was a series in a genre that traditionally was a tough sell in the comic market. It didn’t even cross my mind to pitch to Shadowline until Riley Rossmo read over the pitch and said I should at least try to talk to Jim Valentino about it.

Jim responded within a few hours and greenlit it. I think Jim saw more in the series than I did at that point and took a chance. I was pretty surprised, honestly.

 

LMM: What brought you back after your hiatus?

Kurtis Wiebe: Owen Gieni. I’d been talking to him for years about working on something together. We’ve known each other long before we both ended up in Vancouver a few years ago. (Though I’m no longer there, myself.) Owen and I met up and started hanging out in Saskatoon, Canada roughly seven years ago. We played RPG’s together, jammed on story ideas and spent a few nights around a campfire having drinks. Real classic small town Saskatchewan stuff.

I’d always hoped that Owen would come onto Rat Queens for a one shot at the very least, and I’d reached out to him about coming onto the series when  Stjepan was unable to continue working on it. It didn’t work out then due to scheduling conflicts, but I’m so glad he agreed to join me for the relaunch.

You have to understand that Owen brought an energy to the series that reignited the spark for me. I had fell out of love with the series for a lot of reasons but I am absolutely loving working on it again. The best part is the level of collaboration we have. We will break story together, scene by scene. Joke by joke. This new take on Rat Queens is a real blending of our combined humor and storytelling.

 

LMM: You’ve got an interesting cast of characters to develop stories with. Who’s your favorite, and why?

Kurtis Wiebe: Tough decision. I think Betty has become the most natural for me. I know her inside and out and her ability to love anyone, despite everything, is an aspect of her personality that is a real joy to write.

 

LMM: Speaking of that cast of characters… everyone is a lot deeper than they look at first glance. Where’d you draw on the gender issues that confront Violet, where do you see her brother’s involvement in her life going, and is the rest of her family going to get involved?

Kurtis Wiebe: For Violet, it was more about family expectation. Tradition for the sake of it. Never questioning the history that came before. And the reasons her father gave her were never enough. She needed to be heard and her father, and Barrie to a certain extent, weren’t able to do so. So Violet set out to create her own traditions that were personal to her.

Barrie is already part of the new relaunch, and it’s evident he still doesn’t understand her choices. We will be dealing with that in upcoming issues and more with her family later on.

 

LMM: Violet takes care of her Queens and the Queens look like the biggest gang of heroes in Palisade – how do the people of Palisade feel about that, and how comfortable is Violet with playing politics? Will the various nobles try to use Violet and the nobles for their own ends?

Kurtis Wiebe: I doubt Violet sees herself as a hero, that would be more of a Hannah thing. But the people of Palisade are much more accepting of the Queens after they saved the town from a potentially devastating attack in Volume 2. We’ll get into that more in the series as well.

 

LMM: By the same token, you have a similar but different issue playing out with the half-orc, Braga. What was it like getting to explore her backstory, and what’s it like having her officially join the Queens?

Kurtis Wiebe: I love the one shots for that reason. We have an opportunity to tell smaller stories that reveal the history of our side characters in the series. As far as Braga, she’s always been a fun character to write. Her backstory is sad in a lot of ways, but fits in with the overall idea of found family. She never fit in with her own orcish people because of their backward violent traditions. There’s some similarities to Violet’s backstory, but Braga left to see a bigger, more beautiful world.

It was a natural fit to bring her into the fold of the Queens. It’s definitely a different dynamic, and it takes some getting used to for sure. But I’m glad we made that decision.

 

LMM: Hannah has dealt with a host of abuses in the past. Has she laid her demons to rest, so to speak, or are they going to come back to haunt her going forward?

Kurtis Wiebe: Hannah’s story is a very big part of our relaunch. I’ve said before that everything that happened in the series before matters and the relaunch is going to be a little jarring at first. I can’t say much more without giving a lot away. But, rest assured, Hannah’s history and her decisions are very much still echoing through the story.

 

LMM: Hannah’s infernal heritage has caused her a lot of grief and turned people against her not because of who but because of what she is. Do you see who she’s become as a self-fulfilling prophecy given the way she’s been treated?

Kurtis Wiebe: It can go that way. Or maybe it has. Or maybe it will. Or maybe it hasn’t. Secrets.

 

LMM: Dee’s religious background is interesting – an atheist cleric who has seen the face of her god is kind of amazing. Where did the idea of her faith come from, and are we going to see it explored further?

Kurtis Wiebe: Dee’s religious background is a fundamental part of her character and we can’t tell her story without some part of that playing a role. A lot of her experiences are based on my own. I came from a Christian family and later on became an atheist. Through her story, I’m telling my own. Even working out some of the struggles I’ve had because of it.

And Dee’s vision of her god will definitely play a large role in stories to come. For now, Dee is preparing for a career change which will be more apparent in our second arc.

 

LMM: How does Betty live on nothing but alcohol, drugs, and candy?

Kurtis Wiebe: Smidgen resilience to pleasure overload.

 

LMM: You’ve used Rat Queens as a means of poking fun at fantasy tropes while exploring modern issues of privilege, gender and sexual identity, and politics. A handful of comics have tried to echo what you built – how do you plan on keeping Rat Queens ahead of the pack?

Kurtis Wiebe: I don’t really see it as a competition. Rat Queens mirrors the community of people in my life and that’s where I draw my inspiration from. I plan to continue to be inspired by that community and try as best as I can to replicate those relationships in the world of Rat Queens.

 

LMM: Rat Queens betrays a love and knowledge of pen’n’paper role playing. Do a favorite system? What games do you play? Do you have a favorite character you’ve played in the past?

Kurtis Wiebe: I love RPGs. I play anything and everything. I think certain systems are good for specific genres or types of players. Want to introduce complete newbs to RPGs? D&D 5th edition. Want to run a deeply character driven but hilarious short story? Fiasco. It all depends on the mood and the group, in my opinion.

And, to be honest, I haven’t actually played a character in about twelve years. I exclusively run games. That’s my jam.

 

LMM: What are the future plans for Rat Queens? You’ve done some crossovers with Vox Machina from Critical Role – a live D&D show played by voice actors – and done some work for the video gaming industry in the past; any chance for a Rat Queens video game? Toys? Board games? Maybe an actual D&D expansion?

Kurtis Wiebe: Well, it hasn’t been announced yet but I’m working with Wizards of the Coast on a Rat Queens adventure supplement for D&D 5th edition. I’d love to make an RQ board game, something like a dungeon crawler miniature combat game with a huge splash of humor.

 

LMM: In the first issue of the new series, the Queens end up fighting a Giant Canadian Goose. The normal-sized ones are terrible enough, but… are there stats for the Giant Canadian Goose? For reasons of I need to inflict that on my players.

Kurtis Wiebe: No stats yet. And you can thank Owen Gieni for that one. In the script I simply said: Insert flying monster of some kind. The rest is all Owen.

 

LMM: There’s been a host of other projects that you’ve been working on, all tying into the same themes that Rat Queens draws so much from – titles like Grim Leaper and Debris coming to mind. Is there any chance we might see more of them?

Kurtis Wiebe: I’m focusing all my comic energy into Rat Queens right now. It is my number one priority and my goal is to ensure we continue to come out with fun, hilarious and adventurous stories that are also hitting their schedule. Fun fact. When issue 3 came out last month, it was the first time in the series history that we had 3 issues in a row that came out on time. That’s the goal. Consistency in schedule and quality.

 

LMM: You’ve also flirted with horror comics, as seen with Green Wake. Where did the idea come from, how did you develop it?

Kurtis Wiebe: I wrote Green Wake while going through a divorce. It was the one place I could channel all those raw emotions and transform it into something that made sense of at least some of the pain. But it was entirely a creation of both Riley and me. It was an equal partnership in both storytelling and worldbuilding and I’m super proud of it.

 

LMM: While Rat Queens was on hiatus, you started working on the sci-fi series Bounty. What was that like, jumping from one genre to the next?

Kurtis Wiebe: I wanted to do a series for a younger audience that built on the themes I’d created in Rat Queens. I’ve received so many messages about wanting a Rat Queens style story that women could share with the girls in their lives that wasn’t R rated. And Bounty came out of that. Genre jumping wasn’t a huge difficulty, I have written in sci-fi settings before and narratively it was a world that was right in my wheelhouse.
It was a lot of fun to work on. Mindy Lee is an amazing artist. Her design sense is some of the best I’ve seen in comics and it was a real honor to work with her. It was one of those things where Bounty wouldn’t have worked under anyone else’s sensibilities.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Kurtis. If you’d like to chat with Kurtis you can do so on the twitters by clicking here or his personal page by clicking here. He’s good people. He also sometimes hangs out at Big Pete’s Comics and Collectables, where you can also buy Rat Queens and his other works. They’re also on Amazon, and you can find a helpful listing of his comics by clicking here. Thanks again to Kurtis, thank you for reading, and we’ll have more goodies for you as they crop up. 

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Daniel Chai discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Interviews

May 18, 2015

Daniel Chai is the face of the Fictionals, someone we’ve had the pleasure of working with before, and someone with a deep and abiding presence in the Fan Community of Vancouver. He’s going to be performing at Northwest Fan Fest, and took the time to talk to us about the fandom and some of the things he’s looking forward to at Northwest Fan Fest this year.
FIC15
LMM: What does fandom mean to you?
Daniel Chai: Fandom is a way for me to celebrate all of the geeky & nerdy things that make life a little more epic. Whether it’s comics, video games, pro-wrestling or improv comedy, I enjoy Fandoms!
LMM: How do you explain that to people not in the know?
Daniel Chai: I ask them for the one thing they love talking about the most. Chances are, there’s a fandom for that thing!
LMM: How has being a part of the fandom affected your life?
Daniel Chai: I’ve met so many amazing friends through various fandoms, and I get to celebrate with them at Northwest Fan Fest!
LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?
Daniel Chai: It’s a great way for everyone to get together, let out their fan sides, and party! Safe, non-judgemental fun!
LMM: What’s your favorite part of Fan Fest?
Daniel Chai: The favourite part of NWFF is being able to perform with my improv troupe, The Fictionals Comedy Co. Audiences at conventions like NWFF are always amazing!
LMM: Who are you excited to see at NWFF?
Daniel Chai: All of my talented friends in their best cosplay!
LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?
Daniel Chai: Comedy, Live Music, Celebrities, and walking distance from the Skytrain in beautiful New Westminster. Come on down!

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Anne Honeycutt discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Interviews, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

May 17, 2015

Anne Honeycutt is one of the most outspoken and wise members of the Vancouver Geek Community, a frequent debater for West Coast Geeks vs. Nerds, and one of those people that loves Northwest Fan Fest so much that she’s involved (secretly) behind the scenes. Here’s what she’s got to say about that… 
 
Anne Honeycutt 02
LMM: What does fandom mean to you?
Anne Honeycutt: Fandom means Family. I spent most of my life being “weird”. I am not weird anymore. I have found an amazing community of people that love the things I love. I can sit anywhere at Northwest FanFest and be able to tell someone I love their Harley Quinn cosplay and be able to talk about the intricacies of large mallet construnction and then after that I can bump into someone at a panel about geek girl culture and have a conversation about how important Arya and Sansa Stark are.
  
LMM: How has being apart of the fandom affected your life?
Anne Honeycutt: I was raised in geek culture. I went to conventions as a child. Grew up with parents who played DnD and Klingon was my first language. Fandom is my life. It is how I was raised. Find something you are into and obsess. Life is nothing if you don’t have passion.
  
LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?
Anne Honeycutt: Well, it shows that you are a) not alone. b) that you can find your “tribe” and that no matter what you are into you are going to at least find one other person who likes what you like and the level you like it. c) It strengthens community. The panels at FanFest are diverse and community driven. The shows at FanFest are diverse and community driven.
  
LMM: What’s your favorite part of Fan Fest?
Anne Honeycutt: Last year, my favourite part of it was just hanging out in line for things. I was cosplaying as DJ Hello Kitty and my bestie was cosplaying as a member of DaftPunk and we started line raves. This year, I am excited for the chance to do panels myself and then also the VIP afterparty.
  
LMM: Who are you excited to see at Northwest Fan Fest?
Anne Honeycutt: Improv Against Humanity, Westcoast Geeks vs. Nerds, MissingNo, Reboot Musical, Tom Cook, Andy Rae Cosplay, and Kayla Rose Cosplay. AND ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE ATTENDING!
  
LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?
Anne Honeycutt: Little kids cosplay contest will prove to be the most adorable thing ever. If you don’t like children in cosplay.. then think of all of the adults in cosplay. And if you don’t like cosplay. we have gaming! and we have ALL THE THINGS! Just come, if you don’t like it.. you can tell me about it and I will give you a hug.

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Robert V discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Interviews, Lifestyle

May 16, 2015

Robert VRobert V is a local cosplay icon who has used the craft and art to keep a strong relationship with his son. Northwest Fan Fest is proud to have him as a guest and we got a chance to speak with him leading up to the event. 
LMM: What does fandom mean to you?
Robert V: (it) Means looking at all the kids’ faces when they see their favorite action hero or artist in front of them.
LMM: How do you explain that to people not in the know?
Robert V:You get to see all these artists and their art all come together and enjoy a weekend of fun, art, and knowledge.
LMM: How has being a part of the fandom affected your life?
Robert V: It brings me and my kid together to do something we both enjoy.
LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?
Robert V:It has a big impact because it keeps kids interested in it art instead of being out in the streets getting in trouble.
LMM: What’s your favorite part of Fan Fest?
Robert V:It’s the full experience of the artist, cosplay characters, and art.
LMM: Who are you excited to see at NWFF?
Robert V:Desu Dolls, Ghostbusters and new cosplay friends.
LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?
Robert V: I would explain to them how much fun I have with my son looking at all the art and talent of everyone and how (much) they would enjoy it with their kids.

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Tessa Joyce Riecken discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Culture, Interviews

May 15, 2015

Tessa Joyce Riecken is a freelance artist from Vancouver Island. She works primarily in storyboarding, posing, and character development. You can visit her website at http://tjriecken.com/ to learn more, or come by Northwest Fan Fest to talk to her in person. We’d recommend the latter.

 

LMM: What does fandom mean to you?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: To me a fandom is a kingdom populated by nerds who share a similar interest or obsession. A fandom upholds a world of content and keeps the excitement of a subject, new or old, alive. I say nerds with absolute affection as my heart bleeds for them and I myself identify as one.

 

LMM: How do you explain that to people not in the know?

Wereville + assistantTessa Joyce Riecken: It is difficult to fully explain fandom to people who have never been in one but, to put it very simply, a fandom is a positive community that celebrates a shared interest. Not only do people come together to discuss content that has resonated with and inspired them, but people also contribute to the fandom by creating their own work in the flavour or style of the group’s interest, such as: fan art, fanfics and cosplay. People who create fandom content are a lot like musicians who perform cover songs .

 

LMM: How has being a part of the fandom affected your life?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: Every fandom I engage with allows me to step past the role of spectator and into the world of cartoon, anime and nerd culture as a participant. I have personally created a fair amount of fan art which has, as a bonus, helped me grow a larger audience and generate more interest in my original artwork. For some people fan art can be controversial and I understand that. For others, like myself, fan art for the fandom helps me to make friends, practice techniques, honour my exemplars and uncover themes that are important to me as an artist.

 

LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: Events like Northwest Fan Fest provide a welcome and safe place for anyone and everyone who is a fan of something, whether that’s comics, anime, games, Star Wars or steampunk, to get together and have fun. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress, what you believe in or where you come from in order to be a fan and enter the fandom. There are a lot of things that divide people in the world. I think it’s important to have positive events like Fan Fest to bring people together; even if it is only over Dr. Who or Naruto.

 

LMM: What’s your favorite part of Fan Fest?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: This is my first time at Fan Fest. But! My favorite part of any festival is meeting new people in artist alley and basking in the positive enthusiasm radiated by everyone. My face always hurts from smiling so much.

 

LMM: Who are you excited to see at Northwest Fan Fest?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: I’m definitely excited to see my friends unveil their cosplay and the Costume Contest. I’m also excited to see my fellow artists and the Live Sword Cutting Demonstration!

 

LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?

Tessa Joyce Riecken: If they were sceptical, I’d buy their ticket for them if I had the extra cash. And I’d tell them that my artist alley table has free candy.

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Keegan Parker-Flick on the Fandom and Northwest Fan Fest

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Keegan Flick-Parker discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Interviews

May 5, 2015

Keegan Flick-Parker is one of the geniuses behind West Coast Geeks vs. Nerds, the new Community Manager at the EXP Restaurant and Bar! He’s a big player in the Vancouver Geek Community, and he’s taken the time to talk about both the Fandom and how much he’s looking forward to Northwest Fan Fest.

 

Keegan Flick-Parker 01LMM: What does fandom mean to you?

Keegan Flick-Parker: A dictionary-style definition of fandom might be an intense appreciation for a certain work, creator, character, or group – but I think that’s really just what fandom looks like from the outside. Most people who would identify as “fans” are people who have a deep emotional connection with whatever it is they are fans of. A lot of us have discovered things about ourselves, met friends (and maybe lovers), and opened our minds to new possibilities thanks to the books, movies, games, characters, and shows that we’ve come to love over the years.

For those of us who grew up being considered a little “different”, I think that fandoms offer a chance for escape – but also a chance to connect with others. When you meet someone who loves something you love, you instantly have something in common that you can talk about. The best way to make lasting connections with other people is through shared passions and interests. True fandom, in my opinion, isn’t about elitism or “knowing the most” or “having the most stuff” but rather is best exemplified by developing and sharing your passion with others.

 

LMM: How do you explain that to people not in the know?

Keegan Flick-Parker: I don’t know if there is anybody who can’t understand fandom. Everyone must have something in life that interests them or that they are passionate about. No matter what you call them (be it “hobbies”, “crafts”, or “obsessions”) this is fandom. Love sports? Follow your home team? Invite your friends over to watch the games? That’s fandom! Whatever you love – whatever gets you excited – especially something that you love to learn about and share with others – that’s fandom!

 

LMM: How has being apart of the fandom affected your life?

Keegan Flick-Parker: I don’t think I can accurately say that I’m part of “the fandom” (whatever that is) but rather that I am part of many fandoms that have, over time, come together and mingled to form a cohesive mish-mash of things that I love. My interests in geekery, live theatre, and event production have amazingly come together to guide me down the path I follow today and have led to some amazing opportunities.

I believe that anyone, given enough motivation, dedication, and passion can accomplish virtually anything. It often takes a little creative thinking, and the drive to stick to it through the hard times, but anyone can turn their hobby into a vocation, an interest into a career, their knowledge into expertise. My fandoms have helped me develop myself into a well-rounded person who is able to do the work I love with people I respect and admire. Who can ask for more?

 

LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?

Keegan Flick-Parker: Whether you’re someone who is interested in learning more about an interest, purchasing merch to decorate your home or show off to your friends, meeting new people (for professional networking or just personal relationships), taking part in entertaining panels and events, dressing up in costume, or just want to spend a fun weekend out of the house… you can get something from Northwest Fan Fest and other similar events.

What Fan Fest can offer that some other events cannot, however, is a commitment to building and maintaining a safe, friendly, fair, and fun local community. The people behind the event are not a large amorphous corporate entity – but rather, local business owners, entertainers, and fans themselves. They want an awesome local event just as much as everyone else, and it really shows in their dedication to making Fan Fest the best it can be!

 

LMM: What’s your favorite part of Northwest Fan Fest?

Keegan Flick-Parker: Meeting all the people who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to express themselves, learn about new and exciting things, or meet others of like-mind. It’s always a pleasure meeting fans of my show, getting to talk to them about what their interests are, and offer any insight into the local entertainment industry that I can. As someone who enjoys producing and watching local fan-centric events, I’m always happy to meet new people and support new ventures!

 

LMM: Who are you excited to see at Northwest Fan Fest?

Keegan Flick-Parker: All of you awesome people who are reading this article! Come and say “Hi!” and I’ll give you a high-five!

 

LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?

Keegan Flick-Parker: That depends. I think there’s something for almost anyone at an event like this. Check out the NWFF website, take a look at the vendors, artists, panels, and shows and see what appeals to you. The location is super-easy to get to, the facilities are brand-new, and there is so much content to choose from. You’re bound to see something that interests you!

Give it a chance – I’m sure you’ll love it!

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