Inside the Mind of Kurtis J. Wiebe

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Conan: Blood of the Cossian Fallen – An RPG Podcast

Last Friday I sat down with three friends to play the very first session of our Conan d20 game. We also decided to record the session and, while I’m not sure yet if that was a good idea, the concept is to post the sessions and have an ongoing podcast of our adventures. While it seemed like a narrative driven firecracker, I suspect that might’ve been the cider talking.

So, here is the basic premise followed by the write up that I read to the players at the start of the session. My players were: Jordan Groves, Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson. All three were new to the system and two were unfamiliar with the Conan setting.

The premise is that all three characters are ages 14-16, on their first hunt with their parents who are the protectorates of the village. Should they succeed, they are inducted into the Blood, the elite warrior caste of their village and, when the time comes, replace their parents when they inevitably die in battle.

 

Tonight the skies are clear and the stars paint the sky with good omen. It has been a long journey. Three days, three nights. Your muscles and bones ache, the needling cold of your trek through the Eiglophian Mountains still stabbing through you despite the raging fire you’re gathered around. All of you have survived the peril and, despite wearing a mask of bravado, the experience has taken a physical and spiritual toll.Image

Crom has demanded much of you, yet this is only a brief respite on the night before your first hunt. It is as it has been for five hundred years before you came bloody and screaming into the world and as it shall be long after you die in the same glorious way.

The Blood, your parents whom one day you will replace, mock your youth. As you gather around the fire, leeching warmth like your body has never known it, they pass around a tattered waterskin and drink deeply of mead. Their veins course with it. You have not earned the right to drink from the ceremonial artifact, the skin they call The Gut.

As Chief Torgun and his pack of mongrel warriors taunt and roughhouse, a light arcs across the sky and suddenly all is quiet. All eyes turn to the burning star.

“Crom has vanquished his enemies, casting them from the heavens to the abyss.” the chief mutters. “It is the sign we will have a fortuitous hunt.”

The Blood nod and mutter, slowly passing the Gut between them.

The chief sits in the circle by the fire. His eyes are open but see not the physical world. They see the fate of his people in the young blood gathered around him.

“For five hundred years, our clan, the chosen of Crom, have survived in the shadow of the Eiglophian giantess. Her mighty stones have protected us from the vermin Pict, sent the replenishing waters from her eyes and nourished our people with the milk of her breast. For five hundred years we have protected her and for five hundred years the burning star has signaled triumph.”

A silence hangs as he looks to each of you. A life time of battle and blood pools in his gaze.

“But you are not immortal. Crom does not protect the weak. He casts aside the mewling whelp. Chews on the bones of the coward. To survive, to become one with the tradition of the Cossian tribe, you must survive while Crom taunts your inevitable failure from the heavens. Be at peace with his vulgar disdain, make it a lover and fuck it. Only then can you prove to Crom you are worthy.”

Another pause as a wild grin scrawls across his scarred face.

“Because I can promise you one thing. Crom will fuck you if given the chance to do so.”

ImageThe Blood erupts in laughter and cheers. Heavy hands crack across the backs of your heads. Tonight, your weakness is their entertainment.

You sit for painful hours as you wait for your parents to fall prey to their debauchery, respecting the tradition of the hunt until they have all fallen to blackness from drink.

Then, finally, not hours from the coming sun, you fall asleep and dream of glory, honour…

And, more than anything, fear Crom descending from the heavens and fucking your skull to pieces. 

When you wake, it’s not with a warm sun on your face, but a boot of shit and mud and guttural laughter from your fathers. Here, at the foot of the mountain, the sun is barely casting light in the deep shadowed valley. The Blood are ready to fall on the trail and head into the dark woods that lie across the river. A hazy, wet fog greets your morning.

This is the day you shed first blood. And, if you survive, the day you become a warrior of the Cossian people. 

ECCC 2014!

Holy hell is this Emerald City Comic Con going to be a wild show for me. This is by far the most involved I’ve ever been in a show and I’ve still so much to do to get ready for it, but I’m damn excited, folks. Let’s do a quick summary of what’s all in store for me and the plans I have for my fans!

First, I will be tabling with Roc Upchurch, my partner in crime on Rat Queens, at Table X02. I’ll be there all weekend when I’m not attending signings or panels. My co-creator on Peter Panzerfaust, Tyler Jenkins will also be at the table next to me, and he’ll be selling his gorgeous art. And finally, also sitting with us will be Shannon Woodhouse, my life partner in crime, mother of my future child and amazing brain behind the Rat Queens lady merch. She’ll be making shirts and other surprise items available for sale, and ECCC will be the official unveiling of all her hard work. 

Image

 

Second, Roc and I are on an Image Panel on Friday. Details:

Image Comics Presents Comedy in Comics
Sometimes the best comics are the funny ones, but getting jokes across in print while simultaneously telling an engaging story can be tough. Luckily, we have a panel of experts who can tell you their secrets, tips, and a few really good jokes.
 
Program date and time: Friday, March 28, 3:00 p.m. in Room TCC 301
 
Panelists: Rob Guillory (Chew), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Roc Upchurch (Rat Queens), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals), Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Brandon Graham (Prophet) 

Thirdly, we are also hosting our OWN panel, a Rat Queens panel for the ages where we’ll be showing some real behind the scenes looks at our series and having a real informal chat with the fans! Details:

Rat Queens: A Creator Chat
Room: HALL D (602-603)
Time: 3:40PM – 4:30PM

Have your chance to meet the creators of the Image Comic’s hit Rat Queens and learn about the origin of the series, including its RPG influence, what the future looks like as well as the importance of gender and sexual orientation in modern comics.

And FINALLY we are hosting a Rat Queens after party on Saturday night! We have some amazing guest creators coming to hang out with all who attend and we’re going to be raising funds for Seattle base Gay City Health in an effort to support the LGBT community. Visit the Facebook event and let us know you’re coming:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1427802967461679/?ref=5

Details here:

Image

This is going to be one hell of a show for me and I cannot wait. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Today I found out you will be a Willow

This is a letter to you about two things. The first part being how you made your presence known over the weekend. And, I say this with absolute loving kindness, but your mothers scream broke me from a creative headspace to which I didn’t return the rest of the day. That seems to be the status quo, you little munchkin. Disrupting my life, tossing it all about, and I acknowledge that what we’ve tasted so far is nothing compared to when you arrive. So, I’m going to enjoy these little hiccups of you.

Saturday was your first announcement to your mom that you were quite awake, thank you very much. To be fair, I actually ignored your mother’s first scream because I thought she was being silly about a spider or squirrel or other related fear she has and wanted me to come deal with the situation. To which I coolly responded, “I’M WRITING!”

Small aside, you’re probably going to be annoyed by ‘in the zone’ Dad. He’s pretty obnoxious.

The second scream made me realize the spider or squirrel or other related fear wasn’t simply going to take care of itself. That was a man’s job. And since I was the only one around, I would have to do. I huffed as I put down my computer and walked into the living room. You mother sat there, this wide eyed look on her face that was equal parts terror and joy.

“It’s MOVING!”

And then she put my hand on her belly. And then you said hello in the only way you can right now. I can’t really explain how that made me feel, so I won’t even bother. Just know that you made me smile.

Today we went to take a better look at you, which brings me to the second part of this letter. Every week we’ve looked online at how you’ve grown, to consult this parenting website to see where we were in the journey. The diagrams were weird, the pictures of how you might look stranger still, and yet we still were very excited for our peek at you.

And you were more beautiful than I could’ve imagined, even though you’re still just a human looking lump of DNA. We saw your silhouette, a small glimpse of a promise of who you’ll become. You were moving all over the place. We saw you yawn. You acted shy, as though you didn’t like to have the spotlight on you. A feeling I know so well.

“These aren’t always 100% accurate, but…”

Then she told us.

And then my stupid eyes watered and I held your mothers’ ankle, which is strange, but it was the only close part of her nearby. We looked at each other and laughed because we had this silly bet. Two days of laundry and dishes to whoever guessed wrong.

I guessed right.

When the nurse left, I hugged your mom and felt this sense of certainty wash over me. It’s all falling into place.

“I was right all along. Me and my two girls.”

I can’t wait to meet you, Willow.

Love, Dad

PS: This is how we see you.

photo (2)

Rat Queens Valentine’s Day Cards

RatQueens_Vday_Violet RatQueens_Vday_Betty RatQueens_Vday_Dee RatQueens_Vday_Hannah

Today I Proposed to your Mother

 

February 8th, 2014

Today I Proposed to your Mother

I know what you might be thinking. Isn’t that supposed to happen before my other letters to you? Well, yes. Generally that’s the way the world works, but let me explain.

See, both of us had different spouses in a life before we met each other. Sometimes we make big life choices without understanding the full weight of them, or before considering what we really want out of our lives.

In fact, these choices led to a lot of pain for both of us. And pain leaves an indelible mark, something that hides away and surfaces in the strangest of ways. For me, and for you mother, we were afraid of repeating a similar mistake. We were jaded and certain that there was only sadness and disappointment in relationships. And we came to that thinking honestly.

That’s what is pretty wonderful about our story, that we crashed into each other’s lives when we simply weren’t looking. We were surprised and terrified. Afraid because we made a lot of sense together very early on. To be honest, we ran from it at first. We found reasons to be alone. But, the more time I spent with your mother, the more I knew I couldn’t deny it.

I loved her.

Want to see something amazing? I captured the moment I knew I loved her on camera. The second I saw this picture I knew. I loved your mother.

love

Why it took me another few weeks to tell her is something you’ll understand when you fall in love for the first time. It’s absolutely terrifying and nobody wants to be the first to admit it.

It wasn’t long later that we moved in together. We were tentative, it was a huge step, and at this point both of us had sworn off ever getting married again because our experience with it was the stuff of nightmares. This was our testing ground.

And you know what?

It was… normal. I know that sounds boring, but one day, when I tell you about my life, you’ll understand why I appreciated that more than anything else.

And not long after that, we started talking about children. See, we knew inherently that this was it. That we’d spend our lives together. And we both knew what we wanted beyond just the two of us. We wanted you. You just happened a bit… quicker than we expected. And that’s wonderful! Really! And for your sake, I won’t go into any more details than that.

But, as I’ve spent more time with your mother, and we’ve both become more excited every day about you, everything is becoming perfectly clear:

This is my life. And I will spend it with you and Shannon as long as I live.

Look. You’re starting to make an impression!

bump

We’re not sure when this marriage is going to happen. There’s so many things happening with my career, lots of life is still uncertain, but we will figure this out in the time that works best for the three of us. Until then, stay healthy and strong. We love you.

Dad
PS: She said yes by the way.

yes

Bits of Script: Rat Queens Teaser

Had a private message asking if I had any sample scripts from an artist looking to practice sequential work. Reminded me I used to post pieces of script for people to check out as a way to show my process. Here’s the very first five pages of Rat Queens I ever wrote, initially meant to be the actual intro in the first issue but ended up being used for promo material.

 

PAGEONE (5 Panels)

Panel 1. The focus of the intro to our first issue is a bait and switch. This large panel will be of Hannah in a dark room, setting the tone and mood to look as though things are grim and scary, like she’s been caught and tossed in a dark pit somewhere. In reality, she’s waking up in the aftermath of massive party at their house. The party was a massive all night with dozens and dozens of people passing out on the floor. Here, Hannah is sprawled out on the floor, the side of her face on the ground. We want all the following panels to be dark, lots of shadow, mostly outlines so the reader is unable to tell where she is but still able to get a small sense of character and space.  We’re on the floor, level with Hannah, she’s unconscious and looks ROUGH. Again, painting a picture of doom here.

Panel 2. Push in on her eyes, one is narrowly open and she’s wincing a bit.

Hannah 1

Ughhhh

Panel 3. On her hands and knees, rubbing her head with a hand, facing the floor, hunched over. Still in quite a bit of pain.

Hannah 1

What happened?

Panel 4. She’s crawling along the floor. She’ll be making her way to the front door but there’ll be overturned tables and unconscious. I think we should stay close in on Hannah the duration of this scene.

Hannah 1

Where… guh, it smells like troll ass in here.

Panel 5. She crawls over a few bodies all crunched up together. Still dark, can see enough to know what she’s crawling over.

RatQueens_01_01_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE two (5 Panels)

Panel 1. Behind Hannah, she’s foreground looking ahead and we can see the piles of bodies, arms and legs sticking out. Real grisly. It’s all darkness ahead, we can’t see an end to the room. It’s cramped, enclosed. The darkness crushing down on her.

Floating bubble 1

H-h… help. Me.

Panel 2. Hannah, squinting her eyes as she crawls forward.

Hannah 1

Let’s just avoid that disembodied voice.

Panel 3. She crawls over more bodies.

Panel 4. A hand rises from the bodies and grabs her wrist.

Panel 5. A face appears close to hers, a human male, in his 40’s, almost ghoul like with long hair but bald on top. He looks terrible, missing a few teeth.

Man 1

I… need… wat-

RatQueens_01_02_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE three (6 Panels)

Panel 1. Hannah punches him in the face.

SFX 1

Crack

Panel 2. She crawls over his face and continues on.

Hannah 1

Everyone’s got needs, old man.

Panel 3. Hannah finds the wall with her hand.

Panel 4. Her hand as it touches the bottom of the handle to the door.

Panel 5. She’s leaned against the door as she turns the handle. She looks desperate, her eyes half closed and like it’s taken everything just to get up onto her knees. Her weight is heavy against the door.

Hannah 1

*hurk* Ughhhh, my guts are burning. Poison.. it’s-

Hannah 2

Ok… that’s a little vomit bubbling up…

Hannah 3

*huff* Just *huff* keep it *huff* together, Hannah.

SFX 1

Click

Panel 6. Small panel, the outline of the doorframe lit by hot white light.

RatQueens_01_03_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE four(splash)

Panel 1. Behind shot of Hannah on her knees, shielding her eyes from a giant blistering white light that is washing over her, blasting away the darkness.

Hannah 1 *large yell, words shaping the balloon*

Gahhhh! N’Rygoth’s ballsack!

RatQueens_01_04_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE five(5 panels)

Panel 1-4. Side by side panels of Hannah, crawling across grass, in pain, suffering. Panel 3 will show Betty’s feet and Panel 4 will show Hannah grabbing onto them for dear life.

Hannah 1

Must..

Hannah 2

Escape..

Hannah 3

Black pit of..

Hannah 4 (Panel 4)

Ohhh, thank the goddamn gods for these little lady feet.

Betty 1 (Panel 4)

Dude-

Panel 5. Large panel. Betty, hands on her hips, looking healthy and ready to go and dressed for adventuring. Behind her, the other two girls, also dressed for adventuring but look as worse for wear as Hannah. Violet is in her metallic armour, rubbing her head leaning against the house and Dee is leaning against a tree, barfing her guts out.

Betty 1

You got SO drunk last night.

RatQueens_01_05_FINAL (Copy)

On Anorexia

In December, 2013, I returned home for Christmas after being unable to do so the year before. I left behind the grey, slightly cool climes of Vancouver and flew straight into the frozen hell of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At least it was sunny.

This was the first Christmas my partner, Shannon, spent with my family, and it was a really wonderful time. We saw friends and family, played games, and chatted for hours. We even went for a bit of a drive around the city and I showed her a few places that held memories for me. Some good, some bad.

And, somewhat related, we ended up going through the stacks of photos that my mom and dad have kept over the years. Me as a baby. Me as a kid. Me as a fat kid in junior high. Me as a fat kid in high school.

Then I saw them. Three pictures from a year in my life when I lived in Calgary.

I was 19. And I was anorexic.

Not a lot of people talk about male anorexia or male body image, it’s not something, as a man, you want to share because of the shame you inwardly feel about it. And, to be fair, I haven’t talked that much about it to many people but I have thought about it in the years since. Quite a lot.

The fact that I was anorexic probably comes as a shock to a lot of people. I’m a big guy. Always somewhere between ‘could shed a few pounds’ and ‘does he breathe cheeseburgers?’. A few years ago I managed to get really fit and lose 60 pounds. I felt great. I swore I’d never go back to the way I was. And, here I am, two years later, in the exact place I was before. A place where my clothes feel like they crawl on my skin, where I never feel comfortable with myself no matter what I’m wearing.

I suppose the important thing is that, as of this moment, I’m taking steps to change. The problem is, I can change my weight, but I still haven’t really dealt with the greater issue at hand.

My mind.

All of these feelings are rooted deep and bring me to 1998 when I slowly faded away and didn’t even notice.

I can’t even tell you how it started. I never had a moment where I looked in the mirror and decided that I had to be skinny. There wasn’t this sudden switch from a regular diet to eating nothing at all. It just sort of… happened.

I’ve tried to remember a lot of the details but, to be honest, I don’t have a very solid memory of that year. This is the first time I’ve ever written anything about it, so maybe more will surface. Bear with me.

I can give some context. I was working as a 7-11 cashier on a nightshift in one of the sketchiest neighborhoods in Calgary. I worked as much as I possibly could, even holidays. I didn’t go home to visit my family for over a year, and probably only once or twice in two years. I was struggling with religion, having grown up in a Christian family and in a town built around a Bible school. It was my first foray into the real world and I was utterly unprepared for it.

I was also seeing someone long distance from Australia and because I was young, didn’t realize how poisonous the relationship was. It was a melting pot of shit. Essentially, I lacked any sense of control in my life.

I suspect this was the seed. A feeling of drowning in chaos and hating how I looked.

Let’s talk about that.

It’s strange. I was always a skinny kid growing up. I lived on a farm, so I was always outside riding my bike or climbing on bales of hay. In the summer I’d be outside from early morning until the sun set. I was very active. Then, in grade 5, we moved to the aforementioned town so my dad could study theology. It was also the year I discovered video games. Now, I’m not going to blame Nintendo for being a fatty, but my time outdoors dropped significantly. It was the beginning of a long descent into gaining weight, puberty and extreme self-consciousness.

I don’t think I was fully aware of my weight or what it meant. The thing was, I was actually a popular kid growing up so I wasn’t ever the brunt of jokes or cruelty. But, there’s a very clear memory for me where that all changed.

Grade six. The soccer field beside the school. I could see two ‘friends’ pointing at me and laughing and I couldn’t figure out what the hell they were going on about. It kept on all day until I finally pulled one of them aside and asked what it was all about. The friend confided in me that it wasn’t his joke, that he was just playing along. That it wasn’t him who said I looked like John Candy.

Then it hit me.

“I’m fat and everyone knows.”

That’s the moment when I began to hate my body and, despite ups and downs, it’s NEVER gone away. It fundamentally changed how I engaged the world around me. I began to tease others to turn the attention away from me. I became cruel and cynical as a means to protect myself. I cracked jokes all the time to distract people, telling myself that if I could make them laugh then I’d be worth something.

I still do this.

It haunted me all through high school and, despite being outwardly happy and social, I was dying inside. So, I found a way to cope. Or, a few ways. The first was food. The worst possible solution to feeling horrible about my weight was taking something directly responsible for it and stuffing it in my face. The other was escapism through roleplaying games. But, you know what, this I will defend until my dying breath. It was the one good thing I took away from all of this that has taught me to be creative on the fly, to create real characters and tell interesting stories. So, fat kids, play RPG’s. You might become a writer while dealing with insecurities.

When I left home, I did so with no sure footing in who I was. I had ideas of who I was, but it was all fabricated, coping mechanisms that made a framework of Kurtis, but nothing real. So when I came crashing into the real world, I had nothing to ground me. I couldn’t experience life with a set of parameters that made those moments manageable. I had no control of what was happening.

And still, every day when I saw myself in the mirror, I hated that fucking face. That shitty body. That worthless, no good, rotten composition of flesh that somehow passed for a human. Something no one could ever see past because I sure as hell couldn’t.

Somewhere along the way, as I looked in the mirror and saw the exact same fat body, the rolls and the stretch marks, what I perceived to be true and what actually was true became two completely different things. I’d been losing weight at an alarming rate.

I remember numerous occasions where people would comment on how skinny I was and I would immediately be offended because I thought they were insulting me because I was overweight. I remember numerous times rejecting offers of picking up groceries with my roommates because I just wasn’t hungry, even though my shelves never had any food on them. In all this, I never realized I was sick.

I’m still not even sure how I survived, to be honest. I don’t remember buying groceries for at least a year. I used to steal burgers from work every few days and claim them as damaged on the ordering sheet. And I smoked. A lot. That is one thing I do remember. Every time I had a hunger craving I would light a cigarette. I think at one point I was smoking almost two packs a day. It’s a wonder I’m still alive.

I can’t imagine how my parents felt when they came to visit me before I headed off to Australia for a second time to spend time with my girlfriend. (who later became my wife, who later became my ex-wife, but that’s for another time) I have talked to my parents about that visit a few times over the years and mom has said that she thought I was a hard drug addict.

To be fair, all the signs were there. My skin had turned pale grey, my hair was falling out and my frame, normally a size Large, was now swimming in size small. It must’ve been difficult for them to send me off, not having seen me for a year, seeing their son wasting away and probably dying.

And I still had no clue.

What changed? How did I gain the weight back and find health again?

I suppose the honest answer is that I didn’t.

Sure, I gained weight back. I ate normal. I quit smoking. But that old demon has never died and I’ve carried it ever since. It just manifests in different ways, and while I don’t care to go into all those details, the one that is constant is how much I dislike my physical self.

I’m writing all this because I think it’s important for the world to know that men struggle with this. It’s okay for men to talk about this and admit to it. This isn’t a gender based issue, as much as the media or the world would have you believe it is. You aren’t a freak if you hate the skin you’re in. It just means that there’s some patterns that have developed and that you can actually overcome them.

And while I haven’t, I’m working on it. Going to the gym now to gain control of my weight is fine and definitely important. It’s only a small part of what the real problem is. Because even when I lost all that weight, I still felt inadequate. I felt like I deserved misery. And, eventually, those feelings grew and I couldn’t outrun them.

I’m also writing this as a soon to be father and the terror I feel for that child if they struggle like I did. That I want to be an open book, so that if this ever happens they know I understand. That I’ve been through this and I know how much it hurts and how hope is so easily lost. I don’t want them to be in the dark like I have been for so long.

Because you don’t have to be in the dark. You don’t have to suffer this alone.

You are loved.

image (1)

On Anxiety

I saw a post on Tumblr today about a young woman who was both excited and nervous about ECCC. She had concerns about the crowds, about being stuck inside a building with countless people.

I empathized because I’ve felt that way for a long time myself.

So, I wrote her a short response, because it’s totally okay to feel anxiety and that in such an intense atmosphere like a convention, it’s normal.

This is what I shared:

Hey. I want to let you in on a secret. I have huge convention anxiety, too. A lot of people are surprised by this because I’m a pretty social person that is confident in social situations.

Here’s the thing. I AM confident in social situations that are… controlled. Hosting a party at my place, going out with friends where I know mostly everyone, doing a signing where there’s already a connection established between me and the people I’m talking to.

Conventions on the other hand are very difficult for me. It’s quite a few things, which I’ll summarize

  1. Crowds: So. Many. People. Getting jostled, having to push through people to get where I’m going. Feeling like I’m drowning in flesh.
  2. Selling: I always have a table and I always bring books to sell. It’s how I cover the cost of the trip to attend, flight/hotel/food. If I don’t sell books, I lose quite a lot of money. So, there’s anxiety around pressure to hand sell merchandise and I absolutely struggle to initiate conversation with passersby.
  3. After Parties: This is an industry thing. A lot of people really look forward to these, but for me this is probably the worst of it. Especially as the show winds down and I know I have to go out again. I’ve been overwhelmed with… noise all day and I just want to go back to my hotel, cuddle up with my partner and watch tv.

NYCC was a huge revelation for me. I’d always felt pressure to just suck it up and make it happen. And I was always completely exhausted emotionally and, to be honest, I often walked away with negative feelings. But that show I realized something about myself and my career. So, here’s some tips about enjoying a convention coming from someone who both loved and hated them.

  1. Engage it on your terms: Serious. Do it. Go in for awhile, look around, and when you feel that old friend anxiety growing… leave. Just, go out, have a smoke, get a coffee, go for a walk. Find a quiet place at a coffee shop and take the time you need to find some peace. The convention is all weekend long, all day long. You won’t miss anything.
  2. Plan! If there’s people you want to see, or panels you want to attend, get out a map of the floor and times of the panels and schedule yourself so that you don’t have to constantly be drowning in crowds. Want to check out all the cool merch in artist alley? Make it a specific chunk of time so you’re not wandering aimlessly. I always do my walk around artist alley on Sunday, usually two hours before the show ends. It’s a bit quieter, so I can talk to the artists and sometimes you can get good deals because they don’t want to carry a bunch of shit home with them. I know I do it.
  3. You aren’t alone. I’ve talked to a lot of other writers that feel the same as I do. You’d be surprised who they are given their place in the industry, because was surprised. I immediately felt that little bit more normal and found a sort of connection in what I had always assumed was my weirdness. So, while you’re feeling all that lovely convention anxiety, so am I, and so are dozens of others. We’re all a bunch of weird geeks and that’s rad.

ECCC is a fantastic convention, it’s hands down my favourite. It has a lot of personal importance to me. It’s where I first pitched my series that was picked up by Image Comics and led to the state of my career now. I have met dozens and dozens of wonderful writers, artists and fans who’ve made a huge impression on me. And Seattle is lovely. I’ve always sworn I’d move there, but I’ve found the Canadian equivalent in Vancouver.

Hope this helps, and see you at ECCC!

Today I Saw a Tapeworm with a Heartbeat

January 3, 2014

Today I saw a tapeworm with a heartbeat.

I hope you don’t mind me calling you that right now. You’re pretty weird looking and you’re sort of a parasite in your mom’s body. She’s sick all the time. I mean, all day long. She sleeps in late because you’re sapping all her energy. She has super powered smelling and can detect the scent of garlic and onions in roughly a ten mile radius. And apparently I smell like garlic and onions every waking hour, even if I haven’t ate any in a full week, and kissing me makes her want to vomit.

It’s magical.

You aren’t doing my love life any favours, that much is certain.

Anyway, today we went to the ultrasound clinic and I got to see inside your mom’s body. You’re in there. Just… floating around like a kidney bean on espresso.

It’s more real now. It’s not like we didn’t think it was before, but to see you growing and that little pulse that is your heart… yeah, this is it, isn’t it? Your mom is definitely weirded out that she has a tapeworm made of our DNA floating inside her, but she’s also very happy. You’ll come to know that look of excitement on her face. It’s very particular, and it’s absolutely lovely.

So, this is a quick one, just to say thanks for hanging in there little baby bean and, take it easy on mom would you?

She wants to eat hummus again.

Love,

Dad

Today I Learned You Existed

November 30, 2013

Today I found out you existed.

Don’t get me wrong, there’d been signs along the way, but today was a definitive confirmation punctuated with a dark blue cross.

The signs, you ask? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that I’ll always know your mother on a very different level then you. You see, at this stage, she’s pre-you Shannon. I have no idea what will happen when you finally show up, but let me tell you a few things about her, as she is now.

Your mom doesn’t cry watching movies. Seriously. I’ve TRIED. I’ve shown her the films that make me turn into a gooey puddle of man tears. She would instead sit there debating the inadequacies of the plot and character arcs. Just, an iron wall of logical contempt. So, until recently, I assumed that it meant she had discerning taste in film.

A few days ago, your mother forced me to watch What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I mean… seriously forced me to watch it. I thought she was joking at first. Then the movie started. And kept playing.

And then, something magical happened. No, the movie didn’t get any better than it’s dismal opener, but I looked to my right and, there it was. Your mom. Crying.

“Shannon, I’m happy you cried in a movie. I’ve dreamed of this moment… but, not like this. Not like this.”

Because What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a terrible, pandering movie that makes you laugh just enough to keep watching. But, that’s for another letter.

It was the two punch combo that made me realize your mom had changed, even just a little bit. And we both knew what came next.

So, here I am, thinking about what this all means. I’ll be honest, I’m scared. In a lot of ways I think I’ll be an excellent dad. I’m absolutely, positively going to make you a nerd, and you’re a lucky dork because it’s the cool thing to be now. Though, who knows, the pendulum might swing the other way and you’ll be ostracized by jock bullies. If that’s the case, I’m sorry in advance, but I will protect you. I promise. And if you turn out to be a jock, well, you’ve got a bit of hope in your mother. Though, she’s a nerd who manages to hide it a bit better than me and has a few athletic bones in her body.

Just please, for the love of God, don’t be a math whizz.

While I’m afraid in some ways, I’m absolutely thrilled in all the others. You’ll get to know me at a very different time in my life. The years leading to this moment have been a pretty difficult process for me, and when you want to know about them, I will gladly share them with you. But, this is another step to a life I’ve always wanted, with a partnership in your mother I’ve always dreamed of.

I’d like to tell you I’m ready. That I’ve got everything sorted out and that when you arrive your mother and I will hit the ground running. But, that’d be a lie, and it’s weird to lie to an embryo floating in my partner’s insides. Instead, I’m going to tell you that I’m preparing best I can and that I’m terrified and thrilled to see you not so long from now.

And if I pass out from witnessing the miracle of birth, please don’t judge me too harshly. I’m a bit squeamish.

Love,

Dad

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