Things To Love Tuesday


Every week, I talk about something I’d reading, doing, watching, or loving.


Riftworld.New_.Logo-copy Riftworld_Ep01_CBC_2500kbps_620x350_2672956578 riftworld2 RiftworldChronicles-thumb-630xauto-56260

Every week, I talk about something I’d reading, doing, watching, and of course, loving.


Sad as I am that it’s only 8 episodes, so far, this Meta Fantasy Webseries starring Erin Karpluk (Being Erica), and Tahmoh Penikett (Strange Empire), is great. It’s funny, but it’s not trying too hard, and it’s an homage to Table Top RPGs that is both genuine and touching, but also self-awarely wry.

There is none of that Big Bang Theory “we’re inviting you to laugh WITH the nerds but actually we’re all really laughing AT them” nonsense here.

And it’s working, because Riftworld is wracking in the webseries festival nominations.

This webseries, created for Punchline, the Original Digital Content side of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), is one of the great examples of why Canada’s creator’s guilds (ACTRA, WGC, DGA) are smart in embracing the webseries as a new and dynamic method of telling stories.

I love webseries because indie creators get a chance to shine, and when institutions like the CBC, and funding bodies, throw not only great money but great production support behind an indie creator’s idea, magic happens.

About Riftworld Chronicles

From the website:

A struggling journalist teams up with a dimension-traveling wizard who is stuck in our world without his magic powers. She helps him on his quest to return home in exchange for the rights to his story. When a rift between the realms opens up and fantastical foes invade, they are forced to solve the mystery of what binds their worlds, and their fates, together.

Why I Love It

Okay, well, as is totally obvious by, like, MY ENTIRE BIBLIOGRAPHY, (hellooo The Untold Tale & Accidental Turn Series), I love self-reflective meta narratives that play with the conventions and tropes of a genre.

The show also subtly inverts the assumed stereotypes of the characters, which I really like.

Al is the warrior-mage with biceps on his biceps, but he’s clever, he listens, and best of all, he engages seriously and respectfully with every female character he encounters. My favorite scene involves Al earnestly requesting a potion from an alchemist to help return the magical vigor that he’s lost, and nodding along and to-the-letter following the advice this WoC character provides. (Of course, she’s the barista in a tea shop, and she’s talking about her hubby’s impotence.)

Kim is a modern gal who is focused on her career and getting up the ladder, but she is also very concerned with social issues centered around feminism, racism, and social injustice. She’s girly, but womanly; self-assured and clever, but gets verbal diarrhea when she’s nervous or passionate; she can be callous and do selfish things, but after they’ve happened she realizes her mistake, regrets it, and tries her best to rectify it honestly. I like seeing someone so self-assured, yet so self-flagellating and someone who is imperfect yet trying to do better. She is a strongly written character instead of just a strong female character who is an unrealistically perfect automaton.

Sure, Kim’s brother Wes (Munro Chambers, Degrassi) is a D&D playing, video-game mainlining, pot-smoking dork, but he’s also lovable, thoughtful, compassionate, and generous.

There is also fantastic Costume Porn. Seriously. It’s dirty, which is the one thing that always, as a costumer, makes me ball up my fists when I watch When Calls the Heart or The Murdoch Mysteries. Even the cleanest petticoat hem is going to get dusty when you walk through dirt streets. And the textures on Al’s outfit are glorious, as is the way that his cloak is multi-functional. It reminds me of a traditional Great Kilt in that sense.

The performances are also great.

As Alar of Caer Caladh, Tahmoah could have gone hammy or over-the-top, but he has grounded Al in a very honest sort of compassion and understanding. I see in Al a man who was earnestly engaged in the magical arts and became a warrior-mage only out of necessity. He definitely prefers to talk it out than fight, use his head over his fists, but also recognizes that some causes are hopeless and violence has to happen. Tahmoah’s comedic timing is great, and he doesn’t over-sell any of the jokes, which is gold.  And his faux-fantasy accent, that weird sort-of-British thing that began in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Peter Jackson enforced, is spot-on.

As Kim, Erin is channeling her turn as Erica in the time-travel self-help drama Being Erica (which my parents adored, BTW, used to call in “Being Jessica” because they said Erica was exactly me, and that the show was like watching my whole life from the inside). But Kim is not Erica – they share the same sort of *blink blink okaaaay* approach to the weirdness that has suddenly entered their lives, but Kim is sassy, a conscious feminist and advocate, but still the kind of person who wants so much to save the world that she puts her foot in her mouth in the midst of her passion.

What I love about Kim is the internal conflict she suffers when she’s asked to lie to Al and profile him for a piece on Mental Health centers, when he thinks she’s finally believing him and helping out. She is caught between sexual desire (cause wow, that costume highlights all the best parts of Tahmoah) and knowing that Al isn’t capable of informed and sober consent if he is suffering from a mental health issue. She wants to help him achieve his quest, but she also wants to help him get the medical help she’s sure he needs, and she wants to help herself by doing this editorial piece, but she also knows that the magazine she works for now is going to BuzzFeed-ify whatever she delivers and strip away all the important discussions that Kim is trying to engage her readership in about the social issues around mental health.

It’s a conflicting, confusing balance and that I can read all of that in Kim from Erin’s performance proves what a gem Erin is.

Sure, some of the writing is a bit of a stretch (like, why would Al immediately assume the first human he sees in a sky-rise glass-and-chrome office is the nobility or the ruler of the crystal palace and not a servant, which would be way more likely), but all of these little narrative leaps are forgivable because they keep the plot moving forward.

In the end, I give it 8.5/10, and really look forward to them showing us the Evil Sister (in the hopes that this trope is also inverted in a clever, interesting way. I’m so sick of the Evil Slut trope.) Hey, if it hasn’t been cast yet, may I suggest Adrienne Kress? She does a great evil laugh.

So, go watch THE RIFTWORLD CHRONICLES and have your heart warmed, your nerd side gratified, your funny bone tickled, and enjoy the female-gaze-oriented costume porn.


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THINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – The Supersizers Eat…

I’ve very recently become extremely enamoured with The Supersizers.

This is a BBC2 mini-doc series starring Restaurant critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins. The first series, “The Supersizers Go…” follows Giles and Sue as they pick personas (usually siblings or spouses) then dress, live, and eat their way through the lifestyles and cuisine of six different eras in Britain’s history.

Part docu-drama, part cooking show, part history lesson, Giles and Sue never fail to see the humour and the ridiculousness of what they’re doing, wearing, or eating. My favourite episode thus far has definately been the Regency and theWar Time episodes. Especially the latter as it really is a facinating look into how closely rationing and national health were monitored and executed.

They followed this up with “The Supsersizers Eat…” which places them in facinating historical periods all over the world, including Ancient Rome and TheFrench Revolution.

What’s facinating is the way they hire a chef to come in and help them make some of the dishes, but that Sue, as the woman, often has to be in the kitchen with the chef. And that Sue is NOT a chef AT ALL. I love when they lay out all the week’s food as well, to give you a visual clue as to how much it all is.

If foodstuffs were used for cosmetics, then Sue and Giles also use them as people would have at the time.

I wish they did do some more middle or lower class families, or some less European-centric cultures (I’d love to see Edo-era Japan or pre-Columbus Latin America), but it seems like the series is still ongoing, so maybe my wish will be granted.

JM FreyTHINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – The Supersizers Eat…
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THINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Things to Love Tuesday


Every week I highlight an awesome project, artist, or event that I think people should know about.

This week, I would like to introduce:


There are just eight days left to help push this anthology over $100k.

And when we get there, you can come out to the PANEL AND RECEPTION on July 23rd and celebrate with us!


An anthology by Hope Nicholson, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a celebration of the stories we tell each other but never make public —until now.

This non-fiction anthology of text stories and comics features stunning work from an amazing cast of female creators negotiating their way through love, dating, and sex.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls includes:

Cover Art by Gisèle Lagacé & Shouri

Art by Renee Nault, Jen Bartel, Sanya Anwar, and Kristen Gudsnuk.

New comics by: Margaret Atwood, Meaghan Carter, Megan Kearney, ALB, Jen Vaughn, Meags Fitzgerald, Gillan G., Diana Nock, Roberta Gregory, Laura Neubert, Sarah Winifred Searle, Natalie Smith, Jenn Woodall, Mariko Tamaki/Fiona Smyth, Irene Koh, Fionna Adams/Jen Vaughn, and Annie Mok.

Illustrated stories by: Kate Leth, Janet Hetherington, Sam Maggs/Selena Goulding, Megan Lavey-Heaton/Isabelle Melançon, Cherelle Ann Sarah Higgins/Rachael Wells, and Stephanie Cooke/Deena Pagliarello.

Text stories by Brandy Lynn, Diana McCallum, Jen Aprahamian, Katie West, Adrienne Kress, Soha Kareem, Loretta Jean, J.M. Frey, Trina Robbins, Twiggy Tallant, Rachel Deering, Hope Nicholson, Crystal Skillman, Marguerite Bennett, Soraya Roberts, Emma Woolley, Gita Jackson, Renee Nejo, Natalie Zina Walschots, Alicia Contestabile, Tini Howard, Cara Ellison, Jessica Oliver Proulx, and Erin Cossar.

Reprinted comics by: Gisèle Lagacé and Danielle Corsetto.

The Book (In Hope’s Words)


The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a 6” x 9” softcover, approximately 250 pages, mixed art and text.This project was inspired by two things: reading dating advice online, and a typo.I find myself very optimistic whenever I see an article on advice or information on geeks and dating.

But soon this excitement turns to disappointment; the articles are almost always written with only the male geeks in mind.There is a desert of information geared towards the women in fandom. Yet when I get together with my friends at events or over drinks, one of our major topics is how we handle relationships and crushes, rejections, unwanted advances, and general romantic and sexual entanglements.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls anthology is written for the geek girl who wants information and stories on dating and love. It’s a compilation of tales told from both sides of the tables: from the fans who love video games, comic books, and sci-fi, and those that work behind the scenes: creators, and industry insiders.The Secret Loves of Geek Girls collects successes as well as embarrassments, examines the fandoms that we ship, and reassures us that no matter what we’re going through or have gone through, we are never alone.

Now for the typo. Years ago I had been developing a television series on the Secret Lives of Nerd Girls, a docu-soap focused on the fangirls and creators in my Toronto community, tracing their daily lives and interests in preparation for con season. A sort of feminist Comic Book Men, if you will. Sadly, broadcaster interest was low and the project was shelved. But I always kept the poster that I commissioned for the series, and whenever I looked at the file, I noticed a typo in the filename. Instead of “Secret Lives”, it said “Secret Loves”.

For the last few years every time I see that typo I think “Man, now that would be a good project!”

Well, here it is!

I’m so excited to be able to bring these stories to you.


JM FreyTHINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – The Secret Loves of Geek Girls
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Things To Love Tuesday – Beauty and the Beast by Megan Kearney

Today’s Things To Love Tuesday is my favouritest webcomic of all time: Megan Kearney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I loved this very thoughtful, very intelligent, very philosophical version of the fairy tale before I ever met Megan, and now that I count Megan among my friends (and even better, colleagues as we’re in the forthcoming The Secret Loves of Geek Girls together), I appreciate the nuance of her work even more.

Funny story – Hope Nicholson (Bedside Press) invited me out to something called The Comic Book Embassy’s Ladies High Tea one day. I was on my way to a screening for something else, but it sounded super awesome, so I popped in for a cuppa and some incredible chats. I cannot recommend this group of ladies enough, they are all wonderful. I spent some time talking to Megan, not knowing who she was, and then got up to go to the bathroom. As I passed her desk, I saw sketches and books laid out and … GASP. They were for that webcomic I loved!

I jammed my finger down on the book and shouted, “WAIT, THIS IS YOU?? I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE NOW! HOLD ON, I GOTTA PEE.”

Luckily, Megan has never held that against me.One of the fantastic things about this telling of the tale as old as time is that the romance aspect of the story isn’t the main focus. Yes, Beauty is pretty, but she is not an object to be manipulated or won by the Beast in order to attain his own salvation – she is not something to check off his list on the way to becoming human again, nor the prize at the bottom of his Mainpain Cereal box.

Both Beauty and Beast are inquisitive, curious, well rounded people who are trying to make the best of what they are. The allegory for the Beast as a representation of Anxiety, Bi Polar Disorder and Clinical Depression can be made, but it would be reductionist and disingenuous. Beast is a person in and of himself, and blessedly, so is Beauty.

I already own volume one of this fantastic book in trade paperback, and I cannot wait for volume two to be released.

Go, read, be moved!

JM FreyThings To Love Tuesday – Beauty and the Beast by Megan Kearney
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THINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – Colouring With Claire

Things to Love Tuesday


Adult Colouring books have been proven by science to be great stress busters, good for cognative therapy, and helpful in getting the brain to work through problems subconsciously while you do something creative. Also, they’re a bunch of fun, and tap into the marvelous nostalgia of colouring and being creative as a kid.

So this week’s THINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY features:

Colour WIth Claire


This website has free colouring book and colouring supplies reviews and articles, as well as giveaways and online colouring pages. Claire makes a case for the importance of unplugging, and being creative with apblomb, insight, and fun.

Claire reviewed my adult colouring book, The Dark Lord and the Seamstress over on this post here.

Coloured by Claire

Coloured by Claire

Happy colouring!

JM FreyTHINGS TO LOVE TUESDAY – Colouring With Claire
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