Culture Hawker Chronicles: Charles Barangan and B.M.V. Annex

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In this series, Trevor Abes gets to know the people behind the counter at Toronto’s music stores, book shops, and art galleries.

A Torontonian since 2009, Winnipeg-born Charlie Barangan wrote for the second season of the web series Clutch and co-founded Irradiated Panda Films, the group behind the IPF-funded Asset premiering this week. He works at B.M.V. Annex, where you can find him in the comic book section.

T: What was your first comic book?

C: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #87. I was maybe 12. The issue is about Mary Jane Watson in marriage counselling.

T: What was the comic that hooked you on the genre?

C: After reading Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, I had to know who all the characters were and why they mattered.

T: Define comics for yourself.

C: They are what I turn to when I want to read something that could never happen to me. If you golf, you can’t go up to Tiger Woods and say “let’s play a few rounds,” but as a comics fan I can read the stories.

T: Do you have a favorite series?

C: My favorite of all time is Y: The Last Man. Yorick Brown, the main character, is made up by a bit of everyone that reads him.

T: What makes a bad comic book?

C: If you as a reader and they as a company know that a comic is designed to be a three-minute thrill and forgotten, then it’s a bad book.

T: Tell me about working at B.M.V. Annex.

C: Clerking is awesome. After two years there, I’ve learned that good people have bad days and bad people have good ones. No one’s set by default to be a jerk.

T: When did you start writing?

C: I kept a journal during Katimavik and my travels in Australia and New Zealand. The more I told those stories, the more I realized how interesting really poor decision-making can be.

T: How did Irradiated Panda Films come together?

C: My writing partner Matthew Carvery and I wanted an umbrella company for future projects. Like a panda, he’s part black and part white, and I’m of Asian descent.

T: What’s the creative process like between you two?

C: He likes personal dramas and I’m the frenetic one that wants a character punched in the face. We put things together by pulling each other in opposite directions.

T: What did you take away from working on Clutch?

C: The need to tell stories that aren’t attached to anything and are their own driving purposes, and the ability to roll with the punches for the sake of the work.

T: What’s your favorite movie?

C: Jurassic Park. There’s a certain air of ridiculousness about creating dinosaurs from frogs that makes anything possible.

T: What appeals to you about working in film and TV?

C: When you have collaborators, your stories are stronger than what they would be on their own. Evolution happens through different interpretations, and that’s cool to me.

About the author

Trevor Abes

Trevor Abes @TrevorAbes is a writer and editor from Toronto, ON. His work has appeared in The Toronto Quarterly, blue skies poetry, and The Montreal Review. He keeps an eponymous blog that houses mostly poetry.

By Trevor Abes