Broken Pencil - - Editor’s Note - Alison Lang

HEY GUYS! So I have some news. This is my last is­sue of Bro­ken Pen­cil.

I started at this mag­a­zine five years ago as as­sis­tant ed­i­tor. With­out get­ting too much into it, I was griev­ing, get­ting my bear­ings in a new city and feel­ing gen­er­ally un­moored. Al­though I had a back­ground in jour­nal­ism and cul­ture writ­ing, I was un­aware of the de­mands that come with work­ing on an in­de­pen­dent arts-and-cul­ture mag­a­zine: namely, that ev­ery­one does ev­ery­thing.the learn­ing curve was high! Thanks to Hal and then-ed­i­tor (and now my very good pal) Lind­say Gibb, I started to fig­ure out what I was do­ing. It was al­ways hard work, but it got fun.

In 2014, Lind­say left the ed­i­tor po­si­tion and I took over, star­ing squarely in the face of a bunch of new ini­tia­tives (Hal loves ini­tia­tives, guys!) plus a 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion and is­sue. It got hard again. Then it got fun again. And now it’s time for me to go and for our cur­rent as­sis­tant ed­i­tor Jonathan Valelly to take the job. You know him; he’s a gem. He’ll be great.

I think this is a space where one is sup­posed to re­flect on legacy, or some­thing. To me the word “legacy” sug­gests a creaky old Mr. Burns-type rub­bing his hands to­gether over reams of dusty pa­per; it feels weird and self-ag­gran­diz­ing and bor­ing, and also I’ve only been here for five years, so calm the hell down al­ready, Lang! This be­ing said, it’s in­ter­est­ing to think about how the mag has changed in such a short pe­riod of time. It’s def­i­nitely true that Bro­ken Pen­cil made me love and ap­pre­ci­ate zines more—how could it not? How­ever, my take­away from five years of work­ing on a mag­a­zine about zines also made me re­al­ize that zine cul­ture has made a sharp and dis­tinc­tive im­pact on our editorial man­date in re­cent years. When I be­came ed­i­tor, Jonathan and I be­gan to dis­cuss ways to make the mag­a­zine more of a mir­ror im­age of zine cul­ture it­self—a place to fo­cus not only on the weirdos (BP’S eter­nal bread-and-but­ter) but also the peo­ple who are mak­ing the art that asks im­por­tant ques­tions about ac­ces­si­bil­ity, cul­ture and rep­re­sen­ta­tion. And more and more, we strug­gled to fig­ure out what kind of mag­a­zine Bro­ken Pen­cil ac­tu­ally was. We wanted to fig­ure out how we could con­tinue to chal­lenge and ex­cite our wide-rang­ing read­er­ship while mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to un­der­stand the many ways in­die art is chang­ing in a cul­ture that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dis­con­nected, po­lit­i­cally fraught and eco­nom­i­cally un­ten­able. How do we achieve the same type of con­nec­tion as the best, fun­ni­est and most chal­leng­ing zines? Ad­di­tion­ally, through our work with Canzine (which will soon start up its fourth in­car­na­tion in Cal­gary this year) we also wanted to be­come more of an in­die cul­ture bat sig­nal: I wanted peo­ple to see us and iden­tify us as an or­ga­ni­za­tion they could con­trib­ute to, col­lab­o­rate with and find sup­port in.

This is usu­ally where I would say some­thing self-dep­re­cat­ing about how dis­or­ga­nized I am and how I al­ways have food on my face, etc, but to be quite hon­est I think we made some big strides in the above cri­te­ria. I’m very proud of our cover sto­ries on POC genre fic­tion, the pro­gres­sive pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Twine game-mak­ing soft­ware, or our cover story about “crip­ple punks” re­claim­ing por­tray­als of dis­abil­ity through selfie cul­ture. We also had a lot of fuck­ing fun: I can­not wait to tell my grand­chil­dren about the is­sue we made that shat all over Don­ald Trump and fea­tured a cover with his face be­ing bru­tally gouged by pen­cils. I feel so lucky that I got to meet and work with so many brilliant writ­ers, artists and creators on ev­ery is­sue and meet so many sweet zinesters at Canzine(s). My zine li­brary now spills off my shelves, and my walls are cov­ered with art by peo­ple who have drawn in our pages. I love you, fel­low freaks! You were one of the best parts of my job. I’ll see you at Canzine 2017.

Speak­ing of best guys (and gals): Bro­ken Pen­cil has a small but very mighty staff that works for peanuts and yet still man­ages to con­stantly punch above its weight. More­over, they are all the loveli­est pals: friends who I have drank with, yelled at, walked dogs with, cried with and con­fided in. Colin, Natalie, Faith and AGP: you’re the best fic­tion team we’ve had in for­ever. An­nie Wong is a tremen­dously smart and ac­com­plished artist and fa­cil­i­ta­tor who would be in­sanely in­tim­i­dat­ing if she wasn’t so bloody sweet. Tara Gor­don­flint is the spine of the mag­a­zine: with­out her or­ga­ni­za­tion and man­age­ment of our funding and op­er­a­tions, Bro­ken Pen­cil would lit­er­ally col­lapse in on it­self (also she is great at karaoke and gives very good hugs). Ian Sullivan-cant is a gifted and in­no­va­tive de­signer (and amaz­ing il­lus­tra­tor, too) who has pa­tiently worked with me, an ac­tual rube, for all these years now, and his work on our re­cent is­sues in par­tic­u­lar has of­ten taken my breath away. JV, your en­ergy and tal­ent con­tin­u­ally as­ton­ishes me: a lot of peo­ple are great artists, writ­ers and or­ga­niz­ers, but you bring an added warmth and gen­eros­ity to your in­ter­ac­tions that has deeply en­riched our com­mu­nity and will be of tremen­dous value go­ing for­ward as ed­i­tor.

Hi Hal! Dur­ing my job in­ter­view all those years ago (2011??) you seemed really bored and I was wor­ried we would not be friends. I think you’re my friend now (even though you don’t like my dog, WTF?) You were also the best boss I have ever had: you were hard on me and made me mad some­times, and you were also end­lessly sup­port­ive and gen­er­ous in ways that amazed me, given how busy you are. You made me think about what I was do­ing in a crit­i­cal way and it has changed my brain. You al­ways made time for my ques­tions and wor­ries even when you were busy. You have made me a smarter, more ca­pa­ble and more use­ful per­son. But that’s what you do with ev­ery­one. Thank you Hal. Thank you guys. Thanks for read­ing.

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