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


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.