This is a follow-up post about how female geeks are making comic conventions their own in different ways. Obviously SDCC has been over for awhile, but there are still plenty of other conventions coming up this year (NYCC!) and these women can serve as inspirations for what can be done within geek and pop culture by individuals. In this post I talk with Jenn from justJENN Designs & Recipes. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting her table at SDCC or don’t follow her on twitter, you should!… but in the meantime the links to her websites are listed below.
Jenn has been blogging about her family’s adventures in Los Angeles for 10 years, creating unique family dinners and geeky baking for her food blog www.justjennrecipes.com. She recently launched www.homegeekonomics.com where she features crafters and creators, bringing the best of geek to home and everyday life. She was Her Universe’s fangirl of the day and her award winning recipes have been featured on StarWars.com, LATimes online, The Today Show blog and most recently the cover of Food Network Magazine.
A contributor for Geek Mom, King’s Hawaiian and First5LA, she also has been a guest panelist at San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon and Geek Girl Con.
1) First thing’s first, tell me about JustJenn Designs and JustJenn Recipes and your career in the geek world.
I started justJENN designs on the side when I was working at an architecture firm. I was working 60-80 hour weeks and while it was killing me I still wanted something that was all my own. So I thought an online business was a good idea because then I could just fill orders from home.Years later I had my kids and I was suddenly compelled to make sure they only ate healthy food and I wanted to make everything from scratch. I started creating recipes and putting them online so that I could access them at all times without dragging recipes with me or having to turn my computer on. Smart phones and my own website made keeping track of my recipes much easier.
2) The combination of foodies and geek culture makes perfect sense and you do an amazing job combining the two. I love your Ultimate Star Wars party! Where did get your initial inspiration to combine the two?
Food and geek recipes came together again, because of my kids. As they grew up they started having fandom fascinations with things that I loved as well. Everything old was new again…to them! So Star Wars, Transformers all the things I grew up with and loved they were taking an interest in and I love the idea of encouraging fandom in kids. I think it opens them up to creative thinking. I decided to incorporate that into our meals just for fun. When I posted the party and recipes I didn’t think anything of it until I started getting a lot of adults saying how great it was and then I realized it wasn’t just me that loved all that geek culture reinterpreted, everyone wanted to recreate their childhood fandom in an updated way!
3) When was your first SDCC? Can you tell me a bit about your history with the convention (ie did you start off in Small Press or as an attendee, etc)?
My first SDCC was a long time ago as an attendee. I can’t even remember the year but I can tell you I got into Hall H easily if that means anything. Years later when I had the online stationery biz I thought, ‘how great would it be to be here as a fan, but also sell my creations to people as well?’ Small Press seemed like a good first step and I honestly haven’t moved from there in the past 6 years.
4) This year you were able to participate in the first major panel for foodies at SDCC, ”A Feast For Your Eyes: Creativity In Comics and Cuisine.” What was that panel like? What were some of the highlights?
I was very excited to participate in the ‘food and comics’ panel since they are two things that I love and incorporate into my art as well. It was great to see a whole room filled with people who love those things too. Food and comics are very connected and we talked a lot about our inspiration and how we came into fields that we made uniquely our own through food.
The highlight of the panel for me was the other panelists! Everyone had unique food stories. I am a big fan of Food TV and watched both Brian Malarkey (@BrianMalarkey) and Justin Warner (@eatfellowhumans) on their shows. I have been ‘twitter friends’ with C.B. Cebulski for a long time and his posts about food and travels always make my day. I learned a lot from Amy Chu (@AmyChu) and Nacho Cervantes (@pizzaportbeer) about their inspirations. And I felt like Rosanna Pansino (@RosannaPansino) had a real geek girl connection, which is always cool when you meet someone who had the same interests as you and is a great person.
5) Do you think this panel signals the growth of foodie-related geekdom at SDCC? Other than the panel, what were some other geeky food-related fun stuff that you saw at SDCC this year (including your own activities)?
I think food and geekdom go hand in hand, both can be creative and inspirational. There is definitely a growth in this field, you can see it in the new food centric graphic novels that are coming out, but honestly it’s been around for a long time. As a kid I always felt connected to the comics I read that featured families cooking, or food somewhere in the comic. It made it relative and made me happy. I think that’s why food tv and food graphic novels are so popular now, because people like that familiar connection that food gives them.
6) I know you recently published a Mochi cookbook. I just got my copy and I’m really excited to try making some! What are some future projects you have coming up?
The mochi cookbook was fun because it updated old traditional recipes that didn’t think it was possible to modernize. My comic cookbook that I drew about my Grandma’s family recipes is still popular and I would like to do another one of those and delve into more of our family recipes, with humor of course.
7) Finally, silly question. I know you’re a huge Wolverine fan. If you had unlimited resources and were hired to throw a surprise party for Wolvie himself, what would some of the dishes be?
If could throw a Wolverine party I would make a lot of things on skewers and probably incorporate Canadian Bacon and Maple syrup to give props to his homeland. Basically whatever you ate would make you live forever, obvs.
Heroes of Cosplay is the SyFy channel’s new series about cosplay competitions at conventions. The show follows a select few cosplayers behind the scenes of the competition into their homes, studios and their creative processes. Each episode centers on a different convention, and the cosplayers must create a new look for each competition. Cosplay, for those who might not be familiar, is short for “costume play” and it is the act of wearing a costume to portray a character from a work of fiction. These costumes are often hand made and they can cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars and hours to create. Some cosplayers like to get into character by acting like the character they’re representing. Other cosplayers merely create and wear the costumes. Either way, the cosplayers are judged on “presentation” during the competition, as well as detail and craftsmanship.
The cosplayers the series follows are mostly professional and semi-professional costumers. Chief among them is the well-known costumer Yaya Han, who appears as a guest judge at each of the competitions in the series. She is introduced by her self-chosen title, “the Ambassador of Cosplay”, and she often shows up to give our cosplayers some (seemingly unsolicited?) advice, like a costumed fairy godmother. When I spoke with Yaya at SDCC, she stressed that the competitions were not rigged in any way to favor the competitors. Indeed, in the past two episodes, only one award has been given to any of the show’s stars (it was to Holly and Jessica for “best team” for their Dungeons and Dragons costumes). We see some of the creative process, though a lot less than I had hoped. There were some cool shots of Jesse vacuum forming his Steampunk Stormtrooper helmet, and a harrowing scene where Holly makes a head cast of Jessica to help sculpt her Tiefling horns. Most of the show focuses on (surprise) the drama and stress that goes into creating something on a too-short deadline for a competition.
The show has stirred up controversy in the cosplay community. The initial excitement for a reality show based on cosplay and featuring some of the cosplay community’s most talented names has faded since the show first aired and has been replaced with… resentment, mostly. It’s what happens whenever an unelected elite minority is chosen to represent a population: rebellion. The show was marketed as a documentary style, and it does catalog events and interviews like a documentary, but it is basically another competition reality TV show. It was not made for cosplayers, it was made for the large, existing reality television audience. From what I have seen so far, it’s modeled pretty closely after TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. This isn’t a bonehead move for SyFy, since Toddlers and Tiaras is a massively popular show. It’s also not a show that was made for its subjects. I don’t know how the child-beauty-pageant-going community reacted to Toddlers and Tiaras, but I bet it wasn’t all positive.
The strange thing for me is that this is the first time I have been familiar with the work of reality TV stars before the show aired. I know some of these people, or have met them at conventions. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook. I know what some of them are really like. Watching their personalities edited to fit the reality TV model is totally fascinating. To say that the drama is all manufactured is as ridiculous as saying that everything on the show happened exactly as it seems. There is inherently drama that surrounds competitions, and cosplayers are no different. However, some of the perceived cattiness is definitely a result of editing out of context remarks together. Most of the time it’s pretty transparent.
I don’t identify as a cosplayer, but I do consider myself part of the community. The cosplay community I know is mostly a welcoming, largely inclusive bunch that will tell you to wear whoever you want as long as you’re having fun. Cosplay competition is a very small part of the activity. You definitely do not have to have ever been judged in a competition to be considered a cosplayer. That the show is focusing on competition just makes it easy to package and market, and makes more relatable for those unfamiliar with the hobby. It kind of explains to the layman why anyone would spend the kind of time and money that our cosplayers spend creating a costume. I will tell you a secret (spoiler alert: not actually a secret), you don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and hours creating something for a cash reward that might very well be less than the total cost of your costume and trip to the con. You do it because you love how you feel when you dress up as a favorite character: powerful, sexy, magical. It’s the process and the reward of a job well done. It’s the attention from children who believe you’re actually who you’re dressed up as and the “May I take a picture with you?” from excited fanboy/girls. Sadly, this is what the show is lacking so far.
We still have more to see from Heroes of Cosplay. Perhaps there are some redeeming surprises in store. The second episode aired recently and featured a couple of new faces. Heroes of Cosplay is on at 10pm on Syfy. You can find them on Facebook at (www.facebook.com/HeroesofCosplay) and on Twitter at (twitter.com/HeroesofCosplay).
San Diego Comic Con International 2013 has been over for a few weeks now. Attendees have finally recuperated from the chaos and excitement that is SDCC. As exhausting and chaotic as the pop culture convention is, the experience is also an extremely rewarding one for many. One of my favorite aspects of SDCC is the sense that not only are you part of a massive geek/nerd community, but you can also create your own world within that community. Whether you love steampunk cosplay or consider yourself the ultimate TV geek, there are different experiences for any fan at SDCC, you just have to make it. This is the first post in what I hope to be a couple of interviews with women who helped create their own personalized mini-universe within the zeitgeist that is SDCC.
Lady Steam (aka Dina Kampmeyer) is a co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and a self-described steampunk aficionado. This year Dina moderated two panels on steampunk at SDCC, The Witty Women of Steampunk and Steampunk 101, in addition to cosplaying as a steampunk Luke Skywalker. If you are interested in hearing more about Dina’s involvement with the League of Extraordinary Ladies, you can read her thoughts in a previous interview NiB had with her (and other LxLers).
1) How did you first get interested/involved in steampunk?
Dina Kampmeyer (DK): I started dating someone that was a steampunk and I had absolutely no idea what it is, but I was instantly drawn to the aesthetic. I jumped in with both feet and wanted to meet other people in LA that were into the same thing. The community was a bit disorganized, so I started volunteering my time to start planning occasional events and moderate the two FB pages that were already up and running.
2) What was your first steampunk costume?
DK: It was a pseudo-military look. I bought this great jacket online and went crazy modifying it. I cut off the sleeves, laced up the sides and added a ton of trim, buttons, epilets, etc. Then I added a bunch of ruching to this old skirt I had from college. Added a straw hat from the Renaissance Faire and boom, (not so) instant steampunk.
3) One thing I particularly love about SDCC is the feeling of belonging while at the same time creating your own reality/dream. Steampunk seems to fit into this idea perfectly. Why do you think steampunk has gained so much interest/traction at SDCC and other conventions?
DK: I think there are a lot of reasons why steampunk has become so popular in general, but in terms of conventions, I would say people just love the aesthetic. It’s so playful and it really allows costumers and cosplays a degree of freedom that they don’t usually have in other areas. Most cosplayers are looking to recreate an exact costume, but with steampunk, you don’t do that. You’re not dressing up as someone else’s character (in general), but rather creating a brand-new work of art. I think more people are getting into the genre now through this new trend of steampunking out existing pop culture characters. This is an easier way for them to explore steampunk while working with an existing product, but with an amazing degree of
creativity and freedom.
4) What kind of advice can you give someone who is looking to create their first steampunk cosplay costume?
DK: Try not to be intimidated. I hear so many people who are interested in steampunk worry that they don’t have the “right”
clothing or accessories. There is very little right and wrong in steampunk and we LOVE to help out new people, give them advice and heck, even loan them clothes. Come to steampunk events even if you’re just starting out, take a look at outfits that you like, and ask people how they created things. Go to local thriftshops and try and use your imagination. You’ll be surprised at how much you can create with an old dress and a sewing machine (or some safety pins and tape if you don’t sew).
5) You recently moderated a panel at SDCC called “The Witty Women of Steampunk.” Can you give a general synopsis of the panel for those who were unable to attend SDCC (or the panel)? What was your favorite moment of the panel?
DK: I was very lucky to have this panel accepted by the lovely folks at SDCC for the 2nd year in a row. Basically, I put together an incredible group of female creators and just let them talk about why they love steampunk and what about the genre appeals to them as a creator. We talked comics, alternate history, video games, costuming, multiculturalism and more.
6) Why “Witty Women” of Steampunk?
DK: Part of what is so appealing about steampunk is a return to the Victorian ideals of the pursuit of knowledge and civility. People were very interested in improving both themselves and the world around them. I think we all long to return to a time when wit was a prized possession and my panelists all fit that bill.
7) You also moderated a panel entitled, “Steampunk 101.” Based on discussions at that panel (and of course your own thoughts), what do see for the future of steampunk in popular culture?
DK: Excellent question. The popularity of steampunk has positively exploded over the past couple of years and we expect to see more and more of it in popular culture. It’s been huge amongst the convention crowd for a long time, but Hollywood is slowly starting to take notice. Fox just gleenlit a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV-pilot, so we’ll see if we finally get a big steampunk series. There has yet to be a big steampunk movie and the panelists (and audience) were all interested in seeing one. Steampunk-literature is popping up all over the NY Times bestseller chart, so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a big film coming out. Until then, we can keep ourselves occupied with all the fantastic literature and webseries that have directly explored the genre.
8) This year you cosplayed as Steampunk Luke Skywalker. What prompted you to do a gender-swap steampunk cosplay?
DK: Well, I have wanted to do a steampunk Star Wars group for several years and I finally managed to do it. I always intended to be R2D2, but time snuck up on me and we were missing a Luke from our core group, so I thought, why not? He was quite a challenge to find a way to make him distinctive since his outfit isn’t that unique and I was already going to confuse people by crossplaying. I hope that I succeeded and we’ll be building up this group for future conventions and adding some new characters.
Chrissy Lynn is a CA native who began costuming at a very young age. With a major interest in comics and scifi growing up she attended her first comic convention in 2004. She’s always had a passion for the arts; be it charcoal, make-up, costume design or music. She’s used her talents and skills to help fundraise for many non-profit charity organizations and enjoys cosplaying, especially her signature cosplay, Catwoman. Since her first Cosplay at Comicon in 2010 she’s been involved in 6 Cosplay groups, two of which she organized including the DC Steampunk group which debuted at SDCC in 2012. She was introduced to Steampunk in 2007, being a fan of HG Wells, Jules Verne and other scifi authors during the turn of the century she adopted the Victorian science fiction motif and made it apart of her daily style and Cosplay medium of choice. This year at San Diego Comicon she was invited by a good friend to join a Steampunk Star Wars group which turned out to be a hit and will be back at this year’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
1) Your DC Steampunk cosplay group is amazing! How did that come together?
Chrissy Lynn (CL): It all started with having a passion for both the DC Comics universe and Steampunk Culture. I simply started piecing together the idea shortly after Comicon 2011 and thats when I called upon my very good friend Johnny Bias (Steampunk Riddler), from there we reached out to our close friends who we knew would be interested,and could all work together to make these costumes cohesive and photograph well. We all have a hand in something on everyone’s costumes, it’s a team effort that has grown into a family, some cosplayers retire their character and are replaced with other awesome cosplayers. I couldn’t be more proud of this group, we all did this together.
2) Did you all work together on your costumes? If so, which costume did you find the most challenging to put together?
CL: We all came from different skill sets, some of us are tailors and seamstresses, leather workers and some of us are FX and prop fabricators, or geniuses with industrial glue guns. So far what characters you haven’t seen in the group yet are our most challenging. But I’d say, my occasional challenge is doing our Two Face’s makeup because he is unfortunately allergic to latex, so next time I may need to work with silicone!
3) If you had unlimited resources, what would be your ultimate steampunk cosplay (group or individual)?
CL: I’ve been in talks with several individuals who want to do Disney Steampunk, I was honored to recently be a part of this year’s Star Wars Steampunk group with Dina, and I have to say I’d stick with the DC group, only make it BIGGER. However I wouldn’t mind doing a Steampunk X-men group, just sayin’!
4) Any advice to anyone else trying to put together a cosplay group (steampunk or otherwise) for a convention?
CL: YouTube is filled to the brim on HOW-TO’s and DIY videos, if you are a visual learner check those out, otherwise do what we all have done, trial and error. If I knew 5 years ago what I know now with today’s skill set I would have made ALL the things, at least better. But like any other trade it can take years to master, you don’t always need a sewing machine or unlimited funds, I have a gift for deconstructing pre-existing materials into other objects to fit my cosplay needs. So I encourage everyone to try and remember cosplay is just that, it’s costume play, so play and have fun no matter what!
DC Steampunk Photos by Mike Rollerson
Star Wars Steampunk Photo by Jerry Abuan
Steampunk Malificent Photo by Justin Davidson
This past weekend marked the first year of GaymerX, previously Gaymercon: “the first LGBT gaming convention focused on the queer geek culture” (http://gaymerconnect.com/). The con took over Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown for the weekend. There were some great special guests as well as several really fun activities, including a room full of every kind of gaming console available for con-goers to play. Having recently come back from SDCC, I was still kind of in that mode. However, I was pleased to find out that I could just decide spontaneously to attend GaymerX and that I could register at the door. The full-schedule of panels was accessible to both the hardcore fans and the casually curious. The floor was populated with artists peddling their creations, giveaways and demos.
I had never been to a convention’s first year, and it was really interesting. The programming declared that the convention knew who it was, and the vibe was all welcoming community and excitement. The staff members and volunteers were impressively organized. If there were any snafus, I never noticed one. It was small, but I think that “intimate” is the more appropriate word. You’re not going to get the big Hollywood exclusives at a small con like GaymerX, but that’s not why it exists. It has a higher purpose: starting a dialogue and connecting members of a community. When I got back from SDCC, I stated that it was powerful to be around hundreds of thousands of people that I had at least one thing in common with. That feeling was amplified at GaymerX because despite, or perhaps because of its smaller population, the whole experience is tailored more specifically. In this case, it was tailored to queer gaming geeks and allies.
I was impressed at the intellectual level of the programming (http://gaymerconnect.com/
David Gaider spoke on navigating gender and sexuality in video game characters. Dragon Age 2 is notable for having every follower be a romance option for the player character regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Bioware is consciously expanding the world of video game heroes to more than just straight white men. Mr. Gaider discussed how some of those strides are still difficult, and some are surprisingly easy. With him at the “Meet Bioware” panel was Bioware community manager Jessica Merizan, who spoke about what Bioware is doing to create a more inclusive and welcoming gaming community. That Bioware is aware and doing anything at all to combat the vocal minority of ignorant haters on the internet is both hopeful and encouraging.
Having spent Saturday having meaningful conversation and amusing interactions, I am home now and incredibly inspired. I had only been aware of the Gaymer community, but now I feel a part of it. Not only do I want to find more niche conventions, but I look forward to attending GaymerX again next year. Hopefully it only gets bigger!
July 26-28, 2013 marked an awesome time for many Star Wars fans in Europe. It happened right in the center of Europe, in Germany’s Ruhr valley, in Essen, the European Cultural Capital of 2010. Fans from around the globe gathered to celebrate a unifying cultural and intergalactic phenomenon: Star Wars.
Three days after the con and I am still on adrenaline. Surely many convention attendees know this feeling, the mix of exhilaration and exhaustion that follows you around for days after an amazing con. I was lucky to be there as a fan, a stormtrooper and a crew volunteer. My ‘work’ started on Thursday: before any visitors had the chance to even see the exhibition halls, I was able to take a first look, and I was speechless, blown away, stunned. This was going to be awesome. Apart from loads of merchandise, the Celebration Stage, the Autograph hall, and other show and exhibition locations, there were many fan-built props and sets, like Jabba’s Palace, Vader’s TIE fighter, a part of the Millennium Falcon, a huge AT-AT, the Endor Bunker with a Speeder Biker to climb on, and the part of the Cantina where Han shot first (yes, I know). I spent my first day just walking around, gazing in awe at all the amazing things I was going to see.
I guess a lot of people, celebrities and exhibitors included, hadn’t had the slightest idea how much the people of Europe, and Germany in particular, love Star Wars. I helped with line management for the main stage and it was amazing to see the vastly different people who attended. We were an international team, and we had international, and probably intergalactic, visitors to deal with. I was glad to be able to communicate in various languages and happy that my still-not-fluent Klingon wasn’t needed.
Most Main Stage events were hosted by Warwick Davis, and I had the chance to see him preparing for the shows. A perfectionist, he is smart, witty and nice. His ‘assistant’ was an R4 unit built by Dan Sczudlik, one of the R2 Builders.
All the panels had a lot of spectators but there were of course some highlights. The first one was Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who announced that legendary composer John Williams will return to score the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.
Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine/The Emperor) was surprisingly funny on stage. During the panel, which was more of a talk show, Warwick Davis – aka Wicket – and McDiarmid re-enacted the fight between Yoda and Sidious. Guess who played Yoda! It was hilarious, and could have been entitled “Sidious vs. Yoda and the vicious swivel chair”. McDiarmid even mentioned that Seth Green wasn’t exaggerating when he staged the swivel chair scene in Robot Chicken. The panel ended with a lot of, perhaps evil, laughter.
Anthony Daniels was great too, as was Carrie Fisher. Dave Filoni, the Executive Producer of Star Wars Rebels, talked about the genesis of the upcoming animated series and a lot of young German fans loved to see him, though there was no interpreter helping those who got lost in translation. Overall, I don’t think there was any panel that wasn’t worth visiting.
My personal favorite panel was Mark Hamill’s, who took the stage on Sunday. He was very relaxed and talkative and his imitation of Harrison Ford was really funny. He told a lot of stories from behind the scenes and enjoyed the cheering crowd in the almost packed hall of nearly 7,700 superfans.
In the end though, the Celebration Stage was just one part of the whole Celebration experience and I must admit that even though it was great to see and meet the celebrity Star Wars heroes, my true heroes were to be found among the fans, fan groups, staff and crew – all the people who made this happen and put a lot of energy and time into this event. It was great to see the 501st Legion in attendance, with garrisons from various countries, and so many ‘bad guys doing good’. It was also fun to see all the cosplayers and the kids admiring them. It was awesome to be a part of such a great event and meeting many wonderful and awesome people from all over the world.
If you want to have a look at more of what CEII offered, go to the official webpage (http://www.starwarscelebration.eu/Home/) or check out #starwarscelebration on Twitter.
Hope to see you at Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, CA in 2015.
May the Force be with you, always!
Petra B. Schubert
I just got back from the busy, insane, stressful, mind blowing, amazing, expensive anti-vacation that is San Diego Comic Con International and it was absolutely wonderful. Since coming back from my trip, a lot of people have asked me, “How was Comic Con?”. It’s almost impossible to answer that in short form. My initial response is usually either a one-worded “amazing” or “tiring”, but then throughout the day, I’ll supplement that with “Oh, I saw so-and-so. S/he was RIGHT NEXT TO ME OH MY GOD”. That’s kind of how it is: it all happens so fast and then you gradually process how awesome it was. In a week’s time you can turn to your friend and say something like, “remember that time we saw Spiderman and Deadpool talking smack about Superman’s costumes in the middle of the DC booth?” and then your friend will go, “Yeah,” and then with satisfied grins you will both kick off your shoes and enjoy a couple of cold ones.
There were panels and lines and celebrities. Panels full of celebrities and lines for the panels. Exclusive parties, impromptu parties, line parties, and booth parties. There were toys, games, cards, prints, t-shirts, and of course: costumes. There were plenty of polished costumes that clearly cost a lot of time and money. I have a thing for the costumes made of bed sheets and duct tape, the costumes that announce, “I don’t really art, but I just really love this character and I’m super excited to be here.” Walking around on the convention floor, I heard nothing but positive comments from con-goers to cosplayers. I love watching a cosplayer strike a pose when asked for a photo. That’s when the costume turns into a persona and it’s fascinating. I wanted to make it to the Masquerade this year, but like a lot of the plans I made prior to getting to SDCC this year, that fell through. Plans have a way of doing that at SDCC, but between backup plans and spur-of-the-moment adventures, fun has a way of happening anyway. I was thrilled to meet the well-known cosplayer Yaya Han (http://www.yayahan.com/), who was very friendly and gracious about signing prints and posing for photos. She was excited to talk about the upcoming SyFy series “Heroes of Cosplay” in which she is one of the judges. I got the chance to talk to reps from the Star Wars Rebel Legion (http://www.rebellegion.com/)
I’m still getting the hang of panels. This is my second SDCC, and my first year with a 4-day pass. It’s easy to get intimidated by the sheer volume of people and the ever-present long lines. It’s like Disneyland for nerds, but without the rides. Unless you count the shuttles from the convention center to the hotels. My friends and I put together the most intense, detailed, hour-by-hour spreadsheet of all the panels and events we were interested in doing. I think I actually got to maybe 10% of them. We didn’t factor in the travel time, which turns out is a factor even when the panels are on the same side of the convention center. We had this idea that we would get in the famed and feared Hall H line on Saturday at 3am to see the back-to-back Supernatural, Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, and Community panels. That idea seems more adorable than practical now. I talked to someone in the Hall H line who said they lined up for Sunday’s Hall H programs at 1:30pm on Saturday. I stumbled into a panel discussing the upcoming Ray Bradbury documentary “Live Forever.” The clips from the film and the crew’s experiences with Ray Bradbury were great to hear, and bonus: Edward James Olmos walked in right behind me and I totally played it cool. I saw the first US screening of an upcoming anime series called Star Blazers 2199. I am new to the world of anime, but this show was hitting all the right notes for me: spaceships, alien war, and apocalyptic science fiction. The Nerd HQ is a great alternative option for panels. Organized by Zachary Zevi (the star of Chuck), Nerd HQ sports a lounge full of game demos, couches, phone chargers, and an intimate 250 person panel space. I attended the “Mystery Panel” which included Zachary Levi, Rob Kazinsky (Pacific Rim), Nathan Fillion (Dracula 2000) and Alan Tudyk (A Knight’s Tale). This year’s lineup also boasted Joss Whedon, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock, and Tom Hiddleston among others. This year the “Conversations for a Cause” cost $22, all of which goes to help Operation Smile: a charity that provides surgeries to children suffering from cleft palates.
Celebrities are everywhere at Comic Con. Like, you really don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll see anyone famous, because while you’re worrying about that, Nathan Fillion will make out with Zachary Levi and then hand him a $50 bill when you’re not looking (true story). I suppose there are varying degrees of “celebrity,” but I find it thrilling to see the people whose work I enjoy on a daily basis nerding out about the same things I do. I saw Steven Moffatt walking the exhibit hall floor and then I proceeded to flip out. Adam Savage is known to walk the exhibit hall floor in full costume, giving out prizes to those who guess his identity. Comic book and webcomic authors and artists were abound, signing prints and merch. I love seeing my favorite web artists booths get busy. It’s like, yeah, the big movie panels are pretty cool, but I just talked to Brandon Bird (http://brandonbird.com/) about his artistic process, so I win. At one point I looked to my left and I saw Edward James Olmos for a second time and still totally kept it together, by the way. Then, I walked around the Quantum Mechanix booth, looked again, and I saw John Barrowman. That’s when I totally lost it. Oh, the best thing that’s ever happened to me happened this weekend at Wil Wheaton’s w00tstock. I walked in expecting the usual lineup of Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, and Paul and Storm with maybe some special guests thrown in because we were at SDCC. Honestly, I was expecting Felicia Day and that’s pretty much it. Well, Felicia didn’t turn up, but while I was waiting in line, George R.R. Martin passed directly in front of me, which caused me to simultaneously squeal and spurt things like “THAT’S THE GUY” and “THRONES” until my friends understood what I was talking about. Once the show started, this happened: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
I’m already planning for next year. SDCC is a thing I simply have to go to now every year for the forseeable future. It’s like a condition. It’s why the convention gets bigger every year. Sure, the crowds can be a pain, but it’s an amazing feeling to be among literally hundreds of thousands of people who have at least one thing in common with me. It’s a rare thing for us nerds/geeks/whatevers to have an in-person community, and I think that’s a big part of the magic of the con. The rest of the magic comes from booze-filled Camelbacks. See you next year at SDCC!
Yesterday, comic book fans flocked in droves to the Lam Research Theater at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, all headed for Image Expo. Promising to create a one-of-a-kind experience for fans to connect with comic creators, the event didn’t disappoint.
Expanding on the event’s theme of “What’s Next”, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson delivered a passionate keynote address to an audience of more than 500 eager fans. After describing his own experiences at Image and showing numerous charts of the independent publisher’s growth, Stephenson began bringing out guest after guest, listing off upcoming titles that had the audience applauding excitably nearly without pause.
Here’s what we can look forward to in the upcoming months from Image Comics:
Fans of The Walking Dead can rest easy. Kirkman has no plans to stop writing the series anytime soon.
In fact, with the tenth anniversary of his apocalyptic series coming soon, he revealed a new story arc, titled All-Out War, which will begin in October’s issue 115.
Focusing on the factions that formed among the survivors, All-Out War is aimed at telling the story of how civilization has started rebuilding. Kirkman said he was excited to begin exploring how people are finally living their lives, as opposed to just surviving.
All Out War will be a twelve-issue story arc, the longest of the series so far, and will have bi-weekly releases.
Brubaker announced that he will be pairing up again with his Captain America: The Winter Soldier collaborator Steve Epting for a dark new take on the spy/crime comic. He described Velvet as a Bond movie meets a Cold War scenario, featuring a female protagonist.
The story focuses on Velvet Templeton, a personal assistant at the world’s largest intelligence agency. She’s in her 40s, and and very few people know about her past as a field operative. Things get complicated when she has to leave her desk job to go back into the field, on the run from her own agents.
Brubaker has been wanting to write this project for the last 8 years and it shows in the way he talked about it. This is clearly a project of passion for him.
Issue #1 will be coming out in October.
J. Michael Straczynski
Straczynski discussed his work on Ten Grand with Ben Templesmith, as well as a new project called Sidekick, which he says he would never be able to release anywhere but at Image because he plans to take some liberties with the characters. “Well, out of all those things that I can’t do, let’s now go and do them.” Sidekick, a story of what happens when the superhero dies and the sidekick needs to forge his own identity, comes out in August.
Straczynski also noted that he would be reviving two former Marvel/Icon titles under his Joe’s Comics imprint, Dream Police and The Book of Lost Souls, drawn by Colleen Doran. With these additions, all of Straczynski’s creator-owned titles are now published by Image Comics under the Joe’s Comics line.
Straczynski also announced Alone, a six-issue miniseries with interiors and covers done by renowned artist Bill Sienkiewicz. Their goal is to “re-imagine and reinvent how a comic book works.”
Wiebe discussed his upcoming deal with the BBC to create a motion comic of Peter Panzerfaust, with characters voiced by Elijah Wood, Summer Glau and Ron Perlman. He said that the success of that has paved the way for a live action production of the same by the BBC.
Wiebe also talked about some new things in Rat Queens, which he described as his fantasy homage to Lord of the Rings, where the women kill monsters and then use the money to party. Wiebe noted the Rat Queens webcomic, which he releases on his facebook page and the Image Comics facebook page, and which deals with a new topic every month.
Fraction discussed Sattelite Sam, which is debuting this week, with art done by Howard Chaykin. The story is about a Howdy Doody-type tv host from the ’60s whose strange sex life is revealed after he dies. “Sex, death and live television.”
Fraction’s next Image title will be Sex Criminals, a story about a girl that can stop time when she has sex. She feels alienated from society until she meets a guy with the same power. They team up and begin committing crimes. Chip Zdarsky will be doing the art for Sex Criminals and it is due out in September.
Fraction also announced ODY-C, “The heaviest trip is the one back home.” A take on Homer’s Odyssey, it will be set in deep space and completely gender-swapped, with the lead being a young woman. Fraction says that he chose to write this so that his daughter could have a hero to look up for. Due in early 2014, art will be by Christian Ward.
After three years of writing exclusively as one of Marvel’s “Architects,” Remender is returning to Image Comics with two new titles.
Black Science, a “spiritual sequel to Fear Agents,” was inspired by Frank Frazetta art. This is a classic science fiction story where members of the anarchist league of science experiment with black science, drawn by Matteo Scalera with colors by Dean White, due out in November.
Deadly Class is a 1980s flashback to Remender’s own high school experiences in the hard rock/grunge scene in Seattle, except set in a school for budding assassins. Remender plans on “taking the metaphorical knife in your back and making it real.” Deadly Class will be slice of life stories.
Art by Wesley Craig with colorist Lee Loughridge, and variant covers by Jonathan Wayshak and Farel Dalrymple.
Aaron is excited to be back at Image, where he has the freedom to curse as much as he wants. Pairing up with artist Jason Latour, he’s releasing Southern Bastards, which he described as sort of ”The Untouchables versus Boss Hog” or “The Dukes of Hazard by the Coen Brothers on meth.” It will be about the local high school coach, who has won a lot of trophies in his prime and buried a lot of bodies. Southern Bastards, is going to be “about a lot of southern bastards,” which Aaron says both he and Latour know a lot about because they are both southern bastards themselves. The first issue is due sometime early next year.
Via video from his home in Edinburgh, Millar discussed the future of Jupiter’s Legacy, with Frank Quitely. The followup to that will be coming out in January 2014.
Millar also hopes to launch an entire line of books starting with one that is “as pivotal as Fantastic Four”, and which will kick off his ambitious plan to create an equivalent of the “Marvel Universe for the 21st century.” The first book in that line will be called MPH and will be drawn by Duncan Fegredo.
Stephenson wrapped the keynote with two more announcements:
In early 2014, Image will be publishing Noah, written by Darren Arronovsky and drawn by Niko Henrichon. Noah is a series of four original graphic novels adapting the upcoming film of the same name. The official synopsis is this:
“It was a world without hope, a world with no rain and no crops, dominated by warlords and their barbarian hordes. In this cruel world, Noah was a good man. Seasoned fighter, mage and healer but he only wanted peace for him and his family. Yet every night, Noah was beset by visions of an endless flood, symbolizing the destruction of all life. Gradually he began to understand the message sent him by the Creator. He had decided to punish the men and kill them until the last. But he gave Noah a last chance to preserve life on Earth.”
Image also announced that it had just relaunched its website.
Upgrades include easier navigation and purchase of comics, better graphics, and a sleek new look. But the big news was the introduction of downloadable digital comics. Fans are now able to be able to directly purchase their favorite digital comics in a variety of formats, both storable and DRM-free, for use on the computer, tablet or mobile device.
The current available comics are Jupiter’s Legacy #1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely and Scatterlands #1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard.
Recently, Forbes.com published an article about what to wear to E3. This article was was only aimed toward women, and was amazingly offensive. Now, if you click that link you’ll see that there’s a disclaimer at the top of the article. Hilariously, after the backlash they received, they removed the offending points. While I have to applaud them for listening to the feedback, I also find it appalling that they clearly didn’t do any research on the demographic they were trying to reach with that article to begin with – and the fact that they don’t stand by their opinions. Let’s see a quote from that original article before the edit:
If you’ve been to E3 before, you know the challenge. How do you convey credibility in promoting your game, your studio and yourself at the convention in a room full of guys gawking at larger-than-life, theme-park-like attractions and scantily clad ‘booth babes’?
Many women prefer to keep a low profile with “non booth babe” wear – like a baggy t-shirt and jeans. But in an industry trying to attract more female gamers, its worthwhile to spend some time thinking about how what you wear can help you stand out as the savvy gaming industry expert that you are.
Looks like someone just learned the term “booth babe.”
E3 may have come and gone, but there are still plenty of conventions planned for the rest of the year, and the fact that a company as prominent as Forbes would post something like this at all is important.
Women: your credibility is not defined by your wardrobe. Your credibility should be dependent on your merits, not your appearance. Of course specific situations will require a specific dress-code; in general, if you are good at what you do, it doesn’t matter if you have green hair and cleavage. People will listen when you speak. Do not allow anyone to treat you differently based purely on what you’re wearing. Especially at a convention.
Men (and woman, in fact): you should be treating people you encounter with equal respect, no matter what they’re wearing. All people. If you judge her by her t-shirt, you could be missing out on your new favorite artist. If you judge him by his facial piercings, who knows, you may lose the chance to meet to best programmer in the room. You do not get to slut-shame women or men for their bare skin or for cosplaying. Making snap judgments about someone based on their appearance will only make you lose out on that person’s best qualities.
On “Booth Babes”: it’s true that the gaming industry has a history of employing attractive women, dressing them scantily, and using them to bait young men into visiting their booths at cons. However, this is 2013, and these companies aren’t stupid. You will see a dramatic shift in the coming years of these companies hiring knowledgeable, personable people to represent their products. Do not assume that just because you see an attractive woman is at a booth at a convention means she’s only there to look pretty, and knows nothing about the brand she’s representing. After all, you wouldn’t see Jamie Dillion from Child’s Play or Barbara Dunkelman from RoosterTeeth at a convention, and assume they’re know-nothing booth babes, would you? No. They’re professional women who are integral parts of the companies they represent, and obtained their positions by being the best at what they do. Don’t let an antiquated gender idea sully your idea of how you want to present yourself, and certainly don’t let any silly slut-shaming prevent you from cosplaying your favorite character.
I think it’s time we start thinking more about having a good time at the conventions we attend, and worry less about being mistaken for booth babes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips that might actually help you while you attend a convention. Don’t worry, fashion geeks, I’ll still include a couple of outfits for inspiration.
Tips for Attending a Con:
- Wear Comfy Shoes. Throughout any convention, you will be on your feet for hours a day, usually multiple days in a row. Bring a pair of shoes that you won’t worry about getting scuffed up, stepped on by other people, or getting dirty. It’s also a good idea to carry a back-up just in case.
- Drink Plenty of Water and Don’t Forget to Eat. There is a ton of excitement involved in going to a con, and sticking to panel and presentation schedules can make for very little free time. Plan ahead, and take a look at what food options will be near you, set alarm reminders for mealtimes on your cell phone, and carry a bottle of water with you everywhere. You don’t want to wind up dizzy and tired by 4pm just because you forgot to eat lunch.
- Carry Business Cards. If you’re in the industry, or hoping to network in any way, bring plenty of business cards. Don’t be pushy about giving them out, but do be creative. Conventions can be the absolutely best place to hob-knob with fellow industry workers, and make some helpful friends. Make sure you have something to give them, and make it impressive.
- Bring A Bag. Hitting the booths, you’ll encounter a ton of fliers, cards, posters, and prints. This doesn’t even include the various memorabilia and items you may purchase while you’re there, or the personal items you may need to bring with you. Be smart, and bring something to carry those things in. A tote bag is a cheap, easy way to address this issue, but a messenger bag might be more durable and have more handy pockets.
- Things to Carry in That Bag: band-aids, snacks, water, cell phone, charger/extra battery, extra pair of shoes, light jacket, camera, deodorant, mini sewing kit. You’d be surprised how often these items might come in handy. It’s possible you’ll never need any of them, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have them. Sidenote about the camera: not all venues will let you bring in a camera, so check the rules of the event before attending (this actually goes for all items), but you never know when you might run into a photo op – either an amazing cosplay of your favorite video game character, or maybe your favorite actor. Come prepared, you may never get that opportunity again!
- Plan and Check in with Your Buddy. The buddy system isn’t just for elementary school. It’s easy to lose your group in a large crowd, and people can easily go missing. If you’re with a friend or a group of friends, plan ahead to meet at certain places at certain times. Make sure everyone gets where they’re going safely, and be sure everyone has everyone else’s phone numbers in case of emergencies.
- Plot Your Course. There’s a lot to see at a convention, and you don’t want to miss out on some key opportunities. Figure out what panels you want to attend, and buy any applicable tickets early. Plot out which booths you absolutely want to visit, and find them on the floor map. Allow for plenty of time in line – it could very well be hours. You don’t need to be militant about your planning, but if you have a general plan in place, you’ll be more likely to see everything that you want to.
- Bring a Book. You may have to sit in line for a very long time at a busy con. Bring something to keep yourself occupied – whether it’s a good novel, a thick graphic novel, or a Sudoku book, make sure you won’t be bored. Or, you could always make new friends around you!
- Shower and Deodorant are Your Best Friends! Personal hygiene should be common sense, but you’d be surprised. If you’ve ever been to a packed convention, you truly know the stink of body odor. Try to be considerate of those around you, and boost your own confidence by showering every day, and wearing deodorant and clean clothes.
Tips for Dressing at a Con:
Now, we’re not going to tell you that you shouldn’t show skin, dress provocatively, or really dress any way beyond how you want to in public. That’s nobody’s place but yours. However, we can give you some words of wisdom about being prepared for an event in how you dress. This tips go for both men and women.
- Check the Weather. Look at the forecast for the days and locations that you’ll be out at a con. Even if it’s an indoor convention, keep travel and after-events in mind. If it’s going to rain, bring a small umbrella just in case. If it’s going to be cold later in the evening, bring a light jacket to be on the safe side.
- Wear Layers. A packed convention hall can get gross and sweaty in an instant. If you wear a couple thin layers, you can add or remove them to adjust to your comfort level at any moment.
- Flexible Clothing is Key. You’ll be moving around a lot, and don’t want your clothes to be restrictive. Wear something you’ll be comfortable in either sitting in a convention hall for a couple hours, or running to catch a bus.
- Keep Your Items Close. Just like tips for visiting new cities, keep your personal belonging close to your body. While we hope everyone we come in contact with will be honest, you still need to account for the possibility that you might drop or lose something. If you have a bag that closes, or pockets that zip, use them.
- Plan Ahead with Costumes. If you’re wearing a costume, make sure it’s something you’re not going to get hot, sweaty, or uncomfortable after a few hours. Also make sure you build yourselves some pockets or a clever carrying case (for example: if you’re cosplaying Chell from Portal, maybe make yourself a purse in the shape of a companion cube). Also, make sure any items you intend to bring to enhance your costume don’t go against the convention rules. If you’re cosplaying Gordon Freeman, it’s probably best not to bring a crowbar. You may also want to bring a change of clothes in case of emergency or if you want to change for after parties.
Any way you go, let your geek flag fly. As promised, here are a couple con-inspired outfits that might help you build your own ensemble.
Batman Inspired Con Outfit (note the tennis shoes for running around, the bag for collecting items, and the simple accessories):
Seattle, WA – The versatile and recognizable Michael Biehn (“Kyle Reese” The Terminator 1 & T2: Judgment Day, ”Johnny Ringo” from Tombstone, ”Hicks” from Aliens) is the third celebrity guest announced for the upcoming 12th annual Emerald City Comicon taking place on March 28th – 30th, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center. He will be appearing all three days!
Michael Biehn is one of those prolific actors and familiar faces that makes it impossible not to have enjoyed at least one of his films. He is arguably best known to mainstream audiences as bad guy “Johnny Ringo” in the cult western classic Tombstone which co-starred Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell. But fans of Sci-Fi fare will know him as both futuristic hero “Kyle Reese” in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day as well as space marine “Cpl. Hicks” in Aliens, all three films by director James Cameron. Biehn’s partnership with Cameron would continue in the 1989 underwater adventure The Abyss.
Biehn has played a Navy Seal on the big screen on no less than three occasions: the aforementioned The Abyss, the 1990 film Navy Seals co-starring Charlie Sheen and the Michael Bay action romp The Rock starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage.
Getting his start on television shows such as James at 16, Logan’s Run and Family, Biehn ended up with a recurring role on the critically acclaimed cop drama Hill Street Blues as “Officer Randall Buttman.” He quickly found work on the big screen in the 1983 military piece The Lords of Discipline. He also has an uncredited role as the athlete “Mike” in the 1978 musical Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
In recent years, Biehn has returned to television with appearances on Criminal Minds, Adventure Inc., The Magnificent Seven and Law and Order: Criminal Intent, while continuing to tackle roles on the big screen in films including K2, Quentin Tarrantino’s Planet Terror, and Megiddo: The Omega Code 2. He can next me seen in the upcoming cable series 24 Hour Rental, about a group of petty criminals that operate a shady video rental store.
Biehn was born in Anniston, Alabama. After moving Arizona as youth, he took part in the high school drama program at Lake Havasu City before eventually studying acting at the University of Arizona.
Also attending with Biehn will be his wife, actress Jennifer Blanc, best known for her work as “Kendra Maibaum” on the cult television series by James Cameron Dark Angel starring Jessica Alba and as “Kate Bishop” on the FOX drama Party of Five. Other credits include Touched By Angel, Veronica Mars, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Both Biehn and Blanc appear together in the independent 2011 film The VIctim, which they also produced.
Biehn and Blanc join previously announced celebrity guests Nichelle Nichols (“Lt. Uhura” from Star Trek) and Richard Dean Anderson (star of MacGyver, Stargate SG-1). Roughly two dozen celebrity guests in all will be announced for this spectacular weekend, in addition to hundreds of popular comic guests, exhibitors and several exciting new offerings and surprises.
Coming off of a sold out 2013 show, tickets for Emerald City Comicon 2014 will be in high demand when they go on sale September 1st, 2014!
With a record turnout of 64,000 patrons in 2013, Emerald City Comicon consistently ranks as one of the Top 10 most attended conventions of its kind in North America as well as increasingly becoming the favorite show among many fans, comic guests, journalists and celebrities.
Established in 2003, Emerald City Comicon, while renowned worldwide for its growing popularity, continues to remain the Northwest’s premier comic book and pop culture convention founded in the belief that investing in local artists, companies and individuals is a lasting recipe for success and longevity.
Planning on hitting up Stan Lee’s Comikaze this year? You should be. This year looks like it’s going to be spectacular. Just the comic, scifi, gaming, fantasy, anime, and horror expo you’d expect to see from Stan Lee. Take a look into what’s in store for this year:
I love that Dot Com will be there. I hope he gets plenty of “No one can hear you, Dot Com!” jokes.
All in all, it looks like a fantastic lineup, and tickets are now on sale. Beyond that, we have some insider info that they’re having a 72-hour sale on tickets right now. So if you’re planning on going, now’s the time to check out your options – weekend passes, in particular, are a great deal today.