Book Review: Chicks Dig Gaming ed. by Brozek, Pearson, Smith?, & Rabe
Review by Prof. Jenn
Books of this nature can easily fall into the trap of redundancy. Witness my review for Queers Dig Timelords, another anthology of this ilk, and indeed in this series. Chicks Dig Gaming does not, however, fall prey to the trap. The collection of essays span from wicked satire to sweet nostalgic memoir, to a celebration of gaming in general or certain games, a recounting of a particular gaming event, to analysis of a game or game trope, a recounting of the history of video games, to the ever-important discussion of the unfair and even dangerous treatment of women in the gaming world. This collection doesn’t only discuss video games, but board games, LARPing and pen-and-paper RPGs are discussed as well.
My problem with Queers…, as you recall, was that the essays all had the same tone and even the same subject matter (Doctor Who changed my life because…). This, especially read in big sections in one sitting, started to grate on the nerves, or at least became repetitive fawning. Chicks...doesn’t do this, as each essay has an author voice distinct from every other, and the topics at hand vary widely. I commend the editors for this, as it’s an entertaining as well as an informative read throughout.
Highlights of this collection include: a satirical look at the lack of boys in video gaming and what we can do about it, a paralleling of Mario to a bodhisattva and the Mario games to Buddhism, how one author who didn’t like video games at all tried Portal, and a delightfully written description of how another author learned to get cutthroat in Eve Online.
Bottom Line: this collection is highly recommended for anyone who loves any games.
This two-part episode packed in a lot of information, while somehow raising more questions than it answered. Look out for AHS Murder House spoilers ahead.
First, it’s time to celebrate, because I was actually right about something! One of my (many) speculations about Tate is true–he is Constance’s son! That small tidbit was overshadowed by the questions about him brought up in this Halloween two-parter. For example, in one of the scenes he was wearing the rubber suit. Does that mean he is always the guy in the rubber suit? I’m hoping not, because gross. There’s a weird discrepancy with him. He seems to understand the minutiae of the Murder House, and appears to be able to manipulate some of it to his will (as in the episode in which he scared Violet’s bully). But then we are introduced to the dead high-schoolers who claim to have been murdered by him, and he unravels into genuine bafflement. It’s difficult to reconcile these two parts of Tate. More importantly, is he one of the many walking dead on the show? (I’m guessing probably yes).
I was absolutely shocked by Addie’s death in this episode. Addie was mowed down by a car whilst trick-or-treating, in such a casual way it almost seemed an afterthought. I wonder if it will ever be revealed how the dead function in the show. Will Addie be able to come back because Constance pulled her to the Harmons’ lawn? If she can come back, it seems like it could be difficult to keep this secret from Tate.
Hayden returned in this episode. I find her storyline tired, but I did like her better as a vengeful spirit, and the scenes between her and Vivien were powerful and needed. Vivien is really starting to get on my nerves. I’m glad that she finally had the guts to kick Ben out, but SHE was the one who wanted to leave that house, and with good reason, so why was HE the one who left? Wasn’t that a good opportunity to get her and Violet out of there? Why do the characters in AHS have that typical horror-themed lack of good judgement?
Wild speculation time. Because I can’t take any normal people for granted, I’m going to say that there’s something off about the security guy who Vivien is becoming attached to. I fully expect everyone to die by the end of this season, but I still have my fingers crossed that Violet will make it out.
Addie and the dismembered baby delivered to the original house owners bring the House Death Toll to 16.
I’ll start off by saying that I was not expecting to like American Horror Story as much as I seem to. The first episode was suspenseful and exhilarating and seemed to pack a, well, mansion’s worth of story into 52 minutes. I was going to start out with two episodes, but ended up accidentally watching three. That’s a good sign.
(Obviously if you’re somehow like me, hiding under an AHS-less rock, you will have events from the first three episodes spoiled for you in this post).
I took notes as I watched, so here are a few samples of my immediate reactions to scenes:
– STUFF IN JARS ALWAYS BAD.
– “We’re the Adams family now,” was a perfect line. I love Violet.
– Tate is the boy from the crying GIFs! He’s already crying and I’m already happy.
– This guy is naked a lot.
– Masturcrying, this show is brutal.
I was completely mistaken when I assumed the show would be episodic horror stories, and I’m ecstatic that I was so wrong. Each episode does seem to have a loose theme of its own–the introduction to the Harmon family in episode one, the serial killer saga in episode two, and the backstories of a handful of other characters in episode three. But the show is ripe with underlying plot and momentum, with a slow burn of suspense rolling underneath it all.
Here’s how the characters are ranked in my estimation currently:
Violet Harmon – I can’t help it, I love her. Her sarcasm, blunt honesty, and unique style are great. She also won points expressing her preference for the East coast.
Moira- I find her incredibly interesting, especially that women see her as a strange old lady and men see her as an object of lust. The men “see what they want to see; women, however, see into the soul of a person,” line was perfect. I am interested to know what kind of spirit she is, and how that works in this universe, since it seems strange that she died as a young woman but now shows age. I hope that is explored later.
Tate- I can’t help it. I adore him. It’s not surprising. I have a thing for screwed up young dude characters. Most of my speculation has to do with him so more on that later.
Vivien Harmon- She’s ending up on the middle of this list and that seems about right. There are some things to like about her as a main character, but she’s a bit bland, too. She seems to have the best instincts out of all of the Harmons–but not quite good enough. The pregnancy story line kind of bothers me.
Larry- Idk I guess this show is great for me because I like all the psychos? I think he might actually be trying to help, so that’s nice, and he reminded me of Mr. Rogers in that sweater vest in the flashback of him killing his family, so points for that creepy imagery.
Adelaide- I don’t like her or really know what to make of her yet. Her supernatural connection to the house is appropriately creepy. I like that she tried to help the Harmons that one time.
Constance- What to say! I love to hate her? I don’t know what to make of her. Mostly I’m curious about why she was trying to poison Violet with those cupcakes. Unless she knew about the hostage situation and everything that would be happening? It would be neat if she has some clairvoyant connection to the house like Addy does.
Hayden- Glad that whole situation was taken care of quickly (thanks, Larry!) I felt bad for the situation she was in, but her unraveling mental state while trying to cling to
Jerkface Ben was just awkward.
Ben Harmon- Are we supposed to like him? Does anyone root for this guy? I’m assuming there will be lots of people dying this season and I kinda hope he’s first.
So let’s throw out some wild speculation. Tate. All the supernatural elements are linked to the house, so I’m curious about his connection to it. When he attacked Leah in the basement there were flashes of a monster that looked a bit gobliny to me. That was the same monster that killed the twins in the first scene of the show. So, I’m wondering if he is that goblin-thing? Or perhaps has some control over it? I’ve also briefly entertained the idea that he is Constance’s son who was mentioned at some point, especially since they all seem to know each other.
I wonder if it’s possible to get through this season with a Harmon or two still intact. Since this is the Murder House season, I will leave off with the current House Death Toll: 14.
The selected show is American Horror Story and I am proud (see: slightly ashamed) to say that I know next to nothing about it. Here’s what I know:
1. The cover art on Netflix is pretty sweet
3. A tip that each season is entirely different
With the disclaimer that I really, honestly, know almost nothing about American Horror Story, I will share some thoughts about what I expect. I’ve only recently started watching Supernatural, and I had previously lumped the two together. I was imagining two shows with episodic plots that revolve around rehashings of traditional stories of horror and mythology. Which is, roughly, how Supernatural started before it deviated from this formula and found its own plot-based momentum.
I’m expecting to be surprised by AHS, but what can one expect when one is expecting a surprise?
I’ve set a few goals for this blind watch-through of the show. Firstly, I am going to try, with what little willpower I have, to remain spoiler free. (I am expecting an inevitable decline into curiosity that I will be unable to quell, as I almost always spoil shows for myself, but I will try). If I can do that, then there is some hope that my speculations will continue to amuse long-term fans. I may catch myself up on the fandom’s thoughts midway, or once I’ve completed the season. I’ll be posting reactions a few episodes at a time.
I’m especially curious about the characters. Who will I get attached to? Who will annoy me? Who are the bad guys? Is evil in the show unequivocal or dynamic? I don’t even have the faintest idea who any of the characters in the show are, except for one teary-eyed youth whose scenes seem to end up as GIF-sets that I see around.
What will happen? I don’t know! And may my ignorance be ever in your favor, because it should be a little amusing at least.
Every fandom member has had this happen. Suddenly you’ve run out of words on the last page, or the screen goes black and the credits begin to roll. He’s dead. Or maybe that other character that you finally learned to like was just kidnapped by that really bad person. Heck, maybe Billy just fell down the well again. It doesn’t matter. As you realize that there is no more fandom input for your desperate brain to consume for at least another year, your insides feel like they’ve been hollowed out, your gaze is devoid of anything even remotely resembling humanity, and eight hours later you find yourself crawling out from under the covers with less finesse than a one-legged zombie. Your life feels like it’s over. You can’t possibly wait to know what happens next. Your characters are in peril now. Driving to work, you imagine a thousand different conclusions to the ruthless cliffhanger that the fandom writers left you with. Your heart is twisting in your chest, your brain has turned to mush as it tries to find logical conclusions for the lives of those in your fictional universe, and then you make it to work or school and everyone is walking around like nothing even happened. This post will tell you how to react to the real world after something catastrophic has happened in your fandom.
STEP ONE: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE
So, you’ve made it to the desk. That’s good. You can’t be certain that it’s your desk because your eyes are probably filled with a solid liter of unshed tears, or maybe you’ve just put your basic navigation skills on pause because your brain needs to devote the entirety of its intellectual capacity to determining every possible outcome for your beloved characters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, anyone?), but that doesn’t really matter right now. You managed to make it to the right building (hopefully), and now you’re sitting at a desk looking like you know what you’re doing. This is key. People like to trust in what they see. If they see you sitting at a desk, they will think, “oh, they are working.” If they see you sitting at a desk with blank, soulless eyes, they will think, “oh, they are working hard.” Just keep this up. Replay every scene from the previous night over and over again in your mind, like a poorly pirated DVD titled “I’ll never be happy again.”
Note: Looking as if all of your hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces is another successful approach. In fact, this might even get you invited out by the people who don’t know you well enough to know that “out” for you is actually a stealth mission involving pajamas and a late-night emergency pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
STEP TWO: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING
It’s been about an hour now, and while you have mentally visited every detail of the episode multiple times, you haven’t actually moved. People are starting to stare. Then again, maybe you’re just being paranoid. Even if last night’s show ending did feel a bit like a personal attack against you by the writers. Either way, you’ve got to do something and make it look productive. Your best bet is to start typing away on the computer. No one ever questions the work ethic of someone in a typing frenzy. The important part is consistency. The more you type, the harder you’ll appear to be working. The hardest part is that you’ll have to move despite the fact that you feel more fragile than one of those burnt sheep left behind by one of Dany’s dragons. The good news is that moving is really all that you have to do to look productive. So, start typing. You can type anything. Why not write out every last detail that you can remember from the beginning of the series until now and begin rating them on the likelihood that they’ll help you figure out what the writers are going to do with your characters before they even write the rest of it? Better yet, why not write a letter riddled with vitriol to those evil, soul-eating writers detailing everything that they’ve ever done to bring misery to your life? You’ve got almost seven hours of work left. You could get in at least twenty pages by then, right? Besides, it’s not like your boss ever actually asks for a finished product on whatever day it is.
STEP THREE: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BOSS ASKS FOR A FINISHED PRODUCT
So, your boss walks up and asks if you’ve completed that really important sample-paper-product-thingy that he asked you to finish the day before. You know, before it happened. Your first thought is that you can’t believe how insensitive he is. And, you’re right. He clearly doesn’t care that you were up all night clutching a pillow and pleading with an empty room to just spare this one character. This is the moment where you need to realize that a complete lack of empathy is actually a prerequisite for most management positions, and act accordingly. It’s time to soothe the human-hating beast so you can avoid anyone realizing that you’ve been rendered incapable of carrying out work tasks by what the non-believers call “fiction.” The safest approach is to make it seem like you’re horribly afraid of letting them down. Using phrases like “I just want this to be perfect for you” or “I want to make sure that it’s up to your standards” will calm the dreaded management figure by making them feel important and like they deserve the best. This will buy you more time to come to terms with the trauma that you’ve suffered. It might also get you a raise.
STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATING WITH HUMANS THAT ARE NOT IN A CURRENT STATE OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Some irrelevant, non-character figure walks up and says some sort of greeting in a language that is distinctly not I-couldn’t-sleep-last-night-because-feels. It’s probably english. But, like, the kind that isn’t tainted with misery and sorrow. So, what do you do? First, go for the nod. A casual, I’m-not-falling-apart nod. Then, redirect the conversation immediately by asking them some random question that has to do with their thoughts or life. After they begin droning on about their kids or hobbies like the selfish, non-fandom members that they are, occasionally nod and murmur “uh huh” until they finish their coffee and walk away. Following this, promptly give yourself five solid minutes of mourning time dedicated to your characters. It’s important for them to feel your support right now. You just have to make it through this one little day, and you can get back to them. It’s one day of work. You’ve had many of them. You can do it. It’ll be easy, right? You won’t give up. You’re a survivor.
STEP FIVE: GIVING UP ON REAL LIFE BECAUSE YOUR FANDOM NEEDS YOU
You’ve made it to lunch, but the pain won’t stop. And, really, how could it? As the fog of shock fades and the reality of what happened begins to set in, you’re actually feeling worse. Pretending that you’re a member of the real world just isn’t working. Your characters are hurting. You’re hurting. You need to go home and binge-watch every episode ever made to remind yourself of happier times. Immediately. The timing is right. You just need to carry that tuna fish and jelly sandwich (don’t judge yourself for the error in food preparation, you were still in shock then) to the bathroom, produce your best imitation of a wounded, middle-aged man that’s been forced to watch reality TV all day, and throw it in. For added effect, rub some water on your face and walk out letting every inch of your fandom pain show. The non-believers will misinterpret this as food poisoning. Once this happens, mumble something about needing to go home, and then make your exit. The second you pass through the office doors, run home. Run like you have red hair and the king just died, very publicly, from poisoning. There is nothing else right now. There is only fandom. You can feel guilty about it later.
Editor Scott Allie and his crew have created a grand tribute volume that will delight fans. Within this 137 page handiwork we encounter the superb art of the man that has been inventively drawing Hellboy for 20 years, Mike Mignola. This opus invites the fan to view the interiors of Hellboy evolution.
Among the exceptional pages are covers like Hellboy: Wake the Devil #2, The Goon #7 and Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #4. Mignola’s genius is displayed as we view sketches for an unfinished Hellboy painting and then the unfinished watercolor painting. We are given an equal appreciation for the coloring of Dave Stewart, as we view his work, especially with the inclusion of the Trickster Print, and Hellboy in Hell front covers.
This is a welcome addition to the Hellboy body of work, but it is not a sequel to Art of Hellboy (released back in 2003). It is a tender tribute to the integral, unique work Mike Mignola has created over these 20 years. Lighting struck the pencil, when Mignola created a downward shoulder, trench coat wearing colossus that we adore as he roughs his way through his world of monsters with humor and one massive fist.
This collection reminds us how fresh originality, can evolve and continue to inspire while entertaining the reader. Can’t wait to see what Mike Mignola has in store for the next 20 years. Hellboy The First Twenty Years is a must have for every shelf. Happy 20th Hellboy!
“Aw, shoot. I got my hat and forgot my gat…” (image via )
Being fanatic about real-life gangsters is a touchy subject. Following the lives of say, Al Capone, Griselda Blanco or Carlo Gambino is an interesting read, for sure. Until your stomach starts to twist a bit. Luckily, there’s been a whole host of fictional mobsters to captivate our imaginations and deep-seated need to be bad to the bone. These are personal favorites and there’s a noticeable lack of anyone named Corleone or Soprano listed on here (though, to be fair, I considered Tom Hagan and Sylvio Dante)…
(Image via Wikipedia)
Mega-sized supervillain Wilson Fisk, otherwise known as the Kingpin, is a badass among badasses within the Marvel universe. Stan Lee’s creation came to life in 1967 and has since gone up against Spiderman, Daredevil and the Punisher, among others. The Kingpin doesn’t possess superhuman powers. It’s simply his brute strength and tactical mind that contribute to his masterful Machiavellian scheming. Even as an enemy to the reigning Maggia and terrorist group HYDRA, the crushing fists of the Kingpin are nothing to scoff at. His ‘look’ has been reappropriated by Hollywood at large: we now expect all gangsters to be fat, bald and toting a cigar.
(Image via MovieCrazed)
Martin Scorsese clearly loves gangster culture more than I ever will. He’s crafted a life out of shining light on the decadent underworld of every era. In Mean Streets, a fresh-faced Robert Deniro plays Johnny Boy, a reckless, goofy hothead with a rather visceral swagger for a small-time thug. He practically charms his way off the screen as the strutting, obnoxious sidekick to Harvey Keitel’s straight man. At the risk of sounding superficial, my favorite thing about the character is the way he looks. Between the jaunty hats, plaid suit coats, scruffy locks and one of the biggest guilty grins to grace the silver screen, I’d be in love…if I didn’t want to punch him in the face.
(Image via EmpireOnline)
Motor-mouthed, limping Kevin Spacey wins for simply being renowned as a semi-fictional gangster, inside a work of fiction. In 1997’s The Usual Suspects, tales swirl about international heavy, Keyser Soze, throughout the course of the unfolding plot. It’s hard for me to think back to fifteen years ago, when I didn’t know the ending to this movie, but I’m pretty sure it caught me off guard. Surprise plot twists aside, Keyser Soze is the kind of omnipotent, grudge-holding villain that makes for cinema gold. He shows true gangsters are all about the long game. Though, if he weren’t simply a small-time crook, this paragraph would definitely be about Benicio del Toro’s character instead.
Jabba the Hutt
(Image via Wikipedia)
Jabba the Hutt is totally gangster. Star Wars’ space-slug hoodlum is ‘our kind of scum’. Plus, his hard-partying palace is my kind of joint. I read somewhere that it took six separate operators to portray the worm-like warlord at any given time. Rumored to have been based on Orson Welles in his obese later years, this intergalactic thug is surrounded by packs of interesting groupies, followers and slaves. Salacious Crumb is no Paulie Walnuts, but hey, you take ‘em where you can.
(Image via HowsYourRobot)
The soft-spoken Los Pollos Hermanos kingpin put a new spin on gangster gravitas. Gustavo Fring ran a tight ship. Very few actors can walk the line between polite and threatening – Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito drew that line and silently tap-danced on it. His calm demeanor was enchanting and his cool, aloof manner most unnerving. Though he dies at the hands of protagonist Walter White, his character was the true professional of the whole bunch, displaying zero ego and maintaining perfect posture.
Lydia Mondy is a freelance writer with absolutely zero ‘gangster’ qualities. Unless you count her penchant for pinstripes and bourbon. You can find her blogging about everything from her Jem obsession to the big business behind all things ‘geeky
The Walking Dead is back! This is reason enough to celebrate, but it’s even more exciting now that we have seen the premiere episode from new showrunner Scott Gimple. The season 3 finale was packed with super-intense drama, but this new season isn’t picking up directly after the showdown with the Governor at Woodsbury. Instead, it seems like a month or two has passed since the end of the Woodsbury settlement with the Woodsbury survivors blending with Rick’s group. Everyone has a role in this expanded society at the prison and it seems like things are going pretty smoothly (for once). Instead of Dictator Rick, we have a ruling council that discusses the issues facing the survivors. Additionally, the roles that people have been assigned seem to suit them. Their manufactured society is functioning well, which takes pressure off of the individuals. There are enough adults so that not everyone is needed for high-risk ventures into the outside world. Glenn and Maggie talk about the possibility of having a child and a life at the prison, now that the environment is more stable. Even Carl is doing kid things like playing, reading comic books, and talking to other children.
The two big plot points of the premiere are Daryl’s group expedition to the big Target/Walmart type shop and Rick’s encounter with a stranger in the woods. It seems like Daryl’s competence is making the group more confident in their outside world maneuvers. The group’s trip to the store for supplies seems to go really well until newcomer Bob Stookey confronts his alcoholic demons a little too harshly in the booze aisle and causes the wine rack to come crashing down on him. Unbeknownst to the survivors but knownst to us, there are a good number of walkers on the roof of the store, along with a fallen helicopter. The crash of the wine rack attracts the horde and the roof gives up, causing the walkers to fall from the sky into the store. There is lots of head squishing, skin peeling and other awesomely gory gore. The cutie that Beth was flirting with gets eaten because that’s just how it goes. The crashed helicopter on the roof finally falls into the store basically ruining the good thing the survivors had going with this seemingly fully stocked warehouse store.
Back to Rick, who is now pursuing simpler goals like becoming a good pig farmer. He is taking care of Carl and baby Judith, still healing from Lori’s loss and his temporary loss of sanity. He encounters a woman while gathering things away from the prison. She’s a lone survivor and begs Rick for help. Rick, thankfully, is a lot more hesitant to help a fellow survivor than perhaps he would have been pre-Woodsbury. I don’t know why he chooses to follow her at all, but Rick is Rick and so he demands that if the woman and her husband want to come back with him, he has to meet her husband first. Big shocker: the woman is actually crazy and was just looking to feed Rick to her now zombified husband. Rick gets away and back to the prison where he reflects on how close he came to her fate. It makes sense that Rick would take pity on the woman and let her have her wish, which was to be with her husband as a walker. She was so obsessed with her husband’s fate that she gave up living for herself – literally – she kills herself in front of Rick. Rick realizes how close he came to losing it completely in the last season, and while he still can’t seem to catch a break, he seems to be more conscious of his health and his role in the group.
What I guess will be a major plot in this upcoming season is the mysterious disease that first took the pig and then the bespectacled youth. I don’t know why there wasn’t a scene with Herschel the vet checking out the pig before it died. This disease seems to act very quickly, within a day, starting with flu-like symptoms that worsen until the infected is dead. How this disease was introduced to the prison group should be interesting. Maybe it is a tool of the Governor, who is still lurking about. Maybe it involves the CDC somehow. Either way, I predict we are going to lose a lot of friends. I also predict that some characters will be conveniently immune to this plague.
This first episode sets up a lot in its 43 minutes, from subtle exposition to new dangers to our favorite group of survivors. I appreciate the showing rather than telling that is going on in terms of more subtle storytelling. I feel like the Walking Dead has become more intellectual in just that first episode and I sincerely hope it continues the trend. Lori and Andrea are gone, Tyrese is a member of the prison (and one of my favs from the comics), Carol and Daryl have the most adorable relationship ever, and Michonne has a cool horse and more screen time. I feel like it can only get better from here.
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).
Are you tired of buying those boring sexy shirtless firefighter calendars year after year? Don’t you wish there were something new, different, and perhaps a bit geeky? Wouldn’t it be cool if “Mr. November” was dressed up as Commander Shepard? If the answer to any or all of those questions was “heck yes!”, then you need to check out this Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/954587867/men-vs-cosplay-2014-gaming-calendar-project).
The Men vs Cosplay Kickstarter project aims to produce a 12 (or maybe 18 month!) calendar featuring some of the best the male cosplay world has to offer. There are several high profile cosplayers participating in the calendar, such as Sylar Warren, Bill Doran, and Cap Santiago to name a few. At this point, the project is fully funded, but there are reach goals set. There are several backer levels, but $20 will get you a calendar. The funding period closes on Sept. 6, 2013.
You can find Men Vs Cosplay in a lot of places around the internet, including:
Their website: http://www.menvscosplay.com/
and Tumblr: http://menvscosplay.tumblr.com/
Aside from the Kickstarter project, they’re a pretty fun bunch to follow because of the constant high quality male cosplay photos.