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.
I don’t like to write negative reviews, I really don’t. Typically if I do not like something to the point that I cannot find something positive I will elect to just not review it. I know that some people think all press is good press, but I don’t like to tear people down especially since a number of the things I read for review are from small indie publishers..
That being said, I could not in good conscience not share my thoughts on the Free Comic Book Day issue of Steam Wars. I was so excited for this title, a parody of something that I LOVE (Star Wars) combined with something else that I love (Steampunk). I had really high hopes, sadly what I got was beyond disappointing.
For starters, I was unimpressed by the artwork, it wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t what I would consider good. I did enjoy the anime style art for the Princess Leia character, Duchess Imoen. Unfortunately, that’s where the good stops with the Duchess. The source character, Princess Leia is a strong, confident and capable woman. She has been one of my heroes since I was a child and what was done with her in this comic was beyond unacceptable.
Duchess Imoen is a classic, helpless “damsel in distress” who has to rely on Captain Hansel Lowe to save her time and time again. The two times that she picks up a weapon her skill is attributed to “beginner’s luck”. She is treated horribly by Hansel, and just takes it like the good little girl she is written to be. I wanted to scream.
The other character imitations included were Darth Vader, C3P0, Han Solo, Chewbacca & Luke. The aforementioned Hansel Lowe is a disgraceful and disrespectful imitation of Han Solo down to calling Imoen “Highness” and the like, but he treats her in a way that I could never envision Han treating Leia.
The Chewbacca character is a bear called Smokey who has these strange mechanical attachments on his arms that might be cool if used differently. The Darth Vader character is called Lord Baron, which I found to be the laziest character name I’ve come across in a long time.
Luke is never named. Instead of being a Jedi he is a Quantum Dragoon and has an electric sword called a Storm Foil. The artwork on him is pretty good as it is on Duchess Imoen.
The C3P0 character is somewhat odd, he’s a snarky, pipe smoking, wine drinking Victorian gentleman named CL-335, but he doesn’t add much to the story.
I could have looked past all the cheese of the other characters and been ok with the comic, perhaps even have liked it. However, the fact that they made the decision to take a strong, self saving princess and turn her into a simpering helpless girl is unforgivable to me. Princess Leia deserves to be treated so much better in any incarnation parody or not.
This treatment of a character based on Princess Leia is perfect example of the the larger issues facing women in comics. There is only one female character in the story and she is entirely reliant on the men around her to survive. The fact that she is based on such an amazingly strong and competent character just adds insult to injury. We need more strong females in comics, not more damsels in distress.
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!
MORE THAN 5,000 FANS EXPECTED AT SIXTH ANNUAL LEAKYCON FOR
ONE OF FANDOM’S LARGEST CELEBRATIONS OF EVERYTHING GEEKY
Fantasy film, television and book convention to be held July 30-August 3 in Orlando
If you know how to destroy a horcrux, what to do with a TARDIS and who Sam, Dean and Castiel are, then chances are you are headed to Orlando this summer for the sixth annual LeakyCon, one of the largest and most recognized conventions for fans of fantasy films, television shows and books. LeakyCon will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida July 30-August 3. Tickets are on sale now at www.LeakyCon.com.
Attendees can participate in programming that caters specifically to them and meet a community of like-minded enthusiasts. LeakyCon includes a wide array of special events, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, workshops, live performances, music concerts, celebrity meet-and-greets and a marketplace with a variety of vendors. Attendees will get a chance to meet their favorite authors, take pictures with celebrities from film and television and have 5 days of nerdy fun.
This year’s LeakyCon will also feature a special private event at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando. The new attraction will be closed to the general public and available only to LeakyCon attendees, who will have an exclusive opportunity to see the Harry Potter-themed park.
In addition to the main convention, LeakyCon offers a special literary track with programming focused on books, featuring hands-on sessions and events with some of today’s most popular authors for teens and young adults.
Special guests to-date for this year’s event include: Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (Mina Lima), graphic designers responsible for the visual look of the Harry Potter films; John Green, author (“Looking For Alaska,” “The Fault in our Stars”); Scarlett Byrne, actress (Pansy Parkinson in three Harry Potter films; Jon Cozart, YouTube sensation; Joe Moses, actor (“A
Very Potter Musical”); Tessa Netting, Broadway performer (“Billy Elliott”) and creator of popular YouTube parody videos (“HELLO-Harry Potter Book of Mormon”); Laurie Halse Anderson, author (“Speak,” “Prom,” “Wintergirls”); Holly Black, author (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”); Rainbow Rowell, author (“Eleanor & Park,” “Fangirl”). Musical acts scheduled to appear include Alex Carpenter and Harry and the Potters (Paul and Joe DeGeorge). Additional special guests and musical acts will be announced regularly leading up to the event.
“LeakyCon creates memorable crossroads between stories, those who love them and those who create them,” said Melissa Anelli, co-founder and director of LeakyCon. “This is all about being a fan and celebrating being nerdy and geeky in a fun, positive environment; it’s the ultimate outlet for fans to embrace their passions.”
Past events have included special guests from the Harry Potter films, “The Hunger Games,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” “Glee,” “Supernatural,” “Doctor Who,” “Sherlock,” “Sinbad,” “How I Met Your Mother” and many more films and television shows as well as authors of some of the top young adult books.
Attendees can choose between four different types of tickets. General admission tickets are available for $175 and include access to most of the events at the convention; general admission plus literary tickets are available for $275 and include general admission access plus special literary track programming; Rockstar tickets are sold for $375 and include preferred access to all events including literary track programming; and literary focus tickets are available for $125 and include access to literary track programming only. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LeakyCon.com.
LeakyCon is one of the largest and most recognized annual fandom conventions in the world and is attended every year by thousands of fantasy film, television and book fans. The event was started in 2009 as a conference for Harry Potter fans and has since grown to include fans of some of the most popular films, television shows and books in the genre such as “Doctor Who,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Hunger Games,” “Supernatural” and “Firefly.” Past events have been held in Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Portland and London. More information is available at www.LeakyCon.com.
“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
I’d like to say that we, personally, came up with this crazy-awesome gift guide for the Harry Potter lover on your Christmas list, but sadly.. we did not. Luckily, someone out there loves you because WB did. And it sure is amazing.
Bringing together a collection of products from a host of renowned licensees, including The Noble Collection, MinaLima, Insight Editions, Rubie’s Costume Co., Bioworld, Elope, Hallmark, and more, the Harry Potter Gift Guide offers shoppers the chance to find the perfect gift for their favourite witches and wizards in one place. Harry Potter-inspired products ranging from wizard wear and accessories, to collectibles and home décor, are all available at the click of a mouse, with each product image functioning as an intuitive hyperlink that directs users to the purchase point.
“The Harry Potter Gift Guide brings fans the perfect tool to click their way through the items on their wizarding wish list,” said Karen McTier, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “From discerning collectors to new fans waiting for their Hogwarts acceptance letter, the gift guide makes buying presents easy.”
This year’s catalogue offers a host of new items, including the Harry Potter Remote Control Wand from The Noble Collection, which allows the user to magically control any IR device with the flick of the wrist. Also newly available is the United States Postal Service Harry Potter Limited-Edition Forever stamp collection – perfect for stocking stuffers and for all those looking to send their holiday cards the Muggle way. Leggings from boutique fashion label Black Milk, fresh Hot Topic-exclusive apparel from Bioworld, a limited-edition Hogwarts castle ornament from Hallmark and more can also be found within the guide.
The Harry Potter Gift Guide was designed by MinaLima, the creative team behind the graphic design aesthetics of the Harry Potter films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet, and The Quibbler. MinaLima, now also a licensee of Warner Bros. Consumer Products as The Printorium, is also featured in the catalogue with their fine art print of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
——– Now to the Fun Stuff ———
THIS CONTEST HAS CLOSED – Please check your email to see if you’ve won!
To celebrate this release, Warner Bros. is giving us a reeeaallly cool gift basket (valued >$60) to give to one of you!! This is seriously one of those times where all of us here at NiB are incredibly jealous that we can’t enter our own contests. If you or someone on your gift list is a Harry Potter fan, you WANT to enter this.
This is what they just might be sending you:
Harry Potter Collectible Wand
2014 Harry Potter Wall Calendar
Horcrux Bookmark Collection
Here’s how you enter:
Post a comment below telling us who your favorite HP character is and why. That’s it.
Get a bonus entry:
Link this post on twitter and include the hashtag #hpgiftguide13 as well as mention @NerdsinBabeland, and you’ll get a second entry into the drawing. (note: you have to be following us on twitter for this, otherwise we won’t be able to DM you).
How long you have to enter:
About four days. This contest is now open, and will close Thursday, Dec. 12th at 6pm, EST.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at jackie(at)nerdsinbabeland.com, or on twitter at @jackietherobot.
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.
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).
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.