“Aw, shoot. I got my hat and forgot my gat…” (image via Buy Costumes)
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.
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.
This past Sunday, all of Hollywood Geek-Royalty gathered at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood for the 1st Annual Geekie Awards. The entire event was dreamed up by the ever-talented Kristen Nedopak who was looking for a way to support indie geek art. While many of the smaller awards were announced ahead of time on their website (http://www.thegeekieawards.com/), several of the larger awards were given away in a live ceremony that live-streamed across the world. Plenty of geek celebs were on hand, including Stan Lee himself who received the first ever Geekie Award and serenaded the crowd with a song he wrote about being a geek for life.
For those lucky audience members sitting in the tables near the stage, 3D printers were working all night making custom art. I was able to see them printing away all evening and they provided people with a lot of entertainment (except for the “party table” up front who broke theirs early on).
I was privileged enough to be invited to attend as a cosplayer and even got to be onstage in my steampunk Maleficent costume to hand over the award for the Best One Shot category with Chris Gore and Keahu Kahuanui. There were plenty of amazing cosplayers on hand to entertain the crowd, take photos with and add further geek cred to the evening.
There were plenty of logistical issues throughout the evening, but considering this was a large-scale first year event, things went reasonably smoothly and the crowd seemed to enjoy the evening overall. The biggest gaff of the night came from the young (and very excited) Winner twins while presenting the award for Retail Stores and Websites. The nominee package and category name were skipped entirely, but thankfully the winners from the Nerd Machine stepped in and filled in the blank for the audience.
The pre-filmed skit that kicked off the evening and the videos preceeding each set of nominees were spectacularly done and added a real professional air to the evening. The inclusion of Best Webseries nominees the League of S.T.E.A.M. throughout the evening was also quite entertaining, especially when they used their famous net get to snag a zombie coming after host Alison Haislip.
Kudos to all involved with the evening and the events leading up to it. I for one will be curious to see how the show evolves in the future and hope that next year’s event will be even better!
Today’s kids and collectors enjoy playing with (and hunting for) DC Universe or Marvel Legends action figures. But back in the 70′s and early 80′s, the Mego Corporation was the undisputed giant of the figure world. According to the MegoMuseum website, founder D. David Abrams started the company in 1954 as a manufacturer of 88 cent promotional toys and dime store novelties.
In the early 1970′s, Abrams’ son Marty began working for Mego and was responsible for much of its subsequent success. During his tenure, Mego launched the toy line which changed the childhoods of so many of us for the better: the World’s Greatest Super Heroes (made from 1972-83). They looked a bit different from present-day figures.
Mego heroes were 8″ tall instead of the 3 or 4 inch height typical of modern action toys. Despite their curious construction of rubber bands inside a plastic body, they were quite poseable and could stand upright. Each had a removeable costume consisting of a cloth unitard and footwear, usually boots in a matching color.
Megos had only four basic body shapes, making them easy to mass produce. This was handy for the consumer as well. If something happened to the toy, you could simply place the head on another body. This also applied to many of the costumes. A big part of Mego play was carefully peeling off the unitard, then placing it on another figure for a droll or bizarre effect.
Another cool feature was the fact that Mego manufactured both DC and Marvel characters. Some of the more popular toys included Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Spiderman. There were also villains such as the Joker, the Lizard, the Green Goblin, and Silver Age Superman foe Mr. Mxyzptlk.
The exciting thing for comics-loving girls was the inclusion of several female characters, among them Supergirl, Catwoman, Isis, and the aforementioned Wonder Woman. It’s hard for present day kids to picture how these female heroes stood out in the toy landscape, an oasis of girlpower in a male figure world. Sure, there were Barbie and her fashion sisters, and they were beloved. But it was also neat to have a tangible representation of the heroines you always read about.
With the success of the Heroes, Mego was able to expand and produce more figures, birthing a microcosm of pop culture in the process. They came up with toys based on the original Star Trek TV series and the Planet of the Apes movies. 1975 began the era of TV-based lines, such as the CHIPS and Happy Days characters.
Some of these (like Cher of the TV Starz series) were a bit taller than the standard Mego. Not surprisingly, the TV toys have become very collectible because of their appeal to 70′s nostalgia.
In 1977, a strange thing happened with the Mego company: they turned down the rights for a Star Wars toy line. Various reasons have been given for this, the most cited being that Mego became leery of making figures for every science fiction franchise that came along. MegoMuseum reports that it was a communications error; the basic pitch never reaching senior management.
In any event, Star Wars licensing went to Hasbro, who promptly turned quite the profit making 3-inch likenesses of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the rest. Evantually, the trend toward smaller toys with painted-on clothes and better joint articulation became standard in the industry.
But it’s hard to keep a classic toy down, and though the original Mego corp disbanded in 1983, the figures remain popular and very collectible. Several posts could be devoted to the subject of customizing Mego toys alone. As mentioned earlier, Megos are ideal for this due to their standardized bodies (easy to change and fit clothes to).
Before being cancelled recently, Toyfare magazine took customizing to a whole new level with their “Twisted Toyfare Theater” stories. These delightfully demented satires of comics and SF movies featured Megos and other toys as main characters, sending up everything from The Matrix to X-Men tales. It was great to read humor which featured toys one actually played with while growing up.
Though smaller action figures are the present-day norm, anyone who grew up with Megos retains a soft spot for them. After all, they were the embodiment of our favorite heroes. They fostered imagination without a single battery. In a tech-driven world, that’s still quite an accomplishment.
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):
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.
It’s pretty safe to say that the release of The Dark Knight Rises was one of, if not the most, anticipated film this summer. Since 2005, Christopher Nolan has kept us on the edge of our seats with his wonderfully macabre telling of the Batman tale. On a personal level, I have always had a very strong fondness for the entire Batman world. The dark knight has always ranked at the very top of my list of superheroes, particularly because he’s the antihero. When you think about recent films, shows, and projects, antiheroes have really stepped into the spotlight lately (consider works such as Dr. Horrible or Breaking Bad). I’m sure we could spend all day considering the psychology of this, but today we’re more focused on Batman, and suffice it to say, the recent Nolan Batman films fit right into this antihero craze. Add the long-standing fandom of the Batman world to the antihero love, and cap it off with the brilliant success of the highly acclaimed last installment, The Dark Knight, and you have a recipe for some high levels of excitement. I do believe, in a lot of ways, the ending to this trilogy lived up to the hype. However, some aspects left me looking for more. Let’s get to that now.
From here on out, all you’ll see is SPOILERS. If you have not seen the movie, and don’t want it SPOILED, skip to the next article instead.
One thing I greatly admire about Nolan’s take on the Batman story is his ability to reinvent characters. Nolan faced the challenge of demystifying the characters in the Batman realm, bringing them more to life by making them more human, while still remaining true to the comics. In some ways, this leaves us with a lot of questions about specific characters and their origins, while lending a new sense of intrigue to them. Take, for instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight: we never got a solid origin story out of that, but the way he spoke about his potential origins, he gave us a deep look into the psychosis of this character. This relates to the newly introduced characters, too. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, put simply, was brilliant. Throughout the film, Selina Kyle hints several times at a past filled with bad mistakes and regrets. We never get the details on what happened with her past, but we’re told why she wants it erased to badly, and certainly feel her sense of urgency to the point that we can feel her justification for all of her devious plots. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse at the remnants of Bruce Wayne’s internal torment. We see old, exalted photos of a half-forgotten life hindering his ability or desire to move on. We also get to watch him come back to life and force himself to be the hero he is, not because he wants to, but because he has to. This need to return to Batman is also hastened by Gotham City PD’s Officer Blake, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Blake was an orphan, himself, who depended on Wayne’s contributions to local charities growing up, and who was inspired by Batman’s moral influence and strong will to help the people of Gotham. So with that in mind, we enter into this film being immediately greeted by three strong characters in desperate situations.
Next, we have Bane. In many stories, Bane has pretty much been the equivalent of a pumped up hired gun. However, the original Dixon story that influenced Bane’s presence in The Dark Knight Rises, “Knightfall,” gives him a much stronger presence. Because of that story arc in the comics, Bane became known as “The Man Who Broke the Bat,” for having broken Batman’s back during a fight. This is also true of TDKR. The very first fight between Bane, played by Tom Hardy, and Batman is an extremely powerful scene. After teaming up with Catwoman, Batman is brought down to the sewers to find Bane and confront him head-on. Before they get all the way there, Batman is pulled away from Catwoman, and thrown onto a metal walkway, going across the sewers below, with Bane, and locked there. Instantly, the music drops, so all you hear are select sounds from the confrontation and fight. The entire time, we see Catwoman clinging on to the bars of the walkway, obviously distraught about double-crossing the dark knight, and very concerned for his life. The blows go back and forth rather evenly for a while before Bane takes a very commanding lead, tossing Batman around like a rag doll. Eventually, true to the story it was adapted from, the scene turns more serious when Bane lifts Batman over his head, then drops the Bat onto his knee, breaking his back. To add insult to injury, Bane peels half of the broken mask from the fallen hero’s face while he’s writhing in pain on the ground, and tosses it aside. Leaving the scene with the symbolic gesture of discarding something that was meant as a beacon of hope for the people of Gotham.
Above all, though, I’d have to say my own personal favorite character here was Miranda, played by a fantastic actress, Marion Cotillard. Miranda is Bruce’s business-associate-turned-love interest throughout the story, growing more and more prominent in his life. While Batman is recovering, Bane is taking over Gotham, with the promise of destroying it with a nuclear bomb, and the entire city is left to fight and scavenge. During this time, Miranda appears to be working with Bruce’s business associates, but of course we come to find out this is a ruse. After Batman seemingly defeats Bane, we get Miranda’s reveal. Throughout the entire film, we’ve been teased with what is presented to be Bane’s backstory. A small child in a prison made out of a giant hole in the ground, nicknamed “Hell.” The child is the only person to ever escape this prison by climbing the walls. This is the same prison Batman is exiled to while recovering from his broken spine. To get out of the prison, he has to climb the same wall the small child did. After several tries, he manages this feat while the rest of the prisoners are shouting “Rise! Rise!” in their own language. We hear the story of the child – the spawn of a mercenary and a noblewoman – in pieces, but we hear the ending from Miranda. This child turns out to be Miranda, who reveals that she is actually Talia al Ghul, there to fulfill the legacy of her father, Ra’s al Ghul. In the Batman universe, Talia is a character with a long history of being Batman’s love interest, Catwoman’s rival, and Bane’s accomplice. However, showing Talia as the little girl escaping “Hell,” supported by her childhood friend and protector, Bane, gives a whole new level of emotional depth to both of these characters. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Marion Cotillard presents this reveal scene with a certain stoicism that makes the entire twist seem that much more significant.
Although not a huge follower of ‘pop art’ I’ve always felt a special draw towards the art of Tara McPherson. I own her last book, Lost Constellations, and have her prints on my wall. She has a very distinct style that manages to stand out among a sea of modern pop culture art, a delicate touch of feminine aesthetics mixed with vibrant colors and sharp lines. McPherson has worked on everything an artist can put a pen to including concert posters, circus flyers, art prints, toys, electronics and novelty items; one of my favorites is her coloring book. The bookmarks, sketch books and other fun accessories feel a bit like a grown up, slightly twisted and dark Lisa Frank, the line of super bright, sparkly sticker and coloring kits for tweens.
Not to understate the gorgeous work that is the foundation of Tara McPherson’s art empire, Bunny in the Moon is yet another well developed collection of colorful, macabre scenes from somewhere deep in her imagination. As Morgan Spurlock says in his doting foreword, “From her first rock poster to her last solo show, Tara has been and remains an uncompromising artist, creating both a body of work and mainstream art-pop success that are unlike anything else in the art scene.”
The book opens with some of McPherson’s trademark beautiful females, surrounded by heavily detailed graphics that express each character in their own world. The artist has a skill for giving the impression of a story being told, one that you are as much the author of as she is, using just one main character, often blanketed by celestial entities, spirit animals or dripping in viscous fluids.
She then invites readers to follow her through the creation process from rough sketches to polished, multi-layered oil paintings. I find this quite fun, especially in a world largely dominated by digital art; seeing the hand drawn lines as she creates them feels like a rare peek into McPherson’s personal sketch book.
I’m not a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of girl, I don’t care for art that uses the female body strictly as a cheap tool of stimulation or shock value. One of the things I appreciate about Tara McPherson is that she manages to portray a definite feminine charm without too much fluff or overt sexualism. Her characters don’t adhere to puritanical boundaries (much of the work is NSFW) but they are entangled in scenes of power, manipulation and dark, sometimes morbid engagements. For long time fans of McPherson she revisits a few classic favorites like the ‘Wiggles’. The artist’s work maintains the same trademarks as it has from the beginning: a perfect blend of sweet girlishness, rock star edge, malicious intent and floaty, surreal fantasy environments.
I recommend this book for any level of art lover, but especially those who feel less than satisfied with some of the ‘modern pop art’ available today. Bunny in the Moon is an art collection that will always spark conversation and interest among a variety of casual coffee table perusers.
Bunny in the Moon hits shelves March 14, and is available now for pre-order through Dark Horse Comics.