With E3 2015 wrapping up a couple days ago, we’ve been seeing some pretty cool announcements coming from the electronic world over the past week. Some fantastic-looking new games, new systems, new gadgets. Nerdy fun to be had by all.
Just before E3, however, I got to have a bit of that fun for myself. Recently, Overkill Software had an event they called the Hype Train for their game, PayDay 2. This happened back in February/March, but you can still see some of the info from it here. This event effectively solidified Overkill/Starbreeze as my favorite gaming company around today. While studios like Electronic Arts are nickel-and-diming us gamers with in-game purchases, and a studio like Gearbox is suspected of plagiarism, it’s getting hard to tell who the good guys are in gaming. Overkill made that a little easier with the Hype Train. Here are the basics: Overkill set a list of goals to reach with corresponding PayDay-themed prizes. These goals were met by fans purchasing the game, DLCs, characters packs, etc. Anything at all PayDay-related that was purchased from their official outlets in this time period went toward the Hype Train. As prizes were unlocked, anyone with the game got access to these prizes. So even if you just had the base game, but didn’t or couldn’t buy anything during that time, you still got the Car Shop Heist and the Hoxton Revenge Heist. The way they went about this event was very cool in that it was obviously for the fans. Instead of just being out to make a quick buck, they promoted the game and the additions in a way that engaged the community, and rewarded fans. I’ve seen a few cynical groups of fans criticize the gaming company for involving money in the event at all, but that criticism seems extremely short-sighted. Of course a business has to make money in order to continue releasing their brand of awesome. At least in Overkill’s case, they did it in a way that really gave back to their fans and their community – and not just the factions that could pay for it at that particular time.
One of the prizes released during the Hype Train affected me, directly. There was a possibility that a prize would be unlocked where Overkill would fly 10 heisters to L.A. for a Pre-E3 event. I’ll be honest – the details were incredibly vague at the time, and whether it would even happen or not had not even been announced yet by the time you had to enter to win this prize. However, to enter, all you had to do was send Overkill a tweet during a certain time frame. What does one tweet cost you? Nothing. Nothing at all. I sent my tweet back in March, went about my life, and actually forgot about it.
That is until early June when I started getting messages from Overkill on twitter. When they first started trying to get my attention, they hadn’t yet told me I won the trip. I was mid-sentence in a conversation with my husband, and checked a notification on my phone. I trailed off in conversation, and my eyes got very big. My husband asked what was going on, and I responded with “SOMETHING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” A few minutes later, Almir Listo, producer of the PayDay franchise, let me know I had won, and asked if I’d be available to fly to L.A. in exactly one week. Naturally, I freaked out, put everything in life on hold, and went. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve been a big fan of the PayDay games for a while at this point, but even bigger, I have grown to respect and love Overkill as a gaming company. PC Gaming is one of my biggest hobbies in life these days, and these guys were doing it right. I absolutely jumped at the chance to fly across the country and meet with them in person.
The following week was a blur of sustained excitement, and early on the Saturday morning following the announcement, I was on a plane. I arrived at the same time as several other heisters, and we instantly bonded. Everyone invited along, and everyone who met up with us from the studio were amazingly friendly and welcoming. We were all extremely excited.
We got to the hotel Overkill had us staying in – the Grafton on Sunset BLVD in West Hollywood. A beautiful hotel that was rock-themed, newly renovated, and in a great location. I walked with some of the other heisters to a nearby burger place, and had lunch. Afterwards, we were all in need of a nap – each of us had been traveling since early that morning, and were in for a long night ahead of us.
A few hours later, we were picked up in a limo, and given a tour of Hollywood before being dropped off at the event.
The party was at the Hollywood House of Blues. Technically, it was only half a block from our hotel, and we easily could have walked, but the limo ride was fun either way. There were 3 floors of drinks, food, music, fun people, games, and announcements. It was crazy. Immediately upon walking into the gate, I met Damion Poitier – the voice of Chains in the PayDay games. He was incredibly nice, and all for hanging with the fans. He also made the absolute best faces in all the pictures that were taken of him that night (see his twitter feed for more of these amazing faces). We also chatted with Eric Etebari, the voice of Dallas, throughout the night as well. In fact, every time we turned around, there was either Damion or Eric. I’m pretty sure they wanted to be BFFs, but were too shy to say so (right? RIGHT??).
We were also greeted by shambling zombies everywhere. Since this event was the launch party for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, they made a point to really put you in the mindset of hanging with zombies. Now – I organized a large-scale Zombie Walk for years. We had some incredible zombies over the years, but none with the constitution of these Walkers. Never once did I see a single zombie break character, even for a second. One in particular made a point to sneak up behind various party people, waiting just inches from the back of their heads to notice him. The reactions were priceless.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead was obviously a huge one. There are a couple other TWD games out right now, but they’re both completely story-driven, not shooters. Since the Left 4 Dead franchise, I think we here in the gaming community have been itching for an awesome, new zombie-themed shooter. We saw a bit of the gameplay and graphics from the new TWD game, and it’s looking pretty badass. And it looks like there will also be a little crossover from the PayDay franchise. The game doesn’t come out until next year, but I’m already psyched for it. You can watch the trailer for it, and find out more details here.
Next was the announcement of PayDay 2 coming to consoles. In fact, they had several machines set up with PayDay 2 loaded up to try it out. I’m not a big console person, myself, so I asked some of the other folks in my group how it held up in terms of a console shooter. Since they were all fans of the PayDay franchise on PC previously, they were able to definitely say that the translation from PC to console was very well done. The controls are intuitive, and the game played just as well on console. So if you’ve been wanting to play PayDay 2, but just aren’t into keyboards and mice, look forward to that release.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we were surprised with the announcement of the StarVR system. This entire thing looks amazing. The StarVR system is Starbreeze’s answer to the recent Virtual Reality craze. It’s a headset that’s lighter than the Oculus, and instead of smaller circles to look through that are straight-ahead, the StarVR system has a wide screen that allows for peripheral vision. This may sound like a small difference in systems, but in reality, the way the StarVR is laid out allows you to really, and truly immerse yourself into the game much more than most other VR systems that are announced right now. Granted – the StarVR is still in process, as are many other virtual reality systems, and some changes and competitors may still arise. At the moment, though, it looks like Starbreeze is on the right path with this one. Here’s a Hands-on view from the E3 conference:
Overall, there were a ton of unexpected, and fantastic surprises at the Pre-E3 party. Friendships were forged, and a ridiculous amount of fun was had.
The next day, we had dinner plans with the Overkill gang, but were free until then. Some heisters explored Hollywood, some hung out at the hotel and gamed a bit. I had some friends in town, so I joined them for a killer waffle brunch. Then we were all given an address to meet up at.
The address led us to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and the shopping center behind it. It was a little bit confusing to know where we were going at first, but once we saw that there was a Dave & Busters, we all thought ‘of course they’re going to take a bunch of video game nerds to the gaming place.’ We were right – and thrilled to be.
We were joined by Almir Listo, Simon Viklund (who composes all of the music in the PayDay games), and Karl Lakner (art director for Overkill). A relaxing dinner with great conversation was followed by a lot of selfies and group pics. We all got the chance to really talk with these accomplished fellows one-on-one, and ask any burning, heisting questions we may have had.
However, at the end of it, not all of us were ready to call it quits. Almir had to leave us, but Simon and Karl were dead-set on seeing a movie. We walked over the Chinese Theater, and all grabbed tickets for Jurassic World, but still had a couple hours to kill, so we went back to D&B’s to play some games. I got to shoot ridiculous amounts of aliens and terminator-bots with Karl, and then even more dinosaurs with Simon. A few of the other Overkill guys joined us for the movie – and were more than happy to talk about the weapons, explosions, and landscapes they designed for the PayDay games, and what went into them. The gentlemen we got to meet from Overkill were easily some of the nicest, friendliest, and most welcoming people I’ve met in a long time.
The next morning, I flew the 7 hours back to my usual side of the country.
It was a crazy, jam-packed, exciting, whirlwind of a weekend that I never expected to happen.
I cannot thank the guys at Overkill, and especially Almir and Karl (who were both incredibly friendly and accommodating) enough for the experience. You guys made 10 little heisters’ lives incredibly bright for that weekend.
Yesterday, the passing of Monty Oum was publicly announced on Rooster Teeth via staff member, Matt Hullum’s journal entry. Oum had been in critical condition for several days prior due to an allergic reaction, and it wasn’t known previously if he would recover. Monty Oum passed away on February 1st, 2015 at the young age of 33.
Anyone familiar with Rooster Teeth’s more recent work is familiar with Monty Oum. He is a graphic artist, and has worked on seasons 8-10 of Red vs Blue. His more notable contributions come from the animated original, RWBY, which he wrote and directed. Oum was also a talented cosplayer (along with wife, Sheena Duquette) and dancer. He was basically very difficult to miss here in the geek culture world, and anyone who knew of his work, at the very least, respected his talent, passion, and amazing drive. The amount of fan art inspired by his work on RWBY, alone, is staggering. He was an incredible source of inspiration for many.
The amount of love, grief, and support from this tragedy has been astounding. I have personally been a member of the Rooster Teeth community for a decade, myself, and have seen how close the community is, and how supportive they can be – most of my best friends are people I met on Rooster Teeth, and two of my bridesmaids were from that community as well. We’re a tight group. However, even with all of that said and experienced, I am absolutely taken aback by the outpouring of love and support from the community in the wake of this tragedy.
When founder Burnie Burns mentioned Monty’s condition in a journal/news post Friday evening, he included a link to a fundraiser established by Monty’s close friends to help his wife and family with any financial burden they incur during this tragedy. The initial goal was set for $50k, which was reached within an hour of that journal going out. The fundraiser has now raised ~$230k. In the journal entry from Matt (linked in the first paragraph), it was suggested that in lieu of flowers or cards, Oum’s fans should create something in his honor, which a lot of fans have taken to heart. Social media has exploded with love and support for Monty. Below are just a few tributes taken from Twitter, created and posted to honor Monty. To view a feed of these posts, go here. Before we get there, however, I’d like to point out this touching tribute laid outside of the Rooster Teeth Studios this morning:
Thank you to whoever did this in front of our offices overnight. <3 Monty. pic.twitter.com/4IfhmJJu6k
— Rooster Teeth (@RoosterTeeth) February 3, 2015
— 진하 (@_greenisland) February 3, 2015
— Joshie ( ‾ʖ̫‾) (@LadJoshie) February 3, 2015
Monty Oum will be sorely missed.
Hold your loved ones tight, and be good to each other.
Recently, the fine people over at the NASA Kennedy Space Center invited me to attend a SpaceX launch as a Social Media attendee. This was pretty awesome news – they only extend this invitation to 50 people per launch.
Unfortunately, we got news the day before the launch that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launch had been postponed a few weeks due to issues encountered while testing the Falcon rocket. Getting that news was kind of a bummer, but we were promised a special surprise to make up for it, and NASA delivered.
After arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, we got our media badges, and then boarded a bus with a NASA Social sign in the front window. Some introductions were made, and some of these internet socialites already knew each other. One thing I can say for sure was that everyone who attended this event was amazingly friendly and welcoming.
We were driven around the KSC for a little while, hearing facts about the building of the KSC in the 60s. We heard about how the KSC is home to many species of wildlife, and saw evidence of this – including alligators in the canals lining the road, and an enormous eagle’s nest in a tree just off the road. We chatted with each other, exchanged stories and interests, and heard many anecdotes such as “Of course a bus full of NASA nerds are also Firefly fans!”
Our first destination of the day was a launchpad used for – you guessed it – launching large things into space! On our way, however, we saw a couple of Crawlers. Crawlers are what NASA uses to move large objects across the property. Objects such as spacecrafts, rockets, and mobile launch platforms. The crawlers are gyroscopically stable, meaning that no matter what bumps and turbulence they encounter, their cargo will not be affected.
Once we got to the launchpad, we were brought into the actual launchpad, right were shuttles are loaded, and where the launch fire comes out. The walls were scorched by decades of previous launches. The sound suppression system was enormous. You’ll see it in the pictures below – it’s used to make sure windows don’t get smashed all over Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach whenever there’s a launch.
Next, we were taken to check out a couple of mobile launch platforms. When a crawler is used to move this platform, it will be positioned underneath the mobile launch platform, and will then lift it off the pillars it stands on to move it. The scaffolding on the mobile platform to the left here is used to position a shuttle against. It’s ridiculously huge. The pictures don’t really do a great job of showing how huge it is. We also went underneath a mobile platform, and stood where hundreds of thousands of gallons of water would be flushed through to counteract the heat from a shuttle launching. It was pretty awesome.
Then came the really big surprise. We were told we’d be able to see the spacecraft, Orion, but not that we would get to participate in a full press conference for the return of Orion. This particular Orion spacecraft flew 66,000 miles out and around the Earth. It met 85 out of 87 flight objectives, which is extremely high. Orion’s mission was to collect data, and it was considered a success. Orion landed in the Pacific Ocean, and was then transported to the East Coast over about 8 days via roads and highways to get to the Kennedy Space Center. Coming up in February, Orion’s heat shield will be removed for further analysis. Various parts of the space craft will be removed for testing and data analysis, but for the most part, it will remain in tact for display and/or simulations because of how well it held up in space. And of course.. I took a couple selfies with Orion. Wouldn’t you?
I always kind of knew that being a woman in the film industry would be tough, but I never realized how tough it would be. I mean, it wasn’t until 2010 that a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, won an Oscar for best director. For god’s sake, they even played “I am Woman.” Patronizing much? What about “I am Director?”
In 2008, when I went to grad school for film at USC, which is the best film school in the world according to The Hollywood Reporter, only 13 of the 50 incoming filmmakers, were women. It wasn’t until 2010 when USC finally made a point of admitting 50% women, calling themselves “forward-thinking” and patting themselves on the back. What is this, 1950??
When I said I wanted to go into directing, my graduate advisor even told me “maybe pick something else, there’s not many women in directing. Try editing instead, women do that.” Being stubborn, I disregarded his advice and pursued my path and won the Harold Lloyd award for directing twice, and became the only woman selected to direct a major film in my year with a $12k grant and Academy-Award winning mentors.
Even after film school, when I became a television producer, I would regularly be told in executive meetings that they “wanted a woman at the table” but that I “shouldn’t speak to the clients, we just need a female presence.” The boy’s club of executives would often criticize me for being too “aggressive” and “bossy” compared to other male producers.
Well screw that! I made sure that every executive meeting, I piped up and made my ideas heard, and it worked. I was able to create and produce my own primetime show, City Walk, before the age of 30, I created and directed a web series called Best Friends Book Club to encourage literacy in teenaged girls, I worked with Martin Sheen, Comedian Dane Cook, Adam Devine of Workaholics, Kevin Nealon of Weeds, Adam Carolla of The Adam Carolla Show, and many other talented actors.
I’ve also directed several films, including a documentary about third-wave feminism and pole dancing called Polar Opposites – despite the fact that a male colleague told me “no man will ever want to watch a film about just women” and another male filmmaker publically posted “I’ve got a pole they can climb” on our webpage. The joke’s on them, because after the film’s successful festival circuit, it was bought and broadcast by the Documentary Channel and I’m fairly certain those great ratings weren’t from women alone.
Now I’m a working director and producer, but it hasn’t been easy. I worked hard, but the very fact that we even need to have a Bechdel Test shows how far we still have to go in terms of women in the film industry.
So what can we do to promote equality in film and media?
o Write better women characters
- We don’t need any more films with Megan Fox being objectified, or damsels needing to be saved and sexy teenaged girls being pursued by a slasher. Write complex characters that have their own minds, their own lives, and their own flaws and problems. Check out Ms. Marvel who’s an amazing new superhero who not only battles supervillains, but also sexism and xenophobia towards her Muslim heritage.
o Share your expertise
- For years, we’ve been taught that women are all out to get each other. Surprise! We aren’t! And you can help even more by giving another woman a hand. Be a mentor, join a message board and share answers, help problem-solve. You might just get help yourself in return.
- Get involved by supporting organizations working to change the inequality, such as Women in Film, Women’s Media Center and Women Make Movies.
o Think equally
- We often hear about “women’s films” and “chick flicks.” Guess what? Women are the majority of the world population, so maybe we should just call them “films.”
o Support your fellow women
- There are so few women in the film industry, so why not go out and celebrate how kickass they are! Nicole Perlman was the first woman to write a Marvel film and it’s amazing!
o Neutralize your language
- The days of “actor/actress,” “director/female director,” “cameraman” and “sound guy” are over. And it’s about time we found a new term for “Best Boy!” What about “First Assistant Grip” and “First Assistant Electric?” Language has power, and words can change minds. Many a time I’ve been on set with an amazing female “best boy” and it just s
- Marvel is a great example of this when they announced that the new incarnation of Thor will be female and they made sure that their language reflects it: “This is not She-Thor,” senior writer Jason Aaron said in a Marvel release. “This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
*Infographics courtesy of the New York Film Academy*
Caitlin Starowicz is an award-winning writer, director, and producer for film and television. She has been recognized by Women in Film and Television, DocUtah, the LA Times, Buzzfeed, Women Make Movies and The Documentary Channel. She can be reached through her website at www.caitlinstarowicz.com and is always willing to help a fellow filmmaker.
Welcome to Ask The Nerds. Have a burning question? Go ahead and email us and we will do our best to answer it for you!
Hi NerdsMy boyfriend isn’t really into nerdy things and I don’t know how to relate to him on a free-time level. We have gone back and forth about this for a long time and he has finally started to warm up to the idea of checking some stuff out.So I have two questions:1) Do you have any advice for a nerdy gal with a non-nerdy boyfriend?2) Since he has started showing some interest, where do I start?!
First of all, it’s good that he’s showing interest in what you like. That’s a sign of a good relationship. I’m assuming you’re showing interest in his stuffs, too, right?! But since you’re asking about moving things in a nerdy direction, it’s all about finding an activity that you both enjoy doing, then adding something nerdy to it. In general, I think everyone’s a nerd about something. You just have to find what he’s really passionate about.
Does he like movies? Find a local theater that plays old school movies like E.T. or Back To The Future. How about books? I’ve gotten people into comic books by having them read non-superhero stuff like Saga or Y: The Last Man. If he likes Breaking Bad, I don’t see why he wouldn’t like Preacher. On that note, I know people who generally hate fantasy stuff with dragons but still love Game of Thrones. Does he like music? Take him to a John Williams or video game music concert. What about games? Settlers of Catan and Small World sound really nerdy when you explain them to someone, but, once you play them, people get really competitive, and it becomes really fun to yell at each other about wool. There’s also video games. Everyone likes Mario Kart!
You may not be having sex to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack right away, but you’ll probably be role-playing as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle before you know it! (Please remember to use protection.)
Hugs and tacos,
Dear Brave Nerd Girl,
I, too, lived the life of dating a non-nerd. It can be challenging at times when your man doesn’t know the laws of House Elves or the ridiculousness of Hobbits. I would suggest letting him see all of your enthusiasm for these nerd-type things, but don’t necessarily make him feel obligated to like them. Remember, even in the nerd community, not everybody likes every fandom. The important part is finding something nerdy that he finds interesting, but not demanding that he be interested by all of the things that you are. Think about what you know about him and what appeals to him, and work off of that.
My boyfriend loves the idea of power radiating from within, so Avatar: The Last Airbender was an easy sell for him. I think that you will also find that nerdy things that are also pretty funny are easier for a lot of people to swallow (example: Sokka in Avatar). You just have to be gentle. If you just start speaking elvish and demanding that he refer to his car as the Enterprise, you might frighten him.
Regarding your second question, I would start by showing him a couple of your favorite things in moderation. If it’s a show, request he try the first three episodes. If it’s a movie, just start with the first movie. Give him a taste of these things without shoving it down his throat. I would also highly suggest jumping into a new fandom together so it feels like he isn’t going the journey alone. For example, when I first started watching Supernatural and Game of Thrones, my boyfriend was wholly uninterested. I kindly suggested that he just watch the first couple of episodes with me. Now, he refers to Sam and Dean like they’re family, and I personally watched him weep over Oberyn Martell.
The important part is that your boyfriend is willing to at least give it a try. My best advice would be to experiment. Once you find something that catches his interest, he’ll be trapped. It will be a mere matter of time before he’s reading fan theories and you catch him staring blankly at a wall as he tries to process what happened in last night’s episode.
Side Note: For nerd conversion regarding games (i.e. MTG) or video games, I would highly suggest betting and or prizes of the silly and/or *eyebrow wag* other variation.
Best of luck in your nerd-conversion!
In my family, I’m an acknowledged nerd. Everyone dear to me accepts my interests with responses ranging from enthusiasm to mild concern. Thus, no one would be particularly surprised to see me show up to our family Christmas dinner dressed as San from Princess Mononoke. Not surprised, perhaps, but not happy, either.
So I had to start getting a little tricky to bring some nerdy goodness into the holidays. If you’re like me, your nerd-dom cannot be contained. So here are some ideas for how to bring your hobbies to your holidays without having to explain to your grandmother what LARPing is.
Dress to Impress
One way that I’ve found to work my love of cosplay into my holiday season is to dress in an appropriate costume. You can be creative and delight the family by nerdifying any – sure, someone might take exception to Sephiroth Santa, but no one can be mad at Steampunk Santa! Other options include any elf (like Legolas, Deedlit, or Link), Jack or Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, who is great fun to lead merriment as. Of course, these all work best when there are children to entertain, but I wouldn’t be deterred by a room full of adults. Maybe it’s just me.
For anyone who wants to emphasize the “subtlety” that was promised by this article’s title, there are gads of restrained nerdy accessories that you can wear to get-togethers. From 8-bit hair bows to Rebel Alliance cufflinks to Game of Thrones pins, there are definitely ways to work your obsessions in without even the slightest bit of notice. Also at your disposal are Harry Potter leggings, Death Star dresses, and Doctor Who scarves and jackets. You can stylishly represent without any hassle.
Especially if you’d like to corrupt your younger cousins and niblings into becoming as nerdy as you are (yes, yes, let the nerd flow through you), you can try bringing some fun pastimes with you. While most folks will be watching the football game on Christmas Eve, you and the other super cool members of your family can slip away to play Minecraft. Bring along your Munchkin game and use mini candy canes as level indicators.
You might also ponder having some games that are friendlier to all generations. Playing Droidel (the R2 unit version of a Dreidel) is a fun way to unite generations over an ingeniously nerdy activity. Maybe go outside and make a nerdy snowman (Bowser’s a good challenge) with your parents. My favorite is to bring along materials for gingerbread houses, but bring blue frosting for a T.A.R.D.I.S. As a standby that my family enjoyed, bring along one of your cardboard cutouts (I chose Batman), pop a hat or garland on them, and have your family take posed pictures with it. The pictures are pretty priceless.
Host the Celebration
If you’re at the point where you’ve established a home away from your childhood home, maybe you could offer to host the Christmas Eve dinner. Not only will your family be impressed by your put-together presentation, but they’ll also be wowed by your geektastic decorations. A Lego menorah? A Star Wars or Star Trek Christmas tree? A Cthulu wreath? There are plenty of ways to be festively geeky without shoving it into people’s faces.
There are also nerdy foods you can serve at your assembly. I find it amusing to turn the hummus bowl into a mini Sarlacc pit with a Lego piece in the middle. Rolls wrapped in leaf-shaped paper easily become Tolkien’s lembas bread. You can emulate Dr. Seuss’s roast beast by adding a couple of extra turkey or chicken legs to your roast. Of course, butterbeer is always a good choice for beverages, as well. Get creative and you’ll be showing your loved ones the best side of nerd culture.
I stalwartly believe that you should be able to be yourself and have fun when you’re with your loved ones. But sometimes, it takes a little discernment and nuance to make our favorite fandoms suit the occasion. Be mindful of and considerate to the tone that your loved ones want to strike for holiday gatherings, but putting a little extra fun into the festivities never hurt anyone. Long live the nerdy holiday!
Marie is a cosplayer and costume consultant who has found, through trial and error, that there are very few places that are not appropriate for nerdiness.
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.
Espionage Cosmetics launches premier
Nail-Art Line via Kickstarter
You’ve seen the Espionage Cosmetics team at every con you’ve attended in the last 3 years. You’ve played with the tiny Jayne hats that top the Browncoats collection, and you’ve squeed over the facebook pics of Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day with the shadows as you sign up for giveaways hosted by your favorite bloggers. Here’s what’s next from your favorite purveyors of geek-chic cosmetics…
NAILED IT! On August 5, 2013, Espionage Cosmetics—the makers of hugely popular mineral make-up by and for nerds—launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign (www.EspionageCosmetics.com/Kickstarter) for their latest product line, “NAILED IT!,” the world’s first nail-art line designed exclusively for nerds and lovers of all things glitter. 8 nerd-inspired designs are printed on high-quality, self-adhesive nail wraps that can be filed to a custom fit, with the potential to unlock up to 24 nerd-tastic designs. According to Espionage Cosmetics representatives, NAILED IT! is designed for “those of us who don’t have the time or talent to make our nails look like a Pinterest board.”
NAILED IT! is designed with you and your crazy eclectic, nerdy interests in mind. How about these gems: Cthulhu-inspired glitter tentacle wraps; turtle nails with glitter masks and googly eyes (googly eyes!); zombie nails dripping with glitter blood… and that’s just the first level of products available for pre-order on the Kickstarter.
Not just another Kickstarter. Espionage representatives say, “We know everyone is so tired of hearing about Kickstarter. That’s why we’re using this like a pre-order. Instead of rewards, you get the actual product, and help to fund the line for other customers.” Espionage Cosmetics is aiming for a goal of $20,000 in pre-orders with an “unlock achievement” feature, where sales past the goal unlock bigger rewards for all subscribers. As soon as the first achievement is unlocked, everyone who has ordered product at or above $100 automatically gets more nail-art—for free!—in their cart.
After the Kickstarter, for those who can’t make it to Espionage Cosmetics table at a convention, your best bet is to head over to ThinkGeek.com… they’ll be carrying the entire line in fall 2013.
The NAILED IT! Kickstarter includes products and rewards at every price point, from $15 to $10,000 and several points in-between. What does that get you? Some examples: $15 for a single nail-art set; $200 for a grab bag of Espionage Cosmetics products valued at $300; at $10,000 you can “Get Espionage’d.” At that level, you’re invited into Espionage Cosmetics design studios where the creative team (whose work has been published in Rolling Stone and other big-name publications) will design and shoot a photo concept for you, including professional wardrobe, hair, make-up, and graphic design. “This offer is ideal for people who are rebranding an existing product, getting started with a new business, or for anyone who just wants to live out an ultimate cosplay or fantasy photo-shoot experience.
Nerd-inspired designs, you say? Other NAILED IT! designs to look forward to include: Cats (“the Internet on your nails,” in high-quality photo format), chain mail, circuit boards, and full sets of glitter nails in versatile colors specifically designed for cosplayers (Black Widow? Wonder Woman? Covered). Espionage reps say they’re especially excited about the Nebula Nails set: wraps bursting with neon cloud
swirls and black holes. “You can find galaxy designs all over Pinterest and the Internet, but none of them are real, existing nebulas. We’re nerds and we like accuracy, so we scoured the night sky for the prettiest, coolest nebulas.”
Espionage Cosmetics: All girl, all nerd, all amazing. Espionage Cosmetics is a small, woman-owned business based in Tacoma, Washington, creating make-up for nerds, by nerds. “We’re a niche make-up company,” say Espionage representatives. “We have other things going on besides the perfect eyeliner. You’ll see us where we hang out, where our customers hang out. We’re at comic book stores and conventions.” …with the perfect glitter eyeliner, of course. Like you have to ask.
Founded in 2011, the company has seen enormous growth in their niche nerd market. In the last year alone, Espionage Cosmetics has expanded from a living-room operation to a Tacoma-based studio space with 3 fulltime women employees. Bi-monthly product launches and fully produced ad campaigns pour out of the studio manned by a full-time wardrobe master/cosplay expert, an interns and conventions coordinator, and the CEO/artistic director/marketing coordinator (her business card says Glitter Jedi).
NAILED IT! nail art is the latest Espionage Cosmetics product line, joining the newly released lip-gloss lines and the Espionage staple, “Everything Shadow,” a large range of mineral make-up colors that can all be used for 17 different cosmetic uses and counting. Everything Shadow has been featured on the Geeky Hostess, Fashionably Geek, and by popular youtube stars. Espionage also continues to draw clientele from high-profile Nerd Celebrities, including Bonnie Burton, Felicia Day, Chloe Dykstra from Heroes of Cosplay on Sci-Fi
network, and Ashly Burch (the voice of Tiny Tina on Borderlands 2).
Last words? Kickstarter pre-orders will be delivered in December 2013.
In my many journeys through the internet, I stumbled across something awesome, and thought it deserved to be shared. Catherine Gretschel with Aisha Voya Creations makes these intricately glittered geeky shoes by hand. Men, do not get disheartened, for I have picked out some slides for a man.
Not only are they very expertly done, but she has such a fun geeky collection. Take a look:
All of those pics lead to the actual shoes, and it looks like she has a ton of sizing options. Take a look at her shop for other fun geekness: http://www.etsy.com/shop/aishavoya
Writing by: Ian Thomas
Art by: Adam Bolton
This is the story of a little boy who has lost his pet and sets out on a journey to find it. He’s searching for his Shoggoth; what exactly that is remains a mystery until the end. This is a children’s book but with a definite horror theme, filled with gloriously detailed monsters and ghouls. As the boy travels through all sorts of spooky terrains and encounters all sorts of creatures he’s disappointed when each one is not exactly his Shoggoth.
The art of Where’s My Shoggoth is just plain gorgeous. Super detail, gothic coloring, so much careful attention to the particular textures and weight in each individual environment. Although the creatures are satisfyingly scary for an adult to enjoy, the boy’s easy bravery and casual attitude towards them keeps the story from ever being too terrifying for a child. The kid never shows a bit of fear when faced with a new beast, which keeps the story light-hearted. It’s a very crafty, well done approach to children’s material with in the horror genre.
Where’s My Shoggoth is a brilliant mix of Dr. Seuss style rhyme and rhythm, classic ‘searching for my mommy/pet/friend’ story line and H.P. Lovecraft demons. There are some extra great goodies included here too, like a Chutes & Ladders type board game. In all aspects, this is a fantastic book for the kids who enjoy a little scare and of course just in time for Halloween!
Where’s My Shoggoth is available now from.