Posts tagged DC Universe

Steampunk 101 Panelists

Making Comic Con Your Own – Steampunk Style

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San Diego Comic Con International 2013 has been over for a few weeks now.  Attendees have finally recuperated from the chaos and excitement that is SDCC.  As exhausting and chaotic as the pop culture convention is, the experience is also an extremely rewarding one for many.  One of my favorite aspects of SDCC is the sense that not only are you part of a massive geek/nerd community, but you can also create your own world within that community.  Whether you love steampunk cosplay or consider yourself the ultimate TV geek, there are different experiences for any fan at SDCC, you just have to make it.  This is the first post in what I hope to be a couple of interviews with women who helped create their own personalized mini-universe within the zeitgeist that is SDCC.

Dina as Steampunk Malificent at WonderCon 2013

Dina as Steampunk Malificent at WonderCon 2013

Lady Steam (aka Dina Kampmeyer) is a co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and a self-described steampunk aficionado.  This year Dina moderated two panels on steampunk at SDCC, The Witty Women of Steampunk and Steampunk 101in addition to cosplaying as a steampunk Luke Skywalker.  If you are interested in hearing more about Dina’s involvement with the League of Extraordinary Ladies, you can read her thoughts in a previous interview NiB had with her (and other LxLers).

1)  How did you first get interested/involved in steampunk?

Dina Kampmeyer (DK): I started dating someone that was a steampunk and I had absolutely no idea what it is, but I was instantly drawn to the aesthetic. I jumped in with both feet and wanted to meet other people in LA that were into the same thing. The community was a bit disorganized, so I started volunteering my time to start planning occasional events and moderate the two FB pages that were already up and running.

2)     What was your first steampunk costume?

DK: It was a pseudo-military look. I bought this great jacket online and went crazy modifying it. I cut off the sleeves, laced up the sides and added a ton of trim, buttons, epilets, etc. Then I added a bunch of ruching to this old skirt I had from college. Added a straw hat from the Renaissance Faire and boom, (not so) instant steampunk.

3)     One thing I particularly love about SDCC is the feeling of belonging while at the same time creating your own reality/dream. Steampunk seems to fit into this idea perfectly. Why do you think steampunk has gained so much interest/traction at SDCC and other conventions?

DK: I think there are a lot of reasons why steampunk has become so popular in general, but in terms of conventions, I would say people just love the aesthetic. It’s so playful and it really allows costumers and cosplays a degree of freedom that they don’t usually have in other areas. Most cosplayers are looking to recreate an exact costume, but with steampunk, you don’t do that. You’re not dressing up as someone else’s character (in general), but rather creating a brand-new work of art. I think more people are getting into the genre now through this new trend of steampunking out existing pop culture characters. This is an easier way for them to explore steampunk while working with an existing product, but with an amazing degree of
creativity and freedom.

Steampunk Star Wars at SDCC 2013

Steampunk Star Wars at SDCC 2013

4)     What kind of advice can you give someone who is looking to create their first steampunk cosplay costume?

DK: Try not to be intimidated. I hear so many people who are interested in steampunk worry that they don’t have the “right”
clothing or accessories. There is very little right and wrong in steampunk and we LOVE to help out new people, give them advice and heck, even loan them clothes. Come to steampunk events even if you’re just starting out, take a look at outfits that you like, and ask people how they created things. Go to local thriftshops and try and use your imagination. You’ll be surprised at how much you can create with an old dress and a sewing machine (or some safety pins and tape if you don’t sew).

5)     You recently moderated a panel at SDCC called “The Witty Women of Steampunk.”  Can you give a general synopsis of the panel for those who were unable to attend SDCC (or the panel)?  What was your favorite moment of the panel?

DK: I was very lucky to have this panel accepted by the lovely folks at SDCC for the 2nd year in a row. Basically, I put together an incredible group of female creators and just let them talk about why they love steampunk and what about the genre appeals to them as a creator. We talked comics, alternate history, video games, costuming, multiculturalism and more.

6)     Why “Witty Women” of Steampunk?

DK: Part of what is so appealing about steampunk is a return to the Victorian ideals of the pursuit of knowledge and civility. People were very interested in improving both themselves and the world around them. I think we all long to return to a time when wit was a prized possession and my panelists all fit that bill.

Steampunk 101 Panelists

Steampunk 101 Panelists

7)     You also moderated a panel entitled, “Steampunk 101.” Based on discussions at that panel (and of course your own thoughts), what do see for the future of steampunk in popular culture?

DK: Excellent question. The popularity of steampunk has positively exploded over the past couple of years and we expect to see more and more of it in popular culture. It’s been huge amongst the convention crowd for a long time, but Hollywood is slowly starting to take notice. Fox just gleenlit a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV-pilot, so we’ll see if we finally get a big steampunk series. There has yet to be a big steampunk movie and the panelists (and audience) were all interested in seeing one. Steampunk-literature is popping up all over the NY Times bestseller chart, so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a big film coming out. Until then, we can keep ourselves occupied with all the fantastic literature and webseries that have directly explored the genre.

8)     This year you cosplayed as Steampunk Luke Skywalker.  What prompted you to do a gender-swap steampunk cosplay?

DK: Well, I have wanted to do a steampunk Star Wars group for several years and I finally managed to do it. I always intended to be R2D2, but time snuck up on me and we were missing a Luke from our core group, so I thought, why not? He was quite a challenge to find a way to make him distinctive since his outfit isn’t that unique and I was already going to confuse people by crossplaying. I hope that I succeeded and we’ll be building up this group for future conventions and adding some new characters.

 

Photo by Mike Rollerson

Photo by Mike Rollerson

Chrissy Lynn is a CA native who began costuming at a very young age. With a major interest in comics and scifi growing up she attended her first comic convention in 2004. She’s always had a passion for the arts; be it charcoal, make-up, costume design or music. She’s used her talents and skills to help fundraise for many non-profit charity organizations and enjoys cosplaying, especially her signature cosplay, Catwoman. Since her first Cosplay at Comicon in 2010 she’s been involved in 6 Cosplay groups, two of which she organized including the DC Steampunk group which debuted at SDCC in 2012. She was introduced to Steampunk in 2007, being a fan of HG Wells, Jules Verne and other scifi authors during the turn of the century she adopted the Victorian science fiction motif and made it apart of her daily style and Cosplay medium of choice. This year at San Diego Comicon she was invited by a good friend to join a Steampunk Star Wars group which turned out to be a hit and will be back at this year’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.

1) Your DC Steampunk cosplay group is amazing! How did that come together?

Chrissy Lynn (CL): It all started with having a passion for both the DC Comics universe and Steampunk Culture. I simply started piecing together the idea shortly after Comicon 2011 and thats when I called upon my very good friend Johnny Bias (Steampunk Riddler), from there we reached out to our close friends who we knew would be interested,and could all work together to make these costumes cohesive and photograph well. We all have a hand in something on everyone’s costumes, it’s a team effort that has grown into a family, some cosplayers retire their character and are replaced with other awesome cosplayers. I couldn’t be more proud of this group, we all did this together.

SDCC 2012 DC Steampunk Group - Photo by Mike Rollerson

SDCC 2012 DC Steampunk Group – Photo by Mike Rollerson

2) Did you all work together on your costumes? If so, which costume did you find the most challenging to put together?

CL: We all came from different skill sets, some of us are tailors and seamstresses, leather workers and some of us are FX and prop fabricators, or geniuses with industrial glue guns. So far what characters you haven’t seen in the group yet are our most challenging. But I’d say, my occasional challenge is doing our Two Face’s makeup because he is unfortunately allergic to latex, so next time I may need to work with silicone!

3) If you had unlimited resources, what would be your ultimate steampunk cosplay (group or individual)?

CL: I’ve been in talks with several individuals who want to do Disney Steampunk, I was honored to recently be a part of this year’s Star Wars Steampunk group with Dina, and I have to say I’d stick with the DC group, only make it BIGGER. 😉 However I wouldn’t mind doing a Steampunk X-men group, just sayin’!

4) Any advice to anyone else trying to put together a cosplay group (steampunk or otherwise) for a convention?

CL: YouTube is filled to the brim on HOW-TO’s and DIY videos, if you are a visual learner check those out, otherwise do what we all have done, trial and error. If I knew 5 years ago what I know now with today’s skill set I would have made ALL the things, at least better. But like any other trade it can take years to master, you don’t always need a sewing machine or unlimited funds, I have a gift for deconstructing pre-existing materials into other objects to fit my cosplay needs. So I encourage everyone to try and remember cosplay is just that, it’s costume play, so play and have fun no matter what!

 

DC Steampunk Photos by Mike Rollerson

Star Wars Steampunk Photo by Jerry Abuan

Steampunk Malificent Photo by Justin Davidson

gals

Mego: A Great Toy of the Past

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gals

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.

Image Courtesy of trekmovie.com

Image Courtesy of trekmovie.com

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.

NYCC – Day 2 in Photos

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I meant to post this yesterday, but I was too busy being a student. Sorry. Here is Day 2 of NYCC in photos.

The line getting in before doors opened on Saturday was insane. It gave me a chance to check out some of the costumes for the day though, like…

…this guy, who was my first Doctor Who sighting. He was standing behind me, and I couldn’t not take a picture. The fez was too cool.

OM Nom Nom, I wants cookies now.

This was the MTV Geek panel. Third from the left is Stan Lee, who announced his new project with them.

The DC Universe panel was in the same room as MTV Geek, so I stuck around to get the latest news on that front.

I saw this person when I was leaving the cafeteria. I didn’t expect to see such an epically awesome Codex costume, so of course I had to compliment her on it.

The LGBT panel was in the same room as the zombie panel I was going to, and we were able to sneak in about midway through. I was pleasantly surprised to see the room was packed with people actually interested in the topic, and not just people who were waiting to talk about zombies.

Next was the “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep” panel. It was quite entertaining.

Pizza time! The guys from the Roddenberry panel decided we deserved some pizza for sticking with them at the late hour.

Roddenberry panel. By the time we were finished, I was convinced I needed to add “Days Missing” to my graphic novel collection. I got to talk to the creator of the series the next day at his signing. He was super nice and a great start to my morning.

Day 2 was full of lots of fun things that won’t soon be forgotten. Although that can be said of the whole weekend. Up next, the third and final day. Stay tuned.

New York Comic Con – Day 2

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This is Part 2 of my 3-part series on Comic Con. Since there’s a lot to tell, I’m just going to get right into it.

7:00am – Wake up for another day of geek-tastic fun times. I am dressed and ready to go by 7:30, but need caffeine badly.
7:36 –  My uncle meets me at my house. Yes, I have a cool uncle who’s also a geek and loves comics even more than I do. He decides he wants to drive into the city. The adventure begins… but first, caffeine!
8:58 – Exit Lincoln Tunnel. Hello, NYC, I’m inside you now!
9:20 – Arrive at Javits Center and am approached by someone who recognizes my Jukebox the Ghost bag. I share my love of the band for a bit before proceeding.

It is madness and confusion. I am herded onto a line, but I know not what for. All I know is there are many people before me. I have to wonder at what ungodly hour they had to wake up to accomplish this feat. I mean, I thought I woke up early…

*costume sighting* – someone behind me is dressed as the 11th Doctor – complete with fez. I like fezzes. Fezzes are cool. I am inspired and start thinking of more costume ideas for Halloween.

9:50 – Doors open and everyone cheers. We slowly make our way in – back to where we started! Apparently before doors officially open it seemed like a good idea to our show-runners that they hide us in the basement. I do not question this and simply make my way to the next adventure.
10:23 – Stand in yet another line, this time for my second panel of the weekend with Stan Lee. This one is called “MTV Geek”.
10:55 – Still waiting in line. Had another Doctor Who sighting, this one the 10th Doctor. It made me smile. The more I think about it, the more I want to do a DW costume for Halloween this year. I start planning how to make this work and get even more excited. I wonder if the glow forming inside can be seen by those around me.
11:12 – They finally let us in, and we take our seats. I’m happy because this time I’m actually allowed to take pictures AND I have pretty good seats.
11:17 – Introductions. The crowd cheers loudly for their Brigadier, Stan Lee. The panel begins. Stan Talks about his project with MTV called “The Seekers”. It all seems to be very hush hush, but there is going to be a contest to win a chance to work on this thing with them. At least, that’s how it sounded to me. I wish I was talented enough to enter: *sigh*

Next we got a preview of some other projects MTV Geek is working on. Some stuff looks interesting, including a comic called Hell Town. At this point Stan Lee leaves, I’m assuming to do his signing. More books are introduced, including a graphic novel called “Agent Mom” that looks like it could be cool and is brought to us by Alaina Huffman *aka* Black Canary on Smallville.

Another book that looks like it has possibilities is “The Gloom” by Tony Lee, which, among other things, involves a monkey with a fez. See, I told you fezzes were cool. And I seriously can’t help but think of DW whenever fezzes are involved. Anyone else? Anywho, this book starts in November, and I do believe I will be checking it out. More info on all these things can be found at geek.mtv.com
11:48 – MTV panel ends. We move closer to the front for the next panel, “DC Universe”
12:10pm – DC panel begins to thunderous applause. The excitement energizes the room (although the Metallica music playing in the background certainly helps).

In the world of Superman we hear about “new Kryptonite” that affects us humans instead. *is intrigued* We also get news on Brightest Day and it is hinted that new things will be revealed, but no specifics are given. And in other news, Nick Spencer is taking over for Supergirl at Issue #60 (Jan 2011). And “Earth One” is announced, which gives us a look at Superman at the age of 21, when he makes the move to Metropolis and takes his final steps to becoming Superman. This is something that really peaks my interest, especially with Smallville coming to an end. The presentation concludes there and they open it up to questions.

1:14 – Panel ends. Time to eat.

*costume sighting* – Codex, from the webseries “The Guild”. This girl looks enough like Felicia Day for it to be both scary and awesome. I promise the picture will be part of the photo post I plan on doing (most likely Monday).

2:20 – Now that HP levels have been restored, we decide to wander the exhibits. I happen upon previously mentioned Codex and compliment her on her costume. The people I have met so far have been super friendly. It’s almost like a little nerd family.

Eventually a friend finds me amongst the masses. I later find out that yet another friend is here visiting from Boston.

After much browsing I discover two deals I could not pass up – the complete Dresden Files for $6 and the Dark Phoenix book for $7 (75% off!). Add 1 to the win column.

5:11 – I think I have covered just about every inch of this place. HP drained to the lowest amounts, I rest to bring levels back up.

(Sidebar – I don’t have to tell you “HP” refers to “hit points” and not “Harry Potter,” right? We’re all geeks here? Good. Moving on…)

5:46 – Bored, I start taking pictures of whatever is around me. I’m getting some good shots when, suddenly, my “low battery” light starts flashing. Glad I brought my spare ones. W00t for preparedness!
6:48 – Waiting in line for the “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep” panel, I chat with a couple of people about the blog (among other things). Might be seeing them tomorrow at the Walking Dead panel.
6:58 – I am joined by friends from yesterday and we enter the panel before ours, “LGBT Comics, Creators, and Characters”. The room is packed. I am pleasantly surprised that this is an issue many people seem to care about. I guess if anyone is going to be accepting of a group that happens to be “different” though, it would be this community.
7:44 – The zombie panel is about to start. They coax people in by saying, “The more of you we can pack in, the more of a threat we can pose to the convention when the apocalypse comes.” I know right away that this panel is going to be amusing.
7:50 – With everyone seated, the panel begins. The title of the panel is explained to be a chapter in the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies” by Mac Montandon, who was leading the panel. He introduced the rest of the participants, all of whom have their own zombie books out. One author had this to say – “Don’t buy internet small pox. If you take nothing else away from this, let it be that.”

The author of “Paul is Undead” (Alan Goldsher) credits Stephen King for giving him zombie fever. That and Shaun of the Dead. “Zombies and funny – count me in,” he says. Robin Becker, the author of “Brains”credits Dawn of the Dead to her indoctrination.

All of the panelists have a great sense of humor about their craft, especially Goldsher and Mira Grant (author of “Feed”). Grant had us in stitches as she described her background in zombies. Best quote came from her – “The zombies are the universal health care of the monster world. There’s no participatory stupidity on your part. They’re just gonna come for your a$$”. She actually had a lot of great quotes, too many to account for all of them. I wish I had my video camera and could have recorded most of this panel.

Eventually “Zombie Strippers” comes up and the moderator takes it as a cue to turn to the audience for questions. The panel offered free books to those who had a question to ask. When free things are mentioned, everyone jumps up. Well, maybe not everyone, but a significant number of them did. I thought the whole panel was really amusing and exceeded my expectations. Kudos to everyone involved.
8:45 – Panel concludes with one last word – Braaaiiinnss! I stay put for the next panel, “Roddenberry is Back”.
8:58 – Panel starts by feeding the audience. They figured since it was 9:00 we could use some food, so they got us pizza. I am oddly hungry after the zombie panel.

After everyone gets their food, the real panel starts with a video introducing us to the worlds Roddenberry has created. Next they talk about continuing the legacy that Gene Roddenberry started. One of the big projects mentioned was “Days Missing” – a graphic novel series they are working on. There is also talk of “keeping the spirit alive,” which refers to the spirit of their founder, Gene Roddenberry. They mention the documentary “Trek Nation” which was announced is finally done and will possibly be shown at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. The documentary is an “autobiography of Gene through the lens of his son”. We got a good look at all the projects they’re currently working on. Personally, I’m especially excited about ‘Days Missing”. It involves a character whom nobody knows but is apparently very important in history and has been a part of many critical events ranging all of time. Intrigued? Yeah, I was too. In fact, I thought the whole panel was really interesting, both smart and funny. The only thing that was disappointing was that more people weren’t hearty enough to stick around for this one last panel. Oh well, it just meant more food for us…
10:10 – The final panel of the evening comes to a close. Another great end to another great night.

That about wraps up this post. The rest is travel time and writing the actually blog. Gonna go to sleep now and recharge so I can do it all again tomorrow. One day left!

PS – In editing this post I read “travel time” as “time travel”. Yes, this is where my brain goes at 2am.

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