Monthly Archives: July 2013

Turning those Comic-Con “Cons” in to Positive Experiences

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Comic-Con movie imageSince I’ve yet to make it out to the fangirl Mecca which is Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC), I took advantage of the con’s official Preview Night to enjoy the event from view Morgan Spurlock’s exceptional documentary “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” on the chaos, anxiety, passion, disappointment and dream-making that melds together to make the event each year.

As much as I enjoyed (and related to) the film, it left me with a sense of uneasiness and well, a bit of despondence for this ever-growing event that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Was it the idea the mega-film world taking over the purity of the original Comic-Con mission, the flippancy in which the comic book “ins” treat the hopeful artists or writers, the celebrity worship (yes, I’ve written about those I like, but never consider them at a “higher lever” than myself) or just the sheer amount of humanity in all its supernatural forms pouring in and out of one place.

I’ve decided to turn my inner turmoil into a constructive guide to avoid post-con depression by taking five possible Con cons, as it were, and turning them in to positives:

Con: The movie industry (and its fans) has invaded the purity of the event.
Solution: There is no doubt about it, the “comic” in Comic-Con sees hidden amongst the flash of Hollywood hype, but don’t forget these cons are still the best places to buy signed artwork and books directly from some of the industry’s best, as well as haunt a few of the nation’s top comic book shops. While huge throngs crowd around the latest celebrity appearance, there are slightly smaller numbers around comic book dealers and artists. I’m not telling you to avoid the “movie and television” feature, particularly those inspired by comic book properties, but if you want to avoid feeling lovingly patronized by the “pretty people,” skip the panel presentations and head to more immersive set mock-ups and prop displays. Those are the real stars.

Con: There are so many others trying to get their “foot in the door” in the comic industry…too many!
Solution: For those wanting to “make it” as a writer or artist, keep in mind (and I know you’ve heard this before) some of today’s biggest names in comics were give the old “brush off” by some well-meaning critics. Frank Miller even said he was told to go back and “pump gas” somewhere since he obviously wasn’t meant to break into the business. I know this type of “tough love” can hurt. Trust me, as a long-time writer, it cuts deep to hand your artistic “baby” over for sacrifice only to have it passed over with a “you’re just not what we need” remark. But there is an advantage of getting out there, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean a job. First, a little humility doesn’t hurt. There are a ton of over-the-top talented artists out there, most of whom will never see a published work from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse or any other recognized labels.  This is where you need to face one tough question: “Are you doing this for the love of the craft, or for ‘celebrity status’ recognition?” I’m not judging here, attention, applause and recognition can be addictive.  But take any rejection and criticism with a grain of both salt and sugar…don’t discount the critiques and use them to better your work, but don’t let them spiral you into self-loathing.  If you are doing this for love of the craft and don’t get any “bites” from the big wigs, look for small, regional or local publishers, self-publish, start a blog or get your work on social arts sites that provide encouragement and feedback such as deviantART or etsy (depending on what you’re medium is). Above all, relish in the talented folks you meet while at the ‘con and leave with the resolve to never stop creating….and sharing…your work.

Con: Look at that guy? Am I really that nerdy? Do I really want to be around these people…BE these people?
Solution: Yes you do, along with thousands and thousands of others. Don’t be uptight and smug. Yes, there are those stereotypes that make you feel either a lot worse (of a whole lot better) about yourself, but if the draw to embrace the inner fanboy wasn’t so strong, the birth of the “Hipster” movement of cool poser nerds would never have happened. Everyone secretly wants to let their guard down and just relish life and its eccentricities. This is a place where you can do this!

Just dive in and enjoy it!

Just dive in and enjoy it!

Con: There are just too, too, too many people. It’s like India with capes instead of saris.
Solution: This is a legit gripe. I kind of adhere to Randal’s ironic “Clerks” philosophy of disliking people but loving gatherings. One thing you need to realize, prepare for and understand early…there will be many, many, oh so many people at SDCC. If this is the one thing keeping you from moseying to San Diego, I’ve learned there are a lot of smaller ‘cons worldwide with similar offerings of artists, celebrities, book signings, cosplay opportunities and traveling exhibits that aren’t so overwhelmingly large. I have a blast at my local cons, and so do plenty of others across the nation. But keep in mind, every relationship between a large con and con-goer is special, but will never be an exclusive one. You’ll have to share it with others, and meet others you’ll want to share I with, too.

Con:  Great, here’s yet another venue the “pretty” have taken over from us regular people. I am a troll.
Solution: Here’s a little something I’ve learned along my lifelong journey of low body image. At Comic-Con (and this includes all cons), NOBODY really cares how you look…. as long as YOU like the way you look. There are people there in Weta Workshop and ILM-worthy suits with animatronics and their own light shows, and those who painted eyes on an upside-down KFC bucket screaming “I’m a Storm Trooper!!!!” Comic-con crowds are bridge-building crowds, where everyone is on an equal level, as long as they want to be. Once you have built that bridge..get over it and have fun.

Don’t forget to check out Spurlock’s ”Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” if you get a chance. Well worth a look.


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My Doctor: The Time Lord Who Got Me Hooked on the Iconic BBC Series (and Stole My Heart in The Process)

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The following commentary is part of a tribute article for ihogeek.com to the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. My personal pick is The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.  To get fellow writers Leia Calderon’s and Jen Schiller’s tributes to Ten and Eleven, check out the full article at ihogeek.com/2013/07/14/my-doctor.

ninth doctor

Eccleston

Compared to other voracious followers of the trio of “new post-Time War era” Doctors, I’m a relative newcomer, and only this year began watching — and getting hooked on — Time Lords.

Years ago, my official “first Doctor,” was the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and in my mind he will always be the man worthy of the title THE Doctor, the quintessential poster boy for the show’s legacy. However, he isn’t My Doctor, that honor caught me and my solitary heart quite unexpectedly off guard, when the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, first invited me (okay, and Rose Tyler), to join him.

To think we almost skipped him, due to suggestions that “Ten is the Favorite” (and rightly so, Tennant is excellent in the role).  Had, I done that, I would have missed the first (and still my favorite, so far), leg of the journey.

Now I have to give credit where credit is due: no one handled the role with more energy and character than David Tennant. He’s an incredible, crazy, wild-eyed loon with whom I seem to personally share much in common; from his love of Star Wars to his favorite bands to his wardrobe choices (actually, I’m not so sure he isn’t dipping into my closet when I’m not looking and stealing my shirts and Converse).  Matt Smith has also won my respect for his treatment of his fan base, particularly when it comes to his thankful acknowledgement that they are the ones to whom he owes his fame. I love his handling of his youngest fans in particular. To both these men, I say “job well done, indeed.”

But Christopher, in my opinion, just doesn’t get the credit he deserves, from the obvious — he started the “new era” of The Doctor for an entire generation of fans — to the more subtle nuances of bringing a diversity of expression and emotion that could be downright goofy with spot-on slapstick timing, sometimes eerily dark and predatory, awkward and nerdy as a love struck teen, and a diehard action hero badass.

I was also weirdly surprised, I might add, at how incredibly appealing — and incredibly sexy — I found his look. While every other Doctor before, and since, veered from the eccentric butler to a hipster Pee Wee Herman (love ALL those looks, I promise), the post-war leather-and-tight-jeans made him not only someone I could follow to the next planet system in the vortex, but hop on the back of a vintage Indian Chief motorcycle heading down the highway blaring psychobilly — not that I’ve actually had that thought, mind you. Well, not more than three, maybe four times, tops.

His tenure as The Doctor was passionate, energetic and just plain fun. I’m not planning on getting into the politics of his departure (although I have found him to be very diplomatic on the issue), except to say it was far, far too soon for me. Just thinking of “The Parting of Ways” from Series 1 sends an unrelenting shiver of sadness through me.

I realize each Doctor has, and deserves, his day, but I know I’m not alone in wishing, Nine would step from the TARDIS, extend his long arm, gaze intently into our soul with those piercing blue eyes and ask in his Northern accent, “Would you dance with me one more time?”

The 50th Anniversary show of “Doctor Who” airs on BBC One Nov. 23, 2013 with Matt Smith’s final episode just in time for Christmas.

Three Doctors: Nine, Ten and Eleven

Three Doctors: Nine, Ten and Eleven

How to Make Patriotic Captain America Shield Signs and Buntings

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Captain America Shield ArtIt’s time to turn those hours spent doodling Captain America’s shield onto the toes of your Converse into All-American, patriotic Mom pleasin’ and apple pie-eatin’”, patriotic (and kid-friendly) holiday and summer craft with tin post signs and bunting.

Okay, yes, I draw X-wings too, but they’re not round or red, white and blue. So, moving on, here’s what you need:

For tin signs:shield materials
Empty pie tins
Craft paint (red, white and blue)
Wood dowel or cheap chopsticks
Duct tape

For bunting:
Coffee filters
Sharpies or other markers
Yarn or rope
School glue

The craft is as simple drawing a Captain America’s shield on a round surface, so here’s a couple of quick tips:

  • If you can’t draw circles with a steady hand, use different sized bowls, cups or coasters and trace around.  Or, if you don’t already have one, buy a cheap artist compass. Big time saver.
  • The hardest part is making an even five-point star. The trick here is to get a little…for lack of a better phrase…evil. Draw a “five line” star like the ones you learned as a kid inside a circle lightly and evenly so it is a good shape (this will look a little…okay, exactly…like a death-metal-ish pentagram, but lighten up…it’s just a star. Erase all the center lines…or paint over them, and its instant patriotism.

    Left: "evil"....Right: "patriotic"

    Left: “evil”….Right: “patriotic”

Okay, now for the easy part — the craft itself:

For the Tin Signs:

  1. You’ll notice the pie tin has already done half the work for you, as its pattern is the same of the First Avenger’s shield….WOW, WHO KNEW? Gently cut the walls of the tin with scissor you don’t really care about (it can cut you, so be careful), and there’s your naked shield. If you’re working with young kids, you can line the edge with a thin strip of duct tape for safety purposes. Now, use the center as a “coloring page” to paint on the shield with craft paint.
  2. Attach the chop stick to the back of the tin with duct tape and place in plants, gardens lawns, or anywhere you want your patriotic geek flag to fly. These do better indoors, but if you want to place them out in the elements, I suggest coat of clear spray paint to decoupage sealer to protect it.IMG_0437
  3. Want to challenge yourself a little? Make Captain’s early shield by cutting out the shield examples (clip art of these is easy to find), and following Step 2 again.  Since the stars will be much smaller, it may be easier to cut out the stars on the pattern with an X-acto knife to use as a stencil.

Now, let’s make some matching bunting. I know the tin signs are more than enough for decoration, but I’m creating these on Fourth of July weekend, and I just want an excuse to use the word “bunting.”IMG_0436

For the Bunting:

  1. Flatten out as many coffee filters as you need (about five or seven will span a window pretty well), and use Sharpies or similar fine-tipped markers to draw the basic shield pattern.
  2. Depending on how many “shields” you made, cut the yarn or rope as long as needed and tie a loop at both ends for hanging.  If you’re not sure about the length, attach the filters before cutting the rope.
  3. Use a small amount of glue alongside the rope and center the coffee filter exactly halfway over it, the fold the filter, using a small amount of glue to attach both halves together. Do this for all your filters, and it’s done! Already!

Now, go out and hang those buntings…you may be just a kid from Brooklyn, Cap, but you’re ready to salute you’re country! And eat more pie.IMG_0439