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Emerald City Comic Con 2012: The Costumes

My apologies for the Mindy overload here, had to jump in a few pictures with these awesome folks.

Slideshow of the great costumes at Emerald City Comic Con 2012:

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San Diego Comic Con 2012: A Nerd’s Perspective

I’ve only been to San Diego Comic Con once. In 2010. At the time I remember how insane it seemed to purchase tickets in September 2009 for an event taking place in July 2010. But it was an exciting life goal to cross off my list. My spouse and two closest friends were in attendance. We booked hotel rooms together and spent the weeks before planning out itineraries and scouting out the convention center. Or maybe just I did. Yeah, I think it was just me.

San Diego Comic Con LogoIt’s a great experience. Not only is there a chance of spotting or chatting with your favorite writer, artist or celebrity, but you end up meeting all kinds of cool people in epic hours-long lines with the same kinds of passions and enthusiasms as you. Magic happens when people with like interests meet. I’m still Facebook friends with a couple we met in line for The Avengers panel, wherein we hugged random strangers afterwards because there was so much joy and love in the room.

Once in a lifetime was enough for me. Especially since topping The Avengers panel is pretty much impossible.

There was a moment in 2010 when we were standing in line to register and looking at the booth set-up for purchasing 2011 tickets. I almost dashed over and bought a ticket a year in advance. I thought better of it.

I don’t regret the decision. As much as I loved my San Diego Comic Con experience, there were parts of it that never jived well for me. The near-crushing at the WB booth, standing in line for hours to get some crappy trinket I wouldn’t buy with my own money (SWAG!), and the cattle like approach to meeting people you’d admire where the seconds-long interaction is a blur.

ALSO: The relentless product whoring and Hollywood inundation was stifling and frustrating. Everywhere you turned some movie or television show was jammed in your face. You essentially pay money and wait in long lines to be advertised to, all for the promise of exclusive content with leaks to the internet within days or hours anyway. You pay for the privilege of being a test market audience, radiating the promise of future box office profits to pleased investors. There is a seedy element to the manufactured fun at SDCC I never enjoyed.

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X-Men First Class: The Review

There’s some saying out there about expectations and how you shouldn’t get them “up” when you don’t know exactly what the outcome will be. It’s a saying because it’s mostly true. So there you have  it. I had ridiculous expectations for this film which didn’t translate to what we actually ended up viewing.

X-Men First Class Movie PosterBut I blame it on the pre-release fervor and those stupid Rotten Tomatoes numbers. 98%! 92%! Now it’s down to 88% – which sadly does not beat out The Dark Knight. But then again, X-Men: First Class hardly carries the same gravitas.

Not that it doesn’t make an attempt. It suffers a bit from Thor syndrome – it feels like three films in one and there’s hardly a moment to pause and breathe (except for maybe that wacky week-long montage). Really though, there’s much too much crammed into one film. It teeters perilously close to drowning in its own ambitions, but there was enough to rescue it from mediocrity (still kicking Thor’s Asgaardian ass).

*THAR BE SPOILERS BELOW*

THE GOOD: MAGNETO AND XAVIER

Who would have thought it was possible for Ian McKellen as Magneto to be upstaged by a young, muscular James-Bondy version of himself? Certainly not this lady. I had high hopes for Michael Fassbender after realizing I’d seen him in at least two other movies where he effortlessly stole the scenes. You might have missed him in Inglourious Basterds, Centurion and 300. In case you forgot how dead sexy and mostly naked he was in that last movie, here is a refresher:

That jump scene in the man-diaper? Delicious! And such intensity.

He has seriously made me fall deeply and madly in love with Magneto, who I’ve always kinda crushed on in the comic books especially when his clone Joseph was hanging around adding some extra tension to the Rogue and Gambit relationship. Though it was really hard to like him after he ripped all of Wolverine’s adamantium out of his body. Yeah, that happened. Kinda cruel.

Deeply surprised at a lack of similar sexual attraction to James McAvoy, who has been an actor crush since Atonement. No matter how hard they push the Charles Xavier as sex-kitten vibe, he cannot surpass the years of history I have with Xavier as a bald wise-old-sage. It would be like dating Buddha or finding him appealing during his younger years. Kinda skeevy.

Magneto however, has the bad boy image thang going for him. The heart-wrenching back story. Xavier’s evil-stepfather was non-existent and instead he spent his life apparently playing patriarch to Mystique if you can buy that. Which I can’t. That was the first bitter pill to swallow in this film. But that’s for later.

BFFs for Life! Until we spend the rest of it morally at odds. Whatevs. Chess is fun!

The Xavier-Magneto man love story was the drive of this film. Everything else, including the other mutants seemed secondary, dull and wasted. When you have two solid, attractive actors of their caliber – the entire film could have been hinged on them.

I wanted more of their story. I wanted the entire movie to be theirs because we only saw them on-screen for about 10-15 minutes of bonding before…you know, all the craziness happens (not going to spoil all of that ya’ll).

These two actors were hands down the best part of this film and decidedly rescued it from itself. The same cannot be said for the rest of the flick.

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Wonder Northwest 2011: Recap

Sad to say – even with no expectations, Wonder Northwest did not live up to them. The DH and I each bought a weekend pass but only ended up attending Day One. It was advertised as a Comics and Pop Culture expo, but was severely lacking in the comics department.

Zombie fun at Wonder Northwest

The show floor was anemic compared to either Stumptown or the Portland Comic Book Show. The only publisher there was Dark Horse Comics. TFAW and Cosmic Monkey were representing with some books and a few artists/creators were sprinkled about…but mostly it was Toys and Collectibles. Those are the elements I usually steer clear of at cons. Did pick up two hardcover collections of The Stand and The Dark Tower series however. Digging on the Stephen King adaptations.

I did appreciate the live DJ (lots of great soul songs) but the volume made it difficult to chat so I’m kinda glad there weren’t artists or writers I wanted to see. We wouldn’t have been able to talk anyway. The booths in the registration area were cool – lots of great Portland organizations like PDXYar, The Alter Egos Society and PDX Browncoats representing.

All of the panel offerings were enticing, if not heavily attended. We were bummed to miss the Boilerplate, Zombie Epidemiology and Geeking Back to the Community panels due a series of unfortunate events (late arrival, leaving to put on zombie makeup, forgetting ID and having to drive home and back). I’m sure the costume contest on Sunday was awesome too, but we opted for dinner with my fam instead.

I guess what really threw me was the average age of the attendee. At least 50% of those in attendance were teens or early 20s. Loads of anime kids in costumes. It just made me feel so incredibly old! Didn’t really start enjoying myself until we hit up the hotel bar for a Zombie (the alcoholic beverage) and watched some nerdy Rock Band. Sadly cut short for zombie evening exploits.

The Zombie Walk itself was lackluster compared to previous outings and getting all dressed up didn’t seem worth it by the time we got to the Bossanova Ballroom for the Zombie Prom. We arrived 30 minutes early to stand outside in the evening drizzle. Eventually many of the other folks split off and filtered on over to the Lovecraft for the official after party.

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Wonder Northwest 2011: Preview

Blocked out the weekend to attend the Wonder Northwest Portland Comics and Pop Culture Expo. This will be the first time, so I’m not really sure what to expect. Judging from their website however, there is lots to do – panels from 11-6pm, the exhibit hall from 10am-5pm and a Gaming Room from 10am-6pm.  Also features Rock Band, a costume contest and Cosplay karaoke. And the after parties seem pretty kick-ass as well. 

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SATURDAY
Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture — 11am – 11:45
Did you know that there’s an organization here in Portland that plans all the nerdy events you all love to attend so much? Well, there is, and here they are! Think of them as the Justice League, but without awesome super powers! The geek Mafia without all that messy mafia stuff! A real life organization that represents you! Come find out what they are doing and what you can do to help.

Boilerplate: Behind the Scenes — 12noon – 12:45
Meet the real Boilerplate! Creator Paul Guinan and his co-author/wife, Anina Bennett, will reveal the origin of everyone’s favorite steampunk robot, discuss plans for a Boilerplate movie produced by J.J. Abrams, perform excerpts from Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, and give you a sneak peek at their next book. Featuring an extremely rare appearance by Paul’s handmade Boilerplate model.

Gays In Comics: Portland Edition! –1pm – 1:45
Industry insider Andy Mangels will host a panel of comics professionals and their experiences in the industry.

Star Wars Filming Locations — 2pm – 2:45
Gus Lopez will present an overview of the Star Wars filming locations used for both Original and Prequel Trilogies. From the deserts of Tunisia to the glaciers of Norway, from the redwoods of California to palaces in Italy, Gus has been hunting Star Wars locations for 15 years. In this panel, he will show photos of the actual locations used to shoot these films, how the sites have changed over time, and some of the cool “souvenirs” he found on location. Learn about traveling on your own to a galaxy far, far away…

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Nerdy Ladies and Geek Credibility

There’s been a lot of speculation on teh internets in the last week on what it means to be a Geek Girl and whether or not it’s appropriate or needed to reference your gender when describing yourself thusly. There’s also been talk about whether or not “attractive womenz” can be geeks without being seen as pandering to a target demographic. Also some rumblings about geek cred in general. What is geek? Who is geeky? DEFINE PLEASE.

Dire questions for the ages. Like trying to define cool or hip or…it’s a labyrinthine process that only ends in tears. Since that way = madness, I will not even attempt.

So should ladies have to describe themselves as “Geek Girls” rather than just geeks?

At first I was like: Hell No!

But now I’m like: Why not?

This is how Geek Girls fight on the internet!

What does it say about a person if they are uncomfortable with peeps referencing their own gender? It goes back to this whole thang that pops up every now and then when it comes to blogs written by women: I want your perspective, but not as a woman, as a person.

Inevitably (not hatin’, just sayin’) it’s a guy because being a white male entitles you to not ever think about being a white male. The entire existence of the world is crafted around submerging you into a comfortable bubble which echoes back everything you love and hold dear as being “normal and cool” while everything else is foreign, bewildering, and frustrating. You simply tolerate it because when you express this frustration/bewilderment, the other beings around you with less comfortable bubble lives get fucking pissed.

The truth of the matter is: Experiencing popular culture/nerd and geek culture is different for everyone (I’m throwing my weight behind this being true for a lot of men/women specifically). Not because we say so, just cause IT IS WHAT IT IS. And there is value in naming your experience. Am I right? I think I’m right…

At times my experience as a woman seems irrelevant, but at times it seems very relevant. As is any bias or lens with which you view the world. Owning up to it and being honest about it is totally cool.

What’s all the fuss about then? Apparently if you are pleasantly shaped and easy on the eyes – you have to work harder to be seen as legit. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SERIOUS? This is especially true for Geekdom, in which the entrance is closely guarded by cave trolls and a bull with a nose-ring that wants you to memorize, recite and argue geek trivia as if he were your 8th grade history teacher.

Which is fucking stupid. I should not have to pass a fucking quiz to be a geek. I geek, therefore I am. Simple as that.

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Free Comic Book Day 2011: Recap

Saturday was my second time participating in Free Comic Book Day, and the first time with my wee little nephews in tow. They are 8 and 5 years old and have been raised on a steady diet of comic book flicks and books/toys we smuggle into them from our nerdy corner of the family. 

It wasn’t a great leap then, to bring them into the fold with their first experience of a comic book shop. In fact, it’s something I’d been scheming since last year when I realized the goal of FCBD should be getting books into kids hands and allowing them to determine what books they want to develop a love for.

Nurturing this love is about 2/3rds desperate hope that it will catch with at least one of them, and 1/3 vague interest on their part. I think the eldest might be the most intrigued – the others are pretty young still. But it’s inspiring that popular culture is so engaged with comic books and their characters. I think it bodes well for crafting future readers and fanatics out of at least SOME of my nephews (and niece).

They certainly seem pleased here (if a little skeeved out by the Pirates from PDXYar):

My nephews displaying their Free Comic Book Day 2011 booty

My personal interest in the books offered on FCBD is vague at best. One-shots are usually not my style, unless they are substantial. None of the  books really piqued my interest, but I did take advantage of the Things From Another World Hollywood special offers: $2 graphic novels (picked up The Stand: Captain Trips) and 60% off The Dark Phoenix Saga graphic novel I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Happy face!

We also picked up more Firefly accoutrements for the Prius, which we’ve already decorated the car interior with:

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Free Comic Book Day 2011: Portland Preview

Some of youse out there might know already, but Saturday is the national and annual Free Comic Book Day 2011. The DH and I have charge of two nephews (their dad is off in Tennessee processing insurance claims from the Southern Tornado devastation last week). Therefore, our activities might be much more muted than last year, but I’m pretty excited about the prospect of introducing one of my nephews to his first comic book shop (ESPECIALLY on FCBD).

They are extra lucky, because we’re also taking them to Thor on Friday night. I don’t doubt there will be a free comic there (as there was for Iron Man 2 last year).

So what’s going down in Stumptown that is kid friendly at our comic shops? I’ll divulge all right here.

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GUAPO COMICS & COFFEE

-From 10am to 6pm FREE COMICS while supplies last

– No in-store artists or signings or other special events are advertised. You should stop by anyway if you’re in the neighborhood!

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COSMIC MONKEY COMICS

– I’ll assume 10am or 11am-6pm FREE COMICS while supplies last (as most stores are doing) no times are indicated.

– Didn’t have much posted on their webpage and only a small blurb on their Facebook profile mentioning two artists will be available for signings, with no time frames included.

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THINGS FROM ANOTHER WORLD

– From 10am to 7pm FREE COMICS while supplies last, $2 Doorbuster graphic novels, 60% off hundred of sale items, TFAW bucks, signings, stormtroopers and pirates.

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Stumptown Comics Fest 2011: Day One

Skipped the Friday Kick-Off party because of the plagues. 

Stumptown Movin On Up to the Convention Center

Saturday we arrived at the Convention Center a bit late – we didn’t prep for this particular comics event ahead of time, so we were scrambling before heading out. It’s important to pack essentials and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this last years batch of cons…it’s how to do so effectively.

FOR EXAMPLE:

Camelpaks. Especially the two we have – they double as backpacks and carry drinkable water around so you don’t have to purchase any. BONUS: Small backpacks lessens the incentive to purchase more than you can possibly hold.

Layers – especially light ones that you can shed easily and pack around.

Snacks – con food is always expensive

Smart Phone. Camera. Aspirin. Hand sanitizer. Chapstick. Gum. Poster case (for prints). Extra camera battery. Pack of cards. Band-Aids. Pen. Small Durable Notebook. Business Cards.

That’s the Geek Convention Survival Guide in a nutshell. Even at a smallish convention close to home, this is still the case.

It should be noted that Stumptown equipped attendees with some awesome gifts this year in the form of a reusable “swag bag” that doubles as a grocery bag.

Awesome Swag Bag. No you cant have one. 🙂

We grabbed about six of those suckers and fully intend to use them at your next shopping excursion. Fantastic way to advertise and be environmentally friendly. Woot!

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 Brian Michael Bendis: Writing for Graphic Novels Panel

Brian Michael Bendis at Stumptown Comics Fest 2011

One of the best things that came out of this hour was Bendis sharing the books that are on his syllabus, what he uses in his particular arsenal to write good comics. Well, I suppose that’s debatable, if you don’t think he does write good comics. As I’ve said before – I like this man as a teacher and a writer – probably even a person. But I’m not a huge fan of what he does at Marvel.

His writing course includes the following books:

Story (Robert McKee)

Comics and Sequential Art (Will Eisner)

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (Will Eisner)

The Writer’s Journey (Christopher Vogler)

On Directing Film (David Mamet)

I’ve already spoken of my intentions here to register for his Fall 2011 course, so getting a sneak peek into his syllabus and pre-reading some of these books will no doubt be quite helpful in preparing.

He had a very interesting take on developing characters. Whereas most people think of character as characterization (brand of cigarettes, soda, how they dress, speak), he talked about building characters by the choices they make and how that defines what kind of person they are. And how well you develop a character is by how honest or truthful the choices that character makes. Which rings so true, especially in genre fiction (or genre anything). I always tell Dan “I can buy 500 foot tall aliens and space travel…but I cannot suspend my disbelief when it comes to characters.”

He mentioned something brought up in another panel – half of writing is research. Especially if you have a wide audience, because someone will always be an expert in whatever subject you’re writing. So in order to not be seen as full of crap, you need to take advice from others and try as much as possible to be knowledgeable in the subject area in which you’re writing.

He talked about the relationship between writers and artists – how in his early days he would sketch basically the entire book for the artist along with his script. And then finally someone told him not to do that, because it was a bit insulting. So now he tries to imbue as much emotion into the writing as possible and steps back to let his artists do their thing…just like a good director. Which is interesting, comparing writing a comic book to directing a film. There are some similarities, but it seems like writers don’t have much control (unless they write and draw) over their final vision.

It would seem in writing comics – the relationship between the artist and writer could be the toughest hurdle. Something I hadn’t even considered until this panel. Best piece of advice? “Write something that is worth an artists time.”

He encouraged people to self publish and write about something they love – not try to “break into the industry.” Just make something they are proud of and care about first and then market it second. Seems like pretty sound advice to me.

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After the panel we hit the convention floor and ran into Carolyn Main who was selling Zombie Attack Panties. I’ve wanted a pair since she posted pics of them back in December, but am usually slow to purchase things on the net. Of course when they were up close and in person they had to be…snatched up:

Zombie Attack Panties!

The Fest seemed much larger than last year, not sure if there were more vendors or if the venue was just large enough that you could actually spot them all. When tables and booths are crammed in together, it’s hard to make people/books out. But this year I felt like everyone got a pretty fair shake and with wider aisles and more room, we managed to troll the Fest floor at least two different times. We picked up three new books in the process:

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Stumptown Comics Fest 2011 Schedule

Due to a wide variety of awesome activities on the Stumptown Comics Fest 2011 docket – I have cancelled my volunteer duties to free up time for a personal pursuit related to my nerd bucket list. Attending the Writing for Graphic Novels/Teaching Comics panel became top priority once I spotted it on the schedule (smack dab in the middle of my volunteer shift).

I don’t mind shelling out $12 per person for the weekend admission + buying a shirt. All the proceeds will help support the Fest, which was ultimately the goal of volunteering in the first place.

It’s been my plan to take the Portland State University Graphic Novel writing course from Bendis for the last couple years. And it’s gonna happen this year – Fall 2011. It seemed appropriate to make this panel a priority so I can get all the info about how to insert myself into this course.

Seeing as “Writing a Comic Book” is on my nerd bucket list, I’d like to cross it off this year while I’m doing the student thing again anyways.

With a newly freed schedule, I sat down to plot out my weekend, only to realize Stumptown had gotten on board with a handy app I first used at Emerald City Comic Con – The Conventionist. It’s amazing for a tech/smart-phone addicted – hyper organized lady like myself. Plus, it saves trees!

The next few days boast an intense schedule of comic books and beer. Due to the cold, I’ll probably only be partaking in the comic books. 😛

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FRIDAY

Stumptown Comics Fest Friday Night Party at Guapo Comics. Pilfered from their website: This is our Sixth Annual Stumptown tie-in party, reading, and presentation of the awesome Maisie Kukoc Award for Comics Inspiration. This year’s reading features the amazing and talented Jon Lewis, Karen Sneider, Chris Cilla, Jonas Madden-Connor, Daria Tessler, and the Play Overlord Crew (Theo Ellsworth, Amy Kuttab, and Sean Christensen). We will also be debuting out latest art show, “The Haunted Cartoon Vaults.” You can’t find a better excuse to celebrate independent comics and self-publishing! Drinks and snacks will be provided.

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