We already re-capped the nerd highlights of 2011, and as the new year is nearly upon us, it’s time to start getting excited about what it has to offer. Here are 12 nerdy movies (in chronological release date order) that we’re looking forward to.
#1. Underworld Awakening: January 20, 2012.
A total guilty pleasure. Yes, I own all the other Underworld movies. Yes, I watch them on an annual basis. Come on. Kate Beckinsale in tight black leather. Cool werewolf/vampire hybrids. It might not be Oscar worthy, but it will be fun.
#2. The Hunger Games: March 23, 2012.
#3. The Cabin in the Woods: April 13, 2012.
Joss Whedon. Drew Goddard. Chris Hemsworth. Scary movie. Where do I sign up?
Seth Grahame-Smith just might be the Godfather of a new trend: rewriting classic literature and reframing famous lives by adding ghouls and goblins to the stories.
Much like most of the other literate apes in the country I plunked down 12 hard-earned dollars and roughly 10 or so hours of my time (twice) to slough through a retooled version of a Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Would have to say that the former was not nearly as good as the latter. Perhaps it is a testament to Grahame-Smith’s sharpening quality as a writer, or my complete lack of understanding of the content of Abraham Lincoln’s life but I enjoyed the second book much more than the first.
The joke around this premise, the real tongue-in-cheek, goes to those who have already read the originals and understand just what is being manipulated in order to include a zombie attack or a vampire reference. Not that they cannot be enjoyed without previous readings, but I think understanding the original source augments the humor of the current version.
What was much improved from Grahame-Smith’s first novel is that he managed to make his supernatural elements integral to the story of Abe’s life. I have an elementary school students understanding of what Lincoln accomplished, as most history lessons in public education tend to gloss neatly over slavery and the Civil War. Unless you take a great interest (or a college course) you know he was poor and uneducated, rose to the rank of President and abolished slavery. He was a lawyer and amazing orator. He was an important enough leader to have over 15,000 biographies penned about him and a giant freaking monument in our nation’s capital.
So if I were to read one book about a past president (which I never exactly intended on doing) it would be this one. Something with a delightful narrative featuring elements of horror and tragedy. Something to color a relentless power-hungry politician and lawyer as something other than he was.
Check out the book trailer here:
VAMPIRES AND SLAVERY
Not so sure how to feel about the mingling of vampires and slavery. In some ways it cheapens and glamorizes the struggles of slaves by making them the victims of supernatural demise. It perverts and almost excuses the actions of real men and women by ascribing them to mystical beings. I’m not REALLY feeling that. It was all sorts of uncomfortable, and while seemingly pivotal to the plotline, Grahame-Smith skirted much of the implications of slavery as nimbly as most historical books tend to do.
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.
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.
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…
Skipped the Friday Kick-Off party because of the plagues.
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.
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.
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!
Brian Michael Bendis: Writing for Graphic Novels Panel
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:
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.
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:
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:
Originally had planned to write a recap of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena but that will have to be put on hold. Instead, I bring you something that immediately inspired me as soon as I saw it.The Nerd Bucket List.
It was actually brought to my attention by another female comic book enthusiast who goes by the name of Jill The Nerdy Bird and guest writes for Newsarama.com. She penned up an article there with her own very specialized Nerd Bucket List as opposed to one that must be adhered to by all nerds.
So, you probably guessed by now that the remainder of this entry is going to be about my own personal Nerd Bucket List. The very exciting thing is that I’ve managed to cross off quite a few things on the list already! These are in no particular order or sequence, as all things are equally important to a nerd like me. 😉
MINDY’S NERD BUCKET LIST
Meet Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos. Obviously – she is my female heroine idol and it would be the shining moment of my days to shake her hand and tell her that she totally changed my perception of what a female heroine could be with her performance. I would also HAVE to ask her, “What do you hear Starbuck?” Because no one
has ever asked her that before. 😉 And Edward James Olmos is like the Grandpa I never had. His gravelly voice and reading glasses and general demeanor are as comforting as a glass of warm milk. I’m especially excited to learn that he might return to the BSG Exhibit in Seattle this year for another script reading. I’m so there.
Visit NYC and lurk outside the Marvel Office. They don’t do regular tours, but I can still be a creeper and maybe snap a few pictures with an editor or something out on the street. Or maybe contact them ahead of time and see if a tour is possible. Or rewind time back to 1998 and be this kid.
Cosplay as a sexy superhero. This is probably something that should be done before I turn 30 (so like, next year) because after 30 I’ve decided is the cut-off for any kind of sexy cosplay. Please time, do not make a liar of me. I don’t know though – Steampunk has made dressing up in costume at any age a work of art, so that might be the loophole in the future. Not sure what superheroine I would like to attempt. I’ve done Rogue before for a superhero party and all that hair dyeing was such a hassle. Any suggestions?
Participate in Thrill The World in full zombie regalia. At least once. Complete with zombie eye contacts and a clever costume.
Obtain a comic book artist portrait. That sounds so ridiculous, but I’ve always fantasized about becoming a comic book character. Not sure what the process would entail either – probably scouting out a decent picture and passing it off to the artist at a convention. Thinking Pablo Raimondi, Pia Guerra or Joelle Jones. Unless someone has an alternate suggestion?
Join or lead a geeky volunteer group. Like the PDX Browncoats. As mentioned before, this would unite my passion for contributing to the community AND displaying geekery in all it’s glory. Plus meeting and hanging out with a group of like-minded folks. Hopefully that can be checked off in the near future!
Sketch from Alex Maleev. Dude, he lives here in Portland but I haven’t seen him attending one convention in the last year. He was even noticeably absent at SDCC. What gives? He is elusive as fuck, which makes a sketch from him about as prized as a Unicorn horn.
Sit inside the cockpit of a Colonial Viper. It wasn’t just enough to SEE them. Seriously. It’s the equivalent to some fans of LOOKING at the Millenium Falcon. Want to touch! Want to see what it would look like if I was flying through space, blasting some frakin’ toasters. So say we all!
Create a comic book. I’m no artist, but I’ve dabbled in all forms of writing save one (or two) and it seems especially strange given my passion for comics. How hard would it be to work up a script? Probably not that difficult. The scary part would be in finding an artist who would be willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to see those words brought to life.
Meet Joss Whedon AND Brian K. Vaughn. The last of the comic book scribes whose work has inspired and thrilled me over the years. They are both hugely talented and the opportunity to shake their hands or stare at them obsessively while my mind goes helplessly blank and my knees give way would be truly special.
Complete all Assassin’s Creed games with 100% achievements. Just cause.
Finish up the Phoenix Tattoo in the next two years. Provided both the DH and I can find stable employment situations. Have had to reschedule twice now, so London no doubt thinks I’m a flake. But I don’t intend to have a half-finished tattoo on my body forever.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS ALREADY COMPLETED
Attend San Diego Comic Con At Least Once. This was listed as one of the top items on the collaborative nerd bucket list, so I believe I can safely assume the mantle of nerd for the rest of my days – having traveled to the geek mecca and survived the eye-gouging dangers of Hall H and witnessed the glory that was the Avengers Panel (even if we were in the back row and it was on the jumbo-tron). Check out the recap of SDCC 2010 starting here.
DAY TWO RECAP: L4D COSPLAY, THE GUILD PANEL, MASQUERADE
The morning got off to a rocky start with a late breakfast at the hotel restaurant and getting my parents settled in to the room. We’d all (except for Erin) decided to do a little Cosplay for Saturday – my parents dressed in Star Trek uniforms for their picture with William Shatner, my dad once again sporting some stylized facial hair.
Dan and I were sporting our Left 4 Dead costumes – Dan dressed as Bill and I went as Zoey. It took us about two months to put the costumes together. Most of the pieces were purchased outright or items we already owned, but some were customized.
Clothing items we already owned: Dan’s pants, white undershirt. My jeans and white undershirt.
Clothing items we purchased: Green beret, pink track jacket, black hi-top cons, black army boots
Bill’s green beret was customized with a yellow patch which Dan ACTUALLY sewed on. Very proud of him for that. Zoey’s jacket we purchased online at Wal-Mart. It was the closest match I could find and also the cheapest. They’re on clearance right now, if you want to pick one up before they’re gone. I had to do a bit of alteration – cutting, gluing and sewing white fabric on – Thank God this jacket comes equipped with black fabric as an outline for all the places you need to add material. Also had to cut the black fabric off the collar, as well as remove the tacky glued on bits underneath. THAT took awhile. Way too damn long but aided with the help of one of those de-fuzz-baller-things.
Dan spray-painted two guns black to cover the orange tips – one a machine and another a shot-gun – both appear in the video game series. We printed up some hilarious “Pain Reliever” labels for generic aspirin bottles here, attached it to the side of our pants with velcro and safety pins.
We also purchased two red expandable duffle bags from Wal-Mart which we customized with white fabric. We attached them to our backs with safety pins so they would seem to inexplicably hang there.
Finally – we made up “Boomer Bile” bottles which took searching at three or four different stores to find the right container. We went with water bottles purchased at our local Target (not finding them online), augmented with flat toothpicks and spray painted to match the white color of the lids. We added a bit of red tape to the lid, and then printed up a label found here on sticker paper. The boomer bile we modified based on a recipe we found on this Cosplay forum. Highly suggest the forum – it has a ton of great ideas for manufacturing props and putting together accurate costumes.
Boomer Bile Recipe Used: Lime Green Gatorade, Green Food Coloring and a dab of Cornstarch. Just gotta shake it up every once in awhile if the starch settles. It gives off a delicious green glowing color…and you can drink it for full effect.
The results of all this time and effort looked something like this: