Tagged: Cosplay

Mike Gold: Halloween, Cosplay, and the Human Torch

Riddle me this: what’s the difference between dressing up in a Halloween costume and doing cosplay at a comic con? Answer after my weekly rant.

Strap yourself in. We’re on another bumpy ride to my time-share condo on Memory Lane.

Time was, there were no “big-box” toy stores, or “big-box” stores at all. Toys R Us started (as such) in 1957 and before that, all we had was Woolworth’s – a large chain of small, wood-floored three-aisle neighborhood stores where you could buy just about anything, except at certain locations if you were a black person in need of lunch. The back half of one aisle was devoted to toys. That wasn’t a lot of space compared to Target and Costco and contemporary outlets. But, hey, I was a little kid. By my standards, that half-aisle was huge.

(An aside. Sometime around the Depression Woolworth’s started building two-story stores in the downtown districts of many big cities, and they lasted until shopping malls made downtown shopping redundant. The chain went blooie in 1997 and the owners converted a lot of them to Foot Lockers. Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection last month … and most shopping malls aren’t looking too good either.)

So, back in those thrilling days of yesteryear when Halloween came around our parents took us to Woolworth’s to get swathed in gaudy costuming. The unlucky kids were taken to the arts and crafts area where they could get material for some sort of home-made illusion. The lucky kids got to buy “professional” stuff made by one of a number of different companies, usually focusing on monster imagery that was in the public domain. But the lucky comic book fan kids got costumes made under license from the Ben Cooper company.

There wasn’t a lot of comics merchandising in those days. Actually, there was hardly any you could count on – some cheaply made tchotchkes masquerading as toys, some licensed food products… and Ben Cooper. That company had the licenses to Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Archie. Later, they also acquired the licenses to Spider-Man, The Hulk, and other Marvel characters. So, in a way, the first DC/Marvel crossover happened at Woolworth’s.

Parents liked ‘em, probably because they sold for a buck and a half a piece. Kids loved ‘em, even though the costumes really didn’t look all that much like the real thing. That didn’t matter to us. We were starved for comics product. A few parents were concerned that these cheaply made costumes might burst into flames, which might be why we didn’t see anything with the Human Torch. Remember, back then most parents smoked cigarettes – as well as some kids – and the idea that a wayward roll-up could ignite your child was merely a risk taken on with your addictive behavior.

There really was a Ben Cooper, and he did know a thing or two about the business. He had designed costumes and sets for the Ziegfeld Follies and for the Cotton Club back in the day, and he was smart enough to sign on when Disney did its first big merchandising push in the mid-30s. Over time, Cooper acquired the rights to such “characters” as Davy Crockett, Zorro, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, C3PO and The Simpsons.

When I did my first run at DC Comics in 1976, I learned four of the top five merchandised characters were Batman, Superman, Robin and Wonder Woman. Why Wonder Woman, I wondered alliteratively? Simple. Male kids wanted the various male characters, and female kids wanted the one and only female character – not counting generic princesses, witches, and Jackie K. Through its Licensing Corporation of America subsidiary, DC was able to sandwich WW in with Superman and Batman despite the fact that they were having a very hard time selling the Wonder Woman comic book. That licensing revenue went a long way towards paying the Marston family their annual dues, and it certainly kept the comic book alive.

This year the top Halloween character is Wonder Woman, and the second is Harley Quinn. We’re not just talking about kids anymore, but, still, I think it’s pretty cool that this year of all years the women are ruling the roost.

Oh, yeah. You might see a few Donald Trump doppelgängers next week, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a compliment. I’m also uncertain who sells the merchandising rights to that character.

Riddle me that: The difference between dressing up in a Halloween costume and doing cosplay at a comic con is… candy. And a somewhat reduced likelihood of harassment.

Mindy Newell: Charm City

I spent last weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con with my niece, Isabel, in all her cosplay glory: not just one, but three terrific outfits. Oh, yeah, also in attendance were ComicMixers Mike Gold, Joe Corallo, Glenn Hauman, Evelyn Kriete, and Emily S. Whitten (Denny O’Neil had to cancel). Unfortunately, Isabel and cosplayer supreme Emily never had a chance to meet because whenever Emily showed up, Iz was off checking out the con and also spending her aunt’s money. (How much of her aunt’s money? Let’s just say that I am a very indulgent aunt. *smile*)

Izzy and I only made it to one panel. I don’t remember the exact name because I am old and getting older – though my ego was boosted when more than one person I met that weekend took me for 14 years younger – but it was about industry women and their opinions on where the industry is today and where it’s headed. The topic turned to comic book shops and the unfortunately still ubiquitous problem of fan boys (and I do mean “fan boys” in an insulting manner) unable to deal with OMG!!!! There’s a creature with two enormous growths on its chest!!!! in the store.

Auntie Mindy was plotzing as Isabel added her opinion to the discussion, comparing her own experiences with bullying by classmates for her love of comics and gaming to the unhappy experiences of many of the women in the audience who talked about what they encounter when they enter their local “He-Man Women Haters Club.”   

I also must admit that, although I have been the subject of bullying (as I mentioned in a previous column), I’ve never experienced it in a comic book store; have never even thought about it, to tell you the truth. Either I have been very lucky in my choices of where I bring my business, or the fact that comics emporia became a fact of comics reading life when I was already an adult prevented the “fan boys” from daring to open their mouths to me.

I also should admit that I don’t really understand the women who let it bother them – as I said at the panel, “to paraphrase Bryant Gumbel or Bob Costas on their show(s) talking about sports, the only color that matters is green. As in $$$$.” In other words, it’s a really stupid proprietor who makes a customer feel, at the very least, uncomfortable, in his store.

I also want to publicly apologize to the lovely young woman who was sitting a couple of rows behind me to whom I think I was rather rude. She was recounting the time when she went into a comic book store and some jackass said to her, “I’ve never seen a woman in her before” (I may be paraphrasing – again, my brain is hijacked), and how it made her feel so uncomfortable.  I turned around to her and said, “And then you say, ‘Well, now you have.’” I guess you had to be there – I said it with a lot of snarkiness – she kinda blinked. I think I apologized to her, but, anyway, I don’t know if she reads this column, but it’s been bothering me, so I wanted to put it out there. I’m sorry, lovely young woman with black hair. I was really rude. In fact, I think I was guilty of a bit of bullying myself.

Other than that, Izzy and I had a great time. In fact, I would say that a good time was had by all.

Except… for the drive home. When the Giants demonstrated the axiom “no guts, no glory,” after blowing a 21-point lead and they chose to punt instead of going for it on a 4th and 1, allowing the Eagles and rookie Jake Elliot to drill a 61-yeard field goal as time expired.

That really sucked.

P.S.: As I write this, the Giants are down 5, 14 – 22, to the Buccaneers. There is 3:22 left in the game. Gi’nts just called a time-out. Will it be 0 and 4, or 1 and 3?


Marc Alan Fishman: To Boob or Not To Boob

A short one act play, in response to this recent hubbub during the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.

To boob, or not to boob, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind of cosplayers to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fans and parents

Or to take arms against a sea of tsk-tsks,

And by opposing, end them.

To diet (to fit in a form-fitting costume) – to sleep on the floor of your con hotel suite –

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That the display of flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d of the fans to see.

For those not playing along, let’s cut to the chase. This past weekend, a cosplay maven – with distinct permission to come in her much-worked-upon Silent Hill cosplay – was jeered and leered at by some in the crowd, and ultimately (and incorrectly) walked back to her hotel room to change.

Per her posting, she had gotten the proper clearances, but miscommunication amongst the staff of the convention center and the con itself led to her removal. To her credit, she took the whole debacle in stride. As she commented in the aforementioned post: she expects some of the reactions she gets in her guise. As is her opinion, the human body can become a work of art; as such, her costume (the effort clearly of many hours of construction and creation) is her craft. If convention attendees find her faux – décolletage to be too much so be it. She clearly takes proper steps to ensure she’s meeting the criteria to cosplay by the rules.

This of course begs us to ask questions. Is she bending the rules to the given extreme? Is a well-produced facsimile of a naked body part – aligned to some measure of a costume – an allowable choice of expression within the confines of a convention? And if you personally find something akin to the display of the naked human body to be unsettling or offensive, are your rights inherently more potent than that of the cosplayer?

Let’s be clear: I’m not a show-runner, and thank Rao for that. What I am though, is a parent. My children, ages five and one, were attending Wizard World Chicago at the same time this particular cosplayer was doing her thing. The cosplay-picture-posing thing… not the being politely escorted away thing. Now, amidst snapping pics and moments with Wolverine, Batman Beyond, Deadpool and the like, my children nor my wife happened to see the naked-esque participant.

But what if they had?

Would I be chiding the choices of a fellow artist? Hardly. As it were, I sincerely agree with her opinion. The human body is not offensive. A nipple or breast out in the air – be it constructed, make-upped, or otherwise displayed – is of no more or less value to me personally than an ankle or an earlobe. If the costume itself requires the display of one’s personal nether-regions (augmented as necessary), and it falls within the rules of the given convention? Let it all hang out!

It mostly comes down to the show-runner. So long as their rules are on display in some fashion, the responsibility will fall on the patrons of the con to choose whether they feel they can enjoy the show or not. For a more family-focused show, perhaps there will be need to be more specific about the display of human flesh. But as with all things: we are all in shared space at a convention. Choosing to air your negative opinion in any way shape or form will always be far more offensive to me than any exposed tit.

As a parent, perhaps I wouldn’t make a choice for my kids to see this particular cosplayer – moreso because she looked genuinely scary – but if they had seen her? So what. My job as a parent isn’t to protect my kids from the world. It’s to help them interpret, understand, and appreciate it.

With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary costume,

But that the dread of something after death –

The undiscover’d titty, from whose bourn

No traveler returns – puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others dress as yet-another-Harley Quinn?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard, their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!

The fair Pyramid Head! – Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins rememb’red. Sorry I stared a bit too hard at your cosplay.

Martha Thomases: Getting Your Nerd On?

The San Diego Comic-Con is next week, and I’m going through my annual trajectory of feelings.

On the one hand, I like comics. I like a lot of the people who work in comics. Twenty years ago, I had a great time when I went because San Diego is a lovely city and it’s pleasant to walk out of the convention center and see palm trees.

On the other hand, I don’t like huge crowds, and SDCC has only attracted more of them. I don’t mean to begrudge anyone their good time, but I don’t necessarily want to be jammed in the middle of it. Especially when their good time is more and more about pop culture in general, and less about comics specifically.

Yes, you can still go and wallow in the sweet, sweet mud of comics love. My experience, the last time I tried, however, was that I still had to struggle to get a seat, because people who wanted to see a television star or a movie preview four panels from now had taken all the good spots. And this was not Hall H.

This year, I’m noticing a change in the tone of the pre-Con hype. Perhaps this change is all in my head, influenced by my contradictory feelings. There was a time when SDCC was “Nerd Prom,” a place where those of us who were never accepted by the cool kids could have our own space, our own definition of “cool” that included us.

And then, the really cool kids noticed us. Hollywood came to court us, to flatter us, to assure us that they, too, loved comics and cartoons and science fiction and fantasy. Movie stars competed to prove they could differentiate Stan Lee from Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby from Neal Adams.

I wanted to believe. If nothing else, it would give me something to talk about with my future husband, Robert Downey, Jr. In any case, even if they were only reciting lines that had been fed to them by publicists, it showed respect to the stories that we loved.

It was a nice gesture.

Lately, I’m not sensing the same respect. Just as in the episode of Entourage referenced above, I sense less a sense of affection for comics and fandom than a sneering sense of superiority. Yes, some of us like to dress up in costumes. Some of us like to talk for hours about obscure facets of our favorite genres. Some of us look forward to a chance to meet the talent whose work has brought us so much joy.

We don’t go to watch from the outside as Hollywood parties. We had enough of the outside in high school, thanks.

We don’t go to provide easy laughs for guys from Harvard too lazy to look beyond the obvious. We love comics for our own amusement, not yours.

So how can you get your geek on without becoming an unwitting accomplice to your own abasement? One solution that works from is going to smaller conventions. The focus tends to be more on comics, and there is more chance to interact with guests as well as other convention goers. It’s also usually easier to find a place to eat and a hotel room close to the show.

For the record, I’m not saying that everything I like at SDCC is cool and everything you like is not cool. Nor am I saying that geeks are never so ridiculous that one can’t laugh at them derisively.

I’m just saying that we don’t have to put on a show to get ridiculed by Hollywood. We don’t have to be so grateful for their attention that we become their dancing bears. Although that might be a cool costume.

Emily S. Whitten: Fan2Sea – Sailing Away After the Holiday!

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Time to frantically decorate your home, buy everyone presents, and pretend you’re going to get your Christmas cards out before the New Year this time. Well, at least that’s the plan if you’re me.

One of the challenges I face every year is what gifts to get for other adult family members, because as a friend pointed out recently, usually if it’s something they really need they’ll just go out and buy it themselves! Which leaves you guessing what they might not need but might like, or going for the more extravagant gifts that they wouldn’t buy on a whim.

There are lots of holiday gift guides out there, even for geeks and nerds like us (well I assume you’re a geek or nerd too, if you’re reading this). And for fandom convention-goers. But if you’re going for the bigger-ticket holiday gift, here’s a suggestion for something you couldn’t have bought in past years because it didn’t actually exist; but could totally get now for your con-going friends (or for yourself, because let’s be honest, sometimes we buy ourselves Christmas gifts too. Because we’re worth it!) And that is, dun dun duuuuun: a ticket to a comic-con cruise!

Yep, that’s right! I’m talking about Fan2Sea, the cruise ship comic-con that’s sailing out of port this January 19-23! I’ve talked about the cruise before with one of the team who created it, as well as interviewing one of the cool cosplay ambassadors who will be featured, but if you missed all of that: Fan2Sea is a four-day cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship, leaving out of Tampa, Florida before hitting Key West and Cozumel, Mexico as well. It has been designed and created by an amazing team of folks who generally spend their days designing the coolest theme parks out there; and it features a metric ton of excellent guests and panel programming from some of the hottest geek properties out there: The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Guardians of the Galaxy on the TV and movie side, and Deadpool and Batman on the comics side. The guest list is super exciting; and just from previous interactions or interviews I’ve had with some of these guests, I know the programs are going to be fun, interesting, educational, unpredictable (I’m looking at you, Michael Rooker), or all of the above.

Now that the full schedule for the con is out, I can see just how many unique and cool things are going to be happening, including a ton of stuff that goes beyond the usual panels – from themed cocktail or pool parties, DJ nights, and pub quizzes to comics masterclasses, cosplay tutorials, and gaming panels. And they’re even offering some super-special things I’ve never seen done at another con, like dinner and a movie with Sin City creator Frank Miller. Not only that, but the main panels themselves are scheduled in such a way that if you have to miss one because you’re out and about enjoying the cruise or shore excursions, you’ll have the opportunity to catch it at another time. That soothes my FOMO a little bit; and is also a very savvy programming move given how much is going to be on offer here.

Of course, all of that doesn’t even count the part where you’re going to be on a cruise! Themed around all the stuff we like best and populated entirely by Our People – guests and other fans of this stuff. Imagine doing all the things you’d usually do on a cruise – hanging by the pool, rock-climbing (yep, there’s a rock-climbing wall!), relaxing at the spa, playing mini-golf (they’ve got that too!), shooting hoops, going to the casino, chilling at the bar, catching a movie…but doing it all in a genre con atmosphere themed just for you. Just…wow. This cruise is going to be so cool. Not to mention it also gives people the opportunity to, e.g., visit Mexico, something I’ve never done, and maybe even explore some Mayan ruins (or zipline through the forest. Not going to lie, I totally want to try that)! Plus chill on the beach in Key West, explore the Cuban district of Tampa… Man: this is going to be the best thing ever! I am so excited to be going. And you could be, too!

So if you want to make your geeky con-going friends (or yourselves!) super happy with their holiday gifts, give a think to buying a ticket to the best con adventure you could possibly have. Ticket pricing begins at $399, and includes meals, taxes, port fees, panels, parties, and more. And if you use the code “IRONMAN” on your purchase, right now you can also get 10% off! You heard it here, folks.

Now get out there and book your adventure so we can sail away together.

And until next time, Happy Holidays and Servo Lectio!

Martha Thomases: Not Your Children’s Camp


Do you like winter? I don’t. I mean, I enjoy the first few snow days when the city is clean and white, and I like to wear sweaters and other soft warm clothes. I like to curl up in a cozy chair with a book and a glass of whiskey.

What I don’t like is the darkness, and the gloomy skies that come with snowfall.

So I was delighted to discover this website, which promotes something called the Epic Nerd Camp. I need extra fantasy in my life, now especially.

Did you go to sleep-away camp when you were a kid? Did you get picked on and bullied because you wanted to read comics and science fiction instead of playing capture the flag?

I did.

But I also loved a lot of camp activities. I liked shooting arrows at the archery range and thinking that I was an Amazon warrior or a member of Robin Hood’s band. I liked paddling a canoe, and learning how to tip it over and get back in, because those seemed like useful skills if I ever had to escape from a super-villain.

And I loved making s’mores.

Epic Nerd Camp is a week-long event that takes place in Starrucca, Pennsylvania, a town with which I am entirely unfamiliar. There are two five-day programs (August 12 to 16, and August 16 to 20). Instead of the usual camp stuff that required team sports and traumatized me as a child, the emphasis is on cosplay, quidditch, swordplay, circus stuff (trapeze, high wire, unicycle, juggling etc.) and games.

Lots and lots of games. Several game publishers are among the camp’s sponsors. Since I’m not much of a gamer, this is where they start to lose me. However, at $499 for five days, four nights of food and lodging plus all kinds of activities, it seems like a reasonable price. You can also pay an extra $60 for the goodie bag.

Unlike the camps I went to as a kid, the bunks offer a certain amount of privacy. And even more unlike the camps I went to as a kid, there are co-ed bunks. And alcohol is allowed – although you have to bring your own.

Looking at the photographs on the website, Epic Nerd Camp looks like a great time. The people in the photos are overwhelmingly white, but they have all kinds of body types. The FAQ makes a point that it is an LGBT-friendly place.

On this overcast day, it is delightful to think about a week in the woods, making and using my magic wand or learning how to walk a tightrope. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of any activities that require insect repellent.

I suppose I could take the cosplay construction classes, along with mask-making, and cover myself sufficiently to avoid any bugs. They have needlecrafts, which usually includes knitting, so perhaps there is a screened-in room for us to knit. I wonder if I could combine the knitting and the cosplay to make my superhero outfit, just like Martha Kent.

That was something my old camp never offered.

Emily S. Whitten: Pro Cosplay Makeup with Jenna Morin!

jenna-morin-1A month ago I shared the inside scoop on the exciting new comic-con on a cruise ship, Fan2Sea – where it came from, what it will offer, and why it sounds like, as Bender says, “Fun on a bun!” And the awesome fact that I will be going on the cruise and reporting back on that fun for everyone.

But you don’t have to wait until after the cruise to know more about what’s going to happen on it. In my continued coverage, I checked in with one of the many cool people who will be featured on the cruise, professional makeup artist Jenna Morin, to ask her about her work and what we can expect from her on board. She also gave me a bit of makeup and accessorizing advice for a cruise costume I’m working on. Read on for the Q&A!

Jenna, what is your background and experience as a makeup artist and cosplayer, and how did you get involved with that?

I’ve been doing makeup for about twelve years now. I started when I was working in a haunted house and just fell in love with it. I suppose cosplaying started for me there as well. Something about transforming into someone or something else was just plain magical; people’s reactions to it were just the icing on top. My first makeup ventures were as a face painter and body painter. I did a lot of children’s parties and a lot of photo shoots. Then companies like Budweiser and Jameson Whiskey started hiring me to body paint models for high end events. I just kind of evolved from there. I went to school for beauty makeup to round myself out and had some great mentors for my SFX makeup. Now I’m just traveling the world doing what I love. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some great movies and some of my favorite television shows. I do a lot of events for AMC and The Walking Dead and I’ve got a great following in the convention circuit.

jenna-morin-2Do you have any favorite stories or experiences that have come from your work in the industry? What are some of the coolest projects you’ve worked on?

So many stories. Okay, here’s a favorite… I was doing an event for AMC a couple of years ago. The entire cast of The Walking Dead was there to have dinner with advertisers and investors. During dinner they wanted a horde of zombies to come out and invade the space. I was in the back making zombies, completely annoyed, behind on time, because nothing seemed to be going right that night. I was putting the finishing touches on one of the makeups and I hear a voice behind me say “I don’t think it’s quite right; maybe you should start over.” Without turning around I replied, “Last time I checked I was the hired artist for this job and I think it looks great,” in a very agitated and snarky tone. The person started to apologize and I turned around only to be face-to-face with Andy Lincoln. He apologized so much and said he was only kidding, but I felt like a complete ass. We’ve worked together a bunch since then and he always teases me about it.

What will Fan2Sea attendees be able to learn from you, and what will you be doing while on board?

Well the biggest thing is that I will be doing makeup on board! I’ll have my entire kit with me; everything from airbrushing to prosthetics. Attendees can come to my area and get body painted, face painted, turned into a zombie, or even get pretty stuff with glitter. I’ll have my entire face paint kit for kids on board as well. They can become their favorite superhero or beautiful princess. I keep my costs super reasonable so its affordable to everyone, so everyone, come visit me to complete your cosplay and makeup needs!

As for a tutorial, I think I’m going to offer a fun class on how to make a zombie out of household items. Not everyone has the budget or access to super professional materials. I want to show that really cool stuff can be done with things from your cabinets, grocery store or even the dollar store.

jenna-morinWhat if someone has never tried cosplay makeup before? Will you be able to help them out? Do you have any tips to share?

I can help anyone, from makeup veterans to someone just trying it out for the first time. I’m happy to sit down and talk to you about your character and figure out what works best for you and your needs. The biggest tip I have is to save up and buy some quality makeup. There are plenty of cheap makeups out there that will get the job done… for about an hour. Then all that time that you spent applying it starts to melt off, smear, smudge and just plain fade away. Not to mention the skin problems that can come from low quality makeup. Do some research and make sure you use something more on the professional end… Your skin will thank you for it!

Since it’s always cool to get advice from a pro – I’m a cosplayer but I would like to also be comfortable on the cruise in warm weather, which means I’m looking for comfy, cool options. I found this super cute dress at Hot Topic and thought I could make it into a Walking Dead cosplay for a walker killer – but not a specific established character. I want to create my own badass walker killer! I thought I could do some blood on my skin to go with the dress (to make it look like I’ve been killing walkers), but I don’t want it to be cumbersome or sticky in the heat. Do you have tips about that and how to apply it? Also, we all know some of the Walking Dead characters have their own unique weapons. I’m trying to think of one that would be easy to carry or attach, but unique. Any ideas?

First, I have some amazing alcohol based blood spray. It’s not sticky at all, it’s waterproof, and it’s totally comfortable. It will dry on your skin and hold there all day, so you won’t even feel it. It takes about 15 seconds to dry! I have it in a cool spray bottle for blood splatter and the best thing for making blood streaks is to just use your hands.

Walking Dead props can really be anything. Remember, they pick up whatever is around them to defend themselves most of the time. You can go completely outside of the box. I’d suggest making something out of L200 foam. It’s light and easily manipulated. A pipe, axe, aerial, wrench, bat, or knife. Or, if you watch Z Nation, something like Addy’s bat with the spikes on the end – that could be awesome as well. If you do the bat, what I’d suggest is to buy a foam bat and use L200 to make the spikes. They are selling bats all over for Harley Quinn cosplays right now. Grab one of those and paint it black and then make the silver spikes out of the foam. I’d suggest you check out YouTube for some tutorials on how to manipulate L200.

Thanks, that’s super helpful!  So what are you most excited about for Fan2Sea?

I’m most excited to meet the fans and guests. Cruise vibes are all their own and there’s no other venue like it. Hanging out with everyone and feeding off of their excitement to meet their favorite celebrities, or meeting someone that’s excited to meet me or get their makeup done by me is always an amazing experience. Also, the karaoke. I’m a big fan of karaoke.

Thanks for sharing with us, Jenna, and I’ll be super-excited to meet you on the ship and get some walker-killer makeup assistance (and possibly something with pretty glitter on another day, because who doesn’t love pretty glitter makeup?). For all you readers out there, I hope to see you on the cruise as well!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!


Joe Corallo: Last Week In Intolerance


Some of you may have heard of the Mockingbird controversy and harassment of Chelsea Cain. Less of you probably heard about Tokyo Comic Con banning men from cosplaying as female characters. While the two events are unrelated, they both involve intolerance in the comics industry… and they both have a happy ending. Well, happier than it could have been, I guess.

Back in March, the character of Mockingbird was given her first solo series at Marvel Comics. The character of Bobbi Morse, Mockingbird’s alter ego, debuted at Marvel back in 1971 with her becoming Mockingbird in 1980. Though she was created by Len Wein and Neal Adams, her first published story was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith. Mockingbird has appeared on and off in Marvel Comics as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. and different Avengers teams ever since with varying success. Once Mockingbird appeared on network TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on October 21st, 2014 it made sense that Marvel Comics would want to try a solo series for the character.

Enter Chelsea Cain, successful novelist, columnist and outside-of-the-realm-of-comics recruit. Comics taking in people from the outside is hardly new and has been seen as having at least some potential to tap into a different audience. Despite solid reviews the series has been cancelled at only eight issues in. After brutal backlash on Twitter towards Chelsea Cain’s pro-feminist take on the character, she quit the social media outlet. Heidi MacDonald’s piece at The Beat goes into more of the details, which I linked to back up at the top.

i-vampireWhile her future in the realm of comics is currently up in the air (as far as we know) there are some important takeaways here that may not be quite as obvious – the biggest of which for me is how well the first volume is selling. It’s reached number one on Amazon’s graphic novels list. Some of this may be due to the controversy, but that’s still an incredible feat for a comic cancelled for lack of sales… although that is hardly new.

I remember I, Vampire getting cancelled for lack of monthly floppy sales even after its first volume made it to #4 on the New York Times bestseller list. That was over four years ago. More recently we had Tom King’s Omega Men cancelled by DC Comics, briefly uncancelled, then ended for good with trade paperback sales also hitting #4 on the New York Times bestseller list. Mockingbird may end up enjoying that same fate.

Since then, the big two have seemingly made no real attempts to try and adapt to the changing markets. Sure, they’ve upped the output of straight to graphic novel stories such as DC Comics’ Earth One, but they can’t seem to solve this particular problem.

Though Axel Alonso tweeted out his support of Chelsea Cain, for which I applaud him –it’s something he didn’t have to do – the real support may need to be the comics industry putting more faith in their talent and their product similar to how Vertigo used to years ago. If Neil Gaiman’s Sandman came out today with the sales it had at first, we’d likely never have gotten past a dozen issues. I don’t have the answers to that. Maybe moving print comics to digital-only if they’re selling that well as trade paperbacks, I’m not sure. Either way we need the big two doing more for creators and to cultivate worthwhile stories so that maybe Mockingbird getting cancelled can have a happier ending.

tokyo-comic-conWe already got a happy ending with Tokyo Comic Con, a large convention featuring guests like Jeremy Renner and Stan Lee. Well, sort of. After a large public outcry through social media, the organizers decided to end the ban on men cosplaying as female characters. It was very bizarre, and seeing how quickly they were able to change their minds on this decision it lends itself to the idea that it was entirely unnecessary.

What’s still a bit troubling is that Tokyo Comic Con is issuing gender specific registration cards that will be checked to make sure that only people of the corresponding gender will have access to changing areas and restrooms. I haven’t found anything specific on their policies regarding transgender and non-binary attendees, so these gender specific registrations do raise some red flags for me.

While I do hope there won’t be any issues because of this, we’ll have to wait and see. I’m thrilled that they reversed their needless cosplaying restrictions, but it does seem to me that if they were trying to keep men out of women’s changing areas by implementing such a ban that their attitudes towards transgender and non-binary attendees may be troubling.

That wraps up last week’s examples of intolerance in comics. I’m sure there were more, but I only have so much time to research. Come back next week to see if people have become more tolerant by then.

The answer may surprise you.

Ed Catto and The New York Comic Con Newbie


Indian Summer, autumn’s first batch of orange-hued fallen leaves and New York Comic Con have all tumbled away, relegated to that odd intersection of fond memories and the comfortable knowledge of their inevitable return. The New York Comic Con, now the nation’s largest geek culture convention, seems to change each year. And after more than a decade of growth, it’s changing in many weird and wonderful ways.

I’ve been there from the beginning and, during the early years worked, on the show. We had a vision for the convention and it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. And in many ways … it hasn’t.

space-ghostThe Big Picture

Each year on Thursday afternoon as the New York Comic Con bursts to life, ICV2’s Milton Greipp gathers industry leaders together to review the state of geek culture.

Comic Convention expert Rob Salkowitz was one speaker who addressed this business gathering. He spoke about the phenomenal growth of all conventions and attached revenue estimates to it all. “NYCC has grown to become one of the largest pop culture conventions in North America and a key part of an industry that has an economic impact of more than $4 billion,” reported Salkowitz.

That’s a lot of geek culture.

luke-cage-dr-strangeA Matter of Perspective

There are long-time fans who regularly attend conventions and new fans that bravely dive in each year. I routinely hear what long-time fans are thinking, and I felt I needed a fresh perspective. I wanted to hear what a new fan thinks. So this year, I invited my adventurous Aunt Elissa to NYCC. It would be her first time to the show.

Her gateway to comics was through the Archie universe. She ingested a steady diet of Stan Goldberg and Dan DeCarlo Archie comics during the 70s, and has now graduated to geek mainstays like Doctor Who and Tonner Dolls.

Elissa said she had a great time, but I wanted to dive a little deeper and understand what made this show work from a first-timer’s point-of-view.

harley-girlCrowd Control or Controlled Crowds

From Elissa’s vantage point, the huddled masses of NYCC were surprisingly polite. It’s been reported that NYCC broke another attendance record and sold 180,000 tickets. But these supersized crowds didn’t faze her. In fact, she was pleasantly surprised “because everybody was very polite, very pleasant – there were a lot of people, but <they were> not intimidating to me, nor would it stop me <from attending> in the future.”

Unlike a football game, or even a trip to her local supermarket, Elissa found the crowds were a community of like-minded fans. “You’re going to bump into people, not intentionally,” said Elissa. “They’d say, ‘excuse me.’ You don’t even hear that in a store these days!”


At one point I introduced Elissa to my old friend Ivan Cohen. He’s a longtime comics professional and one of his many accomplishments is writing the Green Lantern Animated Show Comic Series. As we talked, and with perfect timing, a cosplayer dressed as Sinestro, Green Lantern’s evil archenemy, came up and charmed us all.

Sinestro took an immediate liking to Elissa. I was afraid it would be overwhelming, but she loved it.

She raved about how impressed she was with all the cosplay. Elissa attended the Let’s Get Serious Cosplay Panel – with panelists from Cosplay by McCall’s and the Overstreet Guide to Cosplay. “They have a pride and professionalism in their cosplay” she said with newfound respect.

Thumbs Up to Archie from a Long Time Fan

Elissa visited the Archie booth and she rendered a ‘thumbs up’ verdict on all the recent changes. She said she understood that the company needed “to keep up to encourage people to continue reading Archie,” and “to change with the times.”

“It’s not the Archie I remember, but also I’m not 10 years old.” She bought the new Betty & Veronica comic from super-retailer Marc Hammond right there at NYCC.

She also bought the new Josie and Pussycats comic. This was a big step as she explained she never liked those characters when she was younger. “They seemed so ditzy”, she said. But she quickly amended her recollections “But maybe that was just Melody.”

gun-guyWas this Best Part of NYCC?

As it turned out, Artist Alley was one of Elissa’s favorite parts of New York Comic Con. We gave her a guided tour, introducing some of our favorite artists: Franco, Art Baltazar, Kevin McGuire, Gabriel Hardman, Corrine Bechko, Joe Staton, Brett Blevins and Tom Gianni were just a few. Before you knew it, Elissa would find an artist who’s style she liked and just walk up and strike up a conversation with them.

“I wasn’t’ quite sure what it was going to be like, “ said Elissa, but once we got there it was very clear.” She explained that she soon realized that each artist has his or her own style. “It’s all fascinating. They are all extremely talented. They’re good!”

Elissa observed that the majority of people outside of geek culture don’t have any appreciation for the artists. Meeting and speaking with artists in Artist’s Alley reinforced the idea that comics “are drawn … not just done by a machine.”

Her biggest take away from the whole show was an increased respect for the artists and creators. “It made me want to read more comics.“ She’s not ready to start collecting per se, but she is eager to read more.

Ready for More

Elissa is looking forward to next year’s NYCC. She realized that as a first time attendee, she wanted to see ‘everything’. On subsequent visits, she talked about how she’d plan better to attend specific panels.

“By the end of the night- my feet hurt. There was so much going on – I wasn’t bored. It held my attention. I wanted to see it all. “

And she’s become a big Artist’s Alley fan. “If I went again – <she’d prepare ahead of time> to know the artists and their work.”

More Respect for Geek Culture

After the show, as Elissa told her friends at home about her New York Comic Con adventure, they looked at her as if she had five heads. “They think these people are weird or strange.” But she explained it to her friends this way, “No, they are very passionate, very talented.”

Seems to me that the crossroads of passion and talent is a pretty good foundation for an industry, and a good place to spend a weekend.

Tweeks Halloween Ideas & SDCC Cosplay featuring Rubies Costume Co

We’re about a month out from Halloween and way past time to start planning! While Anya still doesn’t know if she’s going to be a Ghostbuster or not, Maddy is determined to be Harley Quinn — even if every other girl in their high school is too.

In this week’s episode, we talk to the Executive VP of Rubie’s costumes about what’s hot this year (& get a little background on their really cool store & website) and then we look back at some of our favorite cosplay from SDCC to see if anything sparks a Halloween costume idea.

Let us know what you’re being for Halloween…and maybe help Anya out.