Tagged: Fan2Sea

Emily S. Whitten: Fan2Sea, the Floating Comic-Con (Part II)

In my last column I talked about my expectations for the Fan2Sea comic-con cruise, how it fulfilled them, and some of the things I generally loved about being at a con on a cruise ship and about the way in which Fan2Sea pulled off its maiden voyage (haha!).

Today, it’s all about the details. Want to know what your daily experience will be like if (when! I hope!) Fan2Sea happens again and you decide to go? Well, I can’t say, but I can tell you what mine was like! So here goes:

Day 1

Day 1 was pleasantly low-key from the start. Because luggage was still being delivered to staterooms, I spent the first bit of ship time chilling in one of the main areas overlooking the bar, with my lovely roommate, ComicMix assistant editor Adriane Nash, and with PR guru (and former Comic Book Resources writer/editor) Steve Sunu. After some people-watching (and excited taking of first-day selfies), and a little bit of a ship tour, we wandered up to one of the main eating areas where we found plenty of food on hand; and in the midst of a mellow lunch out on deck in the warm weather, I also caught up with the ever-fun comics creator Reilly Brown (and lovely family). It was the beginning of several times when I got to actually just chill with friends I usually see in only rushed or crowded circumstances at cons, and that was super nice.

Once staterooms were accessible and we’d gotten settled in ours, I rustled up my Hot Topic Walking Dead-themed blood spatter sundress (although I do like to do full-on cosplay, I’d opted for more referential casual cosplay on this trip, given I was packing for ten days and also didn’t want to wear a lot of layers on a warm, sunny trip!). Then we headed to the pool deck, where the first two big panels, for The Walking Dead (with Michael Rooker, Lew Temple, Madison Lintz, and Seth Gilliam) and Guardians of the Galaxy (with Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn), were taking place in quick succession.

Although it was a bit windy and distracted out on the deck (which is why they moved later panels inside), it was also super cool to be reporting on a panel out in the beautiful sunny weather while literally standing in a pool. (Yes, that’s right – your intrepid reporter stood in a pool to bring you this con round-up and accompanying photographs!) And the actors fielded some great audience questions. I enjoyed the Walking Dead actors’ talking about the challenges and quirks of working on such a gruesome show; for instance, Michael Rooker shared that the bloody makeup didn’t really bother him – until he saw the zombies during lunch sitting around eating while wearing it! And one of my favorite questions to the Guardians panel elicited discussion from Sean Gunn about Gunn’s providing the rehearsal stand-in for the CGI Rocket Racoon, which the other Guardians actors would act against. Apparently at first Gunn was simply going to stand in and read Rocket’s lines, but he thought he could also provide the acting and eyelines for the others to reference, so he gave it a try – and lo-and-behold, he did such a good job of it that he ended up doing it throughout rehearsals.

After the panels we had a bit more time to explore, including checking in on the casino, which had an excellent and thorough Sin City theme, before it was time for the ship to pass under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was pretty exciting considering our ship was so tall it barely cleared the bottom of it. (Also, the sunset was beautiful!) After that we headed to the formal dining room, where I confess that upon ending up at a table with some veteran cruisers, we were unable to resist the peer pressure of each ordering two appetizers and two desserts to accompany our entrees. And all were tasty! (P.S. Pro tip that I didn’t know beforehand, having not been on a cruise before – if you want to be seated with a group in the formal dining room, you have to show up with your group. But our small party also enjoyed talking with folks at the larger table, so if you don’t form your group beforehand, you might just end up making a new friend!)

The only thing that could properly finish off a dinner like that would be a great cocktail; so of course after dinner I headed up to the Walking Dead / Guardians of the Galaxy cocktail party and, on the recommendation of another attendee, tried a “twisted” peach and mixed berry daiquiri. It was a great accompaniment as I enjoyed chatting with folks at the rotating bar (which took us by surprise when it started moving!), including Lew Temple (who I was really sad to see die on The Walking Dead, and who was really friendly and laid back to talk with); and Sean Gunn (a favorite from both Guardians and, of course, Gilmore Girls, and with whom I had a really wide-ranging and interesting conversation).

The party was a ton of fun, and when it wound down, no one wanted the good times to be done – so first, a few of us had the idea of playing a round of mini golf – but the wind was so crazy up on that deck that we had to postpone that for another time. Luckily, on the Fan2Sea cruise there was always stuff going on (including, e.g., the movie theater, the in-room monster channel, and the game room); so instead we located the karaoke just in time to see Steve and Chris Sims singing Toxic by Britney Spears (yes, really – and trust me, it was an experience!). But even that kind of fun has to end sometime, so eventually, we made our way to sleep and…

Day 2

Day 2 started with a relaxing room-service breakfast on our lovely private balcony, followed by a jaunt to Key West in the beautiful weather. I confess we had all kinds of complicated plans for what to see in Key West, including a butterfly garden and Ernest Hemingway’s house; but by the time we got off of the ship what we actually ended up having time for was a scenic trolley ride, a chill lunch with friends at Fogarty’s and the Flying Monkey Saloon, and a little stroll through the streets before it was time to get back to the ship.

Back on board, I attended one of the great Master Classes offered with the comics creator guests – this one with Reilly Brown. I always like watching Reilly’s approach to art, and this was no exception. He illustrated how to use dynamic action and expression to convey character in comics, and I especially enjoyed his example of how adding details to the same base character frame can result in two such disparate characters as Wolverine and Tony Stark. (And I totally claimed that sketch afterwards.) After the class, I hurried over to the live read of Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s Curse Words #1. I love live reads, and this one featured some of the great guests on the ship – including writer Charles Soule, and actors Randy Havens, Catherine Dyer, and Sean Gunn. It was excellent fun and very well done, and I even managed to get a couple of clips on video.

The live read overlapped with the Batman pub quiz, which was also on my must-do list, in part because ComicsAlliance’s own “Batmanologist” Chris Sims was running it and had created the questions; so as soon as the live read had wrapped, I rushed over to the pub to join Adriane, who had been holding down the fort for two of the six quiz rounds all by herself. Steve joined our team there, and despite us all missing the first round entirely and only one team member being there for rounds 2 and 3, we still came in fourth! Go team! The quiz was great, and pretty darned challenging, too! (Kudos, Chris!)

Of course, all of that hard work made us hungry, but the cruise more than took care of that with another trip to the formal dining room, before we headed back to the pub for the After Hours War Stories with comics creators. This was a pretty unique program (with no recording allowed) in which creators shared the sort of personal industry and convention stories you wouldn’t usually get at a big convention panel. The stories shared definitely made this program a favorite of mine, and I was glad they enforced the No Recording rule so that everyone felt comfortable sharing.

By that point, we were well into the late night activity portion of the day. I stopped by the Nerdlesque (it’s not really my scene, but there were definitely some creative themed scenarios being played out onstage) and then was challenged to a game of air hockey (I totally lost) and issued my own challenge for a game of pool (Adriane and I totally won!). And then somehow, it was five a.m., and way past time for all sensible reporters to be in bed. Ah, convention life.

Day 3

Day 3 was the one day Adriane and I had decided to book a specific excursion through the cruise line, since we were going to Mexico and had a longer time in port. We booked a Mayan ruins tour that included lunch and a trip to the beach, and were delighted to find the lovely and talented Gail Simone and her husband Scott were part of our tour group. We had an adorably charming and funny tour guide named Luis to show us all around; I could actually feel the history of the Mayan ruins as it was described to us; the lunch was tasty; swimming at the beach was exciting (there were reasonably strong currents and also underwater rocks to avoid!); and we had a great time experiencing it all with Gail and Scott.

On returning to the ship, despite a pretty full day in Mexico, it was Stranger Things day and of course there were con things I wanted to do; so I first stopped for a brief glimpse of Goonies, which was being screened on the pool deck; and then changed into my Stranger Things party cosplay (yes, I was costuming The Wall, with a Hot Topic picture frame dress and blinking Christmas lights!), and went to the Stranger Things cocktail party, where I had an entertaining time talking with other fun cosplayers and fans, and meeting Shannon Purser, Catherine Dyer, Randy Havens, and David Harbour – all of whom were wonderfully nice and fun to talk to! (Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo were also circulating, but I did not get to chat with them due to the crowd – they looked like they were really enjoying themselves, though.)

After the party, I stopped by the pub to see how the Cards Against Humanity: Writers Edition program was going; and discovered that all of the comics guests were there chilling. So I sat down for a chat; and more friends came around; and then we wandered over to the casino; and next thing I knew, it was almost five a.m. again and we were ordering hamburgers from room service. Ah, cruise life!

Day 4

And then suddenly, it was Day 4! Our last full day on the ship, alas!! It was also the day of the Deadpool Panel, which I was moderating; so I donned my Hot Topic Deadpool dress (love that store for geek dresses!) and headed to the Pacifica Theater, which, incidentally, has some really interesting props backstage. This panel featured Gail Simone, Reilly Brown, Scott Koblish, and Chris Sims, and we had a riot of a time talking Deadpool on stage and taking questions from the audience – probably the most fun I’ve had on a panel to date! We talked about everything from how to get into the head of such a character to what it’s like to draw a story that’s told entirely on the covers of comic books to what the comics creators thought of the Deadpool movie adaptation – and happily, it seemed like the audience was having just as much fun as all of us on stage!

After the panel, the Deadpool folks headed up to their tables at Artist Alley, and after a brief rest (hey, even I get a little tired after such late nights) I did too. Even though this con was, for obvious reasons, organized differently than a traditional convention, it still had sections of time set aside for fans to meet comics creators in Artist Alley, and I was pleased to see a setup that made it easy for everyone to interact, and a good number of folks waiting to meet the talented guests. While there, I enjoyed watching Scott Koblish and Reilly Brown draw, chatting with Laura Martin, Scott Snyder, and Gail Simone, flipping through some of Creees Hyunsung Lee’s cool art, and picking up a copy of Curse Words #1 (hey, after that live read, I had to have it!) from Charles Soule.

By the time Artist Alley closed, it was just about time for the Wayne Foundation Black Tie Dinner (for which I had brought my fancy sequined Suicide Squad Harley Quinn dress, because what else do you wear to a Batman-themed fancy dinner?). By now I was a Super Pro at cruising (hah!), so I’d suggested we get together a big table of folks ahead of time, and we managed to make it happen. It was great to have our last big dinner be with a solid group of friends; and fun to get all dressed up for it! But it was also nice to relax for the last bit of the cruise, so after dinner Fancy Dress Harley turned into Casual Cruise Harley, and then, fittingly, ran into The Joker. Who managed to convince me, a solid non-gambler, to go gamble. (Look, when someone says they’ll bankroll you to go play a slot machine called the “Enchanted Unicorn,” there is really only one response, and that is: “Let’s go!”) And solid non-gambler me might have to revise that solid stance, because lo-and-behold on top of the money we put in we won a whole $54! At which point I decided it was probably best to end on a high note, and Adriane and I took our end-of-cruise sad feet back to the room for one last night of sleep in our cozy little stateroom.

And thus, the next morning we disembarked in Tampa and the adventure ended with a delicious breakfast of crepes, some fun vintage store shopping, and champagne sangria and lunch at the oldest restaurant in Tampa. And I would not be telling a lie if I said this was possibly the most fun I’ve had at a comic con, and that I most definitely want to go back. Tomorrow, if possible.

But since I can’t go back just yet, I’ll just have to console myself with looking at the full album of photos I took and crossing my fingers that soon, we’ll be hearing announcements of another Fan2Sea. When that happens, I assume you’ll all be signing up to go with me!

And until then, and until next column, Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: Fan2Sea, the Floating Comic-Con! (Part I)

Before this January, I’d been to many comic cons but I’d never been on a cruise. I loved the idea of going on one, though; as well as the concept and aim of the first Fan2Sea comic con cruise: which was to give fans the best experiences of comic cons – good seats at panels, VIP parties, getting to meet the guests, getting sketches from artists, and all of that – but without the crowds and lines and hassle. In essence, the goal was for everyone’s experience to be an extra-special experience; and on top of that, to have it in a super-cool, chill venue with other fun activities in between all the fan goodness, and with opportunities to actually get out and see the sights as well.

Well: Mission. Accomplished. In a way that was even better than I’d imagined… and I have a pretty good imagination.

As I and another longtime comics and con reporter were discussing, at what other comic con could you go from a VIP party chatting with actors from The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Stranger Things to your room to pick up your bathing suit, and out into the starry night sky for some relaxing nightswimming in the pool deck hot tub, simply by taking the elevator? And at what other con would Day 1 not end with tired arms and feet from carrying a bunch of stuff around and walking miles of unforgiving concrete floors? And at what other con could you always easily find some good food that’s already included in your room cost (so you don’t have to worry about nickel-and-diming yourself if you get a craving for, I don’t know, soft-serve ice cream at odd hours). Or go sit down for a fancy meal with no reservation just by walking up with your party? Or schedule a spa treatment that’s right upstairs? Oh, and at what other con would you also, if you didn’t feel like going to a panel or meeting guests or getting your cosplay makeup professionally done or attending a comics Master Class or vying for geek pub quiz prizes, be able to just go play some pool or basketball or mini-golf or air hockey or arcade games or watch a slew of themed movies in a real cinema by, again, just taking the elevator? What about rock-climbing? Swimming? Gambling, if that is your wont? Or just exploring the vast space and opportunities for fun of the venue itself. In other words, at what other con would your overall vacation experience be this awesome?

I know, I know, I’m over-enthusing. But the answer is: none. No other con. There is no other con like this one, and I’m in love. Because yes, the best part of cons is the con guests and programming; but having all of the other features available, and still giving a con the convenience and intimate feel of a smaller hotel-based type of con without losing the star and program quality, ups the ante in a way I’ve not experienced at a comic-con before. I’m sold, you guys. Totally sold. If this con happens again (and it should, because for a first year con they did pretty much everything right, and every single guest or attendee I asked was having a fantastic time) it will be going in my con calendar as a can’t-miss. And trust me, you’ll want to follow my lead on this one.

But now, on to some more specifics! It was great to be on board (literally! I love that) for the inaugural outing of Fan2Sea. First off, the accommodations were very nice. Sure, the standard rooms aren’t huge – but they definitely comfortably fit at least two people, and wow, do they ever have a ton of storage space tucked away in odd corners. Roomie Adriane Nash (and ComicMix assistant editor) and I quickly unpacked our things into the many cabinets and drawers on the first day and were able to easily store our (giant!) empty suitcases out of the way in the closet for the rest of the trip, which gave us a nice settled feeling. We also really loved our balcony, on which we watched the ocean go by (very soothing!), ate breakfast, chilled, drank wine, and marveled at the amazingly clear stars.  And the housekeeping folks were great, and kept our little room tidy and comfy for us (and even made us little origami animals out of clean towels!).

Next, From Day 1 I loved seeing the thought the Fan2Sea team had put into theming the whole ship so that it really felt like the con had the run of the place. From life-sized Batman and Spider-Man decals on the glass elevators to giant “Fan2Sea” floor and flag decor, to a fully Sin City-themed casino and bar list, to even the bar napkins sporting the Fan2Sea logo, it felt like the team behind this con really knew how to welcome the fans and was as excited as we were to be on board.

And that was completely true, from the staff members I met. Every Fan2Sea staff person I talked with was excited, enthused, and accommodating – there to ensure that everyone had the best time possible. My special shout-outs to those who made my personal experience on board top-notch would include Stefan Lawrence (who was literally everywhere making sure nothing went “sproing,” as every good con-runner should be), Michael D’Alessio (who provided a consistent and upbeat voice and mood for daily announcements and hosting of a number of events), Mary McDonnell (whose help from the minute I walked into the port Terminal was awesome, and whose enthusiasm and happy spirits were infectious), Jenny Weinbloom and Kevin Kalbfeld (who were super nice and fun to talk with), and Constance Eza (about whom every artist she worked with for Artist Alley, etc. said good things).

I also appreciated the wisdom of the organizers seeking out beforehand panel moderators who had been to many comic cons before and really knew their stuff. I was super happy to moderate the Deadpool panel (which was awesome!), but also really glad to meet the other moderators at our prep meeting before the schedule got underway. Not only did I make some new friends, but also it’s just nice to have a little time to sit down with others who do what I do (or similar) and chat. Fan2Sea provided us with that opportunity and relaxed setting; and picking outside moderators who knew what they were doing really helped make the panels fun, too!

Of course, new friends are fun but old friends are always awesome, and I was pleased as punch to be in a chill con environment with a number of my con friends. At regular cons, and especially the big, spread-out cons with several hotels, venues, conflicting parties, and the like, if you’re a reporter it can be hard to actually just find time to hang out with others in the industry, or with other con-goers.  There’s always a ton of texting and, “Where are you now?” “Is the panel full? Are there seats?” “Is that bar all the way across town??” and “Oh, can I go to that party with you, or is there a list I didn’t know about in time?” type of communications. But the cruise ship venue made it super easy to meet up or run into friends and decide to do something together without it being a big production or hassle. And while the program options certainly weren’t limited, the way the schedule didn’t pit too many big items against each other at a time pretty much guaranteed that if there was a big event going on, at least one of your friends was going to be there.

I could probably go on about all the great general setting and vibe things that made this con amazing, but I think you get the idea. The setting and accomodations were great, the vibe was great (a con that feels relaxing to attend! Who knew it was possible!?), the activities were great, and the people were great. And at the risk of using “great” too much, I had a great time!

But speaking of time, that’s all I have time for this column! So stay tuned for my next recap, which will include the details of my daily adventures with guests, panels, pub quizzes, master classes, Artist Alley, and outings, along with a slew of fun pics! And until then, Servo Lectio!

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!

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!


Emily S. Whitten Looks Forward to NYCC 2016!


The New York Comic Con is upon us once again, and I can’t wait. This year, as usual, I have a massive list of things I want to see, people I want to talk to, and, of course, merchandise I want to take a gander at (not to buy it, of course. Oh no no no! Certainly not, considering I have way too many collectibles already. I’m just going to look. Really. Just…you know, a little bit. No buying here, nosiree…um). There are also a few cool parties floating around…and you know how I love a good party.

Everyone who goes to NYCC has their own unique wish list of what they want to experience while there. But in case you aren’t sure what you want to see first, here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to. Maybe they’ll appeal to you, too!


I’ve finally managed to catch myself up on a lot of the great shows out there. The first of these is The Walking Dead. I had to take a break on that show after the first season, despite the awesome character arcs, because there was just a leetle too much zombie head-squishing for me to handle non-stop (from which information we all know how I’d fare in the zombie apocalypse. I’d be the one hiding behind Daryl). But once I started in again I just couldn’t stop – the show is such a great adrenaline-plus-compelling-character mix, with just the right balance of cliff-hangers.

So this NYCC, I am super-psyched to finally experience a Walking Dead panel without my usual concern about spoilers. So many cast members are going to be there (Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Michael Cudlitz, Lauren Cohan, Sonequa Martin-Green, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, and Alanna Masterson) and I can’t wait to see what they have to say about the new season.

Now that I’m back into Gotham (and also have had the pleasure of meeting several of the fantastic cast members and even interviewing one) I can’t miss a Gotham panel. NYCC is offering “Inside Gotham,” with David Mazouz, Erin Richards, and Robin Lord Taylor, and it’s definitely on my list. I’ve already seen a couple of Gotham panels thanks to Dragon Con, and from that I know these folks are definitely worth the price of standing in line. Gotham panel? I’m so there.

Netflix and Marvel are killing it with their partnership on shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Now that Luke Cage has dropped, next up is Iron Fist. I’m particularly curious to see how the mystical martial artist will fit into the street-smart collection of characters that Marvel has developed to date – so there’s no way I’m going to miss the Iron Fist panel, which will give us a sneak peek into what’s coming to Marvel’s Netflix line-up March 17, 2017.

Speaking of The Walking Dead and Daredevil… I am kind of notorious among some friends for loudly declaring that I can’t stand The Punisher (which stems in part from his actual character, and perhaps in part from the fact that every Marvel blind box toy I’ve ever opened magically morphs into The Punisher right before I open it. Seriously. At one point I had six little Punishers, and none of them by choice. Argh.)

But I will admit that The Punisher as portrayed by Jon Bernthal in the Netflix Daredevil series was really well done; and also I will say that while Shane on The Walking Dead was an infuriating character, he was also really psychologically interesting, given the intersection of his love for his best friend, his obsession with his best friend’s wife, and the misogynistic tilt of that obsession that clearly took it out of the category of real love and into a dark, scary place, despite his firm belief that he really loved her.

NYCC is doing two spotlights on Jon Bernthal, with most of the focus being on his role as The Punisher; and given my interest in the way he portrayed both of those characters, I’m going to do my best to get to at least one.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a New York Comic Con for me without going to see the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel. I’ve been covering the show for four years, since NYCC 2013, and I haven’t lost my love for it (or the excellent cast and crew) at all. It’s such a great show, full of humor, and heart, and fun characters, and cool animation; and I’m stoked to see what else the cast and crew have to share with us since the last time I chatted with them at San Diego Comic Con. Whatever they bring us, it’s a guaranteed good time.

There are tons of other panels out there, and my FOMO will undoubtedly be in full swing, but I can’t do it all! So after attempting to see all of the panels above, I’ll probably move on to my other goals, such as visiting the:


There are a lot of really cool entertainment celebrities at NYCC, and I might get the opportunity to chat with a few; but when it comes to catching up with guests, my favorite people to talk to are always sitting in Artist Alley. I can’t even begin to list all the cool and talented people I want to see on this year’s comics guest-list; but I do know for sure that I’m already looking forward to walking the vast aisles of NYCC’s Artist Alley and seeing what everyone has brought to the tables this year.

One thing I really love about NYCC is that, despite the focus on entertainment guests, their Artist Alley is full of top-quality folks (and while I won’t list them all, I will say I’d be sad to miss Amanda Connor, Amy Chu, Art Baltazar, Clayton Henry, Cully Hamner, Dan Govar, David Gallaher, Dennis Calero, Dustin Nguyen, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, Janet Lee, Jeremy Haun, Jim Calafiore, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Harris, Katie Cook, Louise Simonson, Mark Brooks, Mark Morales, Matteo Scalera, Reilly Brown, Sanford Greene, Sara Richard, Thom Zahler, Tony Moy, and Walter Simonson, among others). And maybe along with seeing some old friends and new I will finally, finally meet Fabian Nicieza, after several conventions wherein we are both there and I don’t get to his table in time. Here’s hoping!

Of course after a hard day’s work seeing panels, wandering Artist Alley, and also, of course, exploring the con floor and merchandise and admiring some awesome cosplay, everyone needs to unwind. And although NYCC doesn’t compete with SDCC when it comes to the after-hours hangouts, I have managed to locate a few cool-sounding…


Sonicboombox is organizing a couple of parties this year, and I fully intend to hit at least the Friday one. This party will be at the Bowlmor Times Square, and is combined with the Image Comics After-Party. I attended that one last year, and had a really fun time; so that’s at the top of my list for this year. Sonicboombox is also doing a Cosplay dance party at Slake NYC on Saturday – and both the Friday and Saturday events feature giveaways, cosplay guests and photo booths, and fun stuff to do there (dancing, bowling, arcade games, or whatever takes your fancy). All the details for those events and ticketing can be found here.

If bowling alleys aren’t your thing, another Friday option is the Super Smashed Bros. V party, hosted by NYCRavers. This party is definitely for gamers, with a video game-themed EDM line-up of music, and a Super Smash Bros. tournament with cash prizes (for those who would rather play than dance!). It’s easy to get to via train, and goes late into the night.

Friday offers plenty of gamer-friendly options, with the GBX 2016 Electric Underground Party at Space Ibiza going on as well. With “the best anime/gaming/nerdcore music remixed into EDM” to dance to, this sounds like another one that gamers who also like to hit the dance floor would love. And, of course, as with most NYCC parties, cosplay is welcome.

The only reason I might not make it to Sonicboombox’s Saturday party is that it’s the same night as the Adult Swim Tyrannic’s Third Maiden Voyage. This is “a three-hour cruise along the Hudson, featuring a night of NY views & city sights, an up-close look at Lady Liberty, a live performance from a secret musical guest, and the company of your Adult Swim Friends & Family.” The last couple of years they’ve done this, I thought it looked really fun (being a huge fan of boats and being on the water, as is clear from my mega-excitement over my upcoming voyage on January’s comic-con cruise, Fan2Sea); but schedules never quite aligned before. This year, they have, and I RSVP’d early to make sure I didn’t miss out.

Well! That’s probably enough to keep me busy; but as with every NYCC, I’m also looking forward to having unexpected adventures. And in-between all of that, I’ll be keeping tabs on my plans via the NYCC app, which you really should have if you’re going adventuring at NYCC.

So snag that, make your plans, and if you see me at the con, don’t forget to say hey!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: Fan2Sea –The Comic-Con on a Cruise Ship


I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise. I love being out on the water, and have even joked that I’d live in a tiny house surrounded by water if I could. So it’s kind of silly that I’ve never been on a cruise, isn’t it? And I love comic-cons, as anyone who’s ever read my column will know. So when I first saw that someone was organizing Fan2Sea, a comic-con on a cruise ship (and one with an adorably punny name, at that!), I thought, “What? I have to go! Also, this absolutely sounds too good to be true! Because it’s a comic-con. On a cruise ship. How can this be?!?”

And then I saw the line-up, and my mind boggled even more. Because after a million and three recommendations from literally everyone I know, I’m in the midst of watching the Netflix original, Stranger Things. I’ve also just finally caught up on The Walking Dead (to which I am completely addicted – despite the zombie-ick factor – because it’s just so good). I’m super excited about Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (and everyone knows I loved the first one). I am a longtime fan of Batman, a.k.a. The Dark Knight. And I am, as every single person except maybe someone living in a hole on a remote island knows, a huge Deadpool fan. No. Seriously. It’s like I never stop writing about him. Ever. Yep, that kind of a huge fan.

So when I went to look up the details of Fan2Sea, and I saw that their line-up includes cast members from Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and also Deadpool and Batman comics creators, my mind pretty much exploded from excitement. Add to that the excitement of going on a cruise, with all the cool experiences that has to offer; and port stops in Tampa, Key West, and Cozumel, Mexico (I’ve never been to Mexico! But I’ve been meaning to go!); and it’s a wonder I’ve even been able to pick up all the little brain-pieces.

Fortunately, I recovered my wits enough to determine that I had to know more about Fan2Sea. Like: where did it come from? Who had this marvelous idea? Is it going to be as awesome as it sounds? More awesome?!? (Which I might not be able to handle, but I’m willing to take the risk.)

To get answers to all of the questions swimming through my overheated brain, I got in touch with the people who are putting on this wondrous event, and Stefan Lawrence of Rethink Leisure & Entertainment sat down with me to give me the lowdown on everything all of us con-goers need to know before we decide that we must embark on the grand Fan2Sea adventure. Read on for all the details!

ESW: So who came up with the idea for a comic-con on a cruise ship, and what was the inspiration behind it?

fan2sea-2SL: We were brought this project by one of the investors who had the idea of a boutique-style comic-con on a cruise. It’s a response to some of the larger comic-cons. They’re delightful, they’re amazing, but there’s also so much friction involved – there’s the waiting in lines, there’s the crowds – a lot of it can be a little bit stressful even if you love this stuff. So we have partnered with a travel agency that specializes in themed cruises; and had the idea to do basically a boutique comic-con – where it’s a limited number of people, and you’re eliminating all of the standing in line, waiting around…all the bits and pieces that make comic-con both maddening and delightful at the same time. We want to take all the good stuff and eliminate all the other bits. So you’re staying at a luxury hotel, on board this ship. You’re not waiting in line forever to get to huge panels. We’re running the big panels twice so that everybody will get a chance to see all the big panels on the ship. It’s a lot about making this the most artist-friendly and the most fan-friendly convention that anyone’s ever attended.

ESW: I know some of you come from a theme-park background; and it sounds like at least some of you have gone to enough comic-cons to know what they’re like and know why something else is needed. Can you talk about the background of the team that is making this happen?

SL: I work for a company called Rethink Leisure & Entertainment. We’re a theme-park design company made up of a gang of ex-Disney Imagineers, ex-Universal creatives… So the thing that we’re really good at is customer experiences; basically creating fun events and experiences for guests. So that’s always our focus. Because whether you’re master-planning an entire theme park or you’re doing an attraction, you’re constantly thinking about how an experience is from beginning to end. So that’s been our focus from day one. We don’t want to welcome you on board the boat and be like, “Here’s a bunch of celebrities – have at it.” We want to make sure that the experience is fun the entire way though. So for instance, we’re working with the 501st in Tampa so that the moment you get on board, there will be storm troopers that are welcoming you on board the ship on the gangway. We’re going to have themed parties every single night. We really want to make sure that it’s…kind of a “surprise and delight” thing. So that you feel like this is a party that was created and curated just for you.

ESW: It sounds like your Rethink staff comes from some of the best companies geeks are familiar with; what are some other things that Rethink has done that we may have heard about?

SL: We ourselves are a fairly young company; we’ve been around for about three years now. In the sort of comics space, we designed the world’s largest toys and collectibles store, which is in Dubai – it’s called Comicave. It’s 17,000 square feet, it has themed areas – we actually have a full Iron Man hall of armor in there; there’s a Star Wars collectibles room that looks like the Death Star; there’s the “rooftops of New York,” which is where you can buy all of your single-issue comic books; there’s an otaku anime and Gundam area – so that’s one example, and the whole store is pretty spectacular.

In terms of our team here, they’re the people who have worked on everything from – we have the show writer from Harry Potter in Orlando, and Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood. They wrote all the scripts for the rides for Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. One of our senior creative directors here was on the opening day team of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The President and CEO worked on Disneyland Paris. People here have worked on Transformers, the ride. Everyone here in the office lives and breathes pop-culture – so shifting over into this realm of things really is not much of a stretch.

ESW: So are you guys super excited to be getting into this area?

SL: Speaking just for myself – I love this stuff. I love comics, I love movies – this is all stuff that I do anyway – it’s all completely up my alley. So to be in this playground is a delight for me personally. But we also have an office full of people who have desks covered in toys, and we all make the pilgrimage down to San Diego every year and come back with mounds and mounds of stuff. So it’s all a world that we love already. It’s tangential to what we have done in the past, but it’s completely in our wheelhouse in terms of what we love.

ESW: You’ve talked about your goal, which is making sure everyone has an amazing time. Can you give me both the immediate picture of what this particular cruise experience would be like for a fan; and then what goals Rethink has for the future?

fan2sea-3SL: The immediate experience is that we want this to be like a big geeky slumber party. As opposed to a comic-con where everybody is on the show floor during the day, and then you have to disperse and go find parties or whatever else you feel like doing. We’re going to be running panels into the evening; but then when the evening time comes, we are going to transition into parties. We’re having cosplay karaoke; themed DJ parties; outdoor movie nights on the pool deck that are going to be themed, with themed cocktails – so like the first night we’re doing a double feature with Jaws and Piranha, and so we’re going to have Blood in the Water themed cocktails that go along with that. We’re going to have complete Stranger Things ‘80s themed parties. So we’re looking to extend the entertainment, so when you come out of your panels and you’re like, “What’s next?” there’s a full array of things to do.

We’re working with the chefs on board the ship to provide special menus – so that you can have a Game of Thrones menu that you can choose in the dining room, or you can have a Bladerunner-themed future Asian fusion-style thing that you can choose as part of your menu. We’re running movie marathons all day every day – so there’s always going to be something to do. And even when you go back to your cabin, we’re partnering with a company called Monster Channel that runs late-night monster movies as programming, so there will be a bespoke monster movie channel that you can turn on in your cabin at all hours of the day. And there’s no one else on the ship except comic-con attendees. Some ships will buy a block of rooms for a themed event – but we have the whole ship; so everybody on the ship is going to be there for this one thing.

ESW: You know what it reminds me of, in a good way, is the way Dragon Con works, in the sense that you get to stay in the place where everything is happening, as opposed to trekking to a convention center. But again, Dragon Con is a big, big show; and the Fan2Sea experience sounds like a more intimate experience without the hassle of the habitrails or anything. That sounds amazing.

SL: Exactly – and we are filling every single venue that we can fill with programming. We are taking over almost every single open bar or space. So you can just wander through the ship and see something cool that’s happening.

ESW: That is amazing and brings me to the question of: what with being on a cruise ship, that has a comic-con, and stops in ports and everything – how in the heck are we going to overcome our FOMO, our Fear of Missing Out? Because it sounds like the sort of thing where I just want to do everything, immediately. Any tips for people who are like, “This sounds good, but I’m overwhelmed by all the potential awesomeness?”

SL: Not to worry: well before the cruise sails, we are going to be releasing schedules and checklists you can put together. I know people who go, for instance, to Disney World, and they program everything to within an inch of its life, and that’s how they vacation; and I know people who want to go on a journey of discovery, and they’re like, “I just want to go out and see whatever I want to see, as I want to see it. We are going to give you the tools to be able to plan everything beforehand, if that’s what you want to do; or if you just want to wander into the cinema and see what’s playing, or wander down to the pub and join the trivia quiz that’s happening, or head on over to cosplay karaoke because you hear it from down the hall; the ship is set up to accommodate both things. You can rigorously plan your day; but then you can also take it as it comes.

We are being careful to get out of the way of some of the bigger stuff – so if you definitely want to see a Stranger Things panel, we are not going to be doing something exactly in that category somewhere else at the same time. We’re trying not to cross programs so that there are two blockbuster programs at once. We are trying to make sure that the program gets out of the way of itself. But, you know, you are going to miss something, because there’s just going to be too much happening for you not to.

ESW: Sure – and that happens at every con. So I’ve been to a ton of comic-cons, but I’ve never been on a cruise. For those of us who are cruise newbies, are you going to be putting up tips for that, and if you want to experience everything on the ship, are you going to feel like you’re losing out on that if you take time to explore the ports?

SL: The ship gets in to port usually at about 8:30 in the morning for both Key West and Cozumel. We are delaying our big programming until later in the morning on those days; so the big panels will probably start around 11 or 12, although that’s not final yet. So that if you would like to go to port, you can do so. You can get off, go check out Key West, go check out Cozumel; but necessity dictates that we will have to start the panels sometime. So we are giving some windows of exploration if that’s what you want to do. We are also cognizant that we are programming things to go late into the evening – most of the programming will last until three or four in the morning. So you can also sleep in a bit, because the earliest programming will start around 9:30 or 10:00. So there’s no crack-of-dawn programming.

ESW: So if this all goes well, what’s next?

SL: Our goal is to be the comic-con destination of the year. Like, we’re never going to be San Diego Comic Con, or that scale; we’re never going to be New York Comic Con. But outside of that, we want this to be the coveted destination so that when this goes on sale, people are excited, and they can’t wait to see what the line-up is. We want it to be something people look forward to every year, and get excited about; and they can sort of make their own, and it can be something special that happens. We want this to be a yearly tradition. And our goal would be to start with one a year; but a West Coast and East Coast launch would be something else we’d be interested in doing – but we’ve got to get this one done first! But I think people are going to be surprised to see what a good-quality experience this will be, for fans and guests – and the quality of our guests is top-notch, as well. And then we want to grow this as an experience every year.

ESW: I like that. So if you are someone who has been to a ton of comic-cons, but you’ve never been on a cruise, what would you tell people about why they should try this experience?

SL: If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, you might be surprised by actually how nice they are. We went and did a visit to one of the sister ships earlier this month; and the ship is absolutely spectacular, the venues are gorgeous and themed, the cabins are really, really nice, the restaurants are fabulous; it’s going to be completely unlike staying at the Marriott and going over to a con. The actual experience is going to be completely different than your usual con experience – but in a good way.

ESW: It sounds amazing, Stefan; and thank you for this great information!

After our interview, Stefan also let me know that the con has just implemented a fab booking feature for those of us who want to experience Fan2Sea but aren’t sure who else might want to go and be our roomie, and who can’t afford to just book a whole room without roomies. Now, if you go to the Eventbrite page, the ticket choices include several room options where you can book a bed in a four-guest cabin, and roommates will be assigned by gender. The individual bed ticket includes all fees, too, so it’s easy to know what you’re paying for the whole experience. Pretty cool!

Well that wraps up this column, but stay tuned for more Fan2Sea news in the upcoming weeks – and also, when January rolls around, for con reports from yours truly, because I’ll be going on this amazing comic-con cruise, experiencing everything so that I can share it with you, my faithful readers.

…But really, you should go too and share it with me in person, because OMG why wouldn’t you?!

Hope to see you there!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!