April 29, 2010

The Hero Initiative & Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Last night, I attended the monthly will call event held by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL). BPAL is a “purveyor of fine esoteric goods, perfumes, and potions.” My goal is to go every month, but I end up attending more like every other month. It’s a luxury to visit the will call and get to smell dozens of carefully designed oils in person. The scents available range from delicate to decadent, but each bottle of oil has multiple intertwining smells. They are all woven together with some sort of magic and crazy talent that makes the oils emulate places, characters in books & comics and evoke strong feelings.

As if that wasn’t enough to entice you, they have lines based on the works of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and even Hellboy inspired scents. Geeky perfume oils! How could you resist?

My primary objective last night was to get something from The Graveyard Book series and the new Neverwhere series. For me, it’s mostly about the scent. But. The design on the labels of these special lines plays a part in the decision to buy too. As I was wrapping up my purchases, I noticed the new Witchblade line on display. I had to try every one and ended up buying Witchblade. One, it smelled musky with nice spicy notes on my wrist and two, BPAL partnered with Top Cow Productions to donate proceeds for the Witchblade line to The Hero Initiative.

The Hero Initiative is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. It was founded in 2000 by several comic book and trade publishers. The charity provides a net for those creators that need support – emergency medical aid, financial aid, etc.

I was able to give a small something back for the endless enjoyment I get from comics, and I have a wicked cool scent. Not a bad deal.

BPAL also donates proceeds to The Hero Initiative for their Sachs and Violen line.

April 28, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Star Wars Clothes For Her

Female Star Wars fans, suffer no longer.  Ahsoka's got your back.

Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano (Anakin Skywalker's Padawan in The Clone Wars) recognized the severe lack of merchandise designed for the curvier Star Wars fans.  Realizing that we were stuck with men's sizes or afterthought pink shirts, she decided to take a stand.  Read about her new company in my article over at Pink Raygun.

April 27, 2010

Free Comic Book Day, May 1st

Did someone say free comics?

They did. In fact, they've said it on the first Saturday of May every year since 2002. Joe Field wrote an article in the August 2001 issue of Comics & Game Retailers trade magazine brainstorming about the idea. With a little coordination (okay, probably a TON of coordination) by Diamond Comic Distributors, Free Comic Book Day was born. This gets you to your local independent comic book store, and it's also a great way to bring a friend to the world of comics.

It works like this:
Distributors sell a selection of comics (usually picked for their broad audience appeal) to sell to retailers for relatively cheap.  Retailers work to promote FCBD with special signings or shindigs.  The level of promotion definitely plays a part in the success of the event for each store.  Over the past six years, thirty countries have participated and retailers all over the world have given away 12 million plus copies of the special edition comics. 

How many more comic book readers has this mission generated?  There's not a definitive answer that I can find, but I bet it's more than a few.

Where can you go to get your free comic?  Use the handy store locator on the left hand side; type in your zip code, and you'll get a list of participating stores in your area.  Some stores will be giving away just one comic, others may be giving away more.  If you really must know, call the store ahead of time to see what their FCBD policies are.  Check out their websites too.  Many shops arrange special signings and other fun events around this very awesome day.

This is the list of comics that will be available (again, may vary depending on the store).

I'll be hitting a few comic book stores near Burbank, CA.  This is my first time taking advantage of FCBD, and I'm looking forward to it and also bringing a friend into the world of comic books.  Hey - I would have appreciated someone taking me years ago. 

April 26, 2010

When Someone Hands you Stormtrooper Armor

What can you do but try it on?

A member of the 501st Legion dropped some armor at the house for some minor repair, and she very kindly gave me permission to try it on.  It's not something I ever thought I would have the opportunity to do, so when I say I bounced all over the room with excitement, I'm not exaggerating.  Really.  I have witnesses. 

I learned several things about myself and Stormtroopers.

- I need to work on my gun wielding skills.
- Stormtroopers cannot be expected to get ready in a hurry.  I felt like I needed a numbered guide to know which pieces should go on when.  It was a little trial and error to get everything on.

- It wasn't uncomfortable to wear...unless you want to move.  Then it's a little challenging.

Mostly - my respect for members of the 501st increased by a million.  I can't imagine wearing this armor for a few hours, let alone all day.  Then there's the dedication to making the costume.

Someone mentioned that they get armor bites, and then kindly pointed out to me that they do accept a few different kinds of costumes.  You can spend hours browsing their site researching types and requirements.  This page in particular lists all th qualifying detachments.  Clone troopers to Tusken raiders to biker scouts.

A few more photos of me as a Stormtrooper here.

April 23, 2010

Behind the Washing Well, Interview with a Washer Woman

I go to renaissance faires. I watch the shows, participate in them sometimes (very reluctantly), eat massive amounts of fried food, drink ale, and unlace my bodice with gleeful joy the second I get to the car at the end of the day.  And I’ve always wondered what happens before the crowds arrive. What is life like for the performers and vendors? Especially the ones that follow faires around the country, hopping from place to place. What kind of work goes into six or eight week shows?

I’ve chased down a few renfaire folks to gain some behind the scenes insight. This will be a continuing series for the blog, I’ll post fresh interviews as I can, probably every couple of weeks.

First up is the delightful Sarah. She has played washer wench at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire (which is going right now, weekends til 5/23).

Are you a performer, goods vendor, or food vendor? Tell me a little about your craft.
When I play faire, I am primarily a performer with the Washer Women guild. We are a group of women who, along with the Ploughboys, have a "live stage" ... in our case, a large washing well and yard. At any given time of the day visitors to our stage can find us washing clothing (yes, we really do wash all day long!), singing, gossiping, dancing, arguing, and playing games in the mud. In addition to my time on the well, in the 2009 season I had a long-running gig with the Queen's Yeoman. Depending on the day we would interact with the guests, in a variety of scenarios, or, my favorite, perform long improv sessions around the faire site, much to the amusement (and occasional involvement!) of onlookers!

How many faires to you travel to? Are they concentrated in one area or across the States?
In the 2009 season I played full time at Southern (So Cal) only, though I did play part time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in the fall.

What is the most challenging part about setting up at renaissance faires?
The load-in weeks leading up to opening are always a challenge when it comes to getting everything prepared. In our case, the well needs to be brought out of storage, set up, sanded, painted, and cured. In addition, all live plumbing needs to be installed, and our backstage area set up. Throughout work weekends, we also spend time sewing and updating our costuming, and brushing up on dialect and songs. With so much to do, it's quite a busy time!

What is your favorite faire and why?
Southern (So Cal) is by far my favorite faire I have worked or visited. Being the original in the country it is definitely the most well developed and run. The sheer amount of talent among the actors and vendors creates an atmosphere unrivaled at any site I've visited elsewhere! It is so well done that it is very easy to lose yourself in the world created, and really, who wouldn't want to do that?

Many visitors (even me) assume that the faire is comprised of entirely permanent structures. I had no idea the well had to be set up and plumbed annually. My respect for washing wenches just went up several notches. Funny, talented, and handy. And also, it is the best show to attend multiple times on hot faire days.

If you would like to be interviewed for this series, please contact me – alratcliffe@yahoo.com.
Photos in this post were provided by Sarah.  The first photo was taken by Richard Lowe of Renaissance Faire.net, and the second photo was taken by Skye Berger.

April 22, 2010

Poison Ivy Costume

I struggled in choosing how to put together my Poison Ivy costume. I wanted to do something close to the comic, but there is no way I have the confidence to essentially walk around in a bathing suit and tights.  I had to have some kind of bottoms - maybe boyshorts, maybe a skirt.  I found this Photoshopped image of Emily Blunt as Ivy and fell in love with the corset.  I had a place to start.

With the help of Twitter, I learned that the corset is available at Frederick's but not in green (damn near every other color though).  I quickly searched the net for advice about dyeing polyester, determined it could be done, and bought the corset.  I added tights and gloves from a rocking site I just discovered, We Love Colors.  Eventually I scrounged up a suitable green skirt at USA Dance Shoes.  Whew.

Remaining materials include iDye Poly in green and lots of fake ivy leaves from Michael's.  I got really lucky and found the boots for $20 on Etsy in my size.

The costume required more work than I thought, yet considering the end result, not so bad.  The most time consuming part was dyeing the corset and skirt.  I was incredibly happy with the shade of green my corset ended up.  I followed the directions on the package and simmered it for about one and a half hours with frequent stirring.  I put it right from the pot into the washer on cold and that seemed to set the dye.

The skirt required a little modifying.  I ripped out a lot of sequins and cut off the bottom half.  It was a little too pixie like.  Since it was a lighter mint green, I threw that in the same pot of dye after the corset was finished.

After everything was close to the same shade of green, I looked at the fake ivy leaves.  They returned my stare.  I was really hesitant to cover up the corset, it's too pretty.  But ivy leaves are important to the costume, otherwise I just looked like a faery.  I hot glued a line of ivy leaves up the outside seam of each boot.  I selectively placed them on the skirt and along the bottom edge of the corset.  I used bobby pins to attach smaller leaves to my hair.  Even with these and a touch of green lipstick and eye shadow, a handful of people didn't make the instant Poison Ivy connection.  Any suggestions on how I can improve it before the next convention?  I think the only solution is to sadly cover the corset with ivy leaves.

Quick summary of supplies/sources:

Corset - Hollywood Dream, Frederick's.com (linked above)
Tights - Mint, Welovecolors.com
Skirt - Dance skirt from USAdanceshoes.com
Boots - search for green suede boots on Etsy (eBay had several too, just not my size)

Plastic ivy leaves - Michael's
Polyester dye - iDye Poly, Dharma Trading
Hot glue
Large enamel pot for dyeing

April 20, 2010

Custom Gaming Tables!

The Emissary custom dining/gaming table

When I spotted an array of custom tables at Anaheim Comic Con Saturday, it was all I could do not to drop my purchase from Things from Another World and run over in flailing fashion.  How did I not know about these?  These beautiful lines, these hidden drawers, and sliding trays.  Oh my.  A friendly staff member helped bring me out of catatonic state and showed around their booth.  This multi-purpose furniture is made by Geek Chic.  They've got tables, curio cases, and pretty designs to store pretty, geeky things.  Let me tell you about the table pictured above.  It has a dropped surface playing area.  It comes with an acrylic whiteboard AND a thin piece of translucent grid in hexes or squares.  You can lift up the acrylic whiteboard, insert your campaign map (or one of the maps Geek Chic provides), overlay the map with your grid, put the whiteboard back in place and tada!  You have a way to keep your map clean, you have the grid for scale, and you can draw all over the whiteboard. 

You can get it with various types of drawers or trays including the coolest one for your GM with a built in privacy screen.  It's a given that you can get cupholders attached.  I mean, I think that's just necessary for gaming.

If that's not gamer heaven, what is?

I won't torture you by telling you about the amazing GM rolling desk/cabinet they also had available.  Get thee over to their website, and if you ever get a table from them, please invite me over to play?

Pink Raygun Post: Don't Forget Your Props

Props are one of my favorite parts of costume design.  It's a place you can really change everyday objects into kick ass weapons, jewelry, etc.  You can read my post with some general tips to help get your creative ideas flowing over at Pink Raygun.

Anaheim Comic Con Report

The first annual Wizard World's Anaheim Comic Con was held this weekend. As a fan who is trying to get out to more cons than just San Diego this year, I was excited to go on Saturday. I'm interested to see if all the cons blend together in a convention hall blur or if each one has a voice. So far, I've noticed individual voices. And the voices of each con are loud. To me, Anaheim Comic Con yelled, while jumping up and down, "I'm new, but I'm eager to please."

I arrived around 1:15pm on Saturday, just missing the Star Wars panel I wanted to see, but ah well. LA traffic. I grabbed an exhibit hall map, and headed off towards the general direction of comics. But I had to stop. I couldn't help but notice several rows of autographs area. I know that this exists at San Diego Comic-Con too, but it's not an area I ever stop to take in. Here at this one room con though, it seemed like the media stars area was about 1/3 of the room. Though I'm not celebrity crazy, it was still fun to walk through and play recognize the star. I get the appeal to a lot of fans. They could walk right up (I didn't see very many lines) and not only do the signature and/or photo thing, but have a conversation with their favorite stars. It then clicked for me why Wizard World had expended so much effort promoting every celebrity that sneezed in the general direction of the con. It does bring in people. It's just a fact.

I pushed through and onward to toys, models, and comics. My eyes enjoyed skimming books and racks without being strained by a million flashing lights or giant displays. The aisles were crowded, but you could move. The booths were well staffed, and more than once, a booth employee offered up recommendations and actually spent time helping me find new comics to enjoy. Propworx had great nerdy items on display from Goa'uld symbiotes to Starbuck's viper pilot suite. One of the coolest finds for me were custom gaming tables by Geek Chic. I tried not to drool on them.

After many stops to buy graphic novels and take photos of other costumed characters (I saw lots of costumes), I made it over to Artist's Alley. It was a pretty small area, but most of the tables were at least occupied - by artists and fans alike. I did enjoy the opportunity to spend time talking to artists without feeling like I was hogging their attention from other fans behind me. Fans were around, but the table wasn't so jammed with people that you could spend a little more than just the buy and get thigns signed time. The atmosphere definitely wasn't as rushed as say, San Diego.

Overall, I had a great time. I saw lots of fantastic costumes and scored on deals from Pulp Fiction comics and Things from Another World. I also met some great artists in Artist's Alley. I think the convention is still finding its feet, and that next year will see some overall improvements.

Why some fans/creators might be put off:
- If it continues to be the same weekend as Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, lots of artist and panel opportunities will be lost (by the way, C2E2, I respect you for not just calling yourself a comic con).

- They could put a little more work into promoting the artists and the exhibitors instead of just the celebrities. Bringing that a little more into balance would help.

- The price of a one day Saturday ticket was $35, the same as San Diego Comic Con. Sure, I got to look at celebrities from just a few feet away, but personally? I'd rather have more panels and a bigger artist area. On Saturday, there were just 18 panels and four of them involved Stan Lee. Stan Lee rocks, absolutely, but come on. Out of those 18, maybe about 1/3 had to do with comics.

- The convention center seemed to be set up to make everything as inconvenient as possible. A large specialty coffee convention was going on too and taking most of the exhibit halls, and the convention center did not want us of the costumed, comic fans walking in the halls outside of our convention. Which was hard when the closest (maybe the only?) ATM was in Hall A and Comic Con was in Hall D. After being forced to walk outside, which I don't mind, it was more about the principle, we walk back in to get in line for the ATM. As we are walking around the rope, wallets in hand, a convention center employee told us in a rude tone, "You're not supposed to be over here." I almost was snippy. Almost. Hey, I was dressed as a villain, it was bound to rub off. I politely gestured at the ATM and told her we were directed to it by other staff. She grumbled us in line behind Aayla Secura and Padme and scowled at all of us. The parking and entering the convention center were similar situations.

If you were an artist or exhibitor there, I'd love to hear about your thoughts on the show.

April 19, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Celebrate the Web

The 2nd Annual Streamy Awards weren't exactly fantastic.  If you didn't hear about the epic fails, check out posts from Sandeep Parikh of The Legend of Neil and Chance McClain of Horrible Turn detailing some of the highlights.  Fortunately, the web community is a resilient bunch.  Two resourceful ladies, Jenni Powell & Kim Evey, organized a sort of Streamy Awards do-over, and I was lucky enough to attend.

Check out my article about Celebrate the Web over at Pink Raygun.

April 18, 2010

Anaheim Comic Con Costumes

I attended the first annual Wizard World's Anaheim Comic Con yesterday. I'll have a full report and my thoughts on the convention tomorrow, but for now, let's look at costumes from Saturday! For me, they were one of the best things about this particular convention. I didn't see very many costumes early on, but as it got closer to time for the costume contest (which I missed), lots of costumed superheroes, villains, and more showed up. Some of my favorites:

Poison Ivy & Slave Leia

Me as Poison Ivy and a lovely Slave Leia (look at her shoes, love!)

Anakin Skywalker

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader - I've never seen a costume emulate the in between/in progress Vader. It was really well done.

Pan's labyrinth costume

Angel of Death from Pan's Labyrinth, this costumer really had the walk and creepy factor down too.

Leeloo & Ivy

Adrianne Curry in a kick ass Leeloo costume and me with less than great pose

Catwoman & Big Boy

Catwoman and Big Boy, they were a really funny pair, loved meeting them

Vader, Ivy, Aayla

Samurai Vader and Aayla Secura

Poison Ivy & Harley Quinn Princess Tiana Steampunk costume Superman Batgirl and Jean Grey

It was my first time wearing a costume all day. I was thrilled when anyone recognized that I was Poison Ivy and so so flattered when anyone asked for a photo. I need to work on my posing in front of a mirror though. ;) If you see any of me out there on the net, please share.

You can see more photos from the convention over at my Flickr page.

April 15, 2010

My Wall of Nerd

It's time to introduce all of you to my in-constant-progress wall of nerd.  I love finding new artists, especially so when they are fantasy artists or do wonderful art based on my favorite stories.  I never walk away from a convention without at least one new piece of art.  I live in a small place, I'm running out of wall to hang them on, but that doesn't stop me.

On the wall so far we have art by (from left to right):
Chris Howard - first two pieces
Jason Palmer
Grant Gould - all three pieces on right

Yet to be hung, I have another piece by Jason Palmer and a signed poster of The Guild cast won at the Dr. Horrible charity screening last fall.

On a separate wall I have art from (top left to right):

If I continue at this rate, our house is going to become an art gallery.  Which is okay with me.

What about you guys?  What artist's work do you have hanging on your walls? 

April 13, 2010

The Bean Issue #3 Review

The Bean, Issue #3 – Into the Dark opens with rain over the forest of Dark Leaf, dampening ground and making certain ogres extra grumpy. The rain pours while Siv continues his search through the forest for Bean. The collector and Bean continue along an underground path lined with wonders and horrors. What look like the remnants of an interesting past. The collector speaks of the song he hears from the sword he must find. He believes the Bean is the only one who can retrieve it; others have failed. The reader begins to see that the Bean is something special. People who know him seem to need to protect him. And not necessarily because of his age, it's like he has an effect on those around him.

Many parts start to fall together in this issue. Hanson has a knack for revealing just the right amount of information on the right page. Enough to make the story feel cohesive and to keep you flipping to the next page excitedly. Just a little bit is kept back, and the story is wonderful for it. You hear a bit of the world's history, before the moon was broken. The reader gets a hint of Bean's past and of Siv's too. You don't learn it all though, and that keeps you itching for the next issue of The Bean.
The next issue was just released too, you can go buy it at BeanLeaf Press.

April 12, 2010

Nerdy Photo Monday - Slave Leia

Comic Con 2007_50
Obi-Wan (Jedi J) and Princess Leia, SDCC 2007

At almost any convention, but especially San Diego Comic-Con, you are guaranteed to run into at least one slave Leia. I've seen entire groups of slave Leias and even a steampunk version of the costume. You've got to brave to don it. Besides the midriff baring, the skirt has open sides. I think girls usually get thongs with clear sides to wear under it. It's appropriate though that self-confident women are the ones emulating Leia. She does kind of kick ass, and she didn't look so self-conscious about the outfit in the movie. Though Jabba meant to humiliate her with the costume, her strong character made it self empowering.  Jabba realized that too late. 

Now, that's a kick ass chick.

Slave bikini facts:
- The costume designers for the infamous outfit were Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero. There were metal and rubber versions of the costume.
- The design was based on artist Frank Frazetta's Egyptian Queen painting.
- Can you believe it was only on screen in the original version for for 150 seconds?
- Within the Star Wars-universe, the veils were made of the luxury cloth Lashaa silk and the leather boots were made from jerbas hide, a Tatooine beast of burden.
- The costume came about after Fisher lamented the lack of interesting costumes for her character.
- In The Phantom Menace, a very similar bikini is seen on one of Jabba's slaves.
- Fisher said the costume was difficult to wear and is "what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell."

Need your own slave Leia bikini? Here are two resources to buy handcrafted ones:
Leia's Metal Bikini - all inclusive outfit and comes in several color options for the metal finish and fabric
Miala.net - Great pieces and I can vouch for quality, this is where I got my Six costume

Ambitious enough to make one? Here are some guides from those who have done so:
- Tutorial by LisaFett - super detailed tutorial with great guidance on materials
- Slave Bikini Builders group on Yahoo
- Cut Out and Keep Tutorial - easy supply list and several photos
- Leia's Metal Bikini - links to tons of reference photos to help your costume building

Do you have a slave Leia costume? Have you seen an awesome one at a convention? Tell me about it in the comments.

Carrie Fisher and stuntwoman Tracey Eddon sunbathing in costume.

April 9, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Not Sewing Costumes

Two weeks ago, I put together lots of my favorite tips to get around sewing a costume.  Don't get frustrated by a lack of a sewing machine or skills to use it.  A hot glue gun is your best costuming friend.  For more tips, you can check out the post on Pinkraygun.com here.

My First Fantasy Series

As I was looking over my bookshelves recently, trying to find space for a new haul from the used book store, I lingered over my Wheel of Time collection . I have them in well-loved paperbacks and pristine hardbacks. Signed hardbacks mind you. You see, I used to be sort of obsessed. WoT was the first fantasy series I read.  Oddly enough, it was introduced to me by my first boyfriend.  Sure, I'd devoured a Wrinkle in Time, Animal Farm, and The Giver among others. But WoT opened a whole new world to me.

I remember diving into The Eye of the World with skeptical glee. The complicated names and terms captured my imagination.  I flipped to the glossary what felt like every other paragraph in an overeager attempt to understand it all. And the pronunciations! I tested the names and places out loud until I'm sure my parents thought I was learning odd spells. It felt daunting, and no reading experience prior to that moment had quite evoked that feeling.

I was incredibly proud on the day I could say Aes Sedai with the best of them.

Five books were published when I started WoT. I was expecting seven or eight books in the whole series, so every time a new title was released (every two or so years by that point) I celebrated by starting from the beginning. I went to signings and book by book got most of my collection signed by Robert Jordan. I lived on the message boards of wotmania.com (they closed their doors in 2009) and obsessed over theories.

And then the books kept stretching out. I could no longer keep track of the millions of side plots without complicated notes. I stopped reading from the beginning when a new book came out, instead maybe reading some of the book before it. Those feelings of first love faded, and I had to let go. Then the unthinkable happened. Robert Jordan passed away. His series is being finished by another, and when it is finally done I will pick the books up. It won't be the same though. Nothing compares to those first feelings of falling in love. Me and the Wheel of Time just weren't meant to last, but it will always have a special place in my heart.  Obviously, I mean, the collection does take up two shelves. 

I did learn a lesson, as one does with heartbreak or letting go.  I avoid unfinished series whenever I can; I'm just too damn impatient.

Which fantasy or sci-fi series did you pick up first? Do you still read it?  Feel free to comment here or over at my Facebook page.

April 8, 2010

The Bean - Issue # 4 Available!

The Bean Learns His Destiny
The Bean: Forgotten Stories, Issue 4
After much anticipation, fans of the Bean comics by Travis Hanson will learn just what is ahead for the young star of the tale. Forgotten Stories: Issue 4 picks right up at the “to be continued” from Issue 3. The story delves into new places, and Hanson gives away some of the secrets about the world of the Broken Moon. A key legend is revealed in detailed illustrations. The characters evolve and set off on new paths, some by choice and some not. Destiny is forced upon the Bean and one can only follow along to see what he does with his new burden.

These new paths takes readers to places full of the details and depth. Hanson excels at creating rich panels that readers can immerse themselves in. And readers will love stepping into the new locations of Issue 4.

The Bean: Forgotten Stories Issue 4 is available for immediate purchase at BeanLeaf Press.

WonderCon - My Blog on a T-shirt

I've met some darn cool folks over at Twitter (you know, they are cool enough to use neither the word darn or folks).  One such person is Manuel Yoro, aka Monkey Jedi.

Imagine my surprise when a few days before WonderCon, he posted a pic of this t-shirt, with the the tag that he was pimping for us at WonderCon.  Look, my blog on a t-shirt.  My initial reaction was a string of Wows! with squees in between.  And those other blogs?  Well, they're big and they kinda rock.  By kinda, I mean they are awesome.  They are writers of a talent that I aspire to.

TheNerdyBird.com - the wonderful Has Boobs, Reads Comics blog by Jill Pantozzi.  She writes features comics and many topics, nerdy and fun.  You can also check out her writing at Comic Book Resources, Heartless Doll, Girls Entertainment Network, and MTV.com.

Hour42.com - a must listen to podcast about comic books and the culture around them.  "Covering heroes - on the air, in the air and all around us."  It's hosted by Peter Pixie and El Secreto.  Jill Pantozzi and Katrina Hill have both been involved with this podcast as co-hosts or contributors.

ActionFlickChick.com - G4’s official Next Woman of the Web, Katrina Hill is Action Flick Chick.  Go check out her scores of reviews and interviews.   You can also find her submissions on Crackle and Live For Films.

Go check out Manuel's post about WonderCon.  Stalk his blog, say hi to him Twitter.

Thank you Manuel. This surprise rocked.

April 7, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Wash with Geek

Did you know there is geeky soap out there?  And lots of it!  This photo is just one of many examples.

If interested, go check out my article about geek soap over here.  If you're not familiar with the site, spend some time looking around.  You'll find lots to love.  :)

April 6, 2010

Review: Tech Storm Issue 2, Rages of War

"But what does all this gibberish really stand for, and what does it all mean?  I am sure that every single being on this earth has their own respected definition and philosophy of war, but when a man charges out of the trenches and gets shot down, does anybody really hear him scream?"

I admit, not having read issue 1 of the series, I was a little confused upon initially jumping into Rages of War.  I did a quick search on the internet to find a summary of issue 1.  In this future, robots and cyborgs are lead by Death (a robot) in a war against mankind.  The humans are losing.  But the son of the leader of the human forces ends up becoming a super soldier with living armor as a result of an attack while he is recovering from an injury.  He rallies the human forces, and blows up the fortress of Death.

Issue 2 picks up here.  Tech Storm returns to the fortress to ensure that Death is actually dead.  Those robots have a way of getting around that time and time again.  We meet some new characters and though Death tries to escape, his pod is destroyed.  Or is it?  Death may still be alive; the issue is left open-ended.

Yes, robots vs. humans is a classic tale.  But classic for a reason.  It's relevant and will be for our society for a while to come.  Some new characters are introduced that I assume readers will learn more about in future issues.  Overall, I really enjoy the style of the comic; the art is gritty and is just the right way to tell the story of war.  My only nitpick is the lettering.  The hand lettering matches well with the story/style, but it's difficult to read in spots and some words are randomly capitalized.  For me, it disturbs the flow of reading.

I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but I will always read "I have a bad feeling about this" in a comic as homage to Star Wars.  And I love that.

You can purchase Tech Storm from Star Verse Comics.

April 5, 2010

Nerdy Photo Monday - Meeting the Cast of The Guild

I gripe about Los Angeles, but you know? Cool stuff happens here. Premieres, special screenings, and the signing for The Guild at Golden Apple Comics in Hollywood.

I arrived a little after five and found a line already forming for the event at six. I had to run in and buy copies of the comic because somehow the copy that I pre-ordered from the internets hadn't arrived (it arrived yesterday finally). Once back in line, I spotted Greg Aronowitz and a guy with a microphone. The guy with the microphone turned out to be Geeky Fan Boy that does the Knights of the Guild podcast. He was hitting up folks in line to talk about The Guild comic, and I happily volunteered.

I discovered The Guild through Dr. Horrible. As the story usually goes, I was immediately hooked. Even though I wasn't a gamer. That's key when I tell people about The Guild. I do have a lot of gaming friends and know what happens, but still. You can love The Guild without jumping into a MMO. The writing is clever, the characters are fun. I mean, you see character development in just seven minutes. That can't be easy to do episode after episode.

I was really excited to hear that a comic was being developed for The Guild. There's plenty of room to tell more stories about the Knights of Good, and this issue tells us how Cyd found the game, created Codex, and met the Knights of Good. As was appropriate, the whole cast came to Golden Apple Comics to sign the first issue. A ton of people showed up for the signing. I waited in line for almost two hours I think, and the line was stretched out far behind me. Even with all the people, the cast members took the time to talk to everyone that wanted to. I benefited from Comic Book Resources being just in front of me grabbing quick thoughts from the cast on the comic. It held up the line a little, and I got to talk to everyone longer. I mentioned to Vince Caso (Bladezz) that I enjoyed seeing the card handling in Season 2. Since the line was kinda held up, he pulled out a deck of cards and wowed us. Felicia Day was so sweet and really generous with her time.

The line for signing led to the parking lot behind Golden Apple Comics where Guild wine was being served up with some snacks. The cast was going to hang out for a little after everything was signed. I would have loved to stay until the signing was over, but being that I was alone, I felt a little out of place. (Yeah, I'm a geek and I'm shy - I know, that never happens). Still, it was a great night and I'm very excited to have a signed collectible.

A few more photos here and more from Geeky Fan Boy here.

April 2, 2010

April Fool's - My Favorite Gags

Until the internet, I didn't like April Fool's. I'm gullible. I admit it. Even though I was prepared for April 1, girded loins and all, I fell for a lot of crap. I dreaded it and eventually just ended up disbelieving anything I was told. By friends, family, co-workers, didn't matter. I was an easy target, and everyone knew it.

Fast forward a few years, and now April Fool's Day means funny gags from website makeovers to wacky products. I still have to think, "Wait, is that a real product?" sometimes, but that's much better than thinking I'm going to have another sibling. Yeah, my parents were mean sometimes.

It had to be hard to top the infamous Tauntaun sleeping bag from ThinkGeek last year. I assumed it was a real product. Why wouldn't it be? The news that the Tauntaun bag was so popular that ThinkGeek actually manufactured it was amazing and hilarious. Now when they come up with April 1st gags, I wonder if some part of product development is thinking, "Can we really make this if fans love it?"

This April Fool's Day didn't disappoint. My favorite gags:

Tauntaun Steaks from Things from Another World.  For just $65,000, you can get your very own filet from Hoth.  Make grill marks with your lightsaber.  It's the other other other red meat.

Dark Horse Comics enlisted help on their Twitter page for April Fools comics.  For example:
@DarkHorseComics presents a never before seen or heard of comic: Joss Whedon's Happy Endings. You've never seen it, ever.
@Dark Horse announces that all of its comics will be distributed exclusively for the iPad starting in June. #aprilfoolscomics
@DarkHorseComics announces Alien vs Predator vs Ewoks: The Battle for Endor crossover title. The fur is sure to fly! #aprilfoolscomics #DBR

PC EZ-Bake Oven from ThinkGeek.  This will fit right into a drive bay and can cook any "tiny or flat food."  It even comes with a mix of dehydrated, caffeinated meatloaf.  Mmm.  Hey, it looks pretty perfect for gaming and Pop Tarts.  I'm just saying.

Battle.net Matchmaking - Find someone to pwn noobs with.  - I don't think I need to say anything else.

I like this geek version of April Fool's.  Even CNET realizes that Geeky in-jokes dominate April Fool's Day.

April 1, 2010

You don't know Whedon? Really?

One fateful day, shortly after the release of Dr. Horrible, I couldn't help myself. At my desk in an open office, I just exclaimed out loud, "I love Joss Whedon." Do you know what I got in response? A chorus of "Who??" from around my office. I'm not even kidding. Insert the sound of my palm hitting my face here.

You see, I work in an office of non-geeks. One of them hates the Lord of the Ring movie trilogy. My ranks have expanded since that July day of Whedon blasphemy, but only a little. And of my new nerdy co-workers, almost none had watched Dr. Horrible. I decided to educate them all and have a Dr. Horrible showing at my desk during lunch one day.

I was polite. I invited all departments equally even though I know some of them probably rolled their eyes at me as soon as I walked away. At 2pm, I still had a crowd of four whole people at my desk though. Four possible converts to the magic of Whedon.

By the end of Act III, only two remained.  I lost one at the first song My Freeze Ray.  I gained a person briefly at the "Hammer is my penis" line.  Then I lost him as fast as a Twitter spambot disappears.  I'm not the best presenter.  I was quite protective of the best lines and didn't appreciate anyone talking over Everyone's A Hero or asking who Nathan Fillion was anyway.  Sigh.

But at the end?  One co-worker asked to borrow season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and another asked for the link to watch it later.

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