June 30, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Desktop Pirate Treasure Chest

Yes, Jack Sparrow, you can make your very own awesome pirate treasure chest.  It's tiny and perfect for your desk top.  You can keep your colored staples hidden from co-workers! 

Read my tutorial on how to transform unfinished wood into the image on the left on my new post for my Geek Fab column at Pink Raygun.

If there is interest, I might do a giveaway for one of these.  What do you guys think?

Links a million

Again, I have a million open windows (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little) of things I want to share with you guys.  Enjoy!

Crocheted Cthulhus - Yes, they are as adorable as they sound.  Go get one of your very own to guard your desk!

Roots t-shirt - a Wil Wheaton and J!NX collaboration

Inigo Montoya sword replica - yes, they're working on it.  You too can run around your house saying, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya."  On second thought, maybe running with a sword isn't the best idea.

Star Wars Easter Eggs - While I don't know if they're exactly easter eggs, they are awesome Star Wars gems to look for in the films.

Victorian Star wars portraits - just click the link.

Conan the Barbarian Musical - you really don't need to watch the whole thing, just a few seconds gives you a taste of the hilarity.

Star Wars pet AT-AT

iPhone4 vs HTC Evo - hilarious and so true

June 29, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con Costumes

Edited on 7/15/10

I have finally settled on my costume line-up for San Diego Comic-Con.  I would love to stick with Star Wars for all four days, but I don't have the time and / or body type to do the other costumes at the top of my list (Mara Jade and Aayla Secura).  It will be my first time running around in costume for four days.  I'm sure I'll only end up wearing each of the costumes half the day or so, but we'll see.

Thursday  Saturday
Cross play Han Solo (like this photo):
I haven't made much progress on this.

Padme - Black Corset Dress
I have the head piece and the necklace/scarf left to make.  I also want to cover my corset in pleather.

Saturday Maybe Sunday
Gentle Giant animated Princess Leia
Need to get shoes and figure out the cinnamon bun dilemma (I'm not wearing a bullet bra for this costume).

Sunday  I don't think I'm going to be able to pull off 4 costumes!
Poison Ivy or Kaylee
If I go with Poison Ivy, I just need to touch up my existing costume - add more leaves, etc.
Kaylee - Need to age my coveralls and find patches for them.

June 28, 2010

Geeky Tattoo Series - Batman!

I can only think of a handful of interests or love for characters that have lasted my entire life.  Actually, maybe only a couple.  But Angie has always been a Batman fan, and she has the photo and the tattoos to prove it.  Check out the story behind her rocking batman tattoos:

How long have you had your tattoos?
I got Batman (R Hip) in December 2007. And Batgirl (L Hip) was October 2008. They were Christmas presents from my (now)fiance :)

What's the story behind them?
I have been a Batman fan as long as I can remember. My mom and I used to watch the 1966 Batman series all the time when I was little. She made me my own Batgirl costume :) I wanted my parents to name my little brother Batman. They didn't, his name is Patrick but I call him Patman.

I wanted a tattoo for a long time but I had a really hard time trying to decide what to get. I finally decided on Batman because I've been a fan for 25+ years. I don't think that's going to change. I went with Batgirl on my other hip well, cuz she's awesome! If I could, I would be Batgirl.

Did you get any flak from loved ones for it
Not really. My mom totally understood. The only tattoos she argued with me about are the ones on my wrists because they're visible. They aren't geeky other than the colors match some Batsuit colors :D

Any future geeky tattoos planned?
Absolutely. In the middle of my back (between Batman and Batgirl), I am going to have a Joker-related tattoo. I haven't quite figured out the design yet so it will probably be one of the last tattoos I get. Also, my fiance is a big Superman fan so we were thinking of getting matching tattoos of the Superman/Batman symbol.

If you guys end up getting the Superman/Batman symbols, I want to see pics!

June 25, 2010

Dreaming big

I went to a local gaming and comics store last Sunday.  I needed the 4th edition Dungeon Master's Guide.  Yes, needed.  I went straight to the gaming books, plucked out my treasure, and headed to the register.  I was a girl on a mission.  Okay, and I was craving In-N-Out so very much that I wanted to hurry so I could get to my neapolitan milkshake faster.

I placed the book on the counter.  The cashier picked it up, looked at me, and said, "This a great Father's Day gift, lucky guy!"

I sighed with audible exasperation on the inside.  I said, "Oh, actually, it's for me.  I want to learn to DM."  To which he said, "Oh, um, well... good luck with that."

Dude.  You could have been really cool at that moment.  You could have given me advice or tips or pointed me in the direction of the gaming tables and said, talk to that guy, he'd love to help.  But no.  You treated me like a girl.  It was only my second time in that store, but I have only seen one other girl there and none were at any of the gaming tables downstairs.

This is not related to me being a disgruntled female, but also?  That store smells of stereotypical gamer body odor.  Just sayin'.

It reinforced a dream that has been in the back of my head for about eight years.  I want to open a gaming store.  A female-friendly but not male-repelling gaming store.  I want people to come buy things and keep me in business, but I also want it to be a place folks want to come hang out with friends.  I would love to have a handful of gaming tables out in the open, a private gaming room with a table from Geek Chic that groups could rent, and maybe a room that is a mini theater.  I envision selling comics too and having them in a separate room with a cushy place where artists and writers can come sign their work.

As you can tell, I haven't sat down in any kind of serious fashion to make it happen.  But, I am extra inspired to do so because of another geek lady, Natali, who is taking big steps to make her dream a reality.  She has envisioned an  place for dorks, and even non-dorks, to congregate / eat / drink / be awesome.  In her words, "UberDork CafĂ© is Art + Science= Geek in a family-friendly environment that supports local vendors and artists, the earth and gives back to the community not only by providing a safe place for youth to play and learn, but also in financially assisting future Art + Science= Geeks."

Sounds pretty damn perfect to me.  She has created a Kickstarter pledge page to help raise funds for start-up.  If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, you back the project by pledging money.  The project has to  meet it's goal by the date stated for you to actually be charged and for Natali to get the cash.  Let me cut you off before you say, "But this in Milwaukee and I am nowhere near Milwaukee!"

It's the principle of thing.  Also, just think if the first UberDork Cafe opens and it's a gigantic success.  Maybe there would be offshoots in other cities.  We can hope!

Read lots more details about the project at the Kickstarter page:

June 24, 2010

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - My Sister, the Freak

I have a younger sister.  She's seven years younger to be precise.  And let me tell you, I sure as hell thought she was a freak for a long time.  That might have had something to do with single child/attention issues though.  Possibly.

This week's featured webcomic is about siblings.  And aliens.  If you aren't already hooked, you should check out My Sister, the Freak by Dani Jones.

This all ages webcomic began in March; we have just started to get to know the characters.  The story is about sisters, Mary and Al, "learning to deal with life, family, and alien invaders."  Mary is the youngest sister, aka the freak (us older sisters are never abnormal, trust me).  The kid's got spunk and wit.  Her personality reminds me very much of Lilo, one of my most favorite Disney characters.  She's adorable, and she's got plenty of attitude.  She also has creative tendencies.  As for Al, well, it's hard to tell about her so far.  You can tell she's maybe a bit too practical for her own good.  I have a hunch that maybe an alien experience or two will make her a little more relaxed.  But then again, that didn't really work for Scully.  Speaking of those invaders, make sure you start reading the comic at the Prologue (linked below) to get a peek at this alien business. 

I follow this webcomic for a few reasons.  The creator / artist is super talented, and I love her style.  The story has energy, and I was invested in the characters - especially the little sister - after just a couple of strips.  Also, the story of two sisters grabs me on a personal level.

Check out the first strip of My Sister, the Freak at the prologue here.

My Sister, the Freak updates every Saturday.

Want your webcomic to be featured here or know of one you think I would love?
The requirements to be featured are few, but both are very important. The webcomic has to be shiny and updated on a consistent basis. It can be newer webcomics or ones that have been around for months or years. I will always provide a link to the first strip regardless.

June 23, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Being in the 501st & Building Armor

Phoenix Comicon Mandalorian helmets 2

You've probably seen hoardes of Imperial Stormtroopers at conventions and wondered if they were part of some kind of group.  Well they probably are, and this group does a lot more than just dress up like Star Wars bad guys.  Learn more about The 501st Legion and what they do in my latest post at Pink Raygun.  It includes interviews with a member of the legion and a future applicant that is currently building Captain Rex armor.

Surviving Conventions - A List of Tips

Whether it's your first, fifth, or bajillionth time attending a convention, you will probably learn something that will make your con experience a little better the next time around.  I continue to figure things out and pick up tips from others to make life easier at conventions.  If it's your first time going to a con, don't be dumb like I was and not read any of these kind of posts before hand.  I would have saved myself a lot of frustrated moments at my first SDCC if I would have done some research and realized important things like the food at the San Diego convention center sucks.  There are lots of posts and articles out there about this, I encourage you to look those up too.

Some of these tips are convention specific, but most of them are applicable to all and any kind of conventions.  I am sure you guys have awesome tips to share, please add yours in the comments and I will tack them on to this post (with your name/link of course).  I would love to have a gigantic list to share with the world. 

- Wear comfortable shoes.  No, really.  You'll be walking a lot.  If you're cosplaying in stilettos, carry a pair of flip flops for when your feet start aching.

- Pick a comfy bag/backpack for the con.  Even if you don't intend to, you'll probably end up buying things.  If you're like me, several things that are usually books.  If it's a new bag, test it out before you leave.  Put a handful of books in it and do a few laps around your house.  Your shoulders and back will thank you later.

- Get organized. Look at the panels and check out the list of artists and exhibitors. Pick first and second choices for panels, don't forget to set aside time for lines. Print an exhibit hall map and highlight the booths you want to visit most. It's easy to fall into a zombie shuffle in the hall and miss your favorites. If you want to commission an artist, go do that first before his or her schedule for the con is full. Realize that you are not going to be able to do everything you want, and that's okay.

- Pack protein bars and bottled water. San Diego convention center concessions are worthless (they make a bad soft pretzel). You'll be thankful for the snacks in the fourth hour of waiting in line for Kevin Smith.  Phoenix Comicon actually had decent concessions on site, but I was still grateful for granola bars in my purse.

- Drink said water.  I had one of the worst headaches of my life after a day of dehydration at SDCC.  The only time when a ton of water may not be appropriate is if you are wearing a costume that doesn't make bathroom breaks a fun time.

- Keep a plastic folder and sheet protectors in the giant messenger bag you take to the convention hall. You'll want to keep business cards, flyers, comics, and prints in good shape.  These poly file jackets are my favorites.

- Bring cash. The line for the ATM is sometimes long or at some conventions, it's just not super close.  A lot of vendors will take cards, but not as many as you would think in Small Press and Artist's Alley.

- Don't be a zombie.  At multi-day conventions, it's so easy to push yourself because you feel like you have to see it all.  You're not going to.  Let it go.  It's not worth it if you are walking around like a zombie not even absorbing any of it.  It's also not worth it if you are a grumpy, angry mess.  Cons are sensory overload, and your body and brain are not forgiving of it.  It's okay to miss stuff, I promise.

- Figure out the available parking and transportation before hand.  Some conventions may have ample, affordable, and close parking but not all of them.  If you're not staying at a nearby hotel, go to the convention site and read about the options - trolleys, light rail, etc.  I know, research sucks, but it will get you to the exhibit call that much faster.

- If you're cosplaying, pack a small bag for fixes.  It will depend on the costume(s) you're wearing, but bobby pins, a sewing kit, super glue, safety pins, elastic, and a mini stapler would not be amiss in addition to extra make-up if needed.

- Have pens, a Sharpie, and a sketchbook in your bag if possible.

- Hand sanitizer is your friend. Use it frequently. If I remember, I carry lotion too because sanitizer dries out my hands.

From readers

- Wear deodorant, bring wet wipes, and keep breath mints / gum. You actually will talk to other people while at the con. - Ana

- If you want to see a panel, get in line when the panel before the one you want to see starts. Jim Brooks

- Follow the 6/2/1 rule.  At least try for 6 hours of sleep. Eat 2 very good meals, and get 1 shower a day (the shower is the most important thing on the list cause, and this is from someone who has been on staff at a large convention and attended large conventions...really other folks can smell the BO) - T.R.

- Medicine. If you have prescription medicine that you are taking, make sure you have enough to last you through the convention, if not get a refill before you leave home. - T.R.

- LINES: Just deal with them! Don't complain. I meet the nicest people just waiting in lines. I bring cards and books and portable game devices to keep the kids entertained. Nanny Trish

- Find a good pocket backup battery solution for your device and have it fully charged and ready to use when needed. I can guarantee (personal experience) you'll kill an iPhone during a good day at a convention.
If you do find an empty socket, hang on to it until you are fully charged and don't let go until you check with all your friends. Shawn

- Take more than one Memory Card for your Camera. It'll fill up when you least expect it and that is the moment Murphy and Fate will team up to have your most favorite celebrity walk up and present a photo op. Shawn

- If you can get/afford a room then do so. Even if you live only 20mi away the drive back and forth late at night and early in the morning will drain you and waste precious recharge time (sleep). Shawn

Tell me your tips!

June 22, 2010

Geeky Tattoo Series - Quill Tattoo

Time to continue the geeky tattoo series that I started last week!  This week I've emailed with Kara from the really fun blog Crayons and Cylons.  She has a beautiful tattoo of a quill!

How long have you had the tattoo?
I got this tattoo on New Year's Eve 2009, so only 5 months.

What's the story behind the tattoo?
The tattoo is a quill. I was a lit major in undergrad and currently teach middle school English. I love to read and write, and I love books. Two of my favorite classical authors are Shakespeare and Poe, who are both often represented with a quill (remember the episode of Warehouse 13 "Nevermore"?), and I'm also a big Harry Potter geek. The quill was a fitting representation of all of those things together. It's purple and black to represent a raven's feather and is on the inside of my right forearm, so I am never without a pen. It's always up my sleeve.

Did you get any flak from loved ones for it?
My husband took me to get it. My parents and in-laws have never been fans of tattoos, but they're used to the fact that I have one, so why not two? I kept it covered at work for the first few months, but as the weather warmed up, I wore shorter sleeves. My students were all enthralled. They kept asking, "Did you get a tattoo?" But I know better than to tell 12 year-olds, "Yes," so I just told them it had been there all along and they'd never noticed it. They never made a big deal out of it again. Tattoos aren't verboten in teaching, but not all school administrators (and parents, for that matter) think they are professional. I've not had a problem with this one, my first visible one, but I did cover it for interviews.

Any future geeky tattoos planned?
My next tat will be done this summer (hopefully!) so I can let it heal before school starts back up. I plan on getting falling leaves swirling across my upper back with the text "I'm a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar." I love me some Hoban Washburne!!

Eep, I love the idea for the next tattoo!
Speaking of getting tattoos, Shawn (with the kicking Stargate tattoo last week) sent me a link which is great reading if you are considering getting inked.  Really great advice with videos!.

I have a handful of people to feature, but always looking for more. If you have a tattoo based on anything geek, please email me. I'll need a photo, and I'll ask just a few questions.

June 21, 2010

List o' Links

Sometimes I keep way too many tabs and windows open for the good of my computer.  Once in a while, I'll dump the best of these links upon you dear readers.  After all, I may as well make someone else waste time on the magical interwebz right?  Right.  Enjoy!

The Bat Cave by Ikea - and you thought Ikea was just for getting affordable... everything.  Make sure to ask to see this special room next time you're at an Ikea.

Serenity Big Damn Heroes River Tam Animated Maquette
River Tam maguette - The first of the Big Damn Heroes (Instead of Little Damn Heroes), River is in the middle of battle with the Reavers.  I pre-ordered mine and recommend doing so before they're gone - only 1,500.  This ones makes me think of the quote - "She always did like to dance."

Iron Fist Zombie Stomper Platform - Zombie shoe.  Enough said.

Lord of the Rings Gandalf Plush
It's a Gandalf plushie!!  Do I need to say more?!  And yes - there are more characters available.

Homemade Stargate - a father and son built a Stargate for their backyard.  Everything's fine until a herd of Jaffa come through the gate during your dinner party and you don't have enough brats to go around.

Star Wars Old Republic game trailer - this was released at E3 last week and wow.  Just wow.  Watch even if you're not a Star Wars fan.

Stormtroopers 365

Web Urbanist brings me some of the coolest things.  Sometimes it's all about underwater archaeology sites that provide inspiration for stories.  Sometimes it's creepy and lovely photographs of abandoned places.  Recently, it was Imperial Stormtroopers.  I like that they don't discriminate.

Turns out, the hilarious photos of Stormtrooper toys posed in funny settings was part of a project called Stormtroopers 365 by a guy named Stefan.  The project stars TK455 and TK479, Stormtroopers in the Galactic Empire Army.  The project went from April 2009 to April 2010.  You can find little miniseries within the set, two of my favorites are the "D'oh!" and "Seven Deadly Sins" series.

In case you are curious, the Troopers are basic 12cm ones from Hasbro. They have many articulations and are highly posable (as you can see in the photos).  Here are a few of my favorites:


TK479: "By the Force, what are you up to?!"

TK455: "I'm painting M&M's upon request of our all-mighty Emperor Palpatine."
TK479: "If they're for Palpatine, why aren't you painting them black?"
TK455: "He told he's getting bored of the dark side of the M&M's."

View the entire, glorious set here.  You can also buy prints of these funny set-ups!

June 18, 2010

Geeks vs. Sports Fans

Before I continue, let me just state that I am fully aware that geeks can also be sports fans.* I’m making very general statements. I am not judging.

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way.

Last night, my neighborhood was alive with raucous screams and yawps. Apparently, the NBA finals were being played and the Lakers were involved. I appreciate enthusiasm, and I encourage it. I grew up in a house where the Cleveland Browns games were the highlight of the week. My mom even has a sports logo tattoo. I think that past has a lot to do with my apathy towards sports now. I was more or less forced to be a fan lest I be considered the “un-cool” child.

I knew that regardless of the outcome of the game, the streets downtown would be filled with the potential for a giant brouhaha. I predicted – correctly might I add – at least one car set on fire and the riot gear having to be pulled out of storage. Though in LA, I doubt that it ever stays in storage long enough to get dusty. I also heard gunshots in my neighborhood, and my roommate observed a thrown LIT firecracker whizzing across his car windshield on the freeway after the game. So even if I can understand the enthusiasm, I don’t get turning over vehicles or setting things on fire because of a game. As Jayne says, “Where’s that get fun?”

And no, I’m not comparing sports fans to reavers. Hmm, well…

The point I want to make is that even when the most geektacular of things occur, us nerds don’t take to the streets in rabid match-wielding hoardes. Do we have too much self restraint? A lot of things have happened in my lifetime that would warrant riots. Just think of these amazing moments:

- the first trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring
- the release date for every Harry Potter book
- the announcement of Firefly being made into a movie
- the iPod
-  the Star Wars prequels

I know I’m missing big things that happened in gaming too. I think these moments are right up there with a basketball team winning the finals.

So, I’m conflicted. I’m proud of us for not rioting, for not giving geeks a bad name everywhere. We have not burned the local Gamestop when the latest WoW release came out. No one has lightsabered a friend in pre-prequel in excitement. I think it makes us stand apart and shows that we are not the barbarians we emulate in RPGs.

But at the same time, I think we should make a little more of a statement. Though we may be quiet, geeks are not to be trifled with.

I’ll bring the flamethrower to SDCC.

*Look, it's a webcomic about sports guys.

June 17, 2010


For a long time, it has been easy for sports fans to go find anything with their favorite team's logo.  Shirts, hats, decals, jewelry, on and on.  Well you know, geeks are catching up, and we have panache.  My experience is that most of the time, geeks are very creative sorts.  I mean, you have seen all my posts about costumes, right?  And that's just the beginning.  Since we couldn't go to the mall and buy, say jewelry featuring roleplaying dice, we figured out how to make our own.  We transfer our interests and loves to so many outlets.  From the time that Etsy started, they had a category just for geekery.  I'm just saying.

So you like geek and you like handmade?  Good.  Here's a pretty new site that you need to visit: G33kmadeAnd I'm not just saying so because they featured my tutorial on making a Number Six bracelet.  The site was founded by the lovely nerdy ladies behind Luxury Lane Soap and Geek Soap (no - they don't hate each other.  Far from it).  I quote: "The vision behind G33Kmade is to provide a place to share handmade geekery and let artists share the inspiration, stories, methods, and the epic love behind their creations."

What doesn't rock about that sentence?  Beside the creative side, I've also found that geeks (in comparison to non-geeks that I know) are more supportive and generous with their knowledge and time.  These things are a boon to someone who desperately needs a dice bag or wants to learn to make the perfect prop for her costume.  It gives me visions of a cozy artist co-op type place with the remains of knitted cthulhus on one table, the tell tale Dorito crumbs and dice from a D&D game next to it, and some WoW blasting in the background.  Actually, I just decided that is my happy place.  And who knows, sites like G33kmade could be where it begins.

So get over there, read, and contribute.  Geeky crafters - it's the next archetype in a roleplaying guide.  I see it now.

June 16, 2010

Geeky Tattoo Series - Stargate Tattoo

I am always fascinated by tattoos.  It's fun to see what people have set on their skin with permanent ink.  I have three myself.  One of them is a blue crescent moon on it's side on my left hip.  You see Mists of Avalon is one of my most favorite books, and I wanted to have the mark of a priestess tattooed on me since the first time I read it. 

I knew there had to be other tattoos out there that were geek themed or inspired.  I put the word out on Twitter that I wanted to feature geek inspired tattoos and got several responses.  I'll start featuring them one by one here as they are too awesome to be squished into one post.

First up is Shawn R. Hill (@shawnrhill) with his kicking Stargate turtle tattoo.  Seeing a photo of this tattoo was actually how I first started talking to Shawn because I have a very big love for Stargate (particularly SG-1).  The attention to detail really got me; I had attempted to draw a Stargate a few times and all the glyphs made me lose focus immediately.

How long have you had it?
I've had the tattoo almost a year now, it took a total of 13 hours (3 visits with 2-3 weeks in between).

What's the story behind the tattoo?
I love Stargate and all things SciFi. My son loves turtles/tortoises and various cultures believe the earth in on the back of a giant turtle making its way through the cosmos (which kind of fits the Stargate theme as well). So I merged the ideas into a Stargate Turtle Tattoo. There is a small Celtic Knot in the middle button to tie in my Celtic Heritage. The Stargate Turtle is the beginning of what will one day evolve into a Sci-Fi full sleeve. I'm still working out the details on it but right now its leaning towards a tribute to Sci-Fi travel, the ships of Sci-Fi. Things like Babylon 5, DS9, Star Furies, Star Trek ships, X-Wings, Buck Rogers ship, etc... How to tie all those together in a cohesive tattoo is the hard part and is something I'm working on over the rest of the year to see what I can come up with.

Did you get any flak from loved ones for it?
I didn't catch any flak over this tattoo, most of my family can't believe I went through with it but gave me no flak once I did. All my friends (internet and IRL) love it.

Any future geeky tattoos planned?
Just the rest of the sleeve as mentioned above. I might scrap the sleeve idea if I can't get a cohesive piece worked out. If I do scrap that idea I'll probably go with a lower leg piece or two with individual scenes (like the DS9 pic of DS9/runabout/open wormhole and stuff like that) Who knows, still a work in progress in my mind :)

Check out more photos of Shawn's tattoo here.  He also has a beautiful tattoo on the other arm of Bob's Her Uncle by Tyson McAdoo, check out those photos too!

I have a handful of people to feature, but always looking for me.  If you have a tattoo based on anything geek, please email me.  I'll need a photo, and I'll ask just a few questions.

June 15, 2010

Interview with Artist/Writer/Monsterologist Daniel Davis

Since I just featured Monster Commute on shiny webcomic Thursday last week and my review of the printed comic is over at Geek Girls Network today, it seemed a fitting time to put together an interview with Daniel Davis.  Among many talents, Davis of Steam Crow is a monsterologist. No really - you can ask him for any kind of monster advice you need. He'd be happy to help.  Monster abduction is a real thing folks.  You have to be prepared.

Davis is an illustrator and writer with mad skillz.  In addition to the webcomic, he has fantastic books, prints, and monster novelties available at his site.  If nothing else, just click over for a second.  You'll get a taste of his fresh style immediately.  Okay, enough from me, on to the interview (my questions are in bold).

How do you post Monster Commute every weekday?
Routine... there is magic in having a routine. Basically, if you set aside some time every day to do something, and really do it, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish.

I get up at 4:15 am M-F, with the goal of having a good comic done by 6:00 am.

That has to be an insane amount of work.
But yeah, it's not easy. I have to force myself to start just about every time.

Once I begin, I really get into it and enjoy the process. The toughest thing for me is to get motivated enough to start.

They have this interwebnets thing that is always on, and always distracting. The Goog-pages are the worst.

How many strips do you have ready at any given time?
Right now, hip deep in Convention Season©, it's really, really rough. I have a 1 day buffer, down from a week's buffer at the beginning of the season.

What this really means is that there's no room for illness/mistakes or life emergencies. It's really not good. I launched with a 30 strip buffer, but have been riding a week buffer for about a year now.

It is my hope to build this back up. I do have a plan; when this (epic) storyline is over, I'm going to run some guest strips for a week or so, and build up my own buffer too.

If you lived in Monstru, what kind of creature would you most want to be?
That's a tough one. I really like all of the races, including some that you've not even seen yet. (Monstru has *lots* of diverse creatures.)

I like Feratu quite a lot. They're sharp dressers and they look elegant while drinking poison.

Being a Daemon might be nice, as they're emotional, real, and child-like.

Furnace goblins would be bad, because they have to do all of the work for the entire society.

Circus gobins would be fun though, because they're all circusy. (And tough.)

How do you come up with names for your characters?
Chadworth Machine is named after one of my old friends. (Well, the "Chad" part, at least.)

Beastio Wand Agyris is named after one of my other friends characters ("Beastio") from a circus RPG campaign that I ran, years back.

The "Agyris" part is from www.agyris.net, a big old fantasy RPG setting that I wrote.

"Wand" is a name that I just want for myself, really. "Daniel Juan Davis?" No, "Daniel WAND Davis!"

Do you have a favorite part of the illustrating process - the sketching better than the coloring, etc?
I really like seeing character designs come together in a finished illustration the best. It's all fine, but seeing something done, and accomplishing something is my boon.

I've got a lifetime of uncompleted projects, so I've been attempting (since Steam Crow) to actually finish stuff. That's my reward.

But art-wise, character design is something that I really love doing...

Do you take specified breaks from the comics (like stockpile a few days extra of strips) to work on prints?  Where do they fit in?
Well, here and there.

I try to do a new comic M-F to replace the ones that run. On the weekends I shift over to creating new products for Steam Crow. I should also be doing a comic, but it's tough. When I do comics on the weekend, it allows me more time to do more elaborate settings, design new characters, and all of that.

However, I often end up spending 6-8+ hrs on one comic, which is tough. I've got a lot to juggle and that's a lot of time.

In that amount of time I can probably get 2 new prints designed.

What is the most challenging part of getting ready for a convention?
Before a Con, it's not forgetting something, getting all of the correct permits, and getting everything together.

After a Con, it's taxes. I. Hate. Doing. Taxes.

It's all good, but working full-time and then running off to work all weekend at a distant convention can be taxing. Our studio/house becomes a war-zone, which drives my partner/wife Dawna insane. I don't know what to do beyond riding the chaos.
I can't say that I blame Dawna for not liking the war zone, but I'm glad you guys are pushing through.  Steam Crow always has ROCKING exhibits at the conventions.  You can see them at San Diego Comic-Con at booth #4207.

June 11, 2010

Nerd Soap!

Let's face it.  There is a certain stereotype about nerds.  As with all stereotypes, sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not.  I know that after a four+ hour gaming session, usually stuffed in a small room with five or more people, I have smelled less like roses and more like Doritos, Chipotle, and Mountain Dew.  Among other scents.  I've been to comic book and gaming stores that have smelled like they put a bottle of  ogre-produced BO in the ventilation system.  But happily that was only one smelly store in at least seven stores that smelled of nothing at all.  Oh, and conventions.  I don't have to tell you about that.

Though no excuse was really good before, now with all the nerd soaps on the market, no excuse is acceptable.  After a lot of consideration, I recently ordered the Han Solo in Carbonite soap from Luxury Lane Soap (@KyleeLane on Twitter) and the bag of dice soap from Geeky Clean (@GeekyClean).  Both soapmakers are hella awesome ladies, and they have tons of geeky options available on their sites as well just some quality handmade soap.  I get a little of both because I personally find my Han Solo and bag of dice to pretty to dissolve away with water.  Though yes, there is a certain appeal to saying, "Today, I showered with Han Solo, what did you do?" 

Some people think it's silly to buy soap you're not going to use, but it's no worse than having special guest soap.  I might get an extra bag of dice soap to put out for use at dinner parties and definitely for gaming sessions (which will happen eventually).  And I will be ordering so much geeky soap for gifts this year.  Both Han Solo and the dice are crafted with insane attention to detail.  They are by far the coolest hunks of suds I've ever seen, and they are made by what I'm sure are the coolest soapmakers ever.  Have fun looking through their sites!

June 10, 2010

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - Monster Commute

Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time commuting to work.

Hmm.  As I suspected.  A lot of us spend two or more hours in the car a day.  Two hours of singing, or NPR, or audiobooks, or talking to yourself about a story you're working on ... other people do that last one, right?

Though you losers, I mean non-commuters, will enjoy the dickens out of this webcomic too, those of you chained to your engines will especially love this week's featured webcomic: Monster Commute by Daniel M. Davis.

Monster Commute is a webcomic about the misery of driving to work but with a twist.  We follow two main characters throughout the world of Monstru - Chadworth Machine and Beastio Agyris Wand.  They truck along in a retired ice cream truck called Steam Crow.  In Monstru, your choice of vehicle is very important as you pretty much live in it.   Chadworth and Beastio are wonderful entertainment, funny as any comedic pairing that I can think of.  They have to solve problems with the Steam Crow, manage their furnace goblins, and survive the hell that is living in a car all the time.

You'll notice that as you continue to read, you'll learn more about the world outside the vehicle.  It's vast and getting bigger.  Davis has added in lots of backstory and lore.  One of the coolest parts about Monstru, besides the awesome illustrations (I highly recommend at least popping over to the site to look at Davis' illustration style and mad skillz), is the facist government named THE AUTHORITY.  Insert ominous music here.  It's led by a certain someone you might recognize, but I'll let you get to that part yourselves.

Davis has a great informative area for new readers too.  You can meet the cast and learn more about the Monster Commute 'verse.

Finally, I am also insanely impressed that Davis updates with color strips Monday-Friday, every. single. week.  Without fail.  I can't remember him missing an update.  That's dedication folks, and I believe that updating when you say you're going to really keeps a webcomic reader coming back.

Check out the first strip of Monster Commute right here.

Monster Commute
Updates Monday-Friday

Want your webcomic to be featured here or know of one you think I would love?
The requirements to be featured are few, but both are very important. The webcomic has to be shiny and updated on a consistent basis. It can be newer webcomics or ones that have been around for months or years. I will always provide a link to the first strip regardless.

Pink Raygun Post: Practical Points for Costumes

When you're planning your costume, be it your first or your fiftieth, don't forget the basics.  Like making sure your costume fits in a bathroom stall.  I discuss this more in my new post for Geek Fab here at Pink Raygun..

June 8, 2010

Converting to Geek

Does anyone else get unreasonably happy when a non-geek friend or relative likes something geeky?

I am a Lord of the Rings thumping person willing to spout the goodness of nerdom to anyone that will listen.  I could probably go full on door to door with it.  Still, I suggest Star Wars, but I don't push it.  I was thrilled when my younger sister (who disavows any association with geek) fell for Battlestar Galactica.  BSG brought several people I know to the science fiction light, including those who "hate" sci-fi.  I know, I know - BSG is a character driven show and by no means guarantees that those people will give say, Bladerunner a chance.  A few of them did go on to watch Firefly though.

I've had better luck with using TV shows and movies to get people to open their minds a little.  When I started devouring fantasy books with voracious greediness as a teen, I assumed everyone else would want to as well.  If anyone I knew had a birthday and enjoyed to read, they got a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring or the like.  I continued that through my early twenties, and I don't think any of the ten or so people that got the books gave them a chance.  I doubt a page was read or even skimmed.  Maybe J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan weren't the best starting places.  A Vlad Taltos book by Steven Brust is still fantasy, but a lot more lighthearted and accessible.  It might have been a better primer. 

I still tend to find that most of my family and many I people I run into at the office or in everyday life have no interest in taking the leap from a real world to something more fantastical.  They have a lot of preconceptions that no amount of me yammering on about the relevance of Middle Earth in literature is going to change.  It's kinda like religion in that regard.  My cousins have always thought it unspeakably not cool that I read comic books and like spaceships.  Others, and  I don't want to name names, think it's silly to waste energy reading about things that can never be real.  I'm not kidding.  It makes me sad sometimes because it feels like so much close-mindedness.  Then again, they probably feel the same way when they talk about sports passionately and I just roll my eyes.

Damn perspective.

June 7, 2010

Convention Breakdown Series: What is Artists' Alley?

It's time to start another ongoing series, sort of a convention breakdown. Conventions, whether they are for comics or various fandoms, seem to have the basic bones in common. Most have a vendor hall, a masquerade or costume contest, an art show, a small press area - you get the idea. I may cover some things specific to certain conventions, but for the most part I'll look at the common ties.

When I talk about conventions to friends, I say that one of my favorite parts is the Artists' Alley. I usually get a blank look. Sometimes people mention that they think it's more of of an insider's club, and they don't want to venture in.

What is Artists' Alley?
You can find an Artists' Alley at almost all conventions and usually by this name. It gives attendees a chance to meet and interact with their favorite creators. What artists have available depends on the convention and on the artist. It will include some variety of sketches, commissioned sketches and original art, sketchbooks, original art, limited edition prints, and other merchandise. The range of artists you can find in the alley is vast, everything from big industry names to your favorite webcomic creator.

Some Artists' Alley Tips
Don't be intimidated to wander the aisles of the alley. This is where creators get to interact with their fans. And in case you're worried about it, I've never had any creator in Artists' Alley push the hard sell on me either. Ever. They usually love to chat about their art or current industry news or most anything. I recently got to meet Tom Hodges at Phoenix Comicon and talk about how The Clone Wars really pushed my Star Wars love into burning passion. Or something like that. Remember, it costs you nothing to thank creators for their work or pay them a compliment. Don't take it personally if they don't want to shake hands though. Convention SARs or crud isn't made up, a lot of germs walk the convention halls beside you.

If you're interested in the artist's work, flip through the portfolio(s) that artists have on the table. If you do so, it's polite to flip back to the first page of the portfolio when you are finished (though this can differ by artist). Ask questions, browse, but do be mindful of the crowds around you. Basically, be careful not to hog a creator's time. Other fans want to visit too.

If a big industry name is present, do not be the guy or gal that brings fifty comic books for them to sign. Stick to one or two. It's just polite.

Getting Sketches and/or Commissions
One of the coolest things about meeting these creators is that you can sometimes commission original sketches and art from them. They'll work on your pieces while at the convention if they can, so the key to getting anything more than a sketch is to get an early start. Before you go to the convention, review the list of artists that will have a table. If you don't see any familiar names, look the artists up online. You'll probably find a style you like. Look around their website to see if they have any commission policies or reach out to them before the convention. Make note of where the artist's table will be at the convention, and as soon as you arrive at the con (hopefully on the first day), zoom right to that table and get started. The available slots for commissions for one convention can fill up fast.

Let's start with the difference between sketches and commissions. Quick sketches are usually something an artist does fast, and it's probably going to be rough. I would consider all the pieces in the above photo to be quick sketches. Artists do more developed sketches too. Commissions can be anything from portraits, full body, pencils, or full on inks and colors. I use a lot of qualifying adverbs because it differs from artist to artist. The price depends on the level of details, the popularity of the artist, etc.

If you want to commission a piece of art, I cannot emphasize the following enough: talk it through until you are positive that you and the artist are on the same page about what the finished piece will be. Will it be a head and shoulders image or full body? Will it be pencil or full inks? What size will it be? If you don't feel well versed enough to go through all the details, get help from a friend or even another convention attendee. Look through art that others have commissioned from the artist too. Commissions can differ from the everyday style of the artist. Also? Have a reference handy. Unless you are asking for a character that the artist has drawn frequently, they'll probably appreciate it. If you have quality paper with you, definitely offer it.

If you want to get a quick sketch, things are a simpler. Some artists will have a sign stating they are doing sketches, usually from free - twenty dollars. If they don't have a sign, it doesn't hurt to ask. The worst they can say is no.

For quick sketches, have an idea of what you want. I met one guy who asks for the same sketch from different artists at every show. As you can see above, I got a few Aayla Secura sketches at my last con. It's a fun idea if you go to more than one convention in a year. I recommend bringing a bound book for artists to sketch in. It will be a nice collection after you've gone to just a few conventions, and when the artists are drawing in a book, they know that chances that it will be turned around on eBay are slim. You can ask for a personalization for the same reason.

So, what are sketchbooks? I hear that question a lot. Artists create these periodically, a few artists I follow do one every year. They are a collection of the artist's work throughout the past year and can include rough sketches, little stories, finished pieces, sneak previews of upcoming things, and more. All the artist sketchbooks I own are booklet style. Artists print them in small runs. Sometimes they are limited edition and numbered, sometimes not. I think they are a great mini portfolio to get, and I always go for these at conventions. You can usually also get the artist to do a sketch in them (like in the photo above) for a little extra, occasionally for free.

Getting a Table in Artists' Alley
Artists can learn how to sign up for a table by visiting the convention's website. The rates are usually less than regular exhibitor or even small press tables. But then again, the space is smaller too. Big conventions like San Diego Comic-Con may have a waiting list. Also, keep in mind that sellers' permits of some kind are probably required. The convention should be able to give you information on the exact requirements.

I hope you guys get over to the Artists' Alley at your next convention and come away with a nifty piece of art. Let me know if you have any additional information or tips from the fan or creator side!

June 5, 2010

10 Geeky Things About Me

I was recently given a fun award for being a geeky girl by fellow geek girl bloggers Kara of Crayons & Cylons and Pinkie Larue

The Geek Girls Unite award!

And here are the rules:
List ten geeky facts about yourself and...
Pass this award onto your favorite female geeks!

1. My next tattoo is going to be "You can't take the sky from me."

2. I spent almost two hours online trying in vain to find the correct type of lace for my upcoming Padme costume because it had to be right (no luck sadly).

3. I instantly know what any of the following mean: WoT, LotR, FotR, RoK, RoJ, ANH, etc.

4. I work quotes in from Star Wars, Firefly, Lord of the Rings, etc. into everyday conversations whenever possible.  Jayne quotes are especially good for the workplace.  In a meeting once I said, "What you plan and what happens ain't exactly ever been similar."  No one got the quote of course, but I was amused on the inside.

5. I like to wear costumes and plan to wear a different costume for every day at San Diego Comic-Con this year.

6. I have a specific "shelf of nerd" for all my graphic novels and comics.  It's also covered in toys.

7. I used to have complex theories on paper about the Wheel of Time books and regularly debated in the forums on WoT Mania (site is no longer up).

8. I've thrown a dice at my DM and hit him in the head.

9. I know every word of dialogue and songs for Dr. Horrible and the musical commentary.

10. I could win a Star Wars spelling contest.

I pass this geek girl award on to  Mary of Three Years of Roses, Ruth of Being Ruth , and Geek Girl Diva (if you have already completed this, my apologies, still catching up from this week).

June 3, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Lacing Up with the Force

I say if you're going to go to the trouble of wearing a corset, why not make it a nerdy one?  Right?!  Check out my latest post for my Geek Fab at Pink Raygun.  Corsets with Star Wars, comics, and maps.  I want one of each of them.

June 2, 2010

Phoenix Comicon Wrap-up - Panels

Finally wrapping up my awesome time at Phoenix Comic with quick notes on the panels I got to attend. I want to just point out that the content of these panels was entertaining and useful. Crazy concept, I know!

Steampunk 101
A nice intro to steampunk by the folks who are involved with the 2011 Wild Wild West Con. In addition to giving attendees informative handouts, they gave fun examples and put together a nice presentation. As I had just written an article about steampunk costuming for Pink Raygun, I figured the timing was too perfect to ignore. At the beginning they asked how many people were new to steampunk and about 75% of the room raised their hands. It was a good primer and nice overview.

The Guild with Felicia Day & Wil Wheaton
As we all hoped and maybe expected, Wil Wheaton will be back for the fourth season of The Guild. It was a really fun and funny panel to attend because Felicia and Wil are both so damn awesome. It's just the truth. Some of my favorite moments include them talking about writing, Wil talking about the role of the kilt when playing Fawkes, and great quotes like "That's the goth calling the kettle white." A podcast of this panel is available from Versus the World Productions (they also have Wil Wheaton's Awesome Hour and the Star Trek: TNG reunion). If you're a fan of Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton, and especially if you are a nerd that still thinks of Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, go listen. You'll laugh at least once.

Own Your Own Comic Book Shop
This panel was hosted by two local to the Phoenix area comic book shop owners. One story was primarily a back issues store, and the other one focused on new comics and gaming. Why would I attend this panel? I have this grandiose if not realistic plan of having a geek girl comic book and gaming store one day. Plus, I'm just interested in learning as much as I can about the industry. They discussed location, marketing, ordering, etc. I took several notes, but the thing they emphasized the most was providing good customer service and do everything you can to keep the customer coming back.

Making Your Fantasy World a Reality
Creator Travis Hanson hosted this panel. He talked about what it takes to make your project/your dream become a real thing. I learned about self-publishing and got a glimpse into what it takes to get it with Diamond. He talked about how important it is to really think about the cost of everything you are putting out there - from comics to bags and boards for your prints. I also learned that taking the time to learn about the printing industry really helps you when you are trying to self-publish. You can know what's possible, what's not, and what costs should be for various things. He also provided some helpful information about getting the word out. Click on the link for his site up there, he covers a lot of great information about creating and storytelling in his blog.

Self Publishing Comics
ChopShop Comics put together this panel on self-publishing. It was a great guide about what works for them and why, very nuts and bolts. It was interesting for me to learn that for super small runs (like less than five) that it might be easiest just to go to Kinko's.

Super Happy Fun Time with John & Wil
This was my last panel of the convention, and it couldn't have kicked more ass. John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton made a hilarious duo. John talked about the taping bacon to a cat incident, they told the story of the Velvet Wesley, and Wil talked about the time on TNG when instead of offering him more money, they just offered to promote his character to Lieutenant. When you thought it couldn't get any funnier, they unveiled this painting:

Read more about the painting at John's blog.

I recorded this panel, and yes, it's unedited and rough, but still audible and funny. It's starts about ten minutes in, John is just finishing his bacon taped to the cat story.  Super Happy Fun Time with John & Wil.wma. (I tried to convert to a .mp3, but it made the file gi-normous, am happy to accept advice on this).

Phoenix Comicon Report

I'm going to digress a little before I even start. Can the powers that be come up with a consistent way to name your con? Phoenix is Comicon, but San Diego is Comic-Con, and others are just Comic Con. What's wrong with having one name? Just saying.  And yes, I'm joking.  Mostly.


My experience can be summarized in one sentence. Phoenix Comicon rocked. As in the most enjoyable convention I have ever attended.

After paying a not inexpensive nightly rate for the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, the room rate at the convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency, was very reasonable. For the $119 per night (plus tax and self-parking), the rooms were very nice. The valet guy out front was kind enough to point out that we could self park, and all employees were beyond friendly. Despite that fact that some of us geeks were very loud. Though I guess it could have been the basketball fans also staying at the hotel. That's it, let's blame it on the jocks.

The convention center was just across the street and though the actual con was in the south building, you could manage to stay in air conditioning for most of the block or so walk over. I can't comment on how easy registration was or wasn't because I was helping a friend and therefore had an exhibitor's pass. I got in an hour before the public opening both Saturday and Sunday, and I noticed the line trickled into the exhibit hall for a while on each day. Though the Phoenix Comicon has been running for nine years, this was the first year in this bigger location. I'm guessing about 12,000+ flowed through the halls. *Edit - the numbers just came in and it was 13,988.  More than double the 2009 attendance numbers.

The con organizers got a solid mix of vendors to participate with very little overlap in areas such as jewelry or plushies. Tons of artists were there selling prints, offering sketches, or showcasing printed comics/webcomics, and doing commissions. Every one of them I stopped to chat with seemed happy to do so. One or two tables had plush toys, just a couple of exhibitors had costumes and jewelry, the Star Wars groups were in full force, and the rest were a mix of comic books and books. Atomic Comics had two vendor areas, and I had a fun time digging through the eight for $1 comic boxes. I probably had more fun than those who were looking for particular editions since I just pulled ones that looked like they would be fun.  I admire the dedication though.

The panels were continuous and varied; I spied subjects such as costuming, Star Wars, discussing Joss Whedon's awesomeness, and lots of comic/webcomic how-tos. They took place at the convention center for the most part and were really close to the exhibit hall. I attended the below panels which I will go into more detail about in tomorrow's post. I will say that that the non-celeb panels really felt like mini classes, and I gleaned super useful information from each of them.
Steampunk 101
The Guild with Felicia Day & Wil Wheaton
Own Your Own Comic Book Shop
Making Your Fantasy World a Reality
Self Publishing Comics
Super Happy Fun Time with John & Wil

Kids Need to Read was the sponsored charity of the con, and they had fun events going for the whole show. I wanted to attend the Geek Prom, but I didn't realize you had to get tickets at their booth ahead of time. I knew it was a ticketed event from the promotions, but I assumed that one could get the tickets at the door. It sold out sometime before Saturday afternoon. And actually, maybe even they didn't realize how quickly they would fill up the ballroom's capacity. I did get to participate in an event from the same organization on Sunday, a Smuggler's Run that involved getting sketches, signatures, or things from exhibitors and delivering them to the Star Wars Rebel Legion table without getting arrested and put in jail by wandering Stormtroopers and Mandalorian Mercs.

Speaking of Stormtroopers, the cosplayers attended the con in droves. I saw lots of Star Wars characters, anime outfits, superheroes, dressed up kidlets, and furries. My favorite costumes of the con are right over here.

I met a plethora of fantastic, nice, and passionate creators,. I've showcased my sketches below (gee, I wonder who my favorite Star Wars character is):
Spencer Brinkerhoff III - artist with kicking Star Wars prints and cards
J.S. Lewis - author of the Grey Griffins series
James A. Owen - author and artist
Tom Hodges - artist on the The Clone Wars and other Star Wars webcomics
Laurie B - artist, click through to her DeviantArt account to check out wonderful drawings

Aayla Secura sketches by (left to right): Travis Hanson, Tom Hodges, Spencer Brinkerhoff III

And I got to visit with a couple of my favorite creators:
Daniel M. Davis of Steamcrow - go check out his webcomic Monster Commute
Travis Hanson of Bean Leaf Press - he broke his previous record and did 970 free sketches during the show!
Jason Palmer - if you are a fan of any sci-fi show (especially Galactica or Firefly) just click that link and thank me later.

All of the above reasons made the Phoenix Comicon stand apart for me. Don't get me wrong, I have a blast going to San Diego Comic-Con. It's a major highlight of my summer. I feel like I get lost in the crowds there though. It's easy to feel that way with over 100,000 people in attendance. But in Phoenix, I felt like I got to engage vendors and artists in a different way than at huge conventions. I didn't get lost in a sea of people pushing through the aisles doing the penguin walk.  In a way, going to Phoenix Comicon was like going to a family reunion. You may have never met them, or they might not remember your name, but they welcome you with open arms and you're among friends. I have never felt more at home at a convention.
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