April 29, 2012

Stuff I've written lately

I've written about stuff ranging from nerdy bangle bracelets to Avengers to cosplay for charity around the internet over the last week. Here are all the links:

Once Upon a Time: "The Return" Review - My review of last week's tricksy episode.

Game of Thrones Recap: Garden of Bones - My recap/review of last week's crazy Game of Thrones episode. I mean, crazy (in a good way).

Making Bangles Nerdy - My instructions on how to customize bangle bracelets using decoupage. It's easy and addictive. You've been warned.

Why It’s Better When Everyone Doesn’t Get Along - I've been reading piles of Silver Age Avengers comics for Blastoff, and I think one trait that makes them more relatable is their tendency to bicker. Plus, it was fun to include panels of everyone fighting.

My Avengers Dream Team - If I had to choose just six members of the Avengers, these are my choices. It also features a panel with the Avengers on a bus. Really.

Donning a Costume For The Sake of Charity - A lot of people wear costumes for the sake of making the world a better, happier place. This article is my way of trying to spread the word about the good organizations like The Rebel Legion, 501st Legion, and Heroes Alliance do.

Quick Blurbs
Beautiful Game of Thrones Concept Art
Did The 11th Doctor Hang Out With The Beatles?
Hello Kitty Star Wars Charm Bracelet
Harley Quinn Leggings
An AT-AT Fit For a Cat Condo

April 26, 2012

What Do You Do at All Those Conventions?

Something I get asked - usually by non-geeks - is what I do at all the conventions I go to. Surely there can't be reasons to spend more than one day at a convention or heaven forbid, to travel to one. Especially if you're not working at the show. Oh, if they only knew. Even though I occasionally get bored at a show, my usual problem is that there isn't enough time. Not enough hours to visit with friends, to see the show floor, attend panels I want to see, and if I'm covering a show for a website, time becomes precious. It didn't used to be that way though.

When I first started attending conventions other than Origins (a gaming convention in Columbus) in 2006, it was before I joined Twitter. I only knew the person I was attending with, and my first real convention was San Diego Comic-Con. I got tickets for one day because I wanted to see the Battlestar Galactica panel. That year I got to know some vendors and talked to fellow geeks in line, but I didn't go to any parties or do much after the exhibit hall closed. I had no idea that anything happened after hours.

I kept going to Comic-Con and eventually added other conventions in 2009, and that was also the year I started making convention friends. Then through Twitter I connected with awesome people I couldn't wait to meet at in person at conventions. I also started picking up more writing work that sometimes meant just generally covering the floor, sometimes interviewing creators, and sometimes sitting in panels and writing them up later. Suddenly, I had to split my convention time a bajillion different ways. I didn't just go, walk around the exhibit hall until my feet fell off or I spent all my money, and collapse at the hotel room around 7pm.

Now, conventions have mostly become a balance between spending time with friends I only see a few times a year and working. I have to carefully figure out when I should go out to have fun and when I should be back in the hotel transcribing. If the show is more than two days, I try to leave one day off panel coverage and just focus on absorbing the exhibit hall for a recap. I usually run into friends along the way and get work and shopping done at the same time. If a convention is only two days, it's trickier.

Regardless of a sometimes harrowing schedule, I have fun. Experiencing conventions with friends, spending hours after or before the show catching up over meals is pretty much the best. Finding new creators, talking with ones you already know, or seeing artists you admire just get bigger and bigger every year - it's all fantastic. Not to say I don't get burned out by the end of convention season. But mostly? I can't get enough.

Speaking of conventions, here's where I plan to be the rest of this year:
San Diego Comic-Con
Star Wars Celebration VI
Baltimore Comic-Con - tentative
Long Beach Comic Con - tentative
Comikaze Expo - tentative

April 24, 2012

WeLoveFine Has ALL The Avengers Tees You Need

Time for a confession. I have a t-shirt addiction. It's only to be expected in the age of a million deal a day sites, and though my wallet may be suffering, I'm grateful that so many artists are getting the chance to get their designs out into the world. Companies like WeLoveFine are offering great opportunities for artists to be recognized and to win cash monies. They recently had an Avengers design contest, and now there are so many t-shirts to choose from! I knew I wanted at least one Avengers tee - especially to wear to the movie (it comes out May 4th, but you knew that) - and I might have ended up with two.

What? I challenge you to only buy one. Here are a few of my favorite designs:
by Antony Rozwadowski

by Dominick Cabalo

by Phillip Giarusso

Remember, the shirts come in dude and lady sizes. Huzzah.

Go to the site to check out more! Specifically visit the contest page to see all the winners and don't forget to keep up with them on Pinterest.

April 21, 2012

Stuff I've Written Lately

Some articles I've written elsewhere on the interwebtubes this week:

Game of Thrones What Is Dead May Never Die Recap - Huzzah, I'm writing Game of Thrones recaps/reviews for The Mary Sue. I've been longing to talk about this series for someone, and I'm happy to have a home for my babbling. There are spoilers for episode three of this season.

Look What Happens When Star Wars and Science Collide in a Museum Exhibit - I visited the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit last weekend, and to be honest, I mostly ignored the science and just drooled over the Star Wars props and costumes. Read the post for a recap and LOTs of pictures. Even more photos of the exhibit here.

Quick Blurbs

Star Wars Put Into Charts
The Batman Musical Is A Real Thing
Why Yes, Websites Can Be Turned Into Lovely Dresses
A 7-Year-Old Fighting Leukemia Gets to Take On Bad Guys For a Day As Batman
Get Trapped In A Mall With Zombies! Really! [Video]
Pinkie Pie Pony Kills in Skyrim [Mods] - This is freaking hilarious
Captain Jack As The Next Doctor? John Barrowman Has Thoughts On That
Joss Whedon Teases About A Buffy Spinoff Focusing on Giles

April 19, 2012

Asajj Ventress: You've Come A Long Way, Baby

We all know I adore Star Wars: The Clone Wars, right? Well if you don't: I love and respect the series. It's not just about getting more Star Wars in whatever way I can; it's about the characters, learning about the war, and the insanely beautiful animation (you can read more about my experience with The Clone Wars here). One character in particular has caught me off guard with her development and become one of my favorites of the story. Asajj Ventress has made the transition from just another bald villain to a layered character with a fascinating past and sure to be intriguing future.

Warning: spoilers from the end of season 4 of The Clone Wars ahead.

The first time Asajj Ventress really made an impression on me was at the beginning of season three of The Clone Wars. During the battle on Kamino, she was vicious and unforgiving. She seemed to take pleasure in killing clone troopers and that twisted delight - specifically one scene where she skewered a trooper (a deleted scene revealed she kissed the trooper on the cheek after) - caught my attention. She also came face to face with General Grievous for the first time in this episode, and they exchanged this weird, flirty banter that was just the right touch of disturbing.

Count Dooku's assassin stayed on my radar from that point on. I noticed her fighting prowess, her ruthlessness, and her interactions with the Jedi. She was always clever. How did I not see it before?! Interesting as she was, it wasn't until the Nightsisters trilogy, however, that she broke out and became one of the show's most developed characters.
Some of you probably had a hint of Ventress' path because of the Expanded Universe. I had no idea what was ahead though, and I didn't expect the turns in her path with the Nightsisters and before those episodes, I never would have expected to see her offer Obi-Wan Kenobi a helping hand. Even in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" situation. Her past has put her on an interesting road.

The Nightsisters trilogy in season three revealed that Ventress was once one of them. She was sacrificed to a slaver, seemingly to protect the witches. She seemed to grow attached to him, but he was killed. After his death, Ventress wound up with a Jedi and became a Padawan. Her Jedi Master was taken from her too, killed by a raider, and Ventress was abandoned once again. She nursed hatred and rage and eventually ended up as Dooku's assassin.
She didn't always accomplish her missions (she was supposed to kill Anakin but only gave him a scar), but she was deadly and loyal to Dooku. So imagine how she felt when Dooku not only left her behind in a battle but ordered her death. Sidious felt threatened and worried that Dooku wanted to take over with Ventress as his apprentice and ordered her termination. Ventress stumbled back to her home - Dathomir.

She's been cast aside repeatedly. She tries to take revenge on Dooku and fails. In season four, he sends Grievous to destroy the Nightsisters. He's taken her home and her family. She's left alone to figure out how to survive... again. She wanders aimlessly into a bounty hunter job for cash. Because of that choice, she ends up on Obi-Wan's side fighting against Darth Maul and Savage Opress (the monster she helped create).

Think about what she's been through. I can't deny Ventress has killed innocents and committed evil acts, but I think her mean streak comes from a place of being misled. Dooku paired up with Sidious because at his core, he is evil. He chose this path, he wants to rule, he wants power. He may want that power because he thinks he will bring peace with it... but he's twisted. Either way, he's in the game to play. Ventress just sort of ended up where she is. She didn't reach the position of Dooku's assassin because she applied for the job on the Star Wars Galaxy Craigslist. Once there though, she learned and tried to the best.

I don't think she had any desires to wield control over the galaxy. I think she was lost. It doesn't excuse her behavior or actions, but it should be taken into consideration.

So, what's ahead for Ventress? If she ends up in the hands of the Jedi council after everything, well, she would have to be tried for her crimes. No amount of good intention makes up for her past; they couldn't just wipe the slate clean. But assuming she keeps showing a nicer side, if there's a moment with Obi-Wan where he could take her in or let her escape - I think he'd let her go. He has a system for forgiveness that doesn't always line up with the Council's, even though I think he tries to fight it. If he were a D&D character, I wouldn't classify him as lawful good.

Ventress has been dealt a tough hand by life, and maybe she hasn't always made the best decisions. Okay, she definitely hasn't.  I think maybe, just maybe, she's seeing the galaxy a little differently now. Perhaps there's light at the end of the tunnel for her. I'm excited to find out.

Two Years Ago
Poison Ivy Costume

One Year Ago

April 16, 2012

Helloooo, ladies (the new stars of season 2 of Game of Thrones)

Season two of Game of Thrones is three episodes in, and as is par for the course for the series new characters are rolling in. In my opinion the strongest and most memorable ones so far are all ladies. Westeros is interesting in that women often get the short end of the stick. The world has a medieval setting, and many are forced into brothels or traditional female roles like... kitchen wenches. Others break out of the mold and forge different paths. Or crazy ones.

Spoilers through episode three (What Is Dead May Never Die) of season two but not for the book.

The redheaded priestess for the Lord of Light has Stannis Baratheon wrapped around her little finger. Melisandre has convinced him and most of his followers to abandon the old gods in favor of this new deity. She claims she has seen victory over Westeros for Stannis in the flames. Is she legit? In a world of dragons and Others, it's not so hard to believe. You have to keep in mind that it is a world all about power though. Everyone seems to be playing the game to win the Iron Throne, and perhaps she's just stringing people along to get to that spot. As she cautions, “the night is dark and full of terrors.”

Brienne of Tarth
Brienne the Beauty or the Maid of Tarth is a fierce fighter, good enough to take down Loras Tyrell in hand to hand combat. She is far from typical. She is tall, ungainly, awkward, and plain (described as ugly in the books – and if you call that a spoiler, I'll make fun of you). She wants nothing more than to serve King Renly as a member of his Kingsguard. She's incredibly protective of him and not afraid to take Catelyn Stark to task for neglecting to address him properly. I wouldn't want to get on her wrong side.

Margaery Tyrell
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Margaery Tyrell. She is beautiful, and she is obviously aware of it and not afraid to use her beauty to her advantage (not unlike Cersei Lannister). In the series, she very much wants to be Queen and wants the power and benefit that go with the title. She's willing to do anything, including a threesome with her brother and Renly (hmm, another Cersei parallel), to secure her place.

Yara (Asha) Greyjoy
I'm going to keep calling her Asha, and you can't stop me. (If you haven't read the books, her name was changed to Yara for the TV series because someone thought Asha sounded too much like Osha – the wildling captive of the Starks). Titles and lands almost always pass through the men in Westeros, but in the Iron Islands, a person gets what she earns. With Theon gone in the North, the Greyjoy mantle fell to Asha. She stepped up, learned to fight and to lead. Balon Greyjoy recognizes her as his heir instead of Theon. As much as I like Asha, I'm not thrilled that she let Theon paw at her so much on the way to the Pyke. Ick.

Not a bad showing of kick-ass ladies so far, and there's even more to come yet this season. Stay tuned.

Two Years Ago

One Year Ago

April 15, 2012

Stuff I've written lately

Here's stuff I've written elsewhere on the interwebs lately:

Once Upon a Time: "The Stable Boy" Review - We see Regina's lighter side and learn why she hates Snow so darn much. The best part is watching Regina be something other than mean, bitter lady.

That Time the Hulk Was in the Circus - It's Silver Age Avengers month at Blastoff Comics, and I start off with an unintentional comparison between the Avengers and the Justice League. Read the post to see which superhero team I prefer.

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like the Wasp - So far, the Wasp is my favorite lady superhero. In this post, I compare her to the modern day geek girl.

The New York Times misses the point on Game of Thrones… Again - This was posted on my blog a couple of weeks ago, but io9 picked up my rant about NYT and Game of Thrones. YAY.

Quick Blurbs
Awesome Parents Built a Millennium Falcon for Their Kid
Impressive R2-D2 Cake with Step by Step Tutorial [Video]

The Game of Thrones Coloring And Activity Book
Stormtrooper Completes Walk Across Australia For Charity
Lost Recipe for Roasted Unicorn Recovered

Fantastic Game of Thrones Cosplay Group Complete with an Iron Throne

April 11, 2012

Review - Womanthology: Heroic

If you’ve been anywhere near the world of comics in the past year, you’ve probably heard of Womanthology. If not, a brief overview: Womanthology started with a tweet by Renae De Liz asking if anyone would be interested in contributing to an all female comic anthology. The response was overwhelming, so De Liz set up a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish the book. That response was also overwhelming; until recently, Womanthology was the most successful comics project on Kickstarter. The end result after obtaining Kickstarter funding and who knows how many hours of work is a 300 page anthology brimming over with stories focused on heroism and tips and tutorials from professionals. Womanthology: Heroic features the work of over 150 creators. Whew.

What you can expect to find on the pages? Lots of heart. You can tell these ladies wanted to be a part of something awesome, and they put that into their work. It rolls off the pages. The whole book just feels enthusiastic. And it should be, they accomplished quite a feat.

There are a few sections in the book (even a section completely done by young comic book creators), and each section has a different editor. Experienced writers and artists were partnered with novices to truly make the book a learning experience for all involved. The actual stories range from two to six or so pages. The pages are beautiful and oversized so enough room is left at the bottom for info about the artist and writer. You’ll also find pro tips in this area, and it was neat to see the advice (sometimes contradictory) from various artists and writers.

One page pin-ups are sprinkled throughout the book. The book ends with a solid section of interviews from known female creators and how-tos that are fascinating even if you just read comics and have no desire to create them. It’s always neat to get a peek behind the scenes and learn about process.

My favorite story in terms of writing and art is Lost Treasure by Bonnie Burton (writer) and Jessica Hickman (artist). Yes, Bonnie is a friend but this has nothing to do with that, I promise. The story is adorable, sweet, and unexpected. It's the one that grabbed me the most. Second to that I LOVED the RPG Comic by Stacie Ponder that runs continually throughout the book (like x a million). I recommend reading those straight through rather than picking the panels up page by page.

The art and writing represent tons of different styles and genres. Adventure, real life heroics, superheroes, it’s all there! You probably won’t be drawn to all of the stories just because of the sheer number of them, but you’ll find plenty to like. Overall, I think the writing is definitely stronger. One of the purposes of Womanthology was to open the door to all levels of experience, and that’s more obvious with some of the art. My only other nitpick is that in more than a couple of places the word balloons didn’t flow properly. I had to go back and trace the path of the dialogue through the panel.

Overall, it’s a giant book of fun and helpful advice that is well worth the price tag. Don't be intimidated by the size. It's not a book to devour in one sitting. Read a story here, another one there, skip to the end for a tutorial, read the RPG Comics. Just take your time. I especially recommend Heroic for young girls who like to draw and dream of comics because the book will really inspire them to push forward.

 Actually, it has that effect on adults as well.

Order Womanthology: Heroic here.

Two Years Ago:
My First Fantasy Series
One Year Ago:
Visiting Lucasfilm (pure nerd joy)

April 9, 2012

Nerd Shoe Craftacular

After seeing so many awesome decoupage Star Wars shoes around the internet and these amazing handpainted R2-D2 Toms, my friends and I decided we had to figure shoe customizing out. There were plenty of tutorials, and we all needed nerdy shoes in our life. Thusly, I had a dozen or so ladies over to my house Saturday for the purpose of making geeky shoes. 1) I am beyond grateful to have friends who get excited about the idea of painting Artoo onto shoes, and 2) I've never been this excited about footwear.

I dug around for some tutorials and supply lists for various types of shoe customizing - painting on canvas or fabric, glitter covered shoes, decoupage - but everyone came up with so many ideas and different styles. It was inspiring, and even though I'm not a crazy good crafter like some of the ladies, being in an encouraging group makes all the difference. The hours spent working and chatting make the glitter that's still on my floor totally worth it. Now, on to the shoes! SO many shoes.
Also, I've linked everyone's Twitter names if you want to ask questions about their shoes or compliment them!

You can't craft without proper fuel. @justjenndesigns brought and set up an Admiral Ackbar Snack Bar. YUM. 
Shoes in progress:

My glittery TARDIS flats:
I wiped the shoe down, decoupaged the police box sign on with Mod Podge, waited for it to dry, put down masking tape for the stripes, and covered the shoes in fine blue glitter following this tutorial. Then I painted in the white stripes with acrylic paint, took the shoes outside, and sprayed them down Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer.

My Clone Wars heels:

Clone Wars heels

Decoupage is wonderfully easy, just a bit time consuming. First I cut out all the images I liked and thought I might use from the official Star Wars: The Clone Wars magazine (I had a pile of them). Then I wiped down the shoe and started thinking about what would go wear. I used Mod Podge to paint the back of the magazine and then carefully placed each piece on the shoe. I used the end of a different paint brush to smooth out wrinkles; I wiped off extra Mod Podge with a paper towel. Rinse and repeat until you're happy with the shoe.  Let all the Mod Podge dry and either cover everything with a layer of Mod Podge or use a glossy varnish like Duraclear (or matte if you prefer). Tada!

@ladimcbeth made two pairs of fabulous shoes, too!

R2-D2 glitter flats:
The shoes are pre-glittered from Payless, and Beth made a stencil out of transparency sheets for R2. She traced it on with permanent marker (I believe) and then painted color by color with glittery acrylic paint.

TARDIS shoes:
Beth decoupaged the public call box strip on first with Mod Podge. After it dried, she pulled up a reference photo and drew on the window panes with a Sharpie. Then, she filled it in with white acrylic paint. She made it look so easy (the brat). The blue heels are from H&M.

@thestephthorpe made a bangle and sparkly Star Wars shoes:

Teen Titans bangle bracelet:
This was made using the same basic instructions as my decoupage shoes above. You can get bangles from Target, Forever 21, Claire's, etc. I recommend cutting long strips to wrap entirely around the bracelet.

Battle of Yavin stencil shoes:
Yay pre-glittered flats from Payless! Jenn made the stencil for her Battle of Yavin blouse (see at the bottom of this post), and Steph decided it was perfect for her shoes. She painted the stencil on with acrylic paint.

@scruffyrebel also made a bracelet and shoes.

Supergirl bangle bracelet:
It was bedazzled later, but I didn't get a picture.

Bat heels:
Victoria cut the bat out of gold leather fabric and glued them onto the heels. I'm not positive what type of glue she used.

@nedopak made some stylish R2-D2 heels!
These shoes started out navy or black, and Kristen added layers and layers of paint. The lady didn't even start out with a stencil! She used acrylic paint and little micro beads (by the glitter in the scrapbook section at Michaels) for the silver part. She sealed these with Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer, too.

@ladysteam13 also took the R2-D2 plunge.
She drew R2's general shapes on the canvas shoe with pencil beforehand (I think she freehanded it, too). Then she painted each color in carefully with either acrylic paint or fabric paint. The canvas shoes are from Payless!

@thatelenagirl went in the Game of Thrones direction.
These House Targaryen shoes were painted onto canvas shoes. @autumnbuck painted on the three-headed dragon, and Elena used a letter stencil for the house motto.

@arkhamasylumdoc decoupaged Star Wars heels.
She wrote up a how-to at her blog!

@chrissypedia made two pairs of shoes.

Adventure Time and Robin!
The Adventure Time characters were painted right onto the canvas with either acrylic or fabric paint.
I believe she followed this tutorial for Wonder Woman shoes to make the Robin heels.

@misscecil covered her Toms in nerd symbols.
Do you recognize all the symbols?

Finally, @sarahkuhn made showstopping Dark Phoenix heels.
She also used the Wonder Woman tutorial I linked above.

Whew! That's a lot of footwear. Other ladies brought craft projects with them and either worked on those or just helped everyone out. It was a WONDERFUL day. If you want to throw your own shoe crafting party just remember that everything takes longer than you think it will. Leave plenty of time.

See more pictures at Jenn's blog!
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