Comics · Writing

It’s Okay For People To Like Things…I Promise.

My head has been down the last few weeks as I tried to finish costumes for Salt Lake Comic Con and continue the decluttering project I’ve decided to do on my entire house.  I still check Facebook and one pattern of posts struck me as really strange and kind of bothersome.

The Harley Quinn Haters.

Let me explain, these are not fans who hate Harley, quite the opposite, they claim to love her but in the same breath, they make memes that shame new fans of the character. I saw several of these memes in various geek spaces online, and some were in regards to the many girls and women at SLCC that dressed up as Harley Quinn and how they needed to stop.   Some of these memes were accompanied by images of Margo Robbie as Harley Quinn and the original incarnation of Harley Quinn from “Batman the Animated Series” claiming that if you weren’t a fan of Harley from the start, don’t start now.  Because gasp! then you’ll be a fake geek girl. Apparently, we can only like things if we liked them all along.

What I found even more odd is that I found saw lots of Leto Joker cosplays at SLCC and yet, I saw no memes whatsoever shaming those dudes for their expression of fandom.

Harley Quinn holds a very special place in my heart and if her story resonates with other women, I say there’s plenty of room at the table for more fans.

It all boils down to this for me though:  It’s okay for people to like things.  It’s okay for them to start liking something only once it becomes popular.  Not everyone had awesome parents who took them to the comic shop every Saturday, or bought them an NES when it was first out.

I grew up loving all things DC, but in my early twenties I dove deep into Marvel comics.  I have a collection of West Avenger and Defender comics I cherish, and no one is going to tell me I can’t like something just because I got into it later in life.

Personally, I want more people who love geeky things in this world, not fewer because we shamed them out of their adoration.

So let people like what they like.  Geek culture should not be a test or a competition of who can prove they liked something first, or know the most about it.  That’s a competition we all lose, because we miss out on awesome new folks joining our geek community.

 

 

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Comics · Film Review · Movies

Review – Suicide Squad

First off let me say, I enjoyed the movie.  It’s a decent popcorn flick and if you have a general idea of the backstory of the characters involved, you can fill in the blanks that may have ended up on the cutting room floor.  That being said, the action scenes were very entertaining and did not drag on.  From here I will warn you, there may be SPOILERS ahead.  If you have not seen the movie and don’t wish to know the plot, stop here for now, and come back when you’ve seen the film.

I was in the apparently small camp that did not enjoy Jared Leto as the Joker.  My favorite Joker is probably Mark Hamill, and he probably sets unrealistic expectations for anyone else who takes the role for me.  Leto was a bit over the top for me, and his “grill” distracted me with each scene he was in.  I also felt like they missed a big part of the Harley/Joker relationship.  The Joker seems obsessed with Harley and their relationship is not shown to have some of the more negative aspects we see in the comics and cartoons, partially because some of those moments ended up on the cutting room floor.  Personally, I’m dying to see what scenes were cut.  I also felt as if the entire storyline in the present with the Joker could be removed from the film and it would not heavily impact the plot, as long as the flashbacks that showed Harley’s origin remained.

The plot felt a little contrived, and some of the relationships felt forced.  For a group of villains that seemed to have no contact prior to the forming of their team, it felt as if we were supposed to believe they were family, with very few moments that established them as such.  Again, I’ve read the Suicide Squad comics, so I had a little more to go on to be able to believe the relationships between the Squad members could be tight.  That being said, the characterizations felt dead on me.  Harley came across perfectly, both playful and a bit demented.  At one point they showed her deepest desire, and it was simply a normal life with the Joker.  Robbie did an excellent job with the character, and she did not feel over the top.  Will Smith was also very good as Deadshot.  The other members of the Squad were distinct and entertaining, even if it felt like at times we were still missing a few flashbacks for them.

Suicide Squad did suffer from some of the cutting that Batman Vs. Superman seemed to struggle with, but overall it seems to keep the plot rolling along until the end of the movie.

I would absolutely recommend this movie for DC fans and fans of comic book movies.  It is definitely not a Marvel film, but if you go in with the expectation of a fun flick filled with action, you will not be disappointed.

 

Comic Spotlight

Comic Spotlight: What I’m Reading

Right now there are two titles that I’m currently picking up from Marvel,  Mockingbird and Black Widow.  Each book has very different female leads and are entertaining for different reasons, read more and find out why.  I’d also recommend Wayward by Jim Zub and Monstress by Marjorie Liu.  I picked up the trade of the first few issues of Wayward at FanX and I’ve been following Monstress since it came out, though I’m a few issues behind right now.

Mockingbird

Writer: Chelsea Cain, Artist: Kate Niemczyk, Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

So, this book is awesome not only because it brings attention to one of Marvel’s less known leading ladies, but because a good portion of the creating team is female.  That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you would be surprised how many female led books don’t have a single lady creator on them.

Mockingbird stays true to the Bobbi Morse as a character, while giving her a playful and sarcastic edge.  She’s been through a lot, she’s nearly died, but she is taking a lot of that in stride in this comic and continues to be committed to being the superhero-spy we know and love.  The stories so far are witty, entertaining and also fairly poignant.  Issue #3 has Bobbi addressing a hostage situation, where a teenage girl has her friends in a bubble.  It talks about issues like the fact that we can’t talk about tampons publicly, despite the fact that half of the human race has periods, but in a funny and topical way that I hardly communicate here.  Mockingbird reminds me a bit of Fraction/Aja’s run on Hawkeye, because it is a solo story about a C-list character, but it’s very human and clever.  If you are a fan of DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, I think Mockingbird will hit a sweet spot for you.

Black Widow

Writers: Chris Samnee and Mark Waid, Artist: Chris Samnee, Colorist: Mark Wilson

I loved Samnee’s art when he previously drew Bucky and Natasha together in Captain Americ and Bucky, so though I miss Noto’s art, Samnee brings a great style to Black Widow.  The first two issues set the scene and add a bit of mystery to Natasha’s storyline, but it is the third issue that the story starts to dig deeper.  Natasha returns to the Red Room and to Russian, which of course is full of memories for the former Soviet spy.  There are nods to Natasha’s past as a ballerina, specifically, as she fights and falls, which are always a nice touch.  Samnee also packs a lot of action into the panels of this story, showing Natasha’s familiar fighting style, where she often weaves her body around her opponents.  Capturing such things can be very tricky in comics, but it is done very well here.

Though the story takes a few issues to get going, once it does, it delves into Natasha’s past in a deep way, as the present has started to echo history.  If they make a Black Widow movie, this would be a great kind of narrative to have it follow.

 

 

Comic Conventions

Attending Your First Comic Con

For me, the convention season is just about to start.  As comic conventions get more popular, more and more people are attending each year that have never been to a comic convention before.  I’ll be heading to Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanXperience later this month, and have plans to attend Denver Comic Con and SLCC’s main convention in September, later this year.

Here’s what to expect:

There will probably be some lines.  Get there early if you can, or arrive later and stay into the evening.

I’ve been to a couple smaller cons where there was nearly no wait time, but when you’re attending a convention that has over 100,000 attendees, there’s gonna be some down time.  If you want to avoid these lines, order your tickets early (Most conventions will send out your badges in advance, if you order early enough.) or register early if you can.  If you don’t, you may have to wait in line to register and then wait in line to get it.  Save yourself the headache and have your badge ready.

SLCC’s events also have a wrist band that you register, which made things really easy last year.  Once the doors opened, I was in almost instantly.

Look at the kinds of passes they offer

Most conventions offer daily passes, an multi-days pass, and a VIP pass.  SLCC does their passes a little differently, where they have daily passes, a multipass that gets you in all 3 days, a “gold” pass which gets you in all 3 days and provides some added perks, and the VIP passes.

Personally, I get a gold pass. I don’t usually see a lot of celebrities, so a VIP pass wouldn’t be utilized by me.  If you want  lots of autographs and pictures with celebs, a VIP pass is worth it, because you’ll be in the VIP line, which tends to have a shorter wait time.

It’s best to look for a pass that fits what you want to do best, and make the decision based on that.

The different areas of comic cons

Artist Alley – An area where independent artists, writers, crafters and small publishing companies generally have booths.  Most of these creators paid for their booths out of pocket, so consider supporting them if you can.  You’ll find some really stunning art, new reading materials and other fun stuff here.

Vendors – This is usually next to where Artist Alley is, but instead of independent artists, it’s more likely you will find companies/stores.  You’ll find just about everything from T-shirts to costume supplies in this area.  And of course, comics.  Lots of comic stores.

Special Displays – These tend to be super fun places to get pictures.  Things like Star Wars sets, famous cars from different movies, the Iron Throne and other awesome displays have been at some of the comic conventions I’ve attended.  Salt Lake Comic Con also tends to have the costuming groups near these displays, so you can get a picture with a Jedi, a Mandolorian Merc (Like Boba Fett) or with a superhero.  Many of these groups do charity work, so keep that in mind when you visit them.

Celebrities – Each celebrity has a booth where they do signings.  Prices vary, so be sure to check your convention site to find out how much an autograph will be.  Some conventions allow you to pay in cash at the convention, while others do online only autographs.

Photo Ops – The Photo Op area tends to be the most mysterious part of a comic convention, since it’s all curtained off.  There is an area for people to line up who have purchased photo ops, and usually a customer service table where you can buy a photo op or buy additional prints  There’s usually an area where the celebrity is, and you are shuffled into that part of the booth, a shot is snapped, and then you’re done.  It’s a very quick process, so keep that in mind.

Panels – There are usually lots of panels to go to about a range of subjects.  Be sure to check out the convention’s programming guide, so that you can find out which ones you want to go to.

What about those folks in costume?  I just saw Batman and I’d love a picture!

Most of the people you see in costume at a convention are fans just like you. They are called “Cosplayers” and most of them would LOVE to have their photograph taken.  Here’s a few things to remember about approaching cosplayers:

  1. Ask before taking a photo.  I’ve had it happen a few times, a shy person likes my costume but doesn’t ask me to take a picture.  They hold up their phone and snap a shot as I walk by, which probably results in a picture that doesn’t look great.  I usually stop and ask if they want a picture, or if they’d like to take a picture with me. One of my FAVORITE parts of wearing a costume is posing with other fans.  Unless I’m in a super hurry, I will stop and pose for/with you, as long as you ask politely.  Cosplayers want the photos you take to look awesome!  Don’t be afraid to ask for a picture.  
  2. Ask before touching their costume, or hugging them.  My husband wears a Captain America costume and he’s had more than one fan want to hug him in it.  He’s fine with a hug and the hug isn’t going to damage his costume, so it isn’t usually a problem.  If he were wearing foam armor, or something more elaborate than fabric, it might be a bit more of an issue.  It’s a total bummer for a cosplayer when something breaks, so be polite and careful, and respect the work the cosplayer has put into building their costume.  Again, just ask, most cosplayers want to share how they made something and will either let you touch it, or tell you how they made it.
  3. If they are eating, resting, or look like they are taking a break, considering waiting to ask them for a picture.  I’ve been approached before and usually I’ll still get up/ stop eating to pose for a picture, but it’s also nice when people are respectful of break time.  Conventions are usually filled with a lot of walking and not all costumes are comfortable.
  4. Cosplayers dress up because they love the character.  They usually aren’t paid. Except for a few professional cosplayers, most people dressed up at a convention did not get paid to be there.  They likely bought a pass just like you did.  So keep that in mind when you interact with them.

And that gives you the basics!  If you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Comic Review

Weekly Comic Review: Avengers #0

Avengers Cover by Kenneth Rocafort and Richard Isanove
Avengers Cover by Kenneth Rocafort and Richard Isanove

After Secret Wars, Avengers #0 is an anthology book that ties together the stories of the Avengers, the New Avengers, A-Force, the Uncanny Avengers, the Ultimates and the Squadron Supreme.  Each team has a small vignette that ties their story into that of the Squadron Supreme.  Stories like this can be tricky, since the reader is maneuvered between stories, but I found that though the story with the Squadron Supreme was meant to act like a segway into the other stories, it felt more like a distraction.

It provided a lot of exposition, but I felt like it was at the cost of the story itself. Also, the information needed to jump into the comic, without prior knowledge of the characters and Secret Wars, was not provided.  I feel like the purpose of a zero issue, is to lay the foundation for someone who wants to check out new titles.  It does the job of introduction the Squadron Supreme, but beyond that it does not provide an easy entrance for the reader to the comic or to the subsequent tie-ins that come after it.

I did enjoy the stand alone stories and each one felt like it could stand on its own.  The first was between Scarlet Witch and Vision.  Vision is being haunted by images of the past, what most of us would think of as ghosts.  He has come to Wanda to tell her that he has made a decision of how to deal with the ghosts.  I liked the story telling here, I’m a fan of both Wanda and Vision, and though the story was sad, it was also compelling.  The art style was very pleasing for me, but there were some panels where memories could easily be confused with what was the present.

Next up was A-Force, and G. Willow Wilson continues to show her strengths as a writer.  Her themes are clear, but well

Captain Marvel sans Helmet by Victor Ibanez and Laura Martin
Captain Marvel sans Helmet by Victor Ibanez and Laura Martin

woven into the story.  I knew it was the A-Force story from the moment I turned the page, because almost all the people in the panels were women.  That may sound strange, but when most media has more men than women in any given scene, it was sort of nice to see a captain of a starship and a scientist who were both female.  Carol Danvers is leading the Alpha Flight station, and we see her sans her Kree helmet.  I know we found out this week that she will no longer be donning the helmet, but it was still sad to see it go.

My other favorite story from this comic was about Ms. America Chavez.  The art is open and stunning, and it makes it easy to follow the story, even if the text boxes were a little confusing on the page.  America is fighting monsters between worlds and closing tears in the universe.  To close the holes, she must focus on a happy thought, and basically we see the softer side of America, as she uses her dancing skills rather than her punching skills to problem solve.

There are also stories about Deadpool and the New Avengers in this comic, both of which set the stage well for the coming stories.

All in all, if you are an Avengers fan like me, this is a great comic to pick up so you know where things are starting out after Secret War.

Comic Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con Part 3: Chris Evans and this Con was special to me.

In the time I’ve been attending comic conventions, I’ve only ever gotten one photo op with a celebrity.  It was last year with Eliza Dushku, someone I have been a fan of for years.  I usually go to conventions to show off my cosplay and network with other writers and artists, as well as check out panels on writing.

This year, I had amazing friends who let me jump in on their photo op with Chris Evans.  I also was lucky enough to attend his panel.  I am a huge fan of Captain America, both in the comics and in the movies, so it was an amazing experience to fill my Saturday with these events.

Salt Lake Comic Con held a lottery for tickets to the panel.  My husband and I won one entry between us, and he was happy to let me go and see one of my favorite actors.  I know a lot of people were frustrated with the lottery system, but it I think it was better than many people camping all night and from what I heard all of the people who joined the standby line were able to get in.  Also, gracious fans that were not going to use their tickets were all over the SLCC Facebook page ready to share and trade their tickets, for free (one person did attempt to sell their pass, but they were quickly set upon by a horde of people telling them how rude that was).

Chris discussed both the movies and his issues with anxiety.  My favorite thing he mentioned was focusing on gratitude and being thankful for the things you have.  He also spoke about quieting your mind and taking time each day to do so.  As someone with anxiety, it was amazing to hear him share some of his struggles and triumphs.  It also made meeting him for a few moments later in the day all that special.  When I said “Thank you so much” for the photo op, he replied with “Thank you” as well with a smile on his face.  His sincerity was very touching.

I got to spend a lot of my time at this convention with new friends and some old friends.  Honestly, that is what made it so much fun for me.  Connecting with people.  I recognized a Kate Bishop cosplay and she immediately ran up and hugged me.  Because the convention was better organized and overall better done than the previous two years, I think it made for an easy way to have fun.  Each day was a blast and I could not of had more fun.  

I’ve seen posts complaining about lines and crowds, but any time you have an event with literally a hundred thousand people, these issues are going to arise.  Try to keep a good attitude, bring some friends with you, and just have a blast.  

I would absolutely recommend this convention if you are looking to attend a larger convention with a focus on pop culture.  They don’t have quite the emphasis on actual comic books (Writers, artists, etc) that I have seen at other cons, so I may not attend for that, but they do have a wonderful Artist Alley section filled with people either in the industry or trying to break in.

What was your favorite thing about the convention if you attended?  Is there anything else you’d like to know about it?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to provide you with anymore info I have.

Comic Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con Part 2: Cosplay Experience and Tips.

IMG_2706Each year, Salt Lake Comic Con is a little like Christmas for me when it comes to cosplay.  I’m both Santa and the little kid getting the presents.  I spend months working on costumes for my husband and I, and then we get to debut them.  This year was a little different because we also participated in the Cosplay Contest with a group of friends.  Here are some tips if you’re cosplaying a large convention for the first time, things that I have learned along the way.

People may try to take your picture.   If you see them trying to snap a shot, tell them you’re totally willing to pose for them.  This gives them a better picture and hopefully you’ll find it later and be able to see how awesome you looked.  I’ve noticed more so at Salt Lake Comic Con than other conventions I attend, people may not ask you to take your picture.  They may do it when you’re eating, or waiting in line.  If you see them, just ask if you can pose.  I do not think most of these people are attempting to be rude or snap a sneak shot, they just don’t realize the etiquette involved.

People may not try to take your picture.  When my husband I dress up as characters from the Marvel Movies, we often get stopped a lot.  When we dress up as our favorites from the comics, sometimes we don’t get stopped at all.  My husband has a Captain America costume that is very popular, and sometimes they will ask for a picture of just him and not me.  Everyone likes different things and it’s good to remember that cosplay is about your love for the character.  Even if not a single person knows who you are, try to have fun with it.

Try not to take pictures in crowded areas.  We often get stopped in the middle of the floor, as we are walking to and from our destinations.  I always try to say “Hey, can we go over there?” or “Can we swing to the side?” so that we aren’t blocking the flow of traffic.  9 times of 10 the person is happy to move a little as long as they get the picture.  It keeps things moving and doesn’t cause a traffic jam.

Plan ahead and plan that part of your costume will break or you something will go wrong.  I bring a little repair kit in case of emergency.  It has moleskin, bandaids, super glue, string, stain wipes and several other things I might need.  In the middle of the con, my husband’s boots started to break.  We were able to use super glue to save them and get them through the con.  Salt Lake Comic Con actually has a costume repair booth, which I utilized on the second day.  My red Fedora kept falling off.  They helped me hot glue in loops so I could bobby pin it to my wig.  It was a life saver.  I definitely would have lost my hat without their help.

I also brought flip flops so I could pull off my cosplay shoes whenever I needed to move or at the end of the day.  One thing to be careful with:  If your feet are swelling from all the walking, you may not want to take your cosplay shoes off.  Your feet can swell enough that your shoes will no longer fit.  Plan ahead and get comfortable shoes (I use gel inserts and other helpful things for comfort and to prevent rubbing) because if your feet are done at Comic Con, you might be done too.

Lastly, consider entering the cosplay contest.  But also be aware that it will take up a chunk of your time.  They had pre-judging a week before the contest, which would certainly save you some time on Saturday.  We attended judging the day of, so that took up some of our time.  From there, most of our evening was taken up by the contest, since we found out we were lucky enough to make it in.  Just try to have fun with the contest.  I had a lot more fun just enjoying being on stage and enjoying seeing the amazing costumes up close, than I would have if I stressed over winning.

What about you?  Any tips you would share with cosplayers about this and other conventions?  Please leave them in the comments below!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Part 3 is going to be full of a lot of Chris Evans and what made Comic Con special for me this time around.  See you then!