Costumes at the San Diego Comic Con

Part of the fun of Comic Con is all the folks dressed up. I snapped plenty of pictures, but not all of them came out in focus. Here are the non-blurry photos.

On my way to baggage check, I ran into Batgirl.

Always great costumes around the Marvel booth. Here we have Nick Fury and Black Widow.

Man. That’s some paint job. But the effect is cosmic. Great Silver Surfer.

This guy had a fantastic Iron Man suit. He even cut his chin hairs to match Robert Downey Jr.

Tremendous steampunk maiden.

Everyone loves a werewolf. They do. It’s scientific fact.

At least it’s air conditioned in the convention center.

Tim Kane

San Diego Comic Con Shopping Spree

Even though I live in the same city as the San Diego Comic Con, I still treat it as a vacation. Thus, vacation spending. I give myself a budget and then spend every penny of it. Here are some stand out items (and where to find them) on the Exhibition Floor.

The first booth I plopped cash down was “Fuzzy Balls Apparel”. Yes, clever name. They were responsible for the hand sewn apple and the “eye” flower (which is actually a hair clip). You can find them at booth 4839. Another of my favorite booths is Conduct Happiness (booth 4832), home of the Pea, as in “pea in the pool” or the “pea pea dance.” I picked up another hair clip for my daughter here. The stuffed Frankenstein was from The Bijou Collectibles (booth C-01). I can’t recall where I picked up the stuffed kitty.

I’m always a sucker for steampunk and no one does it better than Weta (booth 3513B). I picked up yet another fabulous book from Dr. Grordbort. This year, it was Triumph, Unnecessarily Violent Tales of Science Adventure for the Simple and Unfortunate – written and illustrated by Greg Broadmore. I grabbed the last Berry Ninja apron (for kids). I can’t recall the booth, but I do know it was right next to Fuzzy Balls Apparel. Finally, the small book you see is “Wonderland Alphabet” giving each letter an Alice in Wonderland twist. This was from Archaia Entertainment (booth 2635). I just read this book to my daughter. It really goes deep into both Alice Books (Wonderland and Looking Glass).

I’m love T-shirts, but I detest the standard black or white fair. Snap T-shirts (I can’t locate the booth number, but it was near artist’s alley). This guy hand screens the shirts himself. Hard to see in this picture, but the shirt is a burgundy color. The book is called “So Good for Little Bunny” by Brandi Milne. This was from a combo booth with Griz Grimley and other artists (this might be booth 501). Finally the Frankenstein is a “Kooky Kans” from Mixo (booth 4633).

Enjoy the comic con and remember, there are ATMs in the lobby.

Tim Kane

Must Sees at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con

I swept through the San Diego Comic Con like a child in a candy store. So many twinkly and shiny things. As I stumbled around (and into a few fanboys with poster tubes) I snapped pics of my two favorite areas.

Warner Bros broke out the Batmobile vault and wheeled them all down. Yes, all the Dark Knight’s rides dating all the way back to the Adam West years. Ogle and enjoy.

Adam West’s ride from 1955. It’s a Lincoln Futura featured in the 1960s TV series.

Redesigned batmobile for Val Kimer in Batman Forever, 1995.

Clooney’s batmobile actually had a top speed of 350 mph and a rocket burner.

Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins featured the “Tumbler” batmobile.

That wasn’t all. The folks at Disney were touting Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie everywhere. I grabbed my hall pass and peeked through the stop motion museum. Astounding on so many levels.

Frankenweenie himself, looking cute and a bit despondent. In the back, you can make out the skeleton used to move the figure.

The classroom, complete with Victor, Edgar (as Igor) and the teacher.

Victor’s attic where he jolts Frankenweenie to life.

Outside the official convention was a tent sponsored by Frankenweenie. Inside, I found this… a graveyard with carnivorous plants, gravestones, and mist.

If you’re still in the convention, check these out. If not, then view and drool. I know I did.

Tim Kane

Coping With “Thirteen Reasons Why”

I just finished reading “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. And when I say “just finished” I mean minutes ago. I burned through the last forty pages. Breathless.

I loved the book.

More than just a typical reader would. As a school teacher, I’ve run across kids who needed similar help (not the same, thankfully). I find that school, and teaching, is a mixed bag of learning, friendship, and therapy.

First, let me give you a freeway version of the story (no spoilers, I promise). The novel follows the story of Hannah Baker, a girl who has committed suicide. We hear her words though audiotapes she left for the thirteen people connected with her suicide. Intercut with this is the first person narration of Clay. He’s listening because he’s on the tapes, somewhere. He spends the novel trying to figure out what he did to push a girl over the edge.

Every year (every year, at least since I ran across my first case of a girl cutting) I talk to the students about coping mechanisms. How to unload all that stress and anger that builds up inside. And it does. It’s like shaking up a can of soda. If you don’t know how to release the pressure, it will explode. Trust me, I know.

As I guy, mostly this comes out with hitting things. I’ve dented two car roofs (both mine) and hit the floor so hard it actually shook the house. I don’t think those were the best therapies, but they were better than the alternatives.

Basically, you need a way to get those inner demons out. Hannah (from the novel) had the right idea with poetry. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired against her. Journaling also works. This is essentially what Hannah did with her tapes. It was too late when she worked through her emotions. It’s something you need to start with.

Art is another one. I recall, as a disaffected teen, I attacked a painting with so much force, that I broke the paint brush. (Seeing a trend here?) Once, a poet visited my class (this is fast forwarding to when I was a teacher) and she told the kids something I will never forget. Poems don’t have to be about sadness or joy. Any emotion will do. Anger in fact. She encouraged my class to get angry with their muse.

Essentially, I think I became a writer as a coping mechanism. A way to pour out all the ick that lived inside. I’ve dealt with double dealing friends and some nasty gossip. I simply gave that stuff for my characters to deal with. A bit nasty on my part, but hey, it let me heal. Then I could talk to those people again and not be filled with hate.

The only thing about Jay Asher’s book that bugged me was the parents. Where were they? He had Hannah offer an excuse about the business failing, but I needed to see it more. Why? Because I want to believe that they could have helped. You see I have a little daughter. And when she struggles with her teen years, I hope I can be there for her. I know it’s possible, probably even likely, that suicidal teens don’t confide in their parents. But as a reader (and a father) I would have hoped Asher would have addressed it. Maybe he did. (I haven’t finished with the questions at the end, so maybe he addressed it there.)

I guess I feel like Clay sometimes. As a kid (I know I’m jumping around here) I had a friend who’s father killed himself. One day, at friend’s house, he just broke down, crying. Hell, I had no clue what to do. I was something like thirteen or fourteen. But I listened to him. Especially because the others in our group wouldn’t. He survived the rest of high school without any further incident. So I’m glad I did something. At the very least, I didn’t turn away.

If you ever have someone open up to you, don’t push them away. Listen. Be there for them. Do something that they can’t.

Tim Kane

The Seven and a Half Rules Writer’s Shouldn’t Need

Writing is a confusingly simple process of transcribing motives and plot points into physical form. Here are some tips.

Rule 1
You’ll need a pencil or a pen. Perhaps charcoal or crayons are your flair. Something to make the interior screams of your brain visible to the masses.

Rule 2
Paper is the choice of four out of five writers. However, don’t turn a cold shoulder to bark, bedsheets or cave walls. All excellent media.

Rule 3
Fortify yourself with stimulants. All that creativity can drain on your soul. I recommend chocolate and coffee. But that’s just me.

Rule 4
Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. You stare at the paper (or computer screen if you’re the techno-type) and nothing comes. Just pure white. Minutes slip by and your mind reels. Congratulations, you’re meditating. Some people pay big money for that kind of thing.

Rule 5
A diary or a journal can be a tremendous place to let your innermost turmoil spill on to the page. Just be sure to lock that book up. Wouldn’t want any of those secrets leaking into your writerly work.

Rule 6
Don’t forget to add characters. I hear those are important to your writing. Unless you’re genre, then ignore them and plot, plot, plot.

Rule 7
Set your story someplace interesting. Not a bathroom or a school. Maybe a jungle or the DMV waiting line. Those places are always chock full of suspense.

Rule 7 and a half
Be sure to have a compelling ending.

Write on fellow wordsmiths.

Tim Kane

Hate Club: Why I Despise Most Published Writers

I hate other writers. But let me be specific. I hate published writers. I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s a jealousy thing. We all want that recognition. Not just ebook indie-publishing, but in the book store, everyone reading-your-book fame.

Realistically, this doesn’t happen very often. So the hate club builds members. We all channel our collective frustration at those published folks. We say, “I could do that,” or “That book isn’t so good.” When deep down, we yearn to be them.

Today I took a step closer to joining the other side. I’ve found an accomplice in the form of a literary agent. No guarantee of being published (or even selling well) but it’s invigorating to know that someone is basing their income and livelihood on your creative chops.

It reminds me of a Charles Bukowski poem I read once. I’ve scoured my poetry books, but can’t locate it again. It basically had Bukowski commenting on all the haters he had. Those that felt they could write a better poem.

In my search, I did run across this poem about writing. A good one for the Hate Club.

some suggestions

in addition to the envy and the rancor of some of
my peers
there is the other thing, it comes by telephone and
letter: “you are the world’s greatest living

this doesn’t please me either because somehow
I believe that to be the world’s greatest living
there must be something
terribly wrong with you.

I don’t even want to be the world’s greatest
dead writer.

just being dead would be fair

So what have we learned? Even success has it’s downsides.

Feel free to hate.

Tim Kane

A User’s Guide to Surviving The Comic Con Exhibition Floor

I’ve been attending the San Diego International Comic Con since it was just a local shindig that peddled actual comics. Now the convention sprawls all over the convention center, pulling more Hollywood bigwigs than actual comic collectors.

Rarely do I attend the panels. The last one I did see was for the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show). This was probably the second or third season. Way before they became uber-popular. The cast looked shocked when folks asked questions like: Who do you think would win in a fight: The Thing or the Hulk? (Seth Green was the only one to sport an answer).

Now, these panels are an experiment in frustration. The lines are ridiculously long and that doesn’t even guarantee a seat. Plus, everything is streamed live to the web. Why not Goggle it? You’ll get a better view and not have to wait for eight hours (no exaggeration).

Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel

I content myself with hitting the exhibition floor. What follows are some tips that may help you navigate the crowds and survive the tumult that is Comic Con.

Bring a Suitcase
If you’re like me, you come to shop. The geeker the shopper, the bulkier the purchases. (That Galactus figure won’t fit in the overhead storage compartment.) When the day is over, you’ll need to haul all this swag back to your car or hotel, which is most likely many blocks away. Did I mention that this convention happens in July in San Diego? The heat and humidity conspire to make each passing Klingon smell like an actual Klingon. So a suitcase with wheels will really come in handy.

Don’t Bring a Suitcase
Those wonderful security folk who man the doors won’t let you on the exhibition floor with your rolling suitcase. So now you’re saying: “Why the heck did you make me tote this suitcase down here anyway?” I can answer that in two words: Coat Check. There are multiple locations where you can store your suitcase for the day. They cost a few bucks (so bring some singles), but it’s well worth it. Often I return and stuff my suitcase with swag before launching back into the exhibition hall. It costs each time you pull your suitcase out, but it’s worth every penny. Just don’t lose your slip, or you won’t get your luggage back.

Comic Con is funky on many levels. Mostly it has the unwashed comic geek, fresh from his basement lair. And all these folks are crammed into narrow aisles. Douse yourself with something that smells nice. Seriously. I often walk through clouds of stink as I traverse the halls.

Bring Snacks
Yes, there are vendors selling food, but it’s overpriced and the lines are long. (I once saw a line that stretched fifty yards. I was convinced this was some famous person doing a signing. Nope, just the line to Starbucks.) Throw some snacks in a backpack and much as you go. When it’s lunch time, I’d forge into downtown San Diego rather than eat the convention fare. You have less crowds and better eats.

Take Plenty of Pictures
The best part of Con are the folks in costume. I once saw a group dressed exactly like the cast from Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade (they even had one fella dressed up like the old knight). Or then there was the fully functional Transformer costumes. I’ve found that the best place to see and photograph these folks are in the main hall right outside the exhibition hall. It’s less crowded there and you’re able to snap a photo. Don’t be shy. These people want to be photographed (otherwise they wouldn’t dress up). Just ask politely.

Costumes from the Last Crusade

Good luck folks and remember, your poster tube is not a lance. Please don’t stab me with it.

Tim Kane