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

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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.

Batmobiles
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.

Frankenweenie
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

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.

Deodorize
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

Fantastic Four Characteristics to Make You a Better Writer

Ok, I’m a comic book geek through and through. Out of the current 594 issues of Fantastic Four, I own 576. So needless to say, a lot of my thought processes get filtered through the comic book viewpoint.

Two recent events got me thinking about the Fantastic Four again. The first was starting school. Last week, 31 new students began their sixth grade career with me as their teacher. I always conduct a team building exercise to highlight important character traits. You know, honesty, organization—things that will help them in life.

The other event (that always seems to occur the same week as school) was the San Diego Comic Con. I haven’t gone every year, but I’ve certainly racked up my share. Plus, I started attending in the 1970s back when it was still relatively dinky. I do know my way around an exhibition hall.

My mind went to work to link these two concepts together—instilling good character in pre-teens and a convention floor crammed with 150,000 pop culture nerds (like me). The resulting pastiche was an idea to base character traits on the Fantastic Four.

Invisible Woman
She represents teamwork. Think about it. She turns invisible. No one knows where she’ll be. If she doesn’t stick to the plan, her teammates will bash into her or knock her down.

As a writer, teamwork is crucial to success. Only recently did I join professional writing groups. Before that, I pretty much wrote in isolation. It was natural for me. I was an only child and was used to working alone.

A professional critique group raised me up to a whole different level of writing. But you can’t approach this venture selfishly. A critique group is reciprocal process. You have to put everything in. You can’t always be thinking about your own work. I often find I learn how to be a better writer by striving to improve the work of my fellow scribblers. And that’s the essence of teamwork.

The Human Torch
Definitely courage. This is a no-brainer. Johnny Storm is a hot head. He often rushes into the fray without thinking. Yet, he never holds back. A trait that wins many battles. But is also got him killed in issue 587. (Maybe he’s dead. Nothing is permanent in comics.)

This is a quality every writer needs. When you put together that manuscript, don’t hold back. Peel back your soul and dredge up every bit of nasty that lurks inside. Take a risk. That’s the only way to write deadly honest prose.

Mr. Fantastic
The epitome of Reason. Yes he has the power of super stretchiness. However, most of the time he defeats his villains through a well conceived plan (which often includes building a machine).

As a writer, organization is key. Plan your scenes before you write. Set up a character bible so you get the details right throughout the story.

But reason is more than simply thinking ahead. Mr. Fantastic can stretch to attack an opponent from any direction. Working on those tough points in your manuscript are the same. Bashing your head against a blank computer screen will get you nowhere. Think. How you can get at the story from a different direction? Maybe take a break. Switch locales. Go old school with a notepad and a pen. Whatever works to crack that blank page open and get the words flowing again.

The Thing
Persistence. Period.
This is my all time, favorite character. No other super hero personifies persistence like this man. I mean he gets stuck with the ugliest mug in all of comicdom, yet he never gives up. Yes, the Hulk outclasses him in strength every time. This won’t stop Ben Grimm. He keeps up the fight until there’s nothing left.

Persistence is every writer’s secret weapon. I mean we aren’t actors or models who will lose our good looks. Or athletes that have to worry about strained muscles and the ravages of time. We can write until the Grim Reaper knocks on our door. Take my good friend, Chet Cunningham. He’s written 400 plus books. His eyes are going, so he has to use a magnifying glass to see his computer screen. Yet he still churns out the books (usually two or three a year).

Yes you’ll get more rejections than acceptances as a writer. Your critique group, though helpful, won’t be all smiles and sunshine. If they’re good, they’ll tear your sentences apart.

But you need to keep going.

This is what separates wannabes from real writers. Butt to chair. Keep writing. No matter what.

Nuff Said.

Tim Kane