This Friday I will be celebrating the birth of Spring at Swankety Swank! Artwork by yours truly will be on sale, including a new line of Doll Shaman dolls! I will also be giving tarot readings from my famed Mutant Oracle, the X-Men Tarot! Swankety Swank is an amazing store filled to bursting with beautiful handcrafted art by local San Francisco artists and designers! Please come on down for the celebration! Swankety Swank is located at 289 Divisadero (at Haight St.).
WonderCon 2009 coverage concludes as I present some more snippets from Saturday and Sunday of the convention! On Saturday morning, I dressed as Black Widow and hung out all day with my buddy Sam Harris (British Spider-Man) and the irrepressible CHUNK (Spider-Wrangler). That night, Isotope hosted a party commemorating Brian Azzarello and Dave Johnson’s amazing work on 100 Bullets, an amazing crime noir series (that just ended with issue #100 *snif*). Super scribe Azzarello and Artist auteur Johnson hung out with fans all night and much merriment was had by all! Above, I pose with James Sime (Isotope Proprietor) and G.A. (Isotope Trainee). To see some of the amazing cover art from 100 Bullets by Dave Johnson, click here.
Here I am holding my sketchbook in which Dave Johnson drew a sketch of yours truly. I love love love it. I look very glamour goblin.
A closeup of the sketch. To see more Isotope staff portraits by Dave Johnson click here.
Here we have from left to right, IDW‘s crown jewel, Ben Templesmith, Pirate’s Press‘ CHUNK, and The Boys‘ Darick Robertson! CHUNK is hella happy as he poses with his favorite artists. Isotope makes dreams come true.
(As Ben Templesmith was leaving the party much later in the evening, he told a partygoer, “Nice to meet you! Sorry I called you names!”)
I had promised Joe Casey the night before the party (at the Tiki Tour) that I would bring in my X-Men card deck and give him a tarot reading. This picture was taken immediately after his reading. Joe signed my sketchbook with the words, “STORM is wise.” Well met, Joe. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
A photographer took this photo of me during setup for the party. He didn’t leave his card, so I cannot properly credit him, but perhaps you can decipher his scrawl at the top of the picture? No? Me neither. Anyway, he used a real shutter and light and whatever that stuff is called. You know the kind of camera that looks like an accordion? That kind. He was all about trying to get the light just right and I think he succeeded. Of course, he had a real model to work with. Makeup by yours truly (left over from Black Widow drag earlier in the day). Lacey gloves created by Yabette of Swankety Swank. Earrings from Multikulti.
CHUNK and Darick Robertson waste no time getting to know each other better. Darick is such a great guy that he donated a lot of his time signing at The Hero Initiative booth at WonderCon. He’s that kind of a guy. Cool, big-hearted and hella fun to hang out with. As evidenced in these pictures. Dontcha just love that hat Darick is sporting?
The best thing about CHUNK? He doesn’t drink, so you know his behavior is not alcohol influenced. It’s all natural, baby. 100% unvarnished junk-talking CHUNK. No wonder he and Darick got along so well.
So, yeah, it was an awesome weekend. I have to give shout outs to the guys at BOOM! Studios, Filip Sablik from Top Cow, the iFanboy guys, Gary from Comics Outpost, and one of my favorite creators, Wendy Pini! However, the one person who I haven’t mentioned yet, who I stalked when I was working at the Prism Comics booth, and who was on hand at the 100 Bullets party sketching and signing for her adoring fans, was the inimitable comics creator, Jill Thompson. Jill was a grand and glorious presence at the Isotope, infusing the lounge with her fierceness! Such was her majesty, I felt a bit like Ganymede to her Hera, doing my best to making sure she was comfortable at the party as she sketched at the drawing table. I have already shared the amazing Wonder Woman sketch she drew for me, but now it is my privilege to share something more life enriching (Not that one could not live on her art alone, you could–but sometimes it takes something more quotable to change one’s life). So now, without any proper ado I present to you:
THE WISDOM OF JILL THOMPSON
I had a few moments of alone time with Jill, and after I praised her for her work on Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie, we had a discussion about the challenges of working with the public. I told her that my mantra revolved around socializing with compassion, kindness and grace (Something I picked up from a Yogi tea bag). Jill looked me straight in the eyes and said this to me:
“The world is a giant set piece. I decide what costume I am going to wear. I play to the back of the house. And I have one hell of a stage whisper!”
Thanks to Jill Thompson and to everyone I interacted with at WonderCon 2009. Keep on rockin’ the comics!
I must admit until WonderCon weekend, I’d never been in a Tiki Bar, much less attended a Tiki Tour! I had, of course, heard about the legendary Isotope Tiki Tours, and was quite amped about participating, especially since artist Darick Robertson was hosting the evening! You may be familiar with Darick’s art from Transmetropolitan or The Boys, but I also really loved his run on Nightcrawler’s eponymous series. I was nervous to meet Darick, but my fears dissipated when we shook hands. Darick is quite easy to talk with and he made a great host for the Tour of approximately 150 fun folks! What’s more, Ben Templesmith and Joe Casey were also in attendance!
That’s me and Darick Robertson! And yes, I’m wearing a very special lei given to me by the lovely Kirsten Baldock. She honestly didn’t know of it’s medicinal properties (Not for real, silly! It’s plastic!) when she gave it to me. She simply said, “I just say that it’s leaves were long and slender. They reminded me of you.” Touche, Kirsten.
Sam Harris, looking a bit like a young Spock, raises a suspicious eyebrow as ridiculously long straws are utilized for an umbrella bedecked drink. Kinda like a hookah but with liquid instead of smoke.
I don’t remember what Ben Templesmith was pontificating about when I took this photo, but he looks positively charismatic, doesn’t he? It’s like he matched his suit to the decor! The Tonga Room is one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been in. The band performs on a pool in the middle of the bar and every hour it rains inside the bar! There’s ridiculously cheesy music and people dancing and you get the distinct impression that you are crashing someone’s post wedding celebration. It’s amazing. I recommend you go see it soon because there are rumors it may be going away forever!
Darick Robertson, CHUNK, & James Sime. I think Darick is either a little tipsy or he’s winking. Maybe both.
Jon Sung and Kirsten Baldock brandish their tropical drinks!
Conor Kilpatrick of iFanboy and G.A. show off their pearly whites. Such lovely smiles. Conor is iFanboy’s go to guy for DC Comics’ knowledge and G.A. brings fabulocity wherever she goes. Seriously. Everywhere she goes.
Ron Richards of iFanboy holds court with Conor, G.A., CHUNK, Ryan and many more in attendance. Ron’s love for the X-Men rivals my own (perhaps even surpasses?!?), but he gets points off for being such an unabashed Cyclops fan. What’s that about?
Kirsten Baldock looks simply divine as she shows off this wooden carving of a Tiki god. Fashionistas will, of course, take note of her lovely dress print embellished with the flower in her hair! Delightful!
I’m all smiles in this picture with the witty Joe Casey and the irrepressible Ben Templesmith, who went all “Where’s Waldo” in this pic. I suppose he couldn’t handle not being in another picture. Ah, Ben, you’re the funniest.
So CHUNK and I were sitting at a table minding our own business while some folks played pool nearby. We both had glasses of 7UP. Then Josh Richardson showed up and I got up to greet him. At the same exact time that I was walking around the table, a pool player made the cue ball jump off the table. The cue ball flew through the air, past my head and into my drink which instantly exploded. Shards of glass flew everywhere, but mostly on CHUNK. This picture shows CHUNK holding the remnants of my glass that would surely have injured me if Josh hadn’t made his timely entrance. After CHUNK collected the pieces, he walked over to the pool player and held out the shards in his hand. The pool player looked at the glass in CHUNK’s hand, at CHUNK and then he ran out of the bar, never to be seen again that night. CHUNK threw out the glass pieces, but one piece remained stuck in his finger which he promptly plucked out with his teeth and swallowed. This is how I learned that CHUNK was part goat.
This pretty girl was the last friend I made at the Tiki Tour. We had a long lovely chat about eyebrows and the folks who shape them for us. A great way to end the evening.
To be continued in STORM Sunday: WonderCon 2009, Part IV!
Hello, dear readers, I am off to Portland for the first time to experience the wonders of Stumptown! (Google it, I have not the time to link as I am waiting for my plane shuttle as I type). I will not unable to post until I return early next week! I will take notes, however, and will transcribe for your amusement/edification/entertainment at a later date!
Until then! Keep rocking the comics!
In the meantime, check out this X-Men tease and if you feel led, please comment on what you think about it. I’d love to know your opinions on this bold direction Marvel is taking (laughs).Spoiler: The winged guy is not Angel. Think back, way back to the original 5 and you might recognize that big M and remember the guy who had all the powers of Angel, Beast, Cyclops. Marvel Girl and Iceman combined: MIMIC! (Yes, you’ll have to Google him on your own too, my apologies!)
Happy Ostara, peeps! In honor of this day of blood sacrifice (Nothing like killing your own son to impress your Godhead), I thought we’d take a look at the time when Storm decided that she would relax her vow of not taking another person’s life! Not her most glamorous time, certainly, but her toughest, as here we see that all that time training with Wolverine has paid off! What’s that, Callisto? You wanna kidnap boytoy Angel ’cause he’s pretty and all you Morlock folk are notsomuch? You wanna marry him? Really? Ooohkay. Er, I mean, no thank you. We like Angel up above ground where he can fly around and loan us money and hit on Jean Grey.
Oh, and Callisto? Joan Jett and Nick Fury called and they want their stuff back.
And there we go. Nobody thought Storm had it in her to stab the old girl in the heart. But she did. And she got Angel back and got her team safely home. She also earned the leadership of the Morlocks which is more of a punishment than a blessing, ’cause nothing good ever came of that (except the fierce vest she wore). See ya Cal. Never liked ya anyway.
I have been dressing up in other people’s clothes since I was old enough to put them on by myself. My mother caught me multiple times at a very young age trying on her slips and skirts. I was punished for this behavior, but I kept going back to what were referred to as feminine items of clothing. However, I also loved to wear my father’s v-neck t-shirts and long sleeve flannels. I liked the smell of his cologne much more than my mother’s perfume and I was drawn to his leather belt and work boots. I was equally happy to parade around the house in steel-toed construction boots or high heels. Both gave me a sense of power. They still do.
I consider everything that I choose to wear as drag. Seriously, I want you to think about that. Every item of clothing you chose to put on today is a sign and a signifier. There’s a code embedded in your look that defines you. You know the code. You grew up with it. You know how to read it and you know how to send a message in it. You have a specific drag requirement for a job interview and a different drag approach to what you wear at the gym. You change your ritual of dress to match your social intention.
Some say, “I don’t think about what I wear. I just put on what’s comfortable.” That too, my friend, is drag. It is sending a message through fashion even if you are not choosing to be fashionable. Artists and performers sometimes take this code to another level by utilizing their body as a canvas to advance their inner expression. The most alluring drag, in my opinion, tends to be an ensemble that honors and borrows aspects from both male and female codified clothing aspects.
A Super-Heroine is Born
Two years ago, I was invited to attend a Halloween party. I was told by my new group of friends that they were all going to be dressed up as superheroes and if I wanted to be one too, that I needed to let them know which superhero I wanted to be so one of them could help me make the costume. It was impressed upon me that this person, known for making these costumes in the past, was most likely not going to be making costumes like this again. It was one of those “make a decision now or lose your window of opportunity” moments.
I gave the matter a lot of thought. I racked my brain trying to think of a superhero I could convincingly portray. A few years ago, I dressed up as the White Witch from the Legion of Superheroes for a party at a Radical Faerie gathering, but all of my performances and costumes since then were unrelated to superheroes. And only one attendee at that party knew who the heck I was supposed to be (although it was doubly cool that he even knew the White Witch’s birth name and which Legionnaire was related to her).
But this time I wanted to be a character that really appealed to me as well as someone who was more recognizable to the public. I considered my body build and the fact that I’d have to wear my glasses (I tried contacts a long time ago and had some really awful experiences, so now I’m really stubborn about wearing them). Loki (A Marvel character from the Thor comic) was the first one to come to mind, but my friend had already been that character a couple years before. I thought about Catwoman and how a catsuit would be ideal so I could cover up all of my body hair. I loved the catsuit idea, but wasn’t super thrilled enough to want to jump around with a whip and purr. And besides, Selena has a crush on Batman, and frankly, Bruce Wayne bores me to tears. I didn’t have the motivation. It was back to the drawing board and I didn’t get back to my friend for a while.
Well, just about when I thought I would be unable to accept my friend’s generous costume inclusiveness, he revealed that the theme of the group was going to be SHIELD agents. My friends were going to be Nick Fury, Agent 13 and a random SHIELD agent. Would I like to be Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine or the Black Widow? I gave the offer some thought and decided there was no way I could replicate the Contessa’s unique white streak in her black hair and remembered my fondness for The Champions comic. The Black Widow has ties to almost every corner of the Marvel Universe having been a spy, an Avenger, a SHIELD agent as well as being romantically involved (or alluded to being involved) at one time or another to Captain America, Hawkeye, Angel, Hercules, Daredevil, Iron Man, Nick Fury, and more recently the Winter Soldier (also known as Bucky). Her story is a great example of a strong woman breaking free from those who would only treat her as a tool to further their agendas. She may have started out as a spy for Russia, but she defected to become one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (and even shared the title of Daredevil’s comic for a while, just like the Falcon did with Captain America). I was super excited to dress up as Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow.
The party rocked. Everyone went all out on their costumes and I was amazed at the innovation and originality of many of them. There was also a lot of superheroes. It was awesome to meet Lobster Johnson, Kabuki and Hawkgirl in person! It was kind of cool that I was the only guy there dressed as a girl. There was one uncomfortable moment where a guy asked me to dance only to peer a bit closer through his beer goggles to discover that I wasn’t the droid he was looking for.
The Black Widow Returns
Last year, I rocked the vinyl catsuit again for Halloween, but not for the party. I had made the mistake of suggesting that the salon theme be superheroes, and when the time came I had to dress up in the only costume I had. I answered phones at a salon for six hours as the Black Widow. Immediately after I clocked out, I changed into another Z-List character costume I had made for my birthday the year before. The theme had been superheroes and I had dressed up as Roulette, a very minor villainess who irregularly fought the Justice Society of America. I dressed as Roulette for the Halloween party just like I had for my birthday party. The results were the same. Everyone loved my outfit. No one knew who I was.
The Spider Date
Last year’s WonderCon was my first comic convention ever. I made it to San Diego for Comic Con after that. So this year’s WonderCon is my fourth con (APE was my third). I am and have always been aware of the cosplay subculture of the comic world. I played Dungeons & Dragons from high school throughout college until I went for my Master’s. I have Live Action Role Played (LARPed) Vampire, the Masquerade. I am not ashamed.
Near the end of the Tiki Tour on WonderCon Friday, my friend Sam Harris mentioned that he had been thinking about dressing up for the convention. I replied that I hadn’t dressed up as a superhero at an actual comic book convention before, but now that I thought about it, it sounded fun. Sam said he had a Spider-Man costume that he wanted to wear, but didn’t know if he could do that by himself. I told Sam that I would wear my Black Widow costume and we could walk around Moscone Center together if he wanted. Sam laughed at the mention of my superheroine’s name and thinking of his character as well, said, “It’s a spider-date!”
Exiled Upon Arrival
Upon arriving at Moscone Center in full Black Widow costume, I am excited and nervous. This is the first time I’ve been in full drag at a con and although I have seen many girls dressed as boys (Robin, Nightwing, even Gambit), I have never seen a boy dressed as a girl. I’m suddenly feeling too tall, too made up and too conspicuous. I have also started to sweat inside the vinyl catsuit.
Suddenly, my entire attitude shifts as I see a group of four attendees dressed as X-Men. My eyes gloss over the Cyclops and Wolverine as I see a Phoenix and a Storm (!) dressed in her current outfit. The girls look especially well done and for the first time since putting on my costume I feel in character. In that moment, I believed that seeing these X-Men was a good omen and I smiled.
“Hello, Ororo! Hello, Jean!” I say, walking over to them, beaming with happiness. I make eye contact with the girl dressed as Storm and she looks back at me in astonishment. Her surprise turns to contempt as she rolls her eyes, and turns to Phoenix.
“Hmph!” she says, as she peers back over her shoulder at me. She gives me the once over from head to toe and looks like she might throw up.
I am crushed. This girl is dressed like the hero who changed my life. She’s wearing her white hair and her Alan Davis-designed costume and she just looked at me like I was nothing. The other X-Men just stare at me.
I take a deep breath and lean down into this girl’s face. I look straight into her eyes and I tell her, “You do not possess the compassion required to portray the character you are dressed as.” Then, I turn on my heels and walk away as fast as my boots will take me. I need to find Spider-Man.
All photos taken by CHUNK.
On March 27th ye olde Isotope gang and and extended family visited Amnesia to see the amazing Betty Bloomerz & the Squidling Brothers Sideshow! Boy, howdy, was it ever so much fun! So, there’s this part where Jellyboy (that’s him in the picture with yours truly) has people come up on stage and he invites you to staple dollar bills to his body–with a staple gun! Certain areas of the body come with a higher price tag, of course. Ya know, I’ve used a staple gun a lot in my time, especially when I was an art student and I had to make my own canvases, and I was always really careful not to staple my fingers. It was kind of a fear of mine. The idea of stapling other parts of my body never occured to me. And when I found out what the game was at Amnesia that night, well, I was the first one to start the ball rolling. Yes, I look a bit intense in that picture above, but I was just trying to wrap my mind around it, really. But did I enjoy it?
Well, maybe a little. I do look a bit triumphant, don’t I? I mean, come on, it’s not whether or not I’m sadistic, it’s whether or not these clowns are masochists! Anyway, it was part of the show. It’s how these clowns make their money! The show must go on! And someone’s gotta get paid!
Oh yeah, isn’t Jellyboy the cutest in his pink tutu and fishnet tights?
Pictures taken by CHUNK.
These last three weeks have been rich with activity for yours truly, dear reader. WonderCon chewed me up and spit me out and it’s taken me this long to get back to regular online activity. Specifically, I found myself reevaluating all of the projects in my life and how to get to the heart of what matters most to me. I feel that this blog which started out as an homage to my favorite superheroine has now evolved to being more personal. Certainly, my opinions and ideas about Marvel’s Merry Band of Mutants have always been expressed with a heartfelt honesty, but they have always been relegated to the comics world, not so much my own. Once I started to put out buzz about Princess Witch Boy, I felt a shift. I realized that I needed to work more on promoting my work and not as much about a character that is owned by a corporation.
X-Men is a franchise. It’s a giant marketing machine and frankly, I find myself almost always disappointed with how my favorite character is represented, whether it be movies, cartoons, video games or the current comic books. So, instead of bitching about that (astute readers may have noticed it is not my style to hate on others’ works on this blog; that’s something you’ll have to hear in person), I’m putting my energy toward the things I can affect. That means working on my own characters. That means making comics.
My secret cache of Storm images is almost spent, and I no longer search the internet every month to find new images. Yes, I read anything with an appearance by our favorite weather witch (and I scour Previews for her, trust), but I don’t think every appearance deserves a mention on this site. There’s simply too many iterations at this point. Which Storm are we following? Is it the one in Astonishing X-Men, Black Panther or Uncanny X-Men? They are not the same character, dear reader. Warren Ellis, Reggie Hudlin and Matt Fraction are simply not on the same page (pun intended) when it comes to writing Ororo. She say and/or does things in one comic that do not make sense when read in another (sometimes in the same month of publication!).
Also, the days of the X-Men being their own corner of the Marvel Universe are over. Now we have microcosms within microcosms, crossovers and more crossovers. Look at the above cover to X-Men Annual #9. At the time, this title and New Mutants was the only way you got to keep up with Ororo’s adventures (Yes, I know about the infinite guest star appearances that the X-Men made–and continue to make–for sales, but this is where you followed the happenings of this character). Do you see how many characters are crowded into that upper left hand corner box? That was the extent of the characters that X-Men comics included at that time. If that was done today the whole cover would be awash in a mutant multitude thanks to all the characters populating the X-verse. Too much.
However, I do recommend that you check out these previews for Astonishing X-Men in which Storm kicks major butt! See? I’m still paying attention, and I will be sure to pass on things I deem important to share. Warren Ellis’ writing on Astonishing definitely counts.
So, now that I’ve got things back on track, you will be seeing Part III of my WonderCon report, a lengthy essay on my experience cosplaying as Black Widow at said convention, and much more. Sunday posts will alternate between being about Storm of the X-Men and yours truly, STORM. Who knows, you might get a mix of both. Nothing like a little gust of Weather Goddess in your Princess Witch Boy or a dash of Princess Witch Boy in your Weather Goddess, right?
One of my favorite characters of all time is Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme! Recently, Dr. Strange has fallen on hard times. And while it is incredibly frustrating for me to read writer Brian Michael Bendis’ current dismantling of the good doctor in the Avengers titles, I have decided to celebrate the character the way I shall always remember him. That is, you know, supreme!
Above we see Geof Isherwood‘s delightful rendition of Stephen. You can practically hear the rustle of the Cloak of Levitation and the crackle of magical energy! I also like how muscular Stephen’s legs are! They are a great contrast to his extra flouncy sleeves. The gestures are spot on and Stephen looks like a force to be reckoned with! Love love love this image!
Alan Davis gives us a sleek (as his is way) look at the Sorcerer Supreme fighting some tentacles. How Chthulu of him! Stephen is focused, but not stressed. He looks in control. I like the extra elongated sharpness of Stephen’s cloak and the immensity of his Eye of Agam0tto. All the better to see you with, my dear!
Frank Brunner draws Stephen like no one else! His pencils are so detailed as to leave nothing to the imagination! His work on Dr. Strange shall always be my favorite for sheer lushness! Here the skull of death hovers over our mystic as he advances to his next challenge.
More Frank Brunner goodness (as if you weren’t already convinced of his artistry)! Here we have the Holy Trinity of The Ancient One, Stephen and Clea!
And here’s Paul Smith’s take on the Master of Mystic Arts. Smith’s Strange is taller, more gaunt and looks a bit older than some rendtions (but truer to his first appearance as we shall see below). I almost called Stephen haggard, but that’s not very nice, so let’s move on. Nice background design elements on this page!
Finally, the man in his first appearance as designed by his creator Steve Ditko! I guess the title of Master of Black Magic was too occult for some folks, so Sorcerer Supreme was coined later. Besides, the alliteration is catchier, in my humble opinion. Alliteration always makes things better. Dr. Strange looks pretty old here. Those sunken cheekbones indicate he’s certainly no spring chicken. His tunic skirt is short, his little pointy collar picks up the “v”s in his eyebrows and widow’s peak as well as the spirit emblem on his chest. And that’s a pretty hefty Eye of Agamotto, too!
So you see, dear reader, how accurate Paul Smith’s rendition really is. Even though other depictions have Stephen as being more physically demonstrative, I prefer him being thin and lanky. It simply makes more sense to me. Of course, it also my opinion that we need no other Sorcerer Supreme aside from Stephen and that’s not what’s happening these days in the Marvel Universe.
Yes, I’m a bit bitter. I’m still upset about Scarlet Witch’s character assasination (especially after Kurt Busiek redeemed her so gracefully) and the death of the Wasp in Civil War. So this new storyline where Stephen is cast as a failure leaves me unhappy. Of course, there are many stories that depict the hero of magick that I love, so it is obviously time to get those comics out of their polybags and reread them.
If you like the artists represented above, I heartily suggest you check out their websites and their work! By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, make it so!
Please forgive my three week absence. My WonderCon reports have not been abandoned, simply postponed. Please enjoy this lovely image of Phantom Lady until I catch up.
Please stay tuned and thank you for your patronage.
I just noticed that this comic has an April cover date. Coincidence or fate? Probably both.
Help your friends and lovers find their inner superhero!