Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SafeUT

Salt Lake Comic Com Fan Experience was this past weekend. It was super fun and I got lots of great tidbits of trivia from Doctor Who actors, Harry Potter actors, and other smaller panels. I'll save that for next week though. This week I want to talk about something that was brought up in the press conference on Thursday.

One of the leading causes of death in Utah is suicide. Bullying and prejudice are epidemics in Utah and the rest of the country. I was bullied, throughout elementary school and into my early years of high school. My brand of bullying was being excluded and forgotten. Only occasionally was I bullied to my face. I wasn't ever suicidal, but my experience growing up has shaped how I view myself and others.

It's because of this epidemic and because of the experiences of people who had it worse than me, that SafeUT was mentioned at the press conference. It's an app with capabilities to call in a crisis or submit a tip to the authorities of an incident. It's perfect because in a moment of crisis, you can call and talk to a trained social worker or therapist. If you aren't in a situation where that's not plausible, you can also text for help through the app.

So if you live in Utah, please go download the app. It could save your life. It could save someone else's. This is a way to be a real super hero.

Now, this was a bit heavier than my usual posts. Please be safe and share this with someone who needs it. I'll be back next week with somelighter stuff about FanX.


PS: Here’s the link for the app on the iTunes App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/safeut/id1052510262?mt=8

Light-hearted FanX coverage coming next week

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fezzes Are Cool

One of the many iconic things and running jokes of the 11th Doctor era was his love of headwear. None did he love more than the fez.  I mean, come on, fezzes are cool! However, the 11th Doctor was not the first Doctor to wear a fez. Take a look at this.

In the 2nd Doctor chapter of the multi-Doctor comic story “Prisoners of Time”, the Doctor is shown admiring a fez at a hat shop at the Frenko Bazaar. He didn’t buy it or wear it, but he is definitely looking at it.

Some wonderful timing passing by the fez
In the 7th Doctor story "Silver Nemesis" he and Ace end up in a storage area, where the Doctor finds a little red hat: his first fez (as far as we know). First thing he does, of course, is try it on. He may have looked older back then, but the 7th Doctor still had a childish side.

The Seventh Doctor with a fez and a mop. Foreshadowing?
The 8th Doctor also wore a fez in a comic story called “Doctor Who and the Nightmare Game”. He’d intended to land in Egypt, but instead landed in 1977 at a soccer match. I haven't read it, so I can't really tell you much about it, but here's the 8th Doctor wearing a fez.

Nope. Not Egypt.
Chronologically the next time the Doctor handles a fez, even if he didn't remember it, as the War Doctor finding the fez that his future incarnation had thrown through a time fissure into the lonely barn on Gallifrey, before traveling to his future incarnations (in the past) to return the fez.

The Doctor returning the fez to himself... and himself.

Not too long before that, the 10th Doctor found that same fez (wibbly wobbly timey wimey) in 16th century England, while wooing Queen Elizabeth (or her Zygon counterpart... It gets confusing), moments before his next incarnation dives through a time fissure to find his beloved fez. Even if it's just momentary, it was a beautiful moment to see the 10th Doctor wearing the fez.

"Anything could happen! ... For instance a fez."
Of course the 11th Doctor has a more extensive history with the fez. He found his first shortly before Big Bang 2, only for it to get destroyed by his future/already wife, River Song. However that works..... Anyway, he wears another fez along with Kazrin on Christmas Day in the 44th Centuary. Later he found another fez in his wardrobe, as he was de-monking himself for Clara Oswald. My favorite one though was when he took the fez from the under-gallery resulting in his War and 10th incarnations finding it shortly thereafter. (“One day, you could just walk past a fez.” “Never gonna happen.”)

"What in the name of sanity do you have on your head?"
"It's a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool."
Now the question will be for Peter Capaldi: can he just walk past a fez? If he ever does, that might be heartbreaking. In the meantime, however, I'm just planning on having Matt Smith wear my fez for our photo op (hopefully he gives it back.......). Anyway, looking forward to seeing you this weekend at Comic Con FanX. Feel free to stop me to say hi if you see me.

SLC Comic Con last fall
See you at FanX this weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Souvenirs at Salt Lake Comic Con (and FanX)

The third annual Salt Lake FanXperience is next weekend, and if you haven't already guessed, I'm really looking forward to it. Every time I go to Salt Lake Comic Con or FanX, there are many fun and memorable things to see and do.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of these celebrity guests next week.
Even before I started writing for Mormon Geeks, one of the ways I remembered the experience of attending Salt Lake Comic Con or Fan X was through sharing about it on social media. Of course, once I became one of Mormon Geeks' contributing writers, setting aside a blog post or two for sharing about my favorite experiences has helped even more to create lasting memories.

But for those who don't write for blogs or are not into posting about their experiences attending the conventions on Facebook or Twitter, there are plenty of other ways to remember the experience.

Arguably, one of the things I have enjoyed most about attending Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX has been having things to take home with me to remember the experience. There is no shortage of souvenirs at these types of conventions. And you don't necessarily have to break the bank to get souvenirs. In fact, beyond the entry price of the convention, some of these souvenirs don't cost anything at all.

From fan art to autographs to pictures of (or with) cos-players to photo ops, there is a way for everyone to preserve the memories of the convention.

Photo Ops

Photo Ops (short for opportunities) with celebrity guests is what I would generally consider the most expensive of the souvenirs at the con (though I'm sure there are exceptions). As such, the last few times I've attended, getting a photo op with a celebrity of whom I'm a fan has been my “big” souvenir to remember the convention.

Depending on the celebrity, prices at Salt Lake Comic Con for a photo op can range anywhere from $40 (often for those who play smaller roles or are in lesser known fandoms) to over $200 (for photo ops with multiple celebrity guests from the same franchise). The cost includes a print of the photo, and for a little more, you can also get a vinyl case for the print and a digital copy.

Rory at a photo op with Stan Lee at the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con.
Not everyone sees the value of photo ops, and if it's not your thing, or not worth the price, I don't blame you. But for me, having the opportunity to meet someone who portrays a character or characters that I love, and having a photo to remember that moment, is worth spending a bit of extra money on. That's not to say I go complete fanboy and splurge by getting a photo op with everyone with whom I'm even the slightest fan. But each convention, I'll choose one celebrity that I love to get a picture with, and whose photo op is also reasonably priced, and get a picture with him or her.

Me at a photo op with Brandon Routh at FanX last year.
Another way to save money on a photo op is to go with a friend or friends who are also fans of the same celebrity. At Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX, up to four people can be in the picture with the celebrity at no extra cost, which could bring a $40 photo op down to an affordable $10 per person, and a $200 photo op down to a much more reasonable cost of $50 per person.

Spencer and David at a photo op with Billie Piper last year.
Autographs

While not as expensive as photo ops, celebrity autographs are still one of the more expensive souvenirs. And unlike photo ops, which can be shared digitally and reprinted, autographs are a bit more difficult to share.

But a couple of the benefits of celebrity autographs is that often the celebrity will personalize the autograph and there is more time to speak with and interact with the celebrity than the 15 or 20 seconds of being rushed through the photo op. My friends and I have had the opportunity to speak with Denise Crosby about her life since Star Trek and what projects she's working on now, and I had the chance to fist bump with Michael Rosenbaum and let him know what a fan I was of his work in Smallville.

My personalized autograph from Michael Rosenbaum
Most celebrity autographs start around $20 to $30, though if you look around, you may find some that don't charge at all, as I discovered was the case last year with the actors from Studio C. And if you're a fan of an author that is in attendance, you can bring your favorite work of his or hers and have it signed, as many of them do book signings at no cost.

Fan Art from Vendors

By far, fan art is the most common of the souvenirs that I've collected from attending cons. There are so many vendors displaying and selling their art from nearly every genre and fandom in geek culture. I have purchased far more than I could put on display on the walls of my home, but I've decided that's what albums and portfolios are for.

My fan art from Salt Lake Comic Con last year.
Or we could go with my alternate caption:
"My name is Adam, and I'm addicted to fan art."
Fan art can cost as low as $5 (and possibly even less than that) depending on the artist and the size of the print. Many will also sign the print on request at no extra charge, and many will also offer deals for buying multiple prints at the same time.

One of the best times to buy fan art may be towards the end of the convention, when the vendors are eager to sell as much of what they have left in stock as they can, and will offer even better deals to do so. Though of course, the risk of waiting until the very end of the convention to buy prints is that the one print that you knew you had to have as soon as you saw it (but held off on buying either because you were busy when you first saw it or were hoping to get a better deal later) may have sold out by the time you come back yo buy it.

Toys & Other Items from Vendors

If fan art isn't really your thing, there are vendors selling nearly everything else you could imagine as well. From action figures to bobble heads to comic books to magnets to t-shirts to novels, if you can name it, you will probably be able to find it.

"Baby Superman" is just one example of a potential souvenir.
I have added several t-shirts to my collection last year. I find that t-shirts and other apparel makes for a great way for me to express my interests. And nothing says, “I'm a geek, and I'm not afraid to let you know it,” like wearing a t-shirt with a close-up of David Tennant, a weeping angel, and the TARDIS.

You can see the t-shirt I just mentioned on the bottom in the middle.
Pictures with Cos-players

Though I don't do this one very often (unless I actually know the cos-player), this is one of the best  free ways to collect souvenirs. Whether it's with Scorpion from Mortal Kombat or Elsa from Frozen or Aang from Avatar: the Last Air-Bender, there's nothing like getting a picture taken with one of your favorite characters from one of your favorite fandoms.

Me with Paul, who was cos-playing as Avatar Aang.
All you have to do is bring a phone or a camera, take the initiative to ask others if you can get a picture with them, and before you know it, you'll have a large collection of pictures to keep the memories fresh.

Though this wasn't at Comic Con, it's a great example of a group of friends cos-playing.
It's also fun to be on the other end of that if you're cos-playing with a really great costume of a popular character. When I cos-played as Thor last year, I lost track of how many people asked for pictures with me (including several while I was walking through City Creek Mall to go home).

But I digress.

Pictures with Iconic Props

And one more option for souvenirs is getting pictures with iconic props. Whether it's standing in the doorway of the TARDIS, looking in awe at the Back to the Future Delorean, sitting on the Iron Throne or posing with Gollum, there are no shortage of props to get pictures in.

Me looking out the doorway of the TARDIS prop.
While some of the props do do have a fee to get a picture with it, many of them are also free. Though be prepared to wait in line for some of the more popular ones.

*  *  *

So if you're planning on attending FanX next week, or any comic book convention in the future, now you know of may of the options for souvenirs, and if you watch for it, you'll be sure to find the souvenir that's right for you.

If you have any additional suggestions for souvenirs that you think I may have missed, or if you'd like to share about a great souvenir that you've found, feel free to comment and share about it.

And if you do see me or any of my fellow Mormon Geeks writers at FanX next weekend, if we haven't met before, please introduce yourself. And if we have met, please say hi (even if it means yelling and waving over a crowd of hundreds of people).


I hope to see many of you at FanX next week!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

DC Super Hero Girls

I didn't think this thing would honestly make it, but since the official premier of DC Superhero Girls is showing at Fan X in a couple weeks, I think it's time we take a look at the latest Monster High knock-off.

As an outspoken fan of Monster High, DC Comics and particularly Harley Quinn, I should be all over this show. So then why after watching the clips already on YouTube am I not all that impressed?

Well... Okay kinda impressed.... I did buy a Harley Quinn doll...

I have to say that I do like how the super heroes in the show do have more conservative outfits than any of their comic book counterparts. I'd rather see little kids cosplaying as a Wonder Woman with pants than Frankie Stein in a miniskirt. The characters themselves are pretty well rounded as well, so far no chasing after boys but focusing on their schoolwork and their friendships, which I see as a major plus. We haven't even seen a shopping montage at the mall, so there is some hope.

Okay so here's the real problem: Consistency. I know comics rarely worry about making a lot of sense, but this one takes the prize.

DC Superhero Girls is about a private high school to teach heroes how to be heroes. The stories are mainly focused on the girls going to class and trying to learn how to be real heroes by learning how to fly, fight, and rescue people.

The word "Hero" is thrown around pretty loosely though, as the main characters include Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. These aren't even the children or sidekicks of our favorite heroes, they're just the heroes all in some weird high school with dorms learning how to be heroes. This worked with Monster High and Ever After High because we were talking about the weird offspring of our favorite monsters and fairy tale folks. And Disney's Descendants line has the same concept only focusing on villains. But here it's just a nonsensical mess.

Some might say that this is just another way to sell toys to kids and to not over-analyze it, but frankly I can't let this one go. One of the reasons I like Monster High so much is that it's empowering. While occasionally delving into boys fashion and Facebook, the show also teaches individuality, acceptance and how to deal with bullies, while still having a clever premise. DC could've made the premise make sense, since all female super hero teams exist in cannon like the Gotham City Sirens or the Birds of Prey, or they could've made up their own team of super hero women teamed up to take on crime, so why use this clunky high school setting? Why dispose of 80 some odd years of canon?

Frankly I find it insulting. young girls can understand other situations besides high school. There's an unhealthy fixation in media to try and glamorize the high school setting into some sort of perfect Saved By The Bell-High School Musical-everything's perfect and fun and easy concept. It's story writer short hand for "We don't know how to write for women so we're going to do what's always been done instead".

I still have hope for this. Like I said, I like the characters in general, even enough to add Harley Quinn to my doll collection, but the actual episodes will have to do a lot to impress.

What do you think?

-JOE

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cosplaying on a Budget

SLC Comic Con Fan Experience is coming up quick! I'm super excited, because this will be my first convention as part of the Mormon Geeks team. One of my favorite parts of the Comic Cons I've attended has been the costumes. I've been cosplaying for a few years now and it's pretty fun. It can get expensive though, especially as a student, so I wanted to share a few tips that I've learned over the years about how to cosplay without emptying your wallet.

David and I at FanX last year

1.    Thrift stores are your friends: Thrift stores have saved me tons of money with my costumes. Granted, it's somewhat luck of the draw to be able to find what I need for my costume at Savers or at DI, but sometimes I do get lucky. My red shirt for my Mario costume, my tweed jacket and red /striped shirt for my 11th Doctor costume, my boots for my Hook costume, and my hat and shoes for my Russell costume all came from second-hand stores.
2.    Check Amazon for deals: Amazon has some great deals! I found my Mario hat and my 11thDoctor fez relatively cheap online. And especially if you have Amazon Prime, it can really save you some money.
3.    Utilize other inexpensive stores: Ross has been a store that I've used for my costumes as well. My 11th Doctor bow tie was from Ross for only about $11. I also got a black shirt for my Hook costume for only $16 from H&M.
4.    Use what you have: In almost every costume I have, I've used pieces of clothing that I already owned. I used my dress shoes for my Mario costume and my 11th Doctor costume, my vest for my Hook costume, and my yellow shirt for my Russell costume. In addition, when David dressed as the 9th Doctor, he used my leather jacket and a v-neck that he already owned. I was also able to use that same leather jacket (which I've had for years) for my Storybrooke variation of my Hook costume.
5.    Reuse what you have: If you already bought a piece of a costume that you need for a costume you've already done, why waste money on an extra costume? That's why when David dressed up as Carl, we just reused by 11th Doctor tweed jacket.
6.    Ask around for help: Especially in the LDS community, you'll find lots of people willing to lend their help. After asking, I've been able to borrow a scout sash from my Bishop for my Russell costume, I got a couple different people on separate occasions to do my makeup for my Hook costume (and once for my Mario mustache), and I was able to get someone to hem my pants for my Hook costume.
7.    Allow some leeway: Sometimes it does get expensive, despite our best efforts. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find a pair of overalls for my Mario costume that were under $30. And it's kind of hard to find cheap parts for the costume I'll be debuting this Con. That being said, I've still spent less money on them than I would have otherwise, so it's all about prioritizing and having some leeway in my budget.
8.    It doesn't have to be perfect: I am all for perfection and excellence in cosplaying, but excellence doesn't mean you have to look exactly like the character does on the television. For example, Hook wears a lot of leather on Once Upon a Time. A LOT. That would be crazy expensive (and crazy hot) to track down a leather trench coat and leather pants. Instead of having all leather, I got a costume, vinyl trench coat and a pair of black jeans. It's not leather, but my Hook costume still looks great, for a small percentage of the cost.
9.    Have fun: If you're not having fun with your costume, then why bother? That's the whole point. Also, remember who you're dressing up for. If you're dressing up for the crowds, you may be disappointed. If you dress up for you, you'll have fun. Especially with more subtle costumes, like the 9th Doctor or Agent Coulson. You may not be recognized by everyone, but those are awesome costumes! Just enjoy the convention and have fun!


And again at Comic Con last fall


For anyone interested in cosplaying, make sure you check out the various cosplaying panels that will be at FanX. Make sure you check out the full panel schedule.