Been building a photo gallery from this year’s Comic-Con. It’s still a work in progress, as I comb through the 700 images shot during the week, so check back as I add more photos.
This was a Triumph.
I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS
It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction …
– from “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton
San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is a wrap, and I’m home, feeling a bit like I’ve been run over by several, large, multi-wheeled, trucks, and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle…But happy. Very, very happy.
It’s hard to describe the precise feeling here…A combination of physical exhaustion, joy, elation, and contentment, mixed with a bit of melancholy that comes with saying goodbye to friends after a very intense, but seemingly all too short, period of shared closeness. More than that, there is a bit of a surreal feeling…Sort of like that feeling after a long day at the beach, when you go home and feel the tides pulling you in and out like a wave. Well, that’s my post-Con feeling…Your actual mileage may vary…But I’m wiped, both physically and emotionally, yet feeling uplifted by the experience, and the awesome community that I shared it with.
There is much work to do…Words to write, photos to publish, and that will come over the next several days. For now, I just want to reflect on the best part of Con for me…The friendships, the people, and the time we shared together.
Leaving for San Diego I set out with a top-ten list of goals, most of which were met, and the few that weren’t had little weight compared to the rest. The overarching theme of the week was all about connecting with friends and family…Not the family that we were born into necessarily, but the family we choose for ourselves, and the people that belong to those extended families…And connect with them I did.
Friends, both old and new, were there in abundance: Artists, writers, fans, geeks, cosplayers, actors…Folks like Heather Lo, who I’ve known online something like 15 years, back to the old Buffy/Bronze posting boards, but never met in person. There was also the famous (or infamous) Adam Linden, aka BelRand, from Sweden, who I first met in the original Guild fan forums years ago, but also never met IRL. Lots of IAWTV friends, like Steph Thorpe, David Nett, and others with whom I’d only interacted online…I even ran into Theo Rossi, “Juice” from ‘Sons of Anarchy’ at a coffee shop, where he stopped my friend, Brian Kameoka, who cosplaying as Nien Nunb, to take pictures. It was a weekend of random interaction awesomeness.
Hell, I even had a face-to-face with graphic artist Adam Levermore, after years of near misses at parties and other social events (some people were starting to suspect we were the same person because we were never seen in the same place at the same time…But that myth was put to rest at Comic-Con (about seven times in two days, to be precise. 🙂 )
I’ve been very lucky over the past five years to become part of an extended family of friends and colleagues, and it all came about due to a seemingly happenstance experience creating some visual effects for the web series, “The Guild“—And I say “seemingly”, because I don’t believe anything in life is truly happenstance or coincidence, rather that everyone we connect with in our lives is there for a reason, whether or not we understand it at the time—Anyway. A couple of weeks worth of time volunteered to produce a fifteen second FX sequence has turned into a series of developing personal and professional relationships with people involved with web television in some way, including a special group of people who have become my friends, my community, and my extended family…The Guildies.
Guildies come from all walks of life, and came together from different paths…Show cast and crew, fans who became part of the original fan forums, members of “The Knights of Good” Guild on Warcraft that was started by Felicia Day years ago, and, a group that has become very near and dear to my heart, The Guild of Extras, an amazing community started by background cast for the show (and featured this week in an excellent article written by Bill Wasik for Wired.) We are all united in a few common things: Love of “The Guild”, love of all things Geeky, and love of each other. And that last part…Well, you just have to get to know these folks to know what that is all about, and that is about family.
The week was full of activities, both at the Con, and off-site; Theater, Improv, concerts, panels, were all part of the mix. We played, we partied…Sometimes together, sometimes in smaller groups, with many of us coming back together to drink and dance the night away, and it was sharing all of this with this group of people that made the Con something special, and an experience like no other.
Felicia Day and the good folks at Geek & Sundry were kind enough to provide an off-site home for fans and friends at Jolt ‘n Joes in the Gaslamp District, a stone’s throw from the Convention Center, and that was pretty much Guildie base camp for the week, as it should be, and having a place where we could congregate, chill, and party all night long was very much welcomed by all…
Sunday night as many of us as could make it gathered at a steakhouse in the Gaslamp for a final meal together prior to hitting the road. The meal was great, the fellowship awesome, and having to leave at the end of the evening was more than just a little bittersweet for all of us, for while many of us live in California, many came to the Con from as far away as Brazil, Switzerland, and even Montana (of all godforsaken places. 😉 )
Such an amazing, awesome, wonderful time…
It’s Saturday morning, the next to last day of SDCC 2013, and I’m up early enough after a light night of partying to send in a little postcard from the road.
Con has been non-stop action and fun since Wednesday. Got in San Diego about 3pm, after getting an early morning drive on with Brian Kameoka. After a quick stop at the Westin Gaslamp to check in, we were off to get badges, get a bite to eat, and head back to the Convention Center for Preview Night…And we were off.
I’ll get to a blow-by-blow after we get home, but the con, and the outside events, and the parties (mostly at the Geek & Sundry lounge at Jolt n’ Joes) have been, more or less (but mostly more) non stop. I still haven’t been to any of the panels at the con, but I’m off in a little bit to see Joss Whedon over at the NerdHQ panel in Petco Park, this trip was intended to be, and has been, mostly about people…Connecting, re-connecting, and just hanging out, and that has been the major theme for the week.
Many outside events, including a trip to The Stage bar to see Jason Charles Miller last night. I’ve been aware of Jason through my Guildie circles for a while, and seen a few of his music videos on YouTube, but his live show is great. It’s Country with a hard rockin’ edge to it, and it’s very, very good…
Been getting lots of photos and video, and looking forward to shooting on the convention floor today, and Saturday is the big cosplay day. Big moment was getting some shots of author George R.R. Martin on Wednesday. The Game of Thrones author was doing a signing in Artist Alley, and was being very generous about giving photo ops.
The party scene has been pretty frantic, and San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter has been overflowing with tourists and convention goers since we got here…It will all hit a climax tonight, and I’ve been told that the Saturday night parties will be epic and, quite possibly, apocalyptic. Can’t wait.
So…Now off to the day. See ‘ya!
We’re almost down to the wire, and San Diego Comic-Con is only a day away…Well, Preview Night, but that’s when all the goodness starts. I’ve got a firm set of priorities for Comic-Con, and I’d thought I’d share them with you because, well, I share everything with you…Well almost everything. There was that time back in ’88 when…Never mind, best we don’t go there.
My SDCC Top Ten List
- Connect with friends, old and new…You are the best, and most important, part of the con.
- Have a damn good time, and forget/ignore anything and everything else that isn’t about having a damn good time.
- Drink Responsibly (Yeah…You, right there, I see you…Stop laughing. It’s not that funny. 🙂 )
- Spend as little as possible on all the awesomely cool geek toys on sale because I’m a responsible adult (and I will keep telling myself that and hoping I wind up believing it.)
- Maintain as high a level of personal hygiene as possible because Con Funk is a preventable condition, and, besides, eewww….
- Swim in the hotel pool at least once a day because HOTEL FRIGGIN’ POOL!
- Eat at least one machaca (con huevos) burrito and an order of taquitos at the taco joint on College Avenue, because nobody sells machaca burritos north of San Diego County and, damn, they are good.
- Visit the SDSU Campus and sit at the Drama department benches, drinking a cuppa’ joe, and pretending it’s 1982 again, ’cause memories (light the corners of my mind…)
- Try to sleep occasionally, because avoiding sleep deprivation-induced psychosis will probably have a positive effect on the social dynamics of the event, and, finally;
- Spend as little time on long lines waiting as possible, because I’m here for the people, not the panels.
That’s it…I’m spending the rest of the day, cleaning, packing, and getting my gear together before hitting the road. For those of you going to the con, I hope to see you there, and for those of you who aren’t…I’m not quite sure why you’re reading this but, thanks you for your support.
July has been a pretty amazing month so far—the best of the year, and getting better. I’ve got about a million and one things to attend to, major changes on the life horizon, a whole move to coordinate, and…Well the plate is pretty full. So what am I doing? Getting ‘to-do’ lists together? Calling potential landlords? Looking for apartment rentals? Hell no—I’m getting ready for San Diego Comic-Con.
SDCC, or ‘Con’, is something that I’ve been wanting to go attend for years, and years…and maybe a few more years than that, but work pressures, or lack of vacation time or money have always put the Comic-Con on the back burner. But not this year. This year I am hitting Con with all the unreserved power and nerdy enthusiasm that my geeky heart and brain can throw at it. With only a few days left until the drive down, I’m cleaning, packing, buying tickets to events, and, oh, yeah…taking time to blog about it (-1 to productivity, but, hey…It’s what I do…)
Lots of exciting stuff to look forward to, including meeting friends IRL that I have only known through social media—and there are a lot of those, and they are real friendships, and every year that circle gets smaller, and smaller, as I get out and meet more of them, which is always the best part of any of the geeky gatherings I go to. Case in point, looking forward to meeting artist friend, Jeff Carlisle, and super fan-girl, Dani Figueiredo, from Brazil, both of whom I’ve known for about five years, and never met in person.
Dani will be coming back with us from San Diego, going to Disneyland, and then hanging out up in the Bay Area for a bit before heading back home. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Then there are the off-sites and shows; Hammer Improv, NerdHQ, 30-Minute Musicals, “Psych: The Musical” and as much more TBD as I can fit in. Plus the parties…Oh, there will be lots of parties. It’s going to be another whirlwind tour, and I can’t wait.
What’s that? Panels? Meh. I’ll probably go to a few of them, but that’s not my main thing at these cons, and the ones I do go to will probably be more along the lines of networking opportunities, like the ‘Web Series Creators Assemble’ panel on Thursday…Mostly plan to avoid Hall H like the plague, and pick and choose. I’ve just started putting things into my calendar, and will sit down later and consult the official SDCC schedules at some point. For now I’m just planning on mostly following my friends, checking things out, and spending a lot of time on the floor taking cosplay photos.
I’ve kind of let my big passion project, Geektastic! Nebula go…Partially because of time constraints, partially because of a whole lot of crazy that’s been going on in my life, and partially because I was starting to wonder if another geek-branded portal was going to able to elevate itself about all the competition in the marketplace. I’m probably going to start re-vamping the web site, and for now at least schedule, daily photos of cosplay photos and occasional other reports. We’ll see how it goes from there. I’ve been working on a number of podcasting efforts, and may just use that brand as the focal point when I get some of those going. But, back to Con…
Will probably also get caught up in some web video shennanigans as well…Have a number of friends down there that will be shooting, and I usually enjoy getting pulled into whatever is going on, and seeing the results. We’ll see.
Still waiting on the last of my geeky shirts for Con to come in, and getting everything ready to go…And speaking of that, I better get going… See you at Con!
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire.
I do wander everywhere
Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
And I serve the fairy queen
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be.
In their gold coats spots you see.
Those be rubies, fairy favors.
In those freckles live their savors.
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2; Scene 1
Off of the Sidelines, and into the Dragon Fire…
So remember that emerging cosplay photography obsession I wrote about last month in the post about the NorCal Pirate Festival? Well, it seems the photography was just a gateway drug to the real obsession: cosplay itself. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my first Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade in Los Angeles. But not as a photographer safely shooting from the sidelines, as a costumed reveler in the Royal Court of Sypher…And it was weekend of magic and fantasy the likes of which I’ve never seen!
Before I get to the event, just a note…As usual this will be a words and pictures story, but my photos here were shot with an iPhone 5, and not usual usual array of Nikon gear, and the photo quality is reflective of that. I wanted to go to Labyrinth as a tourist, and just enjoy the weekend, and the experience. The event has a lot of great photographers covering it, and I will link a bunch of ’em at the end of this post.
If you haven’t heard of the Labyrinth Masquerade, it is a HUGE event that takes place every year in Los Angeles at The Park Plaza Hotel. The Masquerade is fantasy-themed, sort of a Venetian carnival experience loaded with fairies and goblins, and draws some of its inspiration from the 1986 Lucasfilm/Henson movie, “Labyrinth”, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. It draws hardcore cosplayers, designers, and fans who just love to see cosplayers and come to enjoy the fantasy spectacle.
The rules are simple, you’re encouraged to wear an elaborate costume, or, formal wear with a mask, and from there the sky’s the limit.
The venue, the Park Plaza, is a perfect setting for the event, as it seems straight out of Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”, with gothic touches over the two floors used for the Masquerade. There is a main ballroom with music, stage acts, and dancing, as well as other themed rooms, each with its own style ranging from techno/rave to period dancing. There is also an outdoor court, and a tea room where elegant tea and pastries are served. Every room has music, or other entertainment going on…Add the costumed revelers and it is a costume party on a truly epic scale. And, oh, what costumes!
The costumes ranged from swords-and-sandals inspired fantasy to to fairy lore and Steampunk, with everything in between. There are folks who are, as I mentioned, hardcore cosplayers that make their own costumes, others, particularly celebrities, who have costumes designed for them by an emerging industry of specialty couture houses, such as Firefly Path. Some, like myself, assemble their costumes from rental houses, and customized them to fit their theme. All-in-all the results are spectacular; A trip through the outer courtyard on Saturday night, the most epic of the two evenings, is surreal, almost as if one were walking into Titania’s bower in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was just magical.
Backing up a little, my own adventure leading to the Labyrinth started a few weeks ago. LoJ (as I’ll refer to it for short), has been on the outer perimeter of my radar for a couple of years, coming more into view as I’ve become more involved with friends in the cosplay and steampunk culture scenes. I had a number of friends who were planning to go, but it wasn’t on my hit list for this year…Just too much crap going on, and a lot of life changes to deal with—Until I got a text from my friend, and fellow Guildie*, Brian Kameoka, letting me know that he had received an invite from LoJ Director, Sean Strider, to attend and, oh, would I like to go?
I think it took about two seconds for my answer—”HELLZ YEAH!!!” Of course I’d go…It’s fair to say that this has been a pretty tough, challenging, year, and hitting LoJ, along with another friend’s 4th of July party, also in L.A., was just the holiday the (10th) Doctor would have ordered to re-charge the batteries for the second half of the year. The big question was, what the hell was I going to wear on less than two weeks notice?
Formal wear and a mask? Hmm…Like any good Freemason, I own a tux, but that just seemed a little too low rent. How about white tie and tails? No, a decent rental is $150/day, and I’d be out of town for almost a week. Well, maybe rent something…Hmm, yessssss….Now where?
Going through Yelp, I found one of the greatest resources for costume rental in the Bay Area, the costume shop at the American Conservatory Theater (ACT). ACT has an archive of costumes from all of their productions going back to forever. After a quick call to rental supervisor, Callie Floor, I went over to see what they had to offer. Callie looked at some photos from the LoJ web site to get a general feel for the event, talked to me about my specific ideas, took some measurements, and we were off…She pulled a bunch of costumes out of storage, which we mixed, matched, and accessorized until I had two costumes for the evening…One, an 18th Century, somewhat-Venetian, 3-piece suit with tricorn hat, and a red wizard costume that I wanted to be over-the-top, based on The Dean of Pentacles from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (the wand, I might add, is my own… 🙂 )
Both costumes turned out great, and it was soooo much more fun than going in formal wear at a cost less than two nights worth of a formal rental. ACT is, as I said, just a great resource, and I can’t thank Callie enough for all the extra effort she put into helping me select everything, as well as mending, cleaning, and even doing some jewelry modifications to get everything just right.
This whole adventure went so far down to the wire that the trip to the costume shop happened on July 3rd, the day before I was leaving for Los Angeles. Everything was just such a seat of the pants kind of deal, which made it even more fun.
Brian wasn’t able to fly down until Friday, so I picked him up at the airport, and he was busy putting together pieces of his costumes (a formal variation of his award-winning Nien Nunb Star Wars cosplay, and a meditation on what Wil Wheaton’s character, Fawkes, from “The Guild” might wear if “Fawkes went formal”) right up until we left for the second evening on Saturday.
Over the course of the weekend we ran into a lot of friends, some expected to be there, some not. Celebrities, fellow Industry types, local friends…Just a great time.
We played and partied well into the small hours of the morning before journeying back to our respective abodes. There the costumes came off, and the real world once again began to encroach on the fantastical wonderland that had been the weekend.
Unable to sleep, I rode the emotional tides of the day before getting up early to process photos of the previous night for upload to Facebook.
A two-week mad dash at something I never thought I’d be doing had come to and end, and I was exhausted, elated, and just so unbelievably grateful that the Labyrinth of Jareth was an adventure that I was able to be a part of…
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest, Act 4; Scene 1
Firefly Path’s 2013 LoJ Slideshow – Another amazing set with music.
I love NERD Girls – Facebook Gallery from LoJ 2013
John Troung – Facebook Gallery from LoJ 2013
Curious Josh – LoJ XVI Gallery
Robert Coshland Photography – Facebook Gallery from LoJ 2013
Brian Erzen – Facebook Gallery LoJ 2013 Saturday
Brian Erzen – Facebook Gallery LoJ 2013 Friday
*Guildie: A person having involvement with, or direct connection to the Web series, “The Guild.” I’ve been a Guildie since working on the show in 2007/2008, and become a part of the most amazing, awesome circle of friends and colleagues because of it.
On the first Friday evening of every month, Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland is closed off to traffic from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street, and is transformed into a venue for art, music, dancing, food, poetry, literature, and social activism—The Oakland First Fridays Arts Festival.
It’s a fun evening, a great way to get out of the house on a Friday night, mix and mingle with people, and indulge in some truly wonderful comfort food and drink. All this while being entertained by a wide variety of performance groups…Everything from rock and blues groups to DJ’s and dancers. There is even a section just south of the main event, at the Giant Burger drive-in, where vintage auto enthusiast come together to show off their meticulously-restored cars.
First Fridays has been going on for a few years now, and is a community effort that has been grown over the years. This past February a shooting closed down the event, and organizers were forced to down-size the area of Telegraph Avenue on which it takes place. Now the City of Oakland has informed the event organizers that, due to budget constraints, the city can no longer afford to financially support the event. That means the event organizers would have to bear the costs of police security, and other services, if it is to continue. The City is passing these costs on to First Friday organizers as of July 1, 2013.
Oakland is a city that has been on the rebound for some years now. It is truly a remarkable, diverse, and vibrant community, with an amazing depth of cultural richness to offer those of us who have come to live here. Nothing showcases this better than Oakland First Fridays.
Currently the event organizers are seeking support from the community to help fund future First Fridays, and keep it going. To do this they are asking the public for donations. If you’re interesting in helping to make a difference, you can send a donation via PayPal to OakFFfund@gmail.com. Alternately, if you would like to help with the organizing committee, they are also seeking voluteers. More information can be found on the Oakland First Fridays web site.
For more photos of the June 2013 First Friday, please visit my Flickr page.
Obsessions start with seeming innocuous beginnings. You buy a Jack Skellington cookie jar at a fundraiser and the next thing you know you’ve got cookie jars all over the house, and every trip to a swap meet turns into a hunt for more of them. They multiple like tribbles in a storage hold of Quadrotriticale and your life, and living space, is no longer your own. This is kind of how it’s going with my growing obsession with Cosplay photography.
A spur-of-the-moment trip to WonderCon in 2011, and a few photos of Klingons and assorted comic book characters has turned into an ever-growing portfolio of cosplay photography, including more trips to different cons, in different cities. WonderCon 2011 was my first cosplay cookie jar, so-to-speak. I love the passion the cosplayers, who are usually the designers and makers of their costumes, to the craft. The time, and attention to detail, that many of the more serious practitioners bring to their cosplay is amazing, and inspiring, and I love documenting it in pictures.
Last year some folks at work were talking about this thing call the NorCal Pirate Festival…A weekend of pirate-themed entertainment, food, and crafts, held on the waterfront in Vallejo, CA. It sounded interesting, and a chance to photograph and entirely different variety of cosplayers than the SciFi/Fantasy con folks, so I put it in calendar, and made it up there this past weekend for the 2013 edition of the festival.
The Pirate Festival didn’t disappoint. There is a lot of cosplay involved, and even some LARPing…But there’s a lot more. High-end crafts merchants selling everything from hand-tooled tricorn hats to hand-blown glass and sculptures. In spirit, it’s a bit like a Ren Faire, but seems more like the Summer counterpart of the San Francisco Great Dickens Christmas Fair, a 21st interpretation of what Victorian London would be like…In fact a number of the food vendors were folks I recognized from the Dickens Fair (some of the best hot meat pies you will ever enjoy, for example.)
Entertainment spanned a pretty wide range from musical acts, craft demonstrations, and a variety of kid-friendly activities including a ‘Pirate School’ teaching kids essential life skills like how to steer a ship, the difference between port and starboard, and hands-on lessons in deck swabbing (which I’m thinkin’ was not the high point for most kids.)
The big show attraction was a real ‘pirate ship’ off the shore that made period runs at the festival, with simulated cannon fire. The festival was defended by a group of worthy seaman on shore, firing back with a group of cannons and cannonettes. It was smokey and loud, and a lot of fun.
More photos from the NorCal Pirate Festival can be found over on my Flickr site.