Friday, May 16, 2008

Emerald City Comic Con

So, I've spent the last few days in Seattle. Yes, it rained. :p

I visited with Greg and Julie, and did the Emerald City Comic Con with them. Some of you may remember them--Greg stood at our wedding a few years ago and very kindly tolerated the dark green pirate shirt. ^_^ Not all of my friends are as enthusiastic about costuming as I am. (Translation: It is a testament of friendship that they lay off the cosplayers in my presence.) I was actually a last minute bridesmaid in their wedding a few years back as well. Glad I had packed a nice dress! I also did their wedding cake. (I also did mine. Advice to would be brides: if artistically inclined, do your own topper. It can be done the month before. Let someone else bake the damn thing. You have too much other stuff to do.) I've known Greg online at CBR for years now. He and Jim MacQ kept an eye out for me six years ago when I took Greyhound out to Comic Con International in San Diego at nineteen. (N.B. I advice against cross country Greyhound trips. I particularly advise against them if you are young and female.)

Tangent, me? Never!

Greg teaches an after-school cartooning class at Madison and Aki Middle schools. This is the real deal--they learn about storytelling and plot and how to convey that visually. They learn perspective and line weight and to use different zooms and angles, and how to show different emotions in a person. They have a class zine, and deadlines that must be met for it. All continuing stories have to have some sort of ending at the last issue of the school year, which is a refreshing change from some mainstream comics! The kids work really hard. Greg says that girls have dominated the class in recent years, but boys are making a comeback at Aki.

So what does this have to do with the con? It's the class field trip! The kids have a table in Artist's Alley and take shifts manning and signing copies off a convention-edition zine. Some of the kids sold sketches, especially with an eye towards buying this year's "in" item--costume fox tails and wooden swords. Two years ago it was anime kitty hats. Several kids got weapons safety lectures from me about this is why we do not carry it in a busy room like SO, etc, and I can't help but wonder if something will happen to some of those fox tails. Apparently most of the girls didn't realize they were real, and were quite dismayed to find out later. I took shifts supervising, if you can call unscheduled "go do this, I'll man the fort and ensure they don't burn the place down" bursts "shifts." Likely far more accurate to say I helped out. ^_^ Basically it involved keeping track of students, occasionally reminding them that they are PROFESSIONALS here so watch the language, and giving The Schpiel to adults and kids passing by. "Want a free book? It's made by middle schoolers! The artists are right here and you can have 'em sign it. These guys are in an after-school class to learn how to make comics, it's funded by the Families and Education Levy. Vote for it next time it comes up!" The exact phrasing of The Schpiel varied, but it usually hit the same points.

I actually managed to shoo Greg and Julie off to Wil Wheaton's panel on Saturday, which pleased me immensely. I don't think he's ever hit a panel at ECCC before as he's usually tied to the table, but they both came back giggling. I chatted with a few parents and a lot of students this weekend. I also did several sketch swaps.

Rachel did a take on Catwoman.

Lindon did an awesome action Wonder Woman in manga style for me. I told her and Lynn the same thing: when you port a character from one style to another, you can play with the costume! She started with this...

But apparently wasn't happy with it as I came back to find her inking on the other side! Lindon also kindly let me swipe her drawing tools all weekend, as I'd left most of mine at home.

Lynn did a truly kick-ass redesign of both Wonder Woman and Batgirl.

Aja's piece made me go all melty-awww. That's her up there in the corner asking if I like it. :)

Here's the piece I traded to Aja.. she asked for something Sailor Moon. Princess Serenity! Slightly redesigned jewelry and gown.

I didn't snap shots of the two four year olds I drew in Artist's Alley, or of Lynn's Mercury or Ed's Batman Beyond. (Which I am kicking myself a bit for, cause I was hella pleased with it.) However, I do have a sketch of what I was wearing Sunday, that I did in a note to Lindon.

Lynn gave me something else that I didn't try to explain to her, but I'll give it a go here. I am horrible with names, and early on would be confused about who did what comic, even on the ones I really liked. Not understanding the frequent changes in writers and artists and why so many people were listed didn't help. (I learned about the X-Men from the 90's Saban cartoon. Claremont was the only guy I could name for a while, because Perry got me hooked on the old New Mutants series. Dani Moonstar FTW!) My first year at Comic Con International, Greg took me around Artist's Alley and introduced me to some of his old favorites as well as people who had worked on books and characters I liked. I didn't have the nerve to approach them on my own because I didn't know what they did and figured it would be insulting to walk up to someone, especially the older gentlemen who had likely been doing this for decades, and say "Hi, who are you and what do you do?" Greg gave me both parts. I spent a lovely forty minutes talking to Nick Cardy that year. :) He also pointed me in Paul Chadwick's direction when I wanted a classic Doctor Strange sketch to take home for my stepdad. (As an aside, Paul Chadwick was at ECCC this year and I made a point of stopping by to remind him of it and let him know how much he loved it.)

I wasn't thinking about any of that directly when I took Lynn over to the Freebie Tables to show her where they were and kinda scan the contents to see if the books were age appropriate. But on our way back, I realized I'd met several of the attending writers and artists before, so I changed our return route. We went by some of the small press booths (Oni Press, Image, Phantagraphics, Top Shelf) and I explained a bit about their lead titles and the styles they're known for, and then I saw that Owly creator Andy Runton had a spare minute. I nudged Lynn over, introduced her and explained the class presence at the convention, and showed her how of his storytelling is done visually. Owly has almost no words at all. We chatted for a few minutes and he grabbed a comic, did a quick sketch, signed it to Lynn, and gave it to her. (It worked out pretty well for him, she later bought a stuffed Owly and several girls then checked him out in pursuit of hats.) Lynn's quiet, but she seemed to think it was pretty cool. I pointed out a few more people in Artists' Alley, but a fair bit of it was "The person who WILL be sitting here did this and thus." Most of the pros were a bit late Sunday morning, after a long Saturday night out partying. She seemed pretty happy with her Owly comic though, and it wasn't until later that I realized I'd just run a new kid around the con like Greg had done for me. Obviously I don't know nearly as much about a lot of the creators and storylines as he does, but it made me really happy to find I had been able to pass on the favor.

There were a few weird things, and some awesome things. Weird thing: Guys who wanted to take pictures with artists, and then freaked out when they realized everyone at the tables next to me was in middle school. "Oohhhheell no, we don't touch the under 18 crowd!" Rachel and I exchanged slightly o_O wtf? looks and they scampered away as fast as possible. Kinda glad I hadn't let them take mine yet. Creepy. Fortunately, that was really my only encounter with creepiness for the entire con. See? It's a small percentage! They just make good stories so everyone hears about them..

Awesome thing: Rachel had done some sketches that she hadn't sold, and she was trying to give away. She did a color Spiderman with MJ on one side and Gwen on the other (poor boy was in major trouble) and gave it to Gail Simone. She and Scott stopped and took the time to make sure it was securely in their box where it wouldn't get messed up as they headed out. That kind of thing means a lot to a fan. I was reminded of when I gave Phil Jiminez a little "Chibi Super Artist Phil!" fanart of him as a bitsy anime character, proudly holding his brush aloft. Donna Troy is one of my favorite characters and we'd talked a fair bit about what he'd done with her that year. When I wheeled up later in the day to give it to him he stopped in the middle of his signing, dug out his portfolio, and tucked it into a safe place. I don't know if it actually made it home with him, but he took the time to put it away when I was there and it meant a helluva lot.

Awesome: Daniel Logan coming up to give me a hug and ask how I'm doing cause he recognized me. He's sweet. :) And a flirt. *L* Also had a nice conversation with Bill Willingham. We both managed not to giggle when a four year old asked if I was his wife.

Another awesome thing: Everyone who did free sketches with advice for the middle schooler's advice to young cartoonists book. I hit up Greg Rucka writer of umpteen things, Bill Willingham of Fables fame, The Sketch Crew, Chris Giarrusso of Mini Marvels, Terry Minor, and Taki Soma. Thanks guys! (Hey, they gave their time and effort. The least I can do is link back to them!)

More awesome: I got sketches too! Mostly commissions. ^_^ Harrison Wood from the aforementioned Sketch Crew did a drawing of me with a Seattle background that you see here.

aka Crayonmonsters did an awesome job. "What kind of character do you want to be? Or if you give me a reference, what character do you want?" My response? "Me as an anime chick with kinda ghosty feather wings. In my wheelchair, if you can manage it.." That last part wasn't a slight. I hit Artists' Alley at a different con one year and people either balked at drawing the chair, or drew a standard hospital type chair instead of mine. Despite me sitting in front of them the whole time. :/ You can image I was pretty excited to get this!

I only link to myspace *shudder* here because Jerry Minor is THAT awesome.

I gave him this rough up of her clothes and a written description. It looked like this.. yeah, yeah, I slacked off on the feet. :p

A couple of swing-bys meant I was able to clarify some colors, and I ended up with an AWESOME piece. Unfortunately, the colors aren't photographing well with the camera phone. In the meantime, here's a phoneshot of the lineart! (I hope to properly scan all these next week.) I also got a second commission from him on Sunday, but the watercolors on it aren't photographing too well either.

I also bought these two pieces:

I also bought a couple of tshirts: a black babydoll with the red batlogo on it, and a dark blue babydoll with a metallic red Super S on it. :D $10 each! woot! I also picked up the Wonder Girl action figure, and Donna Troy as Wonder Woman. I LOVE that as a costume for WW. The Wonder Girl figure totally needs a touchup paint job though.. her costume's V cut is to the equivalent of 4-5" BELOW the bottom of her breast and its annoying the heck out of me.

This is what happens when you write half of a post on the plane, and half of the post a few days later.. :p I'll try to get back to another one to finish it better, and post actual scanned images of the art instead of cameraphone pics. I haven't even touched Monday and Tuesday!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Semester summation and wrap-up

>.> Woops. I forgot I had this...

It has been a crazy semester. I am finally DONE as far as the Spring 2008 college semester is concerned. At work, we are done holding classes for most of the students, and have begun end-of year testing for our program. My position comes out of a different fund than most of the school employee's pay, and that grant money runs out a bit early every year. We also need to get our testing done BEFORE all of the teachers do their final wrap things, which is why I will finish two weeks before the students do. However, this post is mostly about scholastic efforts in my own studies, instead of what I've been presenting to elementary schoolers. :)

Dance was interesting. Yes, it's belly dancing. However, the style we learned is (as the professor stressed several times) is sensual, not sexual. I had hoped it would help me some with balance and core strength, and it has. :) I've also learned that trying to do a physical class for credit is.. not the best route for me. I often had to sit down before class was over, and there were days I just sat and watched for the entire class. Still informative, but on the days that I could get up and join class again, I was making the clumsy mistakes everyone else had made in the previous class or two, and by that point the only one doing it. That may sound silly, but it wears on you after a while. I worked hard though, did extra credit, practiced when I could. I choreographed my final to the opening theme from Angel, by Darling Violetta. Here's a picture of my costume. I am happy to report that I got an A. :)
Dance Performance outfit

The course on Victorian England was interesting. It was also a very stressful course. It's a bit ironic that I had the most trouble and frustration with this class, seeing as its the one I fought and pleaded to get into. C'est la vie, no? We covered a lot of topics in Victorian Britain, with the focus usually centered on London, and how gender came into the topics. A woman's ideal role in the home and the bearing those ideals have had since, as well as the ways in which those ideas were impractical at the time. The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, thoughts on Imperialism by Kipling and Karl Pearson with his ideas on Social Darwinism. The Irish Potato Famine, poverty in light of Dickens and a series of photographs and articles written in the 1870s, particularly in contrast with upper class views and realities. Prostitution, the change in consumption and gender roles in late Victorian Era, the Oscar Wilde trial and scandal, the Maiden Tribute (scandalous piece written on child prostitution) and its effects, Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders. Gender roles in education, the re-emergence of women in the workforce and disparity of it, the failed attempts at open discourse on sexuality, and John Stuart Mill's theories from On Liberty, particularly the Harm Principle. The midterm damn near killed me despite many hours of preparation, and the final was pretty damn hard too. I wrote my research paper on Spiritualism in Victorian England. If you are curious, you can read it by clicking here. The project was frustrating because Spiritualism had not quite been my original focus, and the initial draft I turned in was mostly unusable as it was too broad. Then, I submitted the final draft a day late because I was home throwing up from food-something the day it was due. I asked if she would meet me halfway on the late penalty since I was sick to the point that I missed work as well as class. Fortunately she agreed to a 5% penalty instead of a 10%. I also gave an optional presentation on my paper to the class, though I had to throw slides together in a freeware program at the last minute since my PowerPoint presentation went screwy. Those who've heard me freaking out about this class, especially the paper, will understand why I was so shocked to find an addition to the comment sections from my professor: she suggested that I submit it for publication in the undergraduate journal once I tighten it up a bit, and invited me to a special one credit hour course she is putting together next fall to work on research topics for presentations at Perdue. o_O I am waiting to see when it will be and am considering going for it. Despite all of my "omg this is difficult and taking forever!" complaints, I did bust my ass, and I pulled an A. :) Apparently she was puzzled that I was fretting my grade on the final because of what I had going into it. >.>

Mesoamerican Civilizations was an awesome class. The professor was fantastic. He presented a great deal of information in a relevant fashion and engaged everybody. In fact, something several students voiced at oral evaluations was that they had not been looking forward to the class as they had expected to be bored to tears, and were quite surprised to find the opposite to be true. We looked at theories on arrival of humans in the Americas and early organization. We studied a number of societies: Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, Toltec, Mexica Aztec, Taino, and how European (read: primarily Spanish) contact went with each. No, the Inca are not on this list. They were in Peru, which is in South America, and more different from central than many realize. We compared the rise of agriculture and civilization with areas in the Old World and ideas on why there was a delay. I realized that I have a tendency to over-write and over-think some things when it took me 12 hours to write a review of a journal article. I didn't have a final exam in this class (woo!) but a major research paper comprised over half the grade. I did mine on Vampirism in Mesoamerica, particularly focusing on the Maya and Mexica Aztec. It seemed to me that with gods who required blood sacrifice to continue existing, a fair argument could be made for vampiric notions before the time of Contact. If you are interested in reading it, click here. I will warn you, it's long. I am going to swing by campus tomorrow to pick up my paper and see what his comments were, but I've looked up my course grade on the student system: A+!

Native American and European Encounters was a class that had a lot of promise, a good professor, and a frustrating roster. The textbook we used for the first half of the course didn't help, but most of the time almost no one read. This makes class discussion difficult. I know sometimes it happens with 100 level courses that fill a core university requirement, but c'mon, a little effort? The class was an overview of how various Native American groups interacted with each other, with Europeans upon their arrival, the Mexican government in the Southwest, and then the US Government. The class examined a number of people and their roles as mediators between the groups: Diego de Vargas, William Clark, missionaries John and Evan Jones in contrast to many other missionaries of the time, Buffalo Bill Cody with his Wild West shows, Cherokee schoolgirls, a Pueblo painter, and a former BIA official and Navajo linguist. I still found it to be an interesting class, and hope to take another one that goes into more detail. I also found myself overwriting on the paragraph/essay response exams for this class, and challenged myself to be more succinct with the final. I think I managed. ^_^ My professor was interested in my paper topic for the Mesoamerican course, and approved doing research with it for her class as well, as long as I looked at European impact and exchange as well. She has suggested I go on to grad school and try to fast track a PhD and teach college courses. I'm not so sure about it, but it is an option that I'm investigating. Oh, and I got an A+ in the course. ^_^

So. GPA for Spring 2008? 4.0! Now to see if I can keep it next fall. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sick in January

Happy New Year! Okay, so thats a little bit late. I haven't been posting because between the trip, work starting back, and school starting up, I've been hella busy. Now, I have a hellacious respiratory infection. :(

I spent the last few days of 2007 and the first week of 2008 in Atlanta, visiting family and friends. Tadhg had to come home New Year's Day because of work, and he had a hell of a time getting back. Flight delays, gate changes, terminal changes, cancellations, rebookings with a reroute to a city that had two flights worth of people trying to get onto one plane, lost luggage.. we dropped him off at the airport around 7:30-8am, and he ended up renting a car out of Cincinnatti and got home about 10pm. I also had delays getting back. Neither of us are terribly thrilled with Delta.

There was some chaos, but all in all a good trip. Tadhg's schedule isn't conducive to a lot of travel, but we were able to visit my mom's parents and her grandmother. We had a good time. :) My great-grandmother can't really travel anymore, so we make a particular effort when he's down to get up there and see her. Finn had a blast playing videogames with Tadhg, as well as playing with Kerowyn. They had a slumber party at New Year's. :)

I think one of the highlights of the trip was going to see Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Tavern with Brekke. :) We hit the first preview showing and it was awesome. I've mostly read Shakespeare's tragedies before and had little idea of just how funny he can be. The actors were excellent, the food was good. I strongly recommend that if you're in the Atlanta area and have a chance to, go see it. I believe it runs through February 3rd. Be warned, if your cell phone goes off you WILL be mocked. "How now? A bird? However did one get in here?"

Since, obviously work started back up. Most of my students are making very good gains. :)

Classes.. holy crap, three history type courses make for a lot of work. I wish the other people in my Native American/European Encounters course would do their readings and step up, but we'll see how it goes. I've been worried about my dance class, but the professor is working with me and understands that I have lower limits than the other students.

Unfortunately, I've been dragging a bit the last week or so, and am now exhausted and constantly choking and coughing. Whee, infection! I'm resting up this weekend.