Free Comic Book Day 2015!

Hey all,

Went to my first Free Comic Book Day!

I first heard about this about three years back, but I have always been too intimidated to actually go to comic book stores during the event. I had no idea how it would go. Was it awkward if I just took books and left? Do I just grab free books? How do I know which ones are free? Why are they free? *suspicious glare*

Well, now you can learn from my experience. It was positive, and one word of advice, go early. The earlier the better.

Why are stores giving away free comic books? The aim is to get comics back into the hands of the people. You get an issue to get you started, and hopefully you discover your love for comic books. For me, it mainly gave me new reading material to discover, allowing me to stray from the usual comics I would read. It’s also a great way to get people to visit their local comic book stores. Free Comic Book Day happens every year on the first Saturday of May. Make sure to check the official website to see which North American comic book stores are participating! Don’t show up at a random comic store expecting free comics.

For the actual free comics, let’s look at Golden Age as an example.

The line up was out the door, and when you got in, you loop around the store. It’s nice in that you get to look at their merchandise and books as you lined up (great idea to get people to buy their stuff! I don’t blame them at all!). The whole line took about 40 minutes to get through. At the back, you get to an island of free comic books. Most of these have “Free Comic Book Day” printed on them by the publishing company, so you know they’re safe to take. If not, and the store has extra overstocked comics they don’t think they can sell, and they’re nice enough to give them away as well, it’ll be marked.

At Golden Age, they limit you to 4 comic books per person, and you should be taking different titles so there’s enough to go around. There was a huge selection. You grab your four, and then make your way to the front to get a bag for them.

Again, go early. My friend and I had a whole route mapped out for comics, but we eventually found that stores run out pretty fast.

My haul!

My haul!

If you didn’t go this year, I suggest you go in 2016! You do have to put up with the lineup, but hey! It’s free stuff!

-Karen

ECCC – Third time’s the charm!

Hello all,

This post is about a month late, but I went to Emerald City Comic Con 2015! This was my third year, but it was no less exciting. It was the first year where my cosplays required props. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience of lugging around a me-sized bow around the convention floor, but it did add that much more to my cosplay, so maybe it was worth it.

Although we had a 3-day pass, we missed Friday because a few of us had classes and could not get out of school in time to make it to Seattle before 7PM. However, Saturday and Sunday were hectic days of us running from panel, to photo ops, to trying to purchase all the things on our list at the artist alleys and exhibition floor.

I cosplayed Ashe from League of Legends, and my boyfriend did Malzahar! Here’s a random group shot we did with several other League cosplayers (and a random Cloud). It’s always so much fun running into people in the same fandom!

league group cosplayMy second cosplay was from the adult cartoon Archer. I was Dr. Krieger’s Virtual Girlfriend, and of course, my boyfriend was Krieger.

Kriger cosplay

The best part of the cons are usually what I physically take away with me in terms of merchandise. Vancouver sucks at selling geeky, fandom-related mercy, so I have to go on a spree every time conventions come around.

stuff we bought

I also got several of my comics/graphic novels signed! Joëlle Jones was there to do signings at Darkhorse for Lady Killer, and Bill Willingham signed my Fables stuff! He also recognized our cosplay from Archer, and told us how he met the main character’s voice actor not too long ago. Kelly Sue Deconnick was super nice, and always had a line up. I managed to snap a photo with her!

kelly sue

I guess one of the biggest things for me this year was taking a picture with the legend himself: Stan Lee!

stan lee

I really wish I took the picture with my normal hair, but my cosplay for the day would not have worked. In the end, I decided to just go with the pink wig, which looks out of place. BUT oh well, Stan Lee!!

Next year, ECCC is going to be a 4-day con! I really hope my schedule works out so that I can go again 🙂

– Karen

Musings After Sandman Volume 3– Gaiman’s Scripts

I felt the need to just ramble about how I felt after reading Sandman. And here are my unfiltered thoughts (though I edited for grammar)– just thought I would share it with you guys! You may notice it is a bit different from my usual style of writing, but that is because I was just pouring out everything that went through my mind after reading the volume!
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I have nothing better to do on this fine Tuesday afternoon. I have braved through all my classes, and am now waiting for my HR meeting.

Anyway, I was at the gym earlier (shocker!) and instead of bringing my usual iPad to watch an episode of Supernatural while I run, I read volume 3 of Sandman. The stories were okay. Like the first book, I found myself loving certain parts of the book a lot more than the rest. I remember for book 1, it was when we were introduced to the Sandman’s sister– Death. She is amazing. Dare I say perfect? We see her again in one of the short stories in this volume.

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I still don’t entirely get Sandman. But I respect Neil Gaiman as a writer– a lot. He has that dark vibe to him, much like how you would expect Tim Burton to write if you got a chance to read his scripts. What was my favourite part of this graphic novel was the very last section of the book. Gaiman told us he would allow us a peek behind the curtains of how he writes his graphic novels. Actually, I’m wrong in saying that. He explicitly told us that this was not the Neil Gaiman style of how to write graphic novels, but simply how he writes The Sandman.

I did not think that writing the script for a graphic novel would be so intense. It seems like it would take ages to finish a page (I’m sure it does). I know I breezed through the pages of the novel, spending 2-3 minutes max on them. But the effort it takes to write one of these pages is commendable. He included notes from both him and his artist, Kelley Jones, in the margins of the script.

Gaiman writes his script out in a manner similar to writing a letter. To introduce each page, he would write to Kelley how he wanted the page to go. Additionally, he would also add random thoughts that he happened to ponder on. One of these included how he had a strange phone call the night before and it freaked him out. I loved this. It personalized the script, and made it so much more inviting to Kelley (or at least I would think I would feel that way if I was him). You are no longer reading stone cold instructions, but something from a friend.

After taking Creative Writing 203, we were told that we were not supposed to give the artist too much directions in our children picture book drafts. I wrote my story (which I was not satisfied with– and neither was my TA judging from my mark), and the only instructions you could get from what I wanted the illustrator to do was which page I wanted the text on. It was important that you allowed the artist freedom. Gaiman’s approach was completely different..

If you could read how detailed he makes each scene, it really is amazing. He not only tells the artist roughly what he wants the character to be doing, but he goes as far as to say that outside the window, we should get a lighting that suggests “early summer or late spring”. Each page’s panels have about half a page of text instructing Kelley on what he should do. Gaiman also says that he’d send Kelley reference pics (which us as the reader does not get to see). Gaiman does say that he has to first know who his illustrator is before he writes his scripts, so I am assuming he keeps in mind what he believes Kelley can produce.
I think this is amazing, but of course, I am thinking through the mind of the author. I would love for my artist to paint exactly what I imagined in my head. I wonder how Kelley feels. I wonder if this is the approach many other comic book/graphic novel writers use when they write their scripts. Or maybe it’s because Neil Gaiman is a such a big shot, so he gets to do things this way. Or maybe it’s a neutral agreement between solely Gaiman and Kelley. It’s weird how I refer to Gaiman by his last name and Kelley by his first. But I like it like that.

Seeing the script, I no longer think of graphic novels as very short pieces with several hundred words. Sure, each chapter may come in a small little compact booklet, and yes, we may only see the few hundred words that the writer chose to express physically with words in font.
But it is so much more than that.

-Karen

Emerald City Comic Convention 2013 – The Clash of Fandoms

At the beginning of this month, I went to the Emerald City Comic Convention! It was my first time at an American Comicon, as the other ones I have been to have all been in Hong Kong. Here is a recount of my trip!

Day 1

I woke up bright and early on the 1st of March (after only four hours of sleep), and took the bus down to Seattle (via Quick Shuttle). A 4-hour long bus ride was not the worst thing in the world, but I do wish that the bus would not make so many stops so that we could speed up the process. I ended up getting to Seattle half an hour late, which meant I was even later to the con than I had originally intended to be.

At 2:00pm, I arrived at my hotel in downtown Seattle– SpringHill Suites by Marriott. My friend and I chose this hotel because it was an 11 minute walk to to the Washington State Convention Centre– where the ECCC was to be held. I left my luggage at the front desk (I must say, the staff at the hotel were amazing. They were super nice and helpful throughout the whole trip!), and tried to make my way to the convention centre. Despite having printed out a million maps to guide me around the small area that is Downtown Seattle, you will not believe how many times I got lost. But soon enough, I got to the convention. What I was not prepared for was the line. I was in line for my badge for 2 hours. What happens is that you take your ticket to this counter to exchange it for a badge. Sound easy enough…except the line to the counter wrapped around the convention centre like a million times. I was forced to miss Felicia Day’s panel (but I guess it was okay, because she was to have another one on the third day with Wil Wheaton).

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After getting into the convention centre, I realized that it was very warm in there. It was my first day at the con, and my friend was skipping today, so I did not cosplay (we were cosplaying together). Instead, I spent my day taking pictures of other people’s amazing costumes. I am very impressed with the amount of work people put into their costumes, and for putting up with how hot it was. I was in short sleeves and I was hot– I can only imagine people walking around in full body armour and how gross it must feel.

DSCN1488 DSCN1489I left the con at around 7PM that day, choosing to take some time to explore Downtown Seattle. It was my second time there and I quickly got bored after entering random shops. I went back to my hotel, and realizing I had gone the whole day without food, I hastily picked up a lunchbox at a Japanese restaurant so I could eat back in my hotel room. My friend Michelle came later on in the night and we ended up watching the latest episode of Supernatural together! We had troubles falling asleep, but soon enough, it was morning.

Day 2

We woke up at 7:30 in the morning, as I warned Michelle about the line ups. We had our breakfast, and learned that there was actually a free shuttle to the convention centre leaving on the hour, every hour, from our hotel. I already had my badge, but she still had to get hers. Luckily, because we woke up early, the line for the badge was very quick (took her about 10 minutes), but we had to wait in line before they could let us into the centre.

Today, both Michelle and I were in costume. We dressed up as the same character from Supernatural, except she went for the more traditional look of the character, and I genderbended mine. I cosplayed as fem!Cas. It was very hot as our costumes required that we wore a trench coat for the whole day.

Castiel’s original outfit

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My spin on Castiel’s outfit

There was not too much on our agenda today. We mainly aimed to get our picture taken with Misha Collins (who plays the character we dressed up as), and to go to the Supernatural Fan Panel later on in the night. Misha Collins was amazing, and although you do not get a much of a window of time to tell him how you want to pose for your picture, he was very quick to understand. I liked how my picture turned out.

mishaandi

We went to the Fan Panel an hour early, but somehow, they only allocated the fans a room with a seating capacity of 220 people. They grossly underestimated our numbers. So we were turned away. However, after the panel started, I convinced Michelle that we should go back up and check if they had extra space. It turns out they did!

The fan panel consisted of a room full of fans discussing plot lines and raising hilarious questions. It also allowed for a bunch of people cosplaying from the same show to congregate together! I met a lot of wonderful people, quite a few of whom I still keep in touch in on Tumblr.

AND THEN MISHA COLLINS CRASHED THE FAN PANEL. It was against his contract, or something of the sort, but he still broke the rules and nonchalantly and quietly snuck into the room. It took about 3 whole seconds before the room started screaming. I love this man.

Misha Collins crashed the fan panel!

Misha Collins crashed the fan panel!

And that was day 2.

Day 3

Michelle and I had to wake up very early again, because Misha Collins’ panel was the first panel of the day. It starts at 11, but we got to the Convention Centre at 8. This again meant we had to wait in line before they let us into the convention centre, so it was this mad race towards the line for the main hall where the panel was to be held when they finally let us in.

We ended up getting pretty good seats– 3rd row behind the VIP area. Misha came into the hall and seemed surprised at the fact that it was so full. I skipped a lot of details in this post, but I was at quite a few other panels during the course of my visit– and none of them were as full as this one. The whole hall filled up, so there were thousands of people there. The panel moderator asked Misha questions for around 20 minutes, and then opened the floor up for questions. I obviously booked it to the mic, and was one of the first people to ask a question. Unfortunately, the girl in front of me asked the question that I wanted to ask, so here I was, freaking out because I did not have a question. So I improvised. The whole thing was ridiculous, but I guess it made people laugh. Someone recorded a video of my question that I found on Youtube…so here it is if you want to hear me sputter and stuttering.

Emerald City Comic Con: Misha Collins Panel Part 6 (Hunter Salon …

The rest of our last day was spent walking around and doing more shopping. I spent bucketloads of money on graphic T-shirts. No regrets there. Okay, maybe a little because I am extraordinarily broke now. I also took a picture with Felicia Day! Her panel was amazing, and I actually teared up when she addressed how female gamers/’geeks’ (I do not exactly agree with the use of the labels of being ‘geeky’ and ‘nerdy…) should do as they would like without being judged by others. Wil Wheaton also added a line on how he was seriously pissed at people who made Felicia have to clarify this to the females in the audience. I never applauded louder.

feliciaday

Sadly, it was eventually time to go again, and Michelle and I made our way back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and headed to the bus stop back to Vancouver. Lots of amazing memories were made, and amazing people met. I hope that one day, I will actually be able to get tickets to the San Diego Comic-Con. But for now, the Emerald City Comic Con was an amazing experience!

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-Karen