My two li’l printers are hard at work right now churning out copies of my latest autobio mini-comic GO FOR THE EYES!
It’s debuting at Stumptown but I’ll have it for sale from my shop when I get back. 24 pages of pure awkward, undiluted self-defense! Can you dig it??
In the meantime, you can preview the comic right here.
I’ll be exhibiting at table D-18, alongside the superbly talented Mike DiMotta! We’ll be there with loads of smiles (and layers, probably - it’s unpredictable Portland, right?) and stuff for you to look at. Come on out and visit!
Yesterday I exhibited at my first craft show, and it was interesting to compare the experience to comic shows (which are normally more my bag). Since I’ve applied to craft shows before but never been accepted, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure the crafters would accept me into their clan.
Luckily, the experience was wonderful! Crafters seem to be just as supportive and excited about each others’ work as indie comickers are. Just as shy, too. I mean, I’m used to comic exhibitors practically throwing their necks out just to avoid eye contact and using any excuse to leave the table rather than discuss their own work (and I’m including myself in this group). So it was kind of charming to see crafters with their beautiful, elaborate displays of hand-woven jewelry … likewise all crouched in a corner, panicked when a customer greeted them.
Here are a few of the things I noticed:
Lots of pregnant women with adorable babies strapped to them in various intricate contraptions
Maxi dresses in wonderful patterns
Lots of supportive comments from visitors, telling me they loved that I was a writer, illustrator, and designer :) (which means now I’m allowed to refer to myself as a triple threat, right? In my mind?)
A great variety of jewelry, perfume, wearable things, hangable things, loveable things
A MUCH better smell wafting through the place as a whole. Sorry Comic Cons, but crafters have you beat. No longer was there the whiff of B.O. swirling about - instead it was just the sweet aroma of savory soaps and perfumes. Yum.
I met Young House Love superstar blogsters John & Sherry, whose mere presence shamed my boyfriend into taking on more home improvement projects. All part of my evil plan!
Regrettably, my work sparked this question in a little girl: ”Mommy, what does -” points to my Tiger print “- ’sexy’ mean?” My bad, mother of little girl.
After the show, Dennis and I dragged ourselves on over to the Sine Irish Pub. There, we did some pub crawler participant watching (too drunk at stop #1, they were) and I obsessed over the safety of my car in an “Honor Code” parking lot until Dennis put money in the parking lot slot. Has anyone else ever encountered a parking lot, with plenty of empty spaces, on a Sunday, with a big scary sign that tells you you still have to pay something, even though it’s Sunday and no one’s around? Oh well, it was enough to have me shivering in my britches, so even though everyone we asked told us we didn’t have to pay, my honor remains intact.
Peace out, Richmond, that was a wonderful Sunday trip! And I can’t wait to go back to Spring Bada Bing!
I know this was supposed to be a WEEK of Kick-Ass Women, but I’ve been a little busy this week prepping for Spring Bada Bing, so I think I’m going to turn this into an ongoing series on them instead. Because, let’s face it - I will never get tired of talking about them.
The next Kick-Ass Woman is actually THREE women who all impacted my view of what at a kick-ass woman could be. And they all happen to be named Michelle!
No, not Michelle Obama, even though she has charmed the entire country with her guns:
The three Michelles I want to talk about are Pfeiffer, Rodriguez, and Yeoh.
After I saw Tim Burton’s Batman, I wanted to be Vicki Vale. I don’t know what it was about her I admired so much - the blond hair, the big red lips, the awkward way she handled herself around The Joker? I would draw her face over and over again, I suppose thinking I could transfer some of her power into my own body. I couldn’t see her being surpassed in my mind as a memorable female character in Batmanverse until, of course, Batman Returns rolled around.
Michelle Pfeiffer was amazing as the pitiable, weak “administrative assistant” who, at the beginning of the film, lets people walk all over her. So great, that even when she transforms into the whirligig force that is Catwoman, we don’t have to squint too hard to see Selina still in there, calling the shots. Catwoman is incredibly sexy, but she wields her sexiness as an accessory. Her motivation and her appeal is her craziness, her craftiness. (After all, she did whip up her whole black vinyl outfit on her cute little pink sewing machine she had tucked away amid her stuffed animal collection.)
One of my favorite scenes is when Catwoman stops a mugger attacking a woman in a lone alleyway - the stereotypical set-up for a hero to save a damsel in distress. Catwoman instantly recognizes the opportunity for what it is, and DOES save the woman, but she also takes a dig at the woman for letting herself be vulnerable. It’s an interesting parallel to her past, having been manipulated and abused at the hands of her boss, Max Shreck. Catwoman abhors the part of herself that was victimized but luckily doesn’t use that as a weapon against other victims. She still has her humanity left.
I don’t pretend to know anything about Michelle other than in her role as Anna Lucia on LOST (Although my 17-year-old cousin thinks the only movies are the Fast & The Furious movies). Anna Lucia was a damaged ex-cop who wound up amongst the unlucky pack of Tailies on the island TV show. Before the island, Anna Lucia had brought vigilante justice down on the guy who had shot her and unwittingly killed her unborn child. As soon as craziness starts happening to her little group on the island, Anna Lucia defaults into protector mode the only way she knows how — by blurring the lines between necessary force and an excuse to shoot everything that moves. And yet, even though she lost her confidence in herself as a police officer, she’s still damn good enough to recognize Goodwin for being the lying murderer that he is.
Michelle Yeoh is the only honest-to-god action star I’ve mentioned so far. She doesn’t just play one onscreen, she IS one. She’s in it, doing the action, fighting the fights, falling the falls.
I first saw her alongside Jackie in Supercop, and then in the regrettable Tomorrow Never Dies, playing probably the most competent and bad-ass of the Bond Girls in any of the movies.
But in the graceful, beautiful Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, you get to see how incredible she is in every single scene. LONG, continuous scenes that show you the range of her skills and talent and don’t try to hobble it together with cuts and fancy angles.
I’ll admit it’s been several years since I’ve seen CTHD, so I won’t discuss the aspects of that particular character in terms of an action star. Michelle Yeoh is an action star that WAYYY supercedes any single role.
Those are your Michelle’s for the day. Anyone else got a Michelle who’s particularly bad-ass that they want to bring up?
And, um … soooo … remember how I told you guys I added comments to my comic? Now I’ve run into the problem where I normally post the latest comic as “last.htm”. So when I go to add a new comic update, I save “last.htm” as the next number of the comic, and save a new update as “last.htm”. Make any sense? So the newest comic is always called “last.htm”. Well, when I tried to do that with the comments, it went haywire, so now it’s putting last week’s comments on this week’s update. I’m not sure how to fix this. Anyone know Disqus?
I consider myself to be someone heavily influenced by story. When I read something, I want to believe it. When I watch something, I feel like I still linger in that world a little bit, long after the credits role. And with characters onscreen, there’s always a piece or two of them that I want to absorb.
Since I announced that this is Kick-Ass Women Week, I’m going to celebrate just a few of the female characters I consider to have been the most inspirational on me growing up. Why? Because, just like when I watched the male action heroes onscreen, I wanted to fill those shoes for a moment and be them. Without crushing fear, doubt, hesitation, or (let’s face it) puny muscles. I wanted to be running, jumping, punching things. Sort of the reverse of Eddie Izzard’s desire as a young lad to be an action transvestite. Instead of dressing up in feminine clothes and running around, I wanted to mimic the male counterparts, put on a tank top, show off my guns. Until I finally found some females I could drool over.
Inspiration #1 - LINDA HAMILTON
Linda Hamilton is pretty much the pinnacle of what women interested in female action heroines look up to. Although she only really existed in the form of Sarah Connor in Terminator 1 and 2, and was pretty average in Terminator 1. In Terminator 2, however, she brought it.
Terminator 2 was when Sarah Connor realized, after being tormented by a robot in the first movie, that this shit had gotten real and she was going to have to learn how to defend herself, her son, and her human race. From the MACHINES. So, naturally, she got herself locked up in a mental institution for telling the truth.
Luckily for us, being locked in a mental institution means Sarah gets to do loads and loads of chin-ups. Otherwise known as the bane of my existence when I was 11 and this movie came out. Hang on - women can DO those? And be casual about it?? After the chin-ups, Sarah treats us to some pretty sweet bad-assery as she breaks out of her cell and nearly the whole institution before her son and Arnold Schwarzenegger come along and ruin everything.
So what if she’s a little nutty, and it takes her a while to remember that her son is not old enough to be a good soldier yet? Look at those arms and look at the fear she instills in those guards. Later on in the movie she gets some guns and grenades and stuff, but this is where I fell in awe with Linda Hamilton. Just a woman, all by her lonesome, cooking up ways to be prepared for the Robot Apocalypse.
Now, don’t you feel like running around barefoot and shoving people who get in your way?
I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a comic about my experiences dealing with self-defense. When I was writing it, I found it really difficult to separate out all of my feelings on the subject. I was trying to stuff the entire scope of my feelings into one 24-page book, which didn’t really work. Consequently, one of the aspects I felt like I had to trim down significantly was which female figures in the media have heavily influenced me to seek out learning more about martial arts, fighting, defense, and all that good stuff.
Therefore, all next week I’m going to zero in on a character a day that I’ve found inspiring in the realm of women kicking ass. Kick-Ass Women Week! And I’d love for all of you out there to chip in with your faves along the way. Naturally, I have way more than five inspirational figures in my head, and I’m sure all of you out there wil have strong opinions on your top five, but let’s start with that number and go from there. If I do a decent job summing up my feelings into five wee blog posts, I might continue on.
And speaking of strong female action characters, last weekend I finally got to see my beloved Hunger Games (and so, as I warned my brother and boyfriend last weekend, I am now only going to talk about that). So SPOILER ALERT AHEAD to all those who haven’t read/seen the Hunger Games and wish to!
I thought as a whole the movie did an amazing job with the amount of time they had to set the scene, prep the emotions of the audience, and throw people headfirst into the action. The first 10 minutes of the film blew me away by instantly grabbing the viewer and throwing them into a bleak, gray, miserable life constantly operating under intense fear. It took only seconds for me to put myself into Prim’s shoes when she got called up to the stage and tucked her “ducktail” shirt into her skirt. Suddenly, I didn’t want to see the rest of the movie, because I couldn’t imagine being brave enough to stand up and volunteer in that situation as Katniss did. (It could’ve also been because the beginning of the movie was incredibly hand-held shaky - something my vertigo-prone self can’t hang with - and I felt nauseous during that first part.)
I liked seeing how Katniss was translated onscreen. Luckily, over the years I’ve given up hoping that every film adaptation of a beloved book will magically depict everything I’d held in my head while reading. I can appreciate each form for its own worth (if done well, anyway). What I found interesting in the movie is that they constantly switch up what Katniss is supposed to “be like” so that you never get a chance to stereotype her. With each new scene, Katniss was bringing out another part of her personality. At the beginning of the film, she was presented to us as someone tough enough to tell her little sister she’d win the games and to warn her mother not to screw up while she was gone, but her brave face also crumbled at telling her best friend to take care of them. Next she becomes someone “unlikable” that has to learn how to put on a public face for an audience of people cheering for her bloody death. She’s thrown into a lovematch with a dude from her town she barely knows and has to allow him to distract from her determination to win. When she’s forced to meet and train with the other tributes, they actually show that she has fear and can fumble under pressure just as easily as the rest of us.
It must’ve been tempting, in a movie where teenagers are forced to kill one another, to make the main character seem invincible so the audience wouldn’t be paralyzed with worry for her. But Katniss in the film is just strong enough. You truly believe she’s capable and she can get out of this, but you recognize the horror and gravity of the situation she’s thrown into and that even her strength could fall far short. I was also worried that they’d make the other tributes cartoonish so you wouldn’t feel bad about hating them and rooting for Katniss and Peeta. But when Clove showed her fear at the hands of Thresh, you realized she was just a young girl who’d had to psych herself up for this moment her whole life. Similarly Cato, who knew since birth this was a possibility and he had to confront it with strength - but his resolve and motivation faltered when he was faced with the reality of that fate.
Of course, one of the turning points in the film is Katniss’s relationship with Rue - she takes her under her wing in the hopes that she can protect one thing, one part of her that will help her to retain a semblance of humanity in the situation. That’s one thing the book delved into a lot - Katniss was constantly afraid of becoming a killing machine, an unfeeling monster. But Katniss also doesn’t flinch when she kills Rue’s murderer. There is no pause, no roar of revenge, and she doesn’t go on a bloody rampage. True, she kills instinctively and without regret, but then Rue’s death flattens her and she can’t help but give in to the wracking sobs. Because she should. Because she can be all of these things at once. Alyssa Rosenberg’s review of Katniss makes this point perfectly - in this moment, we are suddenly exposed to a female action hero who can be strong, vicious, and yet also nurturing and emotional.
Peeta was wonderful. Though I don’t understand why he still has both legs at the end. I thought one of the main points of the book was that they don’t get out unscathed. Maybe I’m being too particular, but in the book, at the end of the Games where Katniss is reduced to dragging Peeta around and killing people-wolves and defending him with her life and you get a real sense for how strong she is in her final struggle. In the movie, everything happened pretty quickly, but Peeta was still very much able to take care of himself. Oh well. It was worth him keeping his leg just to get to see him throw Cato over his shoulder. Like my brother quipped - “Peeta’s like the HULK when he can put people in the flour-bag-throwing position!”
Okay, I’ll stop rambling for the moment. GO READ IT AND SEE IT AND STUFF.
And to celebrate, I’ve decided to add a comments box! Yes, I’m finally now doing what others have been doing with their comics for YEARS.
At first I tried HTML Comment Box, but on a recommendation, I’m giving Disqus a whirl. Check it out and let me know what you think! … And be kind. Clearly these things take me a while to add/perfect. :)
Sometimes it’s difficult creating work outside of school and having to invent your own deadlines. It can be hard to get inspired or get ideas for new projects. I’ve found a way around this stumbling block, and that’s to find a person who’s style/work I admire and decide to silently compete with them.
It doesn’t matter that they have no idea that you’re competing with them, or even any idea you exist. What matters is that, in your mind, you are going to TAKE THEM DOWN.
When I was in college, I had a Photography class with this girl who I thought had great style. Everything she wore seemed put together just-so, so naturally instead of befriending her and asking her where she got her cute duds, I decided to silently up the ante on my own outfits. It was a tough competition - I think I only won once out of every twelve outfits. It was fun, though, and gave me a reason to try. Later, I saw her a couple years after graduating, and she looked kind of frumpy. And I was sad that I no longer viewed her as a competitor.
For the past two springs, I’ve been talking about creating a little vegetable garden in my backyard, but have always been thwarted by weeds, hornets, my knowledge of planting things, insert your excuse here. This spring I’ve been eyeing the spot where I want to make it happen, carefully planning my steps, y’know, holding off until I’m truly ready. Low and behold, suddenly our NEW neighbor has not one, but two roommates, every weekend they’ve been spotted tilling away in their backyard, and now what do you know - BAM, garden. Right next door, in the plot of land that used to look like a lush forest for rat families. They beat me to it!
That’s it, I’m gonna have to pull a Herman Blume. Take them down.