Tag Archive for marvel

Magic in Marvel Movies

Doctor_Strange_6534The internet is buzzing with rumors about the casting of Marvel’s Doctor Strange. While some really great names have been linked with the role of earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, there is another reason that I am thrilled to hear that Stephen Vincent Strange will be appearing on the silver screen.

It means REAL magic will be appearing in a modern comic book movie universe for the first time.

Yes, I know that Loki has been using his hologram-like tricks since his first appearance, but Marvel has been very careful to explain away magic. Asgardians aren’t gods, they are super advanced aliens who occasionally come to earth to pretend to be gods. It’s not a Soul Forge, it’s a Quantum Field Generator. Jane Foster lays it out for us when she explains, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.” While they have been pushing the envelope with each new film, there still hasn’t been anything that has been expressly described as magic. Doctor Strange’s power is completely based on magic and I don’t think that they will risk the wrath of fans to try to explain it away with some advanced science. The technology-ruled Marvel movie universe is officially going to cross the line that they’ve been so careful to tiptoe with Thor.

wonder womanThis is a huge deal when many people claim that some characters, like Wonder Woman, can never appear on screen with their magic-based powers and backstories intact. These people argue that the modern audience won’t accept magic in comic book movies, and so these iconic characters must be altered to fit neatly into the expected norm. It’s refreshing that Marvel doesn’t agree.

This adds a huge number of amazing possibilities for upcoming DC and Marvel movies! Scarlet Witch, Wonder Woman, Zatanna, John Constantine (for real this time), Enchantress, and so many others now have hope of appearing on screen intact. While adding a few technological advances to the Amazons might smooth the transition (maybe a cloaking device hides Paradise Island instead of magic?), I believe that the magical foundation to Wonder Woman’s powers and her magical items can succeed on the big screen. DC’s movies have had a very different tone than the Marvel movies, but I believe that they can build upon the foundations laid by the successful Marvel franchises. The average moviegoer isn’t going to separate the DC and Marvel movies into exclusive categories. If they accept Loki and Doctor Strange in an Avengers movie, they will accept Wonder Woman or John Constantine in a DC movie.

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Batgirl’s Doctor is In: Dr. Andrea Letamendi

swteeAndrea Letamendi is one of the most interesting figures on the convention scene. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and puts her knowledge to geeky use by speaking about the psychology of Superheroes, Science Fiction, and Cosplay. When she isn’t speaking on panels, Andrea works as a researcher at UCLA, does work for Marvel and DC, and creates amazing cosplays of her own.

Kimi: You’re known as @ArkhamAsylumDoc on twitter, do you have a favorite Arkham inmate in the Bat-verse?

Andrea Letamendi: Oh yes, I have many favorite Arkham Baddies. I can’t deny the power that the Joker has psychologically–he is such a mesmerizing and puzzling character because his acts of villainy and destruction do not always seem rationale or explainable. My favorite villain from Gotham’s Rogue Gallery is the Penguin, because of his tragic story. He seems to frequently try to reach out and connect with others, perhaps just looking to be understood, and that is incredibly relatable.

latemendi_batgirlK: You were recently depicted in  Batgirl #16 as Barbara Gordon’s clinical psychologist. Why did Gail Simone immortalize you as part of DC cannon?

AL: Last year, before the Batgirl annual, Mrs. Simone reached out to me to ask some questions about trauma recovery. Essentially she was writing about an important time in Barbara’s life during which she was recovering–both physically and psychologically– from the severe injury from a gunshot wound when the Joker attacked her (See: The Killing Joke). As a Batgirl reader and DC fan, I was more than thrilled to answer anything she wanted to know. My background in treating soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with psychological and physical injuries best prepped me to give anecdotes and explain the relationship between the therapist and the healing client. Little did I know that Mrs. Simone would not only write some of my suggestions into her comic, but also include me as a character! It was truly a surprise– and I feel the honorary gesture was not just toward me but for the psychology community as a whole.

K: In addition to being an adviser for Marvel and DC, you are also well known as a cosplayer. What pushed you to start cosplaying?

AL: I have essentially been cosplaying since I was a teenager, if you count “dressing up as a Jedi character that you made up” cosplay. I’ve always felt drawn to dressing up as characters I love, but it truly wasn’t until I started attending conventions in 2006 that I initially became involved with cosplay and the cosplay community.

tumblr_m8l6lqxB8k1rslvxlo1_500K: Which costume is your favorite to wear to conventions?

AL: My favorite costume is probably my Steampunk Huntress costume, although I have  a Battlestar Galactica costume in the works and it may quickly become one of my favorites!

K: You’ve found a way to bridge the gap between your love of psychology and your love of comics, are you trying to do the same with psychology and cosplay?

AL: I’ve found that my love of cosplay has led me to ask questions like “what draws us to certain characters?” and “why do we feel fulfilled or content when we’re wearing someone else’s clothes?” I also believe there’s something empowering and psychologically inspiring when we dress up as a superhero that we look up to, even if they are fictional. In my mind, it was inevitable that these two universe’s collide, which is why me and my colleague created a Cosplay Survey and plan to continue exploring the motivations, expressions, and backgrounds of cosplayers. I also believe that we can use real-world data to debunk or disconfirm myths about cosplayers. I feel as though psychological science can tell a story that allows people to see how adaptive, healthy, resourceful, and social cosplayers really are.

K: What conflicts have you faced between your geeky hobbies and your career?

AL: Actually, even though I initially felt distanced and a bit misunderstood in my field, I’ve recently discovered that people are generally interested–and even quite inspired–by some of the work I’m doing in the comics and cosplay community. I have to say that I was surprised by this and it reminds me that people just want to get to know you and that the field of Psychology can be particularly open and supportive of these other hobbies. I’d like to think that goes with other social sciences disciplines.

WCpsychLEFTIMG_5276K: Briefly, what have you learned about the Cosplay community through your surveys and your Psychology of Cosplay panels?

AL: We have learned that cosplayers represent a very diverse and social group. I think the single most important thing we have learned is that we simply do not have any evidence that cosplayers share any one feature or characteristic beyond their passion for costuming and performing. Stereotypes about cosplayers, therefore, are not currently supported by anything other than bullies on the internet.

You can visit Andrea’s blog at Underthemaskonline.com or follow her on Twitter @ArkhamAsylumDoc.

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Going Digital: The Future of Comics

I love my local comic shop. The owner is a great guy, who cusses like a sailor and loves to chat about old story lines. He is one of the few people who can actually follow what I’m talking about when I start to ramble about Justice League Europe in the ’90s, or the old “New Teen Titans”. However, in recent months I have started buying most of my comics digitally. This isn’t because I dislike comic stores, quite the opposite, but it is so much more convenient to buy online. I can curl up in bed at 11:30pm and buy the latest editions of my favorite comics. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about storing them. The storage part is HUGE! I hate throwing comics away and already have hundreds of plastic covered gems filling my bookshelves and boxes. Digital comics take up no space, but I can reread them whenever the fancy strikes me.

I’m sort of a traitor.

However, the comic industry has to evolve to keep up with the times. We are moving into the age of digital everything. A good comparison is the music industry. Many people claim that iTunes is killing the music industry, but it’s not dying, it’s evolving! The music labels are definitely not hurting for cash, and small bands (like mine!!) have a chance to sell their music on a global scale, all thanks to digital distribution. There is an adjustment, and unfortunately, retail stores can suffer. But in order to continue growing their fan-base, comic companies are going to have to continue to move into the digital realm.

The first step that the comic book companies need to take? Agree on a universal format that can be easily bought and read with programs like the Newsstand app. Having a separate app for each comic company is really a joke. Can you imagine if each record label had their own app that you had to buy and listen to music through? For god’s sake! I couldn’t listen to “Weird Al” Yankovic and Johnny Cash without switching apps! I believe that the comic industry would increase their sales if people were able to easily subscribe to their favorite titles and have them show up in the same app. The convenience might tempt people to try a comic who normally would never visit a store or download a comic-specific app. I’ve found amazing musicians buy buying a single song, just to try them out. The same would happen with comics. The comic companies could even include ads, like in current printed titles, to insure that they made a profit. They’d also save money by eliminating the need for them to maintain their own apps. Another perk would be that it would create a wonderful platform for independent comics to reach a much larger market. Everybody wins.

With the incorporation of programs similar to iCloud or iTunes Match, a digital customer could access their comics anywhere that had an internet connection. Your entire comic collection at your fingertips! How amazing would that be? Bus running late? Pull up your favorite DC title. Bored at work? Read X-men on your desktop, and still look like you are working! Did you only get through half of Batgirl before you left for class? Pull it up on your iPhone during the lecture. I love rereading old comics from the 80s and 90s and having them only a few taps away would be amazing! Convenience and mobility are the major perks of the digital age, and the comic industry is missing out.

Store owners and hardcore printed comics fans will disagree with me, but in a world where music and bookstores are closing at alarming rates, the influence of digital distribution is undeniable. I’d rather see the industry change than have it die completely. Over 19% of the US population now owns a tablet of some kind and millions more are being sold each month. I think it’s pretty obvious where the future lies for comics.

EDIT: A few people have mentioned ComiXology to me, and they have a very valid point. ComiXology has many of the perks I mentioned above, but ComiXology does not actually sell comics… they sell the license to view comics from their servers. It’s a really great option if you aren’t the type to reread comics, but if you are an archive reader like me there are some drawbacks. If they lose their license with a company like DC, they’d have no choice but to remove those comics from their servers… and your collection. (Thanks Trent for bringing this up!)

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Debut of Sif & WonderCon

What a crazy weekend! I am still recovering and it’s Thursday. Seriously, who’s idea was it to have my Irish music persona and cosplay persona collide? Two days of cosplaying at a convention with a concert and night of heavy drinking in between is not the best idea. Fun, but not the best idea.

Sif debuted at WonderCon and was a huge success. I was asked to pose for more pictures than ever before and got more complements than ever before, despite the fact that most people couldn’t identify my character. Oh well, they still appreciated the craftsmanship and the overall impact. I consider this to be my most successful cosplay to date.

There are many reasons for this, but here is a list of the biggest differences between Sif and my previous cosplays:

- I was the only Sif at WonderCon (I’m pretty sure) and this made me stand out. It also helps that I was nearly 6ft of bright red woman warrior. I did not blend in.

- I finally invested in a good quality makeup kit. It made a huge difference in the photos and the quality of the images that were taken at this convention. I felt a little ridiculous putting it on the first day, but the impact it had on my cosplay was undeniable. I looked good the morning after St. Patrick’s Day! I can’t  even begin to explain how amazing that is!

- I’m getting better at posing and working the convention floor. Despite my experience working at Renaissance Faire and performing on stage, it’s taken me a while to get comfortable as a cosplayer at conventions. I still have things to work on, but I’m getting much more comfortable.

- I picked a character very suited to my body type and physical features. This is always a smart move with cosplayers. A woman as tall as I am can look awkward in group pictures, but when you’re supposed to be a Norse goddess it makes more sense. I’m working on some cosplays for San Diego ComicCon that are not in my body type, we will see how that goes…

- My outfit is friggin’ leather. That’s just stinkin’ impressive and badass. Not to brag, but it is!

I still have improvements to make to this outfit, but overall I am incredibly pleased with how everything turned out. I’m hoping to have a photo shoot with this outfit very soon and will be posting a gallery once I finish collecting all the images off the internet. If you have a good picture, please email it to me! I’d love to see it!

I did discover that this is the best cosplay to wear in cold or rainy weather. It was POURING rain on Saturday. The cloak is very resistant to water and isn’t harmed by the rain! The hood flips up to protect my leather headpiece and makeup. Even the boots are actually pleather rain boots! It was unplanned, but it worked out very well on this stormy WonderCon weekend.

A goddess is not afraid of cold weather!

WonderCon was a very fun convention, and I hope it returns to Anaheim again next year. There is a bigger variety of vendors at this show since the booths are probably much cheaper than at SDCC. The crowds are also much smaller. Everyone says it’s like SDCC was 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t know. I love the current Comic-Con for all it’s crazy size and commercialism, but I really enjoyed WonderCon as well. The parking was a mess. The traffic in the whole area was terrible and the shuttle buses were a mess because of it. We spent a very large percent of Sat dealing with that situation. Not fun. I highly recommend getting a hotel in walking distance, or if you wait until the last minute like I did, get a hotel with a shuttle. Sunday was very much improved because of my Saturday night hotel stay and the parking/shuttle it provided. That was my only real problem with this convention, and it was made worse by the rain. I hope they can come up with some productive solutions for next year to keep the traffic flowing more smoothly.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend that I will never forget! I met and got to spend time with so many incredible people and revel in my two favorite pastimes, performing (cosplaying and an MWOW concert) and drinking. What could be better?

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WonderCon Countdown: Sif’s Belt and Skirt

WonderCon has arrived in Southern California! While this has caused many Northern California people sorrow, I am happy to have an event before SDCC to debut my Sif cosplay! There is only one problem… it’s not done yet. I have made a lot of progress and will be able to finish tonight, but sleep may be sacrificed. Everything is looking great and I am very excited!

Belt
Sif’s belt is a trademark of her costume. No matter how many times she is redesigned, she almost always has a prominent, geometric belt buckle in the center of her abdomen. I started with a faux leather corset belt that I got on Ebay for $6.99. I really liked the pattern the sections made and how it added texture. Plus, it’s stretchy without being spandex. Bonus points! The biggest problem is that I wanted the pattern in the belt to accent and frame the Sif buckle, which meant I had to move the buckles already on the belt. I removed them with a seam ripper and restitched them on the opposite side of the belt which would be on my back. I stitched the front together to prep it for the Sif buckle.

The buckle was actually much easier than I expected. I measured and cut the basic shape out of an old teaching poster I had. It was stronger than poster board, but not as thick as cardboard… plus I already had it. I’m not planning on teaching Kindergarten again anytime soon, so it’s not a huge loss. I cut up the rest of the red leather purse that I used to make straps for my leg armor, and covered the polygon (see? I’m such a teacher…) by gluing it and then stitching the edges. I was happy that my new sewing machine could handle the laminated poster board and leather.

Finished belt!

The white boarders on the belt were the most time consuming piece, just because they needed to be perfect. I traced the finished, red leather polygon on the back of my white leather hide and measured out the designs. Then I carefully cut out each section so the lines would be perfect and keep the geometric look. Once it was cut I sewed white stitches 1/8th inches from the edges of the white. These served no structural purpose, but added texture and gave the illusion that the white was stitched onto the red. Then I carefully used barge cement to glue the white onto the red. This was the most stressful part, because if I messed up I’d have to start ALL over again. I also had to glue the white leather on perfectly so the lines and angles would stay straight. Luckily, non of the leather had stretched, and it ended up looking great.

Skirt

Finished Sif Skirt (top will be worn under corset)

The skirt was fairly simple, but time consuming. Lots of measuring and cutting very straight lines. I had it basically put together, but realized that it looked like cheap plastic from even just a few feet away. I decided that adding metal studs would give the leather a little more weight and help give it more texture. I carefully added them to each strip of the skirt. This is pretty challenging since the leather was very prone to wrinkling under the studs and the wrinkles showed up a lot on the white. Once this was finished, I put the waist band on over my corset, inside out. I than taped (you don’t want to use pins on leather because they leave holes) each strip in place to get the desired look. It’s important to do this with the corset on, because the measurements will be very off otherwise. Finally, I sewed everything down and added Velcro to close it at the top. I’d usually use laces to close a leather skirt, but it’s not going to show and I wanted it to stay as flat as possible under the corset.

To Do
I still need to finish the garter belt that will hold up my leg armor, and my sword belt tonight. My first try at making a cosplay sword ended in a very unremarkable, heavy sword that flakes paint at every turn, so I will be wearing my backup LARP sword this weekend. It’s very lightweight and doesn’t distract from the outfit. The armor will be the most difficult part, so I hope the concept for the garter belt works. Wish me luck!

I’ll be posting pictures from WonderCon and from the Merry Wives’ St. Patrick’s Day concert this weekend, so check out my facebook page or twitter feed to see them!

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Sif Cape

SifComicSif is an Asgardian goddess in Marvel comics, and is based on a beautiful (blond!) goddess in Norse myth. Her current costume pays tribute to this with a red cape adorned with large amounts of white fur.

As with all my cosplays, I wanted to make her cape as realistic and functional as possible. This meant changing it into a cloak so that it could actually do some good in the frigid Norse climate where her myth originated.  It also meant finding a use for the furry shoulder pads, which seem very functional but would keep the wearer much warmer if they were located on the inside of the cloak. Once again, I fell back on historical costuming for the answer.

The Kinsale Cloak is a traditional design that originated in Ireland. It is very popular with historical reenactors because of it is a very attractive garment and is incredibly functional. It is a lined cloak that will keep you very warm, but its trademark piece is the hood that hangs down around the shoulders when not covering the wearer’s head. I decided that I’d get the desired Sif look by lining the Kinsale cloak hood with fur, then wearing it around my shoulders.Plus, I already had the pattern. Huzzah!

I am very happy with the results… ignore my exhausted face and pajama pants.

 

 

This was the first time I had worked with (fake) fur. It was challenging, but I was lucky enough to get some pointers from very experience friends.

- Cutting – Don’t cut through all the hair! It will ruin the texture and make your edges look bad. Flip it over and make shallow cuts to the fabric at the base of the hairs.

- When sewing, pin the hairs flat away from your seam allowances before you pin pieces together. Yes, this takes a LOT of pins, but it keeps you from sewing the hairs into your seams and messing up the cool look of your fur. It may seem time consuming, but it will save you a lot of time later and really improve the look of the whole garment.

The fur will get EVERYWHERE, but once you finish off your garment it *should* stop shedding since it should only be losing hair around the edges where you cut. Be sure you have a good quality lint roller on hand to clean up your garment after you finish.

I have about a month until WonderCon, and I still have to finish Sif’s belt, skirt, and sword. Those are all fairly simple pieces that are very similar to previous projects, so I might actually be done early. Amazing!

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DC Survey & Women – Pay Up or Shut Up

Women, do you buy a comic book every month?

If your answer was yes, wonderful! If you said no, then you are part of the problem with women in comics. It’s time for women to pay up, or shut up.

Most women don’t read comics. It’s a fact. Before you start disagreeing, think of all your female friends. How many of them REALLY buy a comic every month? More specifically, how many follow the same titles from month to month? When I realistically count out my female friends who regularly buy monthly comic books… I get the number zero. I am the only one. This is especially sad because I hang out with a ton of geek girls. They can tell you all about their favorite characters, buy tons of merchandise, cosplay these characters, but for some reason they don’t buy their favorite character’s comic each month. This doesn’t lessen their geek-cred, but it does point out that most women are apathetic when it comes to regular comic buying.

THIS IS NOT DC’s FAULT!! They marketed the hell out of the New 52. Do you really think an ad in Cosmo would have made the difference? You can try to blame the way they write female characters all you like, but they have AT LEAST five current titles with powerful, well written female leads. Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Batwoman, and Huntress are all great books and the women in them kick ass. If you are boycotting DC because of Starfire, Voodoo, or another character that upset you, you are only shooting all of us in the foot. You are simply affirming their current assumption that women don’t buy comics. Pick a book, just one, that you DO like and buy it each month. Seriously. It’s $2.99 and you can even buy it digitally so you don’t have to leave your couch or computer chair.

The reality is that the large comic book companies aren’t going to change until women are a viable market. To become a viable market, we have to buy comics! Money talks and has more influence over any company than all the blog posts and tweets in the world. Businesses do not produce product for a demographic that they aren’t sure will buy said product. SAYING women are a marketable audience does nothing when decades of comic sales say the opposite. We have to prove to them that they will make a profit on us. We do that by buying comics.

 

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Sif Update

MY HEADPIECE ARRIVED!!!! WOOHOO! Ahem… but more on that at the end of this post…

My Sif cosplay project is coming along nicely. It seems there are never enough hours in the day, but I’m checking things off my list whenever I can. I am getting more and more excited about this project as I see it coming together. I really resemble Sif physically and think this could really be an attention getter at WonderCon and ComicCon.

The leg armor is still being reshaped, slowly but surely. I have a few adjustments to make on it, but it’s looking better and better! I’m still deciding what buckle design to go with, there are so many choices!

    

I have all of my fabrics and have started cutting. I’m very happy with my choices, but again, I’m stumped. I love the fabric that I got for Sif’s cape, but I can’t decide if I want to line it with white or red. The red is more accurate for the character, but the white will make the rest of the outfit stand out more. The comic geek and the costumer inside me are at war over this. Right now the comic geek is winning. We will see…

Top to bottom: Fur for Sif's cape, red yummy fabric for Sif's cape, white leather for Sif's skirt, red imitation leather for different cosplay

The big news is that my Sif headpiece arrived!! I'm so excited! It's always very nerve-wracking for me to have pieces commissioned. I'm a huge perfectionist and don't like handing control and money over to someone else. I procrastinated for months before I finally bit the bullet and got in touch with a leather craftsman from the SCA. I originally asked for white because I assumed it would be easier to get than silver. WRONG. Evidently, silver leather paint is easier and lasts longer than white. So with very specific directions and many emails in the last few weeks I signed the most important piece of this cosplay off to a total stranger.

And damn am I happy with the results!

An Asgardian goddess is born!

I'm taking pictures as I tackle the cloak/cape. I'll post info on that when there is more to see.

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Sif’s Leg Armor

My first cosplay of 2012 is going to be Lady Sif, lover of Thor in the Marvel Universe. Although I’m a DC fangirl usually, I’ve always liked the concept of Sif and am very similar to her physically. Also, Jaimie Alexander (who played Sif in the Thor movie) was at my house for a photo shoot a few months ago. I took it as a sign from the Asgardian gods that I should cosplay Sif this year.

I will be using the red leather corset that I made for my Wonder Woman outfit. The most challenging piece is the leg armor, so I started on that first. I bought a pair of dirt-cheap, $30 tassets from an online store.  For anyone who doesn’t know what a tasset is, they are worn like this:

and here is what Sif looks like:

Not exactly what I needed, but a good start. The first thing I needed to fix was the color. The tassets I got were imitation (CHEAP) leather with many imperfections and this horrible cherry red color. That is not the Sif I’m going for. I want to make a realistic, leather clad warrior, not a cherry red snow bunny with a sword.

Step 1: Fix the color. I used shoe dye to change the color and then used shoe polish to bring out the imperfections and darken the edges. This aged the material and made it shine like real leather. The original color is on the right and the new look is on the left. I have since done another coat of the shoe polish, so they are even darker now.

Step 2: Add straps and remold the “leather” so they will strap to my legs like Sif’s armor. Tassets are flat, but I needed mine to strap to my legs and be form fitting. First thing I did was visit my friendly local Goodwill store and buy a leather purse that matched my re-purposed tassets. This purse’s straps and buckles became the straps that will hook around the back of my leg and hold the armor on me. Not bad for $4.99.  To remold the leather I sprayed it with rubbing alcohol (best thing to stretch or change the shape of colored leather) and wrapped them closed with strips of fabric. Then I shoved them between my couch cushions for the night to make sure they stayed curled in a leg shape. I sprayed them about 3 times before I went to bed.

And… DONE!

Ok, not totally done, but very close. I think I will have to use the rest of the purse to create a garter belt to help support their weight before I finish the costume.

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