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2015 CON CALENDAR 
OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
Seattle, WA, October 10 - 11, 2015 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

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Friday
Oct022015

An Eulogy to Nintendo's Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata was not your conventional gaming executive. When E3 rolls around, I typically ignore the suits, the hosts, and the CEOs from all of the other companies, as I know they are just marketing pigeons trying to hype up some product. And that's okay – it's a part of the business, and there are some amazing moments that have spurned from such notions.

But Iwata wasn't cut from the same cloth. He was genuine in his enthusiasm for this medium. When he got on stage or on camera, there was something about him that transcended the presentation; a heart beating for the power of video games. Unfortunately, that heart ceased a few weeks ago. Iwata succumbed to an apparent resurgence of the tumor that attacked his bile duct in 2013, and it was a shock to just about everyone, Nintendo included. I don't know if Iwata necessarily knew if he was relapsing, and I don't know what Nintendo's next step will be in determining how to move forward. But that's not the point of this essay. I want to focus on what he devoted himself to through the majority of his tragically short 55 years: the games.

bfBalloon Fight is one of my favorite old-school arcade games. It has an incredible precision that Joust and other contemporaries lacked, and I liked the quirky design of the characters and feared the sinister fish that swallowed up anyone foolish enough to tempt it. Iwata programmed the game so tightly that Shigeru Miyamoto suggested consulting Iwata about how to handle the task of swimming in Super Mario Bros.! Iwata himself remembered that "one thing I recommended was that instead of calculating the character's position using integers, they should also calculate it using decimal points, thereby doubling the precision. In this way, calculating gravity, buoyancy, acceleration and deceleration all become more precise and the movements look smoother."

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Monday
Sep282015

“Descender” from Image Comics

“Descender: Tin Stars,” vol. 1, September 2015, Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Illustrator: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer/Designer: Steve Wands

Image Comics has really been hitting it out of the ballpark lately. Outside of the superhero genre, which is owned by Marvel and DC, Image has the corner on sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural. They have so many new title releases I can’t possibly get them all, even though they’re cheaper than shoes.

Descender, which began in March 2015, is a sci-fi series about man verses machine written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. But don’t let any of the clichés about this familiar sci-fi theme paint any pre-cog pictures.

"Descender," issue 1, March 2015, page 8, Dr. Quon and the megacosmThe megacosm, a population of nine species across nine planets, is attacked by nine moon-sized robots that appear from nowhere. As a result, humans turn against machines and the rock star of robotics, Dr. Jin Quon.

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Monday
Sep142015

Better as a Whole Than in Parts


One of the most important, basic human needs outside of the physical is the need to be included. It doesn’t take a room full of psychologists to prove that as a child if you’re not accepted into your own family it has long lasting social, psychological, and emotional affects.

As we mature, familial belonging can no longer satiate us so we set out into the world to find our place. We are individuals but we must know we belong, that we fit, that our existence is approved.

Social media might meet this essential need for a small percentage of people who can’t find inclusion anywhere else, but it’s a poor substitute. In the long run, the negative impact of social media is much, much worse than the holes it fills.

Social media provides so much affirmation that people jump into a community without finding out whether it’s based on truth, is a positive contribution to society, or whether it truly represents them as a person. For the price of an app, we sell our character for a retweet.

Selfie celebrities aren’t the worst thing to come out of social media (seriously, they’re not) but the prolific and organized trolls, shame-bots, and half-assed journalists.

There is no one who celebrates the freedom of expression and the broad and accessible audience the internet provides for creative endeavors more than me. But it is being used for evil, not good.

Social media provides immediate gratification and it is a white water rapids ride that never ends. There are endless band wagons to jump on and a globe of faceless people to shame.

Inclusion is so important that, at the same time these negative groups include you, they are based on exclusion. Public shaming is a highly effective way to make sure someone is outcast. Calling her a fake disqualifies her. Labeling him a misogynist sacrifices him to the validation gods. Demeaning her contributions entrenches your position.

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Monday
Aug312015

Books of Summer

In lieu of any new summer television worth watching, I’ve filled the gaps with reading. My choices are all over the map–memoir, non-fiction, humor, sci-fi, thriller, mystery—which exemplifies that summer state of mind.

The Death Defying Doctor Mirage by Jen Van Meter

To start the summer off I went with this beautiful trade paperback illustrated by Robert De La Torre and written by Jen Van Meter.

Doctor Mirage is an existing storyline but I had no trouble picking this up and getting a great surreal and supernatural story.

Dr. Shan Fong, Doctor Mirage, can see and speak to ghosts and has some supernatural hocus pocus. She’s hired by a very wealthy occultist to release him for a demonic binding but, just because someone has the ability to enter the supernatural realms, doesn’t mean they want to.

90 Church: Inside America’s Notorious First Narcotics Squad by Dean Unkefer

This is a stunning memoir written by Agent Unkefer who was part of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the mid-1960s. A specialized unit dedicated to drug crimes was a new concept so the methods for this type of enforcement were still being figured out. The approach taken by the newly formed squad was to fight fire with fire and they became more feared than the mafia.

Forensics by Val McDermid

Still focusing on crime and the macabre I picked up this non-fiction book on the science of forensics. McDermid is a best-selling crime novelist and, in Forensics, she’s categorized her extensive research by specialty--from Entomology and Pathology to Digital Forensics and courtroom procedure.

The thigh muscle is the most stable tissue in the body, making it a good place to find traces of poison.

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Monday
Aug242015

Reliving My Childhood Through Comics

 

"Mad Max: Fury Road - Furiosa," No. 1, Vertigo Oak City Comics Show is a one-day comic book show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Or it can also be called the fastest way to blow your allowance. Set in the Raleigh Hilton, this fairly new show offers comic fans quite a variety: a huge vendor room, artist tables, cosplay, and expert panels. Tommy Lee Edwards, one of the creators of Oak City Comic Show and the cover artist for the new Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa1, was there so I got my issue 1 signed. <squee>

For comic book vendors I am a dream customer because I’m so new to comics I don’t know what’s what. Everything is shiny to me. What captures my attention most often are the titles associated with TV shows from my childhood. It just goes to show, there’s nothing new—books, comics, TV shows, and films have been cross marketing for years.

ISIS

In one of our podcasts, Regina and I shared our favorite classic female television characters. One of mine is Isis from the 1975 live-action series. I shouldn’t have been surprised to come across an Isis­2 title but I was. Although the artwork is not as good as in the bigger titles, it’s impressive how respectfully she’s drawn.

John Carter, Warlord of Mars"John Carter, Warlord of Mars," No. 1

Created over 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is a mysterious immortal southerner transported to Mars. As soon as I saw issue 1 of Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars3, I knew I had to have it. Later I found an equally good copy of issues 2 and 3. <squee again>

The complexity and detail of the 38 year-old illustrations and stories is mesmerizing. And the scantily clad women who are constantly getting kidnapped are quaintly amusing.

Ms. Marvel

The biggest bonus of the day was getting issues 24, 75, 8, 106, and 19 of Ms. Marvel. Issue 1 will probably always elude me but I’m thrilled to have even part of the first series of one of my favorite comic heroes. This series is action packed with Ms. Marvel at the forefront of it all.

There’s a lot of study and commentary done on how females are treated in comics. It is thoroughly intriguing to me to read the actual publications and make these discoveries myself. For instance, somewhere between issue 7 and issue 10, they decided to color in Ms. Marvel’s midriff. Her breasts got a little pointier but she still maintained that super stylish winged haircut we all wanted in the 70s.

"Ms. Marvel," No. 1 "Ms. Marvel," No. 10

And don’t be mistaken—the guys have had plenty of their own well poised moments.

"Logan's Run," No. 2 7

"Kung-Fu Fighter," No. 2 8

The Toxic Avenger9"The Toxic Avenger," No. 11

This was purchased for purely sentimental reasons. The Toxic Avenger was one of my husband’s favorite movies. He rented it one evening back when we were dating. Being a lot more squeamish then, I mostly just listened to the movie from behind the couch while my then boyfriend and best friend laughed at me and the dreadful movie. The scene that got to me was when the Avenger lowers a milkshake churner into a guy’s mouth that he’s filled with ice cream, which you can see here in the trailer.

If the show hadn’t ended, I would still be there, flipping through long boxes filled with the long discarded pulps from someone else’s childhood. Discovering these stories through a new format lets me relive them in a new way. The story is what I’m collecting, not the book.


1Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa, Vol. 1, No. 1, August 2015, DC Comics, Vertigo, writer George Miller, artists Mark Sexton, Tristan Jones, Szymon Kudranski, colorist Michael Spicer, letterer Clem Robins, cover art Tommy Lee Edwards.

2ISIS, Vol. 1, No. 1, Oct. – Nov. 1976, “Scarab—The Man Who Would Destroy,” A DC TV Comic, National Periodical Publications, Inc., writer Denny O’Neil, artists Rick Estrada and Wally Wood.

3John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 1977, “The Air-Pirates of Mars. Chapter 1,” Marvel Comics Group, writer Marv Wolfman, artists Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum, colorist Glynis Wein, letterer Joe Rosen.

4Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 2, “Enigma of Fear,” February 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Gerry Conway, artists John Buscema and Joe Sinnott, colorist Don Warfield, letterer Joe Rosen.

5Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 7, “Nightmare,” July 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Chris Claremont, artists Jim Mooney and Joe Sinnott, colorist Don Warfield, letterer Joe Rosen.

6Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 10, “Cry, Cry Murder—Modok!”, October 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Chris Claremont, artists Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer, colorist Phil Rachelson, letterer John Costanza.

7Logan’s Run, Vol. 1, No. 2, February 1977, “Part Two,” Marvel Comics Group, writer David Craft, artist George Perez, colorist Klaus Janson, letterer Joe Rosen.

8Kung-Fu Fighter, Vol. 1, No. 2, June-July 1975, “A Dragon Fights Alone!”, DC, National Periodical Publications, writer Denny O’Neil, artists Jim Starlin and Alan Weiss, inker Al Milgrom.

9The Toxic Avenger, Vol. 1, No. 11, February 1992, “Nukin’ Weasels,” Marvel Comics, writer Doug Moench, artists Rod Ramos and Ual Mayerik, colorist Bob Sharen, letterer Rick Parker.

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