Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sketch Dump!

So I'm going a bit crazy with some sketching the last few nights, and figured I'd share some of what I've been working on! 

I've simultaneously got both colors and the background sketch going on with my Derby Dazzler vs. Hellfire Club commission. (See earlier progress shots here!) The guy who got it has been super-cool with letting me do what I want at my own pace. Commissions for portraits, which I usually do, are fun and rewarding but they're usually for a specific deadline (birthday/wedding) and some people can get very touchy over likenesses. And revisions, revisions, revisions. Oye. But yeah, people seem to really dig my versions of comic characters, now if only *someone* would give me a job doing that. 

 This is the kinda stuff I want to do more of. <3
MOAR X-Men Redesigns:

More X-Men redesigns. This is alt.model Psylocke in her British body,
I'll be drawing her Japanese body as well. 

Another X-Redesign: DJ Nightcrawler.
I'm also in 10-week crunch time for my most favorite/important comic convention of the year: beloved Heroescon in Charlotte, NC! YAY!! Last year was my first time and I had an absolute BLAST! Now I'm coming back and I'll have Little Asian Sweatshop and Maria Danalakis in tow as we vend from our BIG AWESOME GIANT BOOTH! Woot!! 
I'm hoping by the time Heroes rolls around the Sweatshop and I will have a prototype of the *DRESSES* we plan to start making together that will feature fabric designed by me! I'm figuring out how to make an omnidirectional fabric swatch to get printed now- and drawing little pinup girls and accompanying elements. My first fabric is going to be luchadora (Mexican wrestlers) themed. I know- random! But it's definitely fun to draw! Hopefully even more fun to wear! So excited about this!

A fierce little luchadora.

More luchadoras and some ideas for elements, like a bell.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things I Love Thursday SPECIAL EDITION: Sleep No More

(I know! I haven't done a TILT entry in awhile- I apologize. But this is definitely something I couldn't *NOT* do an entry for.) 

Sleep No More is this off-Broadway play/haunted house/experience in New York City that is described as 'immersive theater', which sounds totally artsy-fartsy but is actually awesome. The actual 'play' you are seeing is a mash-up of MacBeth and Alfred Hitchcock, but instead of the actors speaking lines there's interpretive dancing and acrobatics and screaming and grunting. It's a lot cooler than it sounds, trust me. What it really reminds me of is stuff like Dark City and Disney's The Haunted Mansion, which are two things I adoooore. As an audience member you have free reign (sorta...) of this giant 'Hotel' that is composed of 6 floors and like over a 100 rooms or something. But you have to wear this Plague Doctor-y mask (very Eyes Wide Shut) and are not permitted to talk within the hotel. Except for in the Manderley Bar, which is like if SNM were Pac-Man and the audience members were ghosts, the Manderley would be that little box in the middle. So you wander the halls of this giant expanse of a hotel, and there's sections of rooms that look like the creepy inside of a house, a Londony street, a graveyard, an abandoned looney bin, and you look for actors to follow or dig around in drawers or just wander and take in the amazing production value. The lighting, the sound and the set designs are all top notch. I would absolutely love to see the control room of that show, like the people who run SNM should get ahold of one of those techie cable shows and have a Behind the Scenes special or something. God that'd be cool. But yeah, there's lots of gleaming reviews of the show and it's running til June now and you should try and check it out if you can. Fortunately I'm local to NYC and can see it kinda-sorta whenever I want (it's expensive tho!) and have gotten to see it 3 times now- the more you see it and know what instances to look for the better your experience. You can book tickets here at the site. But there's this whole cult following of it- message boards, tumblrs, long meandering blog threads. Just start Googling around, you'll find all sorts of neat shit.

Don't you love how if you wanna talk about a Sleep No More experience you've gotta send 20 minutes setting it up for the people who've never heard of it? Haha, the other SNM addicts get me. 
Ok, but what I *really* want to talk about is my 1:1 bait-and-switch experience with Hecate the Red Witch and burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese. That's what's really cool about SNM, everyone's story is different. Mine is kinda extra-awesome though. Just sayin'.

First, some mood music:

Ok, so I went to Sleep No More with my friend Paul who came up from Baltimore to come see the show with me on a Saturday a little over a month ago. His first time, my third. My first time I had no 1:1, the second time I got the 1:1 with the Nurse in the hedge maze. I'm a huge, HUGE fan of the show. Paul, being a typical first timer, stuck to me like glue the first 45 minutes and I walked him around showing him the coolest rooms to come back to and eventually shook him while one of the actors went tearing down the street scene. Cuz all the cool shit happens when you're by yourself. We were one of the last groups in on the final Saturday show of the night, so it was pretty packed. Stairways got clogged, people got pushed, I was starting to get pissy because alot of the crowd was very douchey. So I went to Hecate's bar/lair since it's one of the places that's always pretty cool and Hecate is always fun to watch. I go in and she's just finishing her lip-synch to 'Is That All There Is?' to about 20 people and starts laughing and hanging off some of the audience members, then stops at me and this other girl and the very end of the crowd closest to the door to the alley. It's become obvious she's looking for a 1:1 now and her and I lock eyes. The other girl got visibly uncomfortable with her being so close and kind of shrunk away. Hecate looks me over and smiles and grabs my hand and we continue holding each others gaze as she starts leading me to the alley door she'll frequently disappear into. My hearts in my throat. Everyone starts following us out into the alley. She leads me to the door and whispers in my ear 'Wait here...' all sexy and throaty, then disappears into the door, which is bathed in this red light. The other girl who didn't get picked is next to me again, impatiently tries to turn the knob and gets stopped by a Black Mask. No one else heard Hecate say 'Wait here', so eventually people start filing out of the alley, leaving me alone with the Black Mask outside Hecate's door for like 45 seconds. So the door opens again, but it's this dark blue light and a woman that's not Hecate whose face I can't see (guess whoooo???) holds her perfectly manicured hand out to mine and I take it. This woman, with her back to me, leads me into what looks like an old-timey dressing room. I can't see her face, I already notice her hair is black and perfectly vintage styled and the hand she's leading me with has this amazingly sparkly bracelet I'm transfixed by. Also, I'm rather tall, like 5'8" and I was wearing flats, and she came up to my nose. So, she leads me into the room, slowly turns around and it is revealed: DITA VON TEESE and I are going to have a 1:1. HOLY SHIT. Like, my eyes must have been GIGANTIC. So she smiles and reaches up and takes my mask off and says "It's you." And me, all sweat-faced and shiny from running and wide-eyed whisper back "Holy crap, it's *you*." She smiles knowingly at me and leads me over to a couch, coffee table and stool, and motions for me to sit on the stool as she sits on the couch right next to me. Like, knee-to-knee. Alone in this room. With Dita. Who I am a big fan of. Yeah, so I'm silently flipping out. My mind's going a mile a minute. I'm like hitting the 'record' button on my brain to try and take everything in. And OMG, she is SO PRETTY. Photos actually do not do her justice. Plus I mean I'm seeing her under perfect sepia lighting and slight fog and fucking Hitchcock music, so it's like the ultimate Dita viewing conditions.

She's even PRETTIER in real life. 
(And this is where everything crazy happens and I might have some memory fail. It was A LOT to process, so bear with me.) 
Dita pours a cup of tea from the elaborate tea set on the coffee table, puts the cup and saucer in my hands, then holds my hands holding the cup. She then starts to tell me a story about 7 ships that were sent out to sea, but one was lost. She reaches over to the table and pulls out a tiny folded paper ship and sets it on top of the tea in the teacup. Meanwhile, in amazing SNM fashion, the lighting is slowly, slowly changing from sepia to bluish grey and the music is fading out to the sounds of the ocean and ship bows bending. (I swear if SNM doesn't get any awards I'll be so mad.) Dita places her hands back on mine and says that the ship that was lost fell upon a storm, and starts moving our hands so that the tea in the teacup bobs the tiny boat up and down. The storm noises become louder. Thunder cracks. I'm not sure to look at Dita or look at the tea. It's so damn tense. She says something about how the ship sinks, and pushes the boat down into the tea with her finger. She then sets the cup and saucer back down on the table, takes out the wet paper ship and mashes it into my palm, all the while looking me directly in the eye and says gravely 'All has changed and will never be the same.' (I think. I'm freaking out by now. That's what I heard, at least.) 
Hecate scared the SHIT outta me.
MEEEANWHILE, Hecate had at some point slipped in the room unbeknownst to me, and comes around from behind me sliding her hand down my arm with this giant psychotic smile, scaring the ever loving shit out of me. Like, I HAD to of jumped. My face must have been priceless. I think Hecate put her finger to my lips to go 'Shhhhh…' then holds out her hand to me and loudly says 'All has changed and will never be the same.', because the storm/thunder/ship noises are really loud now. There might have even been wind. They start repeating 'All has changed and will never be the same.' over and over, and Hecate motions me her hand and I take it. She leads me into a pitch black closet and she comes in with me, hanging off me and cackling and spinning me around and someone sprayed me with water like it was the ocean and there were some strobes like lightning and I honestly thought 'This must be what going insane is like.' and even I started laughing with Hecate and going 'Holy fuck I'm gonna die!'. Then, everything stopped. Black silence. Hecate immediately backed up off me, I felt my mask hurriedly get put back on my face and I was pushed out a secret door at the back of the closet into Hecate's other room where she keeps all the flowers and herbs. I broke the silence rule to breathlessly exclaim 'WHAT THE FUCK.' And leaned against the back wall for a little bit the process everything. I realized I lost my fascinator on my mask and kinda shrugged it off as a sacrifice to the 'Story Gods'. Fortunately it was homemade and is easy to recreate. Maybe Hecate has it? But yeah, I saw Dita two other times that night- sitting with Hecate at the Blood Orgy where I dragged Paul once I saw him again not 5 minutes after my 1:1, and then after the show at the Manderley Bar when she was out of character with friends at a table. I was way too shy to talk to her, so I totally just watched her in awe like a weirdo. In hindsight I probably should have said *something* to her cuz her being a fan of the show herself I'm sure she'd love to hear the amazing job she did. Cuz holy crap, they GOT me GOOD.Honestly, I would love to see the script for this scene I had. Or see it from the outside. That's the crazy thing about this immersive theater shit, it's not like you can rewind it and watch it again. That experience was for what? 4 people that night? Out of however many people go to SNM. I consider myself SUPER lucky to have gotten to see this super rare scene. 

Hecate's Apothecary- where I ended up after my 1:1. Alone.

What's also super funny is that the day I was headed to Sleep No More I had posted about it on my Facebook, and one of my friends mentioned how Dita Von Teese has tweetd that day about the show and that maybe I'd see her there. And I remember literally going 'Psssht. Yeah right!!'. But hey- goes to show you that you never know! 

What I wore for the show!
PS: As much as I love SNM though it is not for everyone. You will have to work up your imagination and suspend some disbelief to get the most out of the show. As annoyed as I was with all the people pushing and clogging up stairways I still was able to save the entire night by landing that 1:1, which was one of the most surreal and amazing moments in my life, and I was extremely lucky to get the opportunity to experience it. Some people want a 1:1 so badly that the desperation puts the actors off. The actors are amazingly perceptive. They pay attention to what you wear and various visual and gestural queues that will tell them if you are an unappreciative douchebag demanding to be entertained. I’ve seen people during an obvious choosing of 1:1’s thrust their open hand right out in front of an actor who obviously wants someone else. You gotta play it cool, daddio. They’re looking for people who are into the show. I wore a retro cocktail gown (that was stretchy so I could run if needed) and clipped a feather fascinator to my mask so I would actually stand out amongst a sea of otherwise anonymous audience members. You gotta respect and love the show, it may love you back in amazing ways.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Summer 2007
My first summer as a New Yorker
On this day 5 years ago I moved to NYC to live with the man I love, carrying out one of the single best and scariest decisions of my life. It was scary because the risk was so high. If it all went well- I'd be living a dream come true. I'd be where I belong. But if it failed, I'd be chewed up and spit out and would have marked the second time in my life I had to crawl back to the primordial suburban ooze from whence I came. I had never lived on my own before. To go from the safety of my parent's basement, tucked away in a Maryland suburban cul-de-sac to the biggest, brightest, craziest city in the United States. The mythology of it makes my head spin. The city where songs have been written, movies have taken place, shows have been filmed, universes have been built upon. I have had a love affair with New York City since the first time I visited in high school for some art field trip. We only went to the Met and saw the Rockettes, but God, I wanted to stay. Thank God we didn't go anywhere near the Lower East Side. I'd have run away with the gutter punks. One of the times I went during Kubert School I kept one of the subway tokens I didn't end up using and strung it on a shitty shotbead chain around my neck. Almost like a promise to myself. Or some sort of totem. That was 1999. I rarely took it off. I thought I lost it while attending Dragon*Con 2004 and was so unbelievably upset. It showed up again though and it is one of my most precious pieces of jewelry. I still wear it everyday. Moving to NYC has allowed me to pursue my dreams of being a career artist in ways I would have never dreamed possible. This city has enabled me to make connections and friendships with amazing, creative, DRIVEN people who continue to inspire me. Had you told me 8 years ago that my life would be as it is now I'd have laughed in your face. I had thought the most I could hope for was getting full-time at Hot Topic and a studio apartment behind the local Target with my burnout boyfriend at the time who I had to MAKE get a job at Starbucks. My sole confidante was my supposed best friend, who sabotaged any attempt to better myself at every turn. It's a testament to my gumption that with all the setbacks I suffered at her hand that I still emerged as driven as I am. I was told on a daily basis that I was wasting my talents. Spinning my wheels in the mud. That there was more for me out there. Moving to New York was the new start I needed. One by one I severed connections to those that dragged me down and I am so much better for it. I now have real, true friends that support me along with career success that has been a long time coming in a city I love with the man of my dreams. 

So yeah, there's that. But also! Another big thing that happened just yesterday, being that I got my *first* big article written about my artwork in a major comic book blog, being ComicsAlliance which is one of my favorite comics news blogs. And I'm not even being all ass-kissy, I really do love CA. Like, if you have a free afternoon, read Chris Sim's Remedial Batmanology. It is perhaps the funniest thing I've read in the past 5 years. Also I'm a fan of anything Bethany Fong writes. She and I have very similar world views. But yeah the article is awesome and it coming out was a complete, amazing surprise to me. Shoot, if anything I was figuring I would have to do at least 5 more X-Men redesigns before I popped up on any radars. A ComicsAlliance article about Ross Campbell's Jem & the Holograms redesigns were actually what inspired the project to begin with. I'm also super-glad to see the comments aren't terrible. They're actually all pretty glowing. I know I shouldn't look but I can't help it. It IS really reassuring.

Haha, but yeah sorry I got all sentimental and TL;DR on you. You probably just wanna see some art, huh?
“Energy blasts, huh? Here’s one from a pro!”
I think Cyclops gets a bad rep. I think people think just because you're a leader you gotta be square, which doesn't have to be true. There's plenty of cool leaders of teams (Hannibal of the A-Team for instance). And a guy can play it super straight and severe and still be cool. Cyclops is a very necessary member of the X-Men. Plus he's one of the more iconic members of the X-Men. I've always loved the visor. So with my version of Scott I wanted to really play up the old 'Slim' nickname, and what better way to accentuate how skinny a guy is than by putting him in a tailored Mod suit. I also modeled his looks a lot from old pictures of Michael Caine from stuff like Get Carter and The Italian Job. Just super cool, like you never ever see him sweat. Plus I wanted him and Jean to really LOOK like they're supposed to be together. Like they come as a set.   
I'm also working on a private commission featuring an action shot of my Dazzler redesign. It was too fun not to pass up. Right now I'm just finishing up inks, but you can check out some progress shots I took of the piece so far. I'm having her skate against a team of Hellfire club Goons- much like her first appearance!

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