Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fall and Holidays, 2014

Me on my 34th birthday! I drank whiskey, got the meat sweats and went to bed at a reasonable time!
 Haha, WHOOPS. Looks like time got away from me and I haven't updated my blog in a while. Fortunately you guys didn't miss too much excitement- my last show of the year was NYCC and after that I kinda crashed for a month after some supreme burnout, so there hasn't been much new artwork, either. There were a few birthdays, Halloween and of course the holidays to enjoy, and strangely enough I found myself just busy enough to just go ahead and live life for a little bit. I know, WEIRD.

Halloween! Actually going out this year, I just grabbed stuff out of my closet to be a waitress. My wardrobe has actually become ridiculous enough to have several costume options right at my fingertips. I'm kinda proud of this fact.

"Smoking or non?"
I got a NEW TATTOO!! A super-cool, super-badass old school scorpion on my left, inner forearm by Hunter Spanks, one of my favorite tattoo artists. I got it because I'm a Scorpio and I need more tattoos of animals and stuff to balance out all these pinups, haha. So this is number 18! You can check Hunter out at Have Fun Be Lucky in Baltimore, Md. I love it! The colors are crazy and it's so super bold.

My NYC BFF Christy's twin sister Megan (who I used to work at Hot Topic with back in the dizzay) had a surprise baby shower! It was gothy and Edgar Allen Poe-themed! It was great to see a bunch of my Maryland pals all at once!

Obligatory bathroom selfie, of course!

My two bibs I made at the bib-making station! Dracula and Wolfman themed!

Such the little over-achiever. I'm was determined to make those fabric paints my bitch.
For my birthday present to myself, I *finally* ordered the What Katie Did Morticia underbust corset I had been eyeing for the better part of the year. And OMG it's AMAAAAAZING. I seriously can't wait to wear this at conventions with my costumes. Who needs dieting? (I kid, I started doing yoga after Thanksgiving...)

OOTD from when I went out for a friend's birthday in Dec
I had it SUPER tight laced, but then had to loosen it as I wasn't able to sit forward enough to do my makeup properly.
 REAL QUICK CORSET TALK: I don't screw with overbusts. They can't contain me, haha. I almost always prefer underbusts because then I can just wear my normal bras, plus they push everything up adding to how crazy the waist-hip-bust ratio looks. If you get a shorter one that doesn't come down far on your hips I've noticed that the more you sit in it, the more it gets pushed up under your boobs and you can't get it back down again unless you take it off and re-lace it. Which can lead to an uncomfortable skewering feeling as the boning goes up into your underboob, which happened at NYCC in my Marilyn outfit by the end of the day. The What Katie Did one I wore however has much lower hips (called 'gored hips'...) which seem to keep it in place better and actually helps with containing the stomach bulge that I've noticed in other corsets where the lower gut protrudes out because it's been squeezed out with no here to go. This Morticia corset is amazing, I read a lot of reviews (all great) and could tell when I got it that it was of a higher craftsmanship than most of my other corsets. It's HEAVY. They're def an investment. I justified that it would take all the dresses and outfits I already have and make them look better- you can wear this on top of or underneath clothing easily. I wear the Spanx hi-cut underwear underneath it if I'm wearing it under clothes. I read that it's better for you and the corset to have something between it and your skin while wearing. Keeps it cleaner, causes less irritation and friction. And if I'm not wearing pantyhose I'll put some Spanx bike short things on over top to help with chub rub, and it smooths out the seams of the corset if you're wearing it under clothes. I'm actually not as crazy as some of the people who's blogs I've read about corsets. I'm still amazed my burlesque friends can dance around in them. I can barely make it up steps without getting gaspy. And going to the bathroom in one is a skill that takes a year or two to master.

With the holidays queued up, Phil and I started work on our second annual holiday card that we send to friends, family and clients! We started this tradition last year after receiving cards from other cartoonist that were drawing their own cards as well. It's a good little end-of-the-year reminder that we exist to people, even if we only see some folks a few times a year at shows and the like. This years was way more of a seamless collaboration than last year's, with my drawing the pencils for the 20's cartoon Phil and I, and Phil drawing in everything else, including the sled, Loki and the colors. This year we sent out almost 100 cards! 

Phil and I at a Christmas party

Why are bathrooms always so nicely lit? A question for the ages!
 And then we packed our bags for Christmas family time in both Baltimore for my family and Perryville, Missouri for Phil's family!

Hanging with my nephew Fionn, showing off our Pumphrey good looks!

Sampling the Smoking Swine menu at The Smokehouse in Baltimore- burnt end brisket, elote corn, duck fat green beans, hush puppies, catfish in the back.
After a long day of traveling, Phil and I made it to Perryville in one piece.
Awesome X-Mas present from my in-laws- RAINBOW KNIVES OMG!
Balsman kids-and-spouses dinner!
Ladies of House Balsman
My niece actually took an interest in my process of making Shrink plastic magnets. I'm not a kid person, but this was pretty fun.

New Years! Back home, drinking tea and watching Deadwood. Aaaaahhhhh.... ^___^

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Aftermath: NYCC 2014

OMG, New York Comic Con... My last show of the season and most definitely my busiest, craziest and 'chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out'-iest. This 4-day behemoth of nerd and pop culture (Oct 9-12) was the site of our lovely 10x10 shared booth #2875 on the Exhibitor floor, that I shared with partners-in-crime Little Asian Sweatshop and Maria Danalakis.

Got my Natalie Dormer smirk on!
I came in to start setting up Tuesday by bringing our tables and chairs, because on the Exhibitor floor you are only buying space. You can rent tables and chairs from the convention center, but you will be charged an arm and a leg for them. I just went ahead and bought some fold away tables at Home Depot. Still cheaper. Wednesday all three of us came in and brought our merch and started setting up our booth. We have also started realizing the amazingness of TARPS! We can set up all our stuff and just leave it on the table if it's covered! Before, we used to take everything and put it under the table, then every morning of the show put it back where it was. It was a huge pain. Not anymore, tarps are where it's at!

Each different color was a price group. Dark blue where we were was the 'cheap seats', but still was almost 2 grand for just a 10x10 space.
Tuesday's load-in, all by myself! 2 tables, 2 chairs!
Wednesday's setup! Home for the next 4 days!
 Thursday was crazy. I don't know if it was that Johnny-Come-Lately ticket holders could only get that day because they're not used to the INSANITY that NYCC has become or what. (Seriously people, start paying attention.) But Thursday was literally like a Saturday at any other show, but spread over about 4 football fields and consistently busy. We were NOT expecting that, especially with what little we knew about traffic on the main floor. Most of my experience on the main floor of NYCC has been in passing (save for 2010 when I shared a booth), passing and weaving and trying to get from point A to point B in one piece. But behind the safety of 'Fort Booth' we at least could stand in our own personal bubbles and take in the crazy crowd flows and people watch. And of course, network and make money! The crowds were so crazy on Thursday that almost half of mine and Fenny's giveaway promo postcards were GONE. And we got A THOUSAND of them, each! Fenny and I were thinking we'd have to run to Staples in Midtown and run off some Xeroxes before they close. Which would have suuuuucked. And then this is how smart and awesome my husband is: while at home, he found a local print shop that can make us actual postcards and then suggested Fenny and I get 1 card with both our graphics on either side. See, we had both been giving out individual cards. At the same events, where we're usually standing right next to each other. If we have one card for the both of us- twice as many cards to go around. Duhhhhh, me. Which is good, because with rush fees we had to shell out like $430 for them. A mistake we won't make again. Plus now- double exposure for our brands!
Our view from the booth of the far left wall of the main exhibit hall
Since all 3 of us girls love to dress up for shows but wanted to wear different stuff but still match in some weird way, we decided each of our days would have a theme. Thursday was TRAVEL! I was a Stewardess, Fenny was a Star Trek OS ensign and Maria was a sailor! So by air, by space and by sea!

We are now beginning our descent into NYCC. Please return your trays to their upright position
I think the addition of my beehive wig really adds to it.

With the crowds as crazy as they were, there were also no announcements being made for the exhibitor floor closing at 7pm. Actually as far as I could tell there weren't any announcements at all on the exhibitor floor. So at 7, the floors were still full of attendees and potential customers. I mean it's not like all of the people on the floor are just going to "poof", go away right as the clock strikes 7. So they *finally* got con staff to go down each aisle and herd the attendees down towards the exits around 7:30. Which sucked because we were trying to get down to the Rawr! Burlesque show in Dumbo, Brooklyn at 8 and totally missed it. Boo. Oh well, we got burritos.

Aw! Maria's sisters came by to wish us luck!

Then came FRIDAY!! We were already BEAT just from Thursday. We took a car service from my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the Javits Center all the way over on the Hudson in Manhattan. Traffic was crazy. Today's dress-up theme was FORMAL FRIDAY. Fenny and I bagged our outfits to put on at the show, because they were redonk and we were going to again attempt to go out after the show.
Still kicking! Let's do this!!

I was Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe, much like I was at Dr. Sketchy's Factory Party way back when. I went without my glasses, so most people I know were indistinguishable blobs until they came within 6 feet of me. Fenny wore her wedding dress with Chun-Li hair buns and Maria was proper dainty lady. It was busy Friday but almost not as crazy as Thursday, which was weird. It was still busy enough though. Marilyn was a bit much to wear for vending a show as intense as NYCC, it's really a drinking and partying costume. In a well-lit bar. The restrictive dress, lashes, gloves and blue fur stole are fine for 3-4 hours, but a 9 hour workday and you wanna rip everything off and go screaming naked down the aisles. As the day progressed you could see my wig slide further back on my head, haha.

Formal Friday Booth Selfie!!
More Marilyn.
Our booth, looking slightly more disheveled.
After the show on Friday we went and saw the opening of Daughters of the Atom, an X-Men tribute art show at One-Shot Gallery, which is in St. Marks Comics in the East Village. I had done a Ladytron piece for this gallery over the summer for an Image Comics tribute show.

I did two pieces this go around- Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik and her best friend Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat. You can see more about my pieces (including purchasing information) and the rest of the pieces in the show at the online gallery!

Kitty and her dragon Lockheed.
Me at the opening, I'm so tired.

We were already pretty over everything by the time Saturday rolled around. Commuting to the show was awful. The trains were all screwed up by my house so we had to take a car and it was raining like crazy. Getting in was a cattle call. I had a mild freakout. It was a rough start.

"A Joe in a Pit of SNAKES!"
Our theme today was 'Retro G.I.Joe and Cobra'! Fenny and I reprised our roles as Office Baroness and Cobra HR Manager and were joined by tablemate Maria as G.I. Jane and special guest star cosplay buddie Val as "Shirley from the Crimson Guard division".

Me and the Boss.
I was a grumpy Baroness- my hair curled up in the rain.
Maria was adorably earnest as G.I.Jane.
As far as Saturday went, it was pretty busy. By lunchtime we had all made back our table costs, so yay! Most of it was a blur. I know Fenny and I went home and stuffed delivery nachos in our faces over the stove. We were also in bed by 10:00- because we're all about that rock and roll lifestyle, amirite??

Gone without a trace.
Sunday's theme was "We're SO TIRED!" Nothing fancy, just us and our normal clothes. 

Casual Sunday!
All three of us did awesome this year! It took me about a week to recover and a day of bed rest just to catch up on sleep! I just want to say thank you to everyone who came by our table over the weekend. My body may have been chewed up and spit out, but my heart is over the moon seeing all your lovely faces. Let's do it all again next year, because it's going to take me that long to forget how bad my calves hurt at the end of the show.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Aftermath: Monster Mania Con 29 (2014)

Monster Mania Convention in Hunt Valley, Md (Oct 3-5) was a bit of an experiment in seeing how well horror movie fans would receive my artwork and merchandise. I plan to attend my first West Coast show in California next year- Monsterpalooza, and don't want to spend upwards of a couple thousand dollars on a trip out to Cali if people weren't receptive. Fortunately the folks met at Monster Mania were perhaps some of the most overwhelmingly pleasant fans I have had the pleasure to meet. Even covered in fake blood and brandishing plastic chainsaws. ;)

On Friday as a gothy pop-art pinup.
!? fascinator by Janine Basil
Monster Mania is another show in Maryland where I can save boku bucks traveling down by bus, staying at my parents house and borrowing my mom's car. My partner-in-crime Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop joined me Friday and Saturday of the show and we split a 6' table between the two of us. It's an intimate hotel convention, at the old Hunt Valley Inn up in Cockeysville (about a 40 minute drive from my parents house). I'm actually pretty familiar with the hotel because of conventions I attended as a fan many years ago and for conferences when I used to sell tvs and stereos back in the day. There are actually 3 Monster Mania shows a year- two in NJ and one in Md. Everyone kept saying the spring show in NJ is way bigger and crazier and how we should come back and do that one. While this is a possibility- attending a show in NJ means getting a hotel room and meals out and that is a GIANT chunk out of our profits. So maybe, but not likely anytime soon.

All set up!
I had planned on creating more horror/monster themed artwork to sell specifically for MM, but time constraints and a crazy busy schedule between Baltimore Comic Con, this and NYCC along with my dayjob was simply too much. Fortunately I had a little bit of monster art to draw people in- but interestingly enough it was mostly my superhero stuff that was the hot seller. I think because there wasn't a lot of that there- so it stood out from the rest of the vendors. Goes to show- even when vending at a specialty event, bring *everything* with you. Within reason, of course. Monster Mania being the weekend before NYCC, which is my biggest show of the year- I was actually afraid I might sell out of stuff and not have time to make more during the week. Oh!, but what a problem to have, amirite? My inventory definitely did take a hit from MM, but I still had a satisfactory amount to bring for NYCC.

Francesca and the Monster's Mate
We had a ton of fun selling at our table! We dressed up every day of the show- including what is possibly our most obscure cosplay to date- me as Francesca and Fenny as the Monster's Mate/ Phyllis Diller from Rankin/Bass's 1967 special Mad Monster Party? (The ? is part of the title...) I don't recall anyone at the show being able to tell who we were supposed to be- not that that is surprising. I only actually saw MMP? for the first time about a year ago. Everyone LOVED our outfits though. Leave it to us to wear something from a kid's Halloween special from the 60's to the blood-and-guts show.

The actual Francesca and Monster's Mate Animagic puppets
Fenny of course was TOTALLY into it.
Really, really into it.
I got my Francesca dress from Pin-Up Girl and my wig from Fifi Mahony's.
These guys were GREAT!!! Frigging HUGE and scary!
They were total sweethearts when I asked for a picture. It's not everyday I feel teeny-tiny.
Jason is Keith. Leatherface is Lance.
This is the reference I sent Fifi's for my wig.
Speaking of kid stuff- and now I'm not judging as much as I'm making an observation of the weekend- I must say: I saw A LOT of small, crying children at this show. Now I'm not a parent (nor do I have any plans to be one anytime soon) but speaking as a former child, I can completely understand where these kids are coming from with bawling their eyes out. Now I'm all for kids having some amount of fear for things in their lives. It sparks the imagination and may feed creative endeavors down the road. Myself, for example: I used to be TERRIFIED of skeletons. To the point that I could not watch any Indiana Jones movies or the second half of Goonies. Nor could I ride Pirates of the Caribbean without hiding my eyes until I heard singing. I was also afraid of Judge Doom from Roger Rabbit, The Greedy from Raggedy Ann and Andy and mere commercials from Nightmare on Elm Street would give me nightmares for weeks. I left the theater during The Burbs. Shoot, I even covered my eyes during the Aliens riff at the end of Spaceballs. I didn't really get a grip on my fears until junior high, when I started learning about serial killers and REAL monsters in the world. And now? I'm writing my eventual magnum opus comic about demons, murderers and vampires and watch true crime shows on the daily. My own wedding was covered in skeletons. I love me some monsters, and the movies I just mentioned are some of my all-time favorites now. All the stuff I was afraid of though, was under controlled circumstances. Movies can be watched beforehand so warnings are issued to cover your eyes. Ultimately, they can be turned off. Bringing your kid to a horror convention, you can't control that environment. You don't know what's around every corner, you don't know what's going to be on display. People jump out. People wear costumes- some amazingly terrifying and gory and relish in being in character. And it's really pretty selfish to think that everyone else at the show who is there to celebrate movies that are rated PG-13, R and worse- should have to take into account the fact that you brought an emotionally unprepared 7 year old girl in a princess Elsa costume. Get a sitter, it's cheaper than therapy in the long run.

Ok, maybe I did start judging a bit there. 9_9;

So tired on Sunday. -___-;
Overall, MM was a very profitable show- I would def like to do it again, schedule permitting. There was a great party atmosphere, especially on Saturday as the vending room was winding down and most of the convention goers were obviously visiting the bar and starting to ramp up their room parties. How funny just a few weeks ago we were being shushed at our table at Baltimore Comic Con when at MM *we* were the quiet, reserved ones(!!!). And Monsterpalooza out in California is def going to happen, which i am super super excited about. ::starts saving money::
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