Friday, April 24, 2015

Princess Kashmir

Another piece of art that's been floating around in my brain for awhile- a retro-inspired burlesque poster featuring Princess Kashmir from The Simpsons, specifically season 1 episode 10, "Homer's Night Out".

Last fall was the Every Simpsons Ever marathon on TV and my husband and I watched it pretty rigorously for the first few seasons. I was actually pretty impressed with how I was able to remember so many season 1 episodes word-for-word after not watching them for at least 10 years. (And maybe getting a little misty over the "Moaning Lisa" episode- which reminds me so much of myself as the less-than-perfect 10 year old girl I was when it came out. My parents STILL refer to it when I go into my sensitive artist mode.)

Princess Kashmir in Simpsons form
Progress shots:

Inks on vellum.
Inking Gulliver Dark on vellum.
Coloring scanned inks in Photoshop.

More coloring in Photoshop.
Poster layouts. Creating text in Illustrator, arranging the poster in Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

But That's None of MY Business

Just a fun little piece of art that's part of a series I'm playing with that focuses on emoji's and memes and twists them around in my own style.

Based on the infamous Kermit sipping tea meme that can be seen around the internet.

Like it? Know someone who would? Be sure to check out my Society 6 store for all kinds of goodies with this art on it!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Aftermath: All-Con Dallas 2015

2015's convention season kicked off in a rather unconventional way with my first trip to Texas EVER and my first time attending All-Con in Dallas as a vendor. It was super cool of my friend Taffeta Darling to extend the invitation to me as part of an exchange of allowing her to stay at my apartment in Brooklyn last year for the Nerdlesque Festival. So almost like a crazy girl exchange program, this March I flew out to Dallas, Texas. The show I attended: All-Con, was definitely an experience which I am about to go on AT LENGTH here. Lots of ups and downs. To be fair, there's a TL;DR warning. But first thing's first: All-Con marks my first time traveling alone by airplane- I navigated security and bag check like a full-grown adult! I can do things!!

Taffeta Darling as Lady Lobo. Me as myself.

Okay, the positives! It was great to spend time catching up with old friends and meeting some brand new ones. Taffeta Darling was a great hostess and I really appreciate the invite and extension of her hospitality during my stay. That gal is going places and she is an absolute pleasure to be around. I was trying to get her to come out to New York Comic Con this year but she's already TOO BUSY going to a bunch of other shows where she will be moderating panels, hosting events and wearing some amazingly clever costumes. So there's hopefully next year? I told her the invite was standing.

Taffeta Darling: Righteous Babe. Total Goober.
I also got to see my old pal Soni (aka Agent 13 of Dallas based go-go troupe The Pistolettes) whom I've known for about 12 years- we met when I was still a cosplayer attending Dragon*Con in the early 00's! It's always a treat to see her and catch up on the latest gossip, drink some drinks and talk some smack. As an added bonus- since I rarely see Soni in her element as she is usually the one visiting me, I attended a panel/dance lesson at the show that was put on by The Pistolettes and was taught some awesome 60's dance moves that even I could follow. Soni even taught us the entirety of 'The Madison' which I still am able to bust out bits and pieces to in the privacy of my own apartment. (I'm not one for dancing.) It's always such a treat to take part in my friend's passions, and Soni's passion for dancing is infectious enough to get even a klutz like me on the floor. I also stayed with Soni at her apartment for a couple days after the con and we had awesome food adventures- my personal faves were Steel City Pop's coffee brownie pop and Dude, Sweet chocolate's Flower Child truffles. Sooo good.

Pistolettes room party!
It's Madison Time!
Also burlesque performer Black Mariah did a fan dance act based on my Card Queen art at the big burlesque show Saturday night at All-Con. It was AWESOME and the music choice of 'Killer Queen' by Queen was superb! And those fans!! She was so secretive about what she was doing and insistent on me being at the show (with a special seat and everything) that I wasn't sure exactly what to expect- yet then when she came out with the crown on it all came together. I was able to grab a quick snippet of video from it, but didn't want to spend the whole act viewing thru my phone when such an amazing performance is happening live in front of me.

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on
My table setup!
My outfit on Thursday! Top and skirt: Mode Merr, Hairflower: Little Asian Sweatshop
 There were a lot of new friends that I met as well! Some of my favorites included:
~A pair of adorable bright-eyed kids (in their late teens/early 20's) who dressed up as Amy Pond and The Doctor. The Amy Pond girl was so excited about life that it kind of brought out my inner Disney evil queen and I wanted to siphon her boundless energy and use it for my own. Which coming from me is a compliment.
~A really nice lady who had a massage chair set up and was giving back and neck massages for a mere dollar a minute. I went to her twice over the weekend as I was dealing with a HORRIBLE neck sprain from sleeping weird. She kinda saved me from completely wilding out on people.
~This little 5 year old boy and his mom who came walking by my table looking at my merch. As the mom was looking down at my merch, the little boy was looking up at me- then gave me some Groucho Marx eyebrows and made kissy noises. Both me and the mom were bemused by the Little Casanova (who looked like the kid from Jerry McGuire- pipsqueak has some charisma) and she came back to tell me the next day that he was talking about me to the family at dinner- about how not just he, but *everyone* thinks I'm pretty and how he's going to *marry* me one day. OMG- my heart can't take it. So adorable. So I'm apparently his first crush ever. He even swung by my table to chat me up again on Sunday and we played with his Transformer and took selfies (that I sent to his mom to print out for him). I even gave him one of my Bettie Page pins (which he insisted on pinning to himself) and his mom says how he treasures it now that they're back home. D'ohhhhhh. :3
~Blaze, the Red Rose of Texas! She's awesome and her Loki costume was amazing and we shared pictures of our pets (she has 3 pugs!). 
Hotties bein' hotties.
~While I was at a room party after the burlesque show with a bunch of the performers, a girl came by with a giant cooler bag of tiny, individually wrapped mason jars full of alcoholic mousses that she had made herself. There was even a list of what flavors she had. And they even came with teeny tiny spoons!! And omg they were DELICIOUS! And even better- she was GIVING them away!! What??

I got Thin Mint. :d
~I had these amazingly sweet neighbor girls at the table next to me that I had some very pleasant conversations with and who were adorably concerned when I would arrive at my table late as hell. One of them even drew a picture of me!
I won't lie. I got a little teared up seeing this. Convention Auntie 4-eva.
Now, for the negatives.
I didn't make very much money. This is actually one of my worst performing convention tables ever, in my 8 years of vending. While there's fun to be had at shows, for me it's still a job. I spend a lot of time and money to make my merch, rent table space and travel to shows. The most I can usually hope for is to break even on my expenses, and I wasn't even able to do that this time around. For a show that was 4 days long, that is a rough go. Thankfully my room situation was taken care of, because to also eat a hotel room cost would have honestly made me very upset. There also didn't seem to be an overwhelming interest in my merchandise. People would look and say nice things about my art in general, but then when it came to buying stuff most people just said 'thanks' and walked away. And I'm sorry but compliments don't pay my credit card bills. I think the smallish size of the show worked against me- the crowd was very insular, lots of regulars and not a lot of outsiders or casual customers just coming in for the day. Also save for a few pockets of attendees in their 20's-30's, most of the crowd was old school nerds. Like, OLD SCHOOL. The whole geek chic/nerd girl trend hadn't caught on yet down there like it has on the east coast I suppose. Or they were all at Walker-Stalker Con, which was also going on that weekend and had apparently stolen a lot of All-Con's attendees. All-Con also in my opinion casts it's net of interests too wide and there was a lack of identity to the show. The programming topics ranged from the mildly interesting to the eye-roll inducing to the just... odd. Like "Knitting"? But then I also have to remind myself that I'm actually in the comics industry and have been lucky enough to land in my career choice of being a professional nerd and that at times I do take that personal freedom for granted. Many attendees who come to shows for fun are also more than likely living lives or working in jobs where they aren't able to share their nerdy pursuits with those around them and conventions are their only outlet to talk about and revel in their interests.   
Not everyone gets to wear this to work.
I've re-realized how much I'm not a fan of hotel conventions versus my preferred convention center-type shows. I kinda had that feeling at Asbury Park Comic Con last year, but All-Con sealed it. After spending all day behind my table talking and selling and working my hustle- I've reached my limit. Which when that happens- all I want to do once the vendor room closes down is go home, order food and watch Investigation Discovery. MAYBE get dinner with a drink or two ONE night during the show. But even then- I'll go out with a small group of people I can be frank with. And I'll probably nod off before the check arrives. When I started doing shows as a professional I found I much prefer spending my time behind my table getting to talk to the average congoer and to friends who stop by for quick conversations, versus spending all night at the bar or crammed in someone's hotel room full of people all talking over each other. I find the barrier of the table comforting as opposed to the 360 degrees of vulnerability I feel being at the bar or walking on the floor. At my table I can see people as they approach and mentally prepare myself for conversation. I mean hell- almost everything I've been up to in the past few months leading up to the show is all spread out before me. Which is especially helpful in talking to new people whom I've just met. I feel like I have purpose at a show instead of just floating around looking for someone to talk to. Running a table is already socially exhausting, and then to add the forced socialization aspect of having to pass people in the hotel halls on my way to my room after I'm done for the day adds a level of anxiety I normally don't have to deal with. It's like a work day that doesn't end. It also weirds me out on a privacy level if people know where my room is. If I'm heading back to my room (particularly late at night) I'm always wary of the possibility of being followed, especially if I had gotten a weird vibe from someone at my table earlier that day. By the time I'm headed home at convention center shows there's only the other pro's still packing up and they wanna GTFO as much as I do. I need that separation. A reminder that there's an outside world. Conventions, especially ones in hotels where everyone is hanging out together for the long haul of an extended weekend can get a bit of a snow globey vibe. Or like it's camp. It gets claustrophobic. There will inevitably be drama. And buckle in, because there's no escape until Sunday. 
Sunday. #sotired #overit
The worst thing however about All-Con would have to have been the Nazis. Yeah... Nazis. :\

This was grabbed off Instagram under the hashtag #All-Con by my friend Soni.

Me too, Indy. Me, too.
Let me back up. Because this was the big turd in my All-Con punchbowl. So there were a group of about 8-10 Nazi 'cosplayers', all white guys aged 30-60 that wore Nazi and WW1 German uniforms all weekend. They had different ones each day. Like that was basically all they had brought with them in their suitcases. They even had a vending table they were hanging out at and selling replica weapons. Thing is- the table had NO signage and no cards. Dressing up as a Nazi for a costumed event is pretty incendiary on it's own- but what really did it for me was the lack of context. When I asked around to people I heard that they were supposed to be from Hydra, or Hellboy, or "some obscure anime" or WW2 reenactors. Which is interesting, because no one could give me a straight answer on what exactly they were from. Contextless Nazi's are STILL NAZI'S guys. And actual history > fiction. I never engaged these guys face-to-face because I don't know if I'd be able to handle the answer they would give me if I asked. I'm a lot better arguing with people on paper than in person. Just seeing them hanging out in groups and drinking in their uniforms out in the halls after hours at the show was enough to make me feel uncomfortable. That uneasiness about going back to my room alone I was talking about before? That would have been exponentially worse had I have gotten into it with these guys and then had to squeeze past them in the hallway at 2am by myself. Also I have a bit of history with a local group of teenaged Neo-Nazis in my old neighborhood in Maryland. What started with them having a problem with me and my best friend who was gay- ended in my car getting vandalized and my father's car set on fire in our driveway in the middle of the night. Which could have easily caused an explosion, burned down my family house and maybe killed someone. Fortunately it didn't, but the intention was there. And that's a memory I'd rather not confront when I'm at a convention trying to make money, network and attempting to have a good time.
Great. So I get to be across from these assholes allll weeeekennnnd.
Those assholes wanted to rattle some cages? Get some reactions? Oh, THEY DONE DID IT NOW. Interestingly enough, a lot of people who were regulars/local to the show would complain amongst themselves or even to the Nazis directly, but no one thought to complain to staff or take this to social media. It's like I HAD to say something. And I'm no whistleblower by any stretch. But there's wrong and there's right and then there's this bullshit. So like any congoer who feels threatened should- I took it to the event staff on Saturday morning after getting myself all riled up Thursday night into Friday. I was hoping like most shows, an attendee complains to staff, it gets taken seriously and something gets done in a timely manner. Because regardless of the situation going on between me and these guys- I still need to get to my table and put in hours so I can hopefully make some money. I don't have time for this nonsense. All-Con already has my money so I gotta hustle. The first lady I went to was an elderly mom-type who had helped direct me to the bathrooms earlier in the weekend. Like I said, as an outsider going into this show only knowing 3 people before stepping through the door- I was hard up for someone trustworthy to express my concerns to. I'm also leery of people who are put in positions of authority but figured she was my best bet. I asked her plainly in my most composed soccer mom voice, "Soooo… What's the deal with the guys in Nazi uniforms?". And acting somewhat surprised at my concern, she said "Oh they're war reenactors." My eyes narrow and shoot back, "Yeah, but they're NAZIS." Granted I'm still polite, but you could tell I'm starting to get my swerve on. "Oh well, actually- they were World War 1 Germans yesterday…", she replies matter-of-factly. Oh. Oh. So they were pre-Nazis yesterday, as opposed to the Swastika'd the fuck out members of the Fascist party that they are today? Cuz holy shit dude, I saw some of them on Saturday morning after I unsuccessfully tried to find a proper cup of coffee (good fucking luck) all hanging out in the hotel lobby with medals and swastikas and jackboots and all the trimmings. Like nothing's nothing. At like 9am. Guten morgen, assholes. 

Look at this asshole.
These guys too. I couldn't get a decent shot of their uniforms because I didn't want to engage them.
 And this is also why my neck was killing me all weekend. 

The lady can tell I'm not going to let this go and decides to pull rank. Or lack thereof. She tells me that she is merely a volunteer and has no power in the situation. So she suggests I either look for an actual staffer in a yellow vest or fill out a comment card. The buck has been passed. I indignantly grab about 20 comment cards, shove them in my pocket and proceed to spend even more time away from my table looking for a yellow vest. Any convention worth their salt would have had that lady call up a staffer on a walkie and have them come to me, but I guess we just do stuff differently on the east coast. So I finally locate a staffer, a female about my age (maybe younger) sitting behind the registration desk against the back wall, arms folded, not looking like she'll be particularly receptive to my plight either. To be honest (and probably mean, but she was really unpleasant so whatever)- she was a textbook example of a legbeard. A grumpy, acerbic woman who has no business interacting with the public. I get her attention and politely tell her I would like to lodge a complaint about the guys in the Nazi uniforms. That they make me feel like I am not in a safe space and that I am triggered. You know- all the buzzwords that conventions should maybe pay attention to. Especially from their female attendees. And having already been passed off once by a representative of the show, I'm starting to feel a bit incensed. So the girl, who by body language alone obviously has made it clear that I am merely inconveniencing her good time, first states that they are most likely from an 'obscure anime'. So I'm getting nerd-checked instead helped. Great. Like, lady--- I WORK IN MANGA. I don't give a shiiiiiit. Like oh- I'm sorry. I thought they were the Nazi's from ACTUAL HISTORY. Haha, my bad. Carry on. She then asks if I've talked to them, like I should go and ask the Nazi's why they're Nazis. And I say no, that's why I'm coming to you- I don't feel safe talking to them, especially alone. We then start to get into an argument about freedom of speech, but I cut her off and ask if she's actually going to do anything about this or is she just trying to wear me down. She directs me to the comment cards and assures me that they read them every night of the show. I tell her I already have 20 and walk away. At this point my rage is incandescent. After I complained to All-Con staff about the Nazis to no avail, I still had to go get ready for my table. I headed to my room and blasted the Dicks (an old queer punk band with lots of anti skinhead songs) and put on my Wonder Woman costume and was like 'is this my life now'?

My life now, apparently.
At my table I then proceeded to pen my angry letter through into Sunday, dropping it off in the comment box before I left.

They have the right to believe what they want, but as a paying attendee of a private ticketed event I have just as much of a right to complain to the con staffers about my personal safety. And if there is to be nothing done about this type of presence at a convention, that's cool then I'm going to exercise MY first amendment rights of putting these assholes on blast and making sure everyone knows what goes down at a particular show. I have NEVER seen this type of thing go down at an east coast show. Because what I think most of us can all agree on is that Nazis are dicks and we can show our distaste of this by simply not endorsing the conventions that condone this behavior. Hopefully then those cons will fall to the wayside. I actually have no problem with them wearing their Nazi shit in their home or at whatever reenactment events these guys go to. Whatever, it's a free country. But that doesn't mean they are free from backlash and consequences when they are out at events where people are not in on the joke. There's a time and a place and it's far the fuck away from me. Plus c'mon- there's frigging kids around.

During this entire time at the actual show I kept this whole silent war between me and these guys under wraps on social media because I knew as soon as I posted about these guys my phone would 

E • X • P • L • O • D • E with notifications. Half of why I've waited a month to write my con report was to let everything that happened process. Plus seriously, this is a LONG ASS ENTRY and kept putting it off. So, after the show I go to my friend Soni's apt for the final leg of my Dallas trip to hang out with her. She's had some run-ins with these Nazi's as well at past All-Cons- the guy in the top, reposted pic from Instagram actually bought her drinks and followed her around like a lovestruck puppy. Granted Soni also has way more patience than I and was able to decimate him (even make him cry!) with the power of conversation- and found out that yes, indeed- there is no context to their uniforms. They're just Nazi's. And now that guy tries to hang out with Soni and her burlesque crew at All-Con like they're friends. He actually tried sidling up to the group on Saturday night and Soni had to lure me away from the group like an angry dog. Which was probably a good call on her part because I was drunk, tired and wearing my Wonder Woman outfit. But late on Sunday after we had gotten to her place, Soni and I find the pic of that guy on Instagram hashtag for All-Con and Soni reposts it and it goes into her Facebook feed. So Monday afternoon and over 200 comments later, Soni and I are glued to her couch in our pj's and hunched over our phones clicking away on tiny keyboards like we're in some wacky cosplay version of All the President's Men. "Put it up on the big board!", Soni joked. Add to that a repost of the guy's pic to another Facebook cosplay group that yielded another 400+ comments and it became clear we weren't going anywhere for awhile. It was some intense shit for a couple hours. There were some WORDS. People got blocked. Which also reinforced my feelings of not properly addressing this whole situation until I was at home with my computer and a proper keyboard and the ability to open several windows at a time.

Fortunately it seems that we actually got the attention of All-Con and they issued a statement to Soni via Facebook:

"Unfortunately I cannot respond to your thread as your FaceBook settings do not allow non-friends to comment.
ALL-CON staff found the uniforms as disturbing as the public did. Our rules have never addressed the possibility of such an outrage as we've
never had anyone as thoughtless (uncaring?) as to don a purposely offensive 'costume / uniform'. As tacky as it was, we had no rules against it.
While we may have been bitten once, we won't be twice. This condition in general is being addressed specifically in a new 'Uniforms Policy', and to prevent slight modifications to attire disqualifying them as true 'uniforms' we are adding a clause to our Harassment Policy to include purposely inflammatory or 'offensive to event staff' costumes or clothing to be a condition for ejection from the event. This will allow any top-level event staff to handle a similar situation based on event standard vs. any perceived community standards.
Any historical reenactment groups will need to apply directly to the convention for approval.
ALL-CON's fairly open rules has allowed some amazing creativity that have been astounded by and enjoy. Unfortunately, there's always someone who just doesn't get it and has to come along and spoil the fun.
We are very embarrassed that this has happened at our fandom friendly event and no not believe that 'offensive dressing' is a fandom we care to support.
If you would please pass along my comments to your thread, I would be deeply appreciate.
~Todd Carlton
Content Manager,

So... there's that. Ideally it would have been nice to have had something happen at the actual show- I wouldn't even say have those guys ejected from the convention. Merely asking them to go and change into something else would have been more than sufficient. There's been plenty of cases where a woman wears a costume too revealing and they are asked to cover up/change immediately. So apparently the female body is more offensive than fascism and genocide. Yay. Either way, at least something is now being done about this and I was able to facilitate a convention's change for the better. Will I return to see these changes carried through? Not likely. I love my Texas friends but they can come visit me in NYC next time. Also considering my other choice for an away convention- Monsterpalooza in Anaheim is two weeks after All-Con, I'd much rather take my chances out in California next year.

Thank you for reading this GIANT blog entry. 

UPDATE!!!!! Monday 4/6/15, 3pm!
A friend found and sent me better pics of the Nazi group that were taken Saturday morning at the All-Con photobooth- so now you CAN get some good, long looks at these guys.

Really? Even a Nazi gold prop?? Ugh.

Would YOU feel safe at a show with these guys walking around??
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