Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Steam: The 1860s Bar

Improv Everywhere has truly outdone themselves with this one; I don't think I'll get this grin off my face 'til at least Monday morning. I'm not even going to explain - just WATCH:

Thanks to Carolyn G. for the fun!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Week's Best 6/21/13

Remember the Neverending Story iPad and Tablet cover I featured a while back? Well, John T. and the other makers over at Geekify Inc. obviously know the way to my geeky little heart, because they've just released a Labyrinth cover:


Thanks for putting my bank account in jeopardy, John.

- Next up, these gender-swapped Doctors are too cool for school:

Peter Davison was my first Doctor, and therefore the nearest and dearest to my heart. I've never been tempted to cosplay him 'til now, though; she is ADORABLE. (They both are!) Think I can pull off Number 5 as a brunette? :D

- Here's my most popular Pinterest find this week:

Silvey Shim made these cute little gift bags from a single sheet of 8.5X11 cardstock, and get this: there's NO CUTTING - only folding! Head over to her blog for a full photo tutorial. (And maybe this is my day job talking, but wouldn't these be perfect for gifting single cupcakes?)

- Not only does Epbot reader Jessica D. make a great gender-swapped Dreamfinder:

She also created some Figment/Doctor Who mash-up art that John has decreed he must - MUST - have on a t-shirt immediately:

C'mon. How perfect is this?

Jessica assures us she's looking into t-shirt options now, so I'll let you guys know if/when she gets them available for sale.

Oh, and Jessica's Flickr stream is filled with stunning Disney photography, btw, so check that out for more eye candy!

- If you still have any money left then hang on to your wallets, because there are three new Star Wars backpacks out. The R2D2 and Stormtrooper designs are pretty terrible, but the Rebel Alliance one - ohhhh, the Rebel Alliance one!!


You can pre-order it for about $60 over at the Big Bad Toy Store, and see the other two designs (which are terrible - don't say I didn't warn you!) over at Fashionably Geek.

- For my fellow Dizgeeks, have you heard? MICKEY'S BACK! Yep, Disney is planning to release a bunch of new shorts on the Disney channel featuring Mickey and the gang in traditional 2D animation, although the art style is really fresh and fun:

 This Yodeling clip (sorry I can't embed it!) made me laugh out loud, and I've watched it like four times in a row now. (Why yes, the show IS aimed at 4-10 year-olds. Why do you ask? ;))

Oh, and I like how this one finally points out that Mickey and Donald are only half-dressed:

(Only the shoes, Goofy? Really? HE HAS NO PANTS.)

You can also watch one entire short, "Croissant de Triomphe" here on the Disney site.
(Thanks to Cara B. for the tip!)

- And finally, most of you have probably already seen Conversations With My Two-Year-Old, but since several of my friends haven't yet, this is my reminder to those individuals (you know who you are!) to just watch this:

Then go watch the rest of the episodes, too. There are four total so far, and they're hysterical.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June Art Roundup & Give-Away!

Time for this month's roundup of geeky eye-candy!

Victoria P. linked me up to Justin Hillgrove's site, and he's got some super fun prints over there:

"Party Crasher," 11X17 print, $20

And a few more of my favorites:

Head over to Justin's site, Imps and Monsters, to see lots, LOTS more.

Here's a few new conventions sketches from Sara Richard that I'd LOVE to see available as prints:

Found on Sara's Facebook page.

In the meantime, I'll just have to hope to find her at a convention sometime! (Check her site for a few prints that ARE available, though.)

For those of you planning a Star Wars nursery:

"Beware, the Darth Star" 8x8 print, $16 by Muddybeats (plus lots of other sizes available)

The Dark Side just got a whole lot cuter!

There's also a companion print:

"Disappointment" 8X8 print, $16


Of course, seeing as much fantastic art as I do can be pretty hazardous to your bank account. Here's my most recent splurge: a 3D "Peeking Monster" named Minch:

Lyla Warren has several different styles of monsters to choose from, and they're all made to order. I haven't gotten mine yet, but I can't wait to add this little guy to my office walls! (Just as soon as I find some room. Yeeeeah... Good thing he's small!)

 Lyla also sculpts some completely endearing "Tree Spirits"

Kinda reminds me of some of the creatures from Fantasia - like she's watching all the centaurs frolic in a nearby field. Heh.

Oh, and Lyla recently posted this work-in-progress (dubbed "pinecone head") over on her Tumblr. I can't wait to see it painted!

Just lookit dat face!


And while we're talking 3D art, Gretchen K. found one of the most epic art dolls I have ever seen:  the Labyrinth Cannonball Goblin!

 About $192 at etsy shop The Further Shore, made to order.


For comparison, here's a screen shot from the movie of the goblins in questions (note the shelf in the background):

Next up, you may have gathered by now that I like robots. [smirk] So naturally I'm crushing on this fella:

I love the fine art style, too; you don't see traditional paintings featuring robots too often!

This is the cover of Matt Dixon's art book titled "Transmissions," but according to Matt's site you can also order any of his works as a signed print, starting at GBP $12.50. (You can see more at his DeviantArt gallery, too.) Matt does mostly pinup art, but there are a few more cute 'bots in there, like this one:

"The Mystery of Flight"

Again, head over to Matt's site if you'd like either of those as prints!

Here's something pretty darn cool: Rachel B. (aka Little Girl Spock's mom) recently commissioned a set of portraits of herself and her guy Wade in all their steampunk Star Trek finery - and the results are simply gorgeous:

These are by Vyctoria of Phantoms Siren, who specializes in the nouveau style, and she really captured every detail of their costumes. Plus I am in LOVE with the Enterprise silhouette in the background! (Bet you didn't even notice that at first, huh?)

Here's a photo of Rachel and Wade (with me) for comparison:

See what I mean? Vyctoria captured them to PERFECTION. It looks like she's open for commissions right now, too, so head over to her site if you're interested in getting your own!
[Update: Vyctoria just let me know she can't take any more commissions right now. Sorry, guys! Maybe check back with her site later?]

And finally, just when you think you've seen the Disney princesses drawn in every conceivable art style, someone goes and draws them ala Moulin Rouge:

"Fabulous, Harry, I love the feathers."

By illustrator Madhanz, who appears to just have a tumblr blog. 
(Let me know if you guys find another site for him/her, though!)

I admit it: I'd love to see a cosplay group tackle these. So pretty!

K, that's all for this month!
As always, leave a comment to be entered in this month's art give-away. The randomly selected winner will get to choose any available piece from my Pinterest art board as their prize. (I'll ship anywhere, so no worries if you live somewhere outside the U.S.) I'll announce the winner next week, so stay tuned!

Oh, and good news! The creator of last month's oh-so-popular Iocane print has offered one up for my prize board! So if you've been drooling over that piece, be sure to comment for your chance to win it! (I'm planning on going to a small local convention in a few weeks, too, I'll be sure to stock up on more art for the board. YAY SHOPPING EXCUSE!)

UPDATE: The give-away has ended, and the winner is Rachel Brown! Congrats, Rachel, and please e-mail me your mailing address!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Epbot Exemplars: "My First Con" Edition!

I thought this would be a good follow-up to my last post: I get so many convention "success stories" from you readers that I started compiling a few of my favorites. These are all from people who attended a convention for the very first time, many of whom struggle with anxiety and/or just didn't know what to expect. Once you've read their stories, I think you'll see why I just HAD to share. Enjoy!

Note: If anything seems a little stilted, it's because I've edited these for brevity. Apologies. :)

From Marsi in Vancouver:
"Just wanted to let you know that I went to my first con yesterday.  It was amazing!!!!  I couldn't believe how fun it was and all we did was walk around and look at / photograph costumes (and maybe do a bit of shopping).  The best part was having little girls come up and ask to have their picture taken with me (I was Cruella de Vil).  My heart melted each time it happened and I might have teared up.  I think I need to quit my job and work at Disney as a character actor."


 "I felt like a bit of a celebrity w/ all the people who would yell out 'Cruella!' as I walked by them, and in one case I heard the Cruella theme song being sung."

(Hee! She really does have one of the best theme songs.)

From Ula K. in Poland:

"Greetings from Poland!

"I know how you appreciate it when readers tell you that you've encouraged them to go to a convention or try cosplaying for the first time, so I'm proud to tell you that this is my story, too. I've always been too shy, especially around crowds, to go to a con. However, reading the 'success stories' on Epbot, and seeing the gorgeous photos that your readers shared, made me gradually build up some courage. Then I saw your amazing Lady Vadore costume, and it set off something in me. 

 "It gave me an idea: to appear as a SW character... with a Disney twist. And that's how the 'Darth Vader taken over by Ursula from the Little Mermaid' idea came to life."

"'s still far from final; I want to add more details and reinvent some of them altogether, based on the great tips the 'professionals' gave me (they approached me on their own, saying they wanted pictures for their website, which was a HUGE ego boost!).

"P.S. After the convention, I was so encouraged by the kind words I heard that I'm already planning my next costume, so I'll be sure to update you when I finish it!"

From Carina in Germany:

"Hi Jen,

"I’m a 27 year old geek girl from Germany. I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now, and I wanted to say thank you for all the awesome stuff that you write.

"I don’t want to bother you with all the details of my mental illnesses – for now it’s enough to say that I’m very introverted and really shy, and I sometimes get panic attacks when I’m surrounded by lots of people. Even going to the supermarket can be a bit of a challenge to me.

"So, going to a fair or convention is not easy for me, although I love to look at all the stuff. But this weekend, I managed to go to a con (Role Play Convention in Cologne) in costume! Your posts about cons, costumes and your anxiety attacks have been an inspiration.

"At first, I couldn’t decide if I should really go in costume, because it was supposed to become a steampunk costume (and all the steampunky details have yet to be added), and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle the attention – or if anybody would even like it at all. Plus the costume is green and I usually only wear black."
 (Carina made this all herself, too!)

"You know what? It was great! I got asked for pictures so many times that I lost count. People approached me, asked me if I made the costume myself and I got lots of compliments! I did not have to say much, only pose for the cameras and smile."

"Such an awesome experience and a real boost for my confidence.

"To all shy persons, I can really recommend going in costume. You don’t have to go out of your comfort zone too much, because people will come to you. It is so much easier to talk to people if you don’t have to make the first step."

From Alyssa (also in Vancouver):

"I wanted to thank you for telling your readers about your anxiety, and sharing your stories about it. It made me feel like maybe I could go to a con. (One of my biggest dreams is to go to San Diego Comic-Con one day. One little problem with that: I get anxious in crowds.)

"Enter my boyfriend. He's a HUUUUGE Marvel/Disney fan (we met at the Disney store where I work) and when he heard that Stan Lee was coming to the Vancouver Fan Expo he begged to go. I was nervous at first because I didn't think I could handle a super crowded room for that long. Then I re-read some of your entries and it made me feel like I should just go. And so I did!

 Alyssa chillin' with a Witch King at the con

"My boyfriend definitely helped me out, he made sure he walked in front of me to part the crowd (he's over 6 feet tall, it works) and was always making sure I felt comfortable or if I needed to leave the main room to go into the adjoining - much emptier - hallway. I did feel anxious a couple times (it was wall to wall people) but I didn't feel overwhelmed. And I got to meet some awesome people! James Marsters, Stan Lee, David Proust, and Elvira were all there. We got pictures with the 501st as well.

 "It was a really awesome two days that I don't know if I could have handled without knowing that others can as well. So thank you."

From Alice G. in San Diego:

"I just went to my first ever convention this weekend (May 3-5) and, happily enough, it was a steampunk one right in the area I live! I couldn't go all three days, but I was able to go to the Steam Powered Giraffe concert on Friday and I spent most of Saturday wandering the merchant hall.

"I've been to quite a few of Steam Powered Giraffe's shows and they're always such a blast. But I started actually dressing up to go to them, and this weekend I went as my fanbot, Cricket, who is a music box doll robot-thingy."
Alice with Hatchworth of SPG

"I had a lot of people comment on the makeup and my dress and a few took pictures! I wasn't expecting or prepared for that, but it was fun!

"Anyway, I just wanted to tell you a little about my awesome experience this weekend and to thank you for sharing your stories and encouraging us readers to try to push out of our insecurities and comfort zones. I'm extremely introverted and suffer from crowd anxiety and I don't think I would have gone to Gaslight Gathering if I hadn't been following your blog and read your stories. So thank you for all of that!"

A blurry shot of Alice with her friends and SPG. (Srsly, Alice, we need to talk about getting you a better camera! ;))

And finally, this one from Melaine in California legitimately made me cry. Dang it all.

"Hi Jen. Thanks in large part to you and the community you've fostered, I went to the Nova Albion Steampunk Convention this year.

"I've always been unashamedly out and proud about my nerdiness, so that was never an issue. But I have pretty bad anxiety, and I struggle with depression and also some super fun chronic pain problems, so going to a three-day long social event where there's also a lot of standing was...intimidating. But the pictures you post of cons make it seem so fun, and if you can do it...

"So I bought a ticket and a hotel room as a graduation present to myself, and dragged a friend along, and worked for months on my outfits, and you know what?

"I had the most fun I've ever had in my whole life. I had three whole days of uninterrupted fun and silliness. I made friends with some of the most entertaining and creative people I have ever met, and learned how to waltz and polka and then danced with strangers and it was fine. I was fine. I even have plans to go dancing with a few of them now. And I'm definitely going to Albion again next year.

"Attached is a picture of me, in the outfit of which I am proudest, grinning like I don't have a care in the world. I'm a steampunk librarian, complete with tool belt for catching and cataloging feral books (I just got accepted into a library science program in real life).

"Thank you for showing me that anxiety doesn't have to rule my life."

(Anyone else reminded of Garth Nix's Lirael? Badass steampunky librarians UNITE!)

Thanks so much to all of these fabulous, brave ladies for letting me share their stories, and to all the rest of you out there who take the time to e-mail me. I firmly believe that the more we share the things we love, the more good we can do in this world, and you are all perfect examples of that. Exemplary, even. ;)

Now I better get out of here before I get all weepy again. Thanks again, everyone, and as always, feel free to share your own photos and links in the comments or over on the Epbot Facebook page!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mailbag: How Do I Manage Crowd Anxiety At A Con?

 Jessica D. writes,

"Jen (and other Epbot readers) - I am thinking about attending the Minneapolis MetaCon in August- mostly because I see that Steam Powered Giraffe will be performing and I really really want to see them.
I, however, have Asperger's syndrome. And extreme anxiety about large crowds. Are there any hints and tips on what to do while at a con to control anxiety?"

As someone who LOVES sci-fi and comic conventions, and who also struggles with anxiety, I get asked this question a lot. Now, admittedly, I don't suffer from crowd anxiety so much as no-way-out anxiety (technical term) - but the two have a lot of overlaps. So, here are my best tips, based on what works for me:

1) Bring a friend or SO who's willing to stick by you the whole time. Moral support is key! 


2) I met a reader at the last MegaCon who told me when things got too much for her in the crowd, she'd just grab on to her husband's backpack and look at the floor, allowing him to lead her through. I do the same thing with John all the time, although for me it's more because I'm lazy and he's bigger. :) See if your convention buddy is willing to do the same - a designated crowd-parter, if you will.

3) Take lots of breaks, so you don't get too over-stimulated. Most convention facilities have smaller halls branching off with lots of empty rooms, so you should be able to find a quiet alcove to chill for a while. (If not, try heading outside.) Remember, it's better to enjoy just a few activities than be miserable with a tight schedule.

4) Bring emergency supplies: anxiety meds (if you have/need them), a full water bottle (so you don't have to hunt for a water fountain), earplugs, & sunglasses if those work for you. I really like earplugs - especially for concerts, but they also help with crowd noise and extra loud sound systems.

  General convention mayhem. Gotta love it!

5) Often times the convention staff will let you stand in the back of the room for panels and performances, which I always prefer, so don't be afraid to ask. If it's a really large convention, ask at the ticket desk about medical/guest assistance passes, which can streamline the process and save you some stress. (Sometimes I'm afraid to ask because I'm embarrassed, but believe me, it's worth it in the long run. Plus most convention staff are super accommodating if you explain you just need to be near an exit.)

6) And finally, and hardest of all: don't put too much pressure on yourself. Take the day at your own pace, and tell yourself that you'll leave if you have to, because there will always be more conventions. If you force yourself through a miserable experience, then odds are you won't try again - and that would be robbing yourself of some truly amazing adventures! So go at your own pace, and concentrate on sopping up what fun you can. When your Fun Tank is full, take a break and/or get out of there!

We feel ya, Beaker.

Other than that, don't forget the common sense stuff like getting enough sleep and eating right/enough. Oh, and keep in mind that Saturday is always the most crowded day of a multi-day convention, with Sunday being a close second. So if the convention is open on Friday, go Friday.

Along the same lines, try to go to a smaller local convention for your first one, if you can, before jumping in to the really huge events. Little cons are much more relaxed, and are a wonderful way to test the crowd-anxiety waters.

Ok, guys: what'd I miss? Share you own tips for managing anxiety at a convention in the comments!