Saturday, September 22, 2012

Science Is My Religion!

I am not a religious person. I do not consider myself among the faithful of any organized religion (or disorganized one). I have been, at varying times in my life, a Christian, a Pagan, an Atheist, an Agnostic*... and now, mostly I believe in Truth. I believe in the Scientific Method. Once I even said to some door-to-door god-botherers, "Science is my religion." (As an aside, I no longer find it necessary to be polite to people who bother me in my home, taking my time, when there's a sign next to the doorbell they just used that says "No Soliciting".)

So since I am not religious, I find it somewhat baffling that saints and icons are so fascinating to me. I once digitally altered a saint card, and presented it to my belly dance teacher. I was a little apprehensive; she is Catholic. Not only did she love it, but she showed it to her ma, who also loved it. No higher complement.

The only part of the original card I kept is the gold
border and halo medallion thing. The background photo
is one I took in Istanbul, played with in Photoshop.
So when The Mary Sue featured artists who work in the same genre as my St. Magda card, I was just tickled.

"Trinity" by Jska Priebe, "Super Marie" by French artist Soasig Chamaillard
Prieb's "Trinity" is part of a gallery showing, STELLAR: The Women of Science Fiction. Chamaillard's "Super Marie" is part of a series that appears to be called "Apparitions." She was blasted by Catholic faithful for her "sacrilege," but she responded with grace:
"Faith should be strong enough to remain unshaken by simple objects. I think they need to step back from the object and not forget that it's an artistic work."
It makes me want to find a bunch of cheap plaster Mary statuettes and go nuts... but I already have a project in mind for Wonder Woman. I just need to lay my hands on a bunch of old comics that I don't object to destroying.

*Either all of them are capitalized, or none of them are.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wonder Woman Shadow Box

Cross-posted on Creative Miscellany.

The other day, I saw a small shadow box at Homegoods. It was about 8 inches square (they had larger sizes, too, but the smallest one suited my purposes) and came in two finishes -- crackle white, and distressed grey. I didn't care for the crackle, and it would have left a texture to paint over without extensive sanding; the grey would be immediately paintable.

I brought it home and dug out a 12x12" sheet of Wonder Woman scrapbook paper I bought years ago and never knew what I was going to do with it. Apparently, I bought it for this.  :) The somewhat subdued colors of the paper look great with the grey frame... which I promptly decided not to paint, since they looked so good together.

The tricky part was getting the back off. It was nailed on with tiny tacks, down too deep in the fiberboard to pull, so I ended up carefully pushing the back off. This left the tacks above the surface of the lip of the frame and I knew getting them to line up would be a pain. Instead, I used a screwdriver as a nail sink, and tapped them down with a hammer.

I had to sand the back a little, because in addition to the tacks, there was also some glue. The backing board is 8" square; I cut my paper 7 3/4" square after I made sure that would cover all the backing visible from the front. I used a permanent glue stick (not too wet, but plenty sticky!) and smoothed the paper down with a credit card. I hit some of the dried glue inside the lip of the frame with sandpaper, dusted it off, and put a thin bead of Tacky Glue all around the lip. The backing board went on next, pressing firmly to seat it in places, and to ensure good contact with the glue.

And here's what it looks like finished:

front view

looking down into the shadow box; it's about 1 1/2" deep

Sorry; I forgot to take pics "in progress," but I hope you can follow along with my process. This was super simple, and a really quick project.

Some of you might be looking at that and thinking, "wow, that's a really busy background, the figure sort of gets lost." And you may be right. Even though the colors of the frame and background are not really bright, it's a patterned background for a small object. I am considering going through some of the old comics and finding a suitable speech bubble to cut out and put near her head, and mat it on white to give it some definition. Others of you might be thinking, "of all the action figures, you chose that one?" Yep! Because she was my first. Plus, she gets totally lost on the shelf with the other Wonder Woman figures (she's only 5" tall with her arm raised)

This idea would work for maybe a trio of small figures (GI Joe-sized) or a pair of larger ones, assuming they don't need more than 1 1/2" deep to stand in. You could showcase some of your favorite smaller figures this way. I say "favorite" because the shadow box was $15 -- expensive if you plan to put all your figs on display this way. And you don't have to go all out like I did and change the backing, you could leave it plain, paint it a different color, or paint an actual background if you're artistic.

If you try it for yourself, I'd love to see the results!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

And now I has a sad...

So I see a link from Think Geek in my Twitter feed. And it is awesome. A Batman lunch box. With. A. CAPE!
Such fabulosity can hardly be limited to Bats, so I dig around on the TG site. Nada. OK, no big, they don't carry everything in the world. I found it on Amazon, and see that it's made my Thermos, and head to their site... where I discover that they have totally bought into the whole action heroes are for boys bullshit.

Barbie, Hello Kitty, Dora the Explorer,  iCarly and various cute purse-style lunch bags
OR Iron Man, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Darth Vader. Honestly, I may vomit.

Girls get cutesy purses... Boys get severed heads!

I sent the following letter to Thermos, via their contact form:
I was excited to see the Batman caped lunchbox, until I discovered there was no similar one for superHEROINES. Unfortunately, Thermos seems to have decided that girls only want pink and dolls. This is not the case. There are a lot of young girls and adult women who very much want to be part of the superhero scene, but manufacturers have forgotten about us. I see you have both DC and Marvel licenses. There are any number of appropriate heroines that you could use for your products. Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Storm, She-Hulk (one of my all-time faves), Jean Grey... There are lots of us out here in geekland who love our heroines, and buy officially licensed merchandise. Give us a chance! Girls can be heroic too!
If you also think this is total crap, let them know! Use the convenient form on their website (linked above) and TELL them.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


In the basement are boxes of comic books, 19 in all. I knew their contents were a mess, and I knew I wanted to get an inventory of them, like the one I did for our library using LibraryThing (I highly recommend that, by the way, it's so easy to use). I ended up buying Comic Collector, by Collectorz and am satisfied with it. There are a few holes in their database, but adding manually isn't a big deal. (There's a trial version you can download if you need to kick the tires first.)

I hauled the boxes upstairs to my computer, more or less one by one, and started entering them into the database, bagging any loose books, sorting by publisher, consolidating boxes. Presently, I have 2 empty boxes. I don't think I'll be able to consolidate much more than that, but we'll see...

Now I am down to the last box of comics... well, two, because one series is screwy in their database (as well as being somewhat screwy from the publisher), so I need to figure out where the people who entered it initially screwed up and try to fix it for my database. Well, and a box of magazines that sort of fit in with the comics. AT ANY RATE, I'm nearly done, as soon as I get another pack of bags. Presently, the inventory is at 1408, my estimate is that by time I'm done, I'll be at about 1600. (Not so many; that guy on Collection Intervention had 30,000!)

Once that's finished, I need to go back through and alpha/sequence the boxes, and sort the non-Marvel/DC boxes so that publishers are grouped together. Because if you're going to do it, you should do it all.

Then have to go through the database and make a list of the missing issues and start filling in holes, because having a series that's missing a title or two makes me nuts. And I'm still trying to figure out where my issue #32 of Lee's Action Figure News & Toy Review went (it's sentimental - the tipping point into starting my female figures collection).

"Deadliest of the Species - Collecting Female Figures"

Some of the boxes I inventoried contained trades and hardcovers. They belong with the comic collection, but not in with the comic books. I think I need one more of those Ikea "Kilby" bookcases to replace a smaller bookcase I have down there already, so I can put the graphic novels there, next to the figures and the comic book boxes. Plus it will look better integrated, if all the cases on that wall match. (It's going to bug me until I fix it.)

I'd like to continue to working on finding first appearance issues for some of my figures, but some of those are pricey and not a priority. What I would really love to do is print out miniature versions of the 1st App covers and display those with the figures... because I so needed another project.

At any rate, getting this finished is a large part of my basement overhaul. OK, you may be thinking that an inventory and general maintenance of the comic books doesn't really make the basement less free of clutter and stuff. But it is part of the basement, it is something that needed to be done, and when I'm down there working on getting the piles eliminated, the chaos in those white boxes nags me. Soon, there will be order. Soon there will be finished grownup space. (Hey! they may be toys, but they belong to an adult and they're displayed as a collection.) Soon I will have my girlfriends out to party down there. Of course, "soon" is relative -- if I can make it happen within the next 4-5 months, I'll be thrilled.

And dammit... if the comic book shop didn't open until bloody noon today, I could have been done with the comics by now...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fashion Fail

If you read comics or play video games, and you're female, you have probably wondered why the female characters are so... briefly... clad. If the male characters were similarly dressed, what might that look like?

Some artists have imagined just that very thing, and some of their imaginative illustrations have been collected in this post over at Comic Book Resources. Here's a preview of some of the Fashion Fails in that post:
The artist for this one is Michael Magtanong. His illustration (used here with permission)
of Hal Jordan in Star Sapphire's getup was part of a challenge directed at artists.
You can find Mic?'s blog here: (and here's his original post).
Honestly, the more I look at this, the more ridiculous it gets. Bravo, Mic?!

Wow. Serious fashion fail, there. And so is it when the ladies have to wear that crap too! When fighting crime, or monsters, or wreaking havoc, why do we have to do it half-naked or in skin-tight outfits?? And haven't these illustrators ever taken an anatomy for artists class? They do realize that women have spines, too, right? Do they not know what spandex does to flesh? (Here's a hint: it flattens.)

Tight costumes, such as the sort of things the women (and men!) are often seen wearing, would mash down soft tissue (AKA boobs). It would not look like the woman was naked with the costume painted on. I'm pretty sure those heroines and villainesses are not wearing painted-on liquid latex, so therefore boobs are gonna get smashed down in those costumes.

High heels? Really? Women who are accustomed to wearing them can run in them if they need to. But I can't imagine a woman who knows she's probably going to encounter a fight at some point in her evening, would choose to wear heels when there are far more practical options. Not to mention the risk of snapping the stiletto off somewhere...

Long hair is glamorous and sexy. I love having long hair, but I rarely wear it loose because it's hotter than hell, tangles, and gives an attacker another way to grab and control me. (I know this from personal experience, y'all: you do not want to give a mugger something to grab hold of and control any part of your body, especially your head.)

Look, I know that men and boys read comics, and are the majority demographic, but you do not have to have the costumes be so brief, that readers are holding their breath, wondering how many panels before the thing falls off. Sexy does not equal nearly-nekkid. No, really! And if that's all you're looking for in a comic, I think you should consider some of the adult titles. Those at least are up front with what they're doing. Emma Frost should not model for Frederick's of Hollywood, Catwoman should not be posing for Hustler. Or if they do it should be some weird plot point, not just they way they look all the time.

I like looking at attractive women. I like looking at attractive men. The human form can be very appealing, but I don't think that the sexed-up women in comics today are showcasing the best of what those artists can do, or how sexy and powerful and strong a woman can look, and still be fully dressed.

Clearly, I am not alone in how I view this. A lot of the other rants are also coming from women who are all like, WTF? Some men seem to agree with us. If you read any of these other articles, be sure to read the comments, too.

Fashion Rants, select links to other articles about the State of Dress in comics
She has no head! - No it's not equal by Kelly Thompson
The big sexy problem with superheroines and their 'liberated sexuality' by Laura Hudson
Art can make a difference: responding to the "just don't read it" defense by Kate Leth
Dear DC Comics [a writer's 7 year-old daughter responds to the new Starfire], by Michele Lee
DC Comics: bad at math, David Willis' Shortpacked! cartoon about the Starfire problem
No more mutants: 52 problems by Andrew Wheeler
A response from a female comic book fan by Ms Snarky
Ker-Pow! Women kick back against comic-book sexism by Ben Quinn
It's not the pants by DC Women Kicking Ass
The myth of sexy superman and the search for superhero beefcake by Andrew Wheeler

For more artistic Don'ts, check out Escher Girls!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

D' Fence

I was thinking of ways to keep the action figure dominoes off the floor, where they might get broken... or eaten...
Who, me??
Glass doors were not an option -- those kind of shelving units were just not in the budget. I briefly considered clear packing tape, just across the bottom, but dismissed the idea as both bad (would ruin the finish on the shelves) and ugly (shiny/distracting, plus dust would collect on the sticky side). Then it hit me: dowels, as a "fence" across the front of the shelves, fitting into the holes that were already there for the adjusting shelves! I grabbed a scrap piece of 1/4" dowel, but it was too wide to fit in the hole. No prob! I shaved it down in the electric pencil sharpener, and that worked beautifully. To the hardware store, Robin!

I bought 48" dowels that are 1/4" in diameter. I needed a bunch of them, because the shelves are 26" wide, which left me with a lot of "waste" (more on that shortly). I measured one, tapered it, fit it into place, then measured all the others against that.

For each dowel, I scored around the circumference with an X-acto knife, then with my thumbnails on either side of the scored line, broke the dowel to length -- very quick work. Then, each end was tapered in the pencil sharpener. Because the dowels are thin, they bend nicely to be fit in place.

Scored dowel
Broken to length
Tapered with the pencil sharpener
Fit into the pre-drilled holes
Worked perfectly!
And it doesn't look bad, either
The third shelves down don't have fences, because that is a fixed shelf, and had no pre-drilled holes. So I'll have to drill holes for those, or use glue, but I think drilling is the more sensible option. The nice thing about the dowels is that if they're just a little bit too long, they can be cut down a little with the pencil sharpener. If I glue them up, the width has to be perfect.

The "waste" pieces, I am going to experiment with finding a good (inexpensive) way to keep the figures from falling over in the first place. (Doll stands, even the small ones, run about $1.50-$2, and if I can make my own from scrap, yay me.)

UPDATE: The balsa wood and scrap dowel does indeed work to make a doll stand.

Princess Gwenevere can barely stand on her own with her teeny feet in those high heeled boots.

That's 1/4" balsa, a piece of the 1/4" dowel, some floral wire (heavy) and a little wood glue. It's very light weight, and the wire makes it a little top-heavy since the balsa is so light. BUT, the balsa cuts with an X-acto knife, "drills" easily with the tip of the blade, and sands quickly with an emery board.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Collection Curation

I've been working my tail off on the basement, trying to get the basement unpacked from the move (2 years ago) and ready to be used in total instead of just a few cleared out areas. The mess is largely mine. I am horribad at putting things away, but I'm really trying to get better about that. It's so much easier to work on anything if you can easily find all the things you need!

So the weekend my husband was at WorldCon, I worked in the basement. It was a long weekend (a very long weekend...) but I had few distractions and got a ton done. This Saturday, I was back at it, but getting really discouraged. It seemed like no matter how much I got done, there was still so much to do; I wasn't ever going to get done.

We'd talked about getting some inexpensive bookcases at Ikea to house the figure collection. The shelves we put up are awesome, but there just aren't enough of them. I was out of room and still had a ton of figures yet to unbox. These unboxed toys were part of the issue in the basement -- those boxes of action figures take up a lot of room, and were in the way. So Saturday afternoon, while I was feeling pretty limp and discouraged, Marc asked if getting those shelves up would help. "Maybe?" I told him. I really wasn't sure just how much difference it was going to make. We went to Ikea, ate there, wrestled with the crowds of people who apparently have all the spacial and situational awareness of your average dandelion. (Sadly, punching people in the back of the head is illegal. *grumble*) We had to unpackage one of the boxes just to get all five of them in the car.

Even though I was tired, I started putting them together. By the time I got to the fifth case, I was so sore from all the bending, my husband had to build it. I think it was one in the morning before we went to bed. (And I had to drag my butt up two flights, then try to get into a bed that sits on risers -- that was challenging.) When the pup woke us at 6:30, he got up with her; I went back to sleep and didn't get up til 8. (I married a great guy.)

After getting to sleep in, I was reasonably energetic and eager to start on moving the collection. Had some coffee, took some ibuprofen, and headed downstairs to get started. I worked on it until around 4 in the afternoon. I unboxed a bunch. I arranged and rearranged and played action figure dominoes, and generally had a marvelous time. He asked me, "Are you happy?" Yes, yes I am. They look awesome. They're out of the packaging, because they're toys that are meant to be played with. They are not my retirement fund.

So, as a reminder, here's what they looked like on the shelves before I moved them:

4" shelves worked fine, for a while, and they did fit the space nicely
without sticking out too far into the walkway.

The Star Trek/Star Wars (really, "Science Fiction") display has to stay where it was, and that's fine, really, since the wall they occupy isn't good for much else, anyway.

There's a few more figures on these shelves now, but I'm too tired to run back down and take a current photo.
And here is what they look like now:

In case you don't recognize the boxes on the bottom shelf, those are full of comic books.

This is the center: Wonder Woman is at (my) eye level, and Sailor Moon above.

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Barbie. On the one hand, I feel the unrealistic image she
brainwashes little girls with is evil, but on the other, Hallowe'en!

Hopefully, the Fisher-Price Wonder Woman in her invisible jet negates the evil Barbieness.

The bookcases we used were Ikea's Kilby. They are 6'3" tall, 2'2" wide and 9.5" deep. It's hard to see from the photos, but the finish is "birch", so it fades into the beige paint that's on the walls. The backing is a very neutral grey, good for displaying figures against. What I ought to do now is get a 2x4 and cut it to width, so I can raise up the figures in the back row (or maybe check the garage and see if we have some scrap I can scavenge). Enclosed units would be swell, but those are very expensive, and way out of our budget.

The end result of this, other than making my geeky heart very happy, was the emptying of a few more boxes, getting the comic boxes out of random stacks on the floor (well, most of them), and allowing me to move the DVD collection from a couple of shelving units on the other end of the basement to the shelves that I had the figures on before.

The comics are one of my next near-future projects. I need to do an inventory of them and consolidate boxes (they aren't all full). And since my back is still aching, that might be a better task for today than the endless bending and sorting of the piles of "misc" that fill up the space. Or maybe, since I only got 5 hours of sleep, I'll go back to bed...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thrill of the Hunt

Today I did something I hadn't done in a long, long time: I went hunting.

I wasn't looking for any particular figure(s), I just wanted to see what I could find. I started way early in the morning, because, hey! Walmart is 24 hours! At Walmart, I discovered Rita Repulsa. (I also bought my pup a rawhide bone for leaving her all alone.) Then I went to Target (nada), then to KMart, where I picked up a Star Sapphire Wonder Woman (and some glitter nail polish). I was all set to hit a Toys R Us, but I was too early for them yet, so I went to another Target store (nada). Finally, TRU was open so I went to one of those (a different one than before) and found a Princess Nuala for $1.50. No, that's not a misplaced decimal -- I paid with paper for plastic for the first time in I don't even know how long. And it's a pretty fantastic sculpt, too.

YAY! She's a great villainess, and it's about time she got a figure.
Someone else did a video review of her: watch it here.
So naturally now I have to get the Blackest Night WW, or this one makes no sense...
Mezco did a fine job on this sculpt, in my opinion, but she doesn't appear to have a lot of action.
We'll see, once I get her out of the box.

I had forgotten how fun and how frustrating it could be to search for toys in the wild, instead of getting them on ebay. Back in the day, when I was really kinda rabid about the figures, it would be nothing for me to spend an entire day driving from one store to the next, one town to the next, searching for a figure. But then, I also read the magazines and knew when they were due out on the shelves, and could plan accordingly. I usually had a friend along for the ride too, which makes it even more fun.

I am quite satisfied with my haul, given the state action figures are in right now. And I had fun, and that's what collecting should be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Who knows? A number of outspoken female bloggers know! Here's the latest. (Trigger warning)

Honestly, I don't know how much more of this I can stand to read, and it's not even happening to me. Why does any man think this is ok? The hateful harassing, the nasty comments about rape. It makes me sick to my stomach. These trolls, they're never going to stop, not so long as women continue to fight back because that's part of their game. But they don't stop if they're ignored, either.

They just



The women who are facing this, you're amazing. I salute you and I support you. The visions in my head of what I'd like to do to your tormentors is pretty graphic; I have an excellent imagination. But that won't fix the problem.

This is so deeply disturbing.