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Geico No-Go: Franchise Frustration at NY Comic Con 2014


I was amazed and angry. I know that at the New York Comic Con, there would be soft-core porn, bad Once Upon A Time parodies, panels I couldn’t get into and the like. I’ve no problems with that…well I do with the last, but that’s besides the point…. But I’d never expected what I saw on the floor and am still a bit furious. It was the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen at one of these cons with the singular exception of a woman selling “Boys are stupid, let’s hit them with rocks” tee shirts.

This was even worse than the Death of Archie® or the Book of Job action figure with real running sores! It was the GEICO booth.

Now for the full disclosure: I own stock in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate that owns this insurance company. But just because of that doesn’t mean I like their commercials. I don’t and never have. So when I saw an old fashioned trailer surrounded by cardboard cutouts of their pitch critters, I was incensed. Don’t get me wrong. I know that cartoons and advertising have been hand-in-glove pop culture items since the beginning. Hell, the Yellow Kid pitched cigars in the 19th century! But branding isn’t what this event is about -- at least for me. It’s about the art form.

Cartoons specifically designed only to sell something else isn’t what I think should be at an event like this comic con. The product that is celebrated at such an event is the artwork or the TV show itself, not the advertising that pays for it. This is not about selling automobiles or insurance for automobiles -- it's about the creative impulse behind the work made, the characters developed.  If it was, then goddammit, they would have let Kellogg’sQuaker Oats and Post Cereals have booths.

Garry Moore Tony the Tiger 1955

Toy companies and the like have been producing comics as promotions for years and years. If you go to YouTube and look at the opening credits for the Huckleberry Hound show, you'll notice that Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackel and Pop were dancing around with everybody else. Then there was the Linus the Lionhearted show from the mid 1960s, where the Post cereal characters had their own episodes. While that managed to hold on for a while, (it was banned in 1969) activist groups came on it like a ton of bricks. They also destroyed a proposed Chester Cheetah show in 1992.

The question as to whether promotional premiums from fast food places or cereal boxes belong at a comic con is one thing. There didn’t seem to be too many dealers in antique stuff there (although there were people who would appraise your antiques or protect that copy of Superman #3 you have in your safety deposit box), and I don’t think there have been many Adventures of the Hamburgler comic books given away in the past 20 years anyway.

But the things that were supposed to be promoted were the ‘toons, video games, and TV shows, not commercials promoting insurance.The Geico characters are made simply to sell insurance -- there's isn't an innocent element of honest creation in the development of this gecko character or other related Geico concepts; they are just created as a cynical device for the sale of product. Celebrating this with a booth at NYCC is wrong.

Some things are just wrong.


Epic Cookies Emerge at NY Comic Con

When I went to the 2013 New York Comic Con this year, I knew there would be no shortage of ground to cover, panels to attend, and cosplayers to gawk at. All this running around is enough to tire even the most hearty con-goer. What I didn’t expect was to find a comic, a delicious snack, and an energy boost all at one modest booth.

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies are four delicious cookies, each packed with a fun little comic book, with some surprisingly decent art. It reminds me of the multitude of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle clones from my youth (COW-Boys of Moo Mesa, anyone?), but paired with some great treats that are of a less dubious nature than the old Ninja Turtle Pudding-Pies.

There are four flavors, each represented by it’s own anthropomorphic equine avatar. Houston is a chocolate chip cookie with potato chip pieces mixed in. Cadiz combines marshmallows, crisped rice, and sprinkles. Broxburn is a hearty oatmeal cookie with orange zest, raisins, and chocolate chips. Romsey is a daring combination of peanut butter, maple, and bacon. The cookies are packed with a comic that branches off in a unique path for each character/flavor.

houston cookieHouston is a classic style chocolate chip cookie, with a soft and chewy body and a pleasant crunch bestowed upon it by the potato chips. The salty/sweet combo may seem strange at first to some, but I noticed that the friends I shared the cookies with still tore through them voraciously. One or two cookies in a bag might be overly salty, but that feels like a trade off for the home-made/organic quality of the cookies. Houston takes a great “classic with a twist” approach and does not disappoint.

You would think that Cadiz would be a gooey cookie, but the sugars in it makes it more brittle and crunchy, which is not unpleasant, just unexpected. It’s taste is slightly reminiscent of Funfetti, but without being overly sweet. I recommend it with a cup of coffee.

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies have a true home made appeal to them. They’re not uniform, and sometimes you might get one slightly singed, but that’s okay. These cookies show genuine care and craft in them, without the cynical attempts at one-up-manship you see in the foodie/culinary elite.

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Hood by Air: The Look of The Underground

altEarly today at Milk's MADE Studio, Hood by Air (headed by Shayne Oliver) premiered their Fall/Winter 2013 collection amongst a crowd of ravenous and eclectic bloggers, reporters, photographers, and editors.

Unlike the high-gloss of the shows premiering at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Hood by Air took another approach, inviting guests into the large, clean-looking arena that is the MADE studio in the Meatpacking District of NYC. The venue reflected the aura of the show -- post-modern, structural, and unconcerned with the concerns of beauty.

The show opened with an array of lasers and a large white cloud of fog that obscured the models just before they came into view on the runway.

The show was exciting, the energy palpable. The show's theatric leaning added an extra dimension of interest, and differentiated it from the ordinary runway show. 

Watching it, I couldn't help but be reminded of Bernadette Corporation, which operated mostly strongly as a subculture phenomenon in the 1990s, a collective of people entering the fashion world and subverting it from the inside. Shayne Oliver borrows from the aesthetic of 1990s club and streetwear as well, with oversized, deconstructed pieces that look almost as though they are about to fall off the body, but miraculously cling, giving many of the looks the illusion of floating.


A fur hood that might otherwise conjur the idea of luxury, taken here for its own and subverted into something that exhibits strength and a unique taste.

The most striking thing about Hood by Air, though, is its conversation between street, club-kid, thumping underground and high society, and past culture.

Oliver includes accessories that might be seen on a rich woman on Park Avenue, such as a diamond earing or pearl necklace, but the piece is absorbed too by the seemingly haphazard style of everything else. When closely looked at, it becomes evident that these tokens of high society become grounding focal points for structures that are carefully planned out.


The collection involved some pieces with extremely angular arcitechture.


The collection inspires also a sense of the otherworldly, as a few of the models took on their own exterior, creature-like personas and danced, thrashed, and crawled their way down the runway.

The power of the clothing was enhanced by this idea of the near-paranormal, a unique style and attitude exhibited by those in the club scene. At the same time, many of the looks reflected inspirations of dress from ancient cultures.

Some looks included pieces of accessories from high society.

In the end, what this show and this brand really becomes about is power and self-expression without needing to convert to something from the mainstream.

[All Photos by Emily Heinz] 

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Wrap-Up

Comic-Con 2011 held every year in San Diego is the Mecca for geeks everywhere to show the world their "geekdom". It's not uncommon to find yourseSan Diego Comic-Con 2011lf at the convention mingling with an anime character look-alike and big name celebrities at the same time, assuming you can find them in the massive crowd.

Ever since its beginning in 1970, the convention has steadily grown in attendance, topping out at over 150,000 people in 2010. Currently, the event is held in the San Diego Convention Center where it is planned to host the event until 2015. SDCC is the premier event for anything comic books, movies, TV and even video games.

Unlike the other high caliber events like E3 and CES, Comic-Con is open to the public and is enjoyed by every kind of attendee, including collectors, fan boys and the journalist elite.

The biggest spectacle on display, however, are the cosplayers: people dressed in costume as their favorite fictional characters. Some costumes take years of planning with attention to detail. Costume contests are common at display booths where the best suit often wins large prizes.

While the SDCC show floor is the main gathering point, the panels and talks are the main attraction. With lines lasting on average of 3 hours, popular panels featuring stars like Adam Sessler from G4, WWE wrestlers Triple H and Rey Mysterio, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane and many others cover all aspects of entertainment media. Movie announcements, video game details, TV show announcements and release dates of featured comic books are discussed by industry experts and attended by regular fans.

The 2011 San Diego Comic-Con did not disappoint with numerous announcements.


The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)The Amazing Spider Man
dir. Marc Webb
At the Sony panel, the unveiling of the new movie The Amazing Spider-Man was unexpected. A fan dressed up in Cosplay as Spider-Man went up to the stage during the movie presentation. The costume appeared to have come from the costume store next door and half-hastily put on.

As the mock Spider-Man approached the microphone, he took off the mask and revealed to the audience his true identity as Andrew Garfield, the actor portraying Spider-Man in the upcoming blockbuster movie. The presentation concluded with a teaser trailer for the movie being shot in 3D.

Mass Effect: The Mmass effectovie
Screen writer Mark Protosevich
Game Creator Casey Hudson
Mass Effect: The Movie was on topic at this year's SDCC during the Legendary Pictures panel. Both the lead screen writer and the game creator acknowledged the lackluster history of video game-based movies, and plan on creating a visual experience which should break that trend.

Protosevich mentioned that previous movie makers in the genre concentrated on visuals and action rather than the spirit of the game they were recreating. However, no additional news on the title was presented, but every gamer is looking forward to the title.

Jurassic Park 4
dir. Steven Spielberg
Rumors of the fourth installment have been floating around the internet since Jurassic Park 3. Steven Spielberg himself confirmed JP4 with a tagline "An adventure 65 million years in the making." He hinted at a release date within 2 or 3 years but didn't share any details on cast or writing staff.


Mortal Kombat
Freddy Krueger DLC on Mortal KombatThe newest edition of the classic fighting series was released with triumphant success. Since then, new characters and costumes were released to the gaming public. The fourth and final new character was announced at SDCC as the nightmare himself, Freddy Krueger, makes his appearance in the game. He will be available for download on August 9, 2011 with 400 Microsoft points or $4.99 on the PlayStation Network.

Puddle is a physics based puzzle game where the player controls the tilt of the world in order to get liquids through the level. It's almost like looking into an ant farm, tilting it to get water to travel through all the different crevices throughout. For either the Xbox or PlayStation, control of the world is done through use of the Xbox analog sticks or by tilting the Sony DualShock 3 controller. The goal is to get the maximum about of liquid to the end of a stage in the shortest amount of time.

Also shown at E3 2011, Leadmees by Konami is basically Lemmings for the Kinect. Using the Kinect camera, players are to position themselves in a way so that small characters on the screen go from one end of the level to the other, all while ensuring their safety. Players will find themselves contorting their bodies in order to save these cute little creatures.

The Walking Dead: The Game
Based on the popular comic book collection and the recent television series, Telltale Games' The Walking Dead: The Game is expected to live up to its predecessor. The game focuses on Lee Everett and takes place during the events of the comics. A moral choice system is implemented in this Telltale title and adds hours of replay value to the experience. No release date has been set.

Sideway the GameThink about how awesome Mario was at the 2D platform genre. Now think about putting that game in 3D. No, not all in 3D, but just the environment.

That game would be Sideway, a 2D side scrolling adventure set in a three-dimensional world. You play as Nox, a graffiti artist who one day finds himself as the artwork itself. Jumping from wall to wall, Nox must find his way out of the walls and back to normal life. The game will retail for $10 on the PlayStation Network later this year.


CM Punk crashes Comic-Con
At the WWE panel featuring WWE legends Bret Hart, Triple H and Rey Mysterio, CM Punk made an impromptu appearance with the WWE title belt in hand. For those of you not familiar with the saga behind the new wrestler, CM Punk officially is not part of the WWE since the Pay-Per-View Money in the Bank in which CM Punk won his title. His contract ended that day and he hasn't been seen in the wrestling world since then. Mobs of people surrounded the infamous wrestler, taking pictures and videos with him.CM Punk at Comic-Con

After demanding the microphone, CM Punk took the opportunity to give a long speech mentioning WWE president Vince McMahon's tournament for the next WWE Champion. Fans and skeptics aren't sure whether CM Punk's appearance in the event means he will return to the WWE or whether this is his final hurrah as he fades out of the spotlight.

Green Lantern Animated Series
Following up on the movie release of Green Lantern, four clips were shown at this year's SDCC at a panel featuring executive producer Bruce Timm, producer Sam Register, Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg.

Audience questions didn't lead to very many answers about the series, but the topic of Red Lanterns was brought up. For the series, the Red Lanterns will appear more humanoid to make them kid-friendly rather than sprawling beasts best known in the comics. The ultimate goal is to create a long-lasting series with many inspired spin-offs.

Tron: Uprising
At the Kick Buttowski panel sponsored by Disney XD, concept art and animation test footage for Tron: Uprising was revealed. The series takes place before the movie Tron: Legacy. Actor Elijah Wood voices the protagonist Beck raising to become the next Tron. The CGI and music is similar to the latest movie with similar feel to its soundtrack, crafted by electronic group Daft Punk. The series is set to launch next year with 10 micro-episodes in early 2012.

The San Diego Comic-Con is held every year in at the San Diego Convention Center.

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