The Last Unicorn: When Whimsy Trumps Practicality

“That better not have cost more than twenty dollars,” Dave Dorman declared. Loudly. Jack and I looked up to the right, whistling, shuffling our right feet in the dirt. (That is, if we lived in a house with dirt floors. After baseball practice, it’s sometimes hard to tell.)

The Last Unicorn, aka Jack.

Jack and I just curated the newest piece in our weird little menagerie of pranks and cosplay from, of all places, Around the Corner Candy  shop in West Dundee, IL, which turns out to have a rather clever collection of hilarious crap. (The other perfect job for me, aside from my other perfect job as proprietor of the “All Hands on Deck” cards parlor, would be curating hilarious crap. Here’s a math equation even I can grasp: Me + Unlimited Archie McPhee Credit Card = Bankruptcy.)

I can recall the first time Jack and I simultaneously spotted the unicorn head on the highest shelf in her shop two weeks ago. We both saw this glittery, rainbow glow spotlighting it, whilst a choir of angels held a very long “Ahhhhh” note, not unlike the sound effect when you start up your Mac computer.

“Why?” you might ask, “do you need a unicorn mask?” Weeeellllll…there’s Halloween. And then there’s…well, we could wear it to Cons, until we got too sweaty under all of that rubber. I didn’t need that retractable dinner fork and the googly-eyed glasses I bought in Key West, either, but they’ve sure come in rather handy over the years.

It all boils down to this: Make lasting memories. Jack and I will never forget how hard we’ve laughed together over this silly mask. Today we’re wearing it–er, bringing it–to my Godson’s confirmation party. My Facebook page will soon be flooded with pics of all of my relatives wearing it in some fashion. While Dave is off snoring in a recliner somewhere, Jack and I will be continuing our tradition of injecting hijinks into our family gatherings. (My Aunt Karen still hasn’t commented, or perhaps noticed, the appointment we added to her calendar a few weeks ago to get her anal fissures examined.)

You’ve only got one shot at earning a good tombstone epitaph. I suggest we all make the most of it. Here’s hoping mine will say “Beloved Mother, Friend, Prankster.” 

Keeping Promises: The Cosplay Survey and More

I’ve promised a couple of people I would post items on my blog today, so here they are.

The first item is a request from pop culture/futurist journalist and author of “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture,” Rob Salkowitz for me to post a link to this survey below on The State of Cosplay Shopping at Cons:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZBRDF7T

Dave Dorman is at Denver Comic-Con this weekend with Rob Salkowitz, so check them out if you’re in the area. Here’s more information: http://davedorman.wordpress.com

Secondly, a fan created a meme about Dave, and the verb conjugation was wrong, so I asked him to correct it before I would post it, and he came back at me with this. Let’s face it, I (the person who unwittingly once edited a love letter poem emailed to me–in my defense, I didn’t realize that was the intent, as this person wasn’t typically a love poetry type of guy) own the fact that I deserve this meme:

Created by one of Dave's fans in response to my "edits" to a Dave Dorman meme.

Created by one of Dave’s fans in response to my “edits” to a Dave Dorman meme.

#C2E2 #Chicago 2015: A Growing Show

This Ghostbusters Staypuft Marshmallow Man was one of my #cosplay favorites this year at #C2E2 – as was the Lego Boba Fett costume (I don’t have an image of the latter). This one had to burn a lot of calories, being so onerous to lug around!

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at #C2E2 Chicago 2015

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at #C2E2 Chicago 2015 – Photo by Ken Heinemann

I heard the show was busier this year, based on the fact that Lot A at McCormick Place was full already before 10 a.m. It’s always good news to hear a fairly young show is thriving, especially one so local to us. Dave sold out of his #Marvel Issue #1 #StarWars variant covers the first day, which is always a good sign (have no fear, he brought in more).

C2E2, like San Diego Comic-Con, is a like a family reunion with our many artist, writer, publishing, and creator friends. Dave Dorman‘s table is stationed at J-1 in Artists Alley, which is ideal because directly across from us is Bill and Linda Lessman Reinhold, two of my favorite carbon life forms:

Bill and Linda Lessman Reinhold, great friends and enormous talent

Bill and Linda Lessman Reinhold, great friends and enormous talent

and behind us is Darron Jackson and Steve Howard, two more of my favorite humanoids.

Illustrators Darron Jackson, Steve Howard, and me.

Illustrators Darron Jackson, Steve Howard, and me.

I reconnected with Ken Heinemann, my cameraman for my video and TV show production projects; he was handling A/V for all of the panels. He came to visit me during the M. Night Shyamalan/Matt Dillon panel (a new Twilight Zone-style show, I’m told), which just goes to show you how non-plussed he is by all of the geeky fun. He just came off of the Soundstage tour, so this was an easy gig in comparison. I offered to be Kenny’s grip, but my non-union status precludes me from that.

I want to mention that our friend J. Anthony Kosar of TV’s Face Off winner fame has expanded his Kosart Atelier where he teaches special f/x makeup, and classes are available, so be sure to check him out at http://kosartartelier.com

TV's FACE OFF Season 4 Winner, J. Anthony Kosar with Dave Dorman & me

TV’s FACE OFF Season 4 Winner, J. Anthony Kosar with Dave Dorman & me

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Black Friday: The Extendable Fork in Action…and an Unexpected STAR WARS Tee

Here’s Jack deploying a new holiday tradition–the extendable fork trick I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I decided to pass down the torch, since my cousin Jeff read my blog yesterday (D’oh!) and was prepared to expect my hijinks.

I've Passed On the Torch of the Expandable Trick Fork to Jack.

I’ve Passed Down the Torch of the Expandable Trick Fork to Jack and the Kids’ Table.

And here’s the Diamond Comic Previews ad posted by one of Dave’s fans today, advertising a new t-shirt (hey, it’s ONLY $50) featuring Dave’s original STAR WARS artwork, LORD VADER’S PERSUASION of THE OUTER RIM. To understand how stuff like this happens, and how the artists get paid nothing for it, nor are even aware when their artwork is being used for fun and profit, you might want to revisit my previous post, “The Blessing and Curse of Work-for-Hire Illustration.”

$50 Lucasfilm STAR WARS tees featuring Dave Dorman's Artwork

$50 Lucasfilm STAR WARS tees featuring Dave Dorman’s Artwork

I’m so glad Disney/Lucasfilm is able to continue healthfully profiting from Dave’s work-for-hire artwork with $50 t-shirts, making it ever so much more puzzling to me that his artwork wasn’t chosen for inclusion in STAR WARS CELEBRATION 7.

This particular piece of Dave Dorman Star Wars art is so wildly popular, one dedicated European fan, Tomi Demolka, even had it tattooed on his back (as seen below). If you are interested in buying this print, or any of the Dave Dorman Star Wars Artist Proofs still available, here’s the link – on sale now through Dec. 31st with FREE worldwide shipping: http://www.davedorman.com/2014swprintsforsale.shtml

Dedicated Fan Tomi Demollka, with Dave Dorman's Artwork Tattooed on His Back

Dedicated Fan Tomi Demollka, with Dave Dorman’s Artwork Tattooed on His Back

Since I’m posting this on #BlackFriday, if you’re in Chicagoland and looking for something to do, check out Dreamland Comics in Schaumburg, IL today before 3 p.m. Dave is there today signing #comics and five 501st members are there in costume–the world’s largest #cosplay organization, of which we are honorary members–posing with families for photos and supporting the cause, which is building a solid food pantry for the hungry, so bring your canned goods!

Dave at Dreamland Comics today.

Dave’s signing at Dreamland Comics on Black Friday.

DENISE DORMAN DOES NOT BLAME COSPLAY for LOW CONVENTION SALES

Dear Readers,

I wrote my last blog moments after hanging up the phone with Dave, who was reporting in from GrandCon with yet-again low sales, so perhaps in my fit of rage, I was inelegant in wording things as perfectly as some of you may have written them. However, I want to say for the record, I do NOT blame Cosplay for low convention sales. I never said that. However, I realize the link-bait headline on Bleeding Cool News that many of you scanned without reading the whole story may have lead you to that misleading conclusion. I have friends who Cosplay. We let them sit in our booth, park their gear, and rest their feet, and we help them readjust their costumes. We give them food and drink as they need it. We know it’s physically demanding, hard work. We support the whole “Cosplay is Not Consent” movement and we believe that message should be posted widely at every show.

Dave and I love the art and creativity of Cosplay. Dave goes to Steampunk meet-ups at #SDCC to snap photos for his future art pieces. We rely on the 501st to pose for us for all of Dave’s Star Wars paintings. Did you ever stop to consider, in your huge hurry to personally attack me and jump to wrong conclusions, why in the wide, wide world of sports I would ever hate Cosplay, which has given us so much? Dave couldn’t even do his job without Cosplayers to pose for him!

What I had hoped for, igniting an HONEST discussion about what we, as exhibitors (and they the convention owners) could be doing differently and how to give the fans what they want and still be able to afford to exhibit, turned into something ugly. Online harassment. Threats. Hate. To the guy that said “Denise Dorman should just shut the hell up,” I respond, “Do you wear your wife beater shirt when you talk like that online, Troll?”

In the 200+ comments to my blog over the past few days, some great ideas and discussions did emerge, and I am grateful to all of you for those respectful and helpful discourses. I’d recommend you read through them and comment. There’s some great material there.

I think the emphasis on Cosplay is symptomatic of a shift in the larger Cons from being a commerce-driven event to being a social gathering-driven event.  Frankly, when I see someone who prefers to pose with a no-name Slave Princess Leia and completely ignores Neal Adams, that’s when I think the creators have been reduced to background wallpaper. And that’s what breaks my heart–when I see industry giants getting completely bypassed and ignored. It’s not the Cosplayer’s fault. They’re just being gracious and accommodating to the fans. That’s their role. It’s the new breed of attendees who are there because someone said it’s cool to be there; they are the ones completely unfamiliar with the comics industry. They are the ones who attend any hard-to-get-tickets event just to boast online. They are the people I take issue with. NOT the Cosplayers. Those are the people who care only about their selfies on their Instagram profiles. Those are the people who hijack events like #Burning Man, #Coachella and #SDCC with no understanding of why these events exist, or their raison d’être. Once they show up to the party, the event jumps the shark. 

Now, if one more single person accuses me of being anti-Cosplay, anti-Feminist, jealous of Cosplay, or blaming Cosplay for reduced convention sales, I have this very special message just for you:

Screenshot 2014-09-23 13.34.59

The Hidden TRUTH About Comic Book Convention Earnings: For Creators, Have Comic Book Conventions JUMPED THE SHARK?

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to hear all about how Denise Dorman hates cosplayers, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately for all of the haters still out there perpetuating this myth, that data point remains totally untrue. So…if you’re going to be a hater, read elsewhere. In the words of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi, waving his hand, “There’s nothing to see here.”

So how did this insane myth come to light? On a misleading click-bait headline on Bleeding Cool News in September of 2014. That’s what kicked it all off. And today, two years and 8 months after I wrote that initial article, I’m still getting 200 hits a day on this blog, and having to defend myself to total strangers. One of my best friends, Heather, shared with me that the weekend of C2E2, some of her brother’s cosplay friends verbally accosted her recently at his 40th birthday party, incensed that she was close friends with me, as was indicated on Facebook. They actually sneered at Heather, “I see on Facebook that you’re not just friends, but close friends with Denise Dorman…” Sadly, these are the kind of people who reproduce and vote every four years, and yet they have no intellectual curiosity beyond hearing a rumor or reading a headline.

Hmmm...would a cosplay hater be in the foreground of the 501st? Stop. Think. Listen.

Hmmm…would a cosplay hater be in the foreground of this 501st photo AND be an honorary member of the 501st? Would his wife? Stop for a moment. Think. Listen. Use some logic.

Here are some TRUTHS you need to know:

#1. Neither Dave Dorman nor I hate cosplayers. Never have, never will. We are honorary members of the 501st, the largest cosplay organization in the world. Some of our closest friends are cosplayers. I cosplay. Cosplayers rest their weary feet in our booth at SDCC (or any other show where we’re exhibiting), they elicit my help in adjusting or fixing their costumes, hair, or makeup, and they pose for Dave. My niece Madyson is a dedicated cosplayer, model and actress in Albuquerque. Are the lie perpetuators out there suggesting I would hate or diss my own flesh and blood, or close friends?

My beautiful niece Madyson, cosplayer, actress, model.

My beautiful niece Madyson: Cosplayer, Actress, Model.

#2. Dave Dorman couldn’t do his amazing art work without the help of cosplayers. They pose for him. ALL. THE. TIME.

#3. We admire cosplayers and we understand firsthand the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into their work.

And here is the key interview I did on Yahoo! News with Mat Elfring to clarify my stance on cosplay:

http://bit.ly/DeniseDormanOnCosplay

And if that isn’t enough, as a business decision, Dave and I made the decision to actually invest in the promising New Orleans author MiMi Rawks, whose new geek erotic romance novel, “Cosplay Virgin” from the three-book “Cosplay Confidential Series” should be hitting the stands in the next couple of months. Dave is doing the cover art for her book series, which takes place in the cosplay community. The first cover illustration is breathtaking, and author MiMi Rawks serves up some HAWT geek erotica; her story is as compelling as it is suspenseful and entertaining.

Now…are we done YET with kicking the dead dog?

The Glamour of #SDCC from the Exhibitor’s Side of the Table: Or, What It’s Like Traveling to SDCC with a 9-Year-Old

Dave has always encouraged Jack to cosplay at San Diego Comic-Con, so this year, Jack took the bait. Dave waited until Monday night–the night before we left for San Diego–to order Jack’s “morphsuit” costume on Amazon. FYI, morphsuit is merely a new term describing Woody Allen’s sperm costume. Jack wants to get his costume covered in autographs.

Unfortunately, Dave ordered the suit via an Amazon third-party provider with our debit card.  Thirty minutes later, while Dave and Jack were at Jack’s very first football practice on Monday night, I received a call from the bank informing me that a bunch of suspicious charges were placed on my card. In Germany. Sure enough, the bastards cleaned out our bank account the night before we were traveling. The next morning Dave was literally the last one to board the plane because he was finishing up his call with the bank to reverse the charges. I think there’s still a $400 charge on there we have to fight.

After many tearful outbursts from Jack about never getting his costume in time, it finally occurred to me to call the front desk of our hotel this morning. It was here all along.

So…all of this hassle for this:

The Morphsuit That Cost Us Our Life Savings.

The “Morphsuit” That Cost Us Our Life’s Savings.

As a parent, there are few places we take our son that amp up my anxiety disorder more than a 150,000 attendees cosplay convention. “Yes, officer, you are correct in understanding that I cannot identify the pedophile in a police lineup who snatched my son from Comic-Con, because the kidnapper was a grown man dressed up in a Batman costume.” Most geeks are the coolest people on earth, but I remain ever vigilant, convinced the pedophiles are lining up to execute kidnappings in disguise.

For all of the celebrity sightings, super-exclusive TV and film panels, and fun creatives and fans we encounter at San Diego Comic-Con, this show is exhausting. The most exhausting part? Keeping a 9-year-old happy. We are very fortunate to have friends we trust who will take Jack around the show here and there. Jack has no empathy for the idea that we need to remain at the booth to serve customers and meet industry professionals. He has less empathy for the fact that I need to remain at the hotel and work during business hours on week days. The work I do actually funds these five expensive, angst-filled days.

How I miss the days I could just head out to the Gaslamp District after the show and grab dinner and drinks with industry friends. Flash forward to 2014: by 7 p.m. when the show ends, Jack is already lying on the floor of our booth under a table half asleep.

Honk if you see a sleepy child...

Honk if you see a sleepy child…

These days Jack and I head back to the hotel by ourselves, I miss all of the fun conversations, industry gossip and laughs, and we dine on the limited menu of over-priced hotel food while Dave, the reluctant introvert, has to socialize without his buffer–me. Glamorous, ain’t it?

The Value of the Pinkie Swear

The Pinkie Swear

You’re a Witness: Jack’s Pinkie Swear

Today I reveal yet another of my many #parentingfails. The sobering truth is that our 9-year-old is showing zero respect for the pinkie swear. To me, breaking a pinkie swear is like someone swearing on a stack of Bibles before telling an outright lie. That’s a solid 9.0 on the pucker factor scale. I fully anticipate lightning striking that person.

After Jack listened to several unsuccessful lectures from our family dentist about how to brush and how long to brush his teeth and which $50 electric toothbrush from Costco would really do the trick, I decided it was time to escalate Jack’s empty toothbrushing promises to the pinkie swear. We did it. And it worked. For two days.

If Jack can’t grasp the solemnity of the pinkie swear, just imagine how laissez-faire he will be over the double-dog and triple-dog dare. This is serious business on the playground. He needs to get this right.

Tonight we pack for #SDCC2014 and I can guaran-damn-tee you Jack will forget to pack his toothbrush as he does for every sleepover (and of course, none of his friends’ parents ever have spare toothbrushes, in The World According to Jack).

Jack’s big plan for Comic-Con this year is to wear a white head-to-toe costume that people can autograph. I’m told it’s a Daft Punk thing, but in my mind’s eye, all I can see is this and I’m totally grossed out:

1960s Cosplay

1960s-style Cosplay

Every day for the last 2 weeks, Jack has begged Dave to order this silly cosplay suit. Every day, Dave has blown it off in the hopes that Jack would forget, but now it’s to the point that the manufacturer will have to ship it directly to our hotel in San Diego to get it to us in time. This morning, Dave absolutely promised Jack he’d buy it online. I should have had Dave pinkie swear.