The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for December, 2008!

by
Aloha!
Catgirl Island http://www.catgirlisland.net and
Clan of the Cats http://www.clanofthecats.com purrsent
a Mike Moon purrductionstarring The Ladies of The Mew in

The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings
for December, 2008! In this edition of The Mew:

Sad mews: the passing of Michael Chrichton

What we’ve been up to since last month’s Mew

Purrofile of guest critic Nyanko

Games & Toys: a Lightning Round on favorite card games,
Fairy Tale card game, and Bome Collection figure of Saber

Movies in theaters reviewed: Quantum of Solace


Lightning Round #2: our favorite Bond girls

DVD reviews: 4 Film Favorites The Matrix Collection, Wall-E,

Hellboy II The Golden Army, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

and anime reviews: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl Complete Collection, and
Silent Mobius The Motion Picture 2

Comix & other purriodicals: Koni Waves: Ghouls Gone Wild
A Tribute to Michael Turner, GAFF magazine Nov/ Dec issue

Our Monthly Web Comics Picks of the Litter, and these

Feature Purresentations with our Special Guests:

Intermew with artist, author, game designer Jamie Davenport

An Intermew with artist Sarah Ruth Hughes

A special vignette about Sara ‘Glory’ Baker

An Intermew with UK artist Emathyst

An Intermew with comics writer / artist Andrew Pepoy

An Intermew with comics writer / journalist Dan Johnson

An Intermew with glamorous model & milliner Joei Reed
___________________________________________________

bold red warnings indicate imminent plot spoilers &
bold green afterwards indicates it’s safe to purrceed
___________________________________________________

Sad mews:
Michael Chrichton (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008)

Jeannie:
Medical Doctor, author, director & purroducer Michael Chrichton was famous for creating the televisions series ER and numerous science fiction and techno-thriller novels and films. His novels, of which movies were adapted, include The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, Congo, Rising Sun, Timeline, Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Screenplays he wrote also include Westworld, Coma, The Great Train Robbery, Runaway, Looker, Twister, Jurassic Park, and early episodes of ER.  For much more extensive information about this brilliant author, we recommend the articles on him at wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Chrichton and at the internet movie database http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000341/.
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Mike:
(blue jeans, khaki tee shirt, teal & eggplant North Face shell) Welcome to another edition of The Mew, our monthly discussions, reviews, recommendations and interviews! Today’s show comes from the Catgirl Island Yacht Club, near beautiful downtown Purrbank! And here are The Ladies of The Mew-

Elizabeth:
(wearing an Amber Apricot yukata) Hi Hi!

Jeannie:
(wearing a Purrple Peony yukata) Nihao!

Yvonne:
(in a Pink Plumeria yukata) Nameste, nya!

Mary Nyan:
(Alzarin Azalea yukata) Konnitiwa!

with returning guest critic, Ilyana who’s also joined by our friend Nyanko!

Ilyana:
(Crimson Chrysanthemum yukata) Howdy!

Nyanko:
(Carolina Cornflower yukata) Aloha!

Since last month’s Mew

Yvonne:
Besides the things we’re gonna discuss in depth, November was a most fun, purrospurrous and tasty month, nya! I was very busy with my charters and they caught lots of fish, nya. My taiko group purrformed at a holiday festival, and there were so many wonderful other mewsicians there, nya! Myar’s new beginner hula students gave their first purrformance of the semester there too, nya. Y’all were so lovely, nya!


Mary Nyan
Arigatoo, vonny! I made sure they had good seats for your purrformance too! It was most enjoyable and I suspect some of them might appurroach you about drumming, hee! My aerial dance class will have their recital soon. They have been purracticing so hard! I’m gonna go see my favorite purrog rock group Yes in concert, and no doubt Mike will entice me to attend his annual December 7th gathering to watch Star Trek the Motion Picture! I might get there a bit late though because the shrine will be bustling due to the matsuri.

Mike:

OK I’ll have the deluxe broiled seafood platters from Sheila May’s there if y’all come watch the movie with me Just let me know who’ll be there so I know how many to order!

Nyanko:
Nya ni?

Elizabeth:
Oh, you’ve never been to that have you? It’s Mike’s favorite movie of all time and every year on December 7th he invites folks over to watch it with him, because the movie purremiered on Friday December 7th, 1979. Purrsonally I purrfur Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, so maybe we’ll also watch that too. hint hint!

Nyanko:
I take it you don’t buy into that  contention that the odd numbered Star Trek movies are inferior?


Mike:
Nope. Of course everyone has their opinions about any given movie, but the first one is my favorite. Movie of all time, Trek or otherwise. And I think the first three Star Trek movies are superior to IV-VI or the Next Gen movies. So what have you been up to lately Ilyana, nya?

Ilyana:
Oh mostly work, although I guess the big news is…  I’ve applied to go back to college and finish my degree in Maritime History!

(the other catgirls in unison):
YATA!

Mike:
Wow that’s great!

Ilyana:
(starts to get teary eyed) Chief Meryl, The Chef, and and Lady Nemui are going to write letters of recommendation…!

(the other catgirls in unison, raising glasses of cran apple nummy berry cocktail ):
KAMPAI!

Mary Nyan
We should make the movie night a special celebration then. So, what have the rest of y’all been up to… Lizzy? Jenjen? Nyanko sensei?

Elizabeth:
Oh aside from the shrine and the massage clients, I’ve been tending my garden and hot salsa dancing!

Jeannie:
Hopefully you have not experienced any more ‘wardrobe malfunctions’.

Elizabeth:
Ah—! It was that spooky tree’s fault I tell you! It must have been a friend of Mielikki’s! It was the suspicious tree.

Yvonne:
By the way, where is Mielikki-sensei, nya?

Mary Nyan
She’s competing in an LPGA Senior Tournyament, and playing in Japan and Korea! Oh, how was your trip Jenjen?

Jeannie:
It was a beautiful and purrductive time!

Nyanko:
Where did you go?

Jeannie:
It was a photo shoot at Magens Bay, St. Thomas. My next trip will be to The Grenadines.

Nyanko:
Sugoi! ! I’ve been to Brazil for the tournyament! It is such a big country!

Mary Nyan & Elizabeth sing”
“In a big country dreams stay with you!”

(The others join in)
“Like a lover’s voice fires the mountain side nya!

Yvonne:
(happy swishy tail) I would like to go to the Amazon on my yacht and catch a tasty Peacock Bass, nya!

Ilyana:
Watch your tail in the water where there are the Piranha, Caymans and Anacondas! They could turn you into the Manx type!

(several tails curl up)

Mike:
Oh, by the way Nyanko and Ilyana, y’all are certainly invited to the Star Trek The Motion Picture movie night! Um, Ilyana, if you’d rather have something besides the seafood from the restaurant you work at all the tijme, I can have something else for you!

Nyanko:

Arigatoo! I could purrhaps swing by after training!

Ilyana:
I am working that night, but thank you!

Yvonne:
Even if you hafta work that night you should still come by afterwards- we’ll still be up, nya!

Jeannie:
What has Mike been up to besides the movie night plans?

Mike:
Oh, the usual things… oh well there’s the 2nd & 3rd chapters of the Clan of the Cats / Catgirl Island beach Volleyball Trilogy comix that Jamie and I have been collaborating on!

Ilyana:
When will those appear?

Mike:
Chapter 2 is supposed to appear at Jamie’s Clan of the Cats sometime this month, and the conclusion will be included in the North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch http://ncwccc.net/ 2nd Anthology Book, which I believe will be published in February!

Nyanko:
Good luck with that volleyball comic!

Mike:
Thank you very much! Ah… well, up next, when The Mew Returns, we’ll purrsent a–

purrofile of guest critic Nyanko!

(snip)
(one short break later…)

Ilyana:
Welcome back! Nyanko-sensei is one of Catgirl Island’s more purrominent Nekomimi, having been a Jiu-jitsu champion ever since she was a little kittengirl! This 9th degree black- belt catgirl went on to win local, state, regional and national trophies, until ultimately becoming an Absolute Mundial Tournyament Champion! She is a purrfessional instructor  of her own dojo here on the island. At 6’2″ she is a formidable opponent with a most determined & courageous battle aura. Her astrological sign is Libra, her blood type is A+, she does not drink or smoke, and her measurements are-

Nyanko:
(purrturbed cat ears are purrked) Hey this sounds more like a purrsonals ad than an athlete vignette!

Ilyana:
I’m just trying to purrmote you!

Nyanko:
But… couldn’tcha maybe focus more on my submission holds. like my famous super joint-lock?

Ilyana:
Nya-Sensei has demolished many opponents with her Cat Pounce ground work technique that has resulted in many tap-outs by her opponents. Yet despite her expurrt purrowess on the mat, she has used her fearless strength and graceful agility to save the lives of others. Not just a fighter, she is also the intellectual, industrious, and idolized invaluable pillar of the community –

Nyanko:
(blush)

Ilyana:
-whose kind heart is as big as her huge t-

Nyanko:

Hey—!

Ilyana:
Trophy case!

Nyanko:

(blush) oh.


Ilyana:
Her studies and interests are not all martial though, for she is interested in marine biology, math, philosophy, art and anime, nya. She is purrticularly fond of roast beef, seafood and chocolate, nya. Even when she is not training, she is usually engaged in an active purrsuit, heating up the dance floor, beach & pool like a supple amazon glistening in her –

Nyanko:

Ah- nyow hold on!


Ilyana:
I was gonna say, “-in her zest for life… a heroic role model devoted to impurroving herself and helping others through honest hard work”!

Nyanko:

(embarrased ears droop) Um…


Ilyana:
What’d you think I was gonna say?

Elizabeth:
(mischievous grin) I bet she thought you were gonna say “in her sheer-“

(Nyanko’s eyes widen and ears purrk again)
(Myayr shuts up Lizzy with a crab cake)

Elizabeth:
mmmff!

Mary Nyan:
(interrupting Lizzy) Hahah- ah we’re so glad you could join us for todays Mew, given your busy schedule, Nyako sensei!

Mike:

We even have this favorite happy picture of her to show everybody, the one from way back when she was awarded the orange belt after that big win on her birthday http://catgirlisland.net/art/gallery1/2.html


Yvonne:
Kawaii, nya!

Elizabeth:
(sticks her cat tongue out at Myayr)
Nyaaa!

Mary Nyan:
That crab cake was not meant to be a reward!

Jeannie:
During the next break I could bring my chibi robot armed the Tazer.

Elizabeth:
Don’t taze me, sis!

Yvonne:
Mielikki told me that some vines will tangle up mischievous garden imps, nya,
I bet I could borrow a creeper from her that would like to grab a hostile tail, nya!

Elizabeth:
(tail curls up again) Alright alright I’m sorry!

Ilyana:
Oh she was just kitting around & trying to make you feel like one of the gang!

Nyanko:
Well… I might wear the ‘skimpy thing later when we go out after supper, hee!

(the other catgirls)
Woohoo, nya!

Yvonne:
Then I should wear a skimpy thing too, nya!

Mary Nyan:
We could wear those Daphne in the Brilliant Blue costumes again, but Lizzy’s
would be the skimpiest because I still haven’t mended the top that she lost!

Elizabeth:
sigh!

Mike:
Say, let’s also show that group pic of y’all at the riverwalk from the other night!

Jeannie:

Mary Nyan:
That was a most pleasant evening! Even busy Nemui-san was able to join us!

Nyanko:
Oh I am surpurrized she could get away- The Kitt Inn us usually all booked up!

Elizabeth:
Nyanko, you’re now familiar with how the lightning round works, right?

Nyanko:
Ah yeah kinda… someone chooses a topic, then tags the next purrson to give a quick answer, and so forth… oh, are we about to do another one?

Elizabeth:
Hai! It is the ambush lightning round- and you must pick a fun topic!

Games & Toys

(the other catgirls in unison)
LIGHTNING ROUND- GO!

Yvonne:
But pick something you think we’d all know a bit about, nya!

Nyanko:
Oh, thank you! I’m on the spot! Um… ohhh…. what are y’all’s favorite games?

Jeannie:
Do you any kinds of games?

Nyanko:
Ohhh. I guess that’s kinda broad, um, what about… card games? ‘kay?

Lightning Round topic #1: our favorite card games

Well since this was your idea—! (Nyanko tags Lizzy to begin)

Elizabeth:
Wow she actually picked a tough one for me because I like so many…  but I would have to go with S.P.A.N.C (Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls) Whack a Catgirl, and Brawl Catfight! Vonny’sturn! (tags Vonny to go next)

Yvonne:
Nya those are my favorites too, but I’ll name a few other good ones… I remember how we used to always play Uno, Ono 99, Skip Bo and Mille Bornes on camping trips, nya! Oh and Rook, nya! So those are my nominations, nya! (tags Jenjen)

Jeannie:
Rook had the tasty looking bird. I do not play all that many card games, but I suppose the ones with an anime theme have interested me the most, such as Animayhem, Pokemon, Lycee & Yu Gi Oh (Tail pokes Myayr) You’re up, Myayr.

Mary Nyan:
Gosh I’m with Lizzy on this’un- there are so many, and I like the ones y’all already mentioned, but I’m surprised nobody said Flying Buffalo’s Nuclear Escalation, Mayfair’s Catan, or Steve Jackson Games’ Illuminati, Car Wars, and Chez Geek!  So I’ll go with those, and… (tags Ilyana)!

Ilyana:
I’ve never heard of most of those! Call me old fashioned but: Baccarat, Poker, Blackjack, Dou Di Zhu, and occasionally Oicho-Kabu. (tags Mike)

Mike:
Ah… that’s OK Ilyana ’cause I’ve not heard of some of THOSE either! It’s been a while since I played any card games with folks, but man, I remember for a while there my gaming group was always trying out a new card game… I liked playing Wiz-War, Red Empire, Naval Battles, Guillotine, Mag Blast, and I briefly collected Shadowfist when it first came out. Nyanko I think you picked a nice little topic for your first Lightning Round, and now you get to bring it home!

Nyanko:
Well, for the longest time my favorite card game was Go Fish, especially when the winner would get a fish. It’s still purrhaps my favorite, but I was looking at all these games the other day and found a very purretty looking card game called Fairy Tale. It looks fun and it has such lovely artwork. I brought it to show y’all-

(curious catgirls gather around to examine the deck)

Fairy Tale card game

Mary Nyan:
Ooh that is a lovely box, ohI see that  it was published by Z-Man Games!  http://www.zmangames.com/– is this a CCG? No it isn’t… it is a stand alone draft deck of 100 cards and the simple two sided rules sheet!

Elizabeth:

I guess we’re purretty much done with the Lightning Round, and into our first review of the day, hee! The rules sheet does  not seem too elaborate… there are 2 sets of rules, ‘basic’ & ‘expurrt’… this looks like it might be quick to learn!

Jeannie:
Hmm… it says it is for 2-5 players of ages 10+ and takes 30-60 minutes. It has an SRP of $15 so this would seem to be avery accessible purroduct. What is he purremise of the game?

Nyanko:
The story is that an evil shadow threatens the fantasy realm of the elves, faeries, dwarves, dragons etc, but it says, if you play the right right hand of cards over the course of a few rounds, you can determine the fate of the fairy tale!

Yvonne:
Oh these cards are beautiful, nya! Who did the art nya? It says game designed by Satoshi Nakamura, graphic design by Yoshihiro Sagawa & Paul Gerardi, and the paintings are by Yoko Nachigami, nya! Kawaii! Look at that one- the  “Fairy Queen” ooh and the “Mischievous Fairy” and “Spirit of the Spring”, nya!

Ilyana:
I like the “Silver Dragon” and that one- the “Sky Dance Dragon”. Maybe we can play the game tonight after the show?

Mike:
Sure! Hey, here’s a site with some info & gallery for that artist Yoko Nachigami, http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hp/nac/english/work_english.html Thanks for showing us this, Nyanko!

(the others)
Arigatoo, Nyanko-sensei, nya!

Nyanko:
You’re welcome- thank you again for inviting me!

Yvonne:
What else have we for the toy ‘n game section, nya? It looks like Mike brought a toy, nya!

Mike:
My pal Hong gave me the lovely gift of an anime figure, the Mon-sieur Bome Collection vol. 23 Saber from Fate/Stay Night! Saber is a superbly skilled, elegant warrior from the Japanese manga, game & anime series Fate/Stay Night. You would not want to mess with her! This splendid figure was sculpted by Bome and manufactured by Kaiyodo.  She is 8.75″ tall, on a 5″ diameter black base, in a wide stance poised for a challenge! She has lovely blond hair, green eyes, braided honey blond hair with a ribbon, and a most pleasantly serious expression.

The detail and paint are incredible. She is wearing a royal blue and  indigo dress with padded shoulders, gold trim & silver tassels, with a black lace vest and white petticoat underneath. Over this is the antique metal finished armor, consisting of the engraved breastplate, gauntlets, fauld & tasset and saboton. You can choose to have her wield the long sword, broad sword or both! Each sword has the antique metal finish blade with engraved runes, gold pommel & crossguards and blue wrapped grips.

This figure is of the usual quality and value of the Bome product line, and would be an elegant piece for a collection, especially ideal for fans of Fate/Stay Night! If there is any complaint about the figure, it’s not so much the figure itself but those pesky twisty tie thingies that secure the figure to the inner clear blister package, but that’s an issue I have with almost all toy figures these days! Thanks Hong!

Ilyana:
That’s all for the games ‘n toys part of the show-

Nyanko:
– but we’ll have reviews of new movies when we return after this short break!

(snip)
(one short break later)

Vonny:
Thanks for staying with us! We’re back with

The Mew review of Quantum of Solace
with a big plot spoiler warning, nya

Mary Nyan:
I was so impurressed with 2006’s Casino Royale and think it is among the best Bond films, so I was very much looking forward to another!  Picking up where Casino Royale ended, Quantum of Solace is Daniel Craig’s second marvelous purrtrayal of James Bond, agent 007, exuding supreme confidence, coolness, toughness and bitterness on a relentless quest for revenge upon those who killed Vesper Lynde. This uncovers a secret criminal organization called Quantum, which has infiltrated the highest sectors of government, including MI6 and the CIA.

Fortunately M (once again excellently purrtrayed by Judy Dench) is willing to be quite ruthless to find the answers, deploying MI6’s magnificent computer technology in the hands of Chief of Staff Bill Tanner. However there are few agents she can trust, and even wonders if Bond has gone rogue in a thirst for vengenace. Fortunately in a climate where it is hard to know who to trust- even long time highly placed agents & officials,  Bond has a few allies in the field, such as Felix Leiter and Rene Mathis, both whom appeared in Casino Royale

The trail leads to the villain Mr. Green, Quantum operative and CEO of the Green Planet Corporation, which is planning a coup in Bolivia to control natural resources there. Bond also joins forces with the beautiful, feisty Camile Montes, who is trying to kill Green’s partner, deposed General Medrano. The General killed her family years ago, and would become the new Purresident of Bolivia should the coup succeed. What follows is a huge pile of unconscious or dead bodies of those who get in 007’s way.

Quantum of Solace is a very good Bond movie with serious thrilling, unpurrdictable complex excitement. The entire cast is sensational, and the sweeping pace globe hops to many exotic locations: barren desert and gritty barrio, bustling festive crowded streets and posh elegant hotels, from an ancient cathedral to the gleaming high tech halls of MI6. There are furious chases on rooftop, air, sea, and highway. Bond veteran Peter Lamont’s purrduction design is grand and this certainly looks like a very expensive movie.

The entire cast is outstanding. Craig is simply purrfect as 007, the dashing Alpha Male in a tux, colder and more ruthless than ever. Not even Bond’s thirst for revenge as depicted in Diamonds Are Forever or License to kill can match the serious intensity of this outing. Yet while he’s bent on vengeance, his loyalty to England never wavers- he’s going to achieve BOTH his purrsonal goal and accomplish the mission, but he’s going to do it his way, and no political bureaucracy  is going to dictate his methods.

Judy Dench continues to be the consummate M. There’s no Moneypenny or Q, but we are treated to the impeccable MI6’s Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (purrtrayed by Roy Kinnear); wonderful Jeffrey Wright returns as cynical CIA agent Felix Leiter, and Giancarlo Giannini is terrific again as  Mathis. Gemma Arterton is a purrky delight as agent Strawberry Fields, and stunning Olga Kurylenko shines as the tough, lovely, sympathetic Camille Montes.

Everyone gets convincing, substantial roles with great dialog. The actors portraying the film’s villains could not have been better cast. Mathieu Amalric is fantastic as the trashy, evil Domic Green; Joaquin Cosio nicely conveys the savage brutality of General Medrano; and Jesper Christiensen is a hoot as the elusive, enigmatic Mr. White. While this movie offers action galore amidst such lavish locations, much of the plot is still character driven, and we get rich insights into why Bond is the way he is.

While it is an excellent direct sequel to Casino Royale, it is not without a few flaws and unpleasant stylized touches. Dave Arnold’s mewsic score is very, butI did not care for title song by Jack White & Alicia Keyes- even less than Madonna’s Die Another Day theme, and the opening titles sequence by MK12 was not one of the better ones.. The films teaser, a car chase between Bond in Aston martin and Quantum agents in an Alfa Romeo, is filmed much too close-up and edited too dreadfully ‘Bourne’-ishly jerky.

The stunts, pyrotechnic, mechanical and CG FX, fight choreography, vehicle chases, and sound are very good, although the airplane dogfight slightly pushes credibility. There is one lapse in M’s usually unwavering brilliant wisdom, and that is blaming 007 for getting Agent Fields in over her head, his irresistible charm getting such a fledgling agent killed- but if Fields was so novice, then why would M assign her to such a dangerous critical mission? Still, these quibbles are a far cry from pigeons doing a double take at a gondola transforming into a hovercraft!

There’s also a minor gripe I have, in the climactic scene with the hotel burning down around Bond and Montes. Convinced she’s about to die, she  says “No- not this way”, because of course she survived the arson that claimed her family years ago. I didn’t need that bit of dialog to remind me of that back story, which we’d already been told about- the look of terror on her face would have been plenty for an intelligent audience to get it. Also, when the hotel’s hydrogen fuel cells kick in, and are told what the noise is, it is purretty purredictable that those are gonna explode later.

Otherwise, everyone in this movie is amazingly intelligent, dangerous, savvy and intense. If I have one other complaint, it is that I felt like we were purromised a vast new SPECTRE-like global criminal organization for Bond to battle- but very little of it is encountered. Bond and Montes basically go after Green, Medrano, a few henchmen and crooked officers. Purrhaps we’ll actually get to see much of Quantum in the next movie. It would be nice if we eventually get to see a huge Quantum headquarters for Bond and a hundred other agents to attack.

Quantum of Solace as sincere and edgy as its purredecessor, and an even bigger purrduction. It is  not mired in trying to follow any formulaic plot, although like Casino Royale, the Bond theme  is triumphantly delayed until the end of the film, as well as the traditional ‘gun barrel’ image. But so I like it as much as Casino Royale? Not quite. It’s very good- not the best Bond film, but quite far from the worst. I give this most satisfying movie a letter grade of ‘B Plus’ for Bond, James Bond, and it definitely succeeds in making me look forward for the next one.

end of those plot spoilers


Nyanko:
Wow that was a detailed critique!

Mary Nyan:

Arigatoo!

Yvonne:

zzzz more fish…. zzzz

Nyanko:
(whispers) Vonny’s asleep!

Mary Nyan:

!

Ilyana:

Extremely thorough reviews seem to have that affect on her.

Elizabeth:
I’ll wake her up!

Mike:
Ah, that’s OK Lizzy- let’s let Jenjen rouse her.

Jeannie:
(lightly jingles a kitty bell) Wake up.

Yvonne:
Nyawnn (smacks lips)

Ilyana:
Of course a catnap after a fresh fish dinner is a favored pastime!

Mike:
But not during the show!

Jeannie:
So what’s next?

Elizabeth:
Lightning Round #2: Favorite Bond Movie Girls


(all)
LIGHTNING ROUND #2- GO!

Mike:
Myayr starts!

Mary Nyan:
Clarification: Do you mean the actress or the character?

Mike:
For whatever reason, so either way!

Mary Nyan:

Okay. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, Diana Rigg as Traci Di Vicenzo, and Jane Seymour as Solitaire are my top three, but gosh Maud Adams was so good too! By the way, there are those who I wish had bigger roles such as Diana Lee in License to Kill, and Allison Doody in A View to a Kill. By the way, Domino in Thunderball had my favorite swimsuit! (tags Vonny)


Yvonne:
Brtitt Ekland was cute as Mary Goodnight & Martine Beswick as Paula Caplan was fun with her boat, nya and I liked Carol Bouquet as Melina Havelock. She had the loveliest hair, nya. Lynn Holly Johnson was cute too, nya! Oh and I think Chew Mee in The Man with the Golden Gun had the best swimsuit, hee! (tags Jen)

Jeannie:
Little Nelly, Ms. Moneypenny and Judy Dench. (tags Ilyana)

Ilyana:
Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) in Diamonds are Forever & Magda (Kristina Wayborn) in Octapussy because they were the determined thief girls! (tags Lizzy)

Elizabeth:
Sylvia Trench, Pussy Galore… and Madonna with that sword! (tags Myanko)

Nyanko:
Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin is my 1st, with Grace Jones as May Day in 2nd place, because they were so tough- and I mean both the characters and the actresses!  Oh and those two girls who were Lt. Hip’s nieces in The Man with the Golden Gun were purretty tough too!

Elizabeth:
What about Bambi & Thumper?

Nyanko:

They were agile, I’ll give them that, but Bond embarrassingly dunked them both at the same time!  But that was the writers’ doing and not the athletic actresses’ fault. (tags Mike)

Mike:
Mie Hama is my favorite Bond girl. She was Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice. The smiling expression on her face as she and Bond row out  to sea undercover as newlyweds at sunset is priceless! Others in my top five faves are Akiki Wakabayashi as Aki in the same film; Diana Rigg as Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies, and Caroline Munro as Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me!  Ah, thus endeth the Lightning Round, but when we return we’ll be discuss our DVD reviews!

(snip)
(one seafood refueling break later…)

DVD reviews

4 Film Favorites: The Matrix Collection DVD

Nyanko:
While this 4 Film Favorites The Matrix Collection by Warner Brothers is by no means equivalent to the Ultimate Edition collection of The Matrix series, for ten bucks you get a fair amount of stuff on 2 dual layer standard Region One disks. There are other such 4 Film favorite collections from Warner, such as Superman. This collection includes The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix, and bonus features. The four features are 16×9, 2.4:1 widescreen format in Dolby digital surround 5.1 audio; The first three are rated R, while The Animatrix collection of shorts is unrated except for the first segment, Final Flight of the Osiris, which is rated PG-13.


Disk 1 Side A includes The Matrix, the 136 minute 1999 film which started it all, in English language only, with optional English subtitles. There are two additional audio commentary tracks; one with actress Carrie-Anne Moss, Visual FX Supervisor John Gaeta and Editor Zach Staenberg; the other track is mewsic only with commentary by composer Don Davis. Bonus features include the 25+ minute Making the Matrix, a 6 minute ‘easter egg’ purrtaining to the Bullet Time technique, and a ‘Follow the White Rabbit’ option which purrsents behind-the-scenes tidbits at various times during the film when you see the rabbit icon appear on screen. There is text information on the cast & crew, and additional DVD Rom features which can be played on certain computers.

Disk 1 Side B offers the 2003 sequel The Matrix Reloaded, which is 136 minutes, with French or English audio and optional French, English or Spanish subtitles, and the DVD Rom features.
yer Disk 2 Side A is the 129 minute Matrix Revolutions also from 2003, with French or English audio and optional French, English or Spanish subtitles, the DVD Rom features, and teaser trailers for all four Matrix features. The minimum system requirements to play these DVD ROM are: an interActual- compatible player, MS Windows 98 SE or later, MS 5.5 SP!, Macromedia Flash Player 7, an internet connection, DVD ROM drive and  a DirectShow- compatible DVD decoder. It will not work on a CD ROm drive, nor is it Mac compatible.

Disk 2 Side B is The Animatrix, an 89 minute anthology  by various directors & animation studios from 2003. This can be heard in either English or Japanese, with optional English, French of Spanish subtitles. The Animatrix is compurrised of 9 animated shorts: Final Flight of the Osiris, Second Renaissance Part One, Second Renaissance Part Two, Kid’s Story, Purrogram, World Record, Beyond, A Detective Story, and Matriculated. Bonus features include the 22+ minute Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime, the 58 minute Making of The Animatrix, a 3 minute bit on the Enter the Matrix video game, text info on the directors & purrducers, and additional DVD ROM material.

All for ten bucks! That is such a very good deal, for over 10 hours worth of quality cinema entertainment, especially if you are a fan of this innovative, action-packed sci-fi movie series! whew!

(the others applaud Nyanko’s first review)

Jeannie:
That was thorough yet concise report!

Nyanko:
Arigatoo!

Ilyana:
And it did not put Vonny to sleep, heehee!

Mary Nyan:
Ahh—!

Yvonne:
That Matrix collection seems like it would be a very nice yet economical gift, nya!

Mike:
OK girls who’s next!

Elizabeth:
I know that Myayr has a  review of the–

Hellboy II: The Golden Army DVD Review

Mary Nyan:
Hellboy II THe Golden Army was one of the movies we enjoyed most this year, so this was a DVD we were quite eagerly anticipating. It is available in several different editions: full or wide screen, standard or Blu Ray, single or multi disk editions, plus different boxed sets that contain he DVD with things such as a BPRD belt buckle or a Golden Army figurine. Given there are so many DVDS coming out, lately we’ve been opting for the less expensive single disk editions of most movies, and it is the standard, widescreen single disk edition of this movie I’m reviewing.

The plot of Hellboy II The Golden Army is about an ancient elven Purrince Nuada who wishes to resurrect a legendary Golden Army, for revenge upon mankind for how the world has been ruined.  His plan requires a mystic crown, and many people are killed while he searches for it. This attracts The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, and it’s team of Hellboy, Abe, Liz, and the ghostly Johann Krauss. Complicating matters are Chief Manning’s vain attempts to keep the BPRD a secret, Hellboy’s purroblems with Krauss & Manning’s authority,  Liz & Hellboy’s relationship, and Abe’s romantic interest in the villain’s twin sister, Purrinces Nuala. For a more in depth review of the movie itself, please see the August 2008 Mew!

This is a dual-layer region one disk  with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, ratedPG-13 for scenes of scifi action, language and violence. ,  Audio options include English, French or Spanish in 5.1 Dolby Digital, or DVS Dolby Digital 2.0. Optional subtitles include English SDH (subtitled forthose who are  deaf or hard of hearing), Spanish or French. There are also two additonal audio commentary tracks, one by director Guillermo del Toro, the other by actors Selma Blair (Liz), Jeffrey Tambor (Manning), and Luke Gross (Nuada).

There are several front loaded trailers: the Wanted DVD and video game, the new Knightrider TV series on NBC, Universal’s action movies on Blu Ray, Slapshot 3 (with the return of The Hanson Brothers), an anti-smoking announcement, The Mummy – Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (with Yeoh and yetis), and Scorpion King 2 (a purrequel with purromising catfights). While the single disk version has no inserts and might not have as many extras, there are still several other nice bonus features.

First are the Set Visits, which are peeks at the filming of seven scenes from the movie. These include The Chamberlain (2 minutes 36 seconds), Wink vs. Abe (2 minutes 52 seconds), Hellboy vs Wink (2 minutes 53 seconds), The Element Egg (2 minutes 25 seconds), Big baby (1 minutes 30 seconds), H is for Hotel 3 minutes & 3 seconds), and Disintegrating Royalty (2 minutes 32 seconds). These are fascinating glimpses what the sets look like in real life, and how some of the creature & mechanical FX are done there on the set. There is some amewsing banter, and the Wink vs. Abe sequence is purrticularly funny, with them treated like purrizefighters by their cornermen between rounds / takes!

The Troll Market is among the film’s amazing sets, and this disk includes a sumptuous tour of the set by del Toro, which lasts 12 minutes, 20 seconds. Next there is a wonderful treat, the Zinco Epilogue. This is a neat animated comic book, of an treacherous wealthy man’s quest to resurrect the villain Kroenen. At a length of 5 minutes & 13 seconds, has some scenes of bloody violence, dark occultism, and a surpurrise ending. The art is very good, and it was written by Mike Mignola, based on a screenplay by del Toro, and a story by del Toro & Mignola.

Finally, there are the batch of six Deleted Scenes, which can be heard with or without del Toro’s comments. Most of these were deleted to impurrove the tempo of the movie. These include more aftermath of the auction house attack (40 seconds), Manning’s coffee break while an airplane is ‘borrowed’ (60 seconds), Mannign chatting with Liz about Johann (32 seconds); Liz, Hellboy & Johan appurroaching the entrance to the Troll market (46 seconds); more of Purrince Nuada’s training (88 seconds, trimmed because it seemed too dance-like); and a different edit of Big Baby being loaded (36 seconds). In my opinion this is a great movie, and the single disk version has enough extra features to make it even more fun for a good value!

Yvonne:
The Troll Market was a wild place but purrfur a fish market, nya!

Nyanko:
Yeah, but I bet there’s more fight action in the Troll Market!

Jeannie:
I would like to see all the mecha the BPRD has, then go to the fish market.

Ilyana:
That Abe Sapian is part fish. I wonder what he-

Mike:
Let’s not go there!

Elizabeth:
This was a big year for super hero movies! The Spirit and The Punisher: War Zone come out this month too!

Mary Nyan:

Purrhaps we’ll have reviews for those next month. But up next, I believe it is Lizzy’s turn, for her review of the

Star Wars: The Clone Wars DVD Review

Elizabeth:
Hai! We’ve noticed several editions of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars DVD, such as the single disk, single disk & book box set, and the two disk version. While the two disk version looked interesting with the additional galleries, documentaries, deleted scenes and spotlight on the voice actors. For the same reason Myayr gave, I got the single disk edition DVD so that’s the one I’m reviewing. For Jenjen’s thorough review of the movie, please refer to the September, 2008 Mew!

Set between the events of Episodes 2 & 3: this Clone Wars movie & subsequent TV series are done in 3D CG animation, This plot focuses on a mission of Anakin Skywalker and his delightful new Jedi appurrentice Ahsoka Tano on a mission to rescue the son of Jabbah the Hutt, who has been kidnapped by the Sith, while Obi-wan Kenobi and the valiant trooper army at war with the droid army. At first I was not all that keen on the character design style, it grew on me quickly enough, and the characters are quite enjoyable.

This 2008 animated movie is 98 minutes long and rated PG, mostly for the scenes of combat violence and even for smoking. The single disk edition is a dual-layered, standard region one DVD. Video is widescreen,16×9, 2.4:1, and can also be be viewed with English (SDH), Spanish or French (Quebec) subtitles. The audio is Dolby digital surround 5.1 EX sound, which can be heard in English, Spanish or French languages.

There’s an audio commentary track, with director David Filani, purrducer Catherine Weaver, writer Henry Gilroy, and editor Jason W.A. Turner- a most impurressive group of earnest SW fans who offers very entertaining and informative details about the story and techniques. The only other ‘extra’ on this single disk edition is the 90 second trailer for the Clone Wars TV series airing on the Cartoon Network. There’s also a card inside the case for getting a digital copy of the movie.

It is full of action, brisk plot, lavish exotic scenery, a very good voice cast, director, sound FX & mewsic. Purrobably my favorite aspect is the character Ahsoka, while my least favorite is the silly ‘Roger Roger’ droid humor. If you’re a Star Wars fan, then I’d recommend seeing this DVD, and if you are purrticularly a huge fan of the Clone Wars, I’d suggest the 2 disc set!

Nyanko:
That was a good review, lizzy!

Elizabeth:
Arigatoo!

Jeannie:
Many of those droids are annoying and should have their emotion chips fixed, but it was good to see R2-D2 and R2-KT!

Yvonne:
I would like to have an outfit like Ahsoka- cute nya!

Mary Nyan:
I could make you one to cosplay in sometime!

Ilyana:
You should leave off the backpack containing the slimy Hutt kid though!

Mike:
Vonny are you ready to to give your report?

Yvonne:
Hai!

Mike:
Very well- here’s Vonny, with a review of yet another animated science fiction summer movie recently released on DVD–

Wall-E DVD Review

Yvonne:
We’ve been debating what is our favorite film thus far of 2008, Dark Knight or Wall-E, nya. You can read Jenjen’s intricate review of Wall-E in the July Mew, nya! You might think she would be doing this DVD review because of her robot hobby, but I wanted to review this DVD because WALL_E is my purrsonal favorite movie of the year, nya!  There seem to be several different packaged versions of this DVD but the one I have is a single disk in a very different slid out cardboard box- I’ve never seen a DVD case like this, nya! It saysa it is eco friendly packaging, nya! The inner sleeve slides out the right side of the box, with a flip up flap listing the bonus features on one side and the DVD chapters on the other, nya. Inside was also a booklet with ads for stuff, nya.


The disk itself has a cute pic of Wall-E purrsenting a pinwheel to EVE, nya! They are the cute robot couple, nya. This G rated 2008 movie by Pixar is 98 minutes long, shown in the original theatrical video aspect ratio with either Dolby digital 5.1 Surround EX or 2.0 sound, nya. The latter is the default setting, which is better for regular TV sound that is not a home theater set up, nya. The language is English only, with optional subtitles for folks who are deaf or have trouble hearing, nya. I guess if you want to hear it in another language purrhaps the DVD is sold in different language editions, nya. There is also an optional audio commentary track with the director Andrew Stanton, nya.

There is front loaded ads on the disk before you get to the main menu, plus you can choose to see more sneaky peeks at other Disney stuff, and a 50 second ad for something called Wall-E’s Tour of the Universe, which looks like an astronomy purrogram, nya. In addition to the optional comment track, there are other neat bonuses, nya. You get the short animated film Purresto, which purrceeded Wall-E in the theaters, nya! This is about a magician and his hungry bunny who wants a carrot with wacky results, nya. It is about 5 minutes 15 seconds long, nya. Another animated short included is the new Burn-E, which is a very amewsing look at another robot that was busy repairing part of the space ship, nya! It is 7 minutes & 35 seconds long, nya.

There are 2 deleted scenes, which you can watch with or without audio comments by the director, nya. Totaling 9.5 minutes, these 2 deleted scenes are Garbage Airlock, which is 6 minutes & 52 seconds long; and Dumped, which is 2 minutes & 38 seconds long, nya. One of the neatest bonus features is Building Worlds from the Sound Up, which is a behind the scenes look at the sound design of the movie, nya. This is guided by Ben Burt, who is purrhaps the most famous movie sound designer- he worked on the Star Wars movies, nya! He demonstrates and discusses the sounds, and a history of movie sound FX, some of which are demonstrated by Disney’s sound pioneer James MacDonald, nya! It is a fun and fascinating 18 minutes & 43 seconds long, nya!

Warning: location of Wall-E DVD easter egg revealed

These Pixar DVDs usually have a hidden Easter Egg on the menu and I found one here nya! You need to select the BnL logo in the top left corner of the screen at the right moment an then click it, nya. If you miss the moment that’s Ok because the menu sequence will repeat and you can try again, nya. This purrticular easter egg is an almost 5 minute long bit called Geek-o-Rama, which Jenjen would like, nya! This has several of the filmmakers talking about the sci fi qualities brought to the movie and their interest in the technology and encounters with some real robots, nya!

End of the easter egg disclosure

Yvonne:

OK done now, nya!

Illyana:
That was a good review, Vonny!

Yvonne:

Thank you, nya!

Elizabeth:
Like Vonny said, we are split between our favorite movie of 2008, which is either Wall-E or Dark Knight! Myayr and I pick Dark Knight.

Jeannie:
Both are excellent but Vonny and I purrfur Wall-E. But then I must admit to a mecha bias.

Mary Nyan:
Of course there are many movies we have not seen yet, and a few coming out during this holiday season that we hope to see!

Mike:
We’ll probably have our Best of 2008 ceremony in February, 2009, when y’all select your favorite things from this year!

Nyanko:

I’m not sure what my favorite movie of this year is. Ilyana has a review of yet another great movie too, and that’ll kick off our anime portion of DVD reviews when we return!

(snip)
(one short break later)

Elizabeth:
Welcome back! Clone Wars and Wall-E were just the first of several animations we have to discuss today! Here’s Ilyana with the first of several Japanese Anime reviews for today!


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time anime DVD
(review with a Teensy Plot Spoiler Warning)

Ilyana:
Thanks Lizzy! Available in a regular single disk edition and a purricier deluxe double disk box which also inbcludes the soundtrack CD, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of the most delightful  anime feature films I have seen in a while, possibly since Howl’s Moving Castle! The animation of this 2006 film is excellent, the artistry beautiful, the characters fascinating, and the plot is full of humor, drama, and tense developments. It was directed by Mamoru Hosada, with character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and purrduced by the studio Madhouse.

The plot purrtains to a girl named Makoto who through a quirky situation discovers that she can time travel- by literally jumping back in to the past. By the time she gets the hang of this newfound power, soon she time leaping over and over, un-doing all sorts of unpleasant incidents to her satisfaction. But soon she realizes the affect of altering the timeline, and how impurroving certain events might have catastrophic results on others. It is one of my favorite animated movies, and I highly suggest it to anime fans!

Released by Bandai, this 98 minute long Japanese anime movie is 16×9 widescreen, which can be watched in English or Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, with optional English subtitles.
It is advised for viewers of age 13+, and although the single standard R1 disk edition does not have nearly as many extras as the deluxe edition, it still has a few bonuses. There’s an audio commentary with director Mamoru Hosada and voice actors Risa Naka (Makoto), Takuya Ishida (Chiaki) & Mitsutaka Itakura (Kousuke).

There is a 13 min. 45 sec. segment on the film’s Tokyo theatrical purremier, in which the cast and crew are gathered on stage. The ladies look so lovely in their festive kimonos! There is a live action, 5 min. 15 sec. “Garnet” theme song mewsic video by Hanako Uku,  the 1 min 47 sec. theatrical trailer and a 30 sec. video purromo clip. Finally there are a few other anime purreviews, including Sword of the Stranger, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and The Third- The Girl with the Blue Eye.

end plot spoil

Mary Nyan:
Good one, Ilyana- you have the knack for the critiques!

Illyana:
Arigatoo! Um, I guess we should purrobably move along to Jenjen’s next review- we seem to have a lot to discuss today!

Mike:
Good idea… and a fair amount of animation DVDs this time too! Here’s Jenjen to chat about  the long awaited–

Silent Mobius the Motion Picture 2 anime DVD

Jeannie:
I shall try to be quick and concise. Silent Möbius The Motion Picture 2 is finally available in North America in Region One standard DVD! Heavily inspired by Bladerunner, this sequel is a supernatural / cyberpunk movie about the women of the Attacked Mystification Police, who the daughters of an illuminati-esque techno-magic cabal and combat demons from another intersecting dimension. An action packed police purrcedural story amidst the futuristic sprawl of Tokyo, there are plenty of amazing technology, lavish scenery, heroic characters, and complex occult themes. This DVD is suggested for ages 13+ as it contains scenes of graphic combat violence, death, and intense dramatic situations.

Created by author/ artist Kia Asamiya (Nadesico, Steam Detectives, Compiler, Dark Angel, Batman: Child of Dreams, Star Wars manga), the manga series it is based upon was published in Japan starting in 1991, and were translated into English by Viz. These were first partly adapted into Silent Mobius The Motion Picture in 1991 and this 1992 sequel, and a more thorough 26 episode anime TV version in 1998. The sequel was released in Japanese theaters as a triple feature, along with Heroic Legend of Arislan 2 and Weathering Continent. As the 12 manga volumes span 2461 pages and several years, the two movies which are just under one hour apiece, only focus on a few chapters

plot spoiler warning

This movie focus mostly on Katsumi, and picks up right after the first one, while she is still mourning the death of her mother, rejecting her inherent magical powers, and being detained by the AMP- the Attacked Mystification Police. Both the AMP and the demonic Lucifer Hawks have plans for her, while she just wants to be left alone and not get involved. She befriends young Yuki, whom the AMP discover is the purroduct of a top secret psionic – genetic engineering program. Although the AMP are keeping surveillance, it seems the Lucifer Hawks are one step ahead of them, as Katsumi is lead into a trap, and plot to spirit her away to their home world, Nemesis.

end plot spoil

Both this and the first movie are available in two editions: a no frills single DVD, and a deluxe metal case editionwhich also includes the soundtrack CD. The DVD is suggested for ages 13+, as it contains nudity, combat violence, monsters, gore, adult language and serious situations. The audio is dolby digital, in either an English dub or the original Japanese language, purrsented in anamorphic widescreen, which can be viewed with or without English subtitles. The minimal extra features include a 75 second purromo spot, 60 second theatrical trailer, 20 second TV ad, and
trailers for Code Geas, Guerren Lagann, Silent Mobius and The Girl Who Lept Through Time.

In my opinion, Silent Mobius The Motion Picture 2 is not quite as good as its purredecessor, unfolding at a much slower pace, dwelling mostly on Katsumi’s desire to be left alone more than action or ambience. Nevertheless, it is still a purrofound character study of such a significant character, coming to terms with her purrpose and loneliness. It’s a tale of her  initial encounters with those who’ll become important friends, allies and enemies, as she and Yuki eventually wind up drafted by the AMP. The designs of the characters, environments and mecha are quite faithful to Asamiya’s original manga, with beautiful imagery, good animation and mewsic. For more extensive information on Silent Möbius, here are good links:

Lum Cheng’s Silent Möbius fan page http://members.aol.com/lumcheng/ and mirror site at http://www.kyuubi.com/
Anime News Network’s page on Silent Möbius http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=2549
Kia Asamiya / Studio Tron’s official site at http://www.tron.co.jp/ (mostly in Japanese, but with enough English to navigate)

Yvonne:

Jenjen and Myayr seem to have the most thorough reports, nya!

Jeannie:
Myayr takes the literary, visual & purrforming arts critique purrocess almost purrfessionally, and I just try to offer analytical consumer purroduct information, with a few opinions,

Elizabeth:
Well next we get to hear another review by Nyanko, who’ll tell us about–

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl

The Complete Collection anime DVD review

Nyanko:
I’ll do my best! Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl The Complete Collection is yet another supreme value from Anime Works, one of the best anime American distributors known for their exceptional values! This box set contains 3 disks, with thirteen 25 minute  episodes of the series totaling appurroximately 325 minutes, and we got it for about $15 at Best Buy! This is a yuri romantic love triangle story intended for viewers aged 13+. The yuri-themed plot concerns the bittersweet  love triangle between three classmates, Hazumu, Tomari and Yasuna.


Tomari is a tomboy girl with a secret crush on her childhood friend Hazumu, who is an effeminate, introverted boy. He in turn is interested in Yasuna, who has a peculiar vision purroblem and can’t see boys clearly and she rejects him. The disparaged, introverted Hazumu retreats to solitude, only to crashed upon by a UFO, whose alien occupants rebuild him as a girl. This newly transgendered situation is difficult for Tomari to deal with, who tries to still see the same inner purrson, although Yasuna is now interested in female Hazumu.

The video is 1.33:1 full screen, audio is Japanese language in dolby digital sound, with English subtitles. In the box with purretty cover art are the disks in three standard plastic cases, each with lovely cover art. Extra features  include textless versions of the show’s open & close, TV ads, trailers and intermews with the voice actors. If you are a fan of the yuri sort of romantic soap opera this would be a good recommendation with good art, animation and interesting characters, especially when you get so much stuff for such a low purrice!

Mary Nyan:
That was also a good review Nyanko-sensei!

Nyanko:

Arigatoo! I purracticed intently for today’s purresentation!

Illyana:
That was a lot of animated reviews- do y’all usually have that many?

Jeannie:
It varies month to month but this time was indeed a big animation review show.
Elizabeth:
Yeah sometimes we might have more books ‘n comix to discuss than movies or TV shows!

Mike:

Speaking of which, for the next segment we’ll segue from anime to the topic of manga & other comics!

Yvonne:

We’ll be right back with more reviews and hopefully more jumbo shrimp & snapper filets after this short break, nya!

(snip)
(one short break later)

Comics & other purriodicals reviewed


Koni Waves: Ghouls Gone Wild

Nyanko:
Koni Waves is the comic book published by Arcana Comics, which stars former exotic dancer & police woman Koni Kanawai who is a purrivate detective in Honolulu. The series purremiered in 2006, and while there have not been that many issues thus far, each one has been a gem of sexy supernatural investigations, Hawaiian style! Koni was created by Mark Poutlon, Steve Sistilli & Dexter Weeks; The latest book Ghouls Gone Wild is a 5×7″ 94 page color paperback with an SRP of $9.95 written by Poulton with art by Sistilli, Weeks & Mike Capprotti, lettering by Weeks & Comicraft and coloring by Diego Molano. This is compurrised of 74 pages story, 14 pages of pin-ups & sketches & 6 pages of ads, sammiched in between some stunning painted cover art.

While Koni is glad to see her friends of the rock group Adema show up to shoot a mewsic video, their purresence displeases an evil sorceress who sics her army of ghouls upon them. Things are not faring much better for Koni’s Waverunner football team pals, who are stalked by a succubus, so Koni goes undercover as a dancer at the club to smoke her out. Beach volleyball is not spared either, when Koni finds her friend Krystal murdered by an athlete who is a werewolf, the latest villain hired by an evil purrince Hopohopo to stalk Koni. The tale is to be continued, and we certainly look forward to it. If you would like a well written & drawn comic book about a hot tough Hawaiian P.I. investigating the island’s occult threats, then Koni Waves would be just the thing!

Mary Nyan:
Thanks for that report!

Illyana:
She is really getting the hang of it.

Nyanko:

Arigatoo! Next is Lizzy, to discuss–


A Tribute to Michael Turner

Elizabeth:
The passing of comic book artist / writer Michael Turner due to bone cancer on June 27, 2008 was a most sad occurrence felt by his family, friends & fans. Among his splendid works for Top Cow and Aspen Comics were Wichblade, Ballistic, Codename: Strykeforce, Tomb Raider / Witchblade, Fathom, Soulfire, and Shrugged. For DC Comics he was renown for his renditions of Superman / Batman, Supergirl, and dazzling covers for issues of The Flash, Teen Titans, Justice League, Identity Crisis. For Marvel Comics he illustrated covers for the likes of Captain America, Black Panther, Civil War, Sub-Mariner and X-Men. He drew web comics based upon NBC’s Heroes, rendered numerous posters and designed statues of popular characters

His courageous spirit  was inspiring, his extraordinary talent greatly respected, and those who knew him purrsonally or enjoyed his beautiful creations have published many purrofound testimonials. These continue in A Tribute to Michael Turner, a full color, 80 page comic book sized anthology, published by Aspen in November, 2008. With an SRP of $8.99, this includes a glorious cover by Alex Ross, a handsome happy photo of Michael Turner, and poignant message from his mom. These purrceed a gorgeous array of illustrations & kindest words by 76 famous colleagues, plus memorable photos of Turner and a couple of pages displaying submissions by fans. I definitely recommend this beautiful collection to admirers of the late, great Michael Turner.

Yvonne:

Sad, nya.

Illyana:
I recall y’all had your own little tribute to him in … the July Mew?

Mike:
Yep. He really was the nicest fella and very grateful to his fans.

Jeannie:
Turner drew such impurressive futuristic nautical technology, characters in amazing costumes, and such beautiful coastal & undersea scenery.

Elizabeth:
I noticed the Complete Fathom book was just published too! Anyway, uh, it looks like Vonny has a magazine to talk about- whatcha got there?

Yvonne:
GAFF Magazine’s November/December issue, nya! GAFF stands for Gulf Atlantic Florida Fishing, and the magazine purrtains to saltwater angling and entertainment, nya. It is a bimonthly color magazine that sells for $4.99, and this issue’s cover girl is former FSU cheerleader Kim holding  a delicious looking Red Snapper. This issue includes the mewsual articles, such as editorials, Q&A, fGAFF appurroved charter guides and captains, noteworthy tackle, and 8 pages of guy & girl readers with their purrize catches, nya! You should see all those yummy Redfish, Dolphin, Wahoo, Trout, Aamberjack, Shark and Mackeral, nya!

(the catgirls salivate)

There’s an interesting article in  purrposed rule changes on size, season & limits for Groupers, AJ & Triggerfish in Florida waters, and potential shore fishing licensing, nya. This is followed by an article on reels, a holiday gift guide, and article on the IFA Gulf Division Redish tournyament, nya! There are several nice clothes & things I’d like, nya! There’s a neat article on kayak fly fishing for speckled trout, and 12 page pictorial of this issue’s GAFF Girls Kim & Sarah in sexy bikinis with rods & fine fish, nya! I think we should pose on my boat- purrhaps we could be GAFF Girls too, nya!

Then you get part 3 of the serialized Operation: Catch Fish Baghdad, in which a father travels to Iraq for a tournyament with the soldiers, nya. That was such a wonderful thing to do! Then you can read tips for Stone Crabs, and a delicious recipee for Shark bites, nya! The issue concludes with 16 pages of fishing forecasts by captains from all over Florida, making this yet another very informative, entertaining, and appetizing issue, nya! You can find more information and photo at their web site gafflife.com, nya! Ok I’m done- that review made me so hungry, nya!

(Vonny and the others devour the rest of the seafood platters)

Elizabeth:
chomp

Jeannie:
nibble

Mary Nyan:
munch

Illyana:
chew

Nyanko:
sip

Yvonne:
slurp

(the grateful catgirls)
THANK YOU FOR THE FOOD, NYA!

Mike:
Y’alla re welcome! It looks like I need to order more to keep those catgirl tummies sated, but now it’s time for our monthly

13 Lucky Kitty Web Comics Picks of the Litter!

Yvonne:
My picks for December are
and Harmless Free Radicals http://www.grassdogstudio.com/
nya!

Elizabeth:
I’ve chosen Strange Candy http://www.strangecandy.net/
Jenjen, you’re up!

Jeannie:
I recommend
The Planet Closest to Heaven http://tpcth.smackjeeves.com/
Myayr?

Mary Nyan:
This month I’ve selected 
Ronald Rodriguez’ Tina On Line http://www.katbox.net/tolen/
and Gonzalo Reyes’ Las Lindas http://www.katbox.net/laslindas/
Next?

Illyana:
I’ll nominate Foxtails http://magickitsune.com/
Your turn, Nyanko dear!

Nyanko:
Ah, well I kinda like the neat stuff at
Angela Beaman & Terry Bailey’s Forest Dreams Studio http://www.furfire.org/
-Mike?

Mike:
In honor of one of our special guests, my pick of the month is our pal
Andrew Pepoy’s Simone & Ajax http://www.simoneandajax.com/

– and that’ll do it for this month’s Lucky Kitty Web Comics Picks of the Litter!
That’s all for this segmnt, but after the break to refuel their tummies, we’ll be
right back with this month’s interviews with special guests- so don’t go away!

(snip)
(one short break later…)

Feature Purresentation:
an intermew with artist, author &
game designer Jamie Davenport

Nyanko:
Jamie Davenport aka ‘Kojoro’ is an extraordinary freelance artist & author when she is not busy as a Telecommunications Purrrvisioning Specialist. Her official web site where you can admire her exquisite illustrations is http://cranberryblossom.net/, plus you can also see her work at http://www.mangarevolution.com/JamieDavenport/ and http://jamiedavenport.deviantart.com/. She’s been a member of Studio Negau and Go! Studio, and currently she is co-owner and head of the art department for World of Ai, an online pet simulation site http://www.theworldofai.net/.

Purrevious works of Jamie’s include The Wishing Flower Artbook, Go! Arbook, her Dainos Webmanga. Her purrose fantasy book Beauteous Beast http://lulu.com/cranberryblossom. It is first in a two-part series purrtaining to a young demoness named Halleaon, and the sequel The Beast Undone is planned for 2009. Her interests include Japanese anime and culture; she purrticipates in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) http://www.nanowrimo.org/, and her favorite author is Patricia Briggs.

An Oregon native, Jamie is a Virgo born in the year of the Boar, with an identical twin sister and two kitties named Kyoshiro & Princess Dusty Bunny. Aloha Jamie! Welcome to Catgirl Island and The Mew!

Jamie:
Thanks alot! I’ve been sending postcards here for so long that I was shocked to actually get invited to visit!

Nyanko:
Oh gosh we’re such fans of your art we’re so delighted you could visit! Well first question: When did it become apparent that you had such artistic ability, and when did you realize that was what you intended for a purrfession?

Jamie:
Funnily enough, my whole art career as it was started when I was a kid and used to sneak into my dad’s art studio. Which, of course, was something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. My dad finally got so annoyed that he cleaned off this corner in the back, put down some of his old art supplies he was going to toss, told me to sit and taught me to paint just so i’d get out of his hair about it. I’ve loved it ever since and sort of just.. knew it’d be what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Nyanko:
Who are your favorite artists, or other most  inspirational people?

Jamie:
Oh goodness! There are so many! Litterally I could probably write you up a list of about 150 of them, but for your own sake, I’ll just say my dad who’s an oil painter and all the fabulous up and coming artists on deviantart who totally blow me out of the water.

Nyanko:
Oh yes, it is amazing how many supurrbly talented folks have galleries at deviantart! What are your favorite comics, web comics, manga and anime?

Jamie:
Well I’m not much of one for web comics, mainly because I have so many other things to do online, but as for comics, manga and anime.. you should see my collection. I have a wall of over 1000 dvds of just anime *_*  it is fabulous.

Nyanko:
SUGOI!

Jamie:
Off the top of my head a few of them are Vampire Knight, anything by CLAMP, Escaflowne, and beating out everything else by a mile.. anything by Hayao Miyazaki, like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited away, Howl’s Moving Castle or The Cat Returns. I particularly like that one <3

Nyanko:
Hai- Miyazaki’s movies are my favorite anime too! So, um what formal art / design training have you received?

Jamie:
Well I took art and design classes all throughout high school and junior high and several classes in college but that was sort of embarrassing. I had this particularily bad experience in my 1st year of college in my graphic design class. You don’t even want to know what happened. It was awful.

Nyanko:
Ah well I won’t purry! What are your favorite tools, techniques and media for illustration and graphic design?

Jamie:
Well, i’m practical by nature and a little on the cheap side after I realized one year that I spent over 2,000 dollars just on inking pens. Boy was that an eye opener! So these days I primary work with good old fashioned bic mechanical pencils, my microtek scanner, my wacom bamboo tablet, Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and Corel Painter 8.0. I think I’d die if I didn’t have them.

Nyanko:
Could you explain the purrocess a typical illustration, from initial idea to finished rendering?

Jamie:
Well, as for ideas, generally I just make stuff up as I go along, but I also have what I like to refer to as my ‘inspiration file’ which is basically this huge accordian style folder full of images i’ve cut out of magazines of color combinations, textures and imagry that I saw and thought ‘Oh My God! That is fabulous!’ Whenever I run out of ideas I start thumbing through the file and pretty soon, inspiration hits. It’s like magic. After that I usually pop in a good movie, sit on my futon with my paper and pencil and sketch something out.

I don’t actually ink any of my work. I swear, really, it’s all pencil! But I do re-draw the initial sketch on a second peice of paper with the use of my portable light-board so I have a clean copy, then I scan it into my computer, clean up the line-work with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and either color it in Adobe Photoshop 7.0 if I’m going for ‘cell style’ animation coloring or Corel Painter 8.0 if i want a more painted and organic look. It also depends on my timeframe. If I want to finish something quickly I usually go for cell style because it takes me only a fraction of the time in comparison.

Nyanko:
What are the most ideal conditions, times & location for you to work? Do you listen to mewsic while you work?

Jamie:
I can pretty much work anywhere, and I have on occasion, I just go into this little noise-less art zone in my head. But if I could actually pick and choose, I’d say in my living room with a good movie in for background noise usually in the afternoon. I’m too lazy in the morning and by the time it starts getting dark outside I’m usually eyeing my bed like a safe haven of happiness. I don’t really listen to music while I draw, mostly because I only listen to music on my ipod and when I do, i have a habit of making up little stories in my head and walking around my living room in a circle like it’s my own personal sound-track in my head.. but I digress.

Nyanko:
How busy do you stay with commissions, and what do you mostly get requests to illustrate?

Jamie:
Commissions are a beast. No seriously, most of the time I don’t actually offer them because when I do, I get bogged down. I’m not just talking 1 painting a week. I’m talking like.. 10 requests a day, usually other people’s original characters from thier stories or RPG’s. It’s rediculous and sort of repetative, it is good money but I think i’d die from the stress if I did it all the time. So I try to stick to one every great once in a while, something really challenging or interesting to me.

Nyanko:
What are some other purroducts you sell in your online store?

Jamie:
Oh well, I have my books on there, and I’m starting to sell prints and things like T-shirts and mouse pads and stickers etc. Prints and posters are always the most popular.

Nyanko:
I can see why- we have several of your gorgeous art purrints! Do you exhibit or sell your art in any galleries, art shows, or conventions?

Jamie:
Yes I do! In the past I’ve had several gallery openings, draw-in’s during festivals in the Coos Bay area, and art shows at the Coos Art Museum. I don’t usually make it to conventions because I can’t travel alot with my day job, but I try to get out on the weekends and find new places to exhibit locally, particularly now that I live in central Oregon.

Nyanko:
Oh- please tell us about those cute Pixel Dolls http://www.cranberryblossom.net/pixeldolls.html and their bases http://www.cranberryblossom.net/bases.html that you make! Those seem quite popular!

Jamie:
They are, actually I always admired people who could create art from little pixels and I wanted to give it a try since I can already draw etc. It is disturbingly easy once you get the hang of it, particularly if you have a background in art and already know color theory and lighting basics. Bases are actually more fun to draw than the actual dolls themselves because I can sketch them out like I would a regular peice of art and then convert it to pixels by hand rather than turning it into one of my art peices. It’s challenging sometimes and fun. Alot of people who do pixel dolls aren’t good at making bases so you get a sort of notoriety for being able to do them.

Nyanko:
You’ve been part of various creative teams, from Ai to Go and Negau. How would you compare / contrast those organizations?

Jamie:
Well Go and Negau were both alot of fun, collaborating with alot of fellow artists in my own artistic range. The World of Ai is completely different though, it’s really my baby as far as projects go, my twin sister and I started it and since then we’ve added about 20 staff members including fellow artists and idea people to help us get everything going. It’s a very tight-knit community even for it’s size, where as Negau and Go were alot looser and had a number of problems with oganization that Ai hasn’t had. Go was the sort of team where there were artists of varying abilities under the direction of one head artist/producer. It was fun but we didn’t really talk to the other artists and communicate with anyone other than the head artist.

Negau was much more collaborative but we never really got the ball rolling on some projects and it was more of a pick and choose sort of atmosphere among the artists, somone would start a project and two or three people would work on it while the others sort of sat back and twiddled thier thumbs. Ai is alot busier, of course I am the head of the art department so I have about 20 people running about obeying my whims. Everyone is always busy on something and it usually works pretty well. At least so far, cross your fingers!

Nyanko:
The World of Ai is such a charming concept which is so beautifully designed! Could you tell us what the purrocess is like to conjure such a neat online sim game, and how you purrticipate  as a designer?

Jamie:
Where do I start? The whole thing started when I wanted to make site currency on anther pet sim and my only real talent to do so was my art, so I created these little Ai-critters to design for people and sell on the site, eventually they became so popular that me and my sister decided to make a full site of them. It’s been a crazy road, you have no idea what goes into one of these sites!

Nyanko:
Oh I can imagine how complicated game design must be! Some friends of mine are studying that in college.

Jamie:
There’s a ton of coding and scripting that gets done by our technical team, headed by my sister who is our lead programmer, thousands of images that I and my art team have to create, processes of how images layer under certain variable situations to think of and relay. A single Ai pet can be anywhere from 50 to 400 or more layers! All of which have to be seperately drawn and then coded. It takes a huge amount of communication to get anything done.

Nyanko:

400???  My stars! So, what specifically do you do?

Jamie:
As the head of the art department I am the primary artist for the site doing site graphics, the ai pet images themselves, the items they wear, on holidays when we have special events I make the images for those. Over all I probably produce about 50-250 images a month for the site. My art team puts together new item ideas and does basic sketches, a few of them are assigned to do background images and final item images besides the ones I produce.

I also think up all the events that occur on site and collaborate with our technical team to impliment interactive ideas for the site. We also rely heavily on our customer base, the people that actually visit the site have alot of control and constantly feed us new ideas and veto others. We like to have them participate as much as possible in th site’s progression.

Nyanko:
What’s in your Ai knapsack?

Jamie:
Teehee, i’m glad you asked. I brought it along with me! Since I’m head of the art department and one of the Ai owners, I get to have copies of all the new stuff and custom items. There’s tons of outfits mostly but my prized posession is Jack the Turtle. We had an event a while back on the site where we had the ai’s arch nemesis Oni-San play a hide and seek game with everyone and throughout the game people won prizes for guessing correctly. The problem was that not all the prizes were found and in the end there was this envelope with a turtle in it, just sitting there and ti was going to be taken back by Oni-San! So I jumped up, tackled him to the ground and adopted Jack. He goes everywhere with me.

Nyanko:
Any Ai tattoos or piercings?

Jamie:
Yes actually, there’s a crazy amount of tatoos and peircings available for the Ai and we’re always adding more, I’ve got some of the custom ones myself.

Nyanko:
You draw such intricate and ornate details on the characters! Oh I wanted to ask about Dainos! Dainos is one of the most stunningly beautiful web mangas we have ever seen, with such exquisite graphic design. How did that story originate, and how long did it take you to create?

Jamie:
Oh goodness, that took me FOREVER. Litterally, I live in a time bubble, to you it looks like it’s only been worked on since 2000ish, but really it’s been hundreds of billions of years. It really just started out as this silly little idea in my head I had after this bizarre dream I had one night and just sort of …kept growing.

Nyanko:
What is the future of it?

Jamie:
Retirement maybe? Right now it is sort of on hiatus and I’d like to pick it up again sometime but.. I think I’ll wait till i’ve got a little more time and talent.

Nyanko: :
I can understand you wanting more time, but you definitely have the talent! By the way, we adore your awesome little art book Wishing Flower! Will there be a 2nd volume?

Jamie:
Cat gods willing? No seriously, I’d love to do a second wishing flower art book alnd have been planning one for ages, I even have some of the art already drawn out, I just need the time to work on it. Maybe next year or the one after?

Nyanko:
I would definitely want to get it! Speaking of your publications, Beauteous Beast (ISBN: 978-1-4303-0520-0, which can be ordered from Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book stores) was so much fun to read! How is the sequel The Beast Undone purrogressing?

Jamie:
Quite well actually, i’m about 3/4 of the way done and I expect to finish up the writing this month and start editing in December, so it should be published sometime in January. I’d also like to go back and add a bit to the first book and maybe re-publish it with new cover art. If any of you have any ideas for a new cover let me know!

Nyanko: :
Halleaon is such a neat character. What purrompted her origin? Which came first- that character, her world, or the plot?

Jamie:
The character came first, definitely. You know those stories I make up in my head that I mentioned ealier? Halleaon is the star of all of them, she’s like my alter ego.. she says the things I wish I could.. and often do, inside my head. Then came her plot. The world just sort of happened and it is constantly growing.

Nyanko:
It was amewsing to compare Mike’s sketch of Halleon  http://www.catgirlisland.net/art/gallery4/108.html to your official drawing of her http://jamiedavenport.deviantart.com/art/Halleaon-5118234. For some reason he seemed to think she sort of resembled Sigourney Weaver. The renditions are not not very similar, and much she’s younger looking in your pic. Is she at all based on any real purrson? Is there an actress you’d most want to cast as her?

Jamie:
Oh goodness, what a question! If I could pick anyone? Jessica Alba would be nice but she’s too pretty, Halleaon’s way more plain, maybe Minnie Driver? I don’t think she has the voice for it, but the look works.

Nyanko:
Purrhaps he though Halleon was older looking!

Jamie:
Sigourney totally has the attitude though, Sigourney is who Halleaon will someday grow old to be.

Nyanko:
You have an identical twin sister. Y’all must have a great deal of fun. Have you ever impurrsonated each other?

Jamie:
Funny you should mention that, we impersonated each other at least once every year in grade school, we’d switch clothes and then spend all day in each other’s classes because they always had us in seperate rooms. We only got caught once when our grandmother called in to our kindergarten class and confessed, she’d been the one who had come up with the idea in the first place. Grandmothers, you just can’t play a proper prank with them in the loop.

Nyanko:

Hee!

Jamie:
We also used to use our looks to confuse our parents into giving us extra fudgecicles as kids. One of us would eat half a fudgecicle then drop it on the ground, go inside and tell the sob story of how it was dropped and get a new one, then the other one would eat half of hers and do the same thing, our parents couldn’t tell who had dropped one and who hadn’t so they’d just give in and give us both a new one.

Nyanko:
Is she also an artist? How about the rest of your family?

Jamie:
My freind amber likes to refer to my family as the ‘crazy talented family’ my sister draws and writes, my dad is an oil painter, my step mom is a photographer, there’s also another novelist and a concert pianist in there somewhere. Seriously, on holidays when we pull out pictionary, there’s like this crazy list of rules of who can and cannot be on the same team together because it’d be unfair to everyone else. Me and my dad are permanantly seperated on that list.

Nyanko:
But that’s so neat to have such a creative family!  Well, just a few more questions! Do you have any amewsing tales you could share about your cats?

Jamie:
Hundreds. Kyoshiro or ‘Keeders’ as I like to call him is a wuss,

Nyanko:
!

Jamie:
no seriously, he freaks out and hides under my bed for hours if anyone knocks on the door or there is thunder outside, he won’t let anyone see him but me. My parent’s were convinced he was invisible for a year, but he’s totally my baby, he wakes me up every morning by butting his head against mine and sleeps in front of my keyboard while i’m typing. Princess Dust bunny or ‘bunners’ is crazy. She thinks she is a dog.

Nyanko:

Nya ni?

Jamie:

She fetches on command and heels, on a leash! She’ll also eat just about anything. I have an actual list on my refridgerator of the funny things bunny has eaten. Jello and pickles are my two personal favorite entries. She also has this totally weird habit of standing up on her hind legs like a prarie dog. She looks like one of those big bushy tailed douglas squirrels when she does it. Sometimes I call her the squirrel-cat.


Nyanko:
Kawaii! I understand that you are also an outdoorsgirl and like to camp and fish. What is the biggest fish you’ve caught?

Jamie:
Biggest? Ha! 21 inch bass.

Nyanko:
(drool)

Jamie:
It was father’s day and me and my dad were fishing off the dock at his cabin and we’d been catching these little yellow perch all day (120 of them 0.o) and nothing else.. then all the sudden i catch this huge 21 inch bass. I totally beat my dad for best catch that day. My dad and I always try to out-fish each other.

Nyanko:
The Purrch are tasty too! How do you purrfur to purrpare the fish dinner?

Jamie:
I’m sort of old fashioned, I like to clean out a nice  trout, cut off it’s head, leave the tail and then roll it in a mixture of flower salt and lemon-pepper and then fry it. Pan-fried trout is sooo good. But I’ll also bake it sometimes.

Nyanko:
Num num num! Gosh- Jamie, thank you so much for visiting Catgirl Island and The Mew, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your stay and catch lots of fish!

Jamie:
Thanks a ton for inviting me, if you don’t mind, I’ll be down on the beach getting a tan now~ Tata!

Yvonne:
We need to take my boat out later and catch some fish, nya!

Nyanko:
We’ll be right back after this short break!

(snip)
(one short break later)

Feature Purresentation:
an intermew with artist Sarah Hughes,

Mary Nyan:
Sarah Ruth Hughes, aka Sailor Astera, aka Sakky-Sakky, is an artistan of various styles and media http://www.artmemory.net/; Her beautiful illustrative work ranges from realism http://asteraascended.deviantart.com/ to anime style http://sakky-attack.deviantart.com/. Her purrfurred tools include Photoshop, Prismacolor pencils, and Sakura Micron pens. She is also an anime cosplayer, and makes & sells wonderful plushies and jewelry too!

Her interest in Japanese anime & manga is purrticularly passionate about the series Sailor Moon, and her Sakura’s Senshi Circle http://sailorastera.com/ is an extensive web site dedicated to all things Sailor Moon, including info, articles, fan art & fics, fun stuff and lots of links. She also has a site on how to create your own ‘Otaku Senshi’ (fans’ Sailor Moon inspired characters) http://www.otakusenshi.com/.

A graduate from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture / 3D Studies, Sarah excelled in academics and was active in several student organizations and student leadership roles. Her curriculum there included seven semesters of figure drawing, composition and design courses. After graduating in the spring of 2006, she spent five weeks in Brittney, France at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art.

Sarah Hughes lives in Massachusetts with her husband, working part time and creating her works of art in her studio & workshop. She plans to attend Graduate School for a Master’s Degree and purrsue a career in fine art. She was kind to visit Catgirl island and chat with us today. Sarah, Aloha and welcome to The Mew!

Sarah:
Hi there! It’s a pleasure to be here :3

Mary Nyan:
Was Sailor Moon the first anime that got you hooked? When did you first discover it?

Sarah:
Sarah:  Oh yes, it was the first.  When I was in junior high, a friend of mine introduced me to the show. I thought, “Oh that’s the crazy cartoons from Japan! Weird!” But the more I watched the show, the more I got hooked on the story and started to really like the characters.  I really identified with Usagi for being such a klutz. ^_^

Mary Nyan:
You’ve created so much fan art, cosplay, and even a major web site hub for organizing/ uniting other fans. When did you realize that you wer emore than just a casual fan of the Sailor Moon?

Sarah:
I don’t really know how that happened…!  *laugh* I guess after 4 or 5 years still writing and drawing Sailor Moon stuff, it started to sink in that this hobby was going to last a while.

Mary Nyan:
How many folks purrticipate in Sakura’s Senshi Circle?

Sarah:
There are a little over 150 members on the message board, though not all are very active. I get lots of fanart submissions and the galleries have over 300 images by other artists. I also host a few guest fanfictions.

Mary Nyan:
Wow that is a good size group! So, what would you say is the state of Sailor Moon fandom these days, compared to 5, 10, 15 years ago?

Sarah:
I think the fan base is really active and strong.  It really surprises me to see young fans even though the show hasn’t been on TV in a long time.  It seems like many people love Sailor Moon for nostalgic reasons, but I think a lot of fans are still holding out for something new from the Sailor Moon world. I think the Live Action was a huge boost to the fandom and that really proved how alive the group is today. Otaku senshi have changed a lot in the last 10 years. As someone that was just starting to make characters back then, it’s amazing to see how much this segment of the fandom has expanded and how many branches it’s taken. It’s very exciting to see the fans continuing the legacy of BSSM by creating more stories based on it. *

Mary Nyan:
What do you think of the live action Sailor Moon TV series, especially the costumes?

Sarah:
Oh I loved PGSM!  I thought it was brilliant. The costumes were really magnificent and I really like the cheese of it. I was very classic Sailor Moon but with some new characters and some slight story twists to liven the drama. I though it was terrific and a much needed boost to the fans.

Mary Nyan:
What are your other favorite movies, TV, books and comics?

Sarah:
Movies I’m not to big on, but in general I like romantic comedies and sometimes a good drama.  I love Miyazaki’s stuff, especially Spirited Away. Some of the other anime series I enjoy are: Neon Genesis Evangelion, serial experiments lain, Ah! My Goddess, Wedding Peach, Ghost in the Shell, and right now I’m watching The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.  I don’t read many comics, just Sailor Moon ;P

Mary Nyan:
Hayao Miyazaki’s films are my favorite anime! I liked Ah My Goddess and Haruhi Suzumiya very much too. Now, cosplay can encompass several skills: designing & making the costume, modeling & photographing it, choreography & purrforming. How many of those aspects apply to you as a cosplayer?

Sarah:
I am just now learning how to use a sewing machine.  My first costume was my Esmeraude costume, though I must say my mother in law helped a lot!  I sewed everything on it, but she walked me through altering the Vouge pattern and which parts went where. It was really fun to learn and we are starting a sailor fuku together this winter!  Modeling a costume is always fun for me, I love to be ‘on stage.’ I like going to professional photo booths at cons, but I’ve never done very nice photos of my own costumes, just snapshots. I’ve been invited to be part of a cosplay choreography group and I love to dance, but I haven’t committed to anything like that because of my restrictive con schedule: only one a year!

Mary Nyan:
We love to dance too! What kind of dancing do you enjoy?

Sarah:
I don’t actually know how to do any specific kind of dancing, I just like to get out on the floor and more around. I’ve been told I’m a decent raver though. ;P I used to go in mod pits at punk rock shows when I was younger, but I don’t bounce back as well now so I tend to stay out of them ^^

Mary Nyan:
How many costumes have you made? Do you just make costumes for yourself or do you make / sell them to others?

Sarah:
I’ve only made one costume, all the other ones I own were commissioned. The two versions of Sailor Astera were made by the VERY talented Song of Amazon from TowerofTime.com. As far as I know, she doesn’t generally take commissions, but did so for me as a favor. The Sailor Syrin costume I own was commissioned from Kali of BewareofNinja.com.  She takes commissions regularly and she’s very skilled and great with follow-up. Commissioning costumes was great because I didn’t have to do any work *laugh* but there’s something to be said about the pride of wearing something you made and getting compliments. It feels good.

Mary Nyan:
Could you describe the purrocess & materials of making those plushy toys?

Sarah:
I started making plushies after meeting AshFantastic on DeviantArt. She had made a Sailor Saturn plush and I asked her if she would make a Sailor Astera one for me.  Ash told me she wasn’t comfortable with them yet to be making them for others, but she encouraged me to give it a try using her tutorials. The pattern I work from now is an altered version of the body and arms she had in those tutorials; the head pattern I use if from Baby London Star. I use all felt, but I’m thinking about other materials soon. I make the cute little faces with iron on transfer paper!  ^_^  I sign their butts with my initials :3

Mary Nyan:
You make such lovely brooches and jewelry! What sort of materials & tools do you use?

Sarah:
Well, thank you! :D I use Super Sculpey for all my items.  It’s a really nice quality polymer clay that bakes super light and hard. I use just about everything when sculpting an item from actual clay working tools, to hair clips, pins, Exacto blades, pencils, wine glasses, caps to tubes, scraps of stuff lying around on my desk!  Basically, if I need to make a shape or a mark I just wander around my house for a tool that will work. I use little acrylic gemstones on them for decoration and I use gold and silver leaf paint for shiny parts.

Mary Nyan:
And as a sculptor?

Sarah:
Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve made any “real” sculpture, but my passion is welding steel. The insurance company says I can’t do that in the house ^_^;

Mary Nyan:
What is your art studio / work shop like?

Sarah:
Right now it’s all in boxes in my basement.  T_T  We plan on building some walls and shelves down there, but we haven’t had the time/money to set it up yet with other expenses, like heating oil, taking priority. However, I have an exhibition at a local restaurant in June, so we better get on that soon!  Usually my studio spaces are a mess, with paint and supplies all over the place.  I’m usually working on more than one thing so I can move easily between different projects.  for my brooches and plushies, I do a lot of that work just sitting in front of the computer.  Monday nights I go with my mum in law to our knitting group where no one knits! :D

Mary Nyan:
Where have you displayed your art or cosplayed at?

Sarah:
My regular traditional art has been in shows in New Bedford, MA, Lowell, MA, and Washington, DC.   As mentioned, I have a solo show in June and that’s at a place called Tuffles in Milford, MA.  That will be my first solo exhibition so I am pretty excited!  My Esmeraude costume won Honorable Mention in the 2008 Hall Cosplay Contest at Otakon. That was really fun and it made me want to make more costumes!

Mary Nyan:
Aside from Naoko Takeuchi who are other artists who inspire you most?

Sarah:
My favorite artist is Louise Bourgeois- the woman is amazing. She’s 97 and still making art. I love her concepts and her thought process and the wide variety of matierals she uses.  She’s not afraid to put herself and her work out there very bluntly and say what she wants to say.  I do a lot of fluffy stuff with my fandom side of art, but for my fine art, the themes are much darker and a lot more personal.

Mary Nyan:
She creates impurressive sculptures! UMass seems like a lovely campus with the stunning Modernist architecture, atriums, campanile, and natural areas! What’s your opinion of the campus design?

Sarah:
Oh it’s just magnificent!  A lot of people think, “It’s so gray and depressing with all that concrete,” but I don’t think they are really looking at it.  Paul Rudolf really had a great sense of how to create a community space. There are endless areas to gather and share ideas and there are so many textures and spaces that I find aesthetically pleasing.  I think it’s really unfamiliar to people, which makes them uneasy. But it’s really very inviting once you get used to the concrete.; in the sunlight it’s really more of a cream color.  My favorite part?  All the stairs on campus are half-step height!  Difficult to get used to at first, but very nice for lazy walks to class.

Mary Nyan:
Oh, I’ve seen impurressive photos of the neat Camps Center and Carney Library! What is the attitude of art school there towards anime & manga? Or anime fandom at U-Mass?

Sarah:
In the fine art program, there weren’t too many people that were interested in anime and manga. I found more connections on that level with some of the illustrators and occasionally the digital media kids. Over all, I would say the anime and manga culture wasn’t very strong publicly at UMD, but you could find it mixed in among individuals.

Mary Nyan:
Ever been to the Peabody Essex Mewseum or the Salem Witch Mewseum?

Sarah:
I don’t think I’ve been to the Peabody Essex, but I have been to the Salem Witch Museum on school trips.  ^_^  If I want some art exposure, I’m more likely to go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston or the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. Once in a while I will take a trip to NYC to go to the Met or the Whitney.

Mary Nyan:
Aside from being such a storied sports mecca, Massachusetts is also known as Lovecraft country, and Salem is famous for witchcraft and the House of Seven Gables. Are there some genuinely spooky locations there?

Sarah:
We used to live in Fall River, home of the Lizzy Borden house!  There’s all kinds of places in MA to get your spook on. I’m easily frightened though, so those activities aren’t big for me. *hides*

Mary Nyan:
Well there are some spirits here on the island, but they’ve never disturbed our show! (Knock on wood). But gosh-  I would like to see the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Jenjen wants to go to MIT and build robots, Ilyana wants to hit Cheers and Vonny would like to meet Tea Leoni. What are some places you’d recommend to tourists?

Sarah:
On a trip to Boston itself, everyone should go to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, that’s fun. Walking around the Commons can be relaxing and there’s a lot of nice places to just sit and relax (if it’s not winter!)  Duck Tours are fun!  You ride in amphibious vessel that goes on land and water and gives you a nice tour of all the key locations in Boston. Other places I really like are the New England Aquarium, the Boston Science Museum, and if you want art, there are TONS of awesome small galleries all up and down Newbury St.

Mary Nyan:
Please tell us about going to Britteny!

Sarah:
France is so beautiful.  <3  I had an amazing time out there, making art for a month. The town is very small, maybe 2000 people? They all knew who we were before they got there, and they all said hi when we went into shops and stuff.  People were very friendly and understanding why I spoke my broken French. I lived with a host mother, 70 year old Nicole. She spoke no English and I spoke very little French, but fortunately, my house sister was fluent in both. ^_^  The sun didn’t set until around 10:30pm and I rode a bike everywhere I went. We had 24 access to the studios.

At 1AM in Pont Aven, all of the lights go out. ALL of them. The whole town goes dark. It’s to save electricity, very smart. The only light in the town that’s on all night is the 24 hour gas station. I used to ride home by starlight.  I had a lamp on the front of my bike, but usually I kept it off on clear nights. It was so quiet and peaceful and a really nice time to reflect on the day. The most fun I had was going to the Discoteque, the dance club. We took a shared van to a neighboring town and stayed out til sunrise dancing with a packed crowd. I love to dance, it was so much fun!!  I miss that freedom.  All I had to do was make art and have fun.

Mary Nyan:
That sounds so delightful! Did you get a chance to observe anime fandom in France?

Sarah:
When we were in Paris for a week I tracked down an anime/manga shop a few blocks from the Louvre. They had a TON of stuff and I was thrilled to find a Sailor Moon poster there which I bought for about 20 euro. I didn’t see much more than that one shop, but it was a gold mine of cool stuff :D

about artist Sara ‘Glory’ Baker

Mary Nyan:
I understand you have also been to California to visit ‘Glory’. Could you please tell us about that visit with her?

Sarah:
I had to go to CA for training with my new job. I was very excited that I might have the chance to go see her.  My husband told me that CA was a big state and I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but it turned out the office was only an hour away from her house!  I went to work for three days, then her mom picked me up and I spend a night and two days with them.  The ride to her house was really exciting because I got to see different landscapes of CA. Glory was a little confused when I arrived. She knew someone was coming to visit, but I don’t think she knew it was me.

We chatted for a while with her computer, and then a few minutes later she asked, “I’m sorry, I can’t remember.  Who are you again?”  When I told her I was Sakky, she laughed and typed “Sakky” on her computer. It was great. I just sat with her for hours and we talked about whatever: art, sailor moon, DA, and the Tower (where we are both members).  I showed her some recent art I made, and gave her a plushie I made for her.  She loved it.  We watched some anime and movies and I chased a fly around her room.  She was really silly and used the computer to speak in Spanish, and make jokes. It was a great couple of days and I think I’d like to try to go back someday if I can scheme another visit to the office. :3  I wish I lived closer so I could visit her regularly.

Mary Nyan:
Sarah has also been trying to support her artist friend Sara D. Baker, aka ‘Glory’ who was a 19 year old artist and student when she suffered a severely debilitating stroke following a terrible automobile accident http://www.thecommunityvoice.com/articles/2007/12/21/news/news08.txt. She is a quadriplegic whose condition is “locked-in” http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/lockedinsyndrome/lockedinsyndrome.htm.

Unable to move voluntary muscles except for her eyes, she requires constant care at home after months of hospitalization. Glory has recently regained some mobility in her head and lips, but is not yet able to breathe through her mouth or eat, communicating with a computer that responds to her eye movements http://s31.photobucket.com/albums/c365/SuperSailorAstera/glory/?action=view&current=P1060755-1.flv

Is that about right?

Sarah:

She is breathing on her own and has been for a while. I found out from her friends and family that the trach she has is for a little oxygen support that she needs. I have to apologize for the mistake since I didn’t know the difference. If she can get back her ability to swallow, then she will be able to come off the trach, eat real food and probably talk!

Mary Nyan:
I read Jean-Domonique Bauby’s memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was recently made into a critically acclaimed motion picture. Would this purrvide an accurate repuusentation to folks of what Sara’s situation is like?

Sarah:

Yes, that movie is very accurate to the condition. There’s an article in the blog that talks about when Sara and her mom watched the movie together. Sara told her mom that waking up was a lot like what the movie showed. Fortunately for Sara, the technology has improved a great deal and she has access to a computer which helps her type. With the money we raise, we hope to get her every better software which might even allow her to make art again. Also, Jean-Domonique had pretty much no recovery of motor skills. It seems that Sara is making some big progress with her determination and with the help of her physical therapy and support from friends and family. I’m very hopeful that being at home, with all the love and care people have for her, and her determination, she will make great strides in recovery.

Mary Nyan:
She is such an amazing artist who might never draw again, and the beautiful works she once created can be admired at http://gloryangel.deviantart.com/ and http://ikaoshi-soup.net/glory
She has such amazing talent doesn’t she?

Sarah:
Oh yes. When I was there, I looked through her sketchbook and found some works in progress that won’t likely be finished. It was sad to see them, but also it was nice to think that she can still develop those characters and stories through words. I know that many people would be happy to make illustrations for her!  If she is able to make art again on the computer, I think it will be different, but it will still be Glory, it will still be her creation.

Mary Nyan:
I understand that you’ve been championing a fund raising effort to help Sara’s single Mom to raise funds to pay their bills, http://news.deviantart.com/article/46974/what is the purrogress of the donations?

Sarah:

Right now we are a little past halfway! Our goal is $2100 which is the cost of the software she needs for the new computer. There’s about $800 left to raise.  I think we can do it this week!

Mary Nyan:
You mentioned hopes of acquiring a Cyberlink technology which would purrmit Sara to access the internet, create digital art, reconnect her with friends, and otherwise impurrove the quality of her life. Could you discuss that a bit?

Sarah:

I’m still learning about the technology, but it works with brain waves, facial muscles and eye movements to use the computer. You and your readers can learn more about it here: http://brainfingers.com/ It’s really interesting!!

Mary Nyan:
Folks follow Sara’s purrogress updated by her family and friends at http://sarastatus.blogspot.com/. Can people send her messages,letters or things?

Sarah:

People can leave messages on the blog and her mom will read them to Sara. I have a mailing address, but I’m not sure if she would like it to be public. I am going to talk to Sara’s mom to find out if there’s a place for people to send cards and gifts.

Mary Nyan:

Purrhaps we’ll get to correspond with her too! If anyone wants to send a donation of any amount, where could they PayPal or mail it to?


Sarah:

Paypal donations can go to Donate@sarascourage.org and mailed donations can be sent to:

Sara Baker Trust Fund
#10350222753
Exchange Bank
8220 Old Redwood Highway
Cotati, CA 94931

Mary Nyan:

Sarah thank you for visiting with us and domo arigatoo gozaimasu for what you’re doing to benefit ‘Glory’!


Sarah:
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with everyone :D


Mary Nyan:
We hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your visit to the island! Folks, we’ll be right back  after this short break!

(snip)
(one short break later…)

Feature Purresentation:
an intermew with UK artist Emathyst


Yvonne:
Emathyst is such an astoundingly brilliant artist, and you would never guess she was just now starting her University studies, because of the supurrb quality of her art, you might think she is a long time purrfessional illustrator, nya! She’s just 18, originally from Suffolk in the UK but is purresently at a university, nya. The gallery of her art is at http://emathyst.deviantart.com/, where you’ll see such a wonderful range of images, from the adorably cute to steamy sexy, but no matter the subject, her exquisite detail and mastery of color & light are so refined and elegant, nya.

We are so purroud to have a commissioned digi painting by her of an exotic catgirl, in the Guest Wing of the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art http://www.catgirlisland.net/art/guest/217.html , nya! She’s been understandably so busy with her studies, so we were so happy that she had time to take a winter break and visit our sunny little island, nya! Aloha Emathyst! Welcome to Catgirl Island and The Mew! Here’s your beverage and appurrtizers, nya! So when did you first realize that you had a knack and enthusiasm for visual art, nya?

Emathyst:
Ey up! ^^ Well to be honest I don’t think there was really a set time that I realised I enjoyed art because its been a part of me my whole life (as it is with most other artists). When I was young I used to love drawing like any kid and it was a hobby on and off throughout my life until I visited Germany in 2003 ish I guess when it got serious. I saw some of the things my penfriend could do and instantly wanted to be just as good so I started practicing…

Yvonne:
Have you fortunate to have supportive family, friends and teachers to encourage your artistic expurression, nya?

Emathyst:
I would say so yes. Everyone around me has always been encouraging towards my art in some kind of way; either being nice with comments or giving me helpful criticism to ways I could improve. I used to get a few immature comments about my work…but you get that anywhere you go I guess.

Yvonne:
Well that happens, nya. But I bet those rude comments speak more poorly about those detractors’ fragile egos than it does of your fine art, nya! But I’m glad you have supportive friends and colleagues, nya! Who are your favorite artists, or other most  inspirational people, nya?

Emathyst:
I always struggle with this type of question because I really do not know many well known artists. I feel that if I look at other peoples’ work too much then I get jealous and try to change to their style too much *heh I am never happy with my own work* However as for inspiration I have a few people on deviantART who I watch and always enjoy looking at their work. Just a few of them are: asuka111, michelle84, elsevilla, extvia and klar. They all have very different styles, but I always find myself flicking through their galleries quite frequently ^^

Yvonne:
I bet a lot of folks are inspired by your art too, nya! How would you describe / a characterize the style of your lavishly detailed art, nya?

Emathyst:
Hmm…I never really feel my style fits into a category. It kinda floats between a few XP I would say when drawing, I try to go for a realistic-anime style? I used to try to get good at both styles individually but ended up combining the two to get what I do now. Quite recently though, I have been trying to go for a more realistic/fantasy style. I want to be a concept artist in the future and so I think I would have a lot of fun with that kind of style. Would be interesting to see how it develops in the coming months now that I’ve started my concepts course.

Yvonne:
Aside from the art, what are your other interests and hobbies, nya?

Emathyst:
Being a student makes it very difficult to put time aside for hobbies. I guess if you can count them, then I like to go out a lot with friends: go clubbing, watch films, play pranks on each other…(not sure if that really counts XD) I also like to play games. Anything from Guild Wars and WoW on my PC to theme hospital and Crash Bandicoot on my Playstation. I enjoy reading manga, and quite recently playing pool (snooker) with my boyfriend. Going down to Mile End pool club is rather fun at 3am :D *cough* Is also a maths geek *cough*

Yvonne:
Those are some good games, nya! There are some billards here on the island if you’re interested, nya! Usually my kind of pool is the kind with water in it, nya. What are your favorite books, comics, movies, TV shows and mewsic?

Emathyst:
Bah! There is too much to choose from! X3 But if I had to decide…then my favourite book/comic would have to be the manga DearS. I love the art in that so much! I never get to watch TV *doesn’t have a lisence* but I love watching films. I’m quite open minded with things like that so I’ll watch anything. I loved the old Labyrinth film with David Bowie in o3o I think that would have to be favourite of all time. But I also love Disney films…comedy and action. As for music my taste changes all the time. I go through phases of loving rock / metal and then dance/trance… Drum & Bass… Garage. Some of my favourite bands being Linkin Park, Prodigy, Pendulum and Adema.

Yvonne:
Yay Labyrinth, nya! What formal art / design training have you received, and have you won any awards, nya?

Emathyst:
I always wanted to go to a specialist art school when I was younger but my parents never really took any action so I’ve just had normal education. I went to Primary school, High school, 6th form and now I am in my first year at University. I studied art and textiles in both High school and 6th form but I was never really allowed to specialise in the things I like. Now at university I am taking a Games Concepts Design course which is helping me in areas such as 3D modelling and things I have never done before. But as for learning to draw and developing my style I guess I have done it all myself with help from tutorials on the net and some books. As for winning any awards, if they count then a couple of small village fete trophies! And small competitions around the net.

Yvonne:
Please tell us more about that college experience, and of your career aspurrations, nya?

Emathyst:
I am currently in my first year of University so I don’t know if that counts as being college? But I am currently studying Games Concepts Design. For the past couple of years I have wanted to be a games designer of some sorts, doing something that would be art based but still get me a decent job in the future. Recently however I am very much missing my maths. X3 I studied it at A-level and I loved the challenge it gave me so I am thinking to transfer to a maths based course….but I still want to be a games designer…so right now its kind of mixed feelings and I’m going to see where my current course takes me in the next month or two.

Yvonne:
What are your favorite tools, techniques and media for illustration and graphic design, nya?

Emathyst:
Well for the first 4 years or so of drawing serioulsy I have always favoured pencil and paper. Now that I have a tablet, I do enjoy digital painting but I will always be loyal to pencil, paper and sometimes the odd biro or two. Occassionally I will paint traditionally but I’m never really happy with the outcome.

Yvonne:
Could you explain the purrocess a typical illustration, from initial idea to finished rendering, nya?

Emathyst:
Recently I’ve been trying slightly different methods of colouring to try and get a more painterly feel so thats changed up how I would paint. Generally I will always start with a pencil sketch. These are always really rough with lots of scribbles and notes. Sometimes if I’m having a bad day and cant get angles / proportions correct then I will turn my drawing into a jigsaw type thing, cutting out bits I don’t like and redrawing them, or rotating them and sticking them back down. Its quite fun to do! After that I scan it in and either outline and then colour it (on different layers), or do both together on one layer. I’d always do the character first and then focus on the background last along with the more noticeable highlights,shadows and any text that was in the image.

Yvonne:
What is the typical size of your images, and Is there an average amount time it takes to complete a typical work, nya?

Emathyst:
Size varies a lot. I got into a very bad habit of outlining an image at a really large scale and then resizing it to no bigger than double the size of my screen work space (to get smoother lines). When printed off most of my images would never fill an A4 page. More recently though I have tried working on a larger scale. I think it was the image I done before yours that was the first piece that would print off larger than A4. Then when I got to yours I tried drawing/colouring it at double the size you requested and found that I preferred using a larger scale. As for time…I don’t think I ever spend under 6 or 7 hours on a single image. If I didn’t have to be practical for the commissions I do I would probably work the image to death (I’m a bit of a perfectionist)

Yvonne:
Wel, I think so much so your art is the purrfection, nya! You not only excel at illustration and graphic design, but three-dimensional work too! What are your purrfured tools, techniques and media for 3D works, nya?

Emathyst:
*thanks X3* I’m still quite new to 3D work because I haven’t had much chance to experiment in different medias. I do love using fabrics and materials to create clothes and bits and pieces like that. (I had a few years where I wanted to be a fashion designer) And textiles has always been quite a big part of my education since High school because it was a subject I chose to do.
Quite recently I’ve been doing a bit of clay work. Just messing about making little charms and things. I think I had to chose a preference though it would be with the textiles purely because of the limitless amount of materials you can use and you can manipulate them in so many ways to create exciting things (A-level Textiles kicking back in there) Its always fun to just play around and see where you get at the end of it.

Yvonne:
What are the most ideal conditions, times & location for you to work, and what do like to listen to while working, nya?

Emathyst:
I can work in pretty much any condition…except for maybe if my fingers were frozen. I mainly do my art in my room because I have all of my resources there so its quicker, but its always fun to sit and draw outside or if I get bored on journeys. The only problem with them though, is that I am easily distracted! (which is why I never draw infront of the TV) As for music I listen to…it can be anything. Normally I stick all of my music on shuffle and let it play through. Once I really get into a drawing, I tend to forget about the music.

Yvonne:
If you ever get a creative block or slump, or times when you lack the creative mood, how do you overcome those, nya?

Emathyst:
Those times are the most difficult for me because I find it really difficult to get motivated sometimes ¬.¬ I normally get like that when I have a build up of work and can’t choose what to do first.
The easiest (and hardest) way for me to overcome it is to force myself to sit and finish one of the pieces I am working on. I usually get bored and hate the image by the end of it but at the same time it restores the enjoyment I get from being creative in that way and feeling like I have achieved something….that doesn’t really make sense. But it works for me!

Yvonne:
What do you enjoy drawing the most, nya?

Emathyst:
I absolutely love doodling and making up characters. I prefer drawing females to males mainly because I have only started to learn to draw males in the past year or so and I can never get them right *grrr* I seem to always end up with a rather sexy female character wearing minimal clothing by the time I finish drawing….what can I say its easier to not draw clothes! Joke joke ^^ I guess I developed my drawing that way and it’s stuck with me as something I enjoy drawing.

Yvonne:
Oh we’re kinda known for the abundance of scantily clad fellow catgirls, mermaids and faeries here on the island, so that’s fine with us, nya!

Emathyst:
Quite recently I am also enjoying realistic portraits. I find it quite a challenge sometimes but I feel that its helping to develop my style a lot.

Yvonne:
I can see how that would be tough, nya! What do you least enjoy, or purfur not to draw, nya?

Emathyst:
As I have recently found out.. vehicles and anything mechanical! That is the only module I am really struggling with on my games concepts course right now. I just generally find it hard to come up with anything that looks good to me. Its completely different from drawing figures because its so angular and ‘male’?(not being sexist) I’ve never really been into cars and because I don’t have that passion for it, I guess my imagination and mind don’t put any effort in and so I come up with crap ideas.

Yvonne:
Mecha would be a complex thing to draw, nya! How busy do you stay with commissions, and what do you mostly get requests to illustrate?

Emathyst:
I am always too busy X3 I set myself to say 2 or 3 at a time but end up adding in bits and pieces everywhere until my list has extended to say 10 pieces. I find that I am really bad at saying no and am equally as bad at organising my time effectively to get them all done! Hmm…I’d say I mainly get requests for basic pin-up style drawings of people’s characters, fully coloured with a simple background. These are mainly female characters again because I have more experience with drawing them and they are usually ‘cute’ or ‘sexy’….Although quite recently I have been asked to draw quite a number of character sheets (which is always fun to have a change)

Yvonne:
Those character design sheets you make are so amazing nya! Not just the characters in multiple views, but the actual graphic design of the sheets themselves are of purresentation quality, nya! Do you tend to do mostly commissioned original art for clients, or mostly sell art purrints to customers?

Emathyst:
Individual commissions…I don’t think I have ever sold a print of another piece. I don’t get enough time to do my own personal pieces which I could then sell on as prints although it is something I will look into in the future. I keep the original commissions I do purely for the person who commissioned it. I would never make a print out of them because they pay for the originality of the piece I guess?…

Yvonne:
Do you exhibit or sell your art in any galleries, art shows, or conventions, nya?

Emathyst:
I have put my art in a few local art shows and things. But they have always been predominantly for traditional styles and canvas paintings so my work doesn’t really fit in. I am yet to sell anything in any type of public exhibition.

Yvonne:
Do you have any artistic advice for aspiring artists, nya?

Emathyst:
The same as any other artist would say….Practise Practise Practise! It’s taken me roughly 5 years to get where I am now and I am still not fully happy with what I am producing. In the past couple of years I have spent most of my time focusing on my education so thats probably slowed my development a bit. But all it takes is a lot of practise and a lot of determination. Maybe set yourself a target of doing atleast one sketch / drawing a day? Just to keep your talent fresh in your mind :3

Yvonne:
Are there any purrticular art instructional books or tutorial sites you would recommend, nya?

Emathyst:
Uhmm…I used a lot of tutorials when I first started drawing. I can’t remember specific sites but google is always a great help to find anything. I’ve looked at how to draw manga books (some are helpful, others are crap…I use mine mainly to look at the finished pieces rather than the step by step guides) fantasy art books, basic anatomy books…lots and lots. Realistic anatomy/life drawing is always a good place to start just to give you that basic understanding of anatomy and proportions. Deviantart is also an awesome site to check out. There are a lot of people on there that either have tutorials or are happy to give helpful advice. I always check there first for tutorials if I want to know how to do something arty.

Yvonne:
I bet you could write a good art  technique book, nya! What purromotional or other business advice do you have for other artists, nya?

Emathyst:
I’m not particularly helpful with this kind of stuff. I haven’t really had much experience with business and my drawings except for a few single commissions. I guess if you are looking to sell your artwork then the best way to do it is to go anywhere you can to promote yourself? Post your work in a few different online galleries, maybe make your own website to simplify things…*these are all things I haven’t done / haven’t got round to doing* :D but have been given it as advice from other people. Start off small and work your way up. You don’t make much at first but as you get better and more people clock onto your work you’ll get more interest, more customers and you’ll find that you improve quite a lot faster because you are working to other peoples expectations.

Yvonne:
Other than your deviantArt site are there other web sites or publications where your work can be seen, nya?

Emathyst:
I used to have an Elfwood account but I have a feeling I deleted that… so nope just Deviantart ^^ It’s all in my gallery there or in my sketch book under my bed!

Yvonne:
Emma, thank you so very much for visiting with us, and for creating such beautiful works of art, nya!

Emathyst:
Thanks for inviting me and for the lovely comments =)

Yvonne:
Oh it’s our pleasure, and let us know if you want to to go out for the dancing or pool after supper, nya! Wow that was so nice to finally get to meet her, nya! Well, after this next snack break, we’ll be back to meet yet another special guest, so please stay tuned, nya!

(snip)
(one snack break later…)


Feature Purresentation:
an intermew with
comics artist / writer Andrew Pepoy

Ilyana:
Andrew Pepoy http://pepoy.com/ is a kind, purrrolific purrrofessional artist who has inked many fine comic books for DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Archie and Bongo. Among his extensive, diverse comic book credits include  Batman, Justice League, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Godzilla, GI Joe, Scooby Doo, Ninja Turtles, and Sonic the Hedgehog. In 2000 he boldy redesigned the Little Orphan Annie newspaper strip, and is the creator of The Adventures of Simone & Ajax http://simoneandajax.com/ whose purrevious & new tales can be read at http://www.ComicMix.com!

Andrew also wrote and drew the fashionably fun escapades of Katy Keene http://www.archiecomics.com/katykeene/home.html in Archie & Friends #101-110 which were recently collected with new material in the terrific Katy Keen: Model Behavior Volume One! He’s also recently been working on Fables and Jack of Fables for Vertigo, and issues of Futurama and The Simpsons comics. This summer he co-wrote an expanded & revised edition of The Hourglass in The Stop-Time Chronicles, a superhero tap dance opera which was purrformed at the Chicago Tap Theater and New York Musical Theatre Festival. He’s a dear friend, and one of the nicest and most talented purrsons you’ll ever meet!

Ilyana:
What was the life of the young pre-purrofessional Andrew Pepoy like as an aspiring artist and writer?

Andrew:
I mostly grew up in Holland, Michigan, a then-small town near Grand Rapids. I started collecting comics when I was about 10 and quickly got interetsed in all kinds, not just the superheroes, though I did buy plenty of those. I started drawing my own superheroes right away and published my first fanzine comic when I was 12. Kept doing those through high school and into college. It was great expeience and practice and allowed me to meet a number of people who were important to me later as a professional. I also did the usual stuff…. chased girls, listened to music, mostly punk and new wave, chased girls, went dancing, chased girls….

Ilyana:
Who are your favoritest & most inspurrational artists & authors?

Andrew:
As far as comics, far too many to name all. It was Charles Schulz’s Peanuts that started me reading comics. Some of my biggest influences are Dan DeCarlo, best known for Betty & Veronica, Roy Crane, of Wash Tubbs & Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer, Russell Keaton, creator of Flyin’ Jenny, Bob Oksner, artist of the cult-fav, Angel & the Ape, and more, Bob Lubbers, co-creator of Long Sam and artist for Fiction House, and Henk Kuijpers, creator of Franka, a Dutch comics series. There are so many more, too.

Ilyana:
What are your favorite movies, TV & radio shows, and mewsic?

Andrew:
Movies: Casablanca, A Room With a View, My Twentieth Century, Waitress, and the Thin Man movies. Anything with the Marx Brothers or Harold Lloyd.
TV Shows: Doctor Who, Pushing Daisies, Night Court, Honey West, The Avengers, Bob Newhart, Hawaiian Eye, Sam & Max, Sabrina, Monty Python, Boston Blackie.

Radio Shows: The Great Gildersleve, Jack Benny, The Whistler, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Rocky Jordan, Round the Horne, Old Harry’s Game.
Music: Still stuck in the ’80’s and still listening to Kim Wilde, New Order, The Smiths, Nena, Ultravox, Men Without Hats, Pet Shop Boys. Some newer bands like The Killers, The Sounds, Hello Goodbye, Apoptygma Berzerk. Been listening to lots of old jazz and swing music like Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Louis Jordan, Jack Teagarden, Chick Webb, etc.

Ilyana:
What fun things did you do at Loyola?

Andrew:
Besides continuing the high school theme of chasing girls, got to explore Chicago and all it had to offer, started working in comics professionally, and met Chris Atkinson, my future wife.

Ilyana:
Oh according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyola_University_Chicago Bob Newhart and M*A*S*H’s Father Mulchay went to Loyola!

Andrew:
I’ve always been proud of going to the same school as Bob Newhart, one of my favorite comedians. Didn’t know about Father M.

Ilyana:
Please tell us about how you got your first purrofessional comics gig?

Andrew:
My very first was a 1-pager for Caliber Press. They’d called me a couple years earlier when I was still in high school. I just didn’t have my act together at the time, but I kept in contact with them. I drew a 1-page strip the my friend, Paul Curtis, wrote, showed it to Gary Reed of Caliber, and he bought it. Pulled out another 1-pager I’d written and drawn and sold him that, too. Started inking the next year when I ran into a couple people at a con who suggested I try it and was lucky enough to start getting work.

Ilyana:
You’ve worked for the biggest comic book publishers. Which have been your favorite titles & characters?

Andrew:
My favorite to do would be, of course, my own “The Adventures of Simone & Ajax.” Also had fun writing and drawing “Katy Keene” for Archie Comics. As for inking, I’m currently very happy inking Fables and Jack of Fables for Vertigo/DC and The Simpsons and Futurama for Bongo. I’ve had a good time inking many projects, and it often has more to do with the penciller I’m working with rather than the charater, though fun charaters are always good, too. Manny Galan on Knuckles the Echidna, Joe Staton on Scooby Doo, Ron Lim on Mutant X and more. Anything with Javier Saltares, Leonard Kirk, Yanick Paquette, Alan Weiss, and far too many more to mention.

Ilyana:
You’ve worked on the most famous super heroes, fantasy & adventure series, humor titles such as The Simpsons, and animal types like Sonic the Hedgehog and Ninja Turtles. Which do you purrfur?

Andrew:
One of the things that has kept inking interesting is working in a wide variety of styles. Superheroes, humor, Vertigo, all are interesting, and even within each style, each penciller has his own style. The last few years I’ve mostly been working on Vertigo and humor titles, so I’d probably enjoy an issue or 2 of superheroes, but I’m lucky to be working, so I’m glad to be doing it whatever it is.

Ilyana:
Among your distinctions was Little Orphan Annie, which you not only helmed but also redesigned & modernized in 2000! How difficult was that, did it have to be appurroved by Harold Gray’s estate?

Andrew:
Gray’s estate had nothing to do with it. Annie is owned by Tribune Media, who syndicate it to papers, so I had to impress the staff there. They’re also based in Chicago, so I was able to meet with them in person. Fortunately most of the original designs I came up with were approved with few changes, and from there I just worked with my editor there.

Ilyana:
What was the fans’ reaction?

Andrew:
It was mixed. Some liked it, many hated it. While fans of many properties would prefer things stay the same, the main reason something gets changed or updated is usually that it’s not selling anymore as it was, which was the case with Annie. I was ready to keep drawing it in Leonard Starr’s, the previous artist, style, but TM asked for the update.

Ilyana:
We liked the new look and her tough lady pilot friend, Amelia Santiago!

Andrew:
Amelia was new to the strip, created by me and Jay Maeder, the writer, so she was my favorite.

Ilyana:
One of the daily strips in purrticular that we yowled over was when Hans fell into the volcano!

Andrew:
Glad you liked it.

Ilyana:
Did they give you free Ovaltine?

Andrew:
Unfortuantely, no. Not even a decoder ring.

Ilyana:
You’re very good at drawing beautiful women, such as Katy Keene- who is purrticularly known for her fashions. Was that more fun or more hard to come up with so many costume changes for her per issue?

Andrew:
While it wasn’t always easy, it was the fun part, coming up with the right outfits for each story. I made up some myself, but most of them were designed from ideas sent in by the readers. They’d send drawings or a description, and I’d work on it from there. We got tons of suggestions, so I usually could find something from the fans.

Ilyana:
A fun part of the Katy Keene comic was that fans could submit their own fashion ideas. How many entries did you get? Do you still get any?

Andrew:
We got hundreds of suggestions. There are so many I’d have liked to use that there just wasn’t room for. And now the letters go to the staff at Archie to pass along to the new writers and artists of Katy.

Ilyana:
What do you reckon are Katy and her cute sister Mac up to of late?

Andrew:
Katy’s pobably still busy with her blossoming acting and singing careers, and in a romantic muddle, as well. Mac’s proably still busy with high school and trying to follow Katy along the path to stardom, while Katy tries to keep Mac’s feet on the ground and in school.

Ilyana:
Our favorite thing you’ve created is The Adventures of Simone and Ajax!  When did you first get the idea for those fun characters?

Andrew:
They developed in my doodles while taking notes in college. Eventually I came up with an  idea for a short story with Simone and was trying to figure out who she should be talking to in it. One day it suddenly struck me to use the little dinosaur I’d been drawing, so they teamed up. After playing around with the idea of doing more with them, outside of an annual Christmas Card, I finally started drawing a series of stories with them in 1994.

Ilyana:
We are curious: Do they have last names?

Andrew:
I’m sure Simone, at least, does, but she’s never told me what it is.

Ilyana:
What are they purrsently up to?

Andrew:
They’re appearing on www.ComicMix.com, which has posted all their older stories online, as well as running new ones now in full color. They recently wrapped up their first graphic novel, “The Case of the Maltese Duck,” there. I’m hoping to have news soon on their further adventures and hope you’ll pass it along to your readers.

Ilyana:
We heard Simone is somewhat visually reminiscent  of the lovely late actress Adrienne Shelly- is that true?

Andrew:
Actually Simone developed before I ever saw Adrienne Shelly, but as soon as I saw her, I thought she’d be perfect to play Simone. So she likely effected my approach to Simone later on. She was one of my favorites, and as you may have noticed, her final movie, “Waitress”, which she also wrote and directed, is one of my favorites.

Ilyana:
Could you also compare / contrast the challenges of creating comic books from newspaper strips and web comics?

Andrew:
While Annie was a traditional strip format, so you had about 3 panels per day to move the story along, Simone & Ajax’s web adventures have been done in a comic book format, so they’re more like a traditional comic book, though I do try to have a good “break” in the story every 6 to 8 pages so it can be serialized online. However, it still needs to read seamlessly when put together for print collections.

Ilyana:
What are your purrfurred tools and techniques?

Andrew:
I usually write my stories by making a lot of notes in the back of my sketchbook. I’ll then try to write out a scene-by-scene plot, then break it down into how many pages per scene. I’m usually having to fit some certain number of pages for printing. I’ll then do a small quarter-page rough sketch of the page with the dialogue written in next to it. After that I’ll do a rough sketch of the page at print size with all the words written in, so it can easily be read like a finished page for review by my editor. I pencil the pages at either 11×17 or 14×22 on 3-ply bristol board, though when just inking I ink on whatever board the pencils are on at whatever size they are.

For pencilling I use either standard drawing pencils or mechanical pencils, depending on my mood, starting by roughing in the page lightly with a harder lead, and finishing with a softer/darker lead. I letter with a combination of tech pens and Speedball pen nibs. I’ll then do as much inking as I can with a Windsor-Newton series 7 #2 watercolor brush, followed by penwork with a Speedball C-6, maybe some other illustration points, tech pens, and finally a Hunt 102. I use Kooh-i-nor Universal ink for brushes and Pelikan A for pens. After inking I erase the pencil lines and touch up with Pro-White. I’m old-school, and so prefer to have a nice, clean, finished original, but I will make some changes in Photoshop if needed.

Ilyana:
What’s hardest: writing, pencilling, inking, lettering, or coloring?

Andrew:
Coloring, since I don’t know how to do computer coloring. All can be difficult at times.

Ilyana:
You write and draw other things besides comics too. You’ve been a graphic artist and illustrator on various purrojects, and even a playwright! Could you tell us about some of those works?

Andrew:
I’ve done designs and drawing for  a few magazines and books over the years, and some logos, too. My most recent non-comics project still had a comics tie-in. I co-plotted “The Hourglass”, a super-hero tap-dance opera, with Mark Yonally of the Chicago Tap Theatre. It was story told entirely in tap and music with no spoken/sung words, though being comicbooky, we did project some captions and word ballons behind the dancers. I also designed most of the costumes and drew the posters. It ran in the summers of 2007 and 2008 in Chicago and this past fall was invited to be part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. You can see photos from it at www.chicagotaptheatre.com.

Ilyana:
What creative or business advice do you have for aspiring artists and authors?

Andrew:
Be patient and don’t give up. Be flexible within what you want to do. And don’t expect to get rich doing it. Do it because you love to do it.

Ilyana:
What are some pending or future purrojects you’re working on?

Andrew:
I’m currently inking Fables at DC and will be inking related mini-series, Fables: The Literals, early next year. After that I’ll be returning to inking Jack of Fables. I’m also inking a number of things for Bongo, such as The Simpsons, Futurmama, and Radioactive Man. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m hoping to be doing more Simone & Ajax. You’ll be able to find updates on what I’m doing posted occasionally on my website at www.pepoy.com.

Ilyana:
What cons are you hoping to be at in 2009?

Andrew:
The New York Comic-Con in February, Comic-Con International in San Diego in July, Wizard World Chicago in August, and the Windy City Comic-Con in the fall. I’m hoping to add a couple more and will post those details on my website, too.

Ilyana:
Andrew, thank you so very much for chatting with us, and please tell Simone and Ajax to visit Catgirl island again soon!

Andrew:
Thanks for having me. An I’ll be sure to pass word along to Simone & Ajax. The way those two get around, you never know where they’ll drop in.

Ilyana:
That was fun, and he is so nice! There’ll be further nice guests when we return!

(snip)
(one short break later…)

Feature Purresentation:
an intermew with journalist & Dennis
the Menace’s gag writer Dan Johnson

Elizabeth:
There seems nary a niche of North Carolina fandom that has not known Dan Johnson. From The Triad’s USS Bonaventure chapter of Starfleet, to the North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch and a purresence on numerous message boards, Dan is the multitasker fan. You’ll meet him at a many a regional convention- on BOTH sides of the tables, because as a purrofessinal author and journalist he’s often a guest at cons too. Since his college days, he’s written insightful articles on sci fi & horror cinema & TV, and intermewed living legends of the visual & purrforming arts.

Publications he’s contributed to include Scary Monsters, Alter Ego, Back Issue, Comic Book Marketplace, Con-Tour, Filmfax, Hogan’s Alley, Monster Memories, and Monster News. His work has also appeared in such online publications as Monster Kid and Monster News Online. He writes comics too, and quite a range at that, from the Japanese manga styled Herc and Thor graphic novel published by Antarctic Purress, to writing one of the funny paper’s most famous and enduring strips, Dennis the Menace! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome The Dan-Man, Dan Johnson! Aloha Dan, welcome to The Mew! (offers him a beverage)

Dan:
Thank you, Lizzy! I’m delighted to be here.

Elizabeth:
Who has inspired you most as an author and journalist? And… Is it a stretch to assume Forry Ackerman might be an idol of yours?

Dan:
Forry Ackerman is indeed one of my idols. I first saw Famous Monsters of Filmland when I was a kid, but at the time I didn’t know who Forry was. None the less, I was taken with all the photos of classic movie monsters that the magazine contained. When I was a teenager, Forry started publishing Monsterland and I began to learn who he was and all that he had done to help preserve the history of horror, science fiction and fantasy films. One of the first out of town science fiction cons I ever attended was RovaCon in Roanoke, VA, in 1989. The primary reason I went to that show was because Forry was a guest that year. So, yeah, Forry is one of my heroes.

As for other inspirations, my favorite author of all time is Ray Bradbury. Anything by Bradbury is aces with me. I was also a fan of the Twilight Zone as a kid, and I think Rod Serling was one of the greatest influences on fantasy television ever. He was such a talented writer, and I always thought he didn’t get the credit he deserved until after his death. I also count a number of comic book writers as my inspiration. I was a huge fan of the Flash as a kid, so John Broome and Cary Bates were two of my favorites. Also, I thought Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s run on Spider-Man was as perfect a comic book as there has ever been, so I count them high on the list of men who inspired me.

Elizabeth:
What are your favorite scifi / fantasy & horror movies & TV shows?

Dan:
Well, as far as favorite television shows go, Twilight Zone is way up there for sure. I am a fan of all the various incarnations, with the exception of the last one that was on UPN. I also enjoy the original Outer Limits; all the Star Trek shows, with the exception of Voyager; the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker; V; The Prisoner and Tales from the Darkside. Then there are the shows I really, REALLY like, the shows that I consider to be the best programs of all time.

Those include Babylon 5, which is brilliant, and like a good novel, keeps getting better and better each time you see it; Red Dwarf, one of the best Brit Coms of all time and in its own right a really good science fiction program; The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., which is, in my opinion, one of the few shows to have a perfect season with no stinkers in the bunch; Firefly (what the heck was Fox thinking when they cancelled this show?); Farscape (what the heck was SciFi Channel thinking when they cancelled this show?) and of course there is Doctor Who, both the original and new series. I might give the new series the edge simply because the special effects finally are on a par with the scripts.

As far as current programs, I never miss Smallville or South Park, which has elements of science fiction and horror from time to time. As far as movies go, I am a child of the 1980’s. I love the original Star Wars Trilogy; the Indiana Jones films; The Last Starfighter (my dream project is to write the sequel to that movie); Ghostbusters; the Evil Dead movies (Bruce Campbell is THE man) and of course the Star Trek films. I also like classic science fiction and horror, like the Universal Monster movies; the AIP horror films of the 1950’s; Day the Earth Stood Still and   the Planet of the Apes movies.

I have to admit that I am a superhero junkie. These days the only films I make a point of seeing in the theater are superhero films. I am a big fan of all the Marvel movies, but especially liked Iron Man and Spider-Man 2. Also, I love superhero shows of all kind, from George Reeves’ Superman to the various Bruce Timm animated programs. Basically if there are people in spandex running around and beating the crap out of one another, I’m there!

Elizabeth:
Favorite comic books, strips, web comics and their creators?

Dan:
As I said before, I am a Flash fan. Barry Allen was my favorite superhero growing up. I grew up in the 1970’s, and so I am partial to just about anything from the Bronze Age. I’m afraid I don’t read too many of the newer books out there, mainly because Marvel and DC, but DC especially, have started getting way, way too dark with their storytelling. To be honest, I prefer to use my money to fill in the gaps in my collection of Bronze Age books. Oh, and you can’t go wrong with any of the Marvel Essential books and Showcase Presents books.

Still, there are some rays of hope that shine through from both companies. With Marvel, I tend to stick with the Marvel Adventures line. I love those books because there Iron Man isn’t a jerk, Captain America is still alive and Spider-Man never made a deal with the devil, unlike in current Marvel continuity. Also, I love The Amazing Spider-Girl. I have interviewed the creators on that book, Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema several times, and they are awesome guys to begin with, but this book is the only one Marvel is putting out these days that actually feels like the comics I grew up on.

On the DC front, I still pick up Flash and I like Justice Society of America. The books I realy dig though are the Batman Strikes, which is based on the recent CW animated series, and the new Shazam book that just recently launched.  There are some  indie books out that I like too. The best one I can recommend is a book called PS 238. It is written and drawn by Aaron Williams and follows the adventures of kids at an elementary school for the super-powered offsprings of various meta-humans. It actually has a great sense of continuity, and Williams is brilliant at planting clues about the origin of this school and the super-team that the teachers at PS 238 were once members of.

As far as comic strips go, I of course like Dennis the Menace, and yes, that even includes the ones I didn’t write. I spent my high school years following Bloom County, and still consider it to be one of the best strips ever. I was always a fan of Gasoline Alley, but became an even bigger fan after I met Jim Scancarelli, the artist on that strip this past summer at Heroes Con in Charlotte. Same goes for Snuffy Smith. John Rose, the artist of that strip, is a really nice guy and Marcus Hamilton and I both plotted to get him to come to Heroes this past year  I also like  Liberty Meadows. Frank Cho draws the most awesomely beautiful women I have ever seen, but also has a marvelously un-PC sense of humor.

I also tend to follow the comic strips that are being drawn by the folks who have left the comic book industry for the funny pages. I love Paul Ryan’s work on The Phantom and June Brigman is someone I consider a friend, so I keep up with Brenda Starr because of her. But there are so many others though. Graham Nolan is doing Rex Morgan, M.D., Rod Whigham just started doing Gil Thorpe, Alex Saviuk and my buddy Jim Amash are doing The Amazing Spider-Man strip and I love the Sunday Funky Winkerbeans because John Byrne usually ghosts those.  As for webcomics, let me just say I love everything produced my friends in the NCWCCC!

Elizabeth:
Do you read much manga or watch a lot of anime?

Dan:
There was a time when I was not that big of a manga or anime fan, but that changed once I was hired to do Herc and Thor and pitched a couple of follow-up projects to Antarctic Press. Now I try to absorb as much manga and anime as I can. I’m still learning about the Japanese approach to comics and cartoons, and feel it is important, especially since so many young readers favor manga over the Western style of comics. Before Herc and Thor, I did consider myself a fan of Starblazers, Battle of the Planets and Robotech (which I would also consider one of my all time favorite shows).

Elizabeth:
Your graphic novel Herc and Thor is published by Antarctic Purress http://www.antarctic-press.com/ and was plotted  by Rod Espinosa http://www.rodesponosa.com two highly respected names synynomous with the Japanese influence on North American comics. How did that purroject come about?

Dan:
I landed Herc and Thor around the same time I was struggling to get into the comics business. I guess this was around 2003, and I had managed to get published in Scary Monsters and was working for Monster News.  I was just breaking in with Comic Book Marketplace, but I really wanted to write comics and not just write about them. I went through the comics listing that Wizard used to run and I sent out copies of my resume and writing samples to all the companies, with the exception of DC and Marvel. By this time, I had gotten a couple of dozen rejection letters from them, so I figure, why bother?

Within a month or so, Antarctic Press was the only company that had even bothered to contact me, and even that was just to let me know they had no work available. Rod Espinosa was the person who emailed me. He was really nice about the rejection, and very complementary about the work I had done already. I figured since he took the time to email me, the least I could do was email him back and thank him for at least letting me know they got my resume.

I also took the opportunity to offer to do some stories on upcoming Antarctic Press projects for Comic Book Marketplace. I figured I could at least sell some articles and perhaps stay in the loop with Rod. A couple of days after that, Rod emailed me back and asked if I would be interested in taking a crack at a mini-series that needed a writer, and that was Herc and Thor. He told me upfront that this would be on spec, but I didn’t care. I was given a chance to write a comic and I jumped at it.

Elizabeth:
That was a rather amewsing take on those deities. Thor is partying hard and the next day wakes up minus a mjolnir. Wacky hijinks ensue on midgard, and there were even a few catgirl sightings! The Godstuds look good in three pice suits. Our Purroducer Mike thought Esther and Yendol looked purretty hot too! How detailed were the notes or direction?

Dan:
Actually, Rod sent me a three page outline of what had already been developed, and I was told I could suggest  adjustments, and if the company liked them, they could stay in. Rod asked me to set the story on Earth, and the theft of Thor’s hammer was always the driving  point of the plot. Also, as I recall, it was Rod’s idea that the Gods appear in modern clothing to reflect human influences on Earth.

I thought it would be a good idea to have Herc be humble and sort of atoning for his wild and reckless youth. I won’t spoil it for anyone who has not read it yet, but in the story, we learn that when the gods left Earth at the command of Zeus, Herc was left with a big decision that would impact his destiny (that was one of the things I was allowed to change). I figure that decision would cause him to grow up and start to see humans as being really wonderful beings deserving of his respect and his protection.

I think the change in Herc’s attitide and outlook on life was best reflected in how he deals with his treacherous half-brother, Ar-Gont, the god of Pride. Rod always wanted there to be a group of gods who were plotting against Herc and Thor, and I was able to inject some history between Herc and Ar-Gont that explains why the god of Pride hates Hercules as much as  he does. For him, its not just about gaining power, but seeing Herc suffer brings him a perverse sense of delight.

Elizabeth:
Did you do much mythological research?

Dan:
Actually, I have always been a big fan of mythology. When I was a kid, I used to scour the  encyclopedias in our den for all the entries about the Greek and Roman gods. When it came time to write the mini-series, I did a little research to make sure I had my facts straight about Hercules and also I had to do some research about the Norse gods.

Elizabeth:
We loved the artwork on Herc and Thor by artist Yayoi Neko! How does that writer / artist relationship compare / contrast with your work with Ron Ferdinand and Marcus Hamilton on Dennis the Menace http://www.dennisthemenace.com/ ?

Dan:
Believe it or not, when I was writing the script for Herc and Thor, I didn’t even know who would be illustrating it. About halfway through the process, I heard the name Jessica Moffett, which is Yayoi Neko’s real name, for the first time, but that was it. I didn’t have the chance to see any artwork or speak to Jessica until after Herc and Thor was released. A week or so after the book came out, I went online and found her website and sent her an email thanking her for the wonderful job she did on the book. We traded emails a couple of times, but that was really about it.

Because Marcus lives in Charlotte, I get the chance to see him at Heroes Con each year and we trade emails on a regular basis just to shoot the breeze and keep one another informed of what is going on. I don’t get to see the panels that Marcus does until they are printed, but I know he will always do justice to my ideas. With Ron, I sometimes  get the chance to see a rough of the Sunday strips that he does based off of my scripts. Those are always cool to see. The one thing I can say for certain about all the artists I have worked with so far is that they always manage to make me look better than I really am. I don’t know what I would do without them!

Elizabeth:
Of course, for almost 60 years, Dennis the Menace is one of the most beloved, long running newspaper strips of all time. How did you land that purrestigious gig?

Dan:
Well, I met Marcus at Heroes Con back in 2005. I was there lining up interviews for Back Issue and I saw where he was a guest, so I decided to go by and meet him. I had been a Dennis fan from way, way back and grew up on the strip. Getting the chance to meet the artist who worked on it now was a real treat for me. Because I got his contact information at that Heroes Con, I ended up doing an interview with Marcus for Hogan’s Alley, and we clicked when we started discussing Dennis, his career as an artist and both of our outlooks on life.

During the course of the interview, Marcus told me that he had been a classically trained illustrator and he worked as a freelance artist for a number of magazines in the 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s, including Tennis, Gold Digest and even The Saturday Evening Post. But, when the magazines started switching over to computer graphics in the late 1980’s, his client base started to dwindle. He was actually working at a Wal-Mart when he saw an interview with Hank Ketcham and heard Hank say he would eventually like to find someone he could turn Dennis over to.

Marcus knew Jim Scancarelli, the artist on Gasoline Alley, from when they worked together at a television station in Charlotte, NC, and through Jim, Marcus was able to contact Ketcham and made the pitch to become his assistant. That was back in 1993, and Marcus took over the strip in 1994, and worked on it with Hank until Hank finally turned over the reigns and quietly retired. No one knew Marcus was the official artist on the daily strip until Hank’s passing in 2001.

So, what does this have to do with me coming in on the strip as a gag writer? Well, after I interviewed Marcus, and got the impression that he was really pleased with the article, I asked him about the gag writers on the strip (which is something we had touched on during the interview). I told him I was going to take a page from his book, figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask for the chance to prove myself and inquired how one could submit ideas to Dennis the Menace. Marcus talked to me for about forty-five minutes and gave me the “downdside” to being a gag writer (he said the pay per gag wasn’t that much, there were already twelve guys ahead of me with years worth of material already on file, etc., etc.).

But after all that, when he saw I was still interested, he told me to send in some sample gags and we would go from there. He told me that out of ten gags, he normally keeps two. Out of the initial twelve I submitted, he kept six. When that happened, I had a hunch I had landed my dream job. After about half a year of submitting gags to Marcus for the daily strip, I asked him about sending some ideas to Ron Ferdinand for the Sunday comic. Marcus gave me Ron’s email address and encouraged me to drop him a line and pitch him some ideas. Ron was just as nice as Marcus was and just as willing to willing to give me a shot.

Elizabeth:
Could you tell us what that purocess is like, writing for ‘the funnies’? What’s your relationship with the Rolande Ketcham, Dottie Roberson, and the folks at King Features?

Dan:
For the dailies, I submit ten gags at a time to Marcus, every other month, by mail. I write each gag out on a 3×5 piece of paper, and as per Marcus’ advice, I keep the description simple. I might say “Dennis and Joey are playing in a sandbox. Dennis says to Joey:” and then I write out the caption. Sometimes I might need to go into detail about what a character is wearing or something that Dennis is doing, but keeping things simple is the best way to go.

For the Sunday strips, I send those to Ron by email. As I write the script, I  have to keep in mind that there are three tiers to the Sunday strip. The first tier is usually two or three panels, and is a gag that may  be deleted by local newspapers if they need extra space. That being the case, the gag has to stand on its own, and can’t impact the second two tiers. The second tiers are the main focus of the strip, and usually there are four panels for each of those tiers.

Outside of Marcus and Ron, I really don’t have that much contact with anyone else at Ketcham  Enterprises or King Features. From time to time I might need to check with Dottie about something. For example, I have copies of the cartoons that I have written that I sign and give away at conventions. Before I could do that though, I had to run the idea by Dottie and get her approval. All the times I have talked to Dottie have been great. She’s awesome, but then so is everyone else at Team Dennis.

Elizabeth:
A recent Sunday Dennis strip you wrote featured Mr. Wilson imagining an older Dennis. Was that a first?

Dan:
You know, I think it was. I hadn’t thought about that until you mentioned it.

Elizabeth:
What do you think an adult Dennis would be like, or be doing for a living? What about his future relationship with Gina? Would there be a new generation of menaces to make his life interesting?

Dan:
Dennis would be a cartoonist, no doubt about it! A kid that cool just couldn’t grow up to be anything but a cartoonist! I would say that if there is a girl for Dennis, it is Gina. I remember in some of the early strips that I read as a kid, she knew how to put him in his place. I believe  every man needs a good woman who knows when he needs to be brought back down to Earth for his own good (and the reverse is true too). On the other hand, Gina always has Dennis’ back, and while she can razz him, Heaven help anyone else who messes with him. She also knows when he needs to be picked up and built up, and that is also important in a good relationship.

Elizabeth:
It is good to see the Dennis strips being collected in handsome hardcover books by Fantagraphics like the Peanuts strips have been. What is your opinion of the various DTM TV series, cartoons, and movie?

Dan:
I remember when I was a kid, I would see the listing for the live action Dennis the Menace television series in the paper, but it only played on the Raleigh stations, which we couldn’t get where we lived,  and never the Greensboro stations. I was such a Dennis fan, I really wanted to see it! When Nick at Nite played it, I lived in an area where we simply couldn’t get cable. To this date, I have seen maybe three or four episodes all the way through. But what I saw of those, I liked.

The  DiC Dennis cartoon was pretty faithful to the source material and the animation was really top notch  considering it was a syndicated show, and turn around on those are usually so fast that producers usually cut corners with the animation. Plus, as I recall, the late Phil Hartman did Henry’s voice in the first season.  And really, how can you not love anything with Phil Hartman in it? As for the first films, there was the 1987 made for television film, Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter, that played in every market except for Greensboro! Now that I think about it, I am starting to wondering if the local channels have something against Dennis… About three years after it first came out, I finally saw it and thought it was a good effort.

The 1993 movie is simply fantastic. Walter Matthau, who played Mr. Wilson and Mason Gamble, who played Dennis, were both spot on casting. Christopher Lloyd and Paul Winfield are two of the best character actors ever, so seeing them in anything is a treat. Nick Castle, the director of the film also helmed The Last Starfighter, which you should know by now is one of my all-time favorite science fiction films. But the icing on the cake is Lea Thompson as Alice. I have been crushing on Lea Thompson  ever since Back to the Future.

To show how much I like this woman, I paid to see Howard the Duck in the theaters, twice! But back to the subject of the Dennis movie, Thompson nailed the part of Alice. She’s funny, warm, and I totally see her as a mom, but there is no denying she is still a hottie. As for the other two Dennis films, Dennis the Menace Strikes Back and A Dennis the Menace Christmas, I have not had the chance to see either of those, although the Christmas movie will be on Family in another week or so as I write this. The commercials for it look very promising, so I may have to catch it when it airs. If nothing else, I have to see Robert Wagner as Mr. Wilson.

Elizabeth:
What were your hobbies and interests when you were Dennis’ age- which is five, right?

Dan:
Where we lived, there weren’t any other kids to play with for a mile or so. I pretty much did things that I could do alone, and I’ll be honest, that kind of shaped my outlook for the first fifteen years or so of my life. People who know me now can’t believe it when I tell them, but I used to be quiet and an  introvert and was a loner up until college. By age five, I had discovered reading and had developed a budding love of comic books especially.

I had started drawing my own comic books by that time and I was fascinated by anything that had to do with superheroes. I had just about every Mego that was made in the early 1970’s and put those through a number of adventures I made up. Also, I used to love to pretend I was Superman or Spider-Man and dress up like those characters and make my own costumes. My dad wasn’t a big fan of going to the movies, so I rarely ever went to theaters as a kid. But there was always television. We had local CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates, but where  we lived, we could pick up a couple of stations out of Roanoke, VA, and all these channels played a wide variety of old television shows (except for anything having to do with Dennis the Menace).

I grew up on a steady diet of cartoons, sit-coms, science fiction shows, westerns, adventure shows and that was where my love of classic television was born. Plus, all the channels had a stockpile of old movies they would run, usually in the afternoons or late at night.  I grew up on some of the best films ever made, and some of the worst films ever made, from all genres, and loved each and every one of them while I was watching them. Because of the shows and movies I was exposed to, I started developing an interest in Hollywood history. I not only wanted to watch these shows and movies, I wanted to find out about the people who made them and find out their stories.

Elizabeth:
Please tell us about the Triad’s USS Bonaventure <http://www.ussbonaventurencc102.org> chapter of Starfleet, … both on a national / international level, and what the local chapter is like?

Dan:
The Bonaventure is the Triad chapter of Starfleet, the International Star Trek Association, and the members of the group have been my family to me for over twenty years. I signed up with them my freshman year of college after meeting one of the members, and one of my oldest and best friends, Scott Gibson, at Greensboro College. I can’t say enough about this group, they are a terrific bunch. Because of the Bonaventure, I started socializing with other people and fully came out of my shell. This is also where I got into editing, and eventually took over the ship’s official newsletter.

Most importantly, had it not been for the Bonny-V, I would have never attended my first out of town convention. Basically the group is all about the Trek, but because our backgrounds and tastes are so different, we also tend to introduce one another to new things outside the realm of Trek. We also try to give back to the community too. In the past, the chapter has helped out Victory Junction Gang, Mother Read, the Urban Food Bank and the Red Cross. We meet once a month, and the meetings are open to anyone who just loves science fiction in general.

Elizabeth:
The  fan club is dedicated to a 60’s science fiction shows:   Star Trek. When did you become a fan of this, and any purrticular favorite eras of either series?

Dan:
I was a Trek fan from the time I saw the animated show in the early 1970’s. Except for Voyager, I have loved every incarnation of Trek, but my favorite is still, and will always be, the original Star Trek.

Elizabeth:
Assuming we’re still watching TV 40 years from now, what other science fiction TV shows do you think will still be going?

Dan:
I think that there are some shows that people will always come back to simply because they are so good they stand the test of time. They are the shows that new generations discover and keep alive. I think people will always come back to classic Star Trek and Next Generation, there is no doubt about that. Of all the Trek shows, they are the ones that have the sense of optimism that  inspires people and I think we all need to experience this from time to time. I think Doctor Who is another series that people will still be discovering over and over again and enjoying.

There are other shows that I think will always find an audience, or at least I hope they will, simply because they are good television. The list I provided earlier, my favorites, I hope those will be around in forty years. What I wonder about are the shows that tend to be dark and depressing just for the sake of being dark and depressing. I’m talking about the shows that tend to be cynical and don’t really believe in anything at all, shows that have no message. I would like to think those will fade away in time, that maybe we, as a whole, will want to be inspired by our entertainment and will want to hope and dream.

Elizabeth:
What were the earliest fanzines you read? Was that back in the days of the typewriter and mimeograph machines?

Dan:
I didn’t see too many fanzines growing up. I tried to put out a Trek zine in high school called The Trek Times, but that lasted about three issues, and was only passed around to about ten people. Also, I have worked on All Ahead, Warp Factor One, the zine of the Bonaventure. For the most part, when I got into fandom, and started reading about the shows and comics I liked, I picked up the emerging pro magazines like Starlog, Monsterland and Comic Book Scene

Elizabeth:
What’s tougher- writing comics, or writing ABOUT comics?

Dan:
Neither one. I love writing comics and I also love talking comics. I can honestly say I am blessed to get the chance to do both, and when you get to do what you love, the going is never tough.

Elizabeth:
How do you write? Do you carry a journal and any recording devices in the fine tradition of Carl Kolchak? Do you make shorthand notes to start, or just sit down and start typing away? Do you listen to certain mewsic while you write?

Dan:
I have a notebook with me at all times so I can write down ideas and sketch out characters. Also, when I write a comic, the first thing I do is draw page breakdowns so I get a feeling for the pacing. As I write this, and glance over to my right, on my desk I see three notebooks that are filled to the brim with ideas for series, new characters and the plots for scripts. Also, for the Dennis gags, I keep a 3 x 5 notepad with me at all times so I can write gags down when the inspiration hits me.

I usually don’t have anything playing in the background when I’m writing an article for a magazine like Back Issue or Hogan’s Alley. I tend to tape record interviews, so I can’t have any noise in the background, otherwise I might miss something on the tape. Also, I need silence to compose my thoughts for articles (for example, the radio is off at this moment as I do this interview). When I right scripts for comics though, I do keep the radio on then, but I don’t listen to much music. Over the last few years, I have become quite a fan of talk radio, and 95% of the time I’m listening to that instead of music.

Elizabeth:
What are your purroudest articles or intermews with celebrities?

Dan:
Good question. I would have to say that in the realm of films or television, I was delighted to interview Ben Chapman, the original Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ben had some great stories to tell about his time working on the first Creature movie, and I was proud that I got to interview him about his appearance as the Creature with Abbott and Costello on the Colgate Comedy Hour back in 1954.

Up until that time, I don’t think anyone else had ever interviewed him about that. Also, I was excited when I got the chance to interview Jackson Bostwick, the first Captain Marvel on Shazam!, for Filmfax. I grew up watching that show and I had always been a big Captain Marvel fan. I was thrilled because I had the chance to tell Jackson how much that show shaped my moral character and sense of right and wrong.

In the realm of comics, I’m most proud of the fact that I have gotten the chance to interview Stan Lee for Back Issue. Also for that magazine, I have had the chance to talk with several of my favorite Spider-Man creators, like Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Gerry Conway and John Romita, Sr. The two comics related articles I have done that I always point to and say this is my best work are the three part interview I did with William Stout for Filmfax and the George Pratt interview I did for Comic Book Marketplace.

Sometimes you have to stick to the subject at hand when you are doing an interview, but I really got to cover the full scope of the careers and influences of these two gentlemen in these articles. Also, George told me that the school where he teaches requested copies of the magazine with his interview for their library because it was considered to be so good and so informative. You can’t ask for much more than that now, can you?

Elizabeth:
What is the writer / editor relationship like at Two Morrows http://twomorrows.com/, publisher of fine magazines and books about comics?

Dan:
I mainly deal with Michael Eury, the editor of Back Issue, and that is another relationship that I have been blessed with. Michael brought me on board with the second issue, and has always been good about trying to let me do articles that he knows I am passionate about when they fit the needs of the magazine. I also am grateful to him for encouraging me to attempt some articles that I was initially reluctant to do. I can honestly say I have become a better interviewer and article writer because of Michael.

Elizabeth:
And Hogan’s Alley http://www.cagle.com/hogan/? Do you know our friend Tom Heintjes? I think he was the co-founder and editor of Hogan’s Alley. He founded Carolina Comic Book Club, back when it was a club at UNC in Chapel Hill. It has since evolved into http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Carolina-Comic-Book-Club/

Dan:
I have gotten to know Tom Heintjes of Hogan’s Alley a bit over the last couple of years, but I’m sad to say we’ve never had the chance to meet face to face. Tom is another good guy who has been a very encouraging editor. When I was looking for writing jobs, I contacted Tom out of the blue and asked about writing for the magazine. I figured it would take a few days for him to acknowledge the email, and wasn’t sure if he would be open to article suggestions.

I was thrilled beyond words when he emailed me back the same night and wanted to hear what I had to pitch. He was very excited about the interview I did with Marcus, the one that lead to my job with the strip, and he was also pleased with interviews I did with June Brigman and Tim Rickard, the creator of Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! I think the best way to sum up my relationship with both Michael and Tom is that I consider them both friends.

I try to keep up with them even when I don’t have an article due, and with Michael especially I like to just fire off emails to shoot the breeze. We’re both fans of The Andy Griffith Show, so whenever I find something of interest about the show, I send that along to him. Also, whenever he announces the latest theme for Back Issue, I will sit down and write out these long emails about what would be cool for these upcoming issues. No matter how many  ideas for articles I send him, Michael is always receptive to them and is willing to hear them out. When I hit pay dirt and come up with a really good one, he is quick to let me know I’m on the right track.

Elizabeth:
What are your next purrojects?

Dan:
I continue to write for Dennis and I have several articles coming up in Back Issue. Also, I have written scripts for Dr. Gangrene’s Creature Feature, a horror host show that can be seen on the CW station, Channel 58, in Nashville, TN. During September and October of 2008, Channel 58 ran a Creature Feature episode every Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM. Right now, Larry Underwood, aka Dr. Gangrene is  discussing plans for the show’s 2009 season, and I expect to be working on more scripts for the show by the end of the year.Meanwhile, I am involved with two different comic book publishers, but  due to the wishes of these publishers, I am not at liberty to discuss what I am working on for them with the general public at this time.

I can say that one gig is turning into a regular writing job, and at the worst I have two scripts I will be writing for them in the immediate future, and at best, there could be as many as five scripts. With the other publisher, I am committed to one project, a mini-series, and I just turned in a plot outline for the first issue and it was signed off on. I’ll begin scripting that issue within a week’s time. Again, I wish I could say more, but I can’t. Like I tell people, it feels like I’m dating the prettiest, most popular  girl in high school, but her one condition for us to continuing to date is that I can’t tell anyone we’re an item. You want to shout it from the rooftops, but you don’t want to spoil a good thing.

Elizabeth:
What advice might you offer to others who aspire to be journalists, authors, editors or publishers?

Dan:
If you want to work in publishing in any regards, you can’t  be afraid to let people see what you can do. There is a great story I tell people about the old man who woke up each morning and prayed that this would be  the day that God would let him win the lottery. The old man did this for fifty years straight, and finally one day he woke up and told God that he no longer believed in Him because He wouldn’t let his one request come true. That is when God spoke to the old man  and told him that He was more than willing to let the old man win the lottery, but it would have helped if once, just once, the old man had gone out and actually bought a lottery ticket. Lesson of this tale, Editors won’t know you can write unless you take a chance and “buy a lottery ticket,” and  submit samples of your work.

Also, don’t be afraid to take opportunities to pursue your dreams in any avenue that opens itself up. I have talked to people that tell me they want to be a working writer, but they only want to write novels or they only want to write film scripts. I always tell them that writing is writing. I’ve written movie and theater reviews, newspaper articles, magazine articles, copy for advertisements and press releases, gags for comic strips, scripts for comic books, scripts for a horror host show and even a script for one short film that was produced and a couple of feature films that still remain unproduced. Anytime someone gives me a chance to put pen to paper, and it is a project that I can be proud to have my name on, I take it. If nothing else, it lets me challenge myself, and nine times out of ten, those writing jobs that might not have been up my alley have led to writing jobs that were what I had always dreamed of.

I would also tell people that if you really want to write for a living, don’t be opposed to taking on a few assignments for free when you’re just getting started. Again, some people I have met who want to be writers refuse to do anything for free, and they want to be paid for their work, even if the work they are doing is not exactly worth paying for. When you’re just getting started, getting experience and getting your name in print is more valuable than a paycheck. Plus, you may write something and not get paid, but you might  walk away with valuable contacts for future assignments. With writing, it is all about networking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t hope to be paid eventually. It is just that when you are starting out, unless you hit it lucky right out of the gate, you’re going to have to pay your dues.

Finally, I would say to all would be writers out there, and this goes for anyone who is pursing a career that they really love, don’t ever give up. If it is meant to happen, it will happen. Being a writer is not the easiest occupation in the world. If it was, everyone would be doing it, right? The road can be bumpy sometimes, and you may find yourself wondering  why you are putting yourself through this nonsense when there are other, more profitable things you could be doing. If you know you are doing what you were put on this planet to do though,  and you stick to what you know and what you believe in, everything will work out in the end. Babylon 5 said it best: “Faith manages.”

Elizabeth:
Dan thank you so very much for being a fun part of this month’s Mew, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of our visit to Catgirl Island!

Dan:
It was my pleasure Lizzy! Thanks for taking the interest in my writing and my career.

Elizabeth:
For more information and news purrtaining to the very cordial Dan Johnson, please visit his web site http://sites.google.com/site/danbjohnsonwriter/Home! And please stay tuned here after this short break as we welcome another wonderful guest to The Mew!

(snip)
(one short break later)


Feature Purresentation: intermew with
glamorous model & milliner Joei Reed

Jeannie:
Joei Reed is a most talented and glamorous artisan, as a lovely model and maker of such stylish fashions! Her versatility extends to vintage & period styles, to science fiction, fantasy, & horror type modeling & costumes. Her varied looks include goth, anime, retro, noir, pin-up, steam punk, renaissance, faerie and exotic eastern styles! You can view her modeling portfolio at http://www.modelmayhem.com/joeireed and photo sets at flickr.com/photos/joeireed. She has a specialty in costume millinery, and sells exquisite hats at conventions and through her online store, Joei Reed Custom Millinery Joeireedhats.etsy.com. There are galleries of her hats at photobucket.com/albums/ff311/joeireedhats and a blog on hat care at joeireedhats.livejournal.com. She also has a myspace page myspace.com/joeireed and a facebook page http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1273823083, and now we’re so please to welcome her to The Mew! Aloha Joei! Would you like tasty a beverage? We have all kinds!

Joei:
Hello Jeannie and the rest of the catgirls! Thanks for having me as your guest on the island! I hear you guys do a wicked Cosmo. :)

Jeannie:
One Cosmo coming up! When did you first realize that you had a talent in visual or purrforming arts, that you wanted to purrsue as either a very serious hobby or possibly as a purrfession?

Joei:
Well my mother actually worked in the fashion industry when she was young, she was a runway and a magazine model and she also worked in the construction of fashion garments. She taught me how to sew at a pretty young age, and she was always great at making costumes and clothing for me when I was a child. (She also knits, something I never learned how to do, maybe because I’m left handed and it’s hard to learn from right-handed teachers!) My mother also did community theater when I was a kid, so I’d go with her and I’d pick up how to do makeup and the like. When I was a teenager, I got into scifi conventions and the costuming that went along with them, so that’s really when I started making my own costumes.

Jeannie:
Could you tell us about your formal training in the theater arts?

Joei:
I actually toyed with the idea of applying to the Fashion Institute of Technology for college, but at that young age I didn’t want to limit my career choice options. I went to Duke instead, but I trained in the costume department most of the time I was there. It was pretty cool, getting paid to sew! I learned a tremendous amount from the costume shop director in terms of professional sewing techniques, pattern drafting, tailoring, and using specialized equipment. It was also where I got my first exposure to millinery, creating hats for historical productions. I also worked in theater at Duke doing wardrobe, and although I enjoyed it, I decided it wasn’t a really stable career choice.

Jeannie:
I understand you’re a fan of tap dance, chorus lines and mewsicals with big purrduction numbers. Do you dance, or have mewsical talent too?

Joei:
I wish I was a better ballroom or tap dancer! I’ve taken a couple of swing dancing classes. It’s one of those things that I keep hoping I’ll find more time to do. I enjoy it, but the hats keep me very busy.

Jeannie:
What are some of your favorite movies or plays for the coiffure & costumes?

Joei:
Oh, the list is long! I recommend that you become a regular fan of Turner Classic Movies if you want to see some fabulous stuff. Actually Judy Garland always had great hair and I think one of the best was “Meet Me in St. Louis” because it has a ballroom scene. Rita Hayworth always looked fantastic as well. She wore some hot hats. A good one is “Cover Girl.” Also, an actress that most people don’t remember much is Alice Faye. She wasn’t a real knockout, and she had a very deep voice, but man did she do that bouffant hairdo up a treat. Check out “The Gang’s All Here” for some of her work.

Jeannie:
(ears & tail purrk with glee) Oh that is so my favorite Judy Garland mewsical! She looked so stunning gorgeous and her… Ah.. sorry.  (regains her stoic composure) OH- here is your drink!
Well then, designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Erte are inspurrational to you. What is it about their work in purrticular that most fascinates you?

Joei:
Well, those are very different designers from different eras, and their work is inspirational for different reasons. Erte was a designer in the 1920s, and his work is very flapper. But so intricate! I could sit there for a half an hour just trying to figure out how he got one piece of a garment to wrap around and through and connect up with another piece. Gaultier is a contemporary designer – he did all the costumes in The Fifth Element. His work is just so futuristic and off the wall. I like other modern designers as well, such as Issey Miyake.

Jeannie:
The Fifth Element did seem like an issue of Metal Hurlant on the big screen, Milla Jovovich was wonderful as Leeloo in that film! Speakign of artists, do you have favorite pin-up artists?

Joei:
Gil Elvgren is the classic one. Vargas also did some great work. For modern artists, I think Olivia is probably the most well known.

Jeannie:
How about George Petty, Pat Nagel, or Dave Stevens?

Joei:
George Petty was definitely a fantastic pinup artist, who actually predated Vargas but is less well-known now, despite his enormous success during his time. I think he might have drawn the first cat girl! :)  Patrick Nagel is probably best well-known for his album cover for Duran Duran’s “Rio” in the mid-1980s, and I think that his style has come to epitomize that retro-80s look, which did incorporate some elements from the 1940s, but was more stylized. Dave Stevens I always think of as more of a comic artist first, since he’s so famous for The Rocketeer. But he also did a lot of girlie art in retro style, particularly of Bettie Page. He did beautiful work, although I am not as much a fan of nude art as ones that emphasize the tease factor.

Jeannie:
What historic periods do you purrfer the styles of?

Joei:
Honestly speaking, I like most of them! I love historical costuming. I don’t do too much from the Renaissance period myself, although I like that look. I personally do more from the 17-1800s. I’ve actually been very into the steampunk look (which is sort of neo-Victorian) lately so that’s been one of the major areas I’ve been working on, although without so much of the giant bustle. I like the dresses that have the gathered backs, but I don’t feel the need to wear a frame under them that makes you look like you’re toting around a caboose. :)

I also love some of the looks from the 1910s-1930s, but those designs are often made for the tall, willowy shape, which I am not, so I don’t make too many of those for myself. I am a big fan of the 1940s, with the sleek suits and tilted hats, and I tend to stick to that style. I also like some of the poofier dresses from the 1950s, with the small hats that are closer to the head. Once you hit the 1960s, you start to lose me, and I really don’t have too much interest in the 1970s, except occasionally for some of the retro-spaceage looks. I should also mention that I’m a big fan of traditional clothing from other countries, particularly India and Japan.

Jeannie:
Purrhaps later I could show you my collection of kimonos, yukatas, sarees, and my bellydance costumes! You could wear some during your visit if you like!

Joei:
I’m not sure that we’re the same size, but I’d love to see your collection!

Jeannie:
Ok- and we could get you some to wear in town too! Where are the best places to find books or patterns for period clothes?

Joei:
I’ve had the best luck looking on Ebay. There are also some on Etsy.com. But sometimes you just get lucky. I once got a giant box of old patterns at a vintage store that was going out of business.

Jeannie: :
It sounds like you much have such an extensive wardrobe of wonderful patterns, clothes, makeup, wigs and hats. How big is your closet and how do you store & purrtect such things?

Joei:
I’ve basically got a whole room devoted to costumes. :) It has a sizeable closet where I store most of my costumes and hats, although I am running out of space! Vintage hats should always be stored on mannequin heads whenever possible, and yes I have about a dozen of those. Vintage garments should often be stored flat so they don’t tear under their own weight.

Jeannie:
What is your work shop or studio like?

Joei:
My late stepfather, who was a designer, helped me set up my workspace. He recommended that the best use of space is to get as much up off the floor as possible. So I have a shelf around the top of my work room, near the ceiling, on which I store all my bins of fabric and other supplies. In addition to a sewing machine, a serger (which is a specialized sewing machine used to finish raw edges of fabric) and an ironing board, I also have a large table of adjustable height that I use for both cutting fabric and for doing hand sewing. The table is covered in what’s called a self-healing mat – it’s a plastic you can cut on that won’t show the marks. Usually my sewing table is covered with spools of thread and ribbon, piles of netting, some random feathers, and other things I’m working on that are in various stages.

Jeannie:
That sounds like a wonderful place! What sort of tools, supplies, and equipment do you purrfur to use for your various creations?

Joei:
When you make hats, essential tools, believe it or not, are a thimble and a pair of pliers. The felt on hats is pretty thick so it’s nigh impossible to get a needle through it just by hand. I also have wire cutters for some of the florals I work with. I get specialized millinery feathers and veiling from some of the few millinery supply stores left in the US (there are far more in England and Australia). I used to visit a particular store in New York that had been a millinery institution for about 60 years, but it went out of business last year. I got a big collection of flowers and veiling from them before they closed, but it’s sad to think they’re not there anymore. But most of the actual sewing and decorating of my hats is done by hand with an ordinary needle and thread.

Jeannie:
So how did your millinery business come about?

Joei:
After I graduated college I mostly focused on costuming as a hobby, and I mostly did scifi costumes. But a few years ago I got really into retro and rockabilly styles. Retro reproduction and vintage clothing can be pretty expensive, and I’m not that tall, so most of the time I’d have to tailor it anyway. So I started collecting vintage patterns so I could just resize the patterns and start out with something that was the correct size. But for a retro look, hats are really important. In the 1940s, the style was the tilt hat, also called a doll hat, where the hat was small and was worn at an angle over the forehead, and held on by being pinned to the hair.

Again, the hats I started finding were really expensive, so I figured I could take a stab at making my own. So I started making hats just for my own use, but people started asking about them, so that’s when I decided to take a run at making them for sale. I actually got into the modeling originally as a way to get good photos of the hats I was selling! But both the hat sales and the modeling have taken off, I’m pleased to say. I’ve been selling the hats officially for a little over a year, and there are over 150 women out there sporting a Joei Reed original! :)

Jeannie:
Could you explain the purrocess of designing and making a hat?

Joei:
I take a lot of inspiration from flowers or ribbons that I find that I want to use on a hat. I also recently have been getting in some batches of vintage pieces – usually broken brooches or single earrings that I can “upcycle” into unique hat decorations. If I’m making a hat as a custom order request, I’ll pin it all together and take pictures to show a client, and then take it all apart to construct it once the design is approved. For a top hat, usually I sew the feathers on first, so the bases of the feathers are covered by the hat band that goes around the hat. Usually I sew the veiling on next (unless it’s a detatchable veil). I top it with a decorative piece, such as the vintage jewelry, and then add a comb or a barrette for attachment.

Jeannie:
What are your purrsonal favorite hats?

Joei:
Of my own hats, I really personally love the birdcage veils. They are made from about a yard of netting, which is pleated to fit with a nice amount of poof around the head. I’ve been experimenting with long eyelash feathers, where there’s a long stem with a fan of feather at the end. I also have been working on making feather pads in two colors, where I add some accent feathers in with another color. I recently made a birdcage veil to go with a cherry print dress I made. The feather pad is black and red, and I used a fan of material that’s the same as the dress. I also really like the covered hats. I only make these as custom orders because they take so much more labor and time. I recently made a steampunk hat, with a turned-down brim, covered in brown and cream starred material, and decorated with cream feathers and lace. My other personal endeavor, which I have not yet made for sale, is a mini tricorn hat that I made for a Venetian-style carnival last year.

Jeannie:
Your hats are quite exquisite! How do you light & photograph your purroduct shots?

Joei:
Actually I rely on the photographers I work with to do all that! I know so little about photography! I am very lucky that there are a number of really excellent photographers in this area who like to use me as a subject, because they think my work is interesting to photograph. When I am forced to take my own product shots, I use a very basic point-and-click camera, and I set up the hats on a mannequin head with a wig, on a solid dark background. I’m pretty good with cropping and editing in Photoshop when I need to. :)

Jeannie:
Of course your hats are not all that gets photographed- when did you start modeling?

Joei:
I did a little modeling as a child and since then I had done some posing for illustrators for book covers and the like. But with the retro modeling, I really started doing that only a couple of years ago. I’m actually pretty old to be breaking into modeling!

Jeannie:
Who are your favorite actresses & models?

Joei:
Besides the ones I mentioned before, you can’t beat Mae West. She was such a cut-up. I also loved Ann Miller, a real hoofer. Eleanor Powell is also widely recognized as one of the best tap dancers ever, although I always felt she didn’t have much personal charisma. Ginger Rogers was a lot more interesting. But you can’t top Shirley Temple for a great tap scene and cute dialogue! As for modern actresses, I’ve always been partial to Angela Bassett.

Jeannie:
Oh yes she is the awesome actress. You’ve worked with several terrific photographers. What do you look for – or not-  in a photographer?

Joei:
It’s always a good idea to look at a photographer’s portfolio before you agree to work with them. I always favor photographers who are really exceptional at lighting. Shadows are a bear in photography and it takes a good photographer who can get it right, particularly in outdoor shots where you’re not in a controlled studio environment. I’m also always interested in photographers who are wizzes at postprocessing, so they can do neat things with colors or backgrounds or overall look to the photo. But most of all I think it’s important to check a photographer’s reputation on actually delivering shots. You shouldn’t have to hound a photographer for months to get them to send you your photos.

Jeannie:
What do you purrfur about studio shoots, and what do you purrfur about location shoots?

Joei:
Studio shots are far more controlled in terms of lighting. I think it’s a lot easier to get a good, clear shot without any postprocessing in a studio. But location shots offer more interesting settings, obviously. If I’m just looking to do product shots, a studio is the safer bet. But for modeling, if you can be on location, it can give you a better final piece.

Jeannie:
You’ve posed beside some classic cars. What’s your favorite automobile?

Joei:
Actually, I’m a big fan of low riders, custom rods and things like that which are not necessarily completely historically accurate. I am not a purist so I don’t have problems with people combining eras. I think the advantage of being in modern times is that you can look back over a long period of history and take the best pieces that work together. But that being said, Cadillac did make some beautiful cars. And Packards are always a favorite.

Jeannie:
Photo shoot locations graced by your purresence range from elegant to industrial architecture, urban and natural outdoor environments. Which are your favorites?

Joei:
Oh, I always have fun doing car shows, because there’s so much variety! I’m a city girl, so I do like urban landscapes. When I did my Rosie the Riveter shoot in the old Bain Water Plant in Raleigh, it was a real treat, because I got to climb all over these big pieces of equipment and go tromping around in big boots, instead of my usual high heels! So that shoot was definitely a lot of fun. I would like to do some shoots in front of abandoned abandoned houses, places that are obviously urban but which are being overrun and reclaimed by nature, because I find the dichotomy interesting.

Jeannie:
As fond as I am of those sets of you posed with those magnificent machines, my favorite photo shoot of yours is purrobably the RTP Fairies of the Woods. What was that experience like?

Joei:
Mark, who runs RTP Photography, is a truly great photographer. He does some pretty sexy work, but he’s such a sweetheart and a true gentleman, you’d never know it just looking at him. :) Anyway, that spot in the woods was one that he had scouted, and it was a very different style of costuming for me for a modeling shoot. There’s a hair stylist named Lauren O’Steen who often does my hair for shoots, and she just totally poofed out my hair all crazy to give me this wild fairy look, which was DEFINITELY a new style for me. Usually I’m much more about the perfect, controlled styling. :)  It was a fun shoot, but Mark really worked the magic in his editing. If you were a bystander looking at him taking those photos, it wouldn’t look nearly as good as it did once he’d finished cropping them and adjusting colors.

Jeannie:
Y’all definitely created some beautiful images! What cons, balls, festivals and other events do you like to attend, and what are some upcoming appearances?

Joei:
Well, lately I’ve been at Zombiecon, which runs twice a year so far. I regularly get to Lunacon, which is in New York in March. I’m planning on attending Castle Carnevale, which is at Castle MacCulloch over near High Point. I often attend Carolina Rollergirls bouts in full retro outfits.

Jeannie:

Zombie con was a fun event, and those castle photos of you are lovely too! I wish the Carolina Rollergirls got much more sports purress coverage.


Joei:
I also am a regular at the Clockwork Ball, a steampunk event held every few months at the club Hell in Chapel Hill, and I believe the next one is on New Year’s Eve. For burlesque events, the next performance of Big Mamma’s House of Burlesque in Charlotte is on Dec 6, which is my birthday, so we may trek over there for that one! The big convention in the costuming world is CostumeCon, and in May 2009 it will be in Maryland, so I am determined to make it to that event this time around.

Jeannie:

Were you in that Steam Punk Justice League cosplay group at What The Hell Con with our friends from Likely Stories?

Joei:
I didn’t make it to that convention, but it sounds like it was a lot of fun! The folks from Likely Stories are a great group; the artist for that series, Stephanie Freese, owns two of my hats!

Jeannie:

Oh yes they are such a friendly and talented group! Do you have any purrdictions for fashion trends of the future?

Joei:
I’m not too impressed with mainstream fashion. Most of it is geared towards tshirts and jeans, and often exposing more of yourself than you really need to. To me it’s very possible to be sexy without letting it all hang out. I think people are always way too concerned with what other people are going to think of them. It’s all about finding your own style and not being afraid to stand out, as far as I’m concerned. I’d love it if people would go a lot wilder with their makeup, for instance. But I’m not one to pass judgment on people based on how they look.

Jeannie:
Indeed. What are your own aspurrations for the future?

Joei:
I’ve just gotten in some new glitter roses that I’m planning on getting on a line of hats for New Year’s, so that’s my next project. I’ve also been trying for months to work on a line of straw tilt hats, but I have not yet found the time between custom orders to get those done, so maybe for the spring! I make a lot of birdcage veils for brides, but I’d like to start making them in more colors for retro girls to wear on other occasions. On a personal front, I’d like to get more of my historical costumes finished for some Steampunk modeling I’ve been trying to schedule. I also need to start working on a costume contest outfit for CostumeCon in May. And I need to make a new dress for Carnevale! A lot of my aspirations involve simply finding time to work on all of my varied projects!

Jeannie:

Do you have any advice for aspiring models or coutures?

Joei:
If you want to do pinup style modeling, study the old classics. Pay attention to how people moved and how they looked. And pay attention to details! Shoes are always the topping touch to a retro outfit. They don’t have to historically accurate, but if they include some retro styling it’ll finish your look so much better. For instance, if you want to wear platform shoes, make sure they have something like a round toe and an ankle strap. Also, in pinup modeling, facial expressions are key. Modern modeling often involves blank looks, whereas most pinup posters involve a lot more animated and fun faces.

Jeannie:

Joei, thank you so very much for chatting with us, it was such a pleasure and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your visit to Catgirl Island!

Joei:
Thanks Jeannie, it’s been fun! I’m going to go put on my Esther Williams bathing suit and race you girls to the hot tub! Last cat girl in the jacuzzi has to get a round of drinks for us! :)

Jeannie:

(the tempted kitty)This might mean the show ends early today… we might be right back after this break!

(snip)
(one short wardrobe change break later)


The cat lady sings…


Mike:
(same outfit as before, watching the catgirls scamper to the hot tub)
t would seem today’s show has come to an end!

Ilyana:
(now wearing a purrple suspender maillot & gold cropped tee)
Thank you so much for letting me be part of the show again!

Nyanko:
(in a pink tanga style bikini)
It was an honor to be part of The Mew! Thank y’all for inviting me to purrticipate!

Mary Nyan:
(mauve & lavendar cutout maillot)
We’d like to thank our guests for making this a special holiday Mew:
Jamie Davenport, Sarah Ruth Hughes,  Emathyst, Joei Reed, Andrew Pepoy,
and Dan Johnson!

Yvonne:
(peach colored string bikini)
And a special shout out to Sarah “Glory’ Baker who is in our purrayers, nya!

(all in unison)
GET WELL SOON SARA, nya!

Jeannie:
(white twist bandeau bikini)
If y’all have polite & sincere responses to our discussion- feel free to post
them – purrvided that such brief remarks are spam-free and stay on-topic.

Elizabeth:
(runs by in a leopard purrint crisscross halter neck bikini)
Everybody out there remember that during a movie in a theater, you need to turn
off your cell phone and not to talk, text message, or light it up like a flash light!

Mike:
There they go… I dunno why they are hurrying, because I’ll be picking up the tab
anyway! Well that’s our show for today folks, but we’ll see you again next month!

Find those who you care about and spend more time with ’em!
Happy Holidays… Aloha.

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