Where did my Halloween go?

As a child, I remember stalking the streets until 10PM.

Alone…

With a plastic jack o’ lantern in hand…

And hoards of candy awaiting me.

Those were the days. Those were the nights. Beneath the pallid streetlamps of my suburban Chicago neighborhood, I craved All Hallows Eve. In the rain, in the bitter cold, in the deep shadows through which the wind tore ragged holes, I was king.

As Darth Vader, I hunted bucket-loads of candy.

As a vampire, I hid behind oak trees and scared the crap out of the other kids.

As a demon, I shambled to my neighbors’ front doors. They didn’t know me that night. My mask earned more than a few shudders.

And when at last I returned home, belly full of candy and cheeks wet and chilled from the night, I arrived to the sight of jack o’ lanterns on the porch, candles still flickering in their bellies, dry leaves crackling at their bottoms.

I remember this…

And this…

*

Where have the nights gone? What happened to the crisp afternoons during which the sun dared only a few peeks through the clouds? Where are the sidewalks buried in fiery leaves, the crickets chirruping long before evening descended?

I’ve lost these things.

I want them back.

I’m middle-aged now. And while my exhilaration for All Hallows Eve has taken a twenty-year nap, it’s not completely gone. I still crave all the things October brings, but now I do it more for my son’s sake than my own. He loves his Halloweens much the same as I did. Carving jack o’ lanterns and wearing creepy masks are his domain. We light bonfires in the backyard, build mountains of candy in our kitchen, and take twilight walks to savor the coming Samhain.

He’s too small to understand it. But Halloween in the modern age isn’t what it used to be.

And somehow I’m sad.

Maybe I’m getting old.

Or maybe All Hallows has changed more than expected.

*

Anymore, there’s not enough of this…

And entirely too much of this…

*

Sometimes I no longer recognize my favorite night of the year.

I’m not against sexy things. I’m a guy like any other, and I appreciate a scantily-clad beauty as much as any man alive. But I’m glad my son (and the other neighborhood kids) aren’t caught up in what adults have made of Halloween. In fact, the thing we adults celebrate isn’t really Halloween anymore. It’s cosplay. It’s something other than what it was. It’s undefinable…and in some ways bizarre.

It’s pointless for me to rebel against what Halloween has become.

But I’ll allow myself to long for what it once was.

Long ago, All Hallows was meant to be a glorious, frightening thing. A day for driving demons and witches back into the dark. A night to celebrate the harvest, the end of summer’s warmth, and the arrival of a long, cold, and dangerous winter.

You can keep your sexy nurses and stores stacked high with cheap autumn-ish decorations.

I’ll take my…

my…

and my…

*

As Halloween draws near, I’ll try to do it right. My son and I will carve our jack o’ lanterns a little creepier. We’ll picnic out in the leaves. We’ll take walks at dusk and leave our windows open while we sleep.

And when we head out to haunt All Hallows Eve, we’ll stay out a bit later than the other kids. We’ll dress a little scarier. We’ll stretch out our ghoulish fingers and grab a piece of Halloween the way it used to be.

November will arrive the very next dawn.

But our Halloween will last forever…

J Edward Neill

Specialist in spooky stories

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

By Rebecca J. Bozarth

 

Cosplay….if you’ve ever attended any sort of Con, you’ve heard this word.  If you know what it is, you most likely have your opinions on it and especially on those who throw themselves into the cosplay world.   What is cosplay?  Basically they took the words “costume” and “play” and turned it into a subgenre.  Folks who like to dress as specific characters that inspire them in some way, or make others laugh.  One of my favorite forms of cosplay is when someone takes two different characters and meshes them into one well-combined antithesis.  This photo I took at Dragoncon last year is one of my favorite examples.

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I’ve never really thought of myself as one of “those people,” someone who spend copious amounts of time crafting and putting together the perfect recreation.  But recently, I’ve decided to look at things in a new way, and change a lot of who I am.

In Atlanta, which is where I live, every Labor Day, close to 80,000 people descend on our already crowded streets to participate in Dragoncon.  Dragoncon is the second largest sci-fi convention in the US.  Every fan boy/girl can pay $80 for four days of hot sweaty geekiness.  During this time, you will be crowded into a hotel room – if you were so lucky to win that lottery.  Walk the hot Atlanta streets with wings hitting you in the face and swords poking into every orifice of your being.  Wait in line for hours to possibly make it into a room that is holding a panel of your favorite tv show.  Eat overpriced bad food.  Take in a drum circle.  Then party all night to roughly six am if you’re so inclined, get a couple of hours of sleep, and wake up to do it all over again the next day.  It is four days of geeky magic and I absolutely love it.

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This year, I did things a little differently.  I actually cosplayed.  Now, I love to dress up for Halloween and have done so since birth, but I have never cosplayed before.  I belong to Metro Atlanta Geeks, and was going to be attending the con with my fellow MAG friends.  They cosplay and love it.

The last couple of months have been about doing things different from my norm, so I decided I’m going all in and have the full Dragoncon cosplay experience.

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I’m blonde, and one of the major deciding factors for me with Halloween costumes is choosing a “blonde” character.  I HATE wearing wigs and refuse to do so.  So this past Halloween, I wanted to be Harley Quinn before the movie came out.  Of course there are many versions of Harley.  I’m a gamer, so when I saw the Harley from Arkham costume, I ordered it.  Some context about me, I’d been working on my weight for the past year, and though I had lost a lot at this point, when I got the costume, it was not enough.  So plan b.  Harley harlequin costume I found online that looked larger.  It came – same problem.  Plan c – purchase items and put together Harley from Suicide Squad.  This worked.  I found the shirt, chose a sexy skirt instead of her little red and blue hot pants, and no costume I wear is complete without my hooker boots.  Cool Halloween costume overall.  Sprayed the hair red and blue, made the “Goodnight” bat – the whole nine.  But it wasn’t perfect.

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So skip ahead – Dragon Con.  Still working out almost daily.  I’m in process of moving to a new apartment (week before Dragon Con cause that’s smart) and I found my old costumes.  Not thinking they would fit, I tried them on – both fit perfectly!  I was very excited.  So I decided to ramp up my Halloween Suicide Squad Harley and get the hot pants and Puddin’ choker.  I was ready.  Each night, I would be a different Harley.

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I arrived on Thursday night – which actually turns out to be one of the best Dragoncon nights.  Everyone is over the top excited and it’s not over crowded.  I had purchased a R2D2 dress from Amazon and handcrafted an R2D2 headpiece.  That’s the beauty of it – if you can build it save your money for other fun!  So I drew my headpiece on very heavy card stock I had left over from art school, wove a ribbon through it, and wa-la I had Thursday night’s costume covered.

 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were my Harley costumes.  Friday: Arkham Harley, Saturday: Suicide Squad, and Sunday: Sexy Harlequin Harley.   For each, I had my hair in pigtails, two nights with the black and red, and Suicide Squad with the blue and red.  I whitened my face, put on heavy dark black eye makeup, and of course, blood-red lipstick.  It was surreal.  People were coming up (guys mostly) and asking to take pictures – of me!  I posed with a million Jokers it seemed.  Deadpools seemed to really like me – we’ll look past the whole different franchise thing….  The best was the little kids that wanted to pose with me.  Adorable!  I have never experienced something like that before in my life.  It was fantastic.  I got to be a sexy villain and pose like I was a celebrity.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had that much fun.  Walking along the Atlanta streets decked out, swinging my “Goodnight” bat.  For a moment, you really are your character.  Thankfully, there were no store windows with any shiny purses that caught my eye!

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And yes, cosplay world, you won.  You got me.  Though I made fun of many of you who took it so seriously in the past, I am now addicted, and already trying to decide what blonde sexy characters I’m going to create for next Dragoncon.  I’ll keep ya posted!

***

Rebecca J. Bozarth is a the owner of Fotografia Film & Design in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a web and graphic designer and photographer. She’s an artist, gamer, and film nerd, and loves fantasy, scoff, and horror.

Convention Announcement/ Urban Axis Indy Con

Hey guys and gals! Just wanted to give a heads up that yours truly will be a guest/ panelist at this years 2016 Urban Axis Indy Con on July 23-24!

Here’s a rundown of the event: Urban Axis IndyCon is an event formed by the minds of Urbangod Ink Studios and Infinite Axis Comix. The first Urban Axis IndyCon was held October 10th and 11th, 2015 in Stone Mountain, Georgia at The Venue at Redan. Urban Axis Indy Con showcases vending from independent comic artists, authors, illustrators and other creators. UAIC also feature events such as musical performances, gaming, cosplay, independent film, spoken word, and workshops!

I’ll have copies of the Route 3: Vol 1 graphic novel…..

r3graphicnovelcover

Copies of the Radio Free Amerika Season 1 graphic novel….

rfagn

And other awesome titles like The Gilded Age (written/ created by the esteemed John R. McGuire), Terminus Team Up, and Platypus Vs. Monkey!

We’ll also be showing Terminus Media related animation, along with the first episode from our recent CDC/ Terminus Media collaboration/ animated motion comic.

I’ll even be hosting panels/ workshops, juggling oranges, and pop-locking to save a community center.

Ok, maybe not the juggling, and pop-locking, but I’ll defintely be hosting some panels/workshops. Check out the schedule below:

Saturday July 23, 2016- Day 1

2:30 PM: Platypus Vs. Monkey/ RFA Video presentation followed by a Q & A and lecture

4:30 PM: Terminus Media Panel

Sunday July 24, 2016- Day 2

2:00 PM: Robert Jeffrey Lecture/ Workshop; “The Basics for Writing A Comic Book Script”

Head to http://www.urbanaxisindycon.com/ for more information and see ya there.

 

Interview: Cosplayer and Makeup Artist Bekah Shambrook

Bekah ShambrookI’ve been looking forward to this interview for the last several weeks. Bekah Shambrook, daughter of author (and friend) Lisa Shambrook, is an amazing artist. AMAZING. Often times, she is her own canvas.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I’m Bekah from Carmarthen, West Wales and I love art, I always have. In school I was the art nerd, you could find me in the art rooms in every spare moment. I loved it. It was only natural for that to follow into my life, I now work part time as a freelance make up artist and spend every spare moment making cosplay costumes.

How did you get started in makeup artistry and cosplay?

I always loved art but it took a while for me to work out what aspect of it was truly me. Throughout school I tried photography, pencil drawing, digital art, sculpture… I enjoyed them all but they were never quite me. When I started my GSCE’s at the age of fifteen I decided to recreate Salvador Dali’s Mae West on my own face (I’m afraid I don’t have the photo any more), and that was the beginning. I branched out in the same course and used my family to recreate the amazing looks from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and, for the first time, tried my hand at prosthetics turning my sister into a zombie in the name of art. Much to her dismay, I had never actually learned what to use, and used PVA glue and tissue paper (don’t try that a home). Once I left school, I started a face painting business (www.masterpiecefacepainting.co.uk) which I still run and love, but I quickly decided to expand into makeup artistry and I’ve worked with photographers to create wonderful pieces of work.

Masterpiece MUA Sample

The cosplay is more recent but it all ties in. I didn’t take fashion or textiles at school, I didn’t know how to sew, I wasn’t great at sculpture, but I’m nothing if not ambitious! A few of the models I know through the makeup work also did cosplay, and I love watching the cosplay music videos on youtube so I thought, why not? My first cosplay was November 2014, I decided to cosplay Thranduil from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I had no idea where to start, but I managed it!

Bekah Shambrook as Thranduil

My second, and most recent, was this March. I decided to cosplay Maleficent from the recent Angelina Jolie film, but I didn’t want to cosplay her later costumes, the leather and staff… Oh no, I wanted to cosplay her Queen of the Moors costume, y’know, the one with the wings! So off I went, and 100 hours later I had made her dress, horns, armour, and fully articulated wings! (I even won Cardiff Film and Comic Con’s open Masquerade!)

Bekah Shambrook at MaleficentAre there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again?

When it comes to makeup I love to create extreme looks, I love to challenge myself. My favourite looks are the ones where I have complete freedom, when there are no constraints.

As for cosplay, I have a list as long as my arm of cosplays I want to make! Although there are characters I love that have simple costumes I tend to steer away from them for cosplaying, as I said earlier, I love a good challenge. Cosplay is a learning tool for me, I will never know it all. I learn something new every costume I make. So I guess to answer your question, I’d have to say, anything with a challenge.

What are your goals and aspirations?

My goals are small ones, in terms of cosplay I would be honoured to be invited to guest at a convention. Big, small, anything, I think that would be wonderful. I also aspire to have the confidence to enter a big cosplay contest like London Super Comic Convention’s Championship. At the moment, the goal isn’t to place, but just to have the confidence to enter.

One day I’d love to visit San Diego Comic Con too…

What are you working on now? Can you give us a peek?

Right now, I’m working on Toothless from How to Train your Dragon, but with a twist. I’m making it a humanoid, armoured Toothless. I’m hoping to have it ready by London MCM Comic Con in May, but I have only just started so wish me luck!

Toothless Plans

You can see all my making of photos on my facebook page linked below, but for now, here’s a sneak peak of the armour design.

Links:

Arkhdrauth Cosplay Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkhdrauthCosplay
Masterpiece MUA Website: www.masterpiecemua.co.uk
Blog: https://www.bekahcat.wordpress.com
Twitter: @BekahCat
Instagram: @Arkhdrauth