Sunday, September 30, 2012
A while ago, I showed off the cover to Hawken #6 from IDW. The book is lovingly rendered by Ben and Tim Truman, FUBAR veterans both, and the incentive cover to #6 is by Jeff McComsey, Dom Vivona and Steve Becker, no strangers to FUBAR themselves. At the last minute, Hawken #6 had another addition - a half page comic by myself and yet another FUBAR luminary by the name of Pietro.
This is, of course, very exciting. IDW has grown quite a bit in the last several years to the point where they're counted among the major comic book publishers. While they're best known for their licensed properties like Transformers and the Ninja Turtles, every so often they'll release a creator owned series such as Hawken, a western horror tale that's among the best of them.
Even though my contribution is only a half page, I still feel like this is a big deal. If nothing else, IDW is one of the most recognizable publishers to print my work; certainly the most high profile since Dark Horse's Strip Search which was printed FOREVER ago.
So let's say that you have no desire to read my comic book writing, but as you're reading this, you feel a slight twinge of guilt over this apathy. If you pick up Hawken #6, you can spend about 15 seconds, read the entire strip, and say that you have, indeed, supported my comic book career! What a compromise! That'd be great.
Many thanks to Ben and Tim for the opportunity. The trade collection, which is already solicited on Amazon, will also include the strip, which is, in its own way, another bit of exciting news. As IDW is a major company, you should be able to find this book at pretty much any comic store in North America and beyond. So go get it! And don't be a jerk.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Wait, there's another Paul Ryan? From Wisconsin? And he's an unapologetic ultraconservative just like Sarah Palin, teamed up with an historically moderate yet now supposed rightest-of-the-right-wing presidential candidate in John McCain/Mitt Romney? Weird.
Paul Ryan the artist was my absolute favorite artist growing up in the early-to-mid '90s - something that was undoubtedly a result of him drawing my favorite book growing up in Fantastic Four. Ryan's artwork, I think, still holds up even though the stories now seem a bit goofy in places, and I wish that he would return to the FF in some capacity, even just for an anniversary issue or something similar. Ryan spends his time these days on the Phantom comic strip, so he's still got a presence, though I miss his work in comic books.
I'm sure Mr. Ryan is getting a lot of attention these days due to mistaken identity. But he can take some solace (I guess) in the fact that at least one person, upon hearing that Paul Ryan had been selected as the official Republican vice presidential nominee, looked at the news with incredulity and said, "the comic book artist?"
Monday, September 24, 2012
Here's a weird fact about me. When I'm on vacation, or I guess just somewhere away from home, I tend to look up comic book shops and visit them. I've done it for as long as I can remember. Don't judge...there are weirder things to do with your time...probably.
This summer was no exception. After Comic-Con and a few days in Los Angeles, my wife and I spent some time in windy San Francisco, home to national landmarks, natural wonders and some well known comic shops.
After taking in a farmer's market on a Saturday morning, I saw that I was just a few miles away from Isotope: The Comic Book Lounge. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had heard good things about it and I knew that it was a favorite shop of some popular creators, so I drove over and ended up finding a rare parking spot right next to the store.
I made it a few feet inside, but was taken back by what I saw. It wasn't the store itself that caused me to stop, but the person standing in front of the counter, talking to an employee. I knew this person, but I didn't know from where for a minute or two. Then it hit me: he was a comic book character. Specifically, this guy:
It was a bit unnerving, staring at a fictional character who had somehow, inexplicably, come to life and decided to visit a comic shop. Slowly, it came to me. The character is from Robert Kirkman's Invincible from Image Comics, and his name is "Isotope". Oh, heck. I had no idea he was modeled after a real person. It took me a while to get over that.
The real life Isotope is store owner James Sime, who, as it turns out, is a heck of a nice guy. We chatted for a while and I got my picture with him before I walked around the store, still trying to shake that "fictional characters are coming to life" feeling.
The store itself was smaller than I had imagined, but its layout was hip and friendly. The main floor had comics along the wall - nothing unusual there.
If you look up, though, you'll see something out of the ordinary but very interesting - original artwork on toilet seats. There were probably a few dozen of these lining the tops of the walls and they added to the unique feel of the store.
Toward the back of the shop is a staircase which leads to the lounge - it overlooks the store and has a small setup for a band. There were places to sit and stacks of comics to read - James mentioned that most of them were from local and small press creators, which is a swell thing to do. And it just so happened that I had a copy of Teddy and the Yeti in the trunk of my car...so it made its way into Isotope's lounge collection, which is great.
Lady Blackhawk also sits in the lounge, probably making sure that no one falls over the edge.
And what comic shop is complete without a full size Dr. Strange costume? I imagine that Mr. Sime could pull of a pretty convincing Stephen Strange.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Atlanta's Dragon Con seems to be a mecca of sorts for those who like to dress in costumes. I never thought much of it, but I paid attention to the news coming out of Georgia for this year's show, and I was surprised to see just what a big deal it was. There must have been thousands of costumes on display and it all looked like a great time. I might have to make it out to a show at some point!
There were lots of great Venture Bros. themed costumes at this year's show, both classic and incredibly obscure (Brick Frog and Betty Rage were a few favorites, for completely different reasons). If you get a chance to, do a quick Google Images search and check out some pictures for yourselves.
What caught my attention leading up to the show, though, was the above pictured Venture Bros. trading cards. This 12-card set was put together by a Venture Bros. cosplay group and I thought it looked pretty swell. I contacted a friend and he was able to send me a set in exchange for a Teddy and the Yeti card set, which I think was a pretty good trade.
As a whole, I thought the cards turned out really well. All of them were interesting, and while some are better than others, I think the set is indicative of most of the main characters from the show (though I can't imagine how the Moppets were left out), and it features some great art. Below are a few of my favorites:
The only artist whose work I recognized was that of Fiona Staples, who drew this Rusty Venture card. Staples has made a name for herself recently with Image's Saga, which is a fantastic book and one that's certain to see lots of acclaim. Getting her on this card set is a big deal! I love the slight refraction that the good doctor's glasses make. It's a nice touch.
It's hard not to like everything about Brock Samson on the show, and similarly, it's hard not to like the art on this card. The hair, the blood, the glass shards...it captures his essence in a single image. Well done.
And who can't empathize with "two-ton" 21? Again, a great piece, though I'll say that I would have liked to see a "classic" 21 and 24 image thrown in there.
Twelve cards is an odd number for a set. Cards usually come in sets of nine, for the sole reason that card binders hold pages with room for nine cards per page. So that means that there's room for six more cards in this set to make it a nice, neat 18 - I say we round out the set with a few more before it's all said and done. One for the Order of the Triad, perhaps? The aforementioned Moppets? The Impossible family? The possibilities are nearly endless.
Monday, September 17, 2012
It's been well documented that the Thing is a fan of the New York Jets. This makes a lot of sense (for a fictional character, anyway), because of what part of New York Ben Grimm is from and his early publication history; the Jets were an exciting team in the 1960s with "Broadway" Joe Namath and their memorable win in Super Bowl III. I'm also fairly certain that the Thing is a fan of the New York Mets, a team that shares some fan geography as well as 1960s improbable success.
The Jets rolled into Pittsburgh yesterday as owners of week one's best offensive output and got stomped by your Pittsburgh Steelers, 28-10.
Here's a picture of Heath Miller, a vastly underrated tight end (and farmer's tan recipient) catching a touchdown pass. OH YEAH!! Season predictions: the Steelers will win Super Bowl XVLII. You read it here, folks.
I am slowly working my way through the entire Marvel Two-in-One series, which despite having some memorable runs and hall-of-fame type talent on many of its issues, also has stretches of awful, awful stories. Sometimes these issues are difficult to make it through, but for the Thing, I persevere. It's only fair.
A few days ago I made it to Two-in-One #75, an extra-sized issue featuring a team up with the Avengers. In it, the Thing makes two NFL references, both regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first is directly above. It also mentions the Dallas Cowboys, but whatever.
At little bit further on, there's also a player specific, Terry Bradshaw reference! What's funny about this is that this issue was published in 1981, as the four-time Super Bowl championship Steelers team was at the end of its run, having won its fourth championship during the 1979 season. Many of the great Steelers players were retiring or entering into the last years of their careers. I believe (without doing 30 seconds of research and looking it up) that Bradshaw's last year was 1983, so these references were a little late in coming. But hey, better late than never! It's a nice combination of two of my favorite things.
The time period was a heyday for the Steelers for sure, but it was also a time where the Thing's popularity was entirely evident. Not only did the character headline his own book as well as appear in the proper Fantastic Four title, but he also showed up in three separate in-house ads. The one directly above is advertising the very book it was published in.
This one was the standard mailing subscription ad. Look at this! The Thing takes up 25 percent of the page.
And there was also a full page ad for the then-new Dazzler series (which was the beginning of the direct market approach to sales, interestingly enough), in which the Thing shows up as part of an ensemble cast. The Thing was as much a corporate mascot in the '60s, '70s and early 1980s as Spider-Man, or as Wolverine is today. Good times.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Goals are important for people to have in life. Goals drive us to achieve great things and give us the focus to stay on task. Some people have goals to do purposeful, meaningful things in life, searching for cures to diseases and helping mankind reach new heights. Others buy arcade games and put them in comic book shops. In response to this grand gesture to humanity, I can only say this: you're welcome.
Despite the unfortunate music and horrendous fashion, many great things were made in the 1980s. Me, for instance. Also, Ms. Pac Man. Ms. Pac Man is one of the all time great arcade games, improving on the original Pac Man, a hall of fame game of its own. While there are other arcade games that I'm fond of, it's always been a dream of mine to own an original Ms. Pac Man machine. To that end, I would sometimes wistfully search eBay for the upright arcade game, skimming the results for machines that were reasonably priced and were in good shape. Being thrifty is always a challenge, and I found out that Ms. Pac Man, despite being around 30 years old, is still a game that is in demand even though games have evolved and arcades are, with a few exceptions, a thing of the past.
A few months ago, I turned to Cragislist on a whim, and much to my eternal glee, I received an e-mail from nearby Washington, PA. A video game enthusiast named Ted had a Ms. Pac Man game on sale, and as soon as I drove over to check it out, I knew that it was the one for me. Ted fixed the cabinet up and gave me a great deal. A few days later, Larry and I drove over to pick it up.
The cabinet is from the original run of 10,000 and is in just beautiful shape. For a hunk of wood that's 30 years old, I couldn't ask for a better looking display.
The challenge with getting a Ms. Pac Man machine, after the cost and condition, was finding some place to put it. Not that I wouldn't have been happy to set it up in the living room, but while I might have enjoyed that, I realize that not everyone wants a giant pink and blue arcade game flashing all hours of the day in the corner of the room.
That's why I'm lucky enough that the guys at Evil Genius Comics & Cards were up for letting me keep the game at their store in California, PA. Right after I bought it, Larry and I drove it to the store, wheeled it in, set it up and went right into playing it.
AND IT IS AWESOME! It really is. I could play Ms. Pac Man for hours on end, but here's an extra bit of information that I omitted until now: the board inside has been modified with 59 additional games. So if I want to play something besides Ms. Pac Man, I can choose from nearly every single one-player game that I care about.
This machine has Ms. Pac Man. It has Pac Man. And Jr. Pac Man. And Super Pac Man. And Pac Man Plus. And Dig Dug (1 and 2). And Donkey Kong (and Donkey Kong Jr., and DK3!). And Space Invaders. And Centipede. And Millipede. And Galaga. And Frogger. And Gun Smoke. And dozens of other games! Not all of them are great, but I've been surprised at how many games I enjoy, both familiar and those that I had never heard of before.
In short, this was a great find, and as trivial as owning an arcade game might be, it really is something I had wanted to do for a long time. And since it's housed at a comic shop, other people can play it too, and whenever I stop in to get comics, I can lose an hour trying to beat my high score.
If you're in the area around California and you love classic arcade games, stop in at Evil Genius Comics and check out my Ms. Pac Man arcade game. It's right across the street from California University of Pennsylvania. I'm thinking of setting up a tournament one of these days. That way, I could see if anyone can beat my high score on Ms. Pac Man. Here's a warning: I've got lots of practice.
Thanks to Larry for modeling all of these shots. I don't think he minded, as he got a key to the machine and can play Jr. Pac Man all he wants. Now if only I could find someone with a reasonably priced Rampage game...
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
A little while ago, I did an interview with the local paper, the Herald-Standard, regarding this July's Comic-Con. Larry set it up and it went from there. Apparently it went over well enough, because this past Sunday it showed up as a feature article and on the first page of its section. The article is a nice piece about Comic-Con, from a local perspective, and you can read it here, if you'd like: http://www.heraldstandard.com/entertainment/features/action-and-adventure-local-residents-visit-comic-con-international/article_5b6ab096-4e6b-5f4d-82b2-f0386d96f291.html
There was talk about bringing a photographer to the interview, but that was scuttled in favor of placing some pictures we ourselves took at the convention. I probably sent over more than 20 for the staff to choose from, picking out interesting and what I thought were pictures indicative of the atmosphere at the show. And then I said, "ah, screw it, I'm sending over a picture of the Thing." And then I sifted through some more pictures, thought about it for a few seconds and said, "heck, I'm going to send over that Beast Wars picture as well."
AND THEY PRINTED IT. They printed our "scream 'Beast Wars' while taking a picture with Cheetor" picture from Comic-Con. THIS IS FANTASTIC! I wonder if the guy who dressed up in the costume knows that he's in the paper. I wonder that about the guy dressed up as the Thing, Hawkman, and the Green Lantern couple, too (I never noticed this before, but there's a pretty good photobomb going on behind the Green Lanterns), but mostly Cheetor. Perhaps it's time to do a Google search to see what I can find.
The article covers the entire front page, above and below the fold, and continues on the last page of the section as seen above. On this page, it shares space with an article about Lady Gaga's meat dress. High society, here we come!
Many thanks to the Herald Standard and the writer of the article. Now let's see if the guy dressed as Cheetor from Beast Wars is on Google Images.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
FUBAR head honcho Jeff McComsey, art director Steve Becker and a host of other artists and writers will be on hand at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con (going on today and tomorrow) with special convention editions of FUBAR volume 3: American History Z! If you're heading to the show, be sure to stop by and see them. The Baltimore show is always fun and this year should be no exception. Also on tap for the show, two FUBAR chick tracts!
These mini comics are based off of the (in)famous religious pamphlets and are sure to go fast. Jeff, if you're Googling yourself and happen to read this, save me a couple! I'd hate to miss out because these look just swell.
Also, the first volume of FUBAR has rolled over into its third printing (a big deal)! The cover this time around is the same as the second printing, except for one tiny difference...can anyone spot it?
Best of luck to my fellow FUBARbarians. I've got a feeling we're just getting started.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
"The Venture Bros." is one of the best shows on television right now. Though there tends to be long breaks between seasons, much to my dismay, nearly every episode of this series is a gem that provides just the right mix of comedy and action all wrapped up in a comic book-y style that I love. There's so much to love about this show.
When I found out that we were going to Comic-Con, I knew that I wanted to put a costume together to join in on the festivities. I'd never done anything like it before, but Larry had recently dressed up as Lion-O at the New York Comic-Con and Macho Man at the Pittsburgh Comicon, each with good results. Since Larry was going to make the trip to San Diego as well, I quickly suggested that we dress up as Venture Bros. characters, as many of the characters on the show are ripe for costumed emulation. I had originally set my sights on the Monarch from the "Operation: P.R.O.M." episode, but a quick Google search revealed that someone else had already done it, and had done it so well that I had no chance of ever topping it.
I wanted to do something more obscure and unique within the Venture Bros. realm. After some thought, I came up with henchmen 21 and 24 in their alter ego personas as "Jet Boy and Jet Girl" (the Damned to a cover of it...) from the season two episode, "Fallen Arches". As the episode explains, 21 wanted to branch out and moonlight as his own villain, so he gets some "Family Double Dare" costumes, some jet packs, and does his best to convince 24 to join him in his schemes.
I was happy with about 95% of the final result:
It wasn't as easy as just going to the store and buying a deluxe "Jet Boy and Jet Girl" costume, though. I thought that it'd be at least somewhat interesting if I put together a little tutorial on how the costumes were constructed. If nothing else, it gives me the excuse to post all of the pictures I took at Comic-Con.
With so many different parts to choose from, it's hard to decide where I should begin. I guess I'll start from the top and work my way down, so leading us off will be...
...the head. There are a lot of different aspects to this part of the costume.
Goggles are, arguably, the most important aspect to any Monarch henchman costume - more important than the suit, the gloves, heck, even the wings. A crappy pair of goggles can ruin an otherwise good suit in my opinion. I was looking for materials to make my own when I found John McDonald's "Cinemastery Studios" Etsy store. John is a fellow fan and he makes some great stuff, as a stroll around the online store can attest to, but the goggles are what really stand out to me. Not only do they look good, but they're also functional - in as much as red fish-eye lenses can be. There was no way I could improve on the goggles by making my own, so I ordered two from John and was not disappointed.
As you'll find out the longer you read this, John at Cinemastery Studios helped me out with more than just the goggles. After buying the goggles, I kept in touch and asked him questions when I was stumped, and he was always very gracious with his time. I knew that I wanted to buy a ski mask, but there are so many different variations of the classic black mask. 21 takes his goggles off in one episode to reveal a mask that comes down to his nose with only two small circles cut out for the eyes. That particular design must only exist in fiction, because I was never able to find one that was just right. John sent over a link to an eBay auction with the above mask. With some creative sewing (thanks to Larry's mom), we were able to cut out the mouth and make this work. It was lightweight and it served its purpose.
Finding these helmets was a result of luck more than skill. Larry and I searched through Dick's Sporting Goods one day for both bicycle and skateboard helmets without any success. The big problem: the 'brim' of any helmet we tried on came down over our foreheads too far for the goggles to fit underneath. I thought I might have to do something drastic and try to shave a few inches off of an existing helmet.
Then we walked through Wal-Mart, found exactly what were were looking for, paid $20 each and got the heck out of there.
The helmets pictured above are Mongoose-brand, and I believe they were sized for kids, believe it or not. We took the velcro-ed in foam out and they fit pretty well. Best of all, the goggles worked just fine with them.
The helmets were originally all white. I peeled off the logo stickers and used a white primer over the outside. I then taped off the outside areas and used red spray paint (Valspar, I believe) over the middle. Finally, I used a glossy clear finisher, and I think the results were more than satisfactory.
One issue with the Mongoose helmets was the straps. The cartoon is a bit inconsistent and shows them at times to be black and others to be blue. The helmets had red straps, though, and that wouldn't do. Larry and I used black duct tape to cover up the red. If you look at a screenshot from the show, you'll see that 21 and 24's helmets had a white chin pad. The Mongoose helmets had straps that came down to where your chin meets your neck, so a pad was out. We used white duct tape on ours, and that was good enough.
Bucket and Hand
As part of the Double Dare theme, Jet Boy and Jet Girl had helmets with physical challenge-esque props on them - specifically, a bucket and a glove. We found the bucket in another auspicious moment, walking the aisles of Target. What we ended up with might be a little big, but it worked well for our purposes.
The glove was another story. I fretted over trying to find something that looked good, but none of the options I came across were feasible. I thought about making a wax hand mold (too fragile), stuffing pipe cleaners into a dishwashing glove (wrong color) or blowing up a latex glove (dumb). I had an epiphany and remembered that I had seen mannequin hands in Michaels. Artists use these hands for reference when drawing, well, hands. I drove to Michaels and, to my dismay, they only sold right hands. 21's glove is clearly a lefty! But once again, eBay came to my rescue and I picked up an Art Advantage brand wooden hand.
Larry's mom meticulously created a glove for this wooden hand using the gloves I wore as a pattern. Both the bucket and hand were secured to the tops of the helmets using velcro strips. The hand was a little heavy (as it was made from solid wood), but the velcro hung on throughout the convention. It might have fallen off two or three times, but it was manageable.
As I went through security, I wondered if airline employees would scan my bag and see a hand in there. I guess I would have made the news if that were the case, but luckily I made it out (and back) with no severed-hand-related problems.
Moving right on down the body, we come to the biggest part of the costume - the red jumpsuit, or as Rusty Venture calls them, "speed suits"! These are, as I found out, a pretty common design, with all the pocket and belt details matching with what was shown on the episode. A number of retail stores - not just specialty stores - sells them. Just not in red. Oh, you want grey or blue? Then you're in luck. But red was really difficult to find. I was considering buying white suits and trying to dye them red (which would probably have ended with us wearing milky pink suits) when a poster on the Venture Bros. Cosplay Facebook page came upon my saving grace - a link to the following site: http://www.myjumpsuit.com/eppolstret1.html. Hooray!
As might be expected, these were the priciest items to buy (though perhaps not per square inch). At $50 each plus shipping, it was a little tough to think that I'd be paying that much to wear them for one day, but I had to bite the bullet if I wanted to complete the costume, and I of course did.
Turtleneck and Vest
The classic Monarch henchman costume comes with a gold vest and black turtleneck to go underneath. Neither of these would be particularly visible with the red jumpsuit over top of it (especially the vest), but if you look at the screenshot I've provided, you can see just a hint of gold poking out at the neck of the jumpsuit. I figured that there was no sense in leaving it out, I once again called on John of Cinemastery Studios for advice, and once again he helped out big time. It turned out that he had a vest lying around (really), so I bought it and some extra material from him. Larry's mom used the one vest as a pattern for a second, using John's scrap material.
The turtleneck is a black turtleneck. That's pretty much it.
Gloves and Tights
On the advice of many, I went straight to the "We Love Colors" website to pick up the gloves for the costume. They were exactly what I was looking for. Because I was feeling the need to over prepare, I also bought gold tights to wear underneath the jumpsuit. I figured that if I was walking and the pant legs came up at all, I didn't want to ruin the illusion by having my bare legs show or something other than the correct color. It was, as I said, over-preparation. But I'd rather overdo it than be caught without something I'd need.
Larry's mom, for some reason, thought that the tights were a terrible idea and that they'd be really uncomfortable if we wore them all day. And as a woman and someone who had worn tights before, she was in the best position to say. But she was wrong! I wore them all day and they were great. Larry had, I think, a gender identity crisis and decided not to wear the tights, but rather a sock-with-gold-material-draped-on concoction. This is why, in pictures, you see Larry's white socks. COME ON, LARRY! We all make sacrifices when doing the costume thing.
Belts and Knobs
The material I bought for the belt, surprisingly, ended up being very expensive. I found it at Joann Fabrics where it was on sale by the yard. By "on sale", I mean they were selling it, not that it was reasonably priced. It was not. It's made of stretchy elastic material. It's just for show - that is, it's not holding anything up on the costume. We cut the material to fit us and used sick-on velcro strips the attach it once it was on.
The knobs turned out pretty well for how simply they were made. These were made from the lids of spaghetti sauce jars (now you see it!). Because the lids were made of metal, I had to paint these in several layers - first a layer of primer, then metallic silver, and then (taping off most of it) a touch of flat black. We had to glue some cardboard to the inside so it would be flush with the belts, and then some more velcro strips finished it off.
Elbow and Knee Pads
While looking for helmets at Dick's Sporting Goods (a feckless endeavor), Larry and I came across volleyball elbow and knee pads. They were completely white, but we got them anyway since I've never seen volleyball pads that weren't a solid white. The Jet Boy and Jet Girl elbow and knee pads, though, have white elastic and black padding, which matches with the color scheme but isn't something we found in our search. Never fear, though, because Larry cut up a black shirt that he hated and his mom sewed the pieces on, making nice looking black-and-white elbow and knee pads.
I got a pair of cheap slip-on shoes from the local Gabriel Bros. (what, those stores aren't all over the country?? At least I kept with the "Bros." theme) with the understanding that they'd be ruined. Some fabric glue and the extra gold fabric used to make the vests saw to that.
Making the jet packs was easily the most daunting part of building the costumes. As such, I put these off until last, and they were made, for the most part, just a few days before we left for San Diego. This meant that there was practically no room for error and if things didn't go exactly as planned, I had to live with a little imperfection. Overall, I'm happy with how these turned out, and I'm ecstatic that they made the trip from the Pittsburgh International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport and then by car to San Diego without incident. If I had to do it again, though, I would probably tweak a few things.
The animation from scene to scene varied a bit over the course of the episode. It's not something you notice when watching a show, but as I was comparing several different still shots from different points in the episode, the little inconsistencies stood out. Nowhere was the more obvious than in how the jetpacks were drawn at different times. In the end, I took what I thought was the best representation of the suit as a whole and went with it.
Backs and Straps
There's no pattern to work from for this particular rocket pack, so I had to make educated guesses as to how big the backing would be. Take a peek at the picture below:
It looks like the base goes from the middle of 24's shoulder blade to right above his waist. I used this as a general model and cut out a rectangle out of a cardboard box. I estimated for the tapered "butt panel" as well. I used duct tape on the edges (so it didn't look like, well, cardboard) and spray painted the heck out of them with metallic silver paint. I used tiny hinges to attach the larger piece to the smaller, a move that worked surprisingly well.
For the straps, I staked out a couple different Goodwill stores before finding a couple backpacks to cannibalize. I cut off the nylon straps and used screws (with flat ends) to attach them to the cardboard backing, using nuts to secure them from the other side. This also worked out surprisingly well.
Even though I briefly considered balloons and papier mache, it seems obvious now that I'd have to use pop bottles for the rockets. As you can see above, I went to the store and bought eight two-liter bottles of some of the worst soda that's ever been made, and also Cherikee Red, which is delicious. Other than the wonderful cherry soda, I chose based on price. I did try some of each before dumping out the contents, and I can safely say that I'll splurge and pay the extra 12 cents for more name-brand grape soda. It was offensive just how bad some of it was.
I owe some thanks to a website page dedicated to replicating the "Rocketeer" jet pack. Even if I didn't go with what they suggested all of the time, I often took some of the directions to heart.
After cleaning out the empty bottles, I cut the necks and bottoms off of all of them. On four (which would be the top of the rocket), I left the heck holes the size they were cut at. On four others (the bottoms), I cut into the "body" of the bottle to make a larger hole. I then spray painted each bottle with a primer and then the same metallic silver paint that I had been using on everything else. Once dry, I used duct tape to fix the bottles together, bottom to bottom.
For the light blue coverings on the rockets, I broke down several cardboard cereal boxes and spray painted them. I cut strips off and used those to wrap around the bottles, covering up the lines where the bottles were cut.
This is something I'd do differently if I had the chance to do it again. Instead of cardboard, even thin cardboard like what a cereal box is made out of, I'd use something less rigid, like...paper. I think it would have held up and there wouldn't have been visible seams.
Caps, Exhaust and Separators
For the light blue nipple looking things on the top of the rockets, I followed the instructions on the aforementioned Rocketeer how-to website, using a mug, scissors and tape. They turned out well and were easier to make than I thought.
The exhaust ports were Solo cups painted and turned upside down. We shoved 'em in the bottle holes and that was that. Simple.
In between the rockets, you'll see that there's a rectangle to separate them. Larry and I rolled up bubble wrap to use as a base, cut out pieces of cardboard to serve as support, and then duct taped the hell out of it until it looked right. After spray painting this, too, everything was ready to put together.
We tried a few different adhesives to stick the rockets to the base - hot glue, silicon glue, and tears. But in the end, good old fashioned duct tape was our best bet. When we had a minor crisis during the convention (Larry's rockets were coming unstuck), duct tape saved our butts again. Thank the stars for duct tape.
So there you have it...if you've got the inclination to make your own Jet Boy and Jet Girl costume, you've got some idea on how to do it. It was a lot of work and a lot of money to get everything to where it was, but in the end I think it was very much worth it. Larry and I had a great time, met some new people and took a whole heck of a lot of pictures. We saw a few other Venture Bros. costumes while we were walking around, but not too many. We dressed up on Saturday of the convention, while many others wore their costumes on Friday, which was the day the Venture Bros. creators hosted their panel.
We did run into this gal with a great Dr. Mrs. The Monarch costume near the Adult Swim booth, though. Yes, Larry, we were all excited about the skimpy nature of the costume.
One highlight of the day was showing up on the G4 Network for a few of their bumper shots. I never got to see it myself, but I did find some Facebook proof, which is almost just as good...
We also got to, completely at random, have lunch with Rotten Tomatoes EIC Matt Atchity. He interviewed us about our costumes (and our booth) for SiriusXM satellite radio! He was a great guy and it was lots of fun talking about Venture Bros. on the Comic-Con channel for a few minutes.
All right! Some of our pictures showed up online as well, including these:
This one showed up on the Venture Bros. Blog's Twitter feed.
This one was taken during Ben Edlund's panel. To sit down we had to take the jet packs off. Note that people were apparently throwing money in Larry's lap, not as uncommon an occurrence as you might think.
And of all the ones I found online, this one was absolutely my favorite. On Saturday morning, Larry and I went outside to hand out trading cards to some of the attendees. I love the palm trees in the background.
The Venture Bros. Cosplay Facebook page even gave us our own folder!
I was surprised at how many people at the convention recognized the costumes. Not that it wasn't what I was hoping for, of course, but I realize that we were wearing the costumes of obscure, one-episode characters (at least as far as the Jet Boy Jet Girl identities were concerned) from a show that doesn't have the recognition that other cartoons (Thundercats, He-Man, etc.) might enjoy. Even so, as we were setting up our booth on Saturday morning, someone ran up to us and started quoting the show. I had a number of people ask us which one of us wanted to be Jet Girl. And we took so many pictures. It was all very fun.
One of the big highlights, of course, was getting to meet the creators of the show, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. We ran into Publick at the New England Comics booth on Friday (he wrote a few issues of Tick: Karma Tornado before moving on to television work) and Larry let him know what we had planned for the next day. We were able to get a picture with both Publick and Doc Hammer after Ben Edlund's panel on Saturday.
It was nice of them to take the time and snap this photo with us. I hope that they enjoyed our little tribute to their show, which is one of the best on TV. I hope it stays on the air for ten more years and/or gets a big screen movie release.
Speaking of things that take place on screens, we broke out the costumes one more time for an upcoming episode of Franks and Beans. I'm totally spoiling it, but oh well. This post is all about Jet Boy and Jet Girl, so the video gods will forgive me.
I hope you enjoyed this winding, rambling description of the Jet Boy and Jet Girl costumes that Larry and I wore to Comic-Con. I've been wanting to get this online for weeks now, but I knew it'd have to be long (that lived up to the billing) and didn't always have a couple hours to spare. If you're a fellow Venture Bros. fan and are thinking of making a costume of your own, then my advice is to go for it. There's a lot of time, money and effort involved, but it can be fun and for us, that rang true.