Costumes and makeup have been big in Star Trek since the beginning – how else to get all those alien and futuristic looks pre-CGI? Fans chime in, having a glorious time with cosplay (costume play). STLV50 teamed up this year with cosmetic giant, MAC Cosmetics, both at the Star Trek Beyond premiere at the San Diego Comic Con and at the 50th Anniversary celebration at Star Trek Las Vegas. Their exhibit re-booted the whole vendor area with an Enterprise feel.
Look that this huge display! You’re only seeing a third of it here – the engineering section, complete with “warp core” – and with “Seven of Nine”, an actor wearing the original hideously uncomfortable costume. She posed with us fans and surprised us with scenes from Star Trek Next Generation. She’s a good actress! Stayed in character the whole time. When I posed with her, I asked if the suit was hotter than H…. Seven replied, “It is very efficient” in those unmistakable Seven tones.
Engineering was one of the make-over sections, with artists giving free make-overs to feature the new Star Trek theme line. Yeah, I know. The blue light is hideous for doing make up. But Nicole did a great job on me. But before I tell about that, look at the rest of their “ship”!
Another third was like the bridge of the Enterprise, complete with Data and Deanna, actors made up with MAC cosmetics who posed with fans and periodically enacted scenes from STNG. In the main hall – The Leonard Nimoy Theater – MAC demo’d make up for their new looks, based on Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. They also showed the layering that created Data’s and Gaila’s skin, how it followed the contour of the muscles with shadows and highlights. Let’s face it, Star Trek fans aren’t generally looking for personal make up tips, but wiggle cosplay tips under their noses and they’ll sit up and listen!
The third section was the transporter. You could pose on the transporter pad for photos. And pick up any makeup you bought.
Of course I had to try their transporter effect myself! Cool, eh?
I’m not so much into cosplay myself, but I’m vain as a peacock. I wanted to see what MAC’s new Star Trek line of cosmetics would look like on me. The make over’s were free – and the lines weren’t overwhelming so I bellied up.
It was fun! Being in the Star Trek world for a few days I threw restraint to the winds, telling artist Nicole to “go for it!” I’m no spring chicken so I held my breath. The starting me is here on the left – and behold! Nicole created magic! Day 2, she went for a dramatic look. Wow, those eyes! Great fun! Thanks, Nicole!
The colors are inspired by Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. By the end of the convention they had sold almost everything they brought. Sorry folks, these won’t be available to the public until fall 2016.
Speaking of make-up – but totally unrelated to STLV – I found this interesting tidbit about the history of Spock’s hair and brows: http://www.vogue.com/13461690/star-trek-beyond-spock-hair-eyebrows-history/
Live Long and Prosper!
There seems to be some common spirit that links the people attending the Star Trek 50th anniversary convention being held this week in Las Vegas, but I couldn’t pit my finger on it. Whoopi Goldberg did, here at her very first Star Trek convention. Interviewer Scott Mantz asked her , “Why Star Trek? Why are we still here 50 years later?” Whoopi’s answer -“The thing that Star Trek never let go of was hope” – points to Roddenberry’s dream that we could solve our problems eventually and build a society in which all races would participate as equals, with enough resources for all.
The feeling here is exuberant. I’ve meet people who have come to STLV since the beginning and some here for the first time, drawn by the 50th anniversary. Many are from the US, but I also met a Brit, an actor from France, a scientist from Spain. Costumes abound – “cosplay”- such as a delightful group in starfleet uniforms who get together to play out different scenarios.
The look of this convention is gorgeous! The ones I went to in 2009 & 2010 felt a little…well, dusty, worn. In contrast the entire wing of this convention is brightly decorated & full of interactive photo ops. You can pose with a pile of Tribble, in a Borg regeneration station, coming through The Guardian of Forever, and more.
The exhibit area is lit up with a huge display by MAC – engineering bay, transporter room, bridge – where Make-up artists do makeovers using the brand new Star Trek inspired products. Plus there are scenes and photo ops with actors representing major Trek characters and a neat transporter effect. (see http://www.startrekmagic.com/2016/08/10/make-up/)
Whoopi had wonderful stories about her experiences – what a wise & delightful person! I’m very glad I came. This is a treasure box experience I will long hold in my heart.
How did comics get from here to there?
Sure, I read comics as a kid. And while munching pizza in college. A few since. The ones based on the new Star Trek movies got me re-dedicated. I could get my Star Trek “fix” between movies, especially my Spock fix. Minor characters in the Star Trek 2009 movie, “Cupcake” and Keenser, had their own issues, giving them more depth. That was cool. But even more cool was that the next movie had “easter eggs” from stories in the comics!! The screen writers and comic writers apparently talked to each other. Maybe not just Star Trek folks – these days a whole lot of the movies and tv shows are based on comics, way beyond Superman and Batman. What’s that all about?
I asked Bram Meehan, a graphic designer, comic author and aficionado who teaches classes on the visual language of comics. Bram laughed, “The producers and writers themselves grew up on comics. Loving comics. Now they’ve gotten into the positions that they can get funding for what they love.” Aha. That might also explain why everybody and his brother signs up for even small parts in movies like the Avengers. Granted, it’s a job. But they seem to be having so much fun!
Poking around Big Adventure Comics, my local comic store, showed me that the genre has changed. When I admitted my ignorance of the visual and story changes, they kindly took me in hand and directed me to Alan Moore’s Watchmen. OMG! I see why they now call them “graphic novels”. Complex plots and brilliantly complex art! A lot more blood, yes. Also symbols like that little smiley face that clued linkages. Shifting points of view. Multiple subplots & time settings intermingled, but I could follow because each had their own graphic style. Graphics in the comics of my youth pretty much showed people doing static stuff while saying words. Here the graphics carried the story even more than the words. Some such as Moore’s Promethea illustrated sophisticated metaphysical concepts. Plus there are now “trades”, collections of related issues in a single volume – a real book, ideal for people like me who get impatient at the cliffhanger serialization of individual issues.
I asked Bram: How did all this happen? The sophistication, and also the proliferation of comic inspired movies & shows. Bram answered that not only have comic lovers moved into positions of influence but also the technology became available to realize their visions. As I mentioned, Bram teaches the visual language of comics. He got me looking at how comics have developed over the years.
Those in my long ago youth were not very different from the first full page comic in the early 1900’s.
I read Donald Duck, but it was Superman and Batman who had my heart. The superheroes I grew up with developed from Superman’s first appearance in the 1930’s and became their own genre. Even these days, many people associate comics with superheroes.
I had crushes on The Challengers of the Unknown. Bram pointed out that while the Challengers were a team of four, there were none of the interpersonal dynamics that came later with teams like The Fantastic Four.
The hunger for superheroes comics prompted Jack Kirby, co-creator of my beloved Challengers, to create more heroes, from Captain America (1940s) to all the guys and gals we now see as The Avengers, appearing on your movie and TV screens! In his early years, Kirby also developed romance comics, which in the 1950’s seriously warped most of my dating life. Kirby and Stan Lee co-created many of the Marvel comics, each bringing their own skills. Stan Lee boosted sales by giving superheroes issues and challenges. Aha! That must have been when I switched my affections to Spiderman and Daredevil! Kirby’s visual motifs influenced young artists to produce to the Marvel style and more efficiently meet the horrendous deadlines. Writers and artists had to produce 22 pages every month/per issues, some working on multiple issues. Any conventions that helped them be more efficient were readily adopted! Bram pointed out that Kirby moved comics to more abstract visuals, where “the nature of the art reflected the excitement of the story”. That set the bar for the whole superhero genre.
The 50’s, when I was cuddling up to superheroes, also saw the birth of Mad, which later became a guilty pleasure for many of my college mates. Gaines started a trend in letting his creative team develop their own styles. And he credited them for it.
Creative rights are still a big issue for comic creators.
Censors ruled the 50’s – which of course led to an underground movement in comics as well as everything else.
Comics had other subjects as well. Will Eisner’s Joe Dope was used as a training tool in the military. Eisner wrote training comics into the 70’s and also expanded to short story cycles about Jewish characters in a tenement in New York City, stories about their struggles and disillusionment. The comics with these self-contained stories started being known as “graphic novels”.
The 1980’s were a hotbed of innovation for comics. Maus won Art Speigelman a Pulitizer Prize. It was political commentary based on his father’s experience as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. People were depicted as animals. (Hmm, remember Orwell’s Animal Farm?)
Bram said Speigelman “.. raised the profile of comics with a book that really rattled the public perception of what comics are. ”
Bram continued, “The comics creators that eventually formed Image Comics in the ’90s, despite their business problems, started the rise of the value of the creator (in their case, generally the artist) in the mainstream. Fans formed around the characters, but now also around the people that made them.” I’m not familiar with Image Comics, so I went to Wikipedia:
” In the early 1990s, several freelance illustrators doing popular work for Marvel Comics grew frustrated …that the artwork and new characters they created were being merchandised heavily, with the artists receiving only standard page rates for their work and modest royalties on sales of the comics... In December 1991, a group of these illustrators approached Marvel president Terry Stewart and demanded that the company give them ownership and creative control over their work. … Marvel did not meet their demands.
“In response, eight creators announced the founding of Image Comics….This development was nicknamed the “X-odus”, because several of the creators involved …were famous for their work on the X-Men franchise. Marvel’s stock fell $3.25/share when the news became public.” According to Image Comics, “The majority of the comics and graphic novels published by Image are creator-owned.”
Marvel and DC still dominate monthly comics, but Bram points out that “.. a revolution in the printing and production technologies … led to more powerful tools being put in the hands of more content creators, with more cost-effective ways of distribution to smaller audiences, both print and digital.” Going to some Comic Cons and walking down crowded aisles in the comics section certainly showed me the truth of that!
My favorite comic con find has been Mouse Guard. The glorious images grabbed me as I wandered past. No surprise that it won an Eisner Award! Creator David Petersen was sitting there with a stack of books, under the banner for Archaia Entertainment. Archaia started as a small independent publisher which has since merged with another publisher. I’ve since found that it’s published several graphic novels I follow: Lucid and Mr. Murder is Dead.
Drawing Words & Writing
Some of the comics I saw puzzled me. I couldn’t read them! Words & images swirled all over the page in a baffling manner. Heavens, am I that out of sync? Bram grinned. Apparently I’m not alone. The proliferation of independent producers means that some don’t know what’s needed to guide the reader through the story. There are rules. Not all comic creators know them. Bram sent me to an article by Eddie Campbell in The Comics Journal: http://www.tcj.com/campbells-rules-of-comprehension/. Campbell’s rules address context, completeness, sequence and timing. Ahhh, the comics that baffled me violated those rules!
Bram recommends that those interested in creating a comic dive in. That’s what he and his wife Monica did. When they started, they realized that they may not have specific training in making comics, but knew how to complete a visual project. “With the changes in technology and our training in it, it wasn’t necessary to follow the traditional method of making comics (the writer/penciler/inker/
Whew! This is a whole complex area of art! If you want to know more, take one of Bram’s classes: http://www.brammeehan.com/
Oh my! I’ve been fascinated by virtual reality since seeing demos in the early days. It was crude. Very crude. Not enough computer space for any but the most basic block images. I had to wear a heavy helmet and stand in one spot. But still. I could fly!!
Now a step closer to a real Star Trek holodeck is happening! Still crude by Next Generation standards, but a step that would have been unbelievable a few years ago!
“The closest thing to Star Trek’s ‘Holodeck’ – a large scale tracking lab with VR headsets used to develop everything from redirected walking to quadcopter control algorithms.”
I’m not even sure what all those words mean, but check it out! Thanks to Sara for alerting me to this YouTube vid: http://youtu.be/7ZPs7knvs7M
UPDATE: At SDCC2014, I found out there really was a man inside of the 10 foot high robot! I hadn’t though so, but at a demo of another big active model, I met Zennie Abraham, who had watched the robot setup last year. Zennie is a prolific blogger and did a great interview with the man behind the robot. It shows how the man & machine come together: http://youtu.be/ScNIWqiOv5Q
Check out Zennie’s blog at http://www.zennie62blog.com.
I’m off to Comic-Con! I have tickets for only 2 days but just seeing what is going on outside the convention center is worth the trip. Here’s clip of something I wandered into last year – a “rehearsal” of a 10 foot high robot!!
During the demo, they unhooked the robot from its support, making sure it could balance itself. Then they tested how well it walked. What fascinated me about the robot was how sophisticated its balance was. It didn’t stand like a statue; it stood like a human, with all the little motions and adjustments we do automatically.
You can see a little of that here: Robot
Once they’d tested the basic movements, they rehearsed a brief scene – an interaction with a person. The robot’s motion and voice were controlled remotely. If you’re a total robot geek like me, you can see all 16 minutes here: http://youtu.be/LAl5tj0lP84
I have to admit I kept thinking of all the movies in which a robot being tested started attacking the crowd. In this case, me!
If you’re looking at this blog, you probably have heard of the San Diego Comic Con. And maybe about Nerd HQ – a happening parallel to SDCC that has panels & demos & parties galore! Nerd is a fun alternative for those without an SDCC ticket for a day or for those seeking refuge from the convention hall lines. Many stars show up at Nerd panels, which are reasonably sized events, the ~$20 ticket proceeds going to a charity.
Nerd HQ however costs money. Money which founder Zach Levy has been fronting. But he needs help. He put together an Indiegogo campaign asking for support – and got enough that there will be a Nerd HQ at SDCC2014! Here’s the link to find out more: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-want-my-nerd-hq-2014/x/641260
I was impressed with Nerd at SDCC 2013 – lots of gaming computers, neat robots & virtual reality demos – and a darn good party! I’m also fascinated to see how crowd funding is growing in popularity and in the amount of $ it can raise. Look at the Kickstarter-funded movie “Laura Mars” which quickly reached its goal and went on to raise over $5 million!
Personally I prefer to back Kickstarter projects – if the organizers can’t get it together enough to reach their goal, I get my money back. Producers and directors I’ve talked to prefer Indiegogo – they don’t have to reach the goal in order to get whatever dollars are contributed.
If you or anyone you know is considering a crowd-funding effort, I strongly recommend reading The Secrets of Crowdfunding by Sean Akers. It is packed full of useful information about what to consider when seeking funding – and some very good project management tips. Sound weighty? Delightfully it is an easy book to read – an hour, maybe? – a plus in the entertainment world where many confess to low attention spans! You can find this on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00AF3LBDC