14.Comics on the Internet

While I am finishing my undergraduate at the UO, I stumbled upon a class called comparative comics (the UO now offers a full major in comic book study). One of our studies in this class was to look at post-colonialism in the forms of comics (think Hergé’s TinTin and Joe Sacco’s Palestine). We also had to relate the comics we read with our own personal connection. Honestly, I don’t read many comics, but what I do read is mostly online.

tintin Sacco's Palestine

Comics are usually books consisting of colored or black and white panels, some forms of speech, and usually a caption here or there. Online, the game changes. Comics on the internet (aka webcomics) can range from your regular style of physical comics or it can be so much more. It also allows those who would shy away from buying comics in person for risk of looking uncool, to partake (though this notion has been changing recently). Take a look at Tiny Kitten Teeth, Doctor Cat, or VG Cats; both are widely different in terms of context and art, yet they offer a same sense of style in terms of structure.

Homestuck

My favorite comic in the entire world is an online comic written by Andrew Hussie entitled Homestuck. No I’m not going to tell you about Homestuck other than it is about a whole bunch of time shenanigans with aliens and post-apocalyptic earth children and you should give it a read. The end.

Homestuck panel

The webcomic itself still isn’t done, but it’s not what Homestuck is about that makes it fascinatingly brilliant, but how it is made and used. Homestuck is comprised of multiple pages (6239 pages so far) that usually consist of a one page picture or gif and some text describing either what is going on in the panel or speech of characters talking. Than there are pages that Hussie has incorporated with original music, flash videos, and short interactive games (don’t click if you don’t want to spoil the comic). One of the videos from the comic was actually hosted offsite on Newgrounds and when released, the amount of traffic from comic fans crashed the Newgrounds’ site. It also raised over 2 millions dollars on Kickstarter for a video game version of the comic.This webcomic implements everything that is original content-music and art-from still panels to interactive flash videos. It utilizes the internet and is the first to do it well (though arguably Argon Zark! was the first).

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Webcomics have been around since 1985, they’re not new. But with the way the internet is being shaped and re-thought about, the medium is slowly being reformed. Typical webcomics are your normal print comics but available online, but now artists are utilizing technology’s tools to re-imagine the comic online. This also means a broader and wider range of audience who can now read comics from all over the world. Furthermore the availability of comics now means more diversity of what is out there. From the young to the old, comics just got a little bit more trendy.

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13. My Little Ponies is for Little Girls

Spike
Well sorta.

Image My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic is an animated children’s television show, produced by Hasbro, about Ponies, and, well, magic and friendship (go figure). Hasbro picked Lauren Faust as the creative director and executive producer for the show. Faust looked to challenge the already existing My Little Pony line by creating more in-depth characters and adventurous settings, incorporating Hasbro’s suggestions for E/I (“educational and informational”) content and marketing of the toy line.

ImageThe show is innocent enough and mesmerizingly cute. Yes, I admit to watching the show, I really enjoy Faust’s animation style and some of the character designs and songs are very well done. I mostly enjoy the villains they create; Queen Chrysalis (pictured left) being my favorite so far. So call me a brony if you’d like but I honestly like what the show does, even if the older fan base has gotten a negative representation.

The show is about six female ponies showing their strong feminist capabilities of solving problems, going on adventures, being friends, and fighting evil. It’s a great show for the target market (my four year old cousin loved watching this with me) and for those who want to reminisce about a remake of a show they used to watch when they were younger. Furthermore it’s a show that combines cute animated ponies without a huge love interest (aka-completely innocent).

The show has created a large cult following and has created one of the largest global fanbase and cultural phenomenons. From it people have made fanart, created conventions solely on the show, daily blog posts, fan forums, and fan fiction (all of which range from the innocent to what the hell did I just look at). Furthermore the show has also taken pop culture references such as Dr.Who, fan suggestions (Derpy), and other cultural icons that have appeared in the show.
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Than I found about their spinoff series:

All I can say is WHY?
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Why would you do this Hasbro? Your fans want cute little pones going on adventures and singing songs; not teen drama! If you wanted to try and grasp an older audience, news flash, you already have. Plus the idea making humanized ponies (aka furries) and setting them in a high school setting, goes against everything the show has ever done or stood for. And the animation style? I thought this “trailer” was a fan-made video. I have honestly seen better art, well, from the fans.

MLP Equestria Girls PosterI expect people to have mixed feelings about this. Mostly I think this is Hasbro trying to bastardized the series to make profit. The only thing I know is I’m glad this isn’t going to be the main series focal point and that it is only a spin-off film (though rumors are told that it was originally a spin-off series). I’m not telling you to not see it, but I most likely will not be seeing it (let’s just go with I definitely won’t be paying for it).

5. Why My Job Doesn’t Suck

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No really, I do!

Work culture, it fluctuates from the serious to the casual, to the suit and tie to the answering calls in a cubicle. I work in the lucrative food service industry. Now, don’t go thinking flipping Burgers at Burger King or waitress/hostess at Olive Garden. No, I work for the University of Oregon as a “Food Service Worker 2;” no really that’s my job title. But what comes with an unglamorous job title, comes with some amazing perks and more creative freedom than you would probably believe.

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This is what I’m NOT doing.

The food service industry is generally looked down upon, a high-stress chef position, or seen as a high school job. Well, not only does my job create a tight knit community that acts like a family but, it also is a culture that thrives in it’s own social norms and rules. We have every walk of life that works there; from the old to the young, to the naturally weird or funny to the slightly anal retentive (everyone has one, you know who they are). But I find myself wondering at work sometimes, that many of the jokes that go on behind the “customer service with a smile” scene, if those jokes would be understood the same way (or if people would realize just how raunchy we are at work when we think others can’t here us)? I’m guessing no, because as an insider of this culture, I don’t need to explain how a simple task of flattening 50 chicken tenders gets turned into joke upon joke on what I’m really doing to the chicken (use your imagination, I know you can do it). But what comes with the culture also comes with, and very specifically in my department, a lot of creative freedom.
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I run the Deli case. I make sure that the case is stocked with everything from sandwiches to burritos to salads. But not only do I make sure everything is stocked, I help make the food (there is a special place in hell for me where I will forever be rolling breakfast burritos). I also have to make sure that we aren’t wasting a lot of food. So I have to get creative with leftover food; ‘mind you, we do compost or send food to Food For Lane County after four days. It’s wonderful when I get that, because I get complete creative freedom to do anything I want, and I have made some awesome menu items before (Chicken Buffalo Sandwiches, Pizza Bagels, Muffulettas, Seafood Salad-just a few to name). This is a HUGE reason why I am happy with my job.

The other reason why I seriously love my job is the tuition discount and free food. Sorry, I’m not trying to brag but man I probably wouldn’t have taken the job without these little perks; one perk that cuts my tuition down by 95% and the other saves me money on my groceries. My managers are also super awesome and work my schedule so I can keep taking classes. On top of all this, this is a real job, meaning I get paid vacation leave, sick pay, and union safety (it’s very hard to be fired). But what I can take mostly out of my job besides the innovative and awesome monetary perks, is the fact that I meet and work with some of the coolest people from all walks of life, all while gaining managerial skills. For me, that’s what I get the most out of my job.

So if you’re sitting here reading this thinking, man my job sucks, stop it. Look for the things that give you amazing opportunities for that step into something even better. Look to your coworkers for support and relief at your job. Look inside your own work culture to gain perspective and insight to who you are and where you really want to be and start working towards those goals. Or you could do what my coworkers do and try and make each other laugh, even if you’re having a bad day. Image

4.Corsets, Goggles, and Steam-OH MY!

I consider myself to be a partaker of the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) community. I like to tinker, I like to make things, and I especially like receiving gifts that have been hand made (hand-knitted Grandma’s sweaters, count me in!). But what I really consider myself to be a connoisseur of is the Steampunk Culture, or counterculture. But before I go into the aesthetics and beauty that is behind the culture, let me give you a little history (sorry, I’m going to nerd out here).ImageSteampunk is an aesthetic movement and arising subculture that arose from science fiction.The art was initially founded in fiction, but has since been crafted into art, music, graphic novels, film, and home décor. Steampunk as a genre descended from Cyberpunk, which questions scientific optimism prevalent in mainstream science fiction and instead offers a gritty, grimly realistic world in which corporations rule the earth, empowered by the development of communications technology. Steampunk authors realized the same sorts of values could be used to re-imagine the Victorian era, with the empire serving a similar role as corporations” (Steampunkmagazine). Steampunk has been around since the 1980’s with the regularly recognized author, Paul Di Filippo, who coined the term in his short stories. Since then and roughly starting around 2006-07, steampunk has “become an art and craft movement as well as a subculture with its own fashion and music” (Steampunkmagazine).
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So, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering, “Well, this sounds like an art movement more than a culture.” True! Steampunk culture is mostly fixated around aesthetics and beautification to a Victorian style. But, it is a subculture. Many believe it to be a way of life and a way of looking at the world (an anti-mass produced consumerist outlook).
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Steampunk takes the mass produced and makes it unique. It’s a DIY culture in a very unique Victorian meets technology grit. Furthermore, steampunk enthusiasts make these things for the sake of their own self-identification. AND, they post how they make their things on blogs and websites for others to try their hand at. Mostly this culture doesn’t sell their stuff. Unless your name is Insect Lab and you make such unique and cool stuff that it doesn’t matter. I mean who wouldn’t want to own a modded-out beetle fitted with clock gears?Image

Steampunk is more than a mere art movement, it’s a lifestyle, and for many a giant middle finger to the status-quo.Similar to punk’s notion of anti-conformity, steampunk stresses the importance of remaining an individual in a capitalized and mass-marketed society. Steampunk says that as culture grows, this is especially directed towards the U.S., people have a sense of lost values in community, identity, and strength and value in the human condition. Most people buy products which are manufactured in foreign countries and have been processed to the extent that it no longer serves being a unique item, but a mass production of the mainstream society. Steampunk address this in a counterculture movement which destroys the modern day technology to become a vintage style, turn of the nineteenth century artifact that still functions the same as modern technology.
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In this sense modern society can learn from this subculture as it offers solutions and possibilities within frameworks that inspire and support movement towards positivity and progress.

So there you have it in a nut shell. Steampunk, it’s a subculture, an outlook on life, a kick-ass DIY art-form, and creative hobby.

3. Oh PAX

Something very exciting happened to me on Wednesday…I got tickets to PAX Prime (cue music).

Pax logo
PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo. Similar to your anime-cons and comic-cons, it is a convention that has been held every year since 2004. From panels to concerts to exhibits, PAX runs a 4 day course in Seattle, WA. But what really makes PAX neat is the amount of things there are to do and that it is a convention solely focusing on gaming. This includes handheld consoles, smart phones, computers, and consoles that range from the Wii U to the PS3. It is also a convention to meet artists, designers, and developers; to partake in freeplay and demos of up coming games. They also feature tabletop games and computer hardware and software. You could sit down and listen to panels, go meet-and-greet with some game developers, play a few rounds of “Munchkin,” compete in a tourney of video game prowess, or sit down and freeplay on PCs until 2 in the morning.pax4

So what’s the big deal? I mean, it’s a convention for gaming just like any other expo convention.Pax Prime1
But wait! PAX Prime and PAX East are the two largest gaming events in North America. AND considering when ticket sales went live via Twitter, within 20 minutes of them opening the floodgates, all 4-day passes sold out. Within 6 hours of releasing ticket sales, all single-day passes had sold out. CRAZY! Of course most of these tickets are now being resold for ridiculous amounts of money. I was lucky enough to snag day passes for Friday and Sunday.

So to put it lightly-I’M SO EXCITED! They haven’t put up any information on who is going to be there or what exhibits will be shown. Actually, they’re still taking submissions for panels and speakers. But what I do know is I will be walking up and down that exhibit hall all day, soaking in the culture, games, and awesome costumes that many have worked on for months-and it’s only 139 days away.

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