Question Cosplay

2014 - The Year in Review

Grad school sucks up all my free time leaving little time to tinker with this blog and little time to devote to my geeky hobbies.

That being said, there were some pretty good comics out this year. Some of these titles started in 2014 and I just tripped across them this year. My top 10 favorite comics this year are (in no particular order):

1. A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun (Image)
2. Lumberjanes (Boom!)
3. The Death Defying Doctor Mirage (Valiant)
4. Day Men (Boom!)
5. Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
6. Stumptown (Oni Press)
7. Sensational Wonder Woman (DC)
8. The Movement (DC)
9. Rat Queens (Image)
10. Copperhead (Image)

As I look over the list, I notice that I've picked up more titles from Image than I have from DC or Marvel. That's partly because I've amended my purchasing to be only comics that I feel need to show monthly sales. Established comics I pick up in trades (Chew, Lazarus, Ms. Marvel, Batwoman, I can't remember what else...).

Year's end seems to be about lists, so here's another list, movies I saw in the theatre in 2014:

Monuments Men, The
Thief of Bagdad, The (1924)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Metropolis (1927)
M (1931)
Only Lovers Left Alive
Captain America: the Winter Soldier
Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla (2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Edge of Tomorrow
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
How to Train Your Dragon Part 2
Purple Rain
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Box Trolls
The Book of Life
Mockingjay Part 1
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Other things in 2014 - Renee Montoya made it to the small screen in Gotham. Unfortunately her character was squandered on crappy storylines involving a love triangle between Gordon and his fiancee Barbara. Hopefully they'll give her something more to do in the second season. Admittedly I quit watching about halfway through: it was just too uneven and Gordon's character is just to cardboard.

Batwoman finally got cancelled. It's about time. I had high hopes with Andreyko taking over the title, but his run really left me cold. I guess I just don't like the character unless Rucka is writing her. Still, she did raise LGBT visibility in comics and losing a monthly title makes the comicsverse a little less diverse.

Things to look forward to: Renee Montoya as the Question written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Cully Hamner in a two-issue event as part of "Convergence." Also getting titles in Convergence (that I am excited for) are: Stephanie Brown as Batgirl with Cass Cain as the Black Bat, and Oracle (Barbara Gordon) and Nightwing.

That's my geeky year in review. And my geeky resolution (which seems to be the same every year) is to try to blog at least twice a month. I think I can manage that. Substantial post -- not lists. We'll see how that goes.
Question Cosplay

February in the Sanctum Sanctorum (aka Guest Room)

I'm going to try to post more often while dealing with work, grad school and life.

One of the on-going projects here at the house was the re-painting and general fixing up of the guest room, which also functions as my geek den, aka my "Sanctum Sanctorum". While I wrote papers and worked a lot of overtime, Booboo spackeled and painted the walls and trim. We ditched the 14-year old futon (the relatives should be grateful for this) and purchased a sleeper sofa from IKEA. We also moved my hobby desk into the room so that I can do my action figure customizing near my reference materials (comics). I installed the Contempo picture rail system from AS Hanging Display Systems to provide more flexibility for displaying artwork and make it easier to rotate pieces. I also cataloged all my comic book pages, sketches, movie posters, and prints and purchased a bunch of frames.

Unfortunately, the whole room is still not complete as I'm waiting on new globes for the Medusa lamp and am also waiting for cabinets to hold the comic books to be finished.

With the room 90-percent complete, I couldn't wait to set up my first display. In our of International Women's Day - cabinet one features all of my Wonder Woman action figures and statues and the art displayed are pages from Wonder Woman comic books and Wonder Woman sketches. Cabinet number two contains all my Dark Horse-title related statues and figures in honor of Greg Rucka's new title at Dark Horse, "Veil," and the top shelf contains my two favorite designer/urban vinyl pieces.


1 shelf

Top shelf: Bracers from Modines; Wonder Woman toys for younger kids

2 shelf

1st shelf: Alternate Wonder Women from within and outside the DC Universe

3 shelf

2nd shelf: Various Wonder Woman figures

4 shelf

3rd shelf: Left side - villains; Right side - Allies (mostly Wonder Girl)

5 shelf

4th shelf: The SBFFs! Super Best Friends Forever, one of whom is Wonder Girl

6 shelf

Bottom shelf: Wonder Woman trades

On the walls:

WW art 1

Sketch by Ernest Jockson

WW art 2

Top left: Adam Hughes sketch
Bottom left: Paige Braddock sketch
Right: Anthony Rizzo sketch

WW pages

Left: J.G. Jones page from the Hiketeia by Greg Rucka
Right: a page from Rucka's run on Wonder Woman

I didn't take photos of the Dark Horse display. But here are a few shots of the room:

Room 1

Room 2

Room 3

Room 4

That's all for now. Realistically I probably won't post anything new until April, which will be Montoya Month (that's Renee Montoya, not Inigo Montoya) at the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Question Cosplay

Renee Montoy Cosplay

Because I'm not sure I posted these....the Question outfit I wore to Geek Girl Con in Seattle in October 2013.



The next version of the mask is going to be made of Worbla instead of claypaper. Unfortunately I won't get a chance to work on it until the semester ends in early May.

I've really let this journal lapse since I started to get better at regular posting. I've been watching a lot of silent films lately so the next series of posts is likely to be something along the vein of Kage Baker's book Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen.
the question

What I miss the most about the DCU

I've been thinking about my comic book reading habits over the years. I started out as a Marvel girl (heh!) just because Marvel were the first comics I ever read. At some point in the early 1980s, I discovered the X-Men and got hooked. Soon after followed the New Teen Titans even though it was a DC comic and then Swamp Thing.

By 1985 there was a flowering of independent companies, Marvel launched Epic magazine (an edgier anthology aimed at older readers), and I found Matt Wagner's Grendel, Elfquest (the Donning trades), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nexus, and the Badger.

When I got to college, I took a four-year hiatus from reading comics due to lack of funds, but through Modine, I discovered Jon Sable, Freelance, the Watchmen, and other comics.

After college was the early 1990s. The X-Men had gotten craptacular, so I turned to DC's Vertigo imprint and then to comics like Madman, Bone, and Strangers in Paradise.

It wasn't until sometime around 1999 that I turned back to DC and stayed until the New 52 wiped away my beloved DC Universe.

Here are the top ten things I miss about the DCU:

1. Renee Montoya, aka the Question (II)
2. Barbara Gordon as Oracle, yes, in the chair - it's an important part of who she had become
3. The Secret Six
4. Wonder Woman – her origin; the non-male-baby-killing Amazons; and that she had never dated Superman
5. Amanda Waller in ALL her glory, not the sexed up Waller of the New 52
6. Cassandra Cain
7. Stephanie Brown as Batgirl
8. Relationships like Lois and Clark and Sue and Ralph (pre-all the crappy crises crossovers)
9. Kate Spencer, aka Manhunter (II)
10. Greg Rucka writing strong women at DC
the question

Finished Question Mask v 2.0

Picking up where the previous entry left off -- when last we left the mask it had been painted and wire-screen had been added over the eyes and nose. I decided this was too obvious and covered over the eyes and nose with more paperclay. When the paperclay dried, I drilled holes so I can see and breathe while wearing the mask.

I filled the low areas on the mask (which were obvious in the light) with paperclay and sanded off the entire two coats of paint.


Forgot to mention: I peeled off most of the plaster wrap from the interior of the mask. The loss of the plaster wrap and the aggressive sanding revealed thin spots in the paperclay, which I reinforced with hot glue on the inside of the mask.

Then I painted the mask with three coats of "flesh" colored paint and finished it off with a top coat of clear, flat paint.

I hot glued 20 gauge aluminum wire to the inside of the mask along the brow with enough left to bend around my ears like the frame on a pair of glasses. And voila:

2nd shot

After this photo, I glued another wire into the mask down between my bottom lip and chin so that the bottom of the mask will sit closer to my face. The installation of the second wire revealed another weak spot that required strengthening. At some point I need to go back and fill over the cracks, but they're not really noticeable from a distance.

I'm going to take this out for a spin at Geek Girl Con in November. Hopefully the mask is sturdy enough to travel (carry on, of course). I think paperclay is a delicate medium for a mask and the wear and tear will necessitate a version 3.0.

Overall, I am pleased, but I think the eye holes may be too obvious and I'd like the nose to be smaller and more even, but those are problems to be solved in version 3.0. Hmm...maybe painting the area of the eyes on the inside will help hide things....gotta go try that.
the question

Making a Question Mask - second attempt

I'm still trying to make a faceless mask to do Question cosplay at the two conventions I attend every year. I do not want to go the pantyhose-over-the-face route. There's nothing wrong with that: I just want to do something else.

My first attempt was gluing latex over an off the shelf blank mask (posted elsewhere in this journal). The difficulties inherent in that were: no air and no way to see out of the mask.

For attempt number two I put plaster wrap on my face and then skimmed it with paperclay. The results are better than my first attempt, but still not what I want. Here's the process for creating a mask with plaster wrap and paperclay:

I poked a hole in a piece of plastic wrap and centered the hole over my nostrils, wrapped the rest around my head and had a friend put the plaster wrap on my face. She added two layers to create a hard shell. I let it dry for 30 minutes before removing it. Two layers is took thick.

Plaster face - Copy

I decided to try applying a single layer of plaster wrap myself. You can see the difference between two layers of wrap (left) and single layer of wrap (right).

First and second - Copy

Next I skimmed the single layer of plaster wrap with paperclay. One layer of plaster wrap is too thin and the mask began to collapse under the additional weight of the paperclay. I had to use the first mask to support the second while I applied the paperclay.

After letting the paperclay dry for nearly an entire day, I sanded it. Filled in cracks with more paperclay. Let it dry and sanded it again. Then I added pieces of window screen behind the eyes and nose. I painted the whole thing including the screen.

Painted - Copy

And the screen is too obvious at the eyes. I need something that blends better with the mask. Maybe fill the eyes with paper clay and drill holes in it? I don't know. I've got about a month to work out the kinks before Geek Girl Con.
the question

Muppet Show Peeps

This year's peep diorama contest at work was a bit later than usual due spring break and the Easter holiday. Our submission for this year: Muppet Show Peeps. About 7 co-workers and I spent a couple lunch hours working on decorating the peeps. I spent a weekend putting together the stage. I don't know how other groups make their dioramas, but ours are truly a collaborative effort with everyone helping out and making suggestions for how to improve things.

The stage is a single cardboard box; the balconies are the bottom halves of two cardboard creamer boxes; the fringe is all from the fabric store; the curtains are from a t-shirt (thanks Minx!); and the skirting around the stage is from a sheet of that foam stuff. Beeker and Honeydew are on a disposable cup covered with extra t-shirt; the band are on half a paper plate, skirted with foam stuff; the logo is glued onto cardboard and suspended by a wire; the background is spray painted posterboard with stars glued to it; Animal's drum kit are prescription bottles, rubber bands, and the bottle cap from a milk container. In all, a pretty cheap set up.

The peeps were about half left over from previous years and half new. All the peep trimmings - pipestem cleaners (which is odd, because they are still manufactured, but no longer used for their original purpose); googley eyes; string; puff balls, etc. are all largely left over from previous years with only minimal new purchases. Honeydew's test tube and flask are from a plastic drink stirrer. The guitars are from a sticker set.

And viola:

1 The Stage 2 whole group

The whole schebang (left); just the cast (right)

3 stage left 3a Kermit

stage left close-up; Kermit

4 stage right 5 Dr Teeth

stage right close-up (left, of course); Dr. Teeth (right)

6 Floyd 7 Fozzie

Floyd (left); Fozzie (bear right, get it?)

8 Gonzo 9 Honeydew and Beeker

Gonzo (left); Dr. Bunsen Honeydew & Beeker (right)

91 Janice and Animal 92 Janice

Janice & Animal (left); just Janice (right)

93 Miss Piggy 94 Rolf

Miss Piggy (left); Rolf (right)

95 Scooter 96 Statler_Waldorf

Scooter (left); Statler & Waldorf (right)

97 Zoot

last, but not least, Zoot
the question

Renee Appearing as the Question in "New Batman Trading Card Series Now Available"

This is me getting all tricky and “reblogging” (i.e. linking) to the article on the super cool DC Women Kicking Ass Tumblr page about the new Batman: the Legend trading card series. The series features several sketch cards by different artists. I’m pleased to see a smattering of Rene Montoya as the Question sketches and a ton of Batwoman sketches.

Still, it’s a bit disappointing to see Renee featured again and again (trading cards, Heroclix sets, Eaglemoss products) but not to appear in the New 52 except in one photograph.

Here’s the link to the article, which contains pictures of several of the Renee and Kate cards:
the question

Keeping the Yuletide Gay: New Heroclix and Eaglemoss Batman Chess Pieces

It's a good holiday season for LBGT folks this year: several lesbian/bi characters were made into Heroclix and two lesbians appear in the Eaglemoss Batman Chess Set.

Though Renee has yet to make an appearance in DC's New 52 (other than as a photograph in Batwoman), the new Heroclix set, Streets of Gotham, features two Renee 'clix: one as a detective in the GCPD and one as the Question (a cross between her look in 52 and Pipeline). The Streets set features a number of female heroes, which is not surprising given that despite being a "boy's club," the Bat Universe has a lot of women among it's heroes and villains -- or rather it did, pre-New 52. Among the 'clix are several lesbian/bi characters: 2 versions of Renee, a new Batwoman clix, Thunder (old DCU), and Starling (New 52). Unfortunately, I don't have a Question clix yet as they're rare, so I've included a photo of the miniature from the Heroclix site.

New Heroclix


The new Batwoman figure is probably the best of the bunch: she's in a very dynamic pose, poised atop a grotesque. By comparison, the paint job on Renee makes her look like she's got a receding hairline. Oh well. The Question figure looks pretty good even though it's a mod of the Renee figure. Thunder and Starling both look good, especially the detail on Starling's tattoos.

Renee and Kate are also both figures in the new Eaglemoss Batman chess set. The 32 piece set features Batman and his allies as the white pieces and the Joker and rogue's gallery as the black pieces. Nearly 1/3 of the set are women -- a much higher percentage than among Mattel's DCU and JLU action figure lines. The Question is a white pawn and drops in late April 2013. I've not been able to find a photo of the figure yet, unfortunately. Batwoman is a white rook and drops in early February 2013. Here's a photo from the Eaglemoss site of the Batwoman piece:

Batwoman Chess Piece

Last but not least, the comic news website Comic Book Resources polled their readers as to which characters they'd most like to see appear in the New 52 in 2013. Renee made the list, tied at #4 with Donna Troy. Here's the link to the poll:

Not only did Renee make the top ten list, she made it into the the top 5. Here's hoping that she does appear in more than just a photograph in 2013.
Question Cosplay

The New 52: the First Year

I’ll admit that I was more than skeptical when DC rolled out their new 52. I may even have been so bold as to say “the only thing I’m buying is Batwoman.” That was a lie. I bought Wonder Woman for awhile and it was somewhat enjoyable until her origin was reworked such that she’s just another bastard child of Zeus. That’s when I quit. And now she’s Superman’s love interest? Yeesh. I also bought the first issue of Demon Knights and a few issues of Justice League Dark.

A year later and I’m still getting Batwoman because I want to support the character. The writing overall is fine although I find the pacing of the story glacial and the need to work in Chase and the DEO into Batwoman’s story seems superfluous, the art (of course) is gorgeous. And I’m disappointed with Amy Reeder’s departure. Everyone was very professional about it and tight-lipped, but I think it’s a definite loss to the book. So, yeah, the slow pacing of the Medusa storyline, tiresome DEO sub-plot, and losing Reeder aren’t quite enough to get me to stop, but I’m getting close to that point.

I picked up the first volume of Demon Knights and I like it. It’s a fun book. I’ve become a big Paul Cornell fan. He writes strong women well. I loved his run on Action Comics, featuring Lex Luthor in a year-long run. It was fantastic. I loved the Secret Six’s appearance in Action Comics just because he and Gail Simone thought it would be fun. It was. He also wrote Captain Britain and MI13, which was also a fun comic. So on the strength of Cornell’s writing I picked up Demon Knights.

Demon Knights follows themes and storylines from Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory and from Wagner’s Madame Xanadu series and probably other series as well that I am not as familiar with. Volume One of the series follows Madame Xanadu, Jason Blood/the Demon Etrigan, Sir Ystin (the Shining Knight), Vandal Savage, Al Jabr, The Horsewoman, and Exoristos and their fight to save a small village and stop the Horde, let by Mordred and his lover (whose name I don’t think has been mentioned yet), from reaching Sarum Alba (presumably the area around Stonehenge?). Cornell has said the book is a nod to the movie The Magnificent Seven. I love the mix of characters: three women, one transgendered individual (Sir Ystin), a caveman, a man of Middle Eastern descent, and a white guy/demon. Not your typical mix of characters, but one that appeals to both the DC core audience (males, 18-35) and the non-core audience alike. Very subversive, Mr. Cornell. Well done. This New 52 comic is a keeper for me, although due to austerity measures, I’ll only be picking up the trades.

I will likely pick up the first volume of the Justice League Dark trades in October. I liked the story and the art, but due to starting graduate school, I had to stop buying books monthly and switch to trades. For me the jury’s still out on this one. I’ll better be able to evaluate it after reading volume one. Although the writer changed as of issue #8 (the first issue of what will be volume two), so I might be suckered into another volume.

Same deal with Birds of Prey as with JL Dark. I’ll get the first trade and go from there. I’m willing to give the book a shot mainly because it’s got a bisexual character in it (Starling). Like JL Dark, I’ll check out the first trade (out in this month) and go (or not) from there.

Despite the bait and switch of Helena Bertinelli with the Earth 2 Huntress, I’m going to pick up the first volume of World’s Finest. I read a couple issues of this and enjoyed Levitz’ handling of the friendship/interaction between the Earth 2 Huntress and Power Girl.

Other than those five titles (Batwoman, Demon Knights, Justice League Dark, Birds of Prey, and World’s Finest), I’ve got no use for DC’s New 52 for these reasons:

• The hypersexualization of characters like Starfire and Catwoman;
• The loss of characters like Renee Montoya, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Helena Bertinelli from the Bat Universe;
• The change in Wonder Woman’s origin;
• De-aging and re-abling Barbara Gordon;
• The loss of Clark and Lois’ relationship;
• The Superman-Wonder Woman relationship;
• Glamorizing Amanda Waller, and
• The loss of characters like the Power Girl of the old DCU, Scandal Savage, and Vixen.

I keep hoping that this whole New 52 thing will be a dream. Clark will be showing and Lois will knock on the door and he’ll say to her “I had the strangest dream.”