little lost robot

My loot from Image Expo 2015

By January 10, 2015 Comics, Conventions

I didn’t take very many photos or tweet snarky comments while at this year’s Image Expo 2015. I think it was because I was caught up in all the fun of listening to all the amazingly talented creators share their new projects with the world. After dropping a ton of cash each year on San Diego Comic-Con International, buying the ‘premium’ ticket to this event (which was like $25 over the normal ticket price) seemed like a reasonable decision. And for the most part, it was. We didn’t really get any advance seating or anything like that, but the swag bag was killer.

What’s in the bag?

Tote bag, Image Comics t-shirt, and program guide. There were also the following expo-exclusive comics: Bitch Planet #1, East of West #16, Wytches #3, and Rumble #1.

The best thing that wasn’t in the bag? Not having to wait in the long line after the general session to buy the exact same items. As it turns out, the premium pass was more like a pre-order – which I will order again, without hesitation next year.

Daryl Dixon’s Chopper (Funko Pop! Rides review) – The Walking Dead

By November 18, 2014 My Stuff, Toys

It’s a slippery slope, buying vinyl Funko figures. They’re so affordable, ubiquitous, and highly collectible. As a geek, it’s near impossible to avoid having one. Recently, I’ve fallen off the deep end and snatched-up pretty much the entire run of American Horror Story and The Walking Dead Funko Pop! Vinyl collections for my office at work.

Luckily, I can turn this obsession into something more productive – such as doing some fun videos for the new action figure review site, GoFigure. I won’t usually post the videos here, but I wanted to share the news. This week I’m showing off the completely badass Daryl Dixon’s Chopper (terrible sound effect not included).

“Pan” (Palo Alto Networks Parody of “Her”)

By October 30, 2014 My Stuff

Here’s a short film that I directed for Palo Alto Networks. It’s a parody of last year’s indie darling, “Her”, but with a network security angle. It’s rather steeped in technical and industry-insider talk, however I think Ryan (my actor & co-producer) and I knocked this one out of the park.

I survived The Walking Dead Escape

By August 17, 2014 comic-con, My Geek Adventures

Over the past week since San Diego Comic-Con 2014 wrapped, I’ve often been asked what was my favorite part of the action packed weekend. It’s difficult while still in the Comic-Con haze to answer that question without blurting out a half-dozen crazy things. But now that I’ve had some time for my mind and body to recover, I can now say without hesitation that it was running through The Walking Dead Escape.

The event, which shoves participants into a massive zombie themed obstacle course, has been a staple on many of the “best of Comic-Con” lists for the past few years. I decided, “No more excuses!” I was determined to get chased by fake-Zombies this year, even if it killed me. And after three days of Comic-Con, it nearly did.

Read my complete wrap-up over on Movieweb.com

It’s always been ‘Cruel Summer’

By July 11, 2014 Growing Up Geek, Music

“Hot summer streets, and the pavements are burning. I sit around, trying to smile, but the air is so heavy and dry.”

The hot summer breeze drifts into the Valley, carrying along with it the promise of recreation and a respite from the daily grind. My own adventures begin when I lace up a fresh pair of black Converse sneakers and hear my favorite summer jam on the radio. Sometime near late May, radio stations mercilessly shuffle and repeat playlists until a single track – through sheer tyranny of will – conquers the national zeitgeist, becoming the unofficial ‘song of summer.’ For me, it happens to be Bananarama’s Cruel Summer.

It’s always been Cruel Summer.
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The Pool Scene from “Let The Right One In”

By July 10, 2014 Growing Up Geek, Movies, Music

Everything is calm just above the surface. I squirm nervously in my seat, helplessly watching as young Oskar is led into a watery trap.

While I found the whole film to be brilliant, it’s the final moments of Let The Right One In that forever sealed it in my subconscious. Apart from all the bloody dismemberment, there’s something quite haunting about the pool scene. It’s a flawlessly executed sequence, with slow-burning tension. The part that left a lasting impression for me was the synth-pop tune “Flash in the Night” playing on the radio. It’s this one small added detail that lent a haunting realism to the moment. The song immediately triggers for me a flood of nostalgia and emotional triggers.
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Unboxing the June Lootcrate

By June 21, 2014 Collectibles, Unboxing

Before FedEX even had time to update the shipping information the Lootcrates arrived with the morning mail. This time around, the receptionist at work insisted on watching as we ripped open our boxes at the front desk. She laughed and kept saying “You guys are too funny!” as we enthusiastically unpacked each item. All the while, the new security guard glared at both of us, silently passing judgment on how much we were grown ass men acting like middle-school nerds. None of that mattered, as this month’s them was TRANSFORM, which we hoped contained some robots in disguise.

Here’s the breakdown of this month’s epic items:

There’s an exclusive t-shirt designed by Nathan Davis & The Hundreds entitled “Marty McPrime”, sporting a Transformers/Back to the Future mashup. Love the design, but red’s certainly not my color.

I just knew there would be a Loyal Subjects Transformers blind box figure in this crate. I was thrilled to get Megatron while my co-worker Ryan got Starscream. Each of received an opposing Autobots or Decepticons vinyl sticker – which we quickly used to customized our 8TB external hard drives.

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Also in the box were Transformers Hexbugs, various MLG items (including a sweatband), and some super-sour Warheads candies. There was also this month’s collectible Lootcrate button and the mini-magazine, that was cusiously absent in last month’s package.

Verdict: 9/10

Comic Book Wednesday – June 11

By June 11, 2014 Comics

Even though I haven’t posted my weekly comics round-ups lately, rest assured, I’m still buying them – and, in most cases, reading them. This week I snagged a bunch of cool titles. Here’s a few of the more noteworthy:

Bee & Puppycat #2 – My daughter wanted her own monthly titles, so we’re reading Bee & Puppycat together. It’s funny, because the animated series isn’t even out yet and I can already tell she’s going to be on of those “I read the books first” gripesters. [Bee & Puppycat #2 comixology link]

Manifest Destiny #7 – The historical horror fiction rolls into its next story arc, and I’m loving every moment of Lewis & Clarke’s classified adventures in the new frontier. [Manifest Destiny #7 comixology link]

Shutter #3 – One of my favorite, new Image titles. It has a strong, female lead with an interesting backstory, and moves at a brisk place through a fantastically surreal world. [Shutter #3 comixology link]

Unboxing Adventure Time Mystery Minis

By May 21, 2014 Collectibles, Unboxing

I had known that there were soon-to-be released Adventure Time Funko Mystery Minis about to hit the shelves, yet I was completely unprepared when I stumbled across them at the comic shop. Gathered around a display box were a small group of collectors, speculating on figure assortment and trying to graph how the individual figures were packaged. I think that’s when someone said, “Hey, JL! Why don’t you buy a full case so we know how the figures are packaged?” It was in that moment that I had to make a hefty decision. I was most certainly going to buy some of the figures, and I wasn’t really in the mood for a lot of blind box hunting . And since I was guaranteed one of each figure, I went for it (my subscriber discount helped soften the blow to my wallet).

Honestly, the figures are just okay. I like the stylized, blocky style, but would have preferred something more cartoonish. I also feel like there’s less build quality than most Funko figures. They seem like cheap 3D printer knock-offs. However the tin containers they are packaged in are ridiculously awesome and make the whole purchase worthwhile.

Here’s the blind box layout! Every display box has one of each figure, spread out across the eight different tins. The tin boxes are randomly placed, but the figures fall into the same place on the grid.

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How do I know this? Both my display case, and the one at the comic shop matched up perfectly for character placement. You can get every figure you want by either buying a full box, or grabbing the tin from the right spot in the box – provided someone didn’t shuffle them all up.

Happy hunting!

Comic Book Wednesday – May 7

By May 7, 2014 Comic Book Wednesday, Comics

This week was a pretty rad selection of comics. Not much could keep me away from the local comic shop today, not even the rude douchebag working the counter.

Rat Queens #6
Are there still people that haven’t heard of Rat Queens? It seems weird to me. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me telling everyone how they should be reading it. I’m thrilled to see the new story arc kicking off this week, and hanging out, once again, with most ass-kicking gals in comics.
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Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station

By May 1, 2014 My Geek Adventures

Working in London for the week was a rather fun experience, even if the transportation strike screwed up all my travel plans. With the Tube (that’s the ‘subway’ to us Americans) mostly shut down, I wasn’t able to venture out to quite as many touristy spots as I would’ve liked. On my final even there, I decided at nearly the last minute to go on a spontaneous adventure. I looked at all the subway routes open and formulated a plan.

That’s how I ended up at Platform 9/34 in King’s Cross Station.

platform-line

After figuring out how to buy a ticket, I hopped on the next train (several actually) and arrived at the station about an hour before many of the train service ended. It didn’t take long to find the “platform” and get queued up. I’m told that on an average day there’s a long line of people standing by at all hours to have their Harry Potter themed photos taken. Turns out it was the one moment the strike worked in my favor, as I only stood around for three minutes before it was my turn to don a scarf and wand.
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The Tardis at Earl’s Court Station

By April 29, 2014 My Geek Adventures

When I first realized that I was being sent to London on business, the first thing I did after booking my travel was to locate the nearest Tardis. Well, the closest thing I could find to a real-life Tardis anyway.

I threw down a Google query for “police boxes in London” and found a nifty site called The Police Box Map which lists all the various old-timey police boxes left in London area. It even describes them so that you don’t end up at a different colored box by mistake. I quickly determined that there was a perfect box just a short walk from my hotel and the conference center I’m working from.
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My favorite geeky tourist find in Monterey

By April 16, 2014 California, geekery

You usually don’t expect to come across anything totally rad like this t-shirt in your average coastal tourist trap. The most I ever find are those gimmicky Marvel and DC tin boxes in candy stores. But Darth Vader with a surfboard on a vintage-looking tee. The force is certainly strong with Monterey, California.

Current Comics – Monterey, CA

By April 15, 2014 California, Comic Book Stores

First of all, this isn’t so much a review as it is a quick impression while out on one of my geek adventures. Speaking as a tourist, it was nice to side-step the family sightseeing on Monterey’s famous Cannery Row and take in some soothing, nerdy comic book images – if only for a few minutes. That’s really all the time you need to check out Current Comics. It’s small and lean, and probably the right fit if you already know exactly what you want.
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Comic Book Wednesday – April 9

By April 11, 2014 Comic Book Wednesday, Comics

I was in Las Vegas last week for some work-related stuff, so I didn’t have a chance to hit the comic book shop. Which totally killed me by the way, with the release of Caliban (Avatar Press) and ton of other titles I’m into right now. Amongst the stack were: Punisher, Crossed: Badlands, Black Science, Pretty Deadly, and God is Dead.

This week my stack – entirely Image Comics – is much smaller, but completely rad nonetheless. I snagged the debut issue of Shutter (which I just read and was blown away by), and the latest issues of East of West and Manifest Destiny.

My nerd loot from StarFest ’89

By April 9, 2014 Growing Up Geek, The Vault

I’m glad to see that even 25 years ago, I was snapping photos of my geeky obsessions. I recently uncovered this pic from StarFest ’89 in Denver, Colorado. My middle school friends and I were devotees of StarFest and StarCon, saving up our allowance money and planning out our costumes and convention activities months in advance. Once we got to high school, our parents finally relented, allowing us to stay overnight at the hotel. Looking back, it probably wasn’t too worrisome for them, as we were total nerds and weren’t likely to get into too much trouble.

Scattered atop the hotel bedspread you’ll notice: Vulcan Language guide, The Visitors Handbook, Batman movie buttons, rolled up Enterprise NCC-1701 D poster, Star Trek: The Next Generation Data action figure, and convention newsletters featuring Star Trek V.

On the table in the background: homemade Tricorder, replica lightsaber, Star Trek collectibles price guide, and an RCA VHS camcorder.

That time I collected Spawn figures…

By March 25, 2014 Growing Up Geek, The Vault

Found this shameful polaroid scattered amongst a million other embarrassing photos in a cardboard box that’s probably better left closed. It’s not a drunken party pic or a terrible college fashion choice. This is much worse. It was just a fraction of my Spawn action figure collection, circa 1998. Notice that I built a pegboard wall rack to display them? Creepy.

There’s was a moment when my friend Xjan and I went temporarily insane, buying series after series of these figures. At one point we both just wanted them to go away. We eventually set up a vendor booth at a toy convention and sold through half of our collections. Xjan sold the rest of his to a Korean buyer on eBay. I gave mine to Hasser to sell on eBay and he eventually ditched them at a consignment shop in Greenville, South Carolina.

Dr Comics & Mr Games – Oakland, CA

By March 24, 2014 Comic Book Stores, Comics

While out on a family adventure this weekend, I had the chance to visit Dr. Comics & Mr. Games in Oakland, California.

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Much like the Tardis, and most comic shops, it’s much bigger on the inside. The store’s layout is fairly straightforward, but devious by design. The new comics are along side walls, with the more popular (superhero) titles near the back. To get to them you must survive a gauntlet of irresistible collectibles ranging from Doctor Who trinkets to action figures of every variety.
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Unpacking the March Lootcrate

By March 20, 2014 Collectibles, Unboxing

It’s that time of the month: Lootcrate day! Despite waiting a whole month between boxes, at least some sting has been removed in getting the crates within a day of shipping – rather than watching folks post photos of their Lootcrates for a week on social media.

Speaking of which, here’s what’s in this month’s crate…

The theme is “Titan” which is significant due to the FPS juggernaut Titanfall dropping onto gaming servers this month. The biggest item in the box is no doubt, the exclusive Titanfall t-shirt. However my world was rocked this weekend by the inclusion of the Attack on Titan manga novel and sweatband. I’ve already watch a bunch of AoT episodes on Netflix this week, in what’s sure to be my latest addiction. There was also a magnet, Titanfall lanyard, and some St Patrick’s Day candies. I give this month’s crate a solid 8/10.

We shot an awesome unboxing video, which I’ll be posting here ASAP.