Tuesday, 14 April 2015

MEFCC-The next BIG convention on the circuit. By Des Taylor

 Now that I have had ample time to let stuff sink in I thought it was time I wrote about the experience of Middle East Film and Comic Con 2015 and why I feel that this gem of a convention is a breathe of fresh air compared to the many comic conventions that are sprouting up over the world.
I'm trying to figure out why this was the best Comic Con I've ever been to. 
Was it that I sold out of everything I had on my booth for the first time ever? Was it because I managed to chat to my new hero Marvel's Agent Carter actress Hayley Attwell? Or was it due to the reaction I got from the fans I seem to have inherited over in Dubai since my first visit in 2014? The question is no? Sure these were great moments that surely helped my confidence going into my busiest period as a freelance illustrator but that wasn't the reason I think this was the best convention in the top 3 meaningful conventions in the world.   It was the experience and organisation.

When I say experience I'm talking about the Dolby Digital sound of Star Wars sound Effects that went around the hall coupled with classic James Bond soundtracks that I whistled to whilst I sketched commissions. As I walked through the artists alley it was refreshing to see artists work that was not all superhero or manga based characters but creations that had their own Middle Eastern vibe.
Even some of the Stormtroopers wore traditional Arab dress.

I loved walking past the STAR WARS stand and watching people chilling out on bean-bags engrossed in clips from the movies. The concert stage was brilliant outside in the sunshine, with bands entertaining the crowds who sipped drinks and ate food from top vendors like COSTA , PIZZA EXPRESS and my favourite MAPLE LEAF, a Canadian burger company that made the tastiest grub I've had the pleasure of eating at a convention.
I gawped at the Gibson guitar stand which stood out in the center of the convention hall and equally loved when my friend Jesse (who plays guitar) showed everyone how it was done. Gibson wanted him to stay on the stand after that.

I walked past mini Hip-Hop/House rave that was going on in the middle of the convention which seemed to get everyone up on a vibe and up dancing.
The American ex-Pats who walked the room told me how delighted that Comic Con had come to the Middle East and was thriving. Yes it was busy and at sometimes chaotic ... but then it was organised so well.
The organisers (Extracake) employed loads of minions ( well...they were wearing yellow) to ensure everybody was okay and could find whatever they were looking for. The creators were always brought water or food upon request. Something I've never experienced at any of the American or European conventions minus F.A.C.T.S in Belgium. 
Security all wore Black suits with earpieces or radio's and looked the type you just wouldn't mess with so there was no worries about harassment towards female cosplayers. Any of that shit would get you locked up...or worse!

I was constantly questioned by the Arab women on my art process and found nothing more humbling than when many said that my work inspired them to get into art and design. I remembered quite a few from the previous year in which I held a panel about my art and the design industry and as I recall the majority in the hall were women. It was one of the things I brought up during my Scarlett Couture interview with action channel MBC at the COMICAVE stand. I feel very proud about that I have some kind of positive influence to inspire people to make art.

























There was a great event in which you could have cocktails with KIRK!! Something I told two of my friends who parted with their cash and had the privilege of knocking back drinks in a small intimate setting and got to know more about William Shatner life. The concept was brilliant and I'd love to see who they get next year for that event.





MEFCC created an amazing array of events like SFX workshops, seminars on the gaming industry, short film viewings, master classes on sword fighting and in the evening an after-party on every night. 

My favourite being SPIN bar. A place where you can mix drinking and Ping Pong. You should have seen Sam Jones ( Flash Gordon) tearing up the dance floor. Hilarious!


Without a thriving American comic book culture the Middle East has been playing catch up with the rest of the world in terms of comic book history. Sure the die-hard fans over there know their shit, (I'll never forget the conversation with two teenagers from Kuwait who schooled me on the amount of Comic book stores there are in Iraq) but most of the locals have 75 years of stories, origins and arcs to catch up on. Surprisingly, rather than slogging through a couple of million books these amazing people have taken their new found Pop Culture passion to another level, one the average western comic book collector can only dream about. Limited Edition Collectibles. And money is no object. If you have the chance to go check out COMICAVE- the biggest comic book and collectible store in the world. You will see what I'm talking about when you visit there.

I couldn't believe how much money was spent on merchandise here. There is a fantastic 'If I like it, I'll buy it now' attitude and some punters proudly showed me photo's of 'Man-Cave's' that put your average comic book store to shame.

I know understood why Marvel and DC don't have comics on their stands anymore. Why movies like GHOST PROTOCOL, EPISODE VII and FAST & the FURIOUS film out in the UAE. Why our favourite characters are being chopped up, rebooted and super-suited every bloody minute. MERCHANDISE! Whilst die-hard fans bicker about costume changes, feminism, and storylines that piss them off in a $3.50 comic , these companies are now catering for the collector that will drop $350 on a figure. This region is where the NEW pop culture fan embraces the Comic Con concept and moulds it into something uniquely their own... because they can afford it and the big studios know it too.

I used to think San Diego Con was the convention for business networking but my opinion has changed dramatically. Most of the big dealers and shakers of the Middle East and Asian markets float around the convention and even more at the after-parties. There is big-business to do in this part of the world.
Remember, most of the products we have come to love over the years are made in this part of the world.

 Overall, the organisers make the effort to ensure everybody has a great time with activities created for everyone and cater the event for families as well as the geeks. I find MEFCC to be the convention of respect. The punters respect the artists in a way I've not seen on my travels, the artists respect the locals by remembering the customs associated with being in Dubai and everyone respects that we are all there to have fun and leave the real world for 3 days and make new friends.

Is this the best convention I have ever been to? Yes! It's amazing and I'm going back next year without hesitation.
Would I recommend it to artists and companies? Yes. This convention is worth your while.

Is it the best comic convention in the world?
Give it 2 more years and we'll see.






Thursday, 19 March 2015

WHO IS YOUR WONDER WOMAN? By Des Taylor


She's the most popular female superhero in the world, an Amazon Princess, an ambassador and a warrior. She's had yet another costume change in the past 5 years and got more aggressive. So much so, I don't even know the character that I have loved since the great days of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV show.
So the question I threw to myself was 'Who is MY Wonder Woman?"

My Wonder Woman (in no particular order):

1. Is an ambassador for peace, unity and love around the world. She's compassionate, understanding and takes time out of her JLA duties to visit the less fortunate. She has her own world charity due to her frustration towards the UN. She feels they could be doing more.

2. She's an icon to women around the world to show strength and leadership. She is controversial to certain nations for her belief's about equality between men and women. Her quote
"Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition" doesn't sit well with a lot of people during her sell-out World tour.
(The tour was cancelled after 25 sell out shows after an attack from the villainess Cheetah in Dubai killed 10 people and caused $100,000,000 in property damage.)



3. She's sexy, but doesn't try to be. She's shy, but confident. She's strong, but vunerable. She's proud of her body and femininity and knows how to take a compliment. However, she can give as good as she gets when any derogatory comments are thrown her way.

4. She's an intellectual. She reads constantly, mainly history and philosophy. She's interested in Eastern philosophy and loves Bruce Lee, not necessarily for his fighting prowess but more for his way of thinking. She can put you in your place with a few choice words and is forever quoting from the greatest minds in history.
Violence is her last resort.

5. She want's to know everything!! She want's to be the best she can be. She's not scared to take advice and learn skills from others. Black Canary teaches her the principles of Wing Chun and Krav Maga. Batman teaches her how to search for clues and most probably psychology of the criminal mind. Green Arrow teaches her archery on the weekend.
She loves sports especially the Olympics and is forever challenging her comrades to duels.


6. She's a cool person to hang out with. She knows when to let her hair down and chill out. She listens to jazz , classical and folk music when she's at home. She likes to cook for her guests and entertain. She cooks a mean leg of lamb and her barbecue Shish Kebab's are the talk of the DC Universe.

7. When she's in the JLA gym she listens to funk, Rock and old skool hip hop!! Cyborg created her a mix-tape. James Brown the Payback, Marva Whitney-' It's my thing,  Dee Edwards " Why Can't there be love , Craig Mac 'Flavor in your ear'  Missy Elliot 'Work It 'is on her track list.
She likes Metallica, Aerosmith, ZZ Top. Sure she listens to POP... she just dislikes Justin Bieber. (LOL)

8. Her favourite films are classics. Ben Hur, Spartacus, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Some Like it Hot
and Gilda. She dislikes senseless violent films (like Hardboiled, Starship Troopers, Nightmare on Elm street etc) and is a pain in the ass if you're watching one with her.
( I see her as one of those people who constantly whine "How unrealistic is that?" and she definitely
goes off on ANY scene where the damsel is waiting to be rescued)

Batgirl bought her  Sex and the City for Christmas. She watched 4 episodes before throwing the box set out of the window. Batgirl is still not talking to her after that.

9.She has an enormous fan club and loves her fans. She has a PR machine that keeps her in touch with her followers on social media and deal with the amount of brands and companies dying to use the most beautiful woman on the planet for campaigns, endorsements and licensing.
She deals with modern media and being in the spotlight with a touch of humour. She avoids anything and anyone that has a political motive and shuns celebrity lifestyle.
(I think she'd use her fame for charitable causes though.)

10. She has a vast wardrobe. Mostly clothes created for her by the world's top designers ...FOR FREE!! ( C'mon... you know Dior, Chanel and Paco Rabanne would do anything in their power to sign her!)


11. Her best friends are Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis ( yes, I love the George Perez era), Donna Troy Black Canary AND Lois Lane. ( Don't see why they should dislike each other. Not unless one was sleeping with Superman when the other is seeing him) She knocks back some serious beer and wine with Big Barda...and sees Clark Kent after work  occasionally to catch up on civilian life.


12. Lastly. Love life. Who is she seeing? Well, for some reason I don't see her ending up with Superman. Hey, in my eyes they tried it, it didn't work, they stayed friends ('cause come on... who wouldn't ?) . I see Wonder Woman with Steve Trevor or maybe dating some unknown guy like a Marine Biologist, Surgeon or something like that.

That's me done! This is not scripture... this is the way I see Wonder Woman. I'm sure you are reading this and have your own perception of her.

Feel free to share it with me.



Thursday, 12 March 2015

Major Wonder and the Cosplayers who bring my art to life By Des Taylor

I love designing Cosplay outfits. Here's my latest one for my friend Jean Cova Gomez- Major Wonder! To compliment the Major Glory design I created for Stephanie Castro.

Attached are a few other I've created for Cosplayers Emmy Clapp and Jessica Gonzalez who have been so awesome to spend the time and effort to bring them to life!

Jean Cova Gomez as Western Wonder Woman.



Stephanie Castro as the Evel Knievel inspired 'Danger Dame'.










... as as MAJOR GLORY!






Victoria Lee took a stab at Katie Rogers awhile ago! Jaw dropped when she cosplayed
a character I have in the computer called Dirty Martini. 


Emmy Clapp as my OC Sith Apprentice RAVAN SEDUCTRESS

 


Emmy also put in a shift when we collaborated on Raven Rocketeer for LSCC.



Jean Gomez rocked my Showgirl Zatanna design in 2014.


as did Jessica Gonzalez as Vesha Valentine 



Nina Hearne did an amazing job bringing Vesha Valentine to life. Totally owned the character
and sent the temperature rising in these lingerie shots courtesy of photographer Nathen Atia.






For NYCC 2014 I designed this Caporette outfit for cosplayer Lauren Dion. Loved the result!




The amazing Jerri-Kay Walthew went ahead and cosplayed Rockabilly Mary Jane!



and how could I forget the darling Viktoria who most recently became the face of my new
book Scarlett Couture.  Watch out for more pics from this young lady in the near future.