Good night, dear Generalissimo

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a comic superfan all my life. I didn’t grow up getting new comic books every week. I didn’t spend hours in comic book stores – there weren’t any near me in the suburb of Houston that I grew up in. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Avengers or pretend that I knew who the hell the Guardians of the Galaxy were before the movies came out. But I did grow up watching the X-Men on Saturday mornings. I glanced through the Spider-Man strips in the newspaper every morning when I had my breakfast before catching the bus to school. Even though I’d never read a single Captain America comic in my life, I could recognize his iconic red white and blue uniform with the shield and ask “ok, so he has a goofy ‘yay America’ uniform, but what does he do??”. Before I knew Iron Man’s real name was Tony Stark, I was able to point out the classic red and gold flying suit. I grew up with the common knowledge of what it meant if someone “hulked out.” You didn’t need to be a superfan to see Stan Lee’s influence everywhere.

Stan Lee’s story isn’t about a man who achieved his dreams. When I saw his panel at Alamo City Comic Con I remember a teenage boy excitedly asking Stan for advice on how to get started in comics because he wanted to become a comic writer himself. Stan’s answer was a telling one in terms of a generational divide in choosing career paths. Stan didn’t write comics because he wanted to, he did it because he had to. He was an aspiring novelist, but because he needed to put food on the table for his family, he took on the job as a comic book writer as a teenager and the gig stuck. He never became that best-selling novelist that he wanted to be, but he became something so much more than that.

He made comics relatable. DC had their own successes with Batman and all the lore surrounding Gotham City, but at the end of the day Gotham City was a fictional setting. In 2003 I skipped out on studying for an organic chemistry exam in college to see Stan Lee speak at the University of Texas, and one of the things he mentioned in his talk was that he made it a point to make his stories take place in real life cities, so that readers could imagine all of these adventures happening in their own backyards. New York City had been his lifelong home, and he couldn’t imagine his characters being anywhere else. He wanted his characters to be flawed so that they could be more human. He wasn’t writing superheroes for the sake of creating a good guy and calling it a day. He wanted to make it seem like we could all be heroes, and that heroes could be all of us.

In 2014 I wasn’t able to see Stan Lee’s panel at Comicpalooza, but I got a photo with him because I knew it’d be one of the few opportunities for me to get a picture with a living legend without having to wait in line for hours at a larger convention. I also made a last minute decision to stay up late the night before and crochet a Spider-Man to give to Stan Lee. Here’s the excerpt from my previous blog post about giving Stan his little Spider-Man critter:

The next morning I sleepily waited in line for the photo op. Once the line started moving, the photo op went BLAZINGLY fast. Stand in, smile, and you’re gone. Not even a chance to say anything more than a quick hello. So when my turn came around, I kind of became that asshole who held up the photo op line, even if it was just for a few seconds. I told Stan I had something for him and handed him little Spidey, and after exchanging thank yous (no, thank YOU, sir, for influencing so many generations!) it was all shouts of “ma’am, look at the camera” before I had to scurry off. My tiny little victory was when I saw his handler try to take the little Spider-Man away from him and he snatched it away and put it in his pocket as if to say “NO, MINE.” Stan Lee now has one of my critters in his possession. VICTORY!

It was that split second of watching him tuck little Spidey into his pocket instead of handing it over to his handler that touched me the most in that brief interaction I had with him. He appreciated the work of his fans. He didn’t just say thanks and let his assistant toss it into a pile of other pieces that he would undoubtedly get throughout his time while sitting for photographs. He kept little Spidey with him, and that meant more to me than any thanks that he could’ve said to me.

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Thank you, Stan, for creating such a vast universe of heroes that were still human at heart. For reminding us that while we may just be people, we can be so much more. And that at the same time while you could be the strongest, fastest, and smartest person on earth, it’s still okay to have flaws. We can all be heroes, but heroes aren’t invincible. You may not have ever published that “great American novel” that you dreamed of writing, but you created a pathway of dreams for so many generations of kids and adults alike. Thank you for giving us so many heroes for us to look up to, learn from, and remember for years to come, including yourself. While you may no longer be here on this earth, you’ve given us all a gift that we could never repay. Good night, dear Generalissimo. May you take your place with the greatest names in history. You’ve earned it. Excelsior!

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“Börk börk börk!”

I’m still feeling stunned from Harvey last week, and I wasn’t even directly affected by the storm, but the sooner I can get back to your regular crochet programming, the better! Please continue to donate and help out, and for all you folks in Florida and its neighboring islands, please stay safe in the face of Irma!

You know all those super cool photos in my book Literary Yarns? The clean and stylish page layouts? The formatting of the patterns? The pre-order campaigns that were rolled out? I can’t take credit for ANY of that. When I wrote Literary Yarns, I was fortunate enough to have an amazingly helpful team of folks from Quirk Books to help me through the process and do a lot of the heavy lifting for me. I wrote the patterns, the how-to instructions, and I shot the step-by-step photos in the tutorial sections, but everything else? It was all done by some amazing people. Once the book was out I knew I had to make thank you critters for everyone involved with the book. I’ve already posted some of the thank you critters I’ve made on my social media accounts, but there was one that I still needed to make, and that was for my editor Tiffany. She kept on insisting that working on Literary Yarns with me was good enough, but I kept insisting back that she should pick something. And it just so happened that her pick was also one of my favorite characters:

Swedish Chef-4927 copy

“Börk börk börk!”

THE SWEDISH CHEF. I FREAKING LOVE THE SWEDISH CHEF. It always slightly freaked me out that he had these creepy normal human hands, but I still loved him with his nonsense gibberish and his chaotic “cooking.”

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“Heer we håv de choppy chop!”

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“Und heer we håv de chicky! Güd chicky. Tåstee chicky.”

Looks like that chicken’s going to be in some trouble. SAVE YOURSELF, CHICKEN-FRIEND.

And here are the other thank you critters that I’ve made!

Photographer Mike wanted an Alec Guinness Obi-Wan Kenobi:

Editor Blair wanted a fangirl from the cover of the Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Designer Andie wanted a Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls:

Designer Molly wanted a little Glenn Danzig:

And publicist Kelsey wanted an 11th Doctor:

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Literary Yarns couldn’t have happened without all their help, and I can’t think of a better group of people to work with on my first published work!

And just one more plug (with good intentions!)…if you enjoyed seeing my Swedish Chef, maybe help out a food-related cause by donating to the Houston Food Bank! They’re always doing good work around town, but they’ve especially been beefing up their efforts since the storm hit. Feed some folks who need a hot meal, and save some lives. The Swedish Chef thanks you!

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Castle of Dreams: Studio Ghibli art show

Over the weekend I had some of my work up at the Castle of Dreams: Studio Ghibli tribute art show. It was a small and casual art show, with over 200 pieces of work on display in all kinds of media, free beer, and lots of fun enthusiastic people in attendance. There were paintings, sculptures, painted wood rounds (some of my favorites!), and other crocheted items in addition to mine! Check out all the goodness!

…and then there was my stuff, which looked pretty underwhelming compared to all the other amazing art that was out there.

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But hey, all three pieces got sold! If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from this, it’s that I need to learn to present my work better if it’s going to be up for purchase. I’ve gotten used to taking some photos of my critters and then unceremoniously dumping them in public places, so presentation “in the wild” wasn’t on my mind. Maybe I’ll put it all in a nice diorama and price the entire thing instead of having a bunch of sad looking little items in a glass case. One way or another a lot of great art was shared, and proceeds all went towards the Center for Recycled Art! I’ll have to look into more art shows around town, I’d definitely do this again. 🙂

Bunny Troubles in Little China!

I’ve only done two other art trades in the past, but I’ve always had a good time with them. So I was particularly excited to be doing a trade with Marcy of Moon’s Creations. I was already a big fan of her work so I knew that doing a surprise trade with her was going to be a good time. We sent each other a list of each other’s interests, and let the other person run with it! She mentioned that she liked Guardians of the Galaxy, so I sent her a little Star Lord with a teeny tiny Groot:

Nothing could have prepared me for what AWESOMENESS Marcy was going to send me though. I mentioned that I loved campy cheezy movies, citing Big Trouble in Little China and Kung Fury as examples. When I got her package in the mail I couldn’t stop giggling.

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IT’S A LITTLE JACK BURTON. WITH A LIPSTICK MARK. OH MAH GAWD.

I LOVE her attention to detail. Just look at this 80’s-tastic hair:

Jack hair

And the little kiss mark! It’s perfectly dabbed on there!

Jack kiss

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

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“It’s all in the reflexes”

It’s a Dead Lo-Pan. I couldn’t stop smiling at this, with the little knife in his forehead. If you haven’t seen Big Trouble in Little China, Lo-Pan’s death is a hilarious “welp, that didn’t work” moment.

…and there’s STILL MORE. GAH. It’s too much already! This one might have had me laughing the most:

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IT’S AN EXPLODING THUNDER.

Lookit the blush on this chubster! Lo-Pan’s death scene is already hilarious enough, but nothing tops the self-destruction of Thunder. For anyone who needs a reminder of how HILARIOUSLY AWESOME this scene was (skip to 1:41 to get right to the explosive greatness):

These are amazing. AMAZING. Shameless plug: Marcy has a store in case anyone wants to order some awesome bunnies of their own. They’re extremely well made and the attention to detail is incredible.

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And then. AND THEN. As if the three Big Trouble in Little China bunnies weren’t enough, she sent me ANOTHER bonus bunny! It’s one of my favorites that she’s made before, and I was absolutely thrilled that she sent me one of my own!

Pinhead copy

The cutest, creepiest little Pinhead bunny EVER. I love it. LOVE IT. I feel like a jerk for only sending 1.5 critters, so I’ve already got more planned to send back to Marcy because I really need to step things up for this level of awesomeness and generosity. THANK YOU MARCY! 🙂

To follow more of Marcy’s awesome bunnies, here’s her twitter, facebook, and her etsy store! GO GO GO!

Vote for the Hooker!

So on a whim, I submitted some entries to a few contests on Instructables.com. They seemed to have some pretty cool contests, and the worst that could happen is that they reject my entries. BUT YOU GUYS. I thought I’d be lucky enough to have just one entry accepted into the contests, but I actually had several successfully entered! Woohoo! So, with that, I’m asking for everyone’s help. Please vote for my entries!

  • Under the “ThinkGeek Sci-Fi Contest” I’ve got two entries:
    • Lil’ Spock
    • Lil’ Chewbacca
  • Under the “Fiber Arts Contest” I’ve got four(!) entries:
    • Lil’ Spock
    • Lil’ Chewbacca
    • My lil’ zombies
    • Lil’ Link from Legend of Zelda (with a semi-pattern! more on that in a later post!)

You’ll have to register with instructables.com to vote, but registration is free, or you can sign in via Facebook instead. 🙂 And definitely peruse through some of the other entries too! There’s some seriously impressive work out there (of course I’d be a little biased towards this awesome crocheted Triforce pillow, but that’s just me). Go forth, and vote for the Hooker! 🙂

Go Team Unicorn!

I’m done with my critters for Team Unicorn! As I posted earlier, Michele wanted a mini-Sailor Jupiter, so I happily made everyone’s favorite lil’ butt-kicking thunder-monger:

Meanwhile, the rest of the ladies wanted crocheted versions of themselves dressed in their custom Team Unicorn superhero costumes for Comic-Con 2012:

Apparently they used their super geek girl powers to transform and uh…shrink themselves down a bit:

Wee lil’ Unicorns!

Ready to defend the universe with their super powers of awesome girl-geekiness!

Creating a better world with unicorn magic and awesomesauce.

Hope the ladies like their new lil’ buddies! And with that, I’ll leave everyone with one of my favorite Team Unicorn videos: