Black Widow Cosplay

5 Jan

Black Widow Cosplayers displaying their costumesBlack Widow is a popular character to cosplay. Her costume is relatively easy, she has power and sex appeal, and her character’s stories run deep in the Marvel universe making her an easily recognized person.

Most cosplayers opt for the sleek, black bodysuit accented with a low-hanging belt that has appeared most frequently in throughout her career, although portrayal of her live action persona in the recent Marvel movies like The Avengers is becoming more common. The latter costume kits out into more practical, military-style attire. Black Widow cosplayers most often convey her with long red hair since that’s typically how she’s worn it in the comics, although she had a very short cut for a period in the 1980s and now sports shorter hair as well with the look Scarlett Johannsen brings to the present.

I’ve always been a fan of Natasha Romanova AKA Black Widow. She is one of the most prominent female characters in the Marvel Universe and has been anywhere from a solo agent for both the Russians and S.H.I.E.L.D., a team member of the Avengers and Champions (and others), and a partner to Daredevil, Hawkeye (and others). Because she was introduced very early in the Marvel Universe  (40 years ago!), she has had a significant number of stories where she appeared as a supporting or primary character.  Here’s hoping she will get her own movie very soon!

Here are some random pictures of cosplayers that have donned the Black Widow suit both at conventions and in photo shoots.

Who wants to be a good girl anyway?

1 Jan

I don’t know which movie this comes from but, golly, this is adorable. Anyone know the source and the actresses?

I think every woman should have a little bad in her. Keep her friends and lovers on their toes, what say? This is a perfect preamble to New Year’s Eve. Be safe, but don’t be afraid to be a little bad, girls.

Animated Gif of classic comedy about a bad girlAnimated Gif of classic comedy about a bad girl Animated Gif of classic comedy about a bad girl

Picture of women in sexy fishnet pantyhose and heels inside Ford Thunderbird

Greg Hale Jones

31 Dec

Several years ago, I stumbled on an artist on MP3.com that has become one of my favorites. MP3.com is an innovative commercial site created to enable new artists (and some established ones) to introduce their work. It was an antecedent to Pandora and much more of a commercial site, but similar in effect. A lot of what I listen to now was heard on and often purchased off the site.

Greg Hale JonesThe artist was Greg Hale Jones. Greg was a composer that specialized in what he dubbed “folktronica.” Folktronica is a music style that combines new elements from electronically synthesized sounds with vintage vocals. Most of his samples came from American folk songs archived in the Library of Congress collection.

Greg’s neo-primitive music follows a general theme you’ll see on our website. The combination of old and new is a fascinating experience. A good example in the comic book world is Mister X. As with Dean Motter’s antique futurism, Greg combined his musical elements for a completely fresh sound. Moby has done some similar work as well but Greg’s particular style uses a lot more vocal input so there’s a sense of storytelling that gives each song a uniquely personal element.

Greg scored several films, most notably “General’s Daughter” (1999) starring John Travolta and Madeleine Stowe. His most recognizable song off the album is “She Began to Lie.”

Unfortunately, Greg passed away in 2004. His website is still accessible and his works are still available for purchase.

This video titled “Lost Springs” was a student project that uses my favorite song “Boll Weevil” as the background sound. The Depression-era feel to the film is captured in a beautiful vintage style.

Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow (Mini Series)

29 Dec

I started this blog primarily to sound off about some of my favorite comics and buy/sell/trade some of the items in my collection. That didn’t last long. Pretty soon I was writing about any old thing. Comics are still at the core, but an awful lot of music, movies, politics, sarcasm, sex, and the random observation of something scientific or religious has crept in. It strikes me that I’m wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. Eh. So what. It’s warm and the sites are pleasing to the eye. I’ll keep meandering.

Lamar Cranston AKA Kent AllardBut for the moment, let’s revisit one of my favorite eras in comic book history. I’ve written about independent comics from the 1980s many times before. I also noted that the indies put pressure on the two big publishers (Marvel and DC) to shake things up and give creators more reign over their personal properties and the stable of characters already in play. One of the most iconic examples of blowing up a character and rebuilding a completely new hero was The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. It was a smashing, awe-inspiring success. Soon, DC was leading the pack, scrambling to take its stale universes and turn them on their heads. Obscure characters or those that had fallen out of favor were some of the favorite targets.

Howard Chaykin sketching at a comic book conventionEnter Howard Chaykin. Howard had been a veteran of the comics industry for over a decade, making his mark with both writing and drawing credits. His most famous early work was as an artist on the Marvel Star Wars series. By the time he decided to take on The Shadow, he was pretty much writing his own meal ticket since he’d proven his well-rounded story-telling capabilities.

The Shadow is a product of the cynical, noir period during the 1930s and 1940s when the world was in the uncertain grip of organized crime and war. Someone needed to stand against crime; someone who understand how to get to them by being just as ruthless and dark as his adversaries. Whereas Superman’s idealism and thinly written stories made his criminal adversaries mostly buffoonish oafs, anti-heroes like Batman and particularly the Shadow attracted an audience of those that saw the world as a bleak place where fighting crime meant getting inside the minds and lairs of sophisticated and more evenly matched villains.

After World War II, things began to change. A great social movement emerged moving much of the population away from exposure to the seedy side of life. People moved to the suburbs, built sheltered, comfortable lifestyles, and turned their entertainment interests to syrupy things like watered down Comics Code Authority trash, and prim housewives with sexless husbands. The thing that they now feared the most, nuclear war through huge political and military machinations, was so overwhelmingly awful and so technologically advanced that no crime fighter like the Shadow could oppose it.

Mercy Mayrock, the villainess from The Shadow

Mercy Mayrock, the crazy villainess

But, by the 1970s and 1980s, perhaps because of a numbness towards the madness of the Cold War and the renewed emphasis on organized crime in fiction, people were looking for gritty heroes again. And, entertainment venues such as comics had turned to more sophisticated, adult-oriented stories. It seemed to make sense that creators could reuse the iconic characters and structures of the past, and resurrect them in a modern format. What had worked before should work again, after all, so long as it connected with the current audience.

So, Howard Chaykin’s spin on The Shadow was fresh but familiar. The stylish suits, the vampy (but now overtly sexual) femme fatales, and the sinister criminals were back. In Blood and Judgment, The Shadow has effectively retired from his crime-fighting days and settled into a life of leisure as Lamar Cranston (AKA Kent Allard). Suddenly, he hears that someone has begun killing his former agents. The Shadow recruits new acolytes and begins to unravel the identity and purpose of the sadistic foes.

God help the guilty.

An assassin attacks an agent of The Shadow

Comic book art from The Shadow: Blood and Judgment

The Shadow pinup by Howard Chaykin A black and white pinup of the Shadow by Howard Chaykin

Covers to the 1985 The Shadow miniseries by Howard Chaykin.

Cover to the Shadow miniseries #1 by Howard Chaykin

Cover to the Shadow miniseries #2 by Howard Chaykin

Cover to the Shadow miniseries #3 by Howard Chaykin

Cover to the Shadow miniseries #4 by Howard Chaykin

Who the hell is Yvonne Epstein?

24 Dec

Dark Horse Comics Logo for GhostIf you’ve been around here before, you’ll know how much I love pictures. Not surprising, right? Comic books? Pop graphic art? Mugshots? These things define what my blog is all about, so, yeah. Anyway, over the years I have scanned a crap load of comics and stuff and have slowly been putting them out in various posts. It’s nice to share.

What’s fun is when I stumble on stuff I haven’t seen for a while. So it was with some Dark Horse Comics material from the 1990s. Remember that whole Comics Greatest World thing that was Dark Horse’s attempt to capitalize on comic book gimmickry?  Well, setting aside Barb Wire, X, and the guy with the dragon tattoo, the best story to come from that arc was Ghost.

Wallpaper for Ghost, Dark Horse ComicsGhost was an interesting character. She was a woman that had been brutally murdered and had returned to sleuth out who done her wrong. In the course of the series she met nefarious demons and corrupt humans, all of whom she would try to dispatch with her trusty Colt 45s. C’mon. That’s just cool. The Ghost stories were smarter by far than a lot of the other pseudo-other-world tripe of the time. It reminded me a lot of the Mage series by Matt Wagner.

Bellechere the Cosplayer as Ghost from Dark Horse Comics

This isn’t Yvonne Epstein. It’s BelleChere, the incredibly talented cosplayer.

Anyway, one of the covers to the comics, Ghost Special #2, is actually a photograph of a live model rather than a drawing or painting. The art created around her is haunting and surreal, and it’s just  one of the coolest photographic covers on comic books. The model is quite fetching and she’s credited as “Yvonne Epstein.” I’d forgotten about this cover but then used it several months ago in another post. As I was cleaning up some old folders tonight, I found the scan along with some modified images based on the cover. I was curious about this Yvonne Epstein and did a quick Google search to see if she had done any other Ghost work. If so, I couldn’t find anything. So I did a search for Yvonne Epstein as a model and got nada. So, oh well, but I’m still curious. Who the hell is Yvonne Epstein?

As for Ghost, Dark Horse has picked up the series again. Go check it out.

Dark Horse Comics, Yvonne Epstein, model for Ghost Special #2.

This is Yvonne Epstein. She modeled for the cover of Ghost Special #2. And then she disappeared.

 

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