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Share this post TFUPM Posted March 30, 2014

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THE INTRAMURAL ZOMBIE HUNTING LEAGUE IS BACK

Share this post TFUPM Posted November 15, 2013

Sorry the blog has been a little silent lately - I was busy going to a wedding and setting up the new INTRAMURAL ZOMBIE HUNTING LEAGUE site!

I made these shirts for years until demand got too high and I began to get incredibly backlogged - between shipping out SEIBEI orders and making these, I fell crazy behind, let a lot of people down, and had to admit defeat. I shut it down and finished off the remaining orders (though I recently found two sitting in an old storage box and I KNOW THEY BELONG TO SOMEONE).

People kept bugging me about it, and I figured I'd never have the time again. Now that Fangamer is fulfilling SEIBEI orders and keeping the day-to-day running smoothly, and Kate and I are in a good rhythm with Telegraph, I've made the time to do it again (and have someone I can hire part-time if orders ramp up). 

Plus, I missed making them! I recently made a batch for a friend's wedding (the wedding party wore them during their big bachelor/bachelorette party) and it was fun as hell once I got back to it. It's surprisingly pleasant work.

Anyway, here's hoping people still like them!

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Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen

Share this post TFUPM Posted November 05, 2013 in photos

This Halloween, I went as something that scared the CRAP out of me as a kid - Chucky from Child's Play! 

Kate helped me out with the makeup, and I had an awesome time with it. My first memory of Child's Play is seeing the trailer during a commercial break while my family was watching Good Times, and I don't know exactly what it was, but all I remember is seeing the trailer and just putting my head between my legs and SCREAMING my head off. Ever since then, I'd get a chill if I accidentally came across it in a video store or if it was on TV or something - I've still NEVER seen any of the movies!

I was kind of worried about answering the door for Trick Or Treaters (we live in a pretty chill residential neighborhood, near a preschool and a church, so we had a LOT of them) since I looked kinda gruesome (I didn't carry the knife, of course - this was a prop I only used for a couple of photos before I even looked at a beer or anything), but a lot of kids (and parents) were REALLY hyped on it. 

I'm pretty stoked to watch them now - I wanted to put off writing this blog post until I'd actually seen them, but just in case I put it off for awhile (we were out of town for a wedding all weekend, and I have A LOT of work to catch up on), I figured I'd just write about it now. 

It was a lot of fun to dress up as something that actually still scares me a little bit, but man, I do feel kind of dumb having been scared of it for over 20 years, haha. 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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LOOOOOK BOOOOOOK

Share this post TFUPM Posted October 31, 2013

What do you know - I finally got my act together and organized and put up the SEIBEI 2013 look book, "Yoked and Stoked."

All the photos are by my friend EMiSpicer - she's a good friend who does a lot of live photography in the chiptune scene, and you can see more of her work here

My part in this whole photoshoot was pretty easy - I got a bunch of babe and hunk friends of mine together (and they brought even more friends), we went over to our friends' apartment, and I bought a bunch of Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas for a few reasons:

 

1. They're delicious

2. It was just on the tail end of summertime

3. I figured they had visually interesting cans and would make good props 

4. I'm 31 and am not ashamed to enjoy the finer things in life when I can grab hold of them

 

I think we got just the right vibe for this one. Here are some ideas I've had for future photoshoots:

 

1. I sit at a table, wearing all of the SEIBEI shirts at once, before a platter of 200+ tacos. As I eat them, I remove shirts, to show off the entire catalog. Eventually, the platter the tacos rest upon is revealed to be my framed college diploma. A neon sign then lights up behind me reading "Think You Can, Try, and You Will," which was my elementary school's motto. 

2. I throw case after case of SEIBEI tees into a well and then stand beside the well and cry. As the well fills up with tears, the tees slowly float to the top.

3. I wear a different shirt every day, and a photographer and an assistant follow me around. Every day at a different time, the assistant will run up and punch me in the face - at that exact moment, the photographer will snap a picture. 

4. A bunch of babes and hunks browsing manga at BOOK OFF NYC. 

 

ANYWAY! We have a new show to hang at Telegraph and a Halloween party to prep for (very excited to show off my costume later), so back to work for me. 

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Orange Arms!

The first episode of Kamen Rider Gaim is crazy.

Now let me be clear, I don't mean "crazy" in the uncomfortable, borderline xenophobic, "ha ha Japan is so weird, am I right?" way that the (western) Internet seems to love. Chances are "Transform! The Orange From the Sky!?" wasn't any more confusing to me than, say, the Sleepy Hollow pilot would've been to a Japanese person with an OK understanding of American pop culture who, uh, found it fan-subbed. If that happens in the other direction.

Both Sleepy Hollow and Gaim have first episodes that nearly trip over themselves in attempts to create entire alternate worlds full of complicated mysteries and backstory right away. They keep throwing mythology and paranormal phenomena at you, making the central premises (time-travel magic cop/fruit-based samurai) look different and interesting, but not unaccountably bizarre when contrasted with the surroundings. Cultural differences might enhance the strangeness of Gaim's choices to me, but probably no more than my lack of familiarity with the Kamen Rider franchise does.

Now, I've pretty much run out of good synonyms for "weird" at this point, so let's back-track and look at what Kamen Rider is, and why I'm going through the trouble of watching a foreign show that isn't being officially released in English.

Kamen Rider is a Japanese superhero TV show that was originally based on a (great) comic, but has long since removed itself from the source material. The show's been running since the 1970s, with one big break in the '90s, and generally features a new, entirely unconnected, Kamen Rider each season. The huge gap in the show's run, the goofy monsters fought, and the way each Rider is markedly different from the others while keeping some intrinsic Kamen Rider quality actually puts a Doctor Who vibe into my head, but I already ran that Sleepy Hollow comparison into the ground so I'll leave it be.

Back in the dark days of the mid '90s, when random Japanese imports could be found without any explanation of what they actually were, (I remember poring over Dragon Ball figures and art with no concept of what the series could possibly be about) I was vaguely aware of Kamen Rider as a thing that one could find represented in big-headed plastic dolls and posters. Every few years I'd remember that this thing existed and get curious, but the growing popularity of Japanese pop culture in this country never quite lead to live-action tokusatsu costumed superheroes being imported, except in bowdlerised Power Rangers (and, uh, Masked Rider) form. So it was a neat-looking thing that I wouldn't ever get to watch, and had forgotten about by the time All Things became available on the Internet.

Until Chris Sims kept talking up 2011's Kamen Rider Fourze on Twitter recently, and I subsequently got addicted to it. (He also wrote an article about Fourze that's probably very good, but I haven't read it yet because there's supposedly a big spoiler and I need to finish the show.) So, since my wife and I have been enjoying Fourze so much, we decided to give Gaim, which only just started airing in Japan on October 6, a shot.

Thing is, while Fourze is deeply cartoonish, and features a superhero who looks like a rocket and has a headquarters on the moon, it's also pretty grounded in something that resembles the real world. It riffs on classic high school archetypes (albeit in a high school whose mission statement involves... something about astronauts?) and then throws a superhero in with them, which isn't exactly an unprecedented idea.

Gaim, on the other hand, is set in a corporate-owned dystopia, in which dance crews battle for performance spaces using small interdimensional beings who pop through portals in the air that are opened by little plastic locks, all beneath a tree-like superstructure that dominates the skyline. This is the normal world, before an orange-themed (the fruit, not the color) samurai shows up to fight monsters. (Orange-themed samurai is also pretty far from the original Kamen Rider's "bug-themed guy who rides a motorcycle and fights monsters" concept, although I assume a motorcycle will come into the picture eventually.)

As fun as it is to just talk about how out there this all is, the concepts do end up having a nice sort of cohesion to them, mostly shown by which things the characters find normal, and which things even they think are a little off. The ubiquitous Yggdrasil Corporation, the dance crews, and all fruit-themed everything don't seem to bother anybody, for example. While our blue collar, ex-dance crew-member hero Kota Kazuraba is definitely unnerved by the Invess, ugly little gladiatorial monsters who fight to decide squabbles between dance crews, and the Lock Seeds which summon the Invess from their dimension -- sold by a sort of drug dealer who looks like Firefly's Badger.

Now, given how insane that all sounds when I write it out, and how Kota just kinda mentions that he finds them troubling over lunch with a friend, maybe he isn't quite bothered enough. Then again, depending on just how shady and weird Yggdrasil Corporation will turn out to be -- and I assume that will be "a lot," judging by all other science fiction ever -- the readiness to accept interdimensional battling creatures may be an indicator of just how fucked any concept of "normal" actually is in a corporate dance-battle dystopia.

We have been promised more Kamen Riders.

I've only really covered the ideas behind Gaim because really at this early point the characters haven't made much of an impact on me. Kota's a nice guy, with what could be a good personal conflict in "Should I be an adult?" vs. "Should I help out my old dance crew?" and the evil dance crew, the Barons, are amazing because they are rich kids called the Barons who dress like 19th century admirals. But whereas Fourze -- my only real point of reference, for now -- front-loaded its characters by starting with the hero's (amazing) mission to befriend everyone in his high school, Gaim puts its ideas first before moving to what we really want from a Japanese superhero show: a guy in armor with plastic weapons fighting another guy in a monster suit. At this early point, seeing this new Kamen Rider blow up monsters with actual fruit-themed weapons and attacks (there was even orange juice involved) in a really weird setting is enough for me, but I still don't know yet if there will be any good emotional hooks when orange juice attacks aren't enough anymore. (I also don't know if this show about dance crews will feature better dancing further on, 'cause right now it's iffy).

But it's early yet. I mean, there are apparently at least three other Riders in this series, none of whom have shown up yet past the utterly confusing cold open that I probably should've mentioned earlier. So we'll see where it all goes. Maybe Gaim isn't the best place to start if you're relatively new to the franchise and the genre, but then again there's something to be said for just jumping in.

Oh, also a lot of stuff is narrated by a The Warriors/Do the Right Thing-esque omnipotent DJ who looks like this:

[NOTE: Since writing this, I've seen the second and third episodes of Gaim, which introduce his pineapple armor/weapon set, his banana-themed rival, Kamen Rider Baron, and (finally) some motorcycles. Also: a gleeful disregard of "secret identity" as a concept. When Kota gets super powers, he can't wait to show everyone.]

Elijah Kinch Spector writes fiction that hasn't been published yet. He also has a pretty O.K. Tumblr and a seldom-used website where he once compared Downton Abbey to Power Rangers.

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New York Comic Con 2013!

Share this post TFUPM Posted October 29, 2013 in events, photos

As always, New York Comic Con was a lot of fun. SEIBEI and Telegraph were side by side on the main floor in a twenty foot wide booth, and we had an exhausting but fun four days. Met a lot of cool people, got to see a lot of old friends, and had a great time as usual, even if it is the most physically exhausting show of them all. 

Here's a crummy cellphone shot of our setup before the madness began. Telegraph - the gallery that Kate and I run together - was slanging screen printed posters from our past seven months of gallery shows, and the display was looking so tight (Kate took more pictures of the Telegraph side than I did, so we'll probably put some up on that blog). The SEIBEI display was looking good, too, though my tabletop tee display needs to be sturdier next time. Blah blah blah, sales, displays, blah blah, who cares. 

Here is a really good Arale from Dr. Slump, a goofy gag manga that Akira Toriyama wrote before he changed our entire generation by writing Dragonball. Apparently I was the first person at the show to recognize her costume?

Here are my friends Melinda and Randi dressed up in sick THEY LIVE outfits. I have actually never seen this movie (I know, I need to get it over with soon) but they looked awesome and Randi probably made a lot of people at the con confused about their sexuality. 

Just to be a jerk, here's one of my best friends, Ben, half out of his Colossal Titan outfit. Ben is the editor of the English translation of the hot-as-hell manga, "Attack on Titan" (Shingeki no Kyoujin) and was walking around in a Titan outfit to promote it. 

There was tons of cool stuff at the show, but at events like these I pretty much just stick to the booth and hang out and sell - especially having Telegraph there too and needing to help hold that down, there was never a time where I really felt like I could walk the show. I had to occasionally go out and hook a friend up with a badge, and just having to walk across the show floor and back was PLENTY for me, so I never really wanted to leave the booth unless I had to. 

If there's more you want to know about working the show or about the show itself, feel free to ask in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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Punkin Drunken

 

[Ed. note: Publication of this article was delayed because the editor is a butthole and loses track of time easily.]

 

As I walked out to my car this morning, I noticed crunching under my feet with every step. The leaves are coming off the trees, and it finally feels a little like Fall. Pumpkin Flavored Season is here.

 

No, not that stuff. Although Starbucks has its own proprietary syrups, their pumpkin flavored syrups and the stuff from companies like Torani, Monin, etc. are all basically the same--artificial, sweet, and oddly polarizing.

What I want to talk about is a far superior Pumpkin Flavored Product: Pumpkin Beer.

The appeal of a pumpkin spice latte is as obvious as any other flavored latte; combine a sweet flavor (pumpkin spice) with a bitter flavor (espresso), and the complementing flavors end up being quite tasty.

Pumpkin beer, however, brings fascinating complexity to the mix with a balancing act of a few key players:

Nearly every brewery that puts out a pumpkin beer has a different balance of these ingredients, some to better effect than others. For the last few weeks, I've been grabbing any pumpkin beers I can find at the store and in my neighborhood bars. I am by no means a beer snob or connoisseur. I’m just a layperson who really enjoys craft beers. Oh yeah, and don’t drink beer unless it’s legal for you to do so. That’s the disclaimer. Now here are my reviews:

For me, pumpkin beers fall largely into two categories. The first is subtle and delicate, like a savory pumpkin ravioli. The second is bold and sweet, like your favorite pumpkin pie. For my money, I prefer the former. If I’m going to drink a beer overloaded with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, I’d rather it be a Christmas Ale.

This first beer falls into that “subtle” category. It’s an unfiltered pumpkin ale. I’ve read some things about filtered versus unfiltered beer, like how over-filtering can compromise flavor, but I don’t know about that stuff. It just so happens that some of my favorite beers  are unfiltered. Put me in a strange bar and I’ll go for the first unfiltered Hefeweizen I see.

I digress. Harpoon Brewery’s UFO (UnFiltered Offering) Pumpkin is great. More pumpkin than pumpkin spice, it’s only slightly sweet and really easy to drink.

I've never had a pumpkin porter before, but the combination sounded immediately appealing to me. Epic Brewing's Pumpkin Porter, however, is an imperial pumpkin porter. Imperial styles are the bigger, stronger, more alcoholic versions of their non-imperial counterparts (this beer is over 8% ABV). Porters are already bold on their own; add double the hops and malt, and the resulting flavor completely steamrolls any pumpkin taste that may be present.

As an imperial porter, it's pretty darn good. But as a pumpkin porter, it leaves something to be desired. Like pumpkin flavor.

Up next is a Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I normally shy away from Imperial Ales because I'm not a fan of the lingering bitterness on the palate typical of the style. Surprisingly, bitterness was not my issue with this beer. When pouring into a glass, you can smell sweet hints of cinnamon and caramel, but this beer does not taste nearly as good as it smells. With my first sip, I was overwhelmed by cloves and cardamom, along with a very funky taste I couldn't put my finger on. The whole time I thought I might be drinking cough syrup.

I spoke to a few people in the build-your-own six pack section of the grocery store where I bought this beer, and I found this is a go-to pumpkin ale for some. Maybe this year’s batch was a fluke, but I don’t want to drink this stuff again.

 

I don't have much to say about Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale. It's a really light ale without much complexity in the way of pumpkin flavors. I'm happy it wasn't overly sweet, but it was still like drinking a Corona Light with a shot of pumpkin syrup. This would be a good beer to provide at a Halloween party if it wasn't so expensive.

 I really dig New Holland's beers. I had the chance to visit the brewery last year, and although I can't recommend eating any of their food, every beer I had at the bar was excellent. Ichabod Pumpkin Ale is no exception. Looking at the bottle art, I was expecting something pungent and hoppy, but was pleasantly surprised by the mellow flavor. The taste of hops is definitely there, but it plays well against the subtle pumpkin spice flavors.

 

Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking is a crowd favorite (according to my own anecdotal evidence). When I told my friends I was writing some reviews of pumpkin beers, most of them excitedly asked “Have you tried Pumking yet?!” The answer is yes, I get Pumking every year because every store in my area sells it and because it’s damn tasty.

A word to the wise: edging in on 9% ABV, Pumking is the beer that always sneaks up on me. After finishing off one of those tall 22-ounce bottles, I am on my ass for the rest night.

Even though I was a little disappointed with Epic’s offering, I was still excited by the prospect of another brewery’s take on a pumpkin porter. When I saw Redhook’s version on the seasonal beer menu at TownHall in Cleveland, I jumped all over it.

Out Of Your Gourd is pretty light-bodied for a porter. That isn’t necessarily a negative for me, but it certainly wasn’t expected. Another exciting, unexpected thing was the aroma--you’ll get a nose full of black licorice. The beer itself doesn’t taste strongly of it, but the flavor is definitely there and it works really well. I loved this beer and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for a six-pack to take home.

 

The last beer I’m going to talk about is probably my favorite of the season: Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. This beer is a little on the sweeter side, but not cloyingly so. Aside from the typical pumpkin spices, the two flavors I really picked up on were malts and ginger which played really well against the earthy pumpkin notes.

Unlike most of the sweeter pumpkin beers I’ve tried, this one maintains a certain crispness (both from the healthy hop flavor and just-right amount of carbonation) that makes it really easy to drink. And just like with Pumking, you’ll probably find out a little too late that this beer is 9% ABV, but it’s so delicious you won’t care.

In closing, there has been an explosion of craft pumpkin beers recently, and I was shocked at the varieties that were available this year. I ending up tasting well over a dozen, but limited myself to writing about ones that most people would be able to get their hands on.

By now you know what kind of pumpkin beer I like, so if there’s one you think I’d enjoy, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment or send me an email.

 

Brandon B. is a comic writer & artist. His work can be found at Draw Brandon Draw and Slipshine.

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A NEW ERA OF LIFESTYLE BLOGGING AND GOOD TIMES

Share this post TFUPM Posted October 29, 2013

It's no secret, looking around this site, that I am VERY BAD at keeping up a blog (and whining "I'm a busy guy!" only goes so far, and won't make new articles appear!). While I work on this (I have so many dumb half-written articles that I haven't published because I get caught up with other work), I have brought together a SEIBEI Blog Team to help me fill in the gaps and write about things that interest them - and might interest you, too! I'll let them introduce themselves as the articles start to pop up.

SO, here's to a lot more fun content on this blog. I'm really stoked!

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A NEW TEE EXPERIMENT!

Share this post TFUPM Posted September 10, 2013

I've posted four new tees up for preorder. I'm working with a specialty printer who can do prints all over a shirt via a process called sublimation printing, which only works on 100% polyester tees but has amazing results and leaves a super soft, vibrant image. What's more, the particular printer I'm working with will literally let me print one tee at a time if I want, so if these four shirts don't sell, it's no problem (so far they're selling, though, which is nice). 

The only problems with this process - not everyone likes polyester tees, and it's considerably more expensive for me to make them (hence the higher price). The benefits are that I can basically do whatever I want and experiment with the form of the t-shirt in new ways. It's a fun new way for me to try out new, larger prints, and really dumb jokes, with much less risk than a full production run. It's fun for me, and hopefully people are into it. 

I'll still be printing plenty of regular style tees, but it's fun to try out new stuff. 

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SEIBEI LOOKBOOK SHOOT

Share this post TFUPM Posted August 16, 2013

Let me tell you a brief story about photoshoots. REAL TALK!

A couple of years ago, I did a photoshoot with a bunch of friends in Alameda, CA - we went to a pinball museum and played games and then went to a tiki bar, and the photoshoot and the people in it were great and we had a great time and there were tons of good photos. My friend Jackson, the photographer, sent me all of the photos, and I suddenly realized that I hated most of the shirts in the shoot. Not the photos, not the models, but the shirts I'd made. This was during a period where I hadn't put out new shirts in a while, and I had just been reprinting stuff over and over like a boring sack of crap (not to say reprinting is always bad - I was just doing it to the point where I felt like a sack of crap about it). Seeing the photos basically gave me a massive anxiety attack about the state of my own work. It held up a mirror and I didn't like who I saw in the reflection. 

Most of the photos never saw the light of day - which is unfortunate and I am still a little bummed about - but it prompted me to get my shit together and put out a bunch of new stuff, and discontinue a bunch of designs I disliked (still, it would've been nice to figure this out on my own before going to the trouble and expense of a photoshoot). 

So, it had been a long time since I'd done a photoshoot, and the website has been hurting for one for sure. 

Last week we had a photoshoot for a new SEIBEI lookbook and it was a BLAST. Basically, I drank Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas with a bunch of my friends on the roof their apartment building and yelled about anime while my friend Emi took our pictures. I'm the guy in the bottom let in the sunglasses, btw (people have met the guy in the bottom right corner, James, and thought he was me, so I thought I'd clear that up!). 

I'm really proud of the latest batch of tees - everything I've put out this year, really - and it was great to just have a fun summer party with a bunch of friends while there just happened to be a photographer around. 

The new photos will be ready in a couple of weeks - and I'll have put together some new products by then, too - and I'm hoping to premiere a new website then as well. This one's kind of a stopgap, and I think I've figured out the basics of what I want, which I can put together easily enough. 

I'm also thinking of doing a bilingual website again.

I'm toying around with the idea of using the Bilingual Shopify Theme, since it has other features I want (good slideshows, responsive to resizing of windows, other crap). YEARS AGO I had a Japanese-language SEIBEI site, and switching between the two was a little clunky (it was technically two separate stores working off of two separate inventory counts), and I think I'm ready to try it again. This new one would be more seamless (you press a button in the upper right to change languages, and it immediately switches to that version of the page you're currently on, quite nice), but I'm debating whether to do Japanese again or to go for French (since Kate knows French and I've been working on learning that as well). WE'LL SEEEEEEEEE

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