Posted: Mar 30 2014
Posted: Nov 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!
Posted: Nov 05 2013
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.
Posted: Oct 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.
Posted: Oct 30 2013
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.]