Jen’s been scouring the internet for monocles and couldn’t find multiples of ones that were large enough for real eyes and at a price point she was comfortable with. So she put her DIY powers to use and made her own! Check out our Monocle DIY and make your own!
In 1990 the annual Origins™ Gaming Convention was held at DragonCon (these days it’s stationary, but in olden times it moved around). As a table-top gamer I was super excited to go and see all the new roleplaying games and board games that were being debuted. As I walked through the vendors’ hall, nestled between TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons and Game Designers Workshop were two new games that were premiering: Torg and Rifts. This year at GenCon the big talk was about the revival of Torg and Rifts. It’s the gaming industry. What are you gonna do?
But I digress.
Happy October! We’re celebrating the official month of costumes by updating our logo to include our newest member, and kicking off Costober 2015! All year long, y’all see our costumes – now it’s your turn! Send us photos of your awesome costumes all month long and let’s make this the best Costober ever!
Cosplayers, Gamers and Pop Culture Fans Return for Annual Fantasy, Sci Fi & Gaming Convention
More than 400 Actors, Artists, Authors and Creators Will Give Talks and Meet Fans.
ATLANTA – August 18, 2015 – More than 65,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend as Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy and gaming convention, returns for its 29th consecutive year.
Dragon Con fans will travel from every state in the nation and a few foreign countries to participate in the four-day convention, where they can meet their favorite actors, artists, authors and creators, and talk about the stuff they love.
Guests – More than 400 guests, from the worlds of movies, television, comics, literature and other universes, will lead panel discussions and meet with fans. Battlestar Galactica’s Edward James Olmos, Star Wars’ Peter Mayhew, internet personality Felicia Day, as well as John Barrowman, David Ramsey, and Stephen Amell, all from CW’s Arrow, head an all-star guest list.
Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, will serve as grand marshal of the Dragon Con Parade.
And, at this year’s Dragon Con, Sesame Street meets Peachtree. Famed puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who recently retired after 45 years performing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, as well as Muppet performer Steve Whitmire, who has performed Kermit the Frog since 1990, will appear at the convention.
“We’re very excited about this year’s guest list. We have attracted guests from some of the best shows on television today, including Arrow, Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Once Upon A Time,” convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said. “We also have guests from fan favorite shows from recent years, such as Warehouse 13 and classic sci-fi shows such as Doctor Who.”
Cosplay – Dragon Con is well known for the quality of its cosplay – or costume play – and that tradition will certainly continue. The nation’s top cosplayers will show off their best work during the show, participating in costume contests every night of the convention and promenading throughout the five host hotels and the streets of downtown Atlanta.
Cosplay competitions remain a mainstay of Dragon Con, including the queen of competitions, Dragon Con Masquerade, which is both the oldest continuously run competition in fandom as well as one of the largest in the world. Dragon Con is also thrilled to introduce the newest competition, The Chôsen, which will premiere at Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium.
Parade – Atlanta’s largest parade, the annual Dragon Con Parade, will step off Saturday, September 5 at 10 a.m. To better accommodate parade spectators, the parade will have a new route. Beginning at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Linden Avenue, the parade will head south on Peachtree, east (left) on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north (left) on Peachtree Center Avenue. It will end on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street, in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
The new route is now a little longer – .9 miles, from .8 miles last year, and brings the route closer to the North Avenue MARTA station, in addition to the Civic Center and Peachtree Center stations. Parking downtown is expected to be tight, and Dragon Con encourages parade spectators to consider taking MARTA.
Gaming – Perhaps better known for the celebrity guests and cosplayers, Dragon Con is also one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation. Taking up most of the Hilton Atlanta Downtown and parts of the Sheraton Atlanta, gaming at Dragon Con features voice actors, game designers and other guests from the worlds of table top and video gaming, as well as the opportunity to play tabletop and LAN gaming in casual and tournament formats.
Official Charity – Earlier this year, Dragon Con selected the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market as its official charity for 2015. Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization.
In 2014, the convention raised over $115,000 for its official charity, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and collected 535 pounds of food. Through the Superheroes community service program, Dragon Con fans contributed more than 900 hours of community service.
Dragon Con also conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. Last year’s annual Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive attracted a record turnout, with 2,972 attendees donating more than 6,000 units of blood and blood products, benefiting LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospital in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.
About Dragon Con
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
We heard you! Check it out – We had so much fun with our first two, we decided, due to popular demand, to design a Loki-inspired dress. You can find it now in our Etsy store. Now you can make that presentation or go on that first date with the power of Loki, and really, who doesn’t want that?!?
We’ve been working hard on designing our very first fashion line – Secret Identity Dresses. Jen has spent the past six months designing dresses, doing research and making prototypes. Her idea was to have dresses you could wear to work or out that would represent your favorite superhero (or supervillain!) without being an overall print. Over the weekend, we were able to have a small photo shoot thanks to the great folks over at The Maker Station. Her final results are in, and we have the first two of our Secret Identity Dresses – Deadpool-inspired and Nightwing-inspired dresses. You can order them now in our Etsy store, and we’re working on more designs, both for characters and types of dresses! Let us know what you think – who would you like us to do next?
Brian: Mimi, you’re probably best known in this circle for Mulan. Tell us how you became involved with Mulan.
Mimi: I’m in Orlando, Florida, and my school actually did the grand opening for Epcot China Pavilion in 1982, so we’ve been affiliated with Disney for quite some time. We’ve done stage shows out there, we do a lot of work with the theme parks on special events as well as sometimes we do their holidays around the world, we do the dragon and the lion dances. So we have a very close working relationship with Disney. And in particular when they were working on Mulan, they had the animation department kind of submerged in the Chinese culture, so they had Chinese food brought out to them. They brought us out to do a tai chi seminar to relax the animators and to keep them submerged in the Chinese culture – they wanted everything to be very authentic. So they go kind of the extra mile with their animation department. In addition, it was the first production that was going to primarily be done in Florida, since most of them are done in the Hollywood Studios, so it was a really exciting time for them. At the time I went to help with the tai chi seminar, Mark Henn was still looking for his face of Mulan. I went out to do tai chi, and one of the casting department women saw me and she was talking to me and she says “How old are you?” and at that time I was kind of the age of Mulan. It was interesting because I did kung fu and her father did kung fu, my father does kung fu. She said “I think you really need to meet Mark” so I went to meet Mark Henn, who is the lead animator for Mulan. He also did Belle and Jasmine – he’s incredible. So that was already an honor to meet him, and it was kind of funny – I went in and his whole room just had photos and footage of Asian women’s faces because he was trying to find his face of Mulan. He said he went to China, filmed around the world, and I was talking to him just to meet him, just to say hello, and he was really looking at me and I think everything kind of fell together. Maybe because I was standing in front of him, maybe because I did kung fu, maybe because I was the same age. But he just really liked my image, my likeness, and decided that we would move forward with being his inspiration for the character. From there, my cousin who did Chang, George Kee, and I together would go in and do two different things – we would do basic animation modeling where we would do poses and the animators would just practice drawing. We’d strike different kinds of kung fu poses so they could get used to that. Because, you know, they can do people walking – they do that every time. But the martial arts and different movements – they wanted to get inspiration. They also did live action video. So we did video referencing where I would do it as a live-action film, and then they would use that as reference. We did not do any sensory. Disney is very specific to make sure everyone knows that. Because this was one of the last traditional animation projects they did. I ended up working with their choreographer, but he said “You’re the Chinese martial arts expert”, so I pretty much choreographed my own fight scenes as well. It was a great opportunity. We were excited when we heard they were going to do Mulan because of course it’s a famous Chinese folktale. My father was ecstatic – he was pulling out all his old books where he has literature on Hua Mulan, and we have paintings on it. There’s a cultural center next to our temple and we have artwork of the old Mulan, the original interpretation of the ballad, and then we have my movie poster right next to it. It’s like the old meeting the new, and it’s really really special. I couldn’t be more honored to be identified with such a great character – she’s not a damsel in distress. She is going out and doing the honorable thing, and she’s strong. And of course, then there’s the kung fu.
Brian: You and your family are practitioners of the northern style of kung fu as opposed to the southern style. Can you explain the difference, and what that means?
Mimi: There’s a general difference. It’s so involved – it’s like saying “Tell me the difference between Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian”. It’s like the languages. That’s the analogy I usually use, because they can understand language. With kung fu, we divide between north and south – that’s the first dividing line. The basic difference is the northern styles tend to use more leg work, it’s a 70% to 30% hand radio – we do a lot of high kicks, we do a lot of stance work, we do a lot of movement. Whereas the southern styles are usually really rooted, strong in one stance. They don’t do a lot of high acrobatic movement – they do a lot of hand work. That’s the basic difference. And then you can get into the dialects – there’s animal styles, different regions where a lot of it has been passed down through family lineage so it’s indicative to where their location is – the mountains will use more legwork for example. It’s a lot by region, but that’s a real basic description.
Brian: You’re an actor, producer, director and writer. That’s a lot of hats.
Mimi: Yes, that’s a lot of hats. I would say the first hat would be kung fu practitioner and teacher, so that’s my primary lifestyle of who I am. That has enabled me to do many many other things. I love art forms, I gravitated after Mulan to doing some stunt work in Los Angeles, I did some acting in LA, and I was fortunate to be on a pretty good path to pursuing that career, however I just…who I am since I’ve been three years old is a martial artist – that’s my discipline. I really missed my temple in Orlando, and it’s just a very different world in Hollywood. It’s an entertainment world, and I absolutely loved it, I loved the work I was doing, I loved the work I was potentially going to be doing, but ultimately it’s hard to be in two places at once. So I chose to return to Florida and keep my roots there. But then the bug kinda gets you because you want to create, you want to do something other than what you normally do on a day-to-day basis – it’s enriching and rewarding, but I thought “I’ve always wanted to do a documentary on my father” so I decided I would direct my own film. I was collecting footage for over ten years as it was, because I’m just a documentarian anyways. He is such a staple in history of Chinese martial arts. He is a huge figure, and everyone around the world who is really into martial arts knows him, and people come from around the world to our temple, so I thought “This is something special and I want to make sure I document it for posterity.” So I was collecting footage anyway and I just made the leap and I decided I’m going to direct my own film because it’s my own personal story and I didn’t want to hand it off to someone else. I have a lot of great friends and a lot of colleagues that are excellent directors, but I felt this was so personal to me I wanted to direct it myself. My friends convinced me that it was my personal story, so I had to narrate it as well. I have an acting background, but I was hesitant at first. It did lend to making the story a lot more personal and meaningful. It played really well – we won tons of awards and film festivals. We were very fortunate. It was my first film and I was very pleased with the way it came out. I’m also doing a theatrical production in October in Orlando called Journey to the West. It’s a martial arts theatrical production.
Brian: We usually close with this question, and no pressure. Everybody geeks out about something that has nothing to do with their job – it’s their passion outside of their normal life. What’s your geek?
Mimi: That’s a hard question because my life has so many paths, and I don’t know which one I consider my primary path. My life is my kung fu. But then I also enjoy the film stuff. I also love reading comic books and watching anime. I read a lot of comic books – my husband is actually a big comic book fan, and he’s dragged me in. I think my geek fans would enjoy “Y the Last Man” is my favorite comic book of all time. I’ve read Planetary, Irredeemable, Ex Machina, 100 Bullets – I’m told I like “underground comics”. My husband would be so proud!
Brian: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us!
It was a muggy Saturday morning in September in Atlanta. We were on our way from the Sheraton to the Marriott, having just stood next to a pool in our historically-accurate costumes with historically-accurate underpinnings, when we got stopped by a family dressed as the crew from the Starship Enterprise. They asked if they could take their picture with us, and we happily obliged. The mom told us how wonderful we looked, and sheepishly admitted she wasn’t really a Star Trek fan, but their daughter Dawn was, so they all dressed up with her. We told her that we love seeing the family cosplays, and that they looked wonderful. The family hurried on their way, smiles on their faces, and we didn’t think much more about it.
Two weeks later, we saw an article by the Huffington Post with a picture of Patrick Stewart hugging our Star Trek family. Dawn was meeting Sir Patrick Stewart as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Over the past few years, we’ve attended a lot of conventions, and one of things that sets Dragon Con apart is the involvement in charity, both on the local and national level. Last year, the Dragon Con charity was the Atlanta Community Food Bank, where over $115,000 was raised, including the company match of over $50,000. Every year there is a blood drive for LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and more than 110 hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. In 2014, the drive welcomed 3893 donors and collected 3,292 units, assisted by a crew of more than 60 people from all three states who descended on Atlanta to handle the flood of donors in costume. Also new last year was Dragon Con Superheros, which is a year-round community service project, which is continuing this year.
This year, Dragon Con’s selected charity is the Lymphoma Research Foundation, which will again match $50,000 of money raised. We’re certain the charitable attendees will surpass last year’s donations, and it’s nice to know we’re using our power of geek for good!
There are lots of options for women to participate in closet cosplay, but not a lot of fun options for the guys. This is something Jen has been working on for a few months, and she’s really excited to finally reveal it – Secret Identity neckties! You can check them out at our Etsy store, or see them in person this weekend at AthCon! We’ve got these three designs currently, but plan to add many more. What’s your secret identity?