Getting intimate: Game of Thrones’ Finn Jones

SER LORES TYRELL
SER LORAS TYRELL

Finn Jones plays the ever unattainable (for women at least) Knight of the Flowers, Ser Loras Tyrell. He’s Game of Thrones’ resident “confuser”, breaking hearts on both sides of the gender divide. As the anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones approaches and the Supanova Pop Culture Expo is right around the corner, I got to chat to the charming British actor, who will be in Australia this week. We spoke about everything from those “which character are you” online quizzes to Joseph Campbell’s theories on mythology, story and archetypes. Oh, and what his family made of “those scenes”. Here’s the transcript of my interview. Top bloke indeed.

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Sally Browne? I love your name. That’s a serious name. Sally Browne. I love it.

There’s a lot of songs about Sally Brown. Old sea shanties and the like.

So you’re the fantasy of every pirate then?

That’s right. I think she was some sort of Creole girl in the 1700s or something. If you’re into music you should check out the compilation Rogue’s Gallery. It was co-produced by Johnny Depp and has all these actors and singers doing traditional sea shanties. The Sally Brown song is on there.

I’ll definitely check it out. I’ll be thinking of you when I listen to it.

Where are you right now?

I am in Hollywood being driven around by my chauffeur as I’m taking these calls.

The life of a knight.

I’m telling you, it’s hard work.

What are you doing in LA?

I’m living here at the moment. I’ve moved here for three months, auditioning for movies and TV shows, saying hello to be people and actually just chilling out here as well. Getting a bit of sun. Getting away from the London smog and drizzle back home.

You’re coming to Australia for Supanova. Is there anyone at the convention you’re keen to catch?

Oh my God, yes, do you watch Adventure Time, that kids cartoon show? I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I’m a hardcore Adventure Time fan, so the idea that both Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio) are going to be there is totally blowing my mind. I’m definitely going to fan-girl out. I’ll be crying, screaming, fainting, crawling at their feet.

There’s two Finns?

Yeah, Finn the actor and Finn the cartoon character.

Tell us about your fans.

Do you know what, I get nothing but love. It’s really nice. I’ve never had a bad fan experience. I’ve never had anyone say anything nasty to me. It’s always been good positive vibes, which is really nice. I go to a lot of these conventions and wherever it is in the world I always meet a lot of nice people who say nice things. And they’re really intelligent as well. They’re not just mindless, stupid fans. They’re really thoughtful and they always have something intelligent to say about the show.

What about love letters? You must get a few love letters, from both genders.

From both genders, yes. I love the fact that I get male love letters and girl love letters. I got quite an x-rated one the other day, which was quite full on. But it’s all fun and games.

You’re obviously not prudish, to have done some of the scenes you did, what was your mum and dad’s reaction to all of that?

Oh my God, well, it wasn’t so much my mum and dad’s reaction, rather my grandparent’s reaction. I kind of just don’t speak to them about it. They just say, oh, saw you on that television show the other day, good work. Thank Gran, thanks Grandad. A bit awkward, but they’re proud of me so that’s fine.

You grew up in Bromley, what did your parents do?

My dad works in the police and my mother is now a foster carer. They’re very nurturing, lovely people, they’ve all been very pro me doing what I do, lots of support, which is nice.

What’s it like on the set of Game of Thrones, who do you tend to hang out with?

Kind of everyone really. There’s a really good family vibe on set. I’m not saying this just to say it but I genuinely mean it. Everyone that comes on the show are really amazing people. It’s great to hang out with them. I’m really good friends with Gwen (Christie) who plays Brienne, and Alfie (Allen) who plays Theon. I always say it’s one of the best things about the show. Not only is it a hit TV show which is being seen by millions of people and allows me to do really good work, also it’s connected to really nice, wonderful people who will become lifelong friends.

What do you do in your downtime on set?

You stand around, maybe in the Greenroom playing games on our iPads. It’s nice in Croatia you get to go down to the old town, have some nice meals, go to the beach. When you’re stuck in Belfast it’s a little bit wetter but there’s always a nice vibe to catch with everyone. When you’re going on to a new season it always feels like you’re returning home. It’s always nice to see everyone.

Have you done one of those Game of Thrones ‘who would you be’ quizzes? I got Khaleesi, by the way.

Khaleesi! Nice. I think I’d be most like… I don’t know who. I’d like to think I’d be like Bran, Bran Stark. I think I relate to him most out of all the characters. He’s my favourite. That’s who I want to see on the Iron Throne. I want to see Bran and Hodor side by side, ruling the realm. I think they’d do a good job.

Is there someone you’d like to play?

I quite like the badies. I like Jofrey. I like Theon. I think they’d be characters that you could really get your teeth into, but personally Bran’s my favourite.

I see from your Twitter post that you’re a fan of (mythologist and author of The Hero with A Thousand Faces) Joseph Campbell.

I’m a massive, massive fan of him.

Game of Thrones has so many heroes and so many journeys. How do you think it follows the hero’s journey pattern?

Wow. I don’t know actually. It’s really difficult to tell the hero’s journey because the journey hasn’t finished yet in Game of Thrones. And I thought about Loras’s hero’s journey, and Loras doesn’t have a typical hero’s journey. What’s interesting about Game of Thrones is it doesn’t use the typical hero’s journey formula – like Ned Stark being beheaded. And I think in today’s day and age when we don’t have any modern day mythology to relate to and to see ourselves through, that’s why people are allured to it because it’s not conventional. As an actor, I’ve only started reading Joseph Campbell in the past seven months. I’ve read the book and listened to all kinds of audios and interviews and all that kind of stuff. Personally, as an actor I’d love to be given a role that fulfilled the whole hero’s journey, the whole arc, but a lot of the characters don’t fulfill the archetype. But again, I think that’s why it’s so popular. We’re in a day and age when nothing is perfect anymore and we need a new mythology for our times.

I think maybe out of everyone, Tyrion embodies the hero archetype. He’s the outsider, he tries to do the right thing, he gets beaten down, all that kind of stuff, so I think Tyrion is the true hero of the story.

What do you love outside of acting?

I love books. Joseph Campbell’s one of them. I’m hugely into music – hopefully when I’m in Australia there’ll be some good bands to see. I like nature. Outdoorsy things. It sounds like Australia is the perfect place for that. I love to go exploring and getting lost in the world. I like people as well. I’m a real people person.

Go meet him in person at Supanova, Gold Coast, April 4-6, Melbourne, April 11-13.

Posted in Adventure, Geeks, Journalism, Life, Television | 1 Comment

Jill Thompson: Sandman to Scary Godmother

FUN SIZE
MORPHEUS FUN SIZE

She has been headhunted by Neil Gaiman for his Sandman series and was one of the first female artists to draw Wonder Woman for DC. She has also created her own lovable characters Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie. And next week she is coming to Australia for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo.

When Jill Thompson first started getting into comics in her native Chicago there were few women artists. Now tons of GIRLS (look them up in your creature guide) have been inspired to make as well as consume comics, myself included.

Growing up on a diet of Archie and X-Men, Thompson knew it was something she wanted to do from an early age and it wasn’t long before she made it her career. Known for reinterpreting Gaiman’s Sandman characters as the uber-cute Little Endless, she has also won awards for her own Scary Godmother series of books and cartoons – and soon to be doll! Her latest Beasts of Burden comic also just hit the shops.

Ahead of her visit to Supanova I got to chat to the lovely Jill Thompson and discovered she is much more than just “the girl who can draw”. Here she talks about how she got into the art form and how Neil Gaiman decided she was good enough to wait for.

“Way back when I started drawing comics there were very few women who drew comics. My foot in the door was I was easy to remember because I was ‘that girl who wanted to draw comics’. Where everyone else was a bearded bespectacled guy with a plaid shirt and a portfolio, I was the girl that was showing her portfolio. And that I think got me remembered. There were only a few of us girls and some of us still get mistaken for each other even though we don’t look anything alike.

“When I was a teenager I wanted to work for Marvel comics. I wanted to draw the X-Men. I also wanted to draw Snoopy. I told my mum when I grow up I want to draw Snoopy and she set me straight and said the reason you get to see Snoopy is because someone draws him. If you want to draw a comic you have to draw your own. I then started drawing comics that were similar to Snoopy. I then discovered Archie comics and loved those. And then because I really liked comics my father started bringing them home for me. On certain Fridays I would see him come home from the train and he had a little green bag under his arm and that meant he’d been to the newsstand.

“He would pick them out. He brought home what I considered scary comics at the time – and scary comics were superhero comics – because there was always a guy grimacing on the front or beating someone up. Every day my brother and I would come home from school and read them over and over and over, so that just by looking at the covers we’d know all the stories inside.

“It was somewhere between the Archie comics and the X-Men that I fully committed myself to this is what I’m going to do when I grow up. Some recommended I go to art school and I took their advice. I got a job while I was in art school for a company called First Comics. There was no big a-ha moment. It was kind of working for small companies and then working my way up to a large company.

“Happily one of the first things that I worked on at DC comics, the second thing that I worked on there, was Sandman with Neil Gaiman. While I was working on Wonder Woman Neil had seen my work when he was in the office and he really liked it. He wanted to work with me and my editor at the time said no, she has a contract so she can’t do this. And he kept patiently waiting till my contract was up. So I could do the Brief Life story line and that’s when I became someone whose name was recognised for something.

“There are more female creators now. It’s changing because the readership is changing. People at conventions, it’s a pretty good mix, sometimes 50/50. Sandman has always had a huge female readership and I’ve found that people who read Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie are a huge mix. Which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to be little kids, their parents, grandparents, both boys and girls. I just wanted to make fun comics that everyone can enjoy. I think I have accomplished that with my creator-owned work.

ARTIST JILL THOMPSON
ARTIST JILL THOMPSON

“There are so many more women doing comics. When I started there were a handful. You could count them on one hand and I would include myself. But now there are many, and there are so many women doing their own webcomics. The internet has created a fantastic venue for comics in general. I’ve also been lucky because some girls that have come up to me who have created their own comics have told me that the reason that they’re doing what they’re doing is because I was there – and it makes me feel that those are my girls and those are my children. I’m glad that I loved comics enough that that made me want to do comics, so my comics were there when they liked comics, so they knew that girls could do it.”

Jill Thompson

Posted in Brisbane, Comics, Geeks, Journalism | Leave a comment

Naked talking with the SuicideGirls

SUICIDEGIRLS FOUNDER MISSY SUICIDE
SUICIDEGIRLS FOUNDER MISSY SUICIDE

Missy Suicide (aka Selena Mooney), a web developer from Portland, started SuicideGirls, an alternative pin-up site, in 2001 at the age of 24. The website and its community has grown to a hub of 3,000 girls, 500,000 members and 12 million followers on every social network you can think of. When they recently released a coffee table book in comic book stores in the US, they attracted queues of 600-long in the street. They’re currently in Australia performing their Blackheart Burlesque tour to themes including Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Dr Who. Straddling the evocative and the provocative, they’ve been praised for celebrating alternative beauty and going against the grain, but they have also been criticised for perpetuating stereotypes of female beauty in different packaging and encouraging female objectification. So who better to talk to about a very hot topic than the founder herself? I got to chat to the very lovely and candid Missy Suicide ahead of the SuicideGirls tour. Here she answers some questions about feminism and the female form.

What was your motivation to start SuicideGirls?

2001 was a very different time. There were really two types of beautiful women. There was the Pamela Anderson silicon-enhanced buxom blonde or there was the waif thin Kate Moss supermodel blonde, and that was it. That was the spectrum of beautiful. I knew all these girls who were gorgeous so I wanted to create a place where they could be themselves and appreciated for the beauty that I saw within them. I decided I was going to create pin-up style photos of my friends but in non-traditional settings. I had a collection of those and I decided I was going to create a website where they could post and keep blogs and express themselves not only through their photos but through their own words. And then we gave the members (subscribers) blogs as wells so they could get to know the girls and interact. The idea really took off. It turns out people like to social network. It was 2001, it was before Friendster or MySpace or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or any of that. The idea that we were creating a place where people would say, I’m looking at these girls naked, and I’m going to put up (a picture of) my face and I’m going to share about my life on this website. It was a radical idea.

Do you consider yourself feminist-friendly?

It’s always a tricky thing because that word can mean so much to so many different people. I think that we are feminist and the main message behind SuicideGIrls is that every woman is sexy. Confidence is the sexiest attribute a person can have. I think that if every woman felt confident and beautiful about herself the world would be a much happier place. I think it’s one of those core things, if you don’t feel confident and comfortable in your body, you’re stuck with your body, so you’ve got to love it. It holds you back in different ways. To be feminist is to love yourself.

What about ordinary girls who might feel intimidated by how attractive all the Suicide Girls are?

If you look on the site, there are over 3,000 girls that are Suicide Girls – so chances are any girl who looks on the site will find a girl who looks similar to them – whether it’s a “hopeful” (someone who wants to become a Suicide Girl) or an actual Suicide Girl – but even the hopefuls have thousands of people giving them positive feedback and compliments and comments and stuff, helping them out (with their photographs), such as, oh, you’re so beautiful but your photos aren’t exactly right or you look a little scared. There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of photos up on the site, of girls that are beautiful and look like normal girls. They are normal girls.

You’ve got alternative looks but what about alternative body types?

There are SuicideGirls who are amputees, there are SuicideGirls who are little people. Anything you can possibly imagine. They may not be 200 that are a certain way, but there’s somebody that looks like most people. The site has been there for 12 years and there are girls that have been on there since it started. There’s a lot of variety.

What would you say to people who might say you’re perpetuating standards of female beauty in different packaging?

First of all, all the sets (of pictures) on the site go through member review and the SuicideGirls that do well are the ones that members respond most positively to. There’s no shortage of variety of sets that get put into the member review process.

Similarly, what would you say to criticism that even though it represents alternative beauty, it’s still about the objectification of women?

SuicideGirls celebrates the beauty of a woman’s body, which is sexy, but there’s nothing graphic about what we do. Everybody has a body and SuicideGirls aren’t embarrassed by their body or the fact that they feel sexy about themselves, because they should. I don’t think there’s anything really negative about that message.

What about Suicide Boys? I would look at that.

There’s a group on the site where members submit photos. There’s a Suicide Boys group and they give each other weekly assignments. It’s coming along.

Why aren’t things more gender balanced?

Dita von Teese’s burlesque show has men in it. But there’s hundreds of years of females perfecting the art of being sexy for the opposite sex. The idea of a man doing a sexy dance for a female has not been explored much. Most of the male performers are for a male audience. It hasn’t been perfected yet. It’s hard because every time I poll my friends and ask, what do you find sexiest about a guy, they all say different things. There’s not that consensus. When you say, what is sexy about a woman’s body – boobs and a butt. Most men are boob men or butt men, but women will say, the back of his hands, his shirt, crazy stuff. We have to decide what we would like first and we could probably do it.

In music videos and popular culture in general female empowerment often comes through sexuality. Even if it’s Lady Gaga or Beyonce saying I’m a strong woman they’re still presenting it through sexuality. Why is a woman’s worth so often linked with beauty or sexuality?

I think it’s a touch point for confidence. If you’re confident in your body and sexuality you tend to be more confident in your life in general. Even heads of state feel pretty confident in the way that they look. That might have something to do with it.

Being in the position you’ve in, you’ve probably been asked these kinds of questions before – is it challenging for you to deal with questions of anti-feminism and objectification as a woman in that role in that industry?

It is hard to answer those questions. I don’t feel like I’ve been elected as a spokesperson for feminism. All different types of women around the world feel they’re coming into power. Feminism means so much to them – it’s 50 per cent of the population and it’s very hard for me to speak for 50 per cent of the population and say intrinsically this is how women feel because first of all it would be impossible to get 50 per cent of the population to agree on anything and I certainly don’t feel I should be a mouthpiece for them. All I can speak to is my own ideas. And I used to be more timid about that because of backlash in the press. People would be like, that is not feminist! And I’d be, OK, I’m sorry. I feel like I should be able to speak my opinion about what feminism means to me.

What can you tell me about SuicideGirls stats?

We have over 12 million people in our social network following: Twitter and Tumbler and all the different social networks and that’s been huge growth. We started out with 12 girls and we thought we’d be popular in Portland and maybe Seattle.

I have to confess that seeing so many beautiful women affects my feelings about my own body. I was with a guy the other day and I said, we’re going to go to SuicideGirls but you’re going to have to tell me for 10 minutes afterwards how beautiful I am. He said, you’re an idiot. I said, you can call me that as well.

Aw, really? I never modelled for the site because I was a self-conscious 24-year-old girl. But since I’ve been exposed to the site for years and years I feel much more confident and comfortable with my body then I did back then. They don’t intimidate me. I think because I’ve seen so many different types of women be celebrated. Girls that are thicker, girls that are thinner. Girls that are bumpier, girls with tiny waists or big bums, girls with every body type, it’s made me realise there are people that appreciate the type of body that you have, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them. They’re going to be exactly tuned in to what you have, so if you are projecting that, if you are confident and feel sexy about it there’s going to be thousands of people going, hey, yeah, you’re sexy and you’ll find them. There’s no reason for anybody to be ashamed of their body these days.

Posted in Journalism, Life, Portland, Sex | Leave a comment

The parable of the shy slut: or, what do me, Hannah Gadsby and my cat have in common?

pussies
Firstly, apologies to Hannah Gadsby for using the word “slut” in reference to her name. I’m sure this is not a combination that is commonly typed into search engines. But, hey, I thought if I use the word in the title, my blog might get a few more hits.
So, yes, what do comedienne extraordinaire Hannah Gadsby, girl-cat ordinaire Domino and me, journalist and wannabe everything have in common?
The answer is, we are all introverted extroverts.
I have occasionally described myself as an inhibited exhibitionist. There are tons of wild and crazy things I’d love to do, if only I had the chutzpah, the bravery, or the super-hot bod. Sometimes I do them. Having a shower naked outside in the rain, for example. Standing on stage telling jokes. Eating dinner in a restaurant with my shirt off. (If you define Pizza Hut as restaurant.) What I wouldn’t do if I didn’t have the bounds of propriety or insecurity to hold me back. That person you saw streaking through the park the other day, that may or may not have been me. But oftentimes people describe me as “quiet” and I think, noooo, you just don’t understand.
I’m not the only one. Recently I met a lovely guy who described himself as an introverted extrovert, or a shy slut (and hooray for the non-gender-specific use of that word). I understood immediately. Not only am I something similar, so is my cat. She is skittish, jumps at everything and her meows and purrs are so tiny you can barely hear them. But touch her fur and she’ll be rolling on her back with a coquettish “give me more”, looking up at you with big vortex eyes. She likes attention so much she even lifts her tail for the vet when he is taking her temperature (up the ass) and she struts the streets most evenings advertising her wares with her tiny bell-like meow. When I was overseas one time, my flatmate and her boyfriend had taken to calling Domino (Dom Dom for short, or sometimes Sub Sub) a little kitty slut. They said to each other, “We better stop calling her that. Sally’s coming home soon, she might get upset.” But as soon as I walked in the door, I bent down to greet my kitten with a “Domino, how are you doing my pretty little kitty slut!” They were surprised and relieved. (Don’t worry, she doesn’t get offended. She can’t understand human.) But the fact that she had these two opposing sides to her personality just made her interesting and unique.
The other day I met a really cool guy at a workshop. Let’s call him Ken, because his name is actually Ken. There were maybe 50 people at this workshop and Ken was the quietest guy in the room. The facilitator said to him, “Do you know that by being the quietest guy in the room you actually stand out? By being invisible you’re actually very visible.” Ken had no idea. But when he grabbed the mic, all our impressions of him exploded. He was articulate, voluble and funny. We didn’t want him to stop talking. He made us laugh so hard.
I said to him later, “So are you the guy who is quiet in a room full of regular folk but get yourself in a small group of your friends and you can be the loudest, funniest one there?”. “Exactly!” he said. The two personalities were so “contradictory” it was hard to believe they existed in the same person. But a few beers at the pub and an exuberant, animated, rolling conversation with Ken later proved that they can.
So many of my friends are like this. Quiet geeks who may not fit in to the rest of society, but get them in front of a group of their own “tribe” and they can’t shut up. They’re the life of the party, the centre of attention and some of the wittiest, most entertaining people you’ll meet.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to Hannah Gadsby. I interviewed the deliciously dry comedienne for U on Sunday magazine, ahead of her shows at the Brisbane Comedy Festival this week (March 11-18).
Her new show is called Exhibitionist. In it, she talks about our fascination with the selfie and looks at selfies through time (self-portraits, that is). The award-winning comedienne seems like she was born to this. But before she stumbled into this comedy caper, stood on stage and discovered she had an uncanny ability to make people laugh, she was shy, introverted and sometimes didn’t want to leave the house. Being on stage today, however, she feels perfectly comfortable, chilled even. So relaxed she says her heart might stop beating. And comedy has come a long way to improving her confidence. She may not be the centre of attention at a party, but she’s no wallflower either. She’s brave and badass in a quiet, self-effacing way.
So don’t judge a book by its cover, or a song by its volume. As Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” And I’m assuming he wasn’t talking about all the microscopic bugs living in his body. (Which reminds me of the Valentine’s Day Scabies Incident, but that’s another story I’ll spare you here.) So yes, Myers-Briggs types be dashed, it’s perfectly possible to be a little bit of everything.
You can be an introverted extrovert or an inhibited exhibitionist or a shy slut (or a sly shut if you’ve had a few). Hell yeah is the answer! And long live them all too.
This blog is brought to you by Ugees cafe, West End, where I wrote it.
PS I wrote this blog feeling bold. Then I edited feeling unbold and wondering why I’m drawing attention to myself? But screw it.
PPS I’d love to know how you contradict yourself too!

Posted in Adventure, Geeks, Life, Sex | 1 Comment

Margot Robbie, zombie queen

This week I interviewed the charming Margot Robbie, the Gold Coast girl and star of the much talked about film The Wolf of Wall Street.

She was absolutely lovely and told me in the course of our chat she is actually a big zombie fan. So, of course, I told her about LUV Comics.

Here’s what she said about zombies below. For the full interview, pick up today’s U on Sunday magazine in The Sunday Mail.

“The book I’m reading at the moment, my sister gavMARGOT ROBBIEe it to me for Christmas, it’s a zombie survival guide. I have this bizarre fascination, more so a conviction that there’s a pending zombie apocalypse around the corner. I stay up at night, planning how I’m going to (deal with it), a short term plan, a long term plan, feasible options. When she gave me that book, I was like brilliant, there’s a plethora of information I can use. I’ve been reading that quite closely at the moment.

“I’m the girl to talk to. When I worked with Will (Smith) on Focus, I sat him down and interrogated him on I Am Legend. I’m like, ‘Give me all the information you’ve got!’ And he’s like, ‘Margot, this is a made-up thing’ and I’m like, ‘Will, tell me everything you know.’ And it was fine because he said Jayden, his son, also has the same irrational fear about the impending zombie apocalypse.”

Go Margot! Hmn, wonder what advice we can give her on the impending apocalypse…?

Posted in Brisbane, Comics, Journalism | 2 Comments

Harry Potter loves Ball Park Music

ball-park-music-555x369
OUT OF THE PARK

So I was kicking around the internet when I came across a video of Daniel Radcliffe being interviewed during a photoshoot to promote his new movie Kill Your Darlings, in which he plays Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

The interviewer from the UK Guardian asks Daniel what’s on his iTunes. The ever cheerful Daniel opens up his laptop and rattles off a list of some pretty cool indie rock acts… The Black Keys, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Pixies… Ball Park Music.

Wait a minute, isn’t that the Brisbane band that no one outside of our fair country has heard of (yet)?

I rang Ball Park Music frontman Sam Cromack to ask him what it was like to have such a hallowed fan as Harry Potter and this is what he said:

“I was on my way to the markets and our bandmate Paul sent me a text and he massively underplayed how big a deal it was. He said, check out this video I think it’s pretty cool. I thought it was going to be one of his housemates doing something stupid. And I had a look and there it was Daniel Radcliffe going through his iTunes, and picking us out amongst, like you say, a whole bunch of high pedigree indie rock acts.

“I honestly have no idea how he heard about us. We just toured the UK and Europe and did a short stint in the US as well. but our radio coverage in the UK is next to zero. There are some Aussie expats there but I doubt they’re friends with Daniel Radcliffe! Someone did tell me he has been spending time in US and we’ve had more airplay there so that’s a possibility. But honestly, who knows, but it’s exciting nevertheless.”

The band’s Facebook page went wild with the news, and hopefully it will mean some new fans for the band too, if Harry spreads the word.

“It would be cool to reach out to him and say g’day and send him some new music when it’s done,” says Sam.

Ball Park Music are now in the studio finishing up their third album, a follow up to Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs and Musuem. If you’re not familiar with the band, here’s a couple of reasons why Dan is such fan, and you should be too: SurrenderIt’s Nice to be Alive

Pass it on!

Posted in Brisbane, Music | 1 Comment

Supanova explodes

MWA!
MWA!

LUV Comics had an awesome time at its first ever convention, Supanova, in Brisbane, this weekend. We SOLD OUT of our debut book A Geeks’ Guide to Girls. And after that we even took orders for more copies… so if you think you missed out, you haven’t. Get your requests in now.

Lots of cool colourful people came to visit our stall, including Spider-Man, Loki, Pikachu and Edward Scissorhands.

And LUV’s main characters Claudia and Maynard got out and about amongst the crowd too, taking photos with some keen cosplayers. Maynard is a big nerd after all. Have you spotted the number of geeky T-shirts he has in our comic? And Claudia wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to pose with a hunky guy.

Myself and artist Dan Gilmore were on hand to give FREE DATING ADVICE to passers-by. And that was kind of fun – dishing out words of wisdom gained from years of experience. So glad relationships mistakes could be poured into something useful – advice and a comic.

CLAUDIA'S NEW FRIEND
HOT STUFF

We were trying to figure out our audience, which ranged from teenage girls to 30-something guys. A surprising number of dads bought copies for their sons.

“Are you a geek?” I asked one sharply dressed young man who was there with his dad. “No, but I’d like to be,” he said.

Isn’t that awesome? To be a geek is now something to be desired.

And our first review is in! “I like Maynard, but I don’t like Claudia. She’s too rude.” – Sally’s Mum

So, stay tuned for more episodes of LUV online. In the meantime, you can catch up on what you missed out on by placing your order with us… as soon as we figure out this online ordery thingy.

Posted in Adventure, Brisbane, Comics, Geeks, Goals, Writing | 1 Comment

On like Comic Con

ON THE WAY!
ON THE WAY!

Even Batman has to queue sometimes. The MCM Comic Con in London, which takes place twice a year, is absolutely epic. More than 50,000 people pass through its doors dressed as superheroes, anime characters and computer game stars.

But it’s a slow process. While tons of fantasy characters are running around outside taking pictures of each other, inside, herded through a vast room divided by a maze of gates, is the biggest queue I’ve ever seen. I’d been debating whether to go to the Comic Con in London, or a zombie walk in Brighton, but queuing for the Comic Con was much the same thing. After a couple of hours of shuffling, my limbs slowly willing themselves to fall off, finally we were set free.

PINKIE PIE, MY LITTLE PONY
PINKIE PIE, MY LITTLE PONY

Inside, there was much to see. Spider-Man hugging Pikachu, beautiful Bronies, anime princesses with flowing wigs of pink and blue and green, and possibly a few too many “free hugs” signs. There are the usual industry booths and stalls, but most people are there to look at the other cosplayers. It’s an event where the patrons are the show.

I stopped a few cosplayers for chats, many who’d come from miles around. “It takes a quarter of the day to get here, another quarter to get in,” said one.

Some were pros, others newbies. “This is my first time dressing up,” said a Team Rocket member. “It helps if you have a girlfriend who does it.”

But there would be none of this without the artists and writers who dream it all up. And so to the Comics Village I went to meet lots of great local creators hoping to gain attention for their talent. Here are a few to check out:

The Moon (what the moon gets up to during the day – fighting crime of course!)
Tallisman Rogue
Ushio Comics – Japanofail!
The dark confessional world of Dominic Lyne

One artist even said he saw someone dressed as his creation, Killer Bunny. It’s a comic creator’s dream come true.

Underling and Pirachu
Underling and Pirachu

Next month in Australia, it’s time for Supanova, and that means artist Dan Gilmore and myself will be hosting our own FIRST EVER COMIC STAND! Please come and check us out. We’ve been rushing towards creating our first book for LUV Comics – our geek meets girl tale of love, social awkwardness, music and zombies. If you’re not in Australia, you can check the comics out online. We’d love to know what you think!

So, comic conventions – a place where fantasy does not quite meet reality. And now, here, compiled for you, are some funny things I overheard at the MCM Comic Con London.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen or heard at a comics convention?

Overheard at MCM Comic Con London:

Grell Sutcliff and Ms Marvel
Grell Sutcliff and Ms Marvel

“I said, ‘This is not a phase, Mum, this is who I am.’” (Naruto girl)

“I’m dressing up as Hikemon, from an ancient Japanese cartoon about people who go hiking.” (A dad in normal clothes)

“You know what this reminds me of? A school trip.” (walking to the event)

“Follow the Pikachu.”

“I’ve just seen a fez. That means Dr. Who.”

“Someone’s dropped a banana. That means there’s a Donkey Kong somewhere.”

“409, 410, 411, 412 fist bumps!” (A girl in the epic queue)

“Stop swinging your sword about, you’re going to hit someone on the head!” (Elf to orc)

Onyx guard and Juliet Starling
Onyx guard and Juliet Starling

“Not a good look. Do you want a nice warm bowl of ‘no’.” (Guys commenting on a girl’s skimpy outfit)

“That big foam mallet means there’s a Harley Quinn.”

“I just saw a giraffe!”

“…… le costume” (in French)

“I’m not quite normal.”

“If you die can I have your leet password?”

“If you die can I have your manga collection?”

“What does your wallet have on it? Probably a picture of a dick.”

KAKASHI HATAKE AND TABI
KAKASHI HATAKE AND TABI
Team Rocket
Team Rocket
Posted in Adventure, Comics, Geeks, Life, London | 6 Comments

London loves

Right on!
Right on!

Who says you can’t be an anarchist and a capitalist? Visiting Camden markets the other day I met 15-year-old Rory Ballard, who, as you can see by this lovely sample, will let you take a photo with him for the low-low-low price of one pound.

I had a lovely chat with Rory, who is a top bloke indeed. He says he and his mates – about five or six of them – often hang around the Camden lock bridge offering people the chance to take home a memory with a real life London punk. He says it’s mostly tourists and nostalgic old punks who take him up on the offer.

“You get a few older punks who grew out of it,” he says. “They just look like normal people now.”

Rory says he got into punk music via his older sister. She played him a song by The King Blues called What if Punk Never Happened. A scary thought indeed. We would never have had post-punk. Rory rattled off some of his favourite bands: The Casualties, Leftover Crack, Restarts, The Filaments, Inner Terrestrials, Exploited, GBH.

“I think it’s got something to say,” he says of punk’s appeal. “It’s not just talking about money or drugs.”

Camden markets have certainly cleaned up since I last visited. A labyrinth of wonders, it’s easy to get lost amongst the racks of rock clothing, rock soap and rock cake until you find your way out into the open again via the scent of Peruvian, Moroccan or Ethiopian food. Amongst the twists and turns, the place is now decorated with giant bronze horse sculptures coming out of the walls and floors, representing the stables that used to be there in the 1800s. It’s pretty epic, and while it might add a bit of polish to the once grungy markets that have been there since the 1970s, I think it creates a sense of fantasy and wonder.

Beware of the Cyberdog
Beware of the Cyberdog

One of the hottest establishments is Cyberdog, a future-shock paradise selling out-there club wear that has been around since the turn of the last century. Once found in an underground archway, it now occupies three floors. It’s the only shop I’ve ever seen people queue to get into. Two giant cyber sentries guard the door and once inside, you’re rewarded with the vision of two dancers (one female and one male I’m happy to say) on a high-tiered platform energetically keeping pace to the pumping techno beats. Future fashion has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. I remember in 2001 thinking how much the clothes at Cyberdog represented the 1960s vision of the future: new tactile fabrics, strange padded clothing, wide hoop necklines, Jetsons style dresses. It was 2001, the future had arrived and now the kids were wearing those clothes! Well now it’s 2013, we’re even further into the future and Cyberdog is still selling the same space-age clothes like nothing has changed. Hmn. So we’ve got the outfits, but has the future really arrived? Where are our hoverboards? Where is my hand-held smart device? Oh yes, I lost that.

It might be a capitalist mecca, but Camden is a great place for individual artists and designers to show off their wares. I also chatted to Jeff the Chicago artist who has made London his home and art his living for the last eight years. He mans a stall selling comic artwork somewhere in the mess of stalls and shops. You can check out his art online at killerbunny.co.uk or if you are in London town head to the MCM Comic Con at the end of the month.

What's up Doc?
What’s up Doc?

If the crowds and the chaos gets too much, just a stroll away past the locks, where people gather by the side of the canal snacking on crepes and Turkish pide, you’ll find yourself in utter quiet as you walk along the canal. Canals have been in these parts since the early 1800s when Dingwall’s (now a club) was a lumber yard.

Camden is a tourist destination of course and certainly you’ll hear lots of foreign accents. But they’re guaranteed to be the cool kids, just like you. So, it may be capitalist heaven, but it’s got a heart of solid bronze. And, I’m happy to say, punk’s not dead. Right on, London!

Posted in Adventure, Life, London, Music, Travel | 2 Comments

On a platform: the life of a San Francisco Chronicle columnist

CAILLE MILLNER
CAILLE MILLNER

Her picture and by-line appear on the back page of the San Francisco Chronicle every Friday. In cafes around the city, thoughtful San Franciscans will turn the pages with buttery fingers, masticating on their bagels and cream cheese and forming opinions about the hot topic of the day.

Some are inspired to write back. As a columnist for the city’s major newspaper, Caille Millner gets to express her views on everything from the cosy to the controversial. And for many readers, especially as journalism moves online, that’s a gateway to a conversation.

That means a writer must have thick skin. It’s something Millner has learned ever since she had her first article published in her home town paper, The San Jose Mercury News, when she was 16. She wrote an article about racism at her school and quickly learned the backlash that exposure can bring.

Since then, Millner has forged a career as a quiet commentator, writing a memoir, The Golden Road, about her journey as an African-American in a suburban Hispanic neighbourhood of San Jose to the heights of Harvard and beyond, to living in Berlin and advising the German Chancellery on policy (if only they had listened!) to coming back full circle as a voice of the Bay Area.

In the modern surrounds of The Mill bakery, with the strains of Grimes playing in the background, she sat down with girlreporter.net to discuss life as a “girl reporter” for one of the most respected papers in the US – and show us what’s on her iPod.

What’s it like working at the Chronicle? What’s the buzz in the office like?

You can always tell when something interesting is going on because all of a sudden everybody’s running around a little bit and everybody gets really excited. At the same time we’re a newspaper and we’re going through all the changes that the industry is going through, dealing with questions about what we do with content, online, the internet, how do we sustain ourselves as a business. So we’re gathering news, running around and trying to figure out the big questions at the same time.

Are people excited or scared about what’s happening in newspapers?

It’s been going on for a long time so we’re not as panicked as we were five years ago. Things are stabilising and people are trying different things, paywalls, micropayments, clicks, who knows yet, but at least we feel like we have a basis where we can say, OK, things cannot get too much worse. We still have people who pay for the newspaper itself.

You have to pay people to create content. I was reading a study the other day that said that since online journalism has come out there has actually been less news reporting because so many people are just digesting what everyone else is saying. Of course, that makes sense. It’s a big job to find a story. I’m not sure what the answer is.

As a columnist, you’re putting yourself out there, so everybody feels they have a right to reply. How does it work with your column?

I talked to Meghan Daum, a columnist at the LA Times, before I started and she told me you’re not doing a good job unless people also dislike you. It’s not good to write a column that nobody feels anything about, and it’s true. People are weird, especially on the internet. I do feel like women columnists get it harder; the attacks on us are much more personal. A lot of [the San Francisco Chronicle] readers are older; they think that they don’t want to hear the voice of someone younger for whatever reason, so they tell me that. A lot of the time, they’re very personal, but I don’t take it personally anymore. But it is strange. They talk about what you look like; they say you could never know anything because you’re younger, you’re pretty…

What’s your process in writing a column?

It sort of depends on the week. I try to do a balance of things that are national and local. There’s a process of going out and looking for things, trying to contact people, sometimes praying that something falls into my lap. Sometimes things get decided at the last minute; sometimes they’re set up a long way in advance.

Is there a column that’s gotten the most response?

People will respond when you write about animals. They will respond when you write about technology, especially here. They’ll respond to polls, to questions. It’s funny because I never know what is going to get a response. A lot of times I’m surprised. I wrote a column about shopping in a supermarket and I got a big response from that.

What do you love about San Francisco?

Physically, it’s so beautiful. I love being close to the ocean. I love having the mountains nearby. I love the way the city looks, the hills, the parks, even just walking around my neighbourhood. I like the food, we have great museums. San Francisco’s a fairly small city, we have less than 1 million people but in a lot of ways we have amenities of a much bigger city.

I grew up in San Jose in the South Bay; it’s a million people but it’s fairly quiet. Everyone lives in their family homes and there’s very little to do, which is probably why I started writing because I was bored as a child. I always read and it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. If I’d known as a kid how difficult it was going to be I probably would have done something else. It’s hard to make a living as a writer. It was a real shock to me that not everybody valued books and writing as much as I did. It’s still a real shock to me. It probably always will be!

Do you have favourite writers?

I wrote my thesis on Jimmy Baldwin. I really like Henry James and Cormac McCarthy. I like the German writer W.G. Sebald a lot. And then journalists working today: Jon Lee Anderson, Rebecca Solnit, she’s a local author, she’s great, a really hard worker. Richard Rodriguez is another really wonderful local author.

Are there challenges particular to being a female journalist?

People are not as comfortable with the idea of women having authority, and being any sort of journalist or writer or creator of anything is assuming a position of authority so there’s a certain amount of hostility that goes along with that. That being said depending on what sort of journalism you want to do you it can be in advantage in that different people will probably open up to you than would open up to a man.

Do you think the internet has opened up more platforms for people to talk about feminism?

I think the internet has replicated most of structures that are already within our society. I think the same problems that you see at a societal level you will also see on the internet. And some cases worse because totally anonymous speech can be damaging, particularly to people who are marginalised. So, it’s interesting because the internet was designed to be this renegade platform where everybody would have a voice and what we’re seeing is a lot of structures and hierarchy around who gets to be seen who gets to be heard.

Any particular sites that you follow?

I follow all the news sites, I like tumblr a lot. There are a lot of new voices that have emerged on the internet, but I feel like we’re at a point now where things are becoming institutionalised. There are fewer channels to discover those new voices. Blogging is definitely over, which is a shame. We’re just seeing fewer and fewer people start and keep their own blogs. That individual blog platform is collapsing. I don’t like the internet becoming like television where everybody watches the same channel: an excessive amount of people only check about five sites, and two of them are Facebook and Google, exactly what you’d expect. So I would be sad about losing the internet as a place of discovery.

Do you have any favourite bands?

Here there’s a really great local band called The Tussle; I interviewed them. I’ve been listening to Prince. I’m always listening to Prince. I like the Divine Fits album that came out last year. According my iPod, I’m listening to Dirty Projectors, Jay-Z, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nina Simone and PJ Harvey.

So, go on, Internet, get opinionated.

Posted in Journalism, Music, San Francisco, Travel, Writing | 1 Comment