STGCC 2017 Mega Picture Post: Day 2

Here’s the Mega Picture Post for Day 2. I had a little more fun because I had gotten my bearings, but the layout still did throw me for a loop. I spent most of this day hanging out with my friend Shaun, who was dressed as the Joker and stopped for lots of photos with children, none of him he killed – so he didn’t go all the way into character. Please check out Day 1’s Mega Picture Post here.

Jay as Doctor Strange

Shaun as the Joker in the Millennium Falcon

Is the Joker worthy?

Mjolnir may have made its choice, but that doesn’t mean Thor has to approve.

KO!

The Marvel gang seems quite accepting of the Joker.

Eunice as Harley Quinn and Alice as Poison Ivy

Joker gets all the gals

Something the Joker is very used to.

Another Tiny Rey

The reptilian conspiracy is real!

The First Order assembles

Theresa as Velma

Joker and Dany

Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock

Abigail as Wonder Woman

Another Harley and her best friend (or maybe something more)

“Chewie…we’re home”

Alexander as Anakin Skywalker: “Grandson, why?!!?”

All the Tiny Reys!

The Comic Giants panel (From left): C.B. Cebulski, Adi Granov, Art Adams, Frank Cho, Sonny Liew

Don’t breach the quarantine zone!

Cheryl as Black Canary

James C. Mulligan speed-painting

I wonder what that could be

Ah, I see it now

5 minute master piece

ILM Singapore visual effects supervisor Nigel Sumner speaking about the visual effects of Rogue One

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rejected Scarif Imperial Citadel designs

Rejected Scarif Imperial Citadel designs: hammerhead

Rejected Scarif Imperial Citadel designs: Batman

Rejected Scarif Imperial Citadel designs: Don’t know what this resembles

Viv as Kida and Dom as Milo

Tiny Rey!

Jaylah from Star Trek Beyond

Red Hood and Joker

Hikka as Rapunzel

Joker and Deadpool slapfight!

With the gorgeous Cara Keilani as Miranda Lawson

Jaye as Chell

Fiz as Narrator Core, Neptys as GLaDOS and Jaye as Chell

Life-sized Gladiator Hulk and Thor by Hot Toys

Hot Toys’ Wonder Woman

Hot Toys’ Justice League Batman and Batmobile

Hot Toys’ Justice League Batman

Hot Toys’ Executioner Trooper

Hot Toys’ Kylo Ren

 

Big ol’ group shot to cap off the event

Advertisements

STGCC 2017 Mega Picture Post: Day 1

Here’s the annual instalment of my STGCC Mega Picture Post. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention. It’s purported to be bigger and better than previous year – the former, certainly, but I can’t say I agree about the latter. The layout of the show floor did mess with my head and did a number on me. It was tricky to get from one area to the next, and to exit the hall, one had to pass through the gaming area GGXP. The security checks made entering and leaving a hassle, but I acknowledge and appreciate the purpose of those safety measures.

That said, it’s hard not to have fun when being surrounded by various and sundry geekery, and STGCC is the time of year when I get to meet many friends whom I don’t see on the regular. The star of the show definitely was the life-sized instalments built by Belgium’s BCD-VZW studio: the interior of the Millennium Falcon, and Rey’s Speeder. Here are the photo highlights from Day 1. If you can identify any cosplayers I haven’t named, please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to credit them. Thank you, and enjoy!

BCD-VZW chairman/head engineer Stefan Cembolista with his handiwork

The secret autograph panel, which includes the signatures of J. J. Abrams and product designers from Lego and Hasbro.

This is my geeking out face

Hot Toys’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 lineup

Hot Toys’ Rocket and Baby Groot

Hot Toys’ Gamora

Hot Toys’ life-sized Baby Groot

Hot Toys’ Star-Lord and Baby Groot

Hot Toys’ Yondu and Baby Groot

Hot Toys’ Drax and his sensitive nipples

Iron Man and the Hulkbuster, aka Veronica

Hot Toys’ Boba Fett, style after his appearance in the Droids animated series.

Hot Toys’ Anakin Skywalker

Hot Toys’ Hoth Princess Leia

Hot Toys’ Grand Moff Tarkin

Hot Toys’ Netflix Punisher

Hot Toys’ Netflix Daredevil

Hot Toys’ armoured Batman

Hot Toys’ Justice League

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hot Toys’ Justice League Batman and Batmobile

Hot Toys’ Thor: Ragnarok display 

 

 

 

Hot Toys’ Hela. Cate Blanchett is gonna be so much fun in this role.

Hot Toys’ Loki

Hot Toys’ Gladiator Hulk

Hot Toys’ Spider-Man: Homecoming lineup

Hot Toys’ life-sized Spider-Man from Homecoming

Han Solo in the Falcon

The Scavenger astride her speeder

Look what Rey found!

Constable Zuvio wandered over from the deleted scenes corner

Han in the Falcon, in both their primes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Something about this feels so familiar…”

Jack Sparrow and a fellow rouguish scoundrelly Captain

The first of many Tiny Reys!

Beast Kingdom’s life-sized Gladiator Hulk

Beast Kingdom’s life-sized Thor

With Shaun Lu as a Ghostbuster

Shaun and photographer Mezame goofing about with Mezame’s camera pole

Millennium Falcon model kit

Homemade Spidey

Frank Cho live drawing Venom

 

Disney fine artist James C. Mulligan with a print of his Rey piece

Legendary artist Art Adams

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Poison Ivy statue

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Catwoman statue

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Joker prototype

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Batman

XM Studios’ Avengers figures

XM Studios’ Magneto prototype

XM Studios’ Boba Fett statue

XM Studios’ epic X-Men vs. Sentinel battle statue

XM Studios’ Pilot Luke on Hoth statue

XM Studios’ Black Widow statue

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Bane prototype

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Batgirl

XM Studios’ Japanese-inspired Batgirl closeup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

XM Studios’ Venom statue

XM Studios’ Spider-Gwen statue

Hot Toys’ Nolanverse Batmen

Hot Toys’ Jail Cell Joker

Hot Toys’ Joker

Speedy cosplay

Wonder Woman and Dr. Poison cosplay

Anna of Arendelle cosplay

Predator vs. Wolverine statue

1/2 scale TIE Silencer

Kylo Ren and the S. S. Whinypants

It’s Star-Lord, man!

Han Solo wants YOU to join the Rebellion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

*Inquisitive uteeni*

Rebel shipyard diorama

Trench run diorama

Lego diorama

Black Series Rey and Speeder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Exclusive George Lucas figure

Jabba the Hutt

Neptys’ Robo-Geisha cosplay from Ghost in the Shell. Her mask opened up, I’m bummed I didn’t get to see that

Boba Fett has captured his target

Alvin as Kylo Ren

Tiny Thor battle cry!

Eunice as Poison Ivy

Caetuna as Mulan

Cheryl as Vigilante Felicity Smoak

Ihsan as Green Arrow

Tiny Ollie!

Marvel vs. DC teams forming up

Marvel and DC united

Theresa as Baroness

Star-Lord dancing; Gamora not dancing

Victoria as Poison Ivy

Vic as Poison Ivy holding Poison Ivy

WHITE CHICKS!!!

Dawn as Supergirl. She’s holding Han Solo because Kara’s boss Cat Grant is played by Calista Flockhart, wife of one Harrison Ford.

Tiny Spidey with Spidey statue

Harley Quinn and her best pal

Rocky as Wolverine downing his sorrows

DC Super Hero Girls Katana

Riyuukii as New 52 Harley Quinn

Starfire and Blackfire

SISTER FIGHT!

Katy as Starfire

Christopher as Ron and Samantha as Kim Possible

Dave as King Leonidas, with Wonder Woman

Princess power!

Jay as Sherlock Holmes

Jinko as the Joker

“Grandson, I am disappoint”

“…But I still love you”

This Kabuki cosplayer got to meet David Mack!

DC crew

Newt and Gwen as Percival Graves

Black Panther and Shuri: FOR WAKANDA!

Look at how happy this tiny Jyn Erso is!

Mulan gang with X-23, also a lady who’s good with blades

Somebody scowling on the sketch wall

Teen Titans gang

Oh man there was a Go-Go Yubari

Road to darkness by XM Studios

Deadpool and his buddy

XM Studios’ Sentinel vs. X-Men battle again

Me with friends! From left: Shuan as Ronald McDonald, Jaye as Red from Transistor, and Neptys as Robo-Geisha from Ghost in the Shell

Jaye as Red from Transistor

SZECHUAN. SAUCE.

They are Number One

Shaun sketching the Joker – foreshadowing for Day 2!

Building The Fandom: Star Wars Replica Propmaker Stefan Cembolista Interview

For inSing

BUILDING THE FANDOM: INTERVIEW WITH STAR WARS REPLICA PROPMAKER STEFAN CEMBOLISTA 

 

The Star Wars franchise has one of the most devoted fan followings of any property. Many fans are inspired by the space opera to create their props, costumes and artwork. Stefan Cembolista is one such fan, and his passion for prop-making, costume design and engineering has taken him to places many Star Wars fans can only dream of. As the chairman and head of engineering at BCD Props, the German-born, Belgium-based Cembolista specialises in creating detailed replicas of props and sets. These are displayed at conventions around the world, and even at Star Wars movie premieres. Cembolista’s installations have been exhibited at the Star Wars-centric Celebration conventions in Orlando, Anaheim and London. Cembolista and his team display an obsessive attention to detail that has gained the recognition of Star Wars creator George Lucas, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and The Force Awakens director J. J. Abrams, amongst others.

inSing spoke to Cembolista at the press preview event for the 2017 Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC) at the Friends-themed Central Perk café. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the convention, which is organised by ReedPop and will be held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre over the weekend. Two installations created by Cembolista and his crew will be on the show floor: a life-sized partial interior set of the Millennium Falcon, and a life-sized replica of Rey’s speeder from The Force Awakens – signed by Abrams himself.

Cembolista was ebullient and had a twinkle in his eye, visibly passionate about his chosen craft and about Star Wars. He had arrived in Singapore the previous afternoon, and was treated to a night on the town by members of the Singapore Star Wars fan community. “It’s the best Asian food I have ever tasted,” Cembolista said of Singaporean cuisine. He was adamant that getting paid is not his primary motivation, describing the joyful reactions from fans when they see his work as “soul money”. Cembolista spoke exclusively to inSing about how he became a Star Wars fan, what it was like meeting Harrison Ford and Abrams, and the uniting power of Star Wars fandom.

INSING: What were the movies that had the biggest influence on you growing up, in creating your interest in costume and set design?

CEMBOLISTA: The first movies that gave an impact on costuming were not only the science-fiction movies like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, even the black and white series from the ‘30s, but also historical films. For example there was a submarine movie, Das Boot. My first prop when I was a little kid was the submarine. I built it for myself to play with my action figures. It was five metres long. I went into the big things right away, because the action figures were already quite big. If you want to play [with] them in that scenario, the set has to be quite big. My first replica was the boat, it all started with that.

When Star Wars came out in 1977, it was one of the few examples of a used future. People weren’t used to seeing science fiction movies where everything wasn’t shiny, and was instead lived-in. What was your impression of that style when you first watched Star Wars?

The first impression was that due to the used and worn effect, it felt authentic. It felt way more authentic than Star Trek, where the bridge was shiny and new and looked like it just came out of the yard. It was worn off, the characters were worn off, there was no typical brand new space suit kind of thing. And also, the story was so intriguing.

When Star Wars came out in 1977, my father started to hype me before the movie came to the theatre, just showing me the poster. Back then, we didn’t have social media, there were only posters. I saw the posters and I really wanted to see the movie. But he went silent just before the movie came out. As a little guy, seven-years-old, I went “bummer. I probably will not see it.” The day of the release, he pulled out two tickets, he brought me to the theatre and it took me maybe 30 seconds into the movie and I became a fan for a lifetime.

This is parenting done right.

Definitely.

What has your experience been meeting some of the professional costumers, prop makers and crew members who have worked on the Star Wars movies?

The crazy thing is we do that as a hobby community. We started maybe 20 years ago, and we got acquainted to Lucasfilm, to the filmmakers, to the production crew. By now, it has come that far that we exchange information, we learn from them how they build it. Meanwhile, with the world release of Rogue One in L.A., we were invited with our set to the [premiere]. So a fan set was at the world premiere of the movie. We had the TIE Fighter there. The TIE Fighter is built by a group which we cooperate with. The Belgian crew was kind of the example in the prop-building world. We started it. We had the first big-sized or full-scale props, and we showed them around in the world, thanks to ReedPop and Lucasfilm at the conventions. Other guys got into it. There was one guy in Germany who really took me as an example to start his own prop group. He created two, three TIE Fighters, and after that we started to cooperate. Now, we have two crews in two countries working together. So we built the tank from Rogue One. It’s a co-production, they built the tank, we built the crates.

The same thing with cosplay: the community of Star Wars is worldwide, it’s like a family. I was commanding officer for 15 years for our [501st Legion] Garrison, I founded it 15 years ago. It’s the same feeling. We got the honour at the world premiere to talk to the people who build the props for the new movies. The funny thing is, you really exchange information. They’re also interested in how we work. We work together with the guys who set up the Rogue One X-Wing at the red carpet. It was really great. Also from the old movies. Due to the fact that we visit shows for 15-20 years now, once in a while those artists are invited to the shows and you run into them in the hotel lobby. It’s the backstage talk you have with those people. You exchange the memory, the knowledge of building things. Building a prop is one thing. But making it look authentic like a real machine, that’s the weathering, that’s the detail. My crew members, many of them are very young, have never touched a brush or paint. They get into to learn those processes, so we share that knowledge.

With Star Wars, the fans are such an important part of the success of the films, and of continuing the legacy. How would you describe the power of Star Wars fans?

That’s a good and very global question, as we talk about the global phenomenon. The people from the 501st, Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs, all the fan films and prop builders, we consider Star Wars as a kind of family. Due to the internet, you get acquainted to people like never before. This morning, I got a post from a friend from the Emirates. He’s a pilot, and I met him about a year ago at Celebration in Orlando. Yesterday, when we came in, all of a sudden, he was standing in front of me. I said “what are you doing here? You’re from Dubai. We’re in Singapore!” It just happened that he had a flight to Singapore. We took a picture and I posted it with the caption “Star Wars makes the world a small place, but the family of us is getting bigger and bigger”. That’s the feeling that Star Wars and the fandom of Star Wars brings us.

The special thing in Star Wars that I feel is that we don’t make any difference in culture, in race, in origin, it doesn’t matter. Whatever they share in their own culture, Star Wars brings them together. If you ask me, if everybody in the world were a Star Wars fan, there would be no wars.

What was that feeling like when you saw Harrison Ford walk onto your installation of the Millennium Falcon at Celebration?

That was one of the most stunning experience[s]. In all the years, we have those milestones: when we first met George Lucas, for example, it was like ‘oh my god’. For Star Wars fans, to meet this person, and talk with him, we never could imagine that this could happen. But Harrison Ford is a special one. He avoids the public, he’s never at conventions.

He’s a very private actor.

Yeah. And we heard about it. We’re in Orlando, and we heard he was on the main stage, which was not our stage, so we never even dreamt that he would visit us. We were busy backstage, and we heard some rumblings. We saw people from security walking in secretly, and there was a grey-haired man who looked pretty familiar to us. We had a quick chat backstage with him, and he enjoyed some Belgian chocolate. We watched him walk through the hallway of our Millennium Falcon. It’s a replica, fan-made, and to have the original Harrison Ford, Han Solo walking through, it was a dream come through.

We in Singapore will get to see that same installation this weekend.

Exclusively and for the first time in Asia. We have two sets: we have the Millennium Falcon set, which is the interior, and we invite all the visitors to come over, queue, we hurry to make the queue not that long, and have yourself pictured in the Falcon. Like seated at the chess table, or take a seat at the navigation console to find out the next hyperspace course so you don’t crash into a star, because it would be a very short flight if you do that.

What was it like meeting J. J. Abrams and having him sign Rey’s speeder?

The story with J. J. was very special. It was the first time we managed to actually get plans, pictures and reference material from Lucasfilm, a year before the movie came into theatres – top-secret material. It was a very hard procedure to get that done. We actually passed the president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy. She knows us over many years, and she likes the idea that we built something. But still, there’s legal office, and legal office can overrule the big boss, because if they say it’s too risky to get the material out, they will not allow that. It was a vice-versa communication between Kathleen and the legal office, and it also came on the table of J. J. Abrams. J. J. Abrams was the man responsible, and he granted us access to the plans – we really got the secret plans. We actually created the bike in five weeks.

Many Bothans died to bring you those schematics.

Yeah, many of my brain cells also died to get this prop done. I worked day and night over five weeks to create the replica with the difference between the original prop and ours – only 5mm. Every scratch, every screw, every detail on the original bike is replicated. When the show started in Anaheim, J. J. Abrams came over in the morning because he wanted to see the creation. He just walked around the set from the backstage, and I just saw his face like very big surprise – like “wow”. He came over to me and he said “Stephen, actually your bike looks more authentic than the one we used in the movie”. In movies, you have moving images, some of the details can fade away. Ours is made for visitors to see live, so it must be accurate.

I was bold enough to ask him, “would you mind signing it for us, just for approval? Because you are the man who made it happen.” He said “cool idea”. I invited him backstage, and on the back side of the bike, pulled out my sharpie and handed it over. He said “where should I sign it?” I said “J. J., please don’t ruin the outside of my prop.” I opened the hatch and said “could you please sign here?” We had a little present for him: a BB-8 unit that was made from tropical wood by one of our prop-builders. On the chest, we used a sign – two arrows and a zero, which was from a TV series J. J. Abrams produced, Lost. He recognised it right away. He looked at the droid and said “is that for me?” And I said “That is our gift for you.” We tricked him a little bit with the signing thing to get him to his gift. He is very friendly and a very motivated man. Not only as a Star Wars fan, but also Star Trek, he’s brilliant.

He’s someone I admire, because he’s a fan who entered the industry and got to build upon something he loved growing up. To me, that’s the pinnacle.

It is, it is. He keeps on surprising people. He also published a book, I don’t know if you know that. S. I just read it a couple of weeks ago. It is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It’s an amazing story, a complex product, it sucks you in. You have to read it in one turn. You don’t stop reading it, it’s a blast. That’s the thing with J. J. Abrams: everything he touches is a blast. Everything he touches is a success. I have not seen something that he’s done fail.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to in The Last Jedi?

Not the Porgs. [Laughs]. No, they’re adorable, but I’m a little bit afraid which kind of role they will play in the movie. For the moment, I’m getting an Ewok feel. But it’s still cool.

Technically speaking, for prop building, there are a couple of things that amaze me. There is an A-Wing which we know from the old saga, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in action. There is a new AT-AT: the AT-M6, the gorilla. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to build one. We have an AT-AT Walker from The Empire Strikes Back and it’s six metres high, at one-sixth scale. We use that at conventions and it would be very, very cool to add to the family, to add the AT-M6. Another thing we have seen in the teaser are those Sand Hoppers, the fighters that are scratching the surface of the desert planet. That would be another project. For our case, we are really interested in the props.

The story? Of course I’m interested. I want to know what happens with Rey! Where is Rey coming from? All that questions that they raised with The Force Awakens. They did a great job. Of course, they made one mistake. They made Rogue One, which tops it all. Rogue One is, for many fans, one of the most brilliant Star Wars films. I’ve talked to so many Star Wars fans, and their opinion of Rogue One is equal: it is top. For me, The Force Awakens, it is the perfect way [to] continue the saga. They made us, the fans, curious. They made new characters, but how can you top Darth Vader? He’s no longer there. We have a new villain. An evil villain who fights the good side. He’s psychologically unstable. It’s perfect.

I love the concept of Kylo Ren because he’s trying to live up to Darth Vader, just like the new movies are trying to live up to the originals, so he embodies that theme.

He embodies that. If we see the new characters that are just joining in with the old characters, it is just the perfect job. I’m really looking forward to how this story continues, and how it ends.

STGCC runs from Saturday 9th September to Sunday 10th September at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. Please visit http://www.singaporetgcc.com/Tickets_Merchandise/ to purchase tickets.

 

STGCC 2016: Mega Picture Post Days 1 & 2

As is the annual tradition, here is my mega picture post from the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention. This year, STGCC was held on the 10th and 11th September at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. I will be the first to admit that I found this year a little underwhelming compared to last year, and part of it might have to do with the fact that the event was held in the hall in the basement and not the first floor. It’s all enclosed so it shouldn’t matter anyway, but I guess you could feel it. Honestly, I couldn’t get overly excited for the special guests, but I certainly enjoyed interviewing them. I also had fun hanging out with my cosplayer friends and taking in the booth displays. I joined in a group of friends who were cosplaying members from the Teen Titans as a zero-effort Superboy. I’m not a cosplayer, but it was fun kinda sorta pretending I was for that moment. Enjoy!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC Hot Toys Batman v Superman display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Hot Toys display 2

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Hot Toys display 2

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey Speeder Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey Speeder Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Riot Trooper FN-2199 Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars The Force Awakens Riot Trooper FN-2199 Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars villains Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Star Wars villains Hot Toys display

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars The Force Awakens Resistance Rey figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars The Force Awakens Resistance Rey figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars original trilogy figures display

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Star Wars original trilogy figures display

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama 1

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama 1

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama 2

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama 2

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Captain America vs. Iron Man

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Captain America vs. Iron Man

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Hawkeye vs. Black Widow

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Hawkeye vs. Black Widow

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Winter Soldier vs. Black Panther

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Captain America: Civil War airport battle diorama Winter Soldier vs. Black Panther

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Back to the Future display

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Back to the Future display

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Alien Ellen Ripley figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Alien Ellen Ripley figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Netflix Daredevil figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Netflix Daredevil figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Deadpool movie figure

STGCC 2016 Hot Toys Deadpool movie figure

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Ghost Rider Statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Ghost Rider Statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Spider-Man villains

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Spider-Man villains

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Punisher on motorcycle statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Punisher on motorcycle statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Spider-Man and Mary Jane statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Spider-Man and Mary Jane statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Cable statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Cable statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Kingpin statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Kingpin statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Venom statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Venom statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Boba Fett statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Boba Fett statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue Bishop

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue Bishop

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue Psylocke

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue Psylocke

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 3

STGCC 2016 XM Studios X-Men vs. Sentinel statue 3

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Namor statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Namor statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Witchblade statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Witchblade statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Witchblade Statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Witchblade Statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman unmasked statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman unmasked statue 1

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman unmasked statue closeup

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman unmasked statue closeup

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman Beyond statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Samurai Batman Beyond statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue 2

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue closeup

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Catwoman on bike statue closeup

STGCC 2016 XM Studios unpainted prototypes

STGCC 2016 XM Studios unpainted prototypes

Hulk Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. statue

Hulk Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. statue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Artist Phil Noto

STGCC 2016: Black Canary cosplay

STGCC 2016: Black Canary cosplay

STGCC 2016: Arkham Asylum Joker cosplay (Alexander Jamesoun Tan)

STGCC 2016: Arkham Asylum Joker cosplay (Alexander Jameosoun Tan)

STGCC 2016: Arkham City Harley Quinn cosplay (Nyria Nox)

STGCC 2016: Arkham City Harley Quinn cosplay (Nyria Nox)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Quicksilver Avengers: Age of Ultron cosplay

STGCC 2016: Quicksilver Avengers: Age of Ultron cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Hawkgirl cosplay (Niko)

STGCC 2016: Nightwing cosplay

STGCC 2016: Nightwing cosplay

STGCC 2016: Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde Zootopia cosplay

STGCC 2016: Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde Zootopia cosplay

STGCC 2016: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Orson Krennic cosplay

STGCC 2016: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Orson Krennic cosplay

STGCC 2016: Silk cosplay (Theresa)

STGCC 2016: Silk cosplay (Theresa)

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker and El Diablo cosplays

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker and El Diablo cosplays

STGCC 2016: Pocahontas cosplay

STGCC 2016: Pocahontas cosplay

STGCC 2016: Arkham Asylum Joker (Alexander Jamesoun Tan) and Arkham City Harley Quinn (Rina Carissime)

STGCC 2016: Arkham Asylum Joker (Alexander Jameosoun Tan) and Arkham City Harley Quinn (Rina Carissime)

STGCC 2016: Esmeralda cosplay (Belle)

STGCC 2016: Esmeralda cosplay (Belle)

STGCC 2016: Miranda Lawson cosplay (Cara)

STGCC 2016: Miranda Lawson cosplay (Cara)

STGCC 2016: Dr. Harleen Quinzel cosplay

STGCC 2016: Dr. Harleen Quinzel cosplay (Amaya)

STGCC 2016: Wolverine cosplay

STGCC 2016: Wolverine cosplay

STGCC 2016: Jessica Jones (Jenny) and Kilgrave (Frasier)

STGCC 2016: Jessica Jones (Jenny) and Kilgrave (Frasier)

STGCC 2016: Assassin's Creed Syndicate Evie Frye cosplay (Neptys)

STGCC 2016: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Evie Frye cosplay (Neptys)

STGCC 2016: Black Widow and Scarlet Witch cosplay

STGCC 2016: Black Widow and Scarlet Witch cosplay

STGCC 2016: Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Jessica Jones cosplays

STGCC 2016: Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Jessica Jones cosplays

STGCC 2016: Daenerys Targaryen cosplay (Theodora)

STGCC 2016: Daenerys Targaryen cosplay (Theodora)

STGCC 2016: Arkham Knight Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy cosplays

STGCC 2016: Arkham Knight Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy cosplays

STGCC Milo Thatch (Anne) and Kidakagash Nedakh (Caetuna) cosplays - Atlantis: The Lost Empire

STGCC Milo Thatch (Anne) and Kidakagash Nedakh (Caetuna) cosplays – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Vic as Psylocke with Shaun as Luke Skywalker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Father and son Deathstroke cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Dust from the X-Men cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 XM Studios Black Panther statue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 Star Wars Plastic model kits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 sculpture booth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 Deathstroke trio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 Deadshot cosplay 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 Deadshot cosplay 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 501st Legion Star Wars booth 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 Star Wars booth 501st Legion 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: my friend, toy photographer Sunny Ang (Zekezachzoom) and I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: XM Studios Samurai Batman statues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Kylo Ren cosplayers (Kylin and Ria)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Star Wars Revenge of the Sith Anakin Skywalker cosplay (Alexander Jameosoun Tan)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Band of Doodlers working on the doodle wall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Kai Le Red Hood cosplay 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Kai Le Red Hood cosplay 2 and me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Two-Face cosplay (Joe)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Red Hood cosplay (Kai Le)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Red Hood cosplay (Kai Le)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Red Hood vs. Two-Face cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker cosplay – bad nephew!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Star Wars photo booth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 XM Studios booth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Special guest digital artist Sakimachan and her Rule 63 Cruella de Vil art

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Rey cosplay (Xinyi) and Kylo Ren cosplay (Ria)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Armoured Batman statue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Overwatch Tracer cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Harley Quinn cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Madame Joker cosplay (Darah)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Rule 63 Flash cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Belle (Kuro Koneko), Alice (Celeste), Mulan (Amanda) and Ariel (Matty)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Raven cosplay (Niko)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Spider-Punk cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Wolverine Cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Raven cosplay (Min Lauren)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Black Panther cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Mayday Parker Spider-Girl cosplay (Theresa)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Red Hood Cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: King Llane Wyrn cosplay (Joey)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Nightwing and Robin cosplay 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Nightwing and Robin cosplay 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Terra cosplay (Ching Hui)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Granny Emma Webster cosplay (Aunty Shirley)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Granny Emma Webster cosplay (Aunty Shirley)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Starfire cosplay (Anne)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Deadshot Suicide Squad movie cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Steven Universe and Rose Quartz cosplay (Charles and Caetuna)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Terra and Starfire cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Terra and Raven

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Starfire with Matt the Radar Technician custom action figure

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: No Terra, stay away from the Slades!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Green Arrow and Arsenal cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Matt the Radar Technican cosplay (Mezame)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: New 52 Harley Quinn cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: New 52 Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Judge Dredd, Wonder Woman and Deathstroke cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Doctor Who Lady Cassandra cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker (E-Hong) and Harley Quinn (Hana) cosplays

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker (E-Hong) and Harley Quinn (Hana) cosplays

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker (E-Hong) and Harley Quinn (Hana) cosplays

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker (E-Hong) and Harley Quinn (Hana) cosplays

STGCC 2016: Suicide Squad Joker (E-Hong) and Harley Quinn (Hana) cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Batman and Catwoman cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Beast Boy and Raven cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Gar gives Beast Kingdom a free advertisement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Terra x Beast Boy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Fables Boy Blue cosplay (Kie)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Raven cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Darth Talon cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Raven cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Jack Frost and Elsa cosplays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Weapon X Wolverine cosplay (Rocky)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Batman cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Green Goblin cosplay with functioning Goblin glider

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Baby Mercy Overwatch cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Constantine and Zatanna cosplay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016: Omar Dogan and Harley Quinn artwork

teen-titans-group-photo-1

STGCC 2016: Teen Titans and Super cosplay group

teen-titans-group-photo-2

STGCC 2016: Teen Titans group cosplay

teen-titans-group-photo-3

teen-titans-group-photo-4

STGCC 2016 Preview Day

For F*** Magazine

STGCC 2016 – PREVIEW
F*** gets a taster of the latest edition of the pop culture maelstrom
By Jedd Jong

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yesterday, F*** was at Terra in Suntec City’s Sky Garden for the press preview of the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC). The annual event, organised by ReedPop, is in its ninth year. Reed Exhibitions assistant project director Lin Koh repeatedly referred to this year’s instalment as “crazy”, “massive” and “insane”. She had the numbers to back it up – a total of 43 invited guests, including writers, artists, cosplay celebrities and musicians, will be meeting fans and holding panel discussions at the convention. We were told that it’s up from last year’s figure of 29. 263 companies will be participating, releasing 193 exclusives and new products at STGCC between them. 45 000 attendees are expected over this Saturday and Sunday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This year, STGCC will host its first ever computer game tournament, the STGCC eSports Mountain Dew Cup 2016. An exclusive mystery Be@rbrick figurine will be unveiled, and exclusive Hot Toys figures being sold include Disco Iron Man, Resistance Outfit Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Knightmare Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Hot Toys booth is always a highlight of the convention floor, and this year’s display will include a staggering 1/6th scale diorama re-creating the spectacular clash between Team Cap and Team Iron Man from Captain America: Civil War.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were introduced to a panel of Singaporean artists, comprising manga artist Rachta Lin, sculptor and toy designer Daniel Yu, illustrator Andy Choo and T-shirt designer Xuanming Zhou of Xmashed Gear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yu had some practical advice for those looking to become full-time artists. “As artists, we need to have the mindset of an entrepreneur, because at the end of the day we’re running our own business and cultivating your brand, you’re trying to establish yourself.” Yu’s resin sculptures and collectibles have been exhibited in cities including Tokyo, Beijing, London and New York.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Choo related an encounter he had with a member of the public when he was drawing caricatures in a local mall. “There was this rich-looking lady, and she asked me ‘so where did you study?’ I said ‘NUS (National University of Singapore). I majored in economics.’ She replied ‘Economics! Your parents must be so sad that you became an artist, what a pity.’ And I was like ‘I think my parents are quite okay with my job right now.’” He added with a grin that he drew her nose a fair bit bigger in the caricature. “I feel that we need a few Joseph Schoolings in our art industry to really help inspire more young artists,” he continued, referencing the Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer. Choo conducts workshops, and remarked that many of his students were able to land spots in polytechnic animation courses from which they were rejected a few years earlier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next, we met four international guests: Spanish comic book artist Emma Ríos, Malaysian illustrator Hwei Lim, American comics writer Nick Spencer and British collectibles designer and sculptor Jon-Paul Kaiser.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ríos described the current popularity of comic book movies as a “dream come true”, having read a lot of superhero comics in her childhood and named Captain America: The Winter Soldier as her favourite. However, she also added that she is beginning to feel a little fatigued “because there are starting to be so many of them”. Ríos cited Katsuhiro Otomo, famed for writing and illustrating the Akira manga, as main the artist who inspired her to create comic art. Ríos’ credits include the fantasy horror western Pretty Deadly, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Marvel Titles Doctor Strange and The Amazing Spider-Man. Ríos and Lim met at an art workshop and became best friends – the duo are collaborating on the fantasy series Mirror, published by Image Comics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spencer listed Brian Michael Bendis, Keith Giffen, Peter David and Chris Claremont as inspirations. Spencer was the subject of much ire and raised plenty of eyebrows when he penned the controversial issue Steve Rogers Captain America #1, revealing the good Captain as a Hydra spy. The mystery behind the shocking twist has since been explained, but some fans didn’t wait before sending death threats Spencer’s way. Spencer explained that unpopular story arcs are part of any comic character’s ebb and flow over the decades, making reference to the Winter Soldier story arc by Ed Brubaker that was once reviled for bringing Captain America’s loyal sidekick Bucky Barnes back from the dead and making him into a villain, remarking “People had to live with Bucky being a bad guy for a year!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ríos, Lim, Spencer and Kaiser were presented with a tasting platter of Singaporean food. While Lim was familiar with the cuisine since she’s from neighbouring Malaysia, it was a novel experience for the rest of the panel. They sampled salted egg yolk croissants, mooncakes, egg tarts, bubur cha cha (a coconut milk sweet soup) and Hainanese Chicken Rice. It went over well – Kaiser visibly enjoyed the mooncakes, while Ríos exclaimed “I could live here!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The artists performed demonstrations for the press: Lin drew a journalist clad in a Pikachu hoodie, Ríos and Lim painted stunning ink and watercolour pieces side-by-side, while Kaiser customised a blank Munny doll with micron pens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Other guests who will be attending the convention include Star Wars: Poe Dameron artist Phil Noto; Lumberjanes creator Brooke Allen; Injustice and All New Wolverine writer Tom Taylor; Macross mangaka Haruhiko Mikimoto, and digital artist Sakimichan, who has a massive online following.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STGCC 2016 is being held from Saturday 10th September to Sunday 11th September at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore. One-day passes are priced at $19, with two-day passes at $28. Please visit www.singaporetgcc.com for more information.

STGCC 2015: Adam Hughes interview

As published in Issue #69 of F*** Magazine

Text:
THE AH! FACTOR
F*** talks to pinup artist extraordinaire Adam Hughes at STGCC

By Jedd Jong



Comic book fans everywhere know those familiar initials all too well – “AH!” Adam Hughes is in town for the annual Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC), appearing as a special guest in Singapore for the very first time. Hughes is accompanied by his wife and manager Allison Sohn, also an illustrator.

Hailing from New Jersey, Hughes is a prolific comic book artist who has built a reputation for drawing some of the most drop-dead gorgeous women in all of comics. His work harks back to the golden age of pin-up art with its playful sexiness, while also coming across as lifelike, cinematic and vibrant.

Over the course of his storied career, Hughes has drawn for the likes of DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Wildstorm, in addition to adult publications such as Playboy and Penthouse. His career highlights include prominent cover artist runs on Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Tomb Raider. Sideshow Collectibles has produced a series of statues based on Hughes’ designs and his original art is highly sought after in the comic art collecting community, running for a pretty penny.

While he initially seemed a little intense and wasn’t prone to smiling a lot, Hughes is engaging, enthusiastic and humorous during the interview, giving witty, well thought-out answers to our questions. Sitting down with F*** at STGCC, Hughes shares his thoughts on the evolution of the pinup, reveals his favourite female and male comic book characters, speaks about the successful partnership he has with his wife and provides insight into the unexpected challenges of being a career artist. He also recounts his fascinating brush with Hollywood in the form of working on the teaser poster for Joss Whedon’s ill-fated Wonder Woman movie.

How has the art of the pinup evolved from the days of Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas to today?

As far as a first question goes, pretty tough [laughs]. It’s changed because of the perception of women in society. With very few exceptions, all the great pinup artists were men, there were only a few women doing it, and they were depicting idealised versions of women. As time has gone on, women aren’t meant to just be attractive or just be the mother to your children, they’re their own people; they have their own place in society and can do anything they want. The pinup has changed to reflect women’s power, as far it’s not just them in cute situations. It’s not just them going “oh, a puppy is pulling down my bikini bottoms, ooh!”
That’s one of the things that interests me and challenges me as a pinup artist: I’m hired to draw strong, powerful women and I want to make them look attractive. Nobody ever talks about the fact that when I draw Superman or Captain America, I want to make them look attractive too. My main job is to portray a character and I don’t do as much pure “cheesecake pinup” as I used to, but I still try to inject an element of humour and good-natured sexuality of the pinup into the stuff that I do. I do think the way that it has changed is that it’s trying to be a little more…I don’t know if ‘respectful’ is the right word, but aware.
You’re not just drawing a thing that’s to be looked at, you’re drawing a person, definitely more nuanced, but also more aware that you’re drawing a character, you’re not just drawing something that’s meant to be looked at and appreciated for its beauty. When I draw Catwoman or Wonder Woman or any character, I go “what’s this character thinking? What’s this character feeling at the moment?” not just “how small is this character’s costume today?” It sounds like a strange dichotomy, but it’s the way I work.
You were once named “the greatest cheesecake artist” and in response, you said that instead of “embracing” the title, you were giving it a “warm handshake”. You do more cover art than interior work; would you call yourself a frustrated storyteller?

I’m not an especially frustrated storyteller, I’m only frustrated with the fact that I don’t get to tell stories as much as I want. That’s not because people don’t offer me comics to draw, it’s because I’m so slow. I would love to be one of those people that’s just so prolific and works on everything, I would love to tell a million stories, maybe I’ve only got 20 stories, I’ve only got enough time to tell 20. That’s the part that frustrates me. As far as telling stories in single images, I don’t have a problem with that because I’m allowed to, I’m allowed to use a cover to tell a story instead of just portraying a character in a pretty way.
What’s your opinion on diversity in comics today?

There’s not enough of it. However, I don’t feel that the correct solution is a hammer. When there’s a problem in the world, whether it’s in something as silly as comics or in the real world, the workplace, in education or something like that, a lot of times people tend to go way overboard in their response to it, as opposed to a measured response and an incisive response [that] will actually get the most results. There are two responses to any great social issue: ‘I’m going to sleep through it’ or ‘let’s have a revolution!’ Maybe there’s a response somewhere in between apathy and anarchy, where you can go ‘let’s try to make this better’.
I would love more diversity across the board in all media, but I’m not a fan of ‘artificial diversity’, where you go “let’s just make this more diverse for diversity’s sake.” I believe in everything, whether it’s diversity or characters, locations, storytelling, any aspect of a creative endeavour, I think that it should always be organic, it should always come from “what am I trying to say with this story?” If you’re trying to tell a story and for some strange reason, a character has to be a white guy, then he needs to be a white guy. You should only change it to some other thing if making the character, say, a female Asian, actually makes the story better. You shouldn’t be doing it because “we don’t have enough female Asians in comics,” but because you’re saying “this story would be good if it were a white guy, but it would be amazing if it were a female Asian” or something like that. That’s what I think about diversity.
Unfortunately, today is such a reactionary era that I just realised, while I’m talking to you, that I could get into a lot of trouble and I’m just going to have to take that if it comes my way. I just want it to be for the betterment of story, not to fulfil an agenda. Hopefully we get to a point where people stop looking at, say, the cast photo of a new Star Wars film and counting the white people and black people, counting the men and counting the women, [and instead] see how it plays out.
What issues have you encountered in finding a balance in depictions of comic book women such that they are alluring and sensual while also empowering and dignified?

I haven’t encountered any issues until lately. It’s just a subjective thing – what offends one person is somebody else’s idea of pure art. That spectrum used to be much broader. Nowadays it’s a little rigid – there are people out there, especially in the west, who are getting upset at the way I’ve done business for 20-30 years. It’s like “I haven’t changed, was what I’m doing wrong 20 years ago or is your perception of what’s right and wrong, has it changed?” Sometimes the sheer aspect of depicting someone in a glamorous manner is offensive and everyone should look like regular folk to them. Gosh, I wouldn’t have a job if that were true! For the time being, I’m still safe, but I still lock my doors at night.
Your most popular pieces feature the characters in a more light-hearted context, since many pinups tend to be more playful. What are your views on the “battle” of lighter and happier vs. darker and grittier portrayals of characters?

I think it’s a silly battle. I think it’s not an important battle. I think everything that’s meant to be fun should be fun; I don’t like it when light-hearted characters are made dark just for the sake of shock value. I think there’s an important aspect to the darker side of things as well. I think it’s a non-issue, not a real battle.
How do you overcome artist’s block?

I spend most of my time scratching my chin and looking at the blank sheet of paper than I do actually drawing. It’s either video games, I will sit there and go “I’m gonna go kill somebody digitally and I’m gonna pretend they’re artist’s block”. Either that or I vacuum. I know a lot of artists who go “I’m not getting anything productive done at the drawing table, I’m going to get something productive done elsewhere” – that way, at the end of the day when you didn’t get a darn thing drawn, you still feel like you were a useful part of society because my floors are spotless.
What is the nature of your creative and business partnership with your wife?

Extremely productive. We’re lucky, we both have a lot of the same interests [and] we both like a lot of different things and bring new stuff to each other. My work enables to her to have the freedom to pursue her art; her work enables me to have the freedom to just focus on my artwork. We just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and we’ve been together for just over 13 years – longest relationship for either one of us. We would walk if it wasn’t working, we’re tired of abuse [laughs]. It’s a great relationship, we get a lot more done, it’s much more enriched. If we were on our own, we’d be surviving, we’d be doing okay, but because we’re together, we thrive.
You’ve drawn some of comic’s most beautiful ladies and did a pinup for Fairest from Fables. Who do you think is the fairest of them all?

I would say Catwoman. If I were drawing all the characters at the same time, I would make sure Selina is the prettiest.
What makes Catwoman one of the characters you’re fondest of?

I love damaged goods. I think the reason why people like the Batman universe so much is everybody in the Batman universe is damaged goods. I’ve always said that everybody in Gotham City is awful and the only reason why Batman is the hero is because he’s the least awful person in Gotham. Selina Kyle should have it easy. She’s beautiful, she’s smart and she’s talented, and yet, there’s something inside her that drives her towards a life of crime and she wouldn’t turn away from it. It’s not just thrills, there’s something bent and broken in her, just as it is with Batman and the Joker and probably even Alfred. If you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey, 100 people have to take care of that house and Alfred is the one guy who has to dust, clean, make the food, clean the sheets and patch up the owner every night he comes home shot. I’d be miserable too. I think that’s why.
Which is your favourite live-action portrayal of Catwoman be it in movies or TV shows?

Oh, in Dark Knight Rises. About 20 minutes into Dark Knight Rises I went “Okay, I don’t care if Batman doesn’t show up, can we just have two hours of Anne Hathaway doing cool stuff?” because it was way better than any of the Batman stuff.
Who is your favourite male superhero?

My favourite male superhero is Captain America. I love Captain America. Last year I drew my first Captain America cover ever and I was nine years old while I was drawing it.
He’s very different from “damaged goods”.

Yeah. Nobody likes a perfect character, it’s finding the character flaws and finding how the character overcomes those flaws. Those character flaws are the same as the obstacles in their careers. It’s like for Captain America, one of his obstacles is the Red Skull and the Legion of Hydra. One of his other obstacles is he doesn’t really fit in – I love him and I would kill to do a World War II Captain America story but I love the idea of a guy who isn’t where he belongs anymore and there’s no going home.
As you get older, all of us are separated from where we were born, not just by distance, but also by time. If you go back to the school you went to, the town or village you’re from, it’s changed and you go “wow, that’s not the way I remember it.” When Cap first came back in 1964, World War II had only been over for 19 years – the only thing different was “well, the Beatles have long hair”. Everybody he knew was probably still alive and I love the fact that as more time goes by, he’s 70 years out of time and soon he’ll be 100 years out of time. He’s becoming Buck Rogers. I find the tragedy of that very appealing.
What is the hardest part of being in the comic book industry?

The hardest part – this is going to sound vague and slightly Zen – it’s all the stuff nobody prepared you for. When you turn your hobby into your job, there’s that initial “oh crap, I have to draw even when I don’t want to draw?” When we’re kids and we’re all doing our favourite creative things, whenever we want, we all wish there was no school so we could do our favourite creative thing every day. The minute someone tells you to do it and says “you have to have all this done by Friday”, it can really become a chore. “Wow, my hobby’s no longer as fun as it used to be.” When you’re a kid and you want to grow up and draw comics, it’s just like “I’m going to sit around all day in my underwear and watch cartoons and draw comics and it’s gonna be great” – [but] there’s a whole brochure of stuff that nobody tells you.
I always think back to nine or ten-year-old me, if I time-travelled and went back, what I would tell him – one, it would be lay off the pizza. Two, I would say “in the future, the same guy who plays Judge Dredd plays Dr. McCoy, and it’s awesome, everybody’s happy” and three, I would sit him down and go “here’s all the stuff you’re not going to be ready for when you break into the business.” The expectations put on you, weird things – this is going to sound like I’m complaining that my diamond shoes are too tight, but career management – nobody teaches you how to manage a career.
I look at genuinely famous people, like politicians or athletes or actors and actresses and I go “your life is no longer your own” and you hope that there’s somebody somewhere that says “here’s what happens the first time somebody takes your autograph and sells it on eBay, here’s what to do the first time somebody stalks you.”
Comics fame is really dubious, but there are issues. We will get stuff mailed to our house, with a letter from somebody saying “oh my god, I love your work, could you please sign this comic that I sent you” to send it back using some self-addressed stamped envelope. The first thing my wife and I do is go “how did they get our address?! Close the blinds and lock all the windows!” It’s weird stuff like that. We worry sometimes, what if some crazy fan who didn’t get a sketch gets upset and decides to do something about it? Gosh, it could happen anywhere!
Nobody tells you when you’re a kid “by the way, you’re going to have to pay your own taxes.” In America, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes, it’s what self-employed artists do. It took me the better part of 18 years to get my tax problems sorted out because I made so many mistakes early on. So much stuff; that’s the hardest part.  
What are your thoughts on old school (pen and paper or watercolours) and new school (programs like Illustrator and Photoshop)

I’ve got my feet in both worlds, because I draw on paper and then I scan it and colour it in the computer. I don’t care, to me, all that matters is the final product. If your best tool is digital, then do it. These purists say “it’s not really painting unless you’re using oil paints” and it’s like “well, for you, but for this other person over here, they sing with a stylus and Cintiq tablet.”
If you make art and you only use ketchup and mustard and you only make these glorious Iron Man paintings by just squirting condiments onto a board because that’s how you’re most comfortable, then do it. I used to try and paint for real all the time, and it never works. Very frustrating. The minute I started colouring digitally, everything gelled into place, because I think that art medium, they should be like your shoes and your car and the chair you sit in. They should be so comfortable, you’re not thinking about it. Imagine walking somewhere and thinking about your shoes every step of the way – you wouldn’t get where you’re going because you’d be going “oh, the left one’s a little tight, the right one’s squeaking” – you wouldn’t think about where you’re going.
As an artist, if you’re thinking about your tools while you’re working, you’re not spending time being creative. You’re thinking about the mechanics of drawing, which you should have worked out already. That’s why every artist should just draw all the time; to get to the point where your pencil or your stylus or your paintbrush is an extension of your hand and you’re not thinking “oh, this paper’s fighting me today” or “I don’t like this pencil” – you’re just sitting there and going “Batman is sad! He needs rain, rain will make him seem sadder.”
That’s why I don’t care about the medium at all. When I see a beautiful piece of artwork, I never seem to ask what the medium is anymore. I used to be concerned about that; now I just go “that is a beautiful, wonderful piece of art that tells a story.” Don’t care where it came from. Unless it’s like “oh my god, I need to steal that, let me find out how that person drew those clouds.”
What was it like working on the Wonder Woman poster for the Joss Whedon film that didn’t pan out back in 2005?



When Joss Whedon was making the Wonder Woman movie, I got a call from DC saying “you’re going to get a call from Joel Silver”, who was the producer of the Matrix films, the Lethal Weapon films. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he was the crazy director at the beginning and I was like “him, he’s calling my house?” So he called, and the character he played at the beginning of Roger Rabbit was way more normal than how he is in real life. I said to my wife, we were just dating at the time, “this guy’s a cartoon!” He then said “hold on, hold on, I’ve got Joss Whedon on the other line.” So, all of a sudden, I’m in a conference call with the producer of The Matrix and Joss Whedon, and I’m going “this is the weirdest day ever.”
I only had a weekend to work on it, I only had two days. They had no costume design, and I knew this film was not going to get made because they were both telling me what to draw and it was all different. Joel Silver’s going “make sure she’s buff, make sure she’s really strong!” and Joss Whedon’s saying “but not too buff!” I felt like a divorce attorney. When they announced that it didn’t go through [it made sense]. It was fun, I wish I could’ve drawn more of Wonder Woman, but there was no costume, there was no actress, and if I had an extra day or so, I could have made it something real special, but now it’s just “hey, I worked in Hollywood for eight seconds! Yay me!”

STGCC 2015: Jim Cheung interview

STGCC 2015: JIM CHEUNG INTERVIEW
by Jedd Jong
British comic book artist Jim Cheung is in Singapore for the first time as a special guest of the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention. Cheung has drawn for Marvel and CrossGen and has risen as one of Marvel’s superstar artists, having been named a “young gun”, a potential superstar, by Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada in 2005.

Cheung is probably best known for pencilling Young Avengers. Alongside writer Allan Heinberg, Cheung created characters such as Iron Lad, Hulkling, Wiccan, Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) and Speed.

At CrossGen, Cheung pencilled Scion and has gone on to draw such titles as New Avengers: Illuminati, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade and X-Force for Marvel. He has also done cover art for Avengers vs. X-Men and World War Hulk: Warbound.

Speaking to other journalists and I, Cheung looks back on his career, shares his inspirations and influences, weighs in on the aesthetics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and talks about his persistence in getting a page right.

It has been ten years since you were named one of Marvel’s “young guns”.

Oh, don’t remind me! [Laughs]

What was that like and looking back over your career, what has the journey been like so far?

It’s been a hell of a journey, I would see. It was definitely a surprise to be named a “young gun” back in 2004…2005, because I’d already been in the business a good ten years, so to be named a “young gun” was definitely unusual. It was definitely an honour, definitely a privilege to be amongst so many artists and such enormous talent. I guess it did in some ways further my career a lot. Thanks to that book, Young Avengers, it really helped my career a long way, because that was my big return to Marvel because before that, I went to work for CrossGen for a few years. It was an unusual point to jump in, the fact that it became a hit was definitely a big bonus.

What are the main inspirations for your current art style?

Current art style? It’s really like a bastardized style of a lot of my favourite artists. I kind of look at artists that I like and critically break it down, take different elements of what I like and try to incorporate it into my work and then it just becomes natural, that’s just the way it’s always been. I’m more an assimilator in a way, because if you look at my early work, you can see it’s very crude but then it gets more and more refined, because I’m looking at other people’s work and getting influenced by it. That’s why when I went to CrossGen, I was able to be in a studio with a whole bunch of artists for the very first time, and I was able to “steal” from them quite comprehensively.

Who were some of these artists who inspired you?

At CrossGen, there was a whole bunch of people. I worked very simply back in the day. When I was in London, I never worked with a lightbox before, then when I went to CrossGen, I saw people working with lightboxes so I got very curious. I developed a style where I started doing layouts very roughly and placed them underneath the finished board, whereas before I used to draw everything straight and I didn’t think about moving it over, once I started doing that, pieces started becoming starting much tighter. And looking at other artists’ work, like Greg Land who was also in the studio, seeing how much photo reference he was using, how he was using it, how Steve Epting was using the blacks in his pages, things like that were adding to my work.

What went into creating the characters who formed the Young Avengers, alongside Allan Heinberg?

Basically, I was just given the descriptions from Allan and from Tom Brevoort, the editor, and I just went away and did some rough designs. I kept doing multiple designs until I was comfortable with something to hand in to show them. A lot of them were very crude to begin with because they just basically said “do younger versions of the Hulk, of the Avengerscharacters.” So I was trying to give it a more modern twist while retaining a lot of those classic elements in making those characters, so it was a lot of trial and error, a lot of playing around, a lot of moving things around.
Is there a project you’ve worked on that you’d like to tackle?

I haven’t done any DC stuff in a long time and I’m very curious about that. I’d love to do some Batman stuff, some Justice League, although I really should be shying away from doing team books because it takes me forever to do them. For some reason, they keep hiring me to do team books, like Axis and certain characters.

As an artist, what are your thoughts on the visual style of the films that form the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

I love the fact that they kind of look like superheroes, although in some ways, I’m less keen on some of the complicated outfits because I like things clean, simple, visually arresting. With the movies, sometimes they can get overly complicated with their designs, I think it takes away…it kind of gets generic after a while. If there are rivets and buttons everywhere, then there isn’t that much colour, it can look very samey-samey. That’s some of the issues I’ve had with the movies, some of the characters could be interchangeable and it wouldn’t even matter. I understand that, because they have to make it sophisticated for the movie audience, but at the same time, it can be overdone. The good thing with the Marvel movies is that at least they still somewhat resemble the comic book versions, they’re still very distinctive.



How do you overcome artist’s block?

Partly why I’m so slow is because I’m constantly struggling to get things right, that’s why when people ask me to video myself and put it up on YouTube, my process and how I draw, I’d be like “70% of the time will be erasing what I’ve just drawn so it will be a very, very boring video.” I get artist’s block, unfortunately, I’m too stupid to walk away, I just keep hammering at it. Sometimes I will switch to other pages and they’ll come easier.

What do you struggle in getting right, is it the composition?

The composition, the way I draw a face, it can never come out right sometimes. Sometimes I think it’s important to have a different perspective on things, which is why with the lightbox it lets you switch things over, so you turn the page over, everything’s completely different, so sometimes that helps as well.

If you had a chance to work on a movie or television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would you be willing to do it?

I don’t think I’m really suited to it. I’d certainly be interested; it’s a whole different field.

Which series would you be interested in?

I want to do a Young Avengers series, yes [laughs].
Is there a character in particular that you enjoy drawing the most?

I really enjoy drawing Thor, I kind of like the Thor eras that I grew up with. I don’t think I’m the best at drawing Spider-Man [but] I do enjoy drawing Spider-Man. I’ve become very comfortable drawing Captain America, even though his costume just becomes more and more complicated. Favourite character…default characters are usually those guys. I’m so used to drawing Marvel characters, that’s the problem, when I’m finally asked to draw DC characters, I’m like “how do you draw Batman again?” [Laughs]

How much leeway to you get to re-interpret a character? When you’re assigned to a book, do you get a chance to redesign the characters’ costumes?

Sometimes. If I’m asked to redesign a costume, then I will try to stay faithful to…I grew up in the 80s so I have a certain image of those characters, so if I’m asked to redesign those characters, I often refer to those as a starting point in a way. Some of the costumes have deviated so much, they look so different than how they used to look that it’s a completely different character with a totally different costume. So I like to bring it back sometimes with more familiar elements. I try to play around with that.


What was your gateway into reading comics?

Very early on, it was Spider-Man. In the UK, they used to reprint all the comics, the weeklies, so I used to come home, after lunch, and read it.

So it was always superheroes rather than war or horror comics?

I did read some of that stuff, but I didn’t really take to it. I read 2000 AD, but I always went back to Marvel characters. I just like the Spider-Man character, maybe it’s because with 2000 AD the stories progressed too slowly, they were always too short, six pages, there was never enough story and by the next week it was another six pages. It just didn’t flow as well.

Most British creators cut their teeth on 2000 AD, how did you break into comics?

I just didn’t start like I was “supposed” to. Back in the 90s, I didn’t really know how to break in. I didn’t know you had to do samples, you had to show them to the right people, so that’s what I did, it just happened to be that the people I showed them to were from Marvel, so I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door there.

What would you say is the hardest part of working in comics?

The hardest part is keeping your game up, I would say. The quality of the artwork these days is amazing. There are kids coming out of high school with better Photoshop skills than I can achieve right now. There’s a level of technology that I never had, they’re so comfortable with those programs, it’s a challenge to try and keep growing.

Does your process involve any digital work?

It does, yes. Nowadays, I do a little fumbling, I scan them in and I play around with them a little bit, I move around elements until I’m happy.



If you were tasked with reimagining the Young Avengers as they are now, what changes would you make?

The way it currently is? I would probably bring it back to the old team. No disrespect to what Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen did, it’s just wasn’t the same team for me, because they were introducing all these new characters and for me, it didn’t quite come across the same way. Maybe it’s the writer; Allan had a certain way with the characters as well. I enjoyed those core characters that I helped design, it’s very personal.

What was it like creating the Comic-Con promotional poster for the new season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and would you like to see movie posters return towards hand-drawn art, as unlikely as that may be?

It was actually quite an honour to do that poster for Comic-Con. I don’t think I’m the strongest guy when it comes to likenesses, so I try to shy away from that as much as possible, but when I was asked to do it, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try and do something that was like the movie posters, James Bond-style, all the elements, like similar to the old classic James Bond movies. That’s what I wanted to do. Luckily it turned out okay, I think. There’s a few things I would change, but there are always things I would change.

Are there any things in geek culture that you’re looking forward to, be it movies, TV or other media?

I’m trying to stay away as much as I can from the Star Wars stuff, you can’t escape it unfortunately. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I’m also curious to see how the Marvel movies progress, to show the Infinity War. Like everybody else, I’m excited just the same, even though we all have a rough idea of what the story’s going to be like from the comics. It’s always cool to see on the big screen.

In your opinion, what is the most important component of visual storytelling?

The most important element is just clarity of storytelling, making sure the reader can follow everything that’s moving along. One of my rules when I’m laying out a book is that every issue can be somebody’s first, so you’ve got to make sure that it’s clear enough for somebody to pick up, or they aren’t going to be able to follow the story. I’ve picked up books where I’ve tried to read the story, but it’s so confusing because things are bouncing around all the time, it’s lost me even as a seasoned comic book reader. When I see that, I think that’s just missed opportunities – but again, that’s just me being very, very critical. It’s always easy being critical of other people’s work, failing to notice your own flaws.

What do you feel is the reason behind Marvel putting you on a lot of event books?

I don’t know, I think maybe they think I can handle the multiple characters, that’s why they give it to me. I also consider it a privilege, they think that I’m worthy to work on those tentpole events. I don’t question it too much, I just enjoy the opportunity.

Are you involved much with the planning of events?

Not at all, not at all. They just bring me in and show me the script.

Has there been a moment in the industry where you geeked out on a meeting a hero of yours?

I tried to avoid meeting my heroes as far as I can. Sometimes, it can affect your perception of the way you read it, I don’t know if you’ve ever met your heroes, sometimes if they give you a disappointing [first] impression, it affects everything you see from them afterwards. In some ways, I try and avoid that, but the people that I have met are great.
Thanks for an excellent interview Jim!

STGCC 2015: Stella Chuu Interview

STGCC 2015: STELLA CHUU INTERVIEW 
By Jedd Jong

Cosplayer and burlesque performer Stella Chuu, something of a celebrity in the American cosplay circuit, is in Singapore for the first time as a special guest of the 2015 Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention. She has captured the imagination and attention of geeks everywhere with her portrayals of characters including Psylocke, Irma from Queen’s Blade, Ivy Valentine from Soul Calibur and Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Stella is active in the “nerdlesque” scene, integrating geeky elements into her performances. Her Tron burlesque routine, in which she portrays Quorra, is particularly well-known. She’s even done a performance as Firefly’s Jayne Cobb. “I’ll be in my bunk,” indeed.

Over STGCC weekend, fans geek out over getting to meet Stella in person and there are selfies aplenty. On Preview Day and Day 2, Stella dons the cape and bracelets as Tharja from The Fire Emblem, and on Day 1 she wields the giant shuriken as Yuffie from the Final Fantasy series. 

At the convention, Stella speaks to other journalists and I about the craft of cosplaying and how she deals with the various responses she has gotten. Read on to hear her thoughts on the portrayal of Asian women in western popular culture, how cosplay has helped her self confidence and the nitty-gritties that go into learning a burlesque routine. It’s apparently really easy to look goofy instead of sexy while removing a bra.

You recently cosplayed as Mako Mori from Pacific Rim, who is a good example of a well-developed lead female character in contemporary movies. Who are some of your favourite female characters in film and television?

Furiosa from Mad Max[Fury Road], definitely. She’s a really great role model as a woman who can really lead a movie with her character. Who else? Mako Mori’s really great, I feel like she kind of started a trend, which is really nice. There are always a lot of problems in American films where the studios think that it’s more important to cater to male audiences but they don’t realise that there’s also a huge female and unisex market. For us in America, we’re definitely in an age where we’re fighting for feminist ideas.
You work is a cross between cosplay and burlesque, do you view it as performance art?

Yeah, I find it really empowering for me to be able to perform burlesque and it’s really great that I’m able to do cosplay with it too because back in the day, burlesque was very different. It was very classic and beautiful and elegant. Now, it can be anything. It can be artistic, it can be strange, it can be funny and it still can be sexy. I perform burlesque because it makes me feel empowered. It’s also an outlet for the artistic side that I can’t express through cosplay.
How would you compare STGCC to the cons you’ve been to in the West?

The convention itself is very similar, the way it operates, but I would say that cosplay is very different here. There’s more of an emphasis on pretty makeup, which is nice. I’ve actually learned a few things while I was here, just looking at other cosplayers. Cosplay photography is very different as well, it’s very cinematic. They definitely take their time to ensure the shots are really beautiful, whereas the difficulty of cosplaying in America is that America is so big that the only time that photographers get any time to shoot cosplayers is at conventions and cosplay photographers have learned to shoot really, really fast. Like 10 minute photoshoots. The photos are really beautiful but they don’t tell a story, it’s not cinematic, there are many limitations to it. It’s unfortunate. I would love to see more planned photoshoots in America. I would love to see more in-depth collaborations between cosplayers and photographers.

Do you feel that the representation of Asians, particularly Asian women, in American popular culture has improved?

Oh, definitely! I mean, back in the 90s, we were the girls who were the waitresses and the sex symbol of the bad guy, like the sidekick, doing kung fu.
The “Dragon Lady” archetype.

Yeah, the “Dragon Lady” stereotype. I mean, it’s not a bad stereotype because it’s sexy, it’s not gross or anything like that, but it is not as empowering as it could be. There are TV shows coming out like Fresh Off the Boat, which is great, it is so perfect. It shows the other side of Asian culture. And movies like Pacific Rim, showing Mako Mori being a powerful woman who’s just fighting for her place. That’s what I feel like we’re doing in America, we’re fighting for our place, fighting for people to understand that we’re more than just this cute Chinese or cute Japanese girl. We’re not submissive, we’re actually very outspoken, we’re very independent and we have a lot of ideas.
Would you say you’re using cosplay as a platform to communicate these ideas?

I don’t have an agenda, I’m not trying to communicate an agenda. I guess it’s a by-product of what I do. I tend to be attracted to characters who are powerful. I don’t like to cosplay characters who are weak because I don’t identify with them. I like to cosplay characters who have strong personalities. The character I’m cosplaying now, Tharja, she is crazy! All she talks about is killing people and summoning demons and being evil, so I find that really entertaining. I don’t want to cosplay a girl who’s weak-minded because I don’t want to have those feelings in me while I’m cosplaying – but I don’t choose characters specifically to show others that I’m powerful. I just choose characters that I feel comfortable with.
How important a role do you feel self-expression plays in building self-confidence?

I think that in all of these years that I’ve been cosplaying, my confidence has sky-rocketed. It was because of cosplay, burlesque and also putting myself out there and meeting people. I still kind of am really shy, I’m a mixture of introvert and extrovert, I guess. When I’m not cosplaying, when I’m not at a convention, I’m actually really quiet, I don’t like talking to people. I think another reason is maybe they’re not geeks so I have nothing to relate to them; I don’t like to have conversations with people who don’t understand where I’m coming from. I’ve noticed, especially recently, that I feel much more comfortable going up to random people at conventions and striking up conversations, especially if I’m not cosplaying and they don’t know who I am. I like talking to people as a normal anything. It’s a nice feeling, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do that four to five years ago. I want more people to see the power of cosplay, what it can do for you in developing who you are and who you want to be.
You have a lot on your plate, how do you juggle it all?

It’s really hard, I work 40 hours a week. It takes me one hour to get to work a day, so another one or two hours after that, then when I come home I work on cosplay for about six hours. Give or take a few hours, when it’s off season and I don’t have any conventions coming up, I work on cosplay for maybe two hours a night before I sleep, but if it’s a really busy week, like the week before a convention, I can work on cosplay for anyone from six to nine hours or more. If I’m not working on cosplay, then I trying to hang out with my friends. Each time I get to see them I like schedule it out, I write it down on the calendar. I schedule out my lunch meetings with my friends like three weeks in advance [laughs].
How do you deal with any negativity you might encounter in the community?

There is a lot of negative attention that cosplayers get. I’m a much more risqué cosplayer, I’m so comfortable with my body. I don’t care if there’s nude pictures of me or derpy pictures of me or bad pictures of me, I don’t care, it’s fine. Because of those pictures, people will try to use it against me or something, and I’m like “you have no power here!” And then there’s people who are just saying stupid things all the time, so I like to troll them and just come back at them with really dumb comments. I feel like perpetuating anger and hate on the internet doesn’t help. If you’re mean to somebody else because they’re mean to you, you’re just going to continue being mean.
It’s a vicious cycle.

Yeah, it’s a vicious cycle, it doesn’t help anything; it doesn’t make you feel good. What I like to do when I troll people is to kind turn it around and get them on my side somehow. The best example was recently, I had a photo [of me], someone else’s photo, and the person said “this is a time when PhotoShop just destroys the photo” and I said “’destroys’ as in ‘destroyed it!’” [throws up the horns sign] and he’s like “no, kind of ruining it” and I said “’kind of’ like ‘kind of like it?’” and I kept trolling him until finally he’s like “sort of?” and I said “sort of awesome?” and he was like “…yeah.” You can see the comments getting more and more confused until he finally accepted it. It was great; that’s what I like to do.
What is your process when it comes to devising a burlesque act?

I need a stroke of insight; it’s really hard for me to just sit down and brainstorm, I have to be like “Eureka! There’s an idea!” I don’t like burlesque-ing just to burlesque. One of the common problems with nerdy burlesque is performers will just come on stage in character, they’ll dress as the character and just striptease. There’s no storyline, it doesn’t make sense – why is this person stripteasing? I always make sure with my burlesque that I tell a story, that there’s something happening that the audience can understand the effect because if you’re just stripteasing without any context, then it’s not nerdlesque. Nerdlesque is about being the character and portraying the character.
How do you prepare for a performance?

First, there’s a lot of training, definitely. I take classes and stuff – in New York they have a place called The School of Burlesque where they teach classes, because not only are you dancing, but you’re learning certain techniques that are very complicated. You’d think it’s easy to take off your glove – it’s not, there’s a process to it. Learning how to dance with fans, learning how to take off your bra the correct way without looking stupid, taking off your corset on stage is really hard as well. One of the hardest things is being able to engage the audience, because you’re not just going on stage to take off your clothes, you’re like “hi, I am here, look at you [points], look at you [points]”, you’re staring at the audience, your eyes are meeting with them. Those are things that take a long time to learn. The first two years that you’re performing, you’re going to suck! You’re going to suck so bad! Over time, I’ve gotten better and better and what’s great about burlesque is that it lasts forever. You can start burlesque-ing when you’re 20 years and you can keep going until you’re 50, 55. I know plenty of people who are in their late 40s and are still performing, who have been performing for the last 20 years. Keep practising, I guess.
How have your family and your friends who are outside the geek circle reacted to your fame?

I just don’t tell them about it. If they don’t know it, I just don’t talk about it.
What are some of the most unconventional or unexpected materials you’ve employed in 
constructing a costume?

I was cosplaying Yuffie yesterday and I have a big shuriken. One of the things is there are rivets in it, but instead of actually putting rivets in, I put googly eyes then I spray painted them. They really have the perfect size and shape, so when you shake my shuriken, you can hear the googly eyes shaking!
Big props have become something of a cosplaying trend. Do you have any advice for cosplayers who are constructing and carrying around big props?

It’s tough because the problem with big props is that they’re fragile and they take up too much space, they’re really hard to transport. If you can avoid bringing them to a convention, you should just bring them to a photoshoot but not to a convention. I have very big cosplays with big feathers and big wings and I only bring them to photoshoots – what I do is I make smaller versions of those to bring to conventions. Make mini versions of your props, I guess – it depends on what’s important to you. If you want really good cosplay photos, then save your good props for cosplay photos. If you want your cosplay to be seen at a convention and you want people to look at your cool costume, you need to pick your battles.
How do you deal with people who might be a tiny bit creepy at cons?

I’ve gotten really good at it, to the point where I almost don’t worry about them anymore. We’re geeks, we’re all socially inept [laughs], we hide in our basements. I do get a lot of creepers but to be honest, the people who are the most inconsiderate and rude are the people outside the convention. When I’m walking from the hotel to the convention centre, there are dirty old men who’ll just be like “hey baby!” whereas at conventions, people are a little bit more respectful, it’s just that they don’t understand what’s the right thing to say. They’re not trying to be malicious, so I always see [it as] “okay, why are they saying this word? It’s because that that’s rude or something” They’re coming from this different place. I never try to be angry or yell at anyone, I always try to read between the lines and see where they’re coming from. I know how hard it is to be a geek.
That’s a very empathetic approach.

Yeah, if I stay angry, it’s not good for me.
Do you still meet people who don’t view cosplay as a viable art form, and if you do, what is your response to them?

I feel like I haven’t met them in real life, but definitely online, there are a lot of people who complain about cosplay having more attention than the artists who created the comic books and I don’t know what to say to them, because they might be fighting for something and I represent what they don’t like. I can’t change their minds, I’m just going to keep doing what I do, I’m not going to call them an idiot or anything like that. They’re entitled to their own opinion; I just hope that over time, they see more stuff that will change their opinions, but I’m not going to waste any time to argue with them.
What are your cosplans for the future?

My plans for the next convention, New York Comic-Con, I’m going to be doing a Gundam Girl and because I live in New York City, it’s easier. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to bring it to another convention. Also, I’m going to be cosplaying from Evolve, which is a game where you’re a bunch of people fighting the monster or you’re a monster where you’re trying to kill all the people, a really fantastic game. I haven’t picked out what I want from that yet. That’s it for this year, yeah.
How many costumes have you made this year?

This year specifically, I’m going to have in total 12 costumes that I’ve made. Last year, I think I had 15-20. There are fewer this year than last year because I wanted to concentrate on the craftsmanship to make sure that the costumes are whole and complete and well-made. Some of the problems I’ve had in the past is that my costumes fall apart really easily or pieces of it weren’t very well-made, so I just want to make sure that as I get better at crafting, my costumes get better because of it. 
Thanks for the excellent interview Stella!
Photos that aren’t my own are used for illustrative purposes only and belong to their respective owners. 

STGCC 2015 Day 2: Mega Picture Post

And here we go with Day 2! Let’s roll. 

The family that Star Wars-es together stays together

Yub nub!

Elektra

Black Bolt

Felicity, complete with Windows 8 Surface!

Selfie with CW!Ollie’s main squeeze

Darth Revan

Sabermarch’s wares

Dear Mistah J!

“Yub nub!” “Utinni!” 

Black Cat-scratch fever!

You will notice a running theme with Harleys and lil Mistah J.

“Hello Zepp”

Hot Toys’ Millennium Falcon interior diorama

Vacationpool!

Joking Snake – Batman and Metal Gear Solid mash-up!

Lil Ms. Marvel and Lil Hulk! D’aww.

Pitted as many Jokers against as many Red Hoods as I could

“All this fighting, it’s senseless”

Younglings in training at Fightsaber’s workshop

M. Bison says “YASS!!”

Actual levitation!

Attempt at a vaguely arty shot

“Girl I work out”

Bewitched, Bebladed and Bewildered 

Who watches the Watch_dogs? 

Mind-blowing Bumblebee.

Rul as Jason – destiny

“Now fight!”

Maro, who makes a most adorable Babs. 
Skyline Sirens 
“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.”

Ready to believe you, Egon!

“MOM! DAD! UNCLE BEN!” 
In anticipation of the all-female Ghostbusters movie

Beardbusters!

Shaun’s really rad Arkham Knight 

Felicity being wistful

Kylo Ren, the mysterious villain of the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Neptys Ennoae as Wasp with Gwen as Ant-Man!

WASP AND BUMBLEBEE. This gave me so much satisfaction.

It’s not a comic con unless there’s at least one Slave Leia

M. Bison has his sights set on time travel – beware!

Doof Doof Doof! 
Ahh Jim Cheung’s smile. *Melts*

Ants at a picnic

More Ame-Comi Wondy action!

Old-school enthusiasm!

Conner!

Hi again Stella

Shaun the Jurassic Park ranger with Bessie the Dilophosaurus! Good girl Bessie! 

The Hooded Photobomber

“BLOOD BAG!”

Drag!Wonder Woman!

Slade has destructive designs on the Bat *flicks*

Epic showdown! Onlookers are most amused.

Back to back badasses

Bullets and bracelets!

The family that Avenges together…

Hey Sally!

Jaye as a Portal Turret, with her Companion Cube of Holding

Elevenapalooza!

Princess Kory in the house

Shiny shiny Ollie

Yes yes, I don’t know who these characters are and took the photo because Theresa and friend are attractive.

See son? That’s a professional. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Kai with Red Hood Beyond!

You wot m8?

Re:Spawn

Whovian selfie

11 photobomb 
“Come along Po…I mean Clara”

Everybody wants Clara!

Clara doesn’t know what to make of the Attack Eyebrows 

Adam Hughes, comics pinup artist extraordinaire

Orkabat Cos and Judith as Bishoujo Psylocke and Ms. Marvel respectively

I blurted out “look, a Dick!” without thinking. Way to go Jedd. 
SHAZAM!

Team Arrow and a Feline Photobomber

Theodora as Selina and Lil Bruce
Selina and her mini-me

What evil lurks in the hearts of men? 

Selfie with Aunty Shirley, everyone’s favourite neighbourhood cosplaying Aunty! 

Scarlet Witch

V8!

“Bruce why?”

Nothing to fear but fear itself

Frasier as Peggy Carter and Jenny as Skinny Steve

Selfie with my Batfam friends Sarah, Kie and YQ!

Dead Jason party – bring your own crowbar 
“I am a failure lol”

“Dick you’re irreplaceable!” – Bruce circa 1942 or thereabouts 

All will cower in fear of Darth Cass! 

Go away Wade.

“Drive me like one of your Italian cars”

Clara and the Stig – it’s a veritable BBC party in here!

Twinsies! 
“Dad Dad DAAAD Dad Daadddd” “Arrgh kids!”

Missy’s cookies tempt the Doctor

People mountain; people sea

Catwoman, Harley and Lil Bruce!

The thorn among the roses

KA as Spider-Woman 

YQ giving the Kotobukiya statue pose a go

Invinc is very pleased with the shuffling trick – exactly why it’s silly doesn’t show up in stills, you had to be there.
“You’ve been struck by a smooth criminal mon ami”

Very esoteric.

Ellie!

Pirates have shoulder parrots, Catwoman has shoulder kitteh.

WITNESS IMMORTAN JOE!

STGCC 2015 Day 1: Mega Picture Post

Here’s the first part of my annual Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention Mega Picture post! Brace yourselves, it be a long one.

A very Imperial welcome

Hot Toys’ First Order Stormtroopers

Mysterious Force Awakens baddie Kylo Ren

KidsLogic’s actually-hovering DeLorean

Life-sized Hulk vs. Hulkbsuter display

“Get me outta here!” 

Fightsaber’s demonstration

I do know the power of the Dark Side

“Not so tough without your ship, eh?” “Ditto”

Well, technically an Ant-Man figure of any size could be considered “life-sized”

Michael Keaton and Adam West Batmen

The very epitome of cool.

Rocket and Groot, cosmic besties.

Loki conspires, as he does.

Anyone seen my daughter?

Cosplay celebrity Stella Chuu

“LET OFF SOME STEAM, BENNET!”

The King of the Seas on his pincer throne

Beguiling, even as an unpainted prototype

Writer Wayne Ree and artist Gene Whitlock, who together form Global Beards!

Raven

My pal Jaye as 2015 edition Marty McFly

She’s got the worried Michael J. Fox face down.

Assemble!

Hoverboards that can actually hover! Disclaimer: not intended for use over water.

Immortan Joe takes shape.

With my friend Gwen as Han Solo

Neptys Ennoae as Shao Jun from Assassin’s Creed Chronicles

First of many Red Hoods this weekend

Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6

Digging the “Jabba as satay vendor” diorama

Stay!

Agent Peggy Carter

Red Hood

Harley Quinn, an ever-popular character choice.

Alexander Jameouson Tan as the Joker, all too proud of himself for having killed Jason Todd

Brian Dennison as a thoroughly on-point Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

A double serving of Harley! 

Digging the combination of biker and tactical gear this Red Hood is rocking

Mezame as Margarita Guy from Jurassic World!

Tadashi and Hiro from Big Hero 6

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Exquisite craftsmanship on that crown!

Ghostbusters and Back to the Future – so 80s I can’t even

Check out the detail on those proton packs!

First Order Stormie backpack! So cute. 

Jack Frost and Booker DeWitt – eh, I’ve seen stranger mashups

Party like it’s 2099

Booker, catch!

Cap and an old enemy

“Put me down Quill! This is demeaning!” 

Baroness and Storm Shadow from GI JOE

“2015 is all this and no Jaws 19! We’ve got to fix things Doc!”

But soft, what light from Yondu window breaks?

Talking comics with C.B. Cebulski, Adi Granov, Jim Cheung and Adam Hughes

Capn’ Spidey

Theodora as Black Widow taking it out on lil Loki

Ame-Comi Wonder Woman

Deathstroke

Green Arrow

Goofing with Ollie – just about my fave selfie of the day

People mountain; people sea

Daenerys and her dragon.

Deadpool, perfectly in character

<