The Shape of Water: A modern yet magical tale

Guillermo del Toro (best known for Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim)  shines as a storyteller in the movie, The Shape of Water. The story, set in the 60s, during a time when the USA was in the mist of the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War era, a mute cleaning lady, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) befriends and falls in love with an amphibian, played by, imprisoned in a government building where Elisa is employed. She is one of several women who clean the government facility. When she learns of the horrific experiments and treatment that her new friend is undergoing, and will undergo, she realizes that she must risk everything to help him escape.  

It’s definitely a sci-fi take on Beauty and the Beast and The Creature of the Black Lagoon. The movie also shows how Elisa struggles to make her voice heard as she considers herself somewhat of a “beast” as well. The creature at first is frightening; some may say grotesque. Then, as the bond between him and Elisa blossoms that initial reaction is forgotten (not to spoil the movie but trust me) you begin to soften up to the creature.


Del Toro pushes the phrase “Love has no bounds” by showcasing how jarring and endearing the bond that develops between Elisa and Amphibious Man. The manner in which they communicate with each other was beautiful to watch.  Neither speaks, they just depend on their physicality to communicate many emotions: love, hope, fear, anger, loneliness and forgiveness.  They were able to push through impossible odds and making the effort to show they care. Their story shows we are more than capable of doing that as well, with all our technology and gadgets.  The bond that forms between Elisa and the creature is jarring and endearing. Their relationship may push bounds for some, but also may strengthen what you define as love.

Sally Hawkins’ performance, is charming and graceful. The joy she expresses is contagious! Doug Jones as Amphibious man is tender and believable.


The Shape of Water is truly a wonderful movie it combined a lot of my favorites genres: sci-fi, period films, and fairy tales.  Del Toro fans will not be disappointed with his story, his visual styling, his attention to colors, set design, costumes, and of course his monster. The soundtrack is memorable with wonderful period tune choices.  


I loved this movie! I think you get that?! Go see it!

Happy Holidays!


Giving the gift of kindness

So, this was initially going to be a gift post, but I have decided against it. I rather use my platform to highlight an issue that is very important to me “BULLYING” As a child, I was teased and bullied. The experience has had an effect on me. I can not imagine what it must be like to be bullied in this age of technology. A component that children and adults are faced with now, which brings to mind recent accounts of bullying resulting in the suicides of 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis and 13-year-old Rosalie Avila.

 Ashawnty Davis

Ashawnty Davis

 Rosalie Avila

Rosalie Avila

In the past, I have posted content on social media thinking I was making a clever comeback to bullies who have posted toxic comments about me. In reflection, I realize that this response was bullying too, replying out of anger for my appearance being racially mocked. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I learned this year it’s truly best to ignore and walk away.

Bullies hurt people because they are hurt.  

As a way to kick off the New Year, I am working with and supporting two companies this holiday season:

Flexin' In My Complexion

Ten year old Kheris Rogers (yes ten years old) created Flexin’ In My Complexion, a tee shirt line which inspires African Americans to be confident and comfortable in their skin. Kheris was motivated by the fact she has long been bullied for her skin tone.  In elementary school, for example, white students and teachers discriminated against Kheris for her dark skin.  The racist taunting got so bad that her mom decided to transfer her to a different school — but the bullying still occurred. This time, from black students, who suggested Kheris’ darker skin shade made her less beautiful. Since launching  “Flexin In My Complexion” a few months ago Kheris has received praise from Alicia Keyes and featured her collection in two New York Fashion Week shows in September, making her the youngest designer ever!

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Kheris says “Going through that inspired me to begin Flexin’ In My Complexion because black comes in so many shades and they all are beautiful. What I want people to learn from my brand is that beauty has nothing to do with what is on the outside. What is on the inside is what counts.”



And then there is Ditch The Label

Ditch the Label is a digital charity, which means that most of their support is provided online through their website and partnerships with games and social networks. They have determined that 50 percent report having been bullied, 50 percent of those who had been bullied report being bullied about their appearance, 24 percent of those bullied said they had their private information shared online. Their mission statement:

“Each week, thousands of young people aged 12-25 benefit from our digital online support programs through our website and partnerships with online games and social networks. We operate the largest bullying support community in the world and have thousands of support guides and resources freely available.”

Since Ditch the Label uses social media as a way to combat cyber bullying, they have amassed several videos that speak to why bullying and how to respond to the bully. 

I am extremely grateful to see people/organizations doing the work through art and social media to help people in pain. I have included the go fund pages for the burials of Rosalie Avila and Ashanty David

I plan to continue to speak against bullying in 2018; and to encourage those individuals and organizations who have made it their mission to rid our society of this abomination. Please join me. 



NYCC 2017 Recap!

An October tradition for my friends and me is attending New York Comic Con (NYCC).  This is a time when I, and my fellow geeks from the metro area, can escape reality for a few days! The merchandise and cosplays at this year’s New York Comic Con didn’t miss a beat.

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I dug The Big Lebowski and The Professional cosplays the most! Cosplayers dressing up as 90s movie icons? Oh the 90s nostalgia!

A few of my fellow geek gals participated in a ClulessXHarryPotter mashup (shouts to Chavon of Geeky & Creepy for the idea). It was awesome! Yes, that is me being the only Slytherin (a lovable Slytherin) in the group.  The blazer is killah, snagging it on Esty along with the Harry Potter Patch bag from Hot Topic.  I predict there will be more group cosplays in the future for me, including a repeat of this one :) 

  ROLLCALL!   Che : Ravenclaw, Kos: Slytherin,  Arkieda : Ravenclaw,  Robyn : Gryffindor,  Isake : Ravenclaw, Christina: Gryffindor,  Akua : Ravenclaw

ROLLCALL! Che: Ravenclaw, Kos: Slytherin, Arkieda: Ravenclaw, Robyn: Gryffindor, Isake: Ravenclaw, Christina: Gryffindor, Akua: Ravenclaw

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Since I’ve been attending regional comic cons recently, I have become stoked about the panels!  Connecting with fellow geeks on topics that matter: mental health, diversity, and geek journalism, this year at NYCC they didn’t disappoint. A highlight for many was “Fashioning Fiction: The Aesthetics of Fantasy Worlds” panel, which included Geek Girl Brunch co-founder Yissel Ayala. Yissel along with 6 panelists broke down what makes fashion fantastical and how they find inspiration in the real world to clothe the denizens of their imaginary realms.

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Yissel is a visual merchandiser and has a BFA in Women’s Sportswear from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT Alum Woot Woot), she’s has been mentored by Carolina Herrera and studied knitwear at Politecnico Di Milano in Milan, Italy   

I had the opportunity to speak with YIssel after the panel, check it out:
O.C.O: What led you submit for the panel

Y.A: My friend and cheerleader Erica Shultz encouraged me. We'd gotten to know each other through me moderating her panels at New Jersey Comic Expo, so she knew I was beyond capable.  Actually, "encouraged," is an understatement.  She'd regularly e-mail and text me reminders to brainstorm ideas and the panel submission deadline. Ha! She really pushed for me to do this, and for that, I am forever grateful.  

Soon after, I visited my friend Melissa Grey to get her take and bounce ideas off of her over wine (like you do). I knew I had to do something around fashion. Around design  - A subject I'm passionate about, knowledgeable, have credibility in. But, what else? Well, I love books.... It was Melissa that suggested the aesthetics of fantasy worlds. It was pretty perfect. Here I was talking to my published author best friend, so I knew I'd at least have one guaranteed panelist onboard. 

I went home and drafted out some copy, came up with the name, "Fashioning Fiction", had Melissa reply to my e-mail with even better copy, sought out potential panelists with her help, and the panel was born. 

O.C.O: What did you want to teach/accomplish with the panel?

Y.A:  I wanted to talk about fashion for an hour without it becoming as superficial as red carpet coverage before a major awards show.  

When people think of literature, what words spring to mind? Smart. Profound. Classic. How does the average person view fashion? Is it fun? Well, you and I know that. But then there are people who think: "superficial," who don't realize that, "smart," "profound," and, "classic," are all terms that apply to fashion too. 

It was important for me to be able to celebrate fashion as a crucial world-building tool. So, I put a lot of thought and care into my questions and presentation as a whole. Through PowerPoint I created a visual narrative. I told an easy to follow story, first on Literature’s contributions to fashion, citing prominent literary works and designer achievements, which allowed me to dive into the heart of my panel, fashion's very necessary contribution to storytelling. My approach worked. It really fucking worked. 

O.C.O: How'd you come to know your panel mates?

Y.A: They're my friends, and friends of friends. I find already knowing someone makes asking them to be on your panel way easier!

O.C.O: If you could have a follow up panel to this one, what would it focus on?

Y.A: I think I may just do a round 2 of this panel, as I already have some interested parties. It's more than I could've hoped for.

I do like the idea of discussing the great style icons of literature and their influence on modern fashion. Maybe I'll attempt that at BookCon? We'll see!

Follow Yissel on Instagram and Twitter @Thedesignergeek

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As I left New York Comic Con, I could not help but notice the increased attendance from last year!  I learned later that attendance rose to over  200,000 to be exact!!  How awesome is that?!  New York Comic Con continues to get better and better.  I started going in 2013.  Each year I leave the con more confident, inspired, and creative. Until next year!



WCW: Akua Harris-When Geeks Travel

Summer is winding down, . . .sadly.  Time to indulge in that last BBQ, beach and rooftop get together with friends before the autumn leaves start to fall.  I am excited to say that I am also ending my summer by attending DragonCon in Atlanta; one of the largest cons in the east coast.  I’m excited, as this is my first regional comic con. I am also inspired by my niece, Akua Harris, who has attended many regional comic cons through the years.   

 Akua featured on  Buzzfeed's  NYCC round up for her Rogue Cosplay

Akua featured on Buzzfeed's NYCC round up for her Rogue Cosplay

Akua was born on Star Wars Day “May The Fourth Be With You” we also grew up together.  Although she is my niece, in reality, she is more like my sister.  There is a difference of four years between us. 


Akua is smart, beautiful, creative and passionate about what she does; particularly about traveling, cosplay and gaming.  Her travels had led her create the group “When Geeks Travel” a travel initiative celebrating the geek in all of us.  She is passionate about her cosplay costumes; meticulous in every detail.  Cosplay is truly an art form.  Akua’s Cosplays are always on point!  And, did I mention she is fluent in Spanish. 


Akua in addition to attending comic cons all over the country, works in digital marketing offering her services to Black Girl Gamers and is also an officer at Geek Girl Brunch NYC.  Geek Girl Brunch,  was founded in NYC about three years ago, is an awesome group that meets once a month, with a new theme and a new place where geek girls like us can meet up with a mimosa and talk all things geek. The organization has expanded across the country, to the Caribbean and Europe! 

In between work and prepping for upcoming DragonCon in Atlanta, I was able to ask Akua a few questions about prior cosplays and what advice she might offer to aspiring geek girls.

O.C.O:  What's your favorite cosplay to date?
A.H: Probably Spidergwen for the comfortability of it. I could wear it all day, which is important for a cosplay!


O.C.O:  What advice would you give a budding geek girl going to her first ever comic con?
A.H:  Take an emergen-c in the morning, bring portable chargers and download the con app - that's what's been most helpful for me at least. Don't get caught up in your cosplay being perfect either, half the time no one notices it isn't perfect but you. Spend that energy having fun instead!


O.C.O:  Tell us more about the NYC division of Geek Girl Brunch
A.H:  We've become a bit of a family and I imagine a lot of the other chapters have developed that kind of relationship as well. I've seen a lot of friendships blossom and flourish because of GGB. Outside of brunch we coordinate movie dates, holiday parties and even trips. We have a lot of entrepreneurs in our chapter as well, and I love seeing how supportive the girls are of one another. 

 Photo credit: Geek Girl Brunch NYC

Photo credit: Geek Girl Brunch NYC

 Photo credit: Geek Girl Brunch NYC

Photo credit: Geek Girl Brunch NYC

O.C.O:  What do you like the most about Dragoncon as a cosplay and media professional
A.H:  I like Dragoncon for the fact it’s by the fans for the fans. A lot of our cons are more business focused than fan focused now, so I appreciate more than ever that Dcon will never be that.

O.C.O:  When did you decide to take your cosplay to the next level (mashups etc.)
A.H:  When I was planning a Darth Vader cosplay I wanted to put my own spin on it, rather than just be regular Vader. And I for some reason like to wonder about which Hogwarts house a character would belong to, so I took that and ran with it. 


O.C.O:  Marvel or DC?
A.H:  Marvel

O.C.O:  Favorite female comic book character.
A.H:  Currently Penny Rolle. I'm late to pick up on bitch planet, and now that I have I love it. She's the embodiment of self-acceptance and having zero fucks to give regarding other people's opinions of you. 


O.C.O:  Where can folks see you next? 

A.H:  My next cons are Dragoncon and NYCC. Socially, my cosplay/personal pages are @Astylishjedi on every channel. I also started a geek travel group - When Geeks Travel - and you can find it @Whengeekstravel on any channel. 

 Artwork by  Monique Steele

Artwork by Monique Steele

Folks going to Dragoncon, Akua has partnered up with Blerds Who Brunch for their Dragoncon event on September 3rd.  Use the code “WHENGEEKSTRAVEL“ for 20% off tickets and meet Akua!  You can purchase tickets here.