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.




The Geek Life: Jordandene Fall 17 sneak peak!

Who's ready for the GoT finally on SUNDAY?! What a season! 

One of the most quoted lines is now rad merchandise on Jordandene's site: BE A DRAGON. 

How many times have women of power be referred to as a "dragonlady"?  Being the OG that she is, Olenna reminded us why being strong as a dragon is something we should strive for as women. And now Jordan added the cherry on top, check it out y'all!

Be A Dragon Unisex Tank Top  photo credit Savannah Lauren

Be A Dragon Unisex Tank Top photo credit Savannah Lauren

Be A Dragon Scoop Neck Tee  photo credit Savannah Lauren

Be A Dragon Scoop Neck Tee photo credit Savannah Lauren

Be A Dragon Unisex T-Shirt  photo credit Savannah Lauren

Be A Dragon Unisex T-Shirt photo credit Savannah Lauren

A few weeks ago, Jordan (past WCW post) and founder of Jordandene rounded up a few of us for a fun shoot at the lower east side. Fandoms we modeled included lines from Moana, Beauty & The Beast, Geekerella, The Handmaid's Tale, Agent Carter, Wonder Woman, and of course GoT haha!

This is a sneak peak the rest will be up on Jordandene in the fall! Major SHOUTS to Savannah Lauren for taking such beautiful shots!

Blooper of us talking about GoT :)

Blooper of us talking about GoT :)


This was such a fun experience, thanks for the opportunity Jordan! If you haven't visited her site, DO IT. The collection has something for the geek in all of us!



Jared Rinaldi–the eclectic artist

Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.-Colin Wright

Balance is not only essential for happiness and well-being; in the long run, it actually increases productivity and success.  I am striving to have more balance despite having 100 ideas I want executed in my head. We all have been there, so many creative projects can make taking a "break" not easy to do. 

It made me think and wonder the following:


I don’t have the answer to that but I want to use the blog as a platform for folks to read different ways many people do on top of my WCW posts.

I had the opportunity to interview my friend Jared Rinaldi a few weeks ago.  Jared is a triple threat  as a fantasy writer, actor, and musician. Similar to a few creatives that we know that carry many hats!

His first book THE UNDEAD KING, caught my attention as it has elements of post-apocalyptic politics seen in fantasy and zombie horror.  Check out the blurb:

In a post-apocalyptic future, where humankind has descended back into the dark ages, a young swordsman and his small band of allies must stand against the Undead King and his army of ravenous zombies.

There is a war brewing in the Green Lands. East versus west, might versus mind, brother versus brother…

While this battle over power and resources consumes the land, the Undead King is clandestinely marching north. At his command are an army of ravenous corpses, their appetite for living flesh insatiable. In the king’s possession is a sceptre of great power, forged in white fire by the monks of Jai Lin…

Mercer Crane is a young wanderer who has lost everything and means to make a name for himself in the war. He has come into possession of a sword, its edges lined with dark matter. This blade is special, as is the man who wields it, for together, they are the only thing that can stop… THE UNDEAD KING.

Being a writer myself that is not easy to combine (kudos Jared! It is a true mix of GoT and The Walking Dead as you described it!)

Peep our Q & A:

O.C.O: Tell us more about your new book you are working on called Sprocket Knights. How is it different from THE UNDEAD KING?

J.R: Sprocket Knights is actually the title of an entire five book series, of which the Undead King was book one, until I made some serious revisions and then changed the title to "The Sword of Jai Lin." The stories follow the same trajectory; the main difference between the two books is in the details.

O.C.O: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

J.R: Currently, I'm working on a series of five books that are all interconnected. I'm trying to build an entire world with its own history. But I also write screenplays and short stories which have nothing to do with Sprocket Knights at all, and look forward to writing books not in that world.

O.C.O: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

J.R: I'd have to say a sort of large jungle cat, like a tiger or leopard. Writing is a very solitary craft and requires me to be in full control, at the top of the food-chain if you will. Oftentimes I'm stalking the story relentlessly until I can pounce and tear it to shreds. I have a very violent process.

O.C.O: What Does Your Band Name “Kitari” Mean?

J.R:  Kitari actually didn't mean anything when I came up with the name. We were calling ourselves Annakari for a few days, which is a Japanese demon, but then I blanked on the name when a hotshot casting director asked me my band's name and I just blurted out "Kitari." We stuck with it. We came to find out that "Kitari" actually translates to guitar in Slovenian, so that's pretty accurate.

O.C.O: Describe Kitari's sound?

J.R: Kitari's sound is, of course, grounded in rock music with traditional rock instrumentation, but my ultimate focus has always been on writing the best songs I can. To me, that means that my songs should have compelling and introspective lyrics, memorable hooks and effective movement throughout the different parts. I think it gives our music and live performance an emotional weight that not a lot of other bands have. I count myself fortunate to play with some really amazing players, with backgrounds in genres as varied as jazz, punk, classical, hardcore and drum n' bass. Their styles certainly influence how the songs are performed. But as far as tying up our sound in a neat little bow? I'd say we're a psychedelic indie-rock band.

O.C.O: Do you write out your lyrics? Do you ever change a song’s lyrics in live sets?

J.R:  Yes, I wrote about 90% of the lyrics, with our former guitarist having written the remainder. And yes, I forget lyrics live a lot. I've gotten quite good at freestyling new lyrics though.

O.C.O: What creative individual would you have lunch with (can be dead or alive). Where would you go, what would you ask?

J.R: Hmmm it would be a toss-up between Jimi Hendrix and Ernest Hemingway. It would have to be a boozey lunch somewhere, and I'd ask them both basically the same thing: where else is there to go with art? What areas need to be explored today? What adventures need to be taken?

O.C.O: What embarrassing songs might I find on your IPhone now?

J.R: Oh god, let me look. There's definitely some bad ones on here. How's Kevin Lyttle, "Turn Me On?" Oh, the Scissor Sisters. That's funny.

O.C.O: What advice would you give someone when balancing different creative endeavors?

J.R: ·  In finding balance, I really try to structure my day. It may sound intuitive and like a "no duh" kind of concept, but you'd be surprised with how many people just let the day drive them from task to task. You need to drive the day. I'm not saying to just sit in your little hermit's cave away from the world or to fight tooth and nail against any sort of change. You should still remain flexible and capable of being influenced and inspired by everything around you.

But to intentionally structure your day, to work at accomplishing tasks as opposed to just getting through them, is a way to achieve balance. Once I'm done with something, once I've accomplished it, I can move on to the next task. Some tasks take longer than others - like writing a book, for instance - so I set smaller goals for myself and when I accomplish them, I feel like I can shift my attention over to another project. Time also forces me to find balance. There are only so many minutes in a day, after all.

O.C.O: Anything you would like share? (This where you direct folks to social media pages for the band and links to your books)

J.R:  All my band's material, including music, videos and pics can be found at A quick search on Amazon of "Jared Rinaldi" will turn up the books I've written. Kitari has some a shows coming up: Saturday August 5th at Mercury Lounge and Thursday August 24th at Bar Matchless.

Follow Kitari on FB friend’s:

Hope everyone is finding their own balance while creating something rad this summer :)