New Jersey Comic Expo Was Nerd Nirvana

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Much like Jello, there’s always room for another large scale comic convention, especially in New Jersey. Thinking back to when I was a kid and events like this were basically non-existent in my neck of the woods, the sheer abundance of pop culture conventions in the Tri-State area is reason to rejoice. The amount of cons is unfathomable to me at times, but it’s the quality that matters of course. Lately, I haven’t been disappointed. You might remember the AC Boardwalk Con, which was pretty awesome and set a pretty high standard for the modern era of NON-NYC Comic Conventions. With no affiliation to NYCC or Wizard World, this weekend’s New Jersey Comic Expo turned out to be an event we Jersey geeks can call our own, hell…look at that logo! It all went down this weekend at The NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, NJ and I will give you the full report.

A sunny and cool Fall day provided the background for my excursion to the NJ Comic Expo. It was the perfect reason to ignore the fact that I desperately needed to clean my condo. On the ride to the convention center I thought to myself “How is this going to be any different than the other 462 conventions that I’ve been to?” For one thing, the complex I was driving to is where I had covered several Exxxotica conventions in the past. So, right there, it was definitely going to be different because there would be a lot less porn.

Even though I was an early bird, the parking lot was already starting to fill up. I got registered and made my way inside. First thing I noticed was the massive scale of this event. It was on the level of NYCC, and it hit me right away that it wasn’t bogged down with too much promotional nonsense. Everywhere I looked I saw collectibles, toys, and most importantly, COMICS! There was copious amounts of nerdery for me to gorge on, but I emphasize comics because that is the crux, the spirit, and the lifeline of all comic conventions, as it should be. When you have a hard time finding actual comics at a comic con, then there’s a problem. You may have read previously here that I stopped collecting physical comics a while back, opting for digital, and although it’s extremely tempting, I try my damndest not to buy hard copies unless it’s something really special. Further into this article you will see how I flip flop on this stance.

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The Dianoga in the Garbage Chute from A New Hope was a little ornery, but he finally quit squirming and posed for this photo for me. He was the true star of the event.

I continued on my trek through the entire expo center. The layout was logical and left enough room for me to not feel claustrophobic like I often do at these things. I stopped at Robert Bruce’s table to see his wildly diverse assortment of toys and nostalgic collectibles. You know him from AMC’s Comic Book Men and his accounts on social media (@popculturizm.) I’ve known him for a while now and I always enjoy talking with him because he loves what he does so much. He’s the real deal when it comes to toy collecting. After shooting the shit with Robert, I went over to talk to my friends in the New Jersey Ghostbusters. They had their Ecto 1 parked next to their table as we discussed their upcoming appearance in the Ghostheads documentary that is coming out soon. They are great dudes and they also appeared in The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special this year so I owe them a Chinese Feast with the last of our petty cash! They even had a small billboard for themselves that was a screen shot of them from their cameo in my Halloween Special. Check them out here: GBNJ.NET

Then, I found the autograph tables. I went to say hello to my friend Tommy Walker, star of Netflix’s Daredevil, who was appearing. Actress Amy Acker (Angel, Person of Interest) seemed very friendly as I passed by her table while she was meeting her fans. At that point I remembered that Samantha Newark, voice of Jem was appearing as well, and I had to go and meet her. Voice actors, especially those from cartoons that I grew up watching obsessively, are icons to me. Samantha was so cool to talk to and since I was in there just before the crowds started piling in, I had a while to chat with her. I told her about how I felt the Jem movie was needlessly shat upon (well, I didn’t use that exact terminology) and she agreed. I still stand by the fact that it in 5-10 years it will be looked at as a cult classic. You might think that’s a stretch, but stranger things have happened. Samantha had various Jem promotional photos to sign and other items, but I opted for a JoeCon exclusive GI Joe #212 comic with Zartan and Cold Slither and Jem and The Holograms on the cover. It’s one that I had been watching on eBay for a while. I’m glad I held out because now I can say I bought it and had it signed by the voice of Jem herself. This was one case where I had to get the Hard Copy. In fact, Barry Nolan is going to do a schlocky TV report about this.

What was cool about meeting Samantha Newark was that I didn’t even go to this expo with that objective in mind. I totally forgot that she was appearing, so it was this cool little unexpected moment for me. I actually smiled in the selfie we took which is rare for me. She even brought up her last name and how it has nothing to do with Newark, NJ, so all of those burning questions have been answered. It’s not a secret nod to her hometown or anything. It was just a cool moment because I’m that type of person who can hear Jem’s voice in my head, or any cartoon character from my youth, like He-Man or She-Ra etc. Not like “voices in my head,” but those are the voices I hear if I think of the character. I’d imagine not everyone feels as strongly about voice actors as me, but I’ve always been so fascinated with them, especially those who voiced characters that I loved as a kid.

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NJ Cosplayer Ashley Uncanny as a Gotham Cheerleader

Next up, I walked over to the Cosplay Corner. I’ve always been heavily interested in Cosplay and dabble in it myself. I can’t make any claim to be a cosplayer per se, but I do put together my own intricate costumes. What is so insanely impressive about cosplayers is their dedication. The cosplayers I know put so much time, money, and love into whatever character they are portraying. Their attention to detail is incredible and the fact that they travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to be at these cons is a testament not only to their love of cosplay, but to meeting fans and being a part of the scene. I had a chance to speak to Princess Morgan and Ashley Uncanny, and both were very cool. Princess Morgan had such an elaborate costume that left in me in awe (it won best in show at a Wizard World con) and traveled several hundred miles by car to be there. I told her I’m going to wallpaper my walls with her Harley Quinn photo shoots…she didn’t laugh. You can see the one that I took home below. Ashley Uncanny (pictured above) is a bubbly Jersey girl who was sweet and super friendly as she greeted everyone who went to her table.

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By that point, all I purchased was a comic book. I always go into these things trying not to blow too much cash, but this wound up being like a small leak that grew out of control. Actually, I’m exaggerating. Truthfully, I wound up picking up a few things I had on my mental wish list for a while. Let me tell you about my haul!

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I bought some cool shit, didn’t I?

I came home with some action figures, naturally. I’ve been re-watching the first season of The Flash TV series now that it’s on Netflix and that made me realize that, out of all the Reaction figures I own, I didn’t have The Flash! He’s now speeding around my condo cleaning for me (yeah right!) wouldn’t that be so awesome? I continued through the little mini storefronts that were set up with T-Shirts, Pop Vinyl figures, old Star Wars memorabilia, and my eyes zeroed in on one figure out of about 50 hanging on pegs. It was the Jae Lee Wonder Woman DC figure that I had been looking out for. It would’ve been easy to just get it on Amazon, but since it was right in front of my face, I figured why the hell not. It’s such an awesome figure! Glad to have it as part of my collection now and it coincided with the release of the Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman movie promo picture that hit the Internet. And the one figure that I hadn’t seen up until that moment was this Game of Thrones Daenerys figure from Dark Horse. It’s really more of a figure-statue since it’s not articulated, but I’m fine with that considering how detailed it is. Surprisingly, this is my first Game of Thrones collectible even though I’ve watched and loved the show since it premiered.

Toys are great, but Artist’s Alley is always my favorite place to browse at a comic convention. Jim Lee was appearing, but I was more interested in the creators in artist’s alley. Whether I’m discovering a new artist or meeting one of my favorites, it’s an excellent opportunity to pick up some original work from artists from the comic book world and elsewhere. After checking out almost all the artists, I arrived at two shared tables by a husband and wife from Chicago. The pieces they had on display were enticing me. Note to those with a table at a con: easiest way to lure me in: just put Lily Munster somewhere in your display and I will be at your table in mere seconds. After trying to decide what I wanted, I came to the conclusion that the Julie Newmar Catwoman print pictured above was perfect. This oil painting style of her had that special quality and it was like nothing I’ve seen before so I had to have it. I also picked up a couple of other pieces for friends here.

It was about time for me to wrap up since I couldn’t afford to stay any longer! I dug the Jersey Comic Expo and I hope they come back next year to the same venue. Next year, I’d like to see a larger roster of celebs as well as an expanded cosplayer area with photo backdrops and faux sets. Otherwise, there really wasn’t anything to nitpick, and if you’re into comics and buying geek paraphernalia, this is one of the best events I’ve been to in the area and I recommend it to you for next year! Thanks for reading.

The Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 11: More Spooky Songs

PSPEp11blogPublic Service Announcement: Halloween is so close that it’s imperative you take advantage of the remainder of October! Make every bit of it count! Submerge yourself in as many spooky things as you can! Watch some new horror movies, finish up your Halloween costume, and listen to the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast!

Matt and I are back to bring you episode 11 of The Purple Stuff, a sequel to our Spooky Songs episode. We each supply a bunch of songs from our Halloween Playlists to bullshit about. There’s a lot of good tracks in this one including a few surprises! Be sure to check it out, and if you are so inclined, please leave us some feedback on iTunes! You can also check out The Purple Stuff Podcast on Stitcher, and Podbean!

Also, if you haven’t checked out The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special 2015, there’s still time for a viewing before November 1st when all it’s magic gets completely sucked out! It’s a perfect intro to your horror marathons this month! Thanks for reading, listening, and watching!

The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special 2015!

Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know what hit you? Well, that’s personified the last 3 months for me. The worst part about it all is that I sort of dug my own grave…pun intended! As a creator, the only option is to at least give a valiant effort to keep topping yourself. Take some of your favorite bands for example, they can release 16 albums in their career, but how many of them are literal classics that are widely accepted as monumental and influential to music? There may be only one or 2 in the band’s entire catalog that are looked at in that light. While I’m not saying that this year’s Halloween Special is monumental OR influential, I’m saying that there’s no point in creating stuff if they don’t emerge different or offer some kind of varying degree of goodness than previous works. Where am I going with this? Read on!

The previous 3 Halloween Specials we’ve made are like little mini-movies that are fueled by my insane passion for Halloween. They’re chock full of horror movie references and Halloween masks. Capturing the essence of the Halloween season and putting it to video is my jam, but the key here is that it’s pretty much how my entire Halloween season goes. From the point the season officially begins on Dinosaur Dracula, to the point where I collapse from all the hell I’ve put myself through making the Halloween Special and creating some ridiculously obscure costume to wear to a masquerade, it’s non-stop chaos. Truly chaos.

Being late for family parties, arguing with loved ones, and extreme lack of sleep all factor into this chaos. Hell, I couldn’t even do the production blogs that I planned on like I did last year because this thing was so time consuming. My Halloween seasons are rarely pumpkin spice and everything nice, even though that’s the way it seems. It’s work, work, work. At times I even had to make a lot of executive decisions that pissed a lot of people off, but it’s all in the name of Halloween. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I put this all on my own shoulders.

Yes, I put it all on myself, but in a way, I only do it for myself – let me elaborate. For the first 2 specials at least, having tons of people watch them wasn’t even on my radar. I just wanted to follow my passion and incorporate my love for movie making and my lust for Halloween into one thing that I could enjoy creating. When I saw how last year’s Halloween Special got so much great feedback, then it made me realize that I should continue making them, but how would I top last years? Personally I still love 2013’s so much, but damn, last year was special to me. Basically, I never thought I’d have more than a few hundred people watching these, and that is the honest truth. But, now that I do have so many cool friends and people I know from social media digging these, then it makes it that much more exciting for me to debut this. The fact that you care enough to take a chunk of your time to watch it means everything to me.

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Looking back over the last few months, from the second I sat down to write the script, to today, it’s been a long haul. This year, the entire production was bigger and more intricate than anything I’ve ever done. I’ve been making mini movies since I was 8 years old, and the reason why this is the most ambitious thing I ever created is due to a few reasons. Here they are:

1. IT’S AN ANTHOLOGY! – That means 3 stories in ONE, plus a wraparound story. More bang for your buck, but this is actually free so that doesn’t apply!

2. Bigger cast – mostly due to the addition of 2 characters. Both of these characters have been part of the earliest scripts that I’ve ever written for The Sexy Armpit show

2. More locations – Rather than just be stuck in my condo (Sexy Armpit HQ) for most of the show, we venture out to a few places

Sure, I put everyone through a lot of shit, and even though it’s a pain, there’s really no denying that it’s kind of fun to do. The personal satisfaction of hearing that someone enjoyed one of these silly productions I made, outweighs all the stress I put myself through. It’s not fun when I’m demanding 40 takes for the delivery of a 3 word line from someone, but if I can speak on behalf of everyone in it, it’s fun to be a part of. Watching the final product will be a lot more fun for our small cast and our cameo actors because they have no idea how it will come together. There are 3 or 4 people who have seen the script so it’s almost as tightly covered up as The Force Awakens! Only this one is a lot sillier and has several F-bombs.

Before I wrap this up, let me throw some thanks and appreciation. First, Miss Sexy Armpit, who is just as difficult to deal with as I am, did an amazing job pulling off at least 3 jobs. She is the voice and puppeteer of Sludgey, and she lent her kickass hair and makeup skills as well, oh and there’s another little surprise she’ve involved with as well! Thanks to Mike Wirth and his wife Lauren both are tremendous help and are very patient with me knowing how I can get when we are filming. We also have a new addition to the Halloween Special this year, and it’s very awesome for me to be able to thank friend and actress Holly Knapp for being in my special this year. Not many people would agree to do this after reading the lines that I had for this role. From many years back seeing her at a spooky dinner theater all the way to the present where she puts some literal magic on the screen in my special. She’s presently acting in a production of Ragtime in New Jersey. She’s definitely one of the highlights of the special this year and she was the exact person I needed to add that special ingredient. Special thanks to Ghostbusters NJ and The Sugar + Sunshine Bakery in Plainsboro, NJ, and last but not least, all of our surprise cameos! You know who you are! Don’t want to spoil anything just yet!

I’ve only watched this in chunks as I edited it for the last couple of months, but, tonight, I’ll watch it for the first time on the big TV with Miss Sexy Armpit. Time to break open the Gran Patron Platinum for this special occasion! I hope you enjoy The Sexy Armpit’s Halloween Special 2015 and let us know if you’re watching it via social media! You can find all of our accounts on the top right of this page. Watching it via your big screen TV is my recommendation and be sure to get inebriated. Try to take a screen shot of your TV if you can! Thanks for reading and watching and Happy Halloween!

PURPLE STUFF PODCAST EPISODE 9: FACT OR FICTION?

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You can also check out The Purple Stuff Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Podbean!

With torrential rainstorms and flooding hitting the Tri-State Area for the past couple of days, it’s been perfect October weather. There’s a chill in the air, actually, more like I had to put the heat on type weather! It’s also the busiest I’ll be all year long. Before you start listening to the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, I’ll give you an update about what’s going at Sexy Armpit Headquarters.

I’m still in the middle of editing the Halloween Special and we are looking to premiere it very soon. Within the next week or so, you will see me plugging it all over the place once it’s on YouTube. If you haven’t seen our previous Halloween Specials, give them a watch! They are fun and spooky and they are made with the passion for Halloween. If you could give the videos a thumbs up that would be even better! Your support is always appreciated! I can’t say that the specials all connect, but there is one or two elements that have been weaved through all of them and if you’ve seen them all then you know exactly what I mean. There’s little nods and payoffs here and there. For the most part though, they are an amalgamation of my love affair with movies and TV shows. They are a collage of references and memories that all takes place in some kind of weird alternate universe that I live in. I hope you’ll check them out! http://www.youtube.com/thesexyarmpit

Back to the matter at hand! This week, The Purple Stuff Podcast presents its own version of a game show! Fact or Fiction is the name of the game as Matt from Dinosaur Dracula and I face off against each other in a battle to determine which  of our statements are truth and which ones are complete bullshit. The stakes are high, so give it a listen to see who will be victorious! Thanks for listening! And remember…we are so damn close to Halloween so make sure you are filling up your nights with pumpkin candles, horror movies, and stuffing your face with Halloween food tie-ins!

The Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 5: The Perfect Marathon

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Kids are headed back to school. The scent of pumpkin candles are in the air. There’s a chill in the night. The Halloween season is officially in full swing. My attention is on the big day…HALLOWEEN! Black, orange, and PURPLE are the only colors I see. Matt from Dinosaur Dracula and I have banded together to help you enhance your season this year with The Purple Stuff Podcast. If you haven’t checked out the previous episodes, we shoot the shit about all kinds of Halloween and horror stuff. It’s like a audio trick or treat bag full of goodies for you to enjoy. The newest episode that premiered earlier today has us contemplating our perfect Halloween time TV marathon. It’s inspired by the old Shocktober marathons that WPIX in New York used to show around this time of year. It left a huge mark on us and seeing as how ABC Family has put together a fairly heinous Halloween marathon this year, we assemble a creeptastic Shocktober marathon of our own! It’s a blast, so check it out in the player above or via iTunes and Stitcher.

*For a future episode we are opening up the floor to questions. Leave Matt and I any question you might have that is related to Halloween in some way. Ask us anything about horror, witches, haunted hayrides etc. Your question may be answered in a future show! Also, there’s a lot more coming this month here at The Sexy Armpit! Come back soon for the return of The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special Production Blog as well as a few other tricks up our sleeve so stay tuned!

The Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 3: Word Association

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When I say empanadas what do you think of? Probably NOT Halloween, right? What about 69? Get your mind out of the gutter! There’s 69 days ’til Halloween, so fire up your pumpkin candle, pour a delicious beverage, and activate your favorite podcast player because in the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, Matt and I play a little game of Halloween Word Association. Check it out on Stitcher, iTunes, and Podbean! Thanks for reading…and listening!

The Purple Stuff Podcast!

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It took forever, but it finally happened. I have officially made my return into the realm of podcasting with my friend, the pop culture prodigy, Matt from Dinosaur Dracula! In the week leading up to the actual recording of this show, we ran into a comical series of road blocks and it felt as if this show was never going to get off the ground. Trust me, you’ll never want to hear our previous failed recording attempts, in fact, you should thank us for not posting them. In the end, nothing could keep the Halloween hex from bubbling up and inspiring us to create this show.  In this first episode, we focus on the holiday that’s most near and dear to our hearts, Halloween, and other horror related topics as we usher in the best time of the year. Here’s a quick synopsis of what you’ll hear:

  • We dream up our own horror related food products and tie-ins
  • Shitty CVS Fall candles
  • Find out what crowdfunded Horror films we contributed to

Listen and let us know if you dig it and we’ll be back for more. Thanks for checking it out!

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