Other colors you can get THAT dress in do not include gold

Last night twitter nation became one as never before—from Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato and Gerard Way to millions of tweeters in the streets around the world, everyone was obsessed with the optical illusion of what color this dress is:

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After millions of tweets and thousands of blog posts just like this, it’s been explained that it is an optical illusion based on, uh, well, how we perceive light and shadow. Er, David Pogue explains it best here WITH A CHART!

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While most people see the dress as white and gold, the funniest part of it all is that THERE IS NO WHITE AND GOLD DRESS. This mother-of-the-bride frock (a.k.a. not exactly a spicy number) comes in several color options, none of them WHTE AND AND GOLD:
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Meanwhile, Roman, the UK maker of the dress, says sales are up more than 300%, with the dress sold out as of this morning. For those who find pink, red and white unsuitable, the still non-existant white and gold version may yet come to pass:

Aside from a surge of demand for the original blue and black dress (yes, that’s the real color combination), Johnson said Roman Originals has been inundated with calls from people who want a white and gold version, as the dress appeared to many online.

“We’re getting calls constantly — about 150 calls in the last 45 minutes,” Johnson said. He said the company was trying to figure out how quickly it could turn out the Internet-inspired version of the dress, estimating that turnaround time could be a matter of weeks if production is given the go-ahead.

Harley Quinn inspires new Hot Topic clothing collection (+giveaway!)

Fandom-inspired fashion certainly isn’t going anywhere; gone are the days of unisex, potato-sack tees as companies like WeLoveFine, Hot Topic and other retailers capitalize on the craze. The latest launch from Hot Topic is one of the most fandom-specific ones I’ve seen. It actually all revolves around a single character: Harley Quinn. And we have some to give away!

Some of these offerings are basically straight-up cosplay fodder, like the Harley suspender leggings and dress:

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Others aim at slightly more subtle/everyday approach, like an argyle cardigan or mesh-sleeve top:

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The collaboration from Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hot Topic, dubbed Harleen, is available now at a fairly reasonable price point (mostly the $20 – $30 range).

Also, if you’re one of those quizzie types, they’ve launched an app to hook you up with your ideal comics-related companion. While I’m not 100% convinced that the Joker is the right man for me, it’s only a few questions long and comes with a coupon for the gear at the end.

PLUS: Giveaway! You can win a Joker and Harley Quinn Mesh Girls Pullover Top! To enter, tweet “I have mad love for Harley Quinn, @hottopic and @comicsbeat” Prize supplied by Hot Topic, and winner selected in a random drawing. The contest will end Monday, February 2 at noon est. Tweet away!

Guest commentary: Who Stole Superman’s Undies?

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Guest post by T Campbell.

Can the soul of Western civilization be found in a pair of red briefs? Was our first great superhero at his strongest, his noblest, his superest, before modern interpretations stripped him of his underwear? Is there a connection?

A generation ago, when those red briefs were an inseparable part of Superman’s design, he was the most familiar superhero by a wide margin, leading the field in film adaptations,[1] headlining cartoon shows,[2] and even winning over famous media critics who were fiction writers in their own right. Even now, if you believe superheroes have anything to say to American culture or the human experience, you sort of have to start with him, because he’s the prototype.

Umberto Eco called him “the representative of all his similars” [3]  and Harlan Ellison described him as one of “only five fictional creations known to every man, woman, and child on the planet.”[4] Born in the early hours of a visual, easily reproduced medium, he was popular enough to codify most of what being a superhero meant. The Oxford English Dictionary even mentions him by name in its definition of “superhero”:

su·per·he·ro ˈso͞opərˌhirō noun: superhero; plural noun: superheroes; noun: super-hero; plural noun: super-heroes. a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman.[5]

And yet, Batman emerged a year later with no superhuman powers at all, and he was far from the only superhero to flout that membership requirement.[6] What really seemed to make a superhero a superhero, in the minds of the public, was the benevolence, the codename and the costume.

Superman is a strong man created by weak boys. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were nerdy teens when they came up with their first “Superman,” a madman with mental, not physical, powers.[7] Their second draft, far closer to the version we know, had what appeared to be a streak of white in his hair and a bare chest.[8] And those trunks, which persisted through other versions for eighty years.

Superman Mark 2

Lacking any personal experience being strong, S. & S. took Superman’s powers from their beloved science fiction, and his costume from the circus.[9]

Detail from Action Comics 1

Underpants on tights were signifiers of extra-masculine strength and endurance in 1938. The cape, showman-like boots, belt and skintight spandex were all derived from circus outfits and helped to emphasize the performative, even freak-show-esque, aspect of Superman’s adventures. Lifting bridges, stopping trains with his bare hands, wrestling elephants: these were superstrongman feats that benefited from the carnival flair implied by skintight spandex. Shuster had dressed the first superhero as his culture’s most prominent exemplar of the strongman ideal, unwittingly setting him up as the butt of ten thousand jokes.

Grant Morrison [10]

 

Actually, Siegel and Shuster thought of Superman’s other clothes as the mockable ones. To fully understand the significance of Superman’s costume, look at him when he’s out of it—when he’s Clark Kent.

Clark Kent: "WHAT!"

In virtually every version of Superman, Clark is an exercise in patient self-restraint, the ultimate man pretending day by day to be the ultimate common man. In his early days, this restraint was a superstrongman feat all its own, because Clark was extra pathetic—the better for Siegel, Shuster and the readers to identify with him.

I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn’t know I existed or didn’t care I existed. So it occurred to me: What if I was really terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that?

Jerry Siegel [11]

Kent looked like Shuster, who later lifted weights for five years but never developed the bodybuilder’s confidence.[12] If Kent’s daily humiliations echoed Siegel’s past, they also predicted part of Shuster’s future.[13] When Shuster’s worsening eyesight drove him out of cartooning, he went back to deliveries, showing up at his former publisher carrying a package and wearing a ratty, worn-out suit.[14]

It’s not hard to imagine nerdy Shuster stammering “Sign here, please” in the same voice that Kent used to ask Lois, on their first date, if it wouldn’t be “reasonable” to let a bullying gangster have just one dance with her.[15]

Clark Can't

Yet Shuster also drew Clark with a rock-hard physique that threatened to burst out of his jacket and pants at any moment. Every so often, after meekly tolerating an editor’s blustering or Lois’ icy contempt, “Clark” would crack a smile: if only they knew. For him, the angst Siegel and Shuster had felt in real life was just a pose, a suit he put on sometimes. And then he’d hear someone in trouble and strip off his shirt to reveal the S-shield underneath. The red trunks would soon follow. Underwear, for the underself.[16]

Alex Ross Superman Changing

It was all just a game. Everything was going to be all right. Superman cheerfully presided over a world of bright rainbow colors where hurts and humiliations were temporary. Indeed, after a couple of years he developed a code against killing—a code most superheroes also followed.[17]

They also imitated the briefs, especially his most immediate peers—the original versions of Batman, Robin, Hawkman, Hourman, Starman, Dr. Fate, the Spectre, the Atom, and the Star-Spangled Kid all rocked the look as seen below. [18] And yes, more than half of those heroes also followed his “Somethingman” naming convention.

Justice Society of America

The 1960s and 1970s still saw plenty of new trunks-wearers among Avengers like Giant-Man and the Vision, mutants like Magneto, and gods like Orion. The Thing wore only trunks, and the Hulk torn purple pants. Other gods and mutants (Thor, Darkseid, the early X-Men) wore onesies broken up with a belt.[19] Strangely, two X-Men who each disdained the other’s sense of style—Cyclops and Wolverine—went full trunks-over-pants from the 1970s into the 1990s.[20]

Jim Lee X-Men Cyclops Wolverine trunks pants

This tendency to assign the look to gods and mutants, though, instead of more central figures like Captain America, Mister Fantastic, and Spider-Man, may have been an early sign that it was on its way out. These newer Marvel characters stood out from the first generation by being more fully realized people in their civilian identities, if not eliminating the dual identity altogether. Of the marquee Marvel heroes, only Thor, whose fashions and godly nature made him the exception that proved the rule, was introduced with a Clark Kentish self-denying secret identity.[21]

Superman’s influence continued to erode as the decades wore on. Newer heroes showed less interest in the code against killing or in names ending in “-man.”[22]  And costume redesigns left the trunks behind. The X-Men got into black leather for a while, and their later, more colorful costumes still left the briefs out.[23]

Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film “de-briefed” comics’ second most famous underwear wearer. Batman never went back to the briefs in any succeeding movies: they began to fade from the comics as well, as shown in this sample of Ben Moore’s larger survey of Bat-suits seen in various media, covering the period from 2005-2012.[24]

Batman Infographic Trunks Pants

The look could still show up in the deliberately retro stylings of a film like The Incredibles; despite fashionista Edna Mode’s disdain for capes and insistence that “I never look back, darling, it distracts from the now,” her creations had an old-fashioned flair that matched the traditional values of their wearers, the kind of nuclear family that seemed to headline most sitcoms from the 1950s to the 1980s.[25]

The Incredibles' Fashions

Superman, for many years, seemed content to be a bit old-fashioned. His brand hadn’t been about “cool” for a long time: it was more about safety and stability. The comic-book Superman of 1962 or 1988 was more scientist than slugger, often approaching problems from a cool remove. His peers honored him as the one who came first, and therefore someone who didn’t need to follow the trends. He had, after all, defined them.[26]

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Nevertheless, as superheroes and popular entertainment in general grew increasingly impatient with the “no kill rule,” the temptation to challenge Superman for wearing last year’s morals was overwhelming. The movies of the 1970s and 1980s danced around the issue by making Superman’s foes inanimate[27] or leaving their fates uncertain.[28] But many of his best-loved adventures, the ones that could claim to influence his canon, saw him sorely tempted to end a life—or even saw him succumb.

However, this was always an ending for the character as we knew him, as proved by what came next. In one such story, Superman instantly punished himself by giving up his super-powers and retiring.[29] In another, he died along with his foe.[30] In a third, he had a mental breakdown and went on a long journey of soul-searching before returning to duty with an even firmer vow, “Never again.”[31] In multiple stories of a world not our own, a world gone wrong, Superman deciding to kill is his first step toward villainy.[32] And at least once, he used magicians’ stage tricks to fool the world into thinking he’d broken his rule—just to show how terrible a Superman unchecked by restraint would be.[33]

Superman "Nobody Has The Right To Kill"

The conservatism is unmistakable but charming.  Nearly all fictional franchises create a moral universe that rewards readers for following them, and Superman is no exception. However much he struggled with it, refusing to kill would always be The Right Choice. Other heroes would always look to him for guidance, saluting his cape as if it were the flag. Underwear on the outside of your pants totally works.

The super-briefs stayed on for generations, in comics, movies, TV, Halloween costumes and branded, official kids’ underwear—an incentive to finish toilet training if ever there was one. [34]

Superman Underoos

And then everyone seemed to reject them at once. In 2011, Jim Lee redesigned all DC Comics’ top-selling characters, giving them the scratchy, slightly self-conscious “edginess” that had made Lee famous.[35] But the artist who had kept Cyclops and Wolverine in trunks now broke precedent. The red of Superman’s trunks shifted to his belt, and its buckle took a shape echoing the chest symbol. The trunks vanished.

I think you have to go for the core elements that are critical to the costume and freely change what looks dated… For me, the red trunks on Superman, you didn’t notice. It gets colored in blue anyhow.[36]

Superman New 52

In the same year’s Action Comics, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales emphasized the populist strain in Siegel’s early, Depression-era stories. Theirs was a Superman for the 99 percent, and his costume was the believable result of a reporter’s salary: a screen-printed T-shirt, short cape, and jeans. [37] Morrison explained:

We felt it was time for the big adventures of a 21st-century Paul Bunyan who fights for the weak and downtrodden against bullies of all kinds, from robot invaders and crime lords to corrupt city officials. The new look reflects his status as a street-level defender of the ordinary man and woman.[38]

Superman New 52 Mark 1

The filmmakers of 2013’s Man of Steel found the trunks clashed with their concept of the costume as alien armor. Even director Zack Snyder, whose adaptation of Watchmen had featured two trunks-over-pants designs to the comic books’ one,[39] now found himself breaking precedent.

The costume was a big deal for me, and we played around for a long time. I tried like crazy to keep the red briefs on him. Everyone else said, “You can’t have the briefs on him.” I looked at probably 1,500 versions of the costumes with the briefs on.[40]

Superman Man of Steel Costume

Who stole Superman’s undies? Morrison takes responsibility for his part in it, Lee shrugs about careless colorists and readers, Snyder bows to the input of unnamed advisors. Their earlier output, though, suggests they had no dislike for the design, just a need to follow popular taste rather than acting as if Superman still shaped it. But fashion, as ever, sends a message about its wearer.

In Man of Steel, the blue is navy, the yellow rusty and gritty. Smallville’s Clark operates without a costume at all. Both versions of Superman are painfully unsure of themselves, closeted, desperate, and far less successful than earlier versions at preventing collateral damage.[41] Smallville averaged one death per episode in each season.[42] Superman’s first TV outing, The Adventures of Superman, averaged none—and lasted six seasons to Smallville’s ten.[43]

Analyst Charles Watson puts the Man of Steel death toll at 129,000, with the last of those deaths by Superman’s own hand.[44] Contrast this with Superman: the Movie, in which Superman saves everyone at risk from a devastating earthquake except Lois Lane, whom he then rescues via time travel. Man of Steel opened in eight times as many theaters as Superman: The Movie.[45] An influential new beginning, and by his old standards, an inauspicious one.

Man of Steel Superman may scream in anguish after killing General Zod, but unlike in the other stories where he crosses that line, he seems to get over it pretty fast. One scene later, he’s cheerfully knocking an Army drone out of the sky. He actually seems more relaxed and happy after the killing is done! No doubt Lois’ approval helps, but even so.

Man of Steel Closing Shot

Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer appears to be weaving some acknowledgments of that issue into its sequel.[46] He would like to assure you that the Superman you remember from your childhoods isn’t gone—he’s just not fully reborn yet.

Our movie was, in a way, Superman Begins; he’s not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him, he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.[47]

It’s true that Smallville and Man of Steel focus on a young Superman who hasn’t had a chance to become the graceful legend of earlier works. But these have been the portrayals to reach the widest audience in the last decade. [48] Even in current comics, though they have a lighter color scheme and mood, he’s an impulsive younger man with a quick temper.[49] The latest Superman project to be announced, TV’s Krypton, will take place thirty years before his birth.[50]

Put it all together and you’re left with the impression that Superman’s 21st-century caretakers would rather invoke the smiling, life-preserving, cool-headed circus superstrongman than actually show him. Will the next film change that? Will it give him the power and certitude to preserve all intelligent life in his path with a calm soul and a wink at the viewer? Or is that Superman no longer filmable, a relic to be tossed out like a pair of outgrown briefs?

Tights may tell.


[1] 1978’s Superman: The Movie earned nearly six times its budget and spearheaded the only superhero film franchise of the following decade.

[2] Some variation of Super Friends, always with Superman as the headliner, appeared on TV from 1973-1986.

[3] Eco and Natalie Chilton. “The Myth of Superman. The Amazing Adventures of Superman. Review.” Diacritics, 2(1), pp. 14-22. Spring 1972.

[4] Ellison, Foreword to Dennis Dooley and Gary Engle, Superman at 50: The Persistence of a Legend, 1987.

[5] Oxford English Dictionary entry, 2014. Found via Google search, November 22, 2014.

[6] Batman later used gadgets as sort of substitute super-powers, but other figures—the first Atom, Wildcat, and the Spirit, among others—used nothing but ordinary fists.

[7] Jerry Siegel (illustration by Joe Shuster), “The Reign of the Superman,” Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3, 1933.

[8] Les Daniels, Superman: The Complete History, 2004, p. 17.

[9] Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action Comics #1, 1938.

[10] Grant Morrison, Super Gods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, 2012.

[11] Gerard Jones, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the American Comic Book, 2005, p. 63.

[12] Tom Andrae with Geoffrey Blum and Gary Coddington, “The Birth of Superman,” Nemo #2, 1983.

[13] Craig Yoe, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster, 2009; Brad Ricca, Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—The Creators of Superman, 2013.

[14] Joe Simon, My Life in Comics, p. 188, 2011.

[15] Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action Comics #1, 1938.

[16] Alex Ross for Alex Ross and Paul Dini, Superman: Peace on Earth, p. 7, 1938.

[17] Editor Whitney Ellsworth was the driving force behind this rule, as early as 1940, years before the Comics Code Authority.

[18] Art by Jerry Ordway, Who’s Who in the DC Universe #12, 1986.

[19] Tim Leong, “A Venn Diagram of Superhero Tropes,” Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe, 2013.

[20] Art by Jim Lee for X-Men #11, 1992.

[21] Dr. Donald Blake is more complicated than we can cover here,

[22] Wikipedia’s “List of notable superhero debuts” shows a tapering off of such names after the 1960s.

[23] Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, New X-Men #114, 2001; Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men #1, 2004.

[24] Selected from Ben Moore’s 2012 “Batman Infographic: Every Significant Bat-Suit Ever,” found at Screen Rant, http://screenrant.com/batman-infographic-every-batsuit-benm-144238/.

[25] Brad Bird, The Incredibles, 2004.

[26] Image by Jim Lee for DC Comics.

[27] In Superman: The Movie and Superman Returns, natural disasters are the chief problem; in Superman III and IV, the main villains are destroyed but arguably not truly alive.

[28] Superman II.

[29] Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger, Action Comics #583, 1986. Source of the image below and the last “Silver Age” Superman story.

[30] Dan Jurgens, Superman #75, 1992. The famous, notorious “Death of Superman.”

[31] John Byrne, Superman #22, 1988; Jerry Ordway, Adventures of Superman #450, 1989; Roger Stern and Kerry Gammill, Superman #28, 1989; George Perez, Action Comics #649, 1989. John Byrne’s last Superman story, and a heavy influence on Man of Steel in terms of who Superman kills and why.

[32] Central premise of the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, released in 2013, ongoing storyline in the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series (2001-2006) and invoked in the climax of 1996’s Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross.

[33] Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke, Action Comics #775, 2001. Adapted into a 2012 direct-to-DVD animated film, Superman vs. The Elite.

[34] Photo from http://savinginsalinas.blogspot.com/2011/09/yard-sale-finds.html. Superman has had many adaptations but this was true of virtually all of them until 2011.

[35] Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Justice League #1, 2011 (image source), and George Perez, Superman #1, 2011. Lee’s career goes back to 1987.

[36] WonderCon 2013 panel, “WC13: Jim Lee Talks DC, Answers Fan Questions and More!,” Comic Book Resources, March 30, 2013, http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=44604.

[37] Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, Action Comics #2, 2011.

[38] Dareh Gregorian, “Bird? Plane? Superdude!,” The New York Post, July 18, 2011.

[39] Nite Owl wore them in both versions, but Ozymandias picked them up in the movie. Comics 1986-1987, film 2009.

[40] Reed Tucker, “‘Steel’ this movie,” The New York Post, November 25, 2012. Image from Man of Steel, 2013.

[41] In addition to the film itself, see Emma Dibdin, “‘Man of Steel’: Zack Snyder defends Superman’s ‘collateral damage,’” Digital Spy, August 30, 2013.  

[42] According to smallville.wikia.com. In some seasons it was as high as three.

[43] 1952-1958; 2001-2011.

[44] Graphic by Chris Ritter, “The Insane Destruction That the Final ‘Man Of Steel’ Battle Would Do To NYC, By The Numbers,” Buzzfeed, http://www.buzzfeed.com/jordanzakarin/man-of-steel-destruction-death-analysis, June 17, 2013.

[45] Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com.

[46] Devin Faraci. “Find Out Superman’s Situation In BATMAN V SUPERMAN,” Badass Digest, December 15, 2014.

[47] 2013 speech at the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture series.

[48] 2006’s Superman Returns was far less profitable and problematic in a different way.

[49] Johns, Lee, and Morrison have confirmed this is deliberate.

[50] Lesley Golberg, “Syfy, David Goyer Developing Superman Origin Story ‘Krypton,’” The Hollywood Reporter, December 8, 2014.

Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit

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If you are a New York Jets fan, as I am, you know that the best part about supporting this team is finding out just how awful and bizarre things can get. I know other football teams are terrible and have weird things happen, but when you throw in the New York media fishbowl, you get a special kind of magic. That magic has been on full display for the last few years with the wonderful soap opera known as The Jets Quarterback Situation. The Situation seemed to be okay for a few years (2009-10) when young Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship game TWO YEARS in a row. But then….it went pear shaped.

Sanchez and the franchise faltered in 2011 and it was revealed that flamboyant coach Rex Ryan had a tattoo of Sanchez at the same time it was discovered that Ryan liked to make rather sweet foot fetish videos with his wife. In 2012, Sanchez was joined by back-up quarterback Tim Tebow, already a sensation for his God-fueled rampage with the Bronco despite not really being able to do things like throw the ball. This led to a three ring media circus of insane proportions as model-dating Sanchez and God-loving virgin Tebow were cast as antagonists, while all they wanted to do was stand around on the sidelines pretending nothing was happening. Sanchez was eventually sidelined for keeps after being injured in the last quarter of a meaningless pre-season game, leaving Geno Smith and Michael Vick to enact this year’s version of the sacrifice of the Corn King Quarterback for bloodthirsty fans.

In his first year in 2013, Geno Smith proved to be a…work in progress. That progress was stalled entirely this year, with Smith’s skills such as they are wilting under the New York media scrutiny, and yet another drama over whether washed-up Vick should led the team. At this point the Jets are 2-11, and well on their way to one of the most futile years any fan can remember.

On Sunday the Jets lost in overtime to the Vikings, 30-24 in a game that wasn’t as close as it sounds. Although Smith didn’t have the horrific game he had on Monday night, Gang Green could only muster a bunch of field goals in five red zone attempts.

NOW, if you are really a Jets fan you know that the best part of being horrible is how the SNY analysts rip the team to shreds after every game. It’s a guilty pleasure we’ve all enjoyed for years. The current crew is a bit more mellow than the Adam Schein/Joe Klecko years, but yesterday they managed to find a new way to be critical, tearing into Smith for how he was dressed for the traditional post game press conference. Smith came out in some kind of shapeless white smock that looked like something Uncle Owen would throw on to go check on some vaporators out on the moisture farm. It’s true that it was very cold in Minnesota, and Smith was probably only trying to bundle up for the brutal 10 yard journey from the players entrance to the team bus, but that was no excuse for the SNY team. Even after the worst shellacking, Sanchez would show up for post game appearances in a suit and tie, a look that the SNY team of Brian Custer, Erik Coleman, Ray Lucas and former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff found far more suitable.

Just watch.

I hope you will forgive me for my one sports moment of the year. I added this video to the library of great jets moments such as Mark Sanchez eating a hotdog on the sidelines,

and a more recent event where he reviewed the food options available at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, where he’s playing pretty well now that he doesn’t have New York’s psychotic mind blitz coming at him on every waking moment.

Obviously, poor Geno Smith has crumbled under the pressure, and so has his closet.

Hurry! $14 sale at the Comics Beat TeePublic store

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Speaking of that gifting time of the year, we’ve just partnered with TeePublic to offer the first ever Comics Beat TeePublic Store. TeePublic is a site that offers shirts designed by independent artists—there are hundreds of designs available, smashing up all your favorite pop culture icons and slogan,  but The Beat staff has specially curated a store just for our readers. It is hard to choose!

AND there’s a $14 sales on all shirts until tomorrow—shirts are normally $20 so it’s a good deal! And we’ll soon have a special Beat t-shirt up in our store as well.

So what are you waiting for? Support independent artists, support the Beat and get a snappy t-shirt to wear to your next comic-con.

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Her Universe and Ours

imageSigns aren’t the only thing greeting attendees at the entrance to New York Comicon. Amidst the registration booths and all too quickly emptied bins for lanyards ReedPOP has its own boutique, featuring the geek-chic fashion of Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe line. [Read more…]

SDCC ’14: The Business of Geek Fashion

By Hannah Lodge

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As the popularity of geek culture and comic book movies surges, retailers have seen a significant increase in the demand for stylish, tailored geek clothing. That demand is responsible for the niche market of cosplay-centric, fandom-inspired fashion retailers, who compete to score the best licensing deals for their customer base.

“When I got into this business, girls fashion was one-size-fits-all baby-doll t-shirts. No one in the industry understood the power of marketing to the female geek,” said Ed Labay, a buyer for Hot Topic who has been in the industry for 17 years. Labay and other panelists at San Diego Comic Con’s The Business of Geek Fashion agreed that the last decade has seen a significant change in the way retailers approach geek clothing.

“15 years ago, it was all unisex,” said Mike Kochis from ThinkGeek. “Now we have a larger ladies assortment than men.”

The panelists also discussed the challenges of obtaining licenses and the slippery slope of running “inspired” clothing items without a licensing deal. Victoria Schmidt from Gold Bubble Clothing (established less than a year ago) said her company found success in going after smaller license deals with cult followings, like The Last Unicorn.

She said they had also launched some items that evoke the imagery of a particular fandom without ever mentioning it or stepping on a trademark, citing her company’s Bloodstripe leggings (which, she didn’t mention but buyers can deduce, bear a strong resemblance to Han Solo from Star Wars).

Schmidt’s fellow panelists disagreed with the approach, indicating the only safe way to handle the products was to obtain a licensing deal.

“It’s a slippery slope from fandom into bootleg,” Kochis said.

Panelists also agreed there had been an increased demand recently for menswear. Cameron Parker, head of marketing for Black Milk Clothing, which came to the scene five years ago and has made a name for itself by popularizing geek leggings, said they have recently been introducing options for men, like NFL-style jerseys and boyfriend-cut tees.

Samantha Terry from WeLoveFine said she’d been seeing men purchasing the women’s clothing due to lack of options.

“At anime expo I saw a lot of guys buying our leggings and tunic tanks,” she said. “There’s not much variety in men’s geek fashion.”

Labay said Hot Topic stocks both – and in some cases the results of buyers’ demands still surprises them.

“We sold almost as much male product for Twilight as we did female,” he said.

SDCC ’14: An Interview with Black Milk Clothing

By Hannah Lodge

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Black Milk Clothing appeared at the San Diego Comic Con DC Entertainment booth to show off their licensed line of DC-inspired clothing and to announce a second release in October, which will feature Harley Quinn and The Riddler. The new release will include A Riddler catsuit, and a Harley Quinn skater dress, leggings, and catsuit.

The Australia-based clothing company, which found its origins only 5 years ago in R2D2 swimsuits and other Star Wars gear, is also moving into U.S. territory. Director of Marketing Cameron Parker sat down with The Beat to give us an update on the U.S. location and alluded at a potential future licensing deal with Marvel.

Hannah: I hear you guys just opened your U.S. Headquarters?

Cameron: That’s right, as of 3 p.m. yesterday you can buy Black Milk Clothing directly from our LA distribution center online, which is great because you get away from customs and duties. We have free shipping and you buy in U.S. dollars. It’s a really exciting time for us. Girls have been asking “Can you have a little home in the U.S.?” and now we have.

Hannah: Are the clothes still made in Australia?

Cameron: Yes, everything is still made in Australia to keep up with demand. We will look into having something made here in America, made in downtown LA to be specific, but that’s 6 to 8 months away.

Hannah: Will there be a storefront in LA?

Cameron: It’s more like a concept store as opposed to retail. It’s not open yet, because the warehouse and distribution has been priority.

But hopefully when we come back for Sharkiecon, we want to have a dedicated area like a showroom. Girls can come in, we’ll have couches, and you can play dress up. But it’s not like traditional retail. We want to have some fun and make it more like you can sit down, have a coffee, have some ice cream… stuff like that.

Hannah: How long has the U.S. headquarters been in the making?

Cameron: Probably seriously in the past 6 to 12 months. We’ve always wanted to do it, but haven’t had the resources or time to do that until the past 6 to 12 months.

Hannah: You’ve had a lot of licensing deals – are there any you’ve still got your heart set on?

Cameron: We’re doing a comic book mash up in November with pieces we haven’t done like Harley Quinn, The Riddler, even other properties at Warner like Wizard of Oz, because in all seriousness we’ve pretty much done the big ones. Hopefully we can get to Marvel next year.

Hannah: I was just about to ask about the possibility of a Marvel release.

Cameron: Once we get through the Disney stuff, Marvel will be something we’ll look at next year.

Hannah: What was your most successful licensing deal?

Cameron: Harry Potter, by far, was the biggest. As you can imagine with our customer base, they had read the books as kids, been brought up with it. So immediately that was the biggest thing. It was crazy that day. We just sold a lot of harry potter. So far that’s our biggest release to date.

Hannah: What is your favorite DC piece?

Cameron: My favorite DC piece is Wonder Woman. The colors and the attitude – and I love when girls I meet wearing that have this confidence, I love it. The whole DC range, when you meet people wearing it, they’re so excited to be wearing Batman, Wonder Woman, or Superman.

Kirsten Dunst actually wore that Rodarte Star Wars dress to the Met Gala

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There is only one night of the year to challenge the Oscars as the fashion highlight of the year, and it’s the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ annual Costume Institute Gala, this year celebrating designer Charles James and Vogue icon Anna Wintour. (You may recall many moons ago the theme was superheroes!) Everyone who is anyone is there dressed to the nines. It is pure fashion for fashion’s sake, the most beautiful people in the most beautiful clothes. This year Beyoncé and Jay-Z were there. Kimye was there. Michelle Obama was there. Kate Upton was there. And Kirsten Dunst was there, actually wearing one of those Star Wars gowns by Rodarte we told you about a while ago. While we thought that a Comic-Con somewhere would be the proper venue to display one of these frocks, Kiki took it right to the heart of fashion—she is frequently seen in Rodarte so it wasn’t much of a stretch, but so geeky! I’m sure this is going to be much derided.

What do you think? Fug or fab?

Kate Willaert’s amazing inforgraphic shows the evolution of Spider-Man’s costume

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Hopefully by now you’ve all seen the debut of new contributor Kate Willaert’s column “By Its Cover” which looks at the best of the week’s cover designs—I’ve been wanting to add more craft-focused pieces to the Beat and this really fits the bill.

Kate is a pretty great designer herself, and I have to say, her infographic showing the evolution of Spider-Man’s costume deserves a place in Best American Infographics for sure! (yes there is such a book.) The infographic was created for HalloweenCostumes.com, and whatever they paid, it wasn’t enough.

One thing that i found very interesting was the change in eye holes! If I were editing Spider-man, I would go nuts trying to remember what is “on model” or not. Props to all the artists who’ve made Spider-man a comics icon despite the complicated costume.

ALSO, no change in the costume from 1966 to 1984 — that must be some kind of record!

Finally, as a reminder, here’s my review of Amazing Spider-Man 2.

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Ashley Eckstein launches geek couture fashion design contest for Comic-Con

Speaking of Comic-Con, Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe, the Star Wars themed clothing line, has announced a “geek couture” contest for designers at this year’s show. Eckstein showed up at a Pi Day party wearing a Darth Vader Dress and her website provided some sketches to inspire potential designers, such as the Transformers Windblade outfit (above) and the Captain Kirk frock (below.) While the clothing designs must be for women, the contest is open to all, and the skyrim is the limit.

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Lebron shows what it is really like to wear a superhero mask

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I don’t even watch basketball, but while passing TVs of late I noticed some guy playing basketball who seemed to be wearing a sinister mask that made him look like Doctor Doom’s henchman. Turns out it’s Lebron James, who broke his nose a few weeks ago and has been wearing a protective device since then. It does kind of look like a Green Lantern type thing, but it doesn’t look very comfortable.

Despite his discomfort, Lebron was able to score 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats the other night. (For non sports fans, that is quite a few points.)

Lebron is not unaware of the comics connection with his mask, telling the AP that he was going to “wear a mask like Bane, or some other comic book character. I’ve been talking to Marvel Comics for the last couple of days, and DC Comics, to try to come up with one of the greatest masks of all time.”

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I don’t know how long he’ll have to wear the mask, but time may be running out, so Greg Land jumped right on it and tweeted his design:


If Lebron, one of the most popular athletes in the world, DOES show up i a superhero themed mask, I think it will be the ultimate “Milk Council” moment for comics. I’ve long said we don’t need a Milk Council any more, but there it is.

What comics artist would you like to see design the mask for Lebron? Personally, I’d go with Eichiiro Oda or Renee French…something like that.

Avenger actress admits that superhero costume isn’t for her

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Elizabeth Olsen is a lovely, normal young woman, but she isn’t a superhero or a fitness model, and she’s nixed the idea of wearing the Scarlet Witch costume for the next Avengers movie.

My favourite piece is my secrecy cloak that prevents anyone from seeing what I’m wearing. There’s a hood, and a robe – it protects the image! I don’t think Joss ever would have hired me, honestly, if he wanted me to wear those outfits; I am not a professional athlete and nor am I a model. Wearing those costumes wouldn’t be fun for anyone who wasn’t those things. He already had a different idea. It respects and involves the comic-book character but it’s different, more rooted. It’s for someone today. Well, if someone walked around wearing what she wore in the comics, people would stop and say, ‘What the hell… she thinks she’s a superhero!’


Olsen is younger sister of the 90s famous Olsen twins, Ashley and Mary-Kate, who favor baggy, unstructured clothes.
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Not like this.

While superhero movies are a desired screen role for more and more thespians, getting into shape for a skin tight suit is no laughing matter, as Thomas Jane once lamented here. It’s said that Hugh Jackman fasts for a day before every shirtless scene, and Scarlett Johansson lived on carrot sticks for months to look sleek in her Black Widow cat suit.

Olsen plays Scarlet Witch to Aaron Johnson-Taylor’s Quicksilver in Avengers; Age of Ultron, which…just began filming!

Wear this: High End Designer Rodarte Goes Star Wars at Fashion Week

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Rodarte is a fashion line designed by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy—the clothing is often cerebral (and ethereal; I treasure my ochre spider web sweater from the Target collab) and the sisters are known to be SF fans. And their fashion show today from NYC FashionWeek just proved thatas it featured evening gowns adorned with Star Wars characters. Her Universe just got a massive upgrade.

Given the cost of these schmattas, only the most well-to-do fangirls will be able to wear them, but expect to see one or two at a Comic-Con after party this year.

Uniqlo did Moomin and Tezuka

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Speaking of One Piece, my wardrobe is full (a little too full, I think) of One Piece merch from the Japanese retailer Uniqlo, which has a growing number of outlets here in the US. Uniqlo does great lines of clothing based on various cartoony things, and they had one for Tove Jansson’s Moomin , which appears to be all sold out, which is making me (and probably Tom Devlin) cry. (I am not allowed to go to Uniqlo because I inevitably come out with a whole wardrobe.)

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For men, there was a Tezuka collectionwhich is also almost sold out. Sorry I didn’t know about these sooner! UNIQLO WHY ARE YOU NOT KEEPING THE BEAT BETTER INFORMED????
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Still available: Peanuts!

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It’s worth checking the Uniqlo site periodically because they regularly feature artists like this, and I can tell you with certainty that their t-shirts are comfortable and hold up to washings very very well.

Katsuhiro Otomo, Nobrow, and Japanese fashion house Comme des Garcons collaborate

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As a comics fan, it’s always nice to see the medium get wider recognition from other fields, although perhaps not as surprising in the past few years of pop culture dominance, thanks in large part to blockbusting comic film adaptations. But there’s Marvel and DC influencing ‘wham!’ sweatshirts from Topshop, and then there’s the  slightly more left-field collaborations you don’t see coming, like James Jean creating concepts and illustrations for Prada products.  [Read more…]