WIZARD WORLD Philadelphia 2012 Convention! Pt 2 of 2!

Well finally the much prophesied final part of my Wizard World Philadelphia 2012 coverage is here. You can see the first part here.

First some sights of us gassing up and on the road to Philly:

So finally done with the “hard-traveling” heroes bit (i.e. the road trip pics), and I already told you about getting to the con itself, and the lines… so we can get to the meat and potatoes…onto the interviews!!!

One of the first creators I ran into at the convention, was the LOADED BARREL Studios table, which was nicely located near the entrance. Their comic, BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, was one of the first comics I picked up, and was one of the first creators I interviewed at my first convention back in 2007. (that’s a lot of firsts :))

So it was a bit appropriate after being off the convention circuit for just about five years, that the first people I should run into should be LOADED BARREL studios. Kudos to the young lady who called us over, or I would have no doubt walked past obliviously. I reviewed their first issue, on this blog years ago and was quite impressed by it. I’m a fan of photo-manipulated comics, and have never seen it done as well as the team of Jared Barel, Jordan Barel, and Alex Goz do it.

So it’s good to know they have since finished BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, and have a new series THE GREY out as a graphic novel. Definitely looking forward to picking it up and you should be too. It doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon yet but you can order it here. I’m looking forward to what the future brings for this company.

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Next up, after some meandering and wandering, I talked to the gang at POWER COMIX with their new kids comic SAGA OF THE POWER HEROES. Following up on that, Spoke to Jim Demonakos of the band KIRBY KRACKLE, and listened to his latest CD.

This was Jim’s first show at Wizard World Philly, and I thought the portable players/listening section he had setup was a nice touch. However being the founder of his own quite successful convention, Emerald City Comic Con, as well as a successful band, Jim is no stranger to conventions or great ideas. The music of Kirby Krackle being proof on both fronts, and comes recommended. You can sample the music and get your CD here.

On the video front, I met Ryan Cole, the cinematographer and Joe Parascand, who plays Sheriff Tom, one of the stars of the film MARY HORROR. Again a nice setup, with a multi-display arrangement to showcase their horror film. A horror film you can find out more about at MARY HORROR.

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My next interview at the con was Artist/co-creator Frankie B. Washington of the quite impressive web-comic ROBOT GOD AKAMATSU. The series done with writer co-creator James Biggie is a nice take on the Giant Robot genre that I haven’t seen before, and highlighted by great visuals, going by his gray-scale drawings.

With movement toward animation and merchandising, this is a series and a creative team to watch. And you can do so here! (One word regarding the site, the artwork there is colored a little dark, maybe even a bit muddy, so you lose the sense of the great line work and gray-scale artwork that they had on display at the convention. So my only caveat to the creators would be think about showcasing their linework/gray-scale art a bit more on the site or work on tweaking the coloring, as I feel the artist’s work gets completely gutted by the current coloring process. Other than that, well worth a look.)

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One of the other interviews of the day, and one of my few purchases was from Shawn Alleyne’s PYROGLYPHICS Studios. PYROGLYPHICS consists of creators Joseph Currie, Koran Curtis, Stanley Weaver, Charlie Goubile, James Mason and the aforementioned Shawn Alleyne and together they’ve just launched a title called STREET TEAM. Highlighted by simply gorgeous art, their post-modern comic is equal parts martial arts, manga/anime tinged, masked heroes, video-games and good old fashioned action. Toss in they also offered a special that included two huge prints, magnets, and postcards, and it was an easy buy.

Now the comic looks like it may just be a one-shot and a spring board for the video game, but I hope not. I hope we can look forward to quarterly or annual issues of STREET TEAM. Well to get your copies of STREET TEAM and find out more go bug Mr. Alleyne himself here or the Street Team crew here.

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I also had the chance to meet the talented husband and wife duo of Jerry and Penelope Gaylord. They have very distinct styles to one another, but very complimentary and very good. See for yourself at IDENTITY COMICS! Tell ‘em HT sent ya!

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One of the joys for me of going to these shows is discovering a talent, an artist I was unaware of. So it’s with great pleasure that I came across the artwork of Laura Guzzo (kudos to her friend, Michael I think, who did a great job promoting her and singing her praises). Not only is she an ASTOUNDING artist, but her print prices are ridiculously reasonable.

You need to run, don’t walk to her website (well considering this is the web you don’t have to walk or run, try clicking here :)) and see her great artwork and purchase some at her Etsy store. She’s definitely going to be working for the big comic companies in no-time. Specifically she has an interesting and unique vision, that would make her a strong cover artist. I look forward to seeing her upcoming work.


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Well kids, that’s a wrap for this installment. All in all a fun convention, and I hope I’ve pointed you to some talent to familiarize yourself with. And if I do help turn you on to some new talent, just let them know that Heroic Times sent ya! :)

Thanks again for visiting and I’ll leave you with a couple pictures from the con, most notably the Philly version of Black Widow,, which I have to tell you… is a pretty awesome version. Grrrowwlll. :)

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In closing huge kudos to Jerry Milani of Wizard World for a fantastically well publicized, and well organized show!

And lest I forget, for anyone who I didn’t cover, please chalk that up to my head and not my heart, more than likely I didn’t have your complete contact info when time came to put this together. Just leave me a comment here, or email me if I gave you one of my business cards and we’ll get that corrected asap.

Thanks to everyone who made the show a great time for all involved! That’s all folks, go out there and be good to each other.

On Kinect, Face Recognition, Gaming, the war on Privacy and Tomorrow’s Tech Today!

So there is typically method to my madness.

Not always, but typically.

All laptops and tablets come with handy dandy cameras, pointed at your face. With Flash and Javascript and now the new html5 turned on, there are sites you can browse to, that without user intervention can turn on your camera and start snapping pics.

Any number of sites you can go to and see fools, without the good sense to cover their camera when not in use, undressing in sight of the laptop or webcam or hear their conversations when they are off camera, and they think the computer is asleep.

If that just scared you, even a little, it shows only… that you are still sane.

What I have just described, that’s the technology of yesterday. Not only have hackers been using it for years but so have ‘legitimate’ companies, that sell software that does just that, turn on the cameras and mics of a laptop remotely, without the user being aware. Ostensibly the idea for most companies is to use this in laptop retrieval, should the laptop be stolen. But any technology is more often used in salacious ways before constructive.

Example being, the first widespread use of pictures and video on the Internet was the female form.


Denise Milani pic courtesy of Tlcoldiesbutgoodies

For obvious reasons. Sex as they say… sells.

And all new forms of communication, to achieve widespread adoption… use sex to sell themselves to an un-trusting population. Whether it’s men in the wilds of Wyoming, being able to pick up this new fangled device called a phone, and hear a woman’s voice, an operator, speak to them for the first time, or the still common practice of draping a beautiful woman across a new car or motorcycle… it’s the allure of that oldest of motivations that drives new things.

So while the purpose of such technology may have been theft retrieval, by taking pictures of the person in possession of the laptop, then using a combination of GPS and IP address to determine their location, then notifying law enforcement; the truth is… that technology is in more widespread use, to invade privacy.

And as I said, that… is yesterday’s technology.

It’s got nothing on the technology of today, and tomorrow.

Ah, the joys of always on technology.

You know we have a whole generation raised on the idea of giving everything to the Internet, and not questioning or requesting safe-guards on individual liberties.

There’s a reason why we have (had much stronger) wiretapping laws, because there is the assumption that privacy is a central right of man. But what happens, generally through entertainment, through ease of use, is we give away rights, we relinquish the assumption that men have rights.

Take CANDID CAMERA, a show which began in syndication in 1948, before its most popular CBS run from 1960 to 1966… made it a national sensation. The show,virtually single-handedly shaped consent-less video recording as something harmless.

This show, funny, watched by everyone, often not in the best taste, but still had America laughing, was a show about video-taping people when they were not aware of it, and had more than anything to do with defining that as something innocuous. And suddenly in the pursuit of entertainment, a right you had with audio recordings, namely ‘a recording without your knowledge is against the law’, became lost with video recordings.


“Most audio recordings without consent of one or all parties are illegal…. Most video recordings are legal with or without consent.” — UVU

Yes, after the fact they still have to get you to sign a waiver to broadcast the video, but as far as taking the video of you without your permission (through a TV show, through pursuit of ‘fun’ and ‘social media’) that has became a defacto standard.

By not questioning the rights and boundaries being overstepped, those rights became lost. and that’s why we have the surveillance heavy society we have today, because in the pursuit of ease of use, and fun, and jokes, the masses gave up a fundamental expectation of privacy. And things like Face-book and You-tube and reality television are the 21st century extensions of the axiom: ease of use = deterioration of rights.

So we have a whole generation growing up with a pretty invasive technology in, of, and around them at all times. And what begins as entertainment today, that you have a choice in: Kinect, Siri, Face recognition; becomes obtrusive corporate policies and laws of the land tomorrow, that you don’t have rights to dispute, to adjudicate, to deny.

If you don’t care about your computer potentially having the mic and camera turned on remotely, without your knowledge or intervention, than this post isn’t for you.

But it is for those of us who want to have the right to disseminate our information, data, video, audio; when and to whom we choose. Or to have the right to not disseminate that info if we so choose.

But here’s the thing, increasingly pursuit of social media and ease of use and gaming is, by the very nature of the technology being used, incompatible with concepts such as privacy.

So a young generation, going by the mandate ‘I don’t have nothing to hide! I want my fun!’ is going for the immediate pleasure, seeing any technology infiltration as harmless. Here’s the thing it’s not about ‘having nothing to hide’ it’s about ‘having the right to choose who you share with, and where your boundaries begin, and where they end’.

That is a part of socialization that is being lost in this mad rush of always on technology, and ‘trusted’ computing and ‘cloud’ computing, and strangers as ‘friends’.

Who we are as people, who we become, is a lot about developing for ourselves our boundaries, and more importantly the people we let into and out of those boundaries. It’s about developing judgment and values and trust. And what is happening in a post Face-book, You-tube, Kinect world is a society where, like the 1950s audience for CANDID CAMERA, you have relinquished the right to boundaries… even in your home.

The Microsoft Kinect Device controller, is not just about motion detection, the underlying principles of it, which have not yet been scratched; is more than a face recognition machine, dressed as a game sitting in your living room recording your family.

It is a head to toe biometric unit, that is capable of mapping you, and identifying you from your brother or sister or father. It’s a wonderfully advanced whole body scanner… and database.

That’s the part that’s lost on people… Database. It’s a database with a map of your family that can phone home, and store detailed data about you and yours on remote servers. And call Microsoft what you will, but short-sighted and stupid is not among their sins. Kinect is an experiment, taking place in the consumers home, that has so many more profitable applications, beyond gaming.

So it’s more than a controller to create more accurate avatars to interact in 3D games. Its potential is to create a biometric representation of you, as unique as a fingerprint.

Why? Because it’s the holy grail of a new age of on-line transactions and commerce.

Think of the potential of Kinect, really think of it. A society that is becoming increasingly wired, and increasingly house bound, can shop virtually in immersive 3D environments. Banking done like you are playing the most stunning 3D game ever, but done with a unique, and for the purposes of commerce and law, legally binding avatar. An avatar that in terms of how your body moves and how it reacts (eventually incorporating heat ranges, and electromagnetic patterns), can tell potential advertisers more about you then you can tell about yourself.

I can see a day when Kinect biometric pattens are sold to advertisers just like home addresses and email addresses are sold today. So advertisers can tailor directly to you based on the things the pattern tells them, whether you’re balding or having menstruation issues or skin issues or an unhealed limp. Or how about Kinect used in the future to do on-line job applications, and submit a bio-metric pattern, like a signature with your application. Or perhaps even used as a rudimentary polygraph test.

You open the door for motion detection, body mapping, facial recognition, probability analysis in the comfort of your home, for the benefit of ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’ and like that CANDID CAMERA audience of the 50s, you’ve relinquished the assumption that privacy in your home, or of your person, is in any way… a right of man. But you haven’t just relinquished it for yourselves, you’ve relinquished it for future generations, and that may be a path… worth pausing on.

So am I telling you not to buy Kinect, or to surf without Javascript and Flash and with HTML5 disabled? And to put a sponge bob sticky on that camera when not in use? Or to be wary of the technologies you bring into your home?

Nope, I’m not telling you any of that.

I’m only telling you there are no rights of man, without the effort of men to preserve those rights.

Every man, every woman, every child, the rights they would ensure, must be jealously, fanatically even, guarded… from even the seemingly most innocuous intrusion or, they will, in the fullness of time, be taken from you. They must be guarded even from yourself and such easy answers as ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’.

I’m saying Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and I would hate to think a whole generation was playing games on Kinect while, things far more valuable… burned away.

For more on conect, both pro and con, see the following links:

123Kinect
Popsi

Those are just parts of the argument, research it for yourself… and decide.

As far as checking out your camera:

Here’s a pretty simple, and straightforward way to see how accessible your camera is (it is NOT one of the hacking sites I was mentioning earlier. At, least I don’t think it is :)) without your express permission.

Once on the site, on a less secure system, you may see your face if you click the button (on some really insecure systems you’ll see your face whether you click on the button or not). I’m not responsible for any pop-ups or hacking or viruses that may invade your system. or anything that occurs should you visit the site.

It appears to be an innocuous site, but I don’t own it, and am not affiliated with it, so I can’t vouch for it; beyond saying my system, which is pretty secure, was unaffected by the site. Your mileage however, may vary. Responsibility for your security, like anything on the Internet… is yours.

As it should be.

If anything you see on that site disturbs you, like your face staring back at you, look again at the paragraph where I mention javascript, flash, html5, and a sponge-bob sticker. :)

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