AC Boardwalk Con Adventure Part 1

You couldn’t move in AC last weekend. Everywhere you turned there was a bachelorette party going on. It was like an old B-movie, but, instead of the Jersey Shore getting infested with 50-foot mutated soon-to-be brides, it was overrun with literal hordes of drunken twenty-something girls wearing dresses that could barely fit my arm. They were stumbling all over the boardwalk, making a scene at the casinos, and even loud talking (slurring) on line at Starbucks. Believe me, I’m all for partying, but the combination of drunkenness only amplified the fact that they all seemed to think they were hot shit. Something about getting dressed up and downing weak shots of fruity liqueur makes even the biggest disasters feel like they could nail David Beckham. They couldn’t even pronounce Macchioto at that point, but, then again, they could barely walk – even with those giant heels in hand. Don’t think for a second that their male counterparts weren’t up to the same shenanigans in other casinos, they just disguised it better. Clusters of dudes on their bachelor parties were equally as obnoxious, but they weren’t wearing tiaras and sashes, so they didn’t stand out as much. Why am I telling you this? To set the scene of course!

While much of this turned out to be entertaining in itself, like witnessing multiple girls trip over their giant heels in their micro mini skirts right before my eyes, it got in the way of my real mission: getting to the FIRST EVER Atlantic City Boardwalk Con. Last weekend, Dinosaur Dracula and I escaped immediately into a parking garage and sought refuge in the most perfect place imaginable – The Atlantic City Convention Center. This place was bustling with an entirely different breed of revelers: Geeks. The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con was like being in the Merry Land of Oz, if Oz was a comic convention and Kevin Smith was the Wizard.

AC took on a double meaning for me. The Atlantic City Convention Center was supplied with Air Conditioning, which made it a haven in more ways than one; it was an awesome way to get out of the humidity (I’m currently AC-less at home), but it was also an immense emporium for all of my favorite geek things. From comics books to Zatanna cosplay, it was all there spread throughout the cavernous facility. The craziest part about it was that they didn’t even utilize half the floor space and ACBC was still a huge con.

Cosplay was in full force. Personally, I never get sick of seeing cosplayers and the insane amount of time and effort they put into their bringing their characters to life. Some cosplayers have such elaborate homemade costumes and they never break from their roles. They’re usually happy to chat and take pictures and those I spoke to at ACBC were friendly and seemed pretty psyched to be there. Cosplay was a key part of the AC Boardwalk Con (i.e Dark Helmet) and it’s welcome to see it get the spotlight that it deserves here in New Jersey. I saw Callie Cosplay as Sue Storm and she looked fantastic. Much like some of the other cosplayers at ACBC, she changed costumes over the course of the weekend, but in the video you can catch a quick glimpse of her as Sue.
Since ACBC is new, it was a fresh experience. There was an aspect of discovery that I don’t get from other cons. With New York Comic Con, it always feels like an organized mess, overshadowed by the mega conglomerates who sink the most ad money into the event. On the other hand, ACBC provided me with a happy feeling every time I turned a corner and noticed something that I hadn’t before. It was a mix of independent vendors and the random official Marvel Universe kiosk. An excellent balance of both. Plus. the easy to follow floor layout and the imaginative vendor set-ups infused the stagnant con prototype with a new style. Mostly, it was just different than the norm, and less stressful and aggravating to navigate than the other big cons.

Enticing my eyeballs for a few hours were random toys, odd collectibles, and beautiful artwork. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I actually didn’t come home with any. I resisted. I so desperately wanted the Batman/Harley Quinn painting you’ll see in the video above, but it was about $900 bucks! I got bills, yo! I’ll stick with the shots in the video footage I took. Further guilt was brought on by the fact that I’ve bought so many figures recently that I wanted to stick with a few original items to take home with me, so let me show you what came home with.

The NJ Ghostbusters were on site investigating a free floating full torso apparition of an old famed casino owner who is known to haunt the Atlantic City area. When I ran into the boys in gray, they didn’t have much time to B.S with me about the latest issue of Space Catalog because they just got an urgent call from Janine Melnitz, so I quickly threw them some cash so I could own one of their beautiful NJGB t-shirts! Could this shirt be any more apropos for me? NJ and Ghostbusters, perfect. I also picked up some stickers.

All the way from the far off land of Los Angeles, CA, I stopped at the table of JSalvador’s Super Emo Friends. These cute paintings of sad super heroes, rock stars, and pop culture icons grabbed me as if I saw a sad puppy in a pet shop window. How could I resist Emo Jason Voorhees moping on his mother’s severed head? I also picked up the Emo Arrow for Mike

ACBC didn’t give me much to bitch about at all. I only had one minor gripe. I didn’t wind up meeting any of the guests, but the celebrity signing lines could’ve used more ingenuity. Once you reached the autograph and picture area in the back of the con, it was clogged up with people milling around trying to figure out whose line they wanted to go wait on first. Even getting remotely close to that wing would’ve gotten you caught up in a bit of a traffic jam. It’s possible they weren’t expecting such a huge turnout, but they’ll definitely have to expand this area next year.

ACBC was a success and I will venture to say that it was one of the most enjoyable conventions I’d ever been to. There was a positive vibe throughout and people weren’t acting like jerks. Seeing kids and families there also brought me back to when I was young and geeky things like comics weren’t ruled by 40-something dudes. It’s a family affair and that’s cool. ACBC did a bang up job right out of the gate. Looking forward to next year already!

You didn’t think our adventure ended at The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, did you? Of course, there’s more to come from our exploits AFTER the con! Things got pretty interesting so come back soon to check it out. Thanks for reading!

AC Boardwalk Con Is Coming May 14th – 17th!

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Get Your Tickets at DOACBC.COM and USE DISCOUNT CODE “BLOG10” to receive 10% off your ticket purchase, courtesy of AC Boardwalk Con and The Sexy Armpit!

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Geek conventions and casinos have something in common. Think about it, aside from a few exceptions, for many years there were two main spots in the country to gamble in a casino, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. It was much the same with comic conventions. The official Comic Cons always happened in San Diego and New York City. No longer do we have to deal with only two major cons. Nowadays, comic and pop culture conventions are happening constantly all over the country.

Promoters have been capitalizing on the demand for cons and we have more events to choose from than ever before, especially here in New Jersey. One that I have been waiting patiently for the last couple of years for is the Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, a.k.a ACBC. The announcement for this huge event came quite a while ago and it’s finally upon us. In merely a couple of weeks (May 14th – 17th 2015) you can be a part of their inaugural event in Atlantic City, NJ.

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New Jersey has a few comic conventions throughout the year, but none seem to be on the same level as this one. ACBC’s organizers have spared no expense to hit the ground running. Although it’s the first ACBC, it has the epic feel of a con that’s been around for a decade. Celebrity guests, collectibles, concerts, events, contests, film fests, and an after hours party will comprise this jam-packed geekgasm of a weekend.

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This is a chance to hobnob with comic book artists and creators as well as check out some Q&As, workshops, take part in masquerades, and snap your cosplay photos at some awesome backdrops. There will also be the cosplay competition and crowning of Mr. and Miss Cosplay Atlantic City, a Warriors Reunion, and a Film and TV auto exhibit.
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I’ve always been a huge fan of events that take place in Atlantic City because there’s always stuff to do when the con ends for the night. Plus, it’s so much easier to make a weekend of it all and give it that “mini-vacation” vibe. The weather is warm, the beach is next door, the boardwalk is always filled with stuff to do, and you’ll no doubt want to try your luck at a table game or a slot machine while you’re in AC, because what’s the sense of being in AC if you don’t gamble away your life savings and fall deeper in hate with yourself in the process? But do that AFTER you head to ACBC because you may want an autograph from Thea Queen from Arrow first. Just looking out for ya!

From the looks of the website, this con is shaping up to be the real deal. It would truly be a feat to see ACBC succeed in such a big way that it cements it’s place amongst the major players of the convention scene. It’s looking promising, and New Jersey may finally have it’s official comic-con.

Celebrities Appearing for Autographs and Photo Ops Include:
Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanaugh, Willa Holland, William Shatner, Brian Tee, Bryan Johnson, Drew Powell, Charles Fleischer, Elizabeth Lail, Garett Wang, Georgina Haig, Jason Mewes, Jeremy Shada, Jess Harnell, Michael Rooker, Manu Bennett, Rob Paulsen, The cast of The Warriors, Tress Macneille and a host of others!

Bands Performing: September Mourning, New Politics, and Make Out Monday

Atlantic City Convention Center
1 Convention Boulevard
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

The Sexy Armpit Goes to HAUNTED GOLF in Ocean City, NJ!

Happy Halloween! It’s been a fun season and I’m anxious to do a look back on all the best moments, but first, here’s a video that I’ve been waiting to present to you. It’s our trip to the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ for HAUNTED GOLF. Along the way we enjoyed the various activities on the boardwalk. Check it out! Please give it a thumbs up if you enjoy it and thank you for watching!

Halloween Countdown 2014, Halloween A-Z

Velcome to Castle Sexy Armpit! Just changing that W to a V made a world of difference, and it’s those little details that have completely transformed The Sexy Armpit into a virtual house or horrors, a terrifying realm of text in tribute to our favorite time of the entire year, HALLOWEEN!

For the past several years, The Sexy Armpit has taken on Halloween motifs that were parodies of stuff like famous horror film posters, and band themes like The Misfits. We continue the tradition with the parody you see above. This header is inspired by a brochure advertising the greatest haunted attraction of all time, Castle Dracula.

Castle Dracula is legendary among those of us who frequented the Wildwood boardwalk as kids. Although it burned down so long ago, it still lives on via the Internet. It’s been paid tribute many times by Matt from Dinosaur Dracula. He’s also gone on record to state  that “Last year’s Halloween season was one of the best ever,” and I am in full agreement with him. I’m not sure if 2014 will be able to surpass 2013, especially when the actual year number was an eerie one itself. Just from a commentator’s perspective, 2014 is going to have to pull off a big swerve to reach the haunted heights of last year.

So, the Halloween Countdown 2014 is on! On the horizon is our 2014 Halloween special which is categorized as “in production” as we speak.

It’s all a bit overwhelming for me. My brain is absolutely flooded with ideas. What will my costume be, will I have to drive all over creation to find the limited edition crap? It’s all about antici—PATION. My mind is racing with all the cool Halloween stuff, products, food gimmicks, events, attractions, costume parties, etc. We wait for it all year and then it just creeps up on us and BAM it’s officially here and I feel like I can’t possibly be ready. Glad this thing starts September 1st, otherwise it would be over with a snap of a monstrous finger.

There’s a moat around Sexy Armpit Castle, we’ll call it Crystal Lake, and we’re diving right in. The lake of course, is made of Ghoul-Aid, hopefully laced with some psychedelics.

So it’s here, we’re living it right now. It seems like everyone else is ready, while I feel ill prepared. It’s like those dreams that you show up late to class on a test day without studying for it. Well, that’s me right now and I’m in that Amazing Stories episode “Go to the Head of the Class” with Professor Beanes.

Every year I typically kick off The Sexy Armpit’s side of the Halloween countdown with a recap of the best posts of the previous years countdown. Since the blog is in it’s 10th year, I’m going to do it a little differently this time. Although I haven’t been doing the countdown for 10 years, I’ve still accumulated so many posts that I feel are worthy enough to present to you once again, especially since you may be new to the site. These are posts that include personal stories from life events, movies, attractions, trivia, monsters, and a homemade comic book among other things. Do a little digging and maybe you’ll unearth something spine tingling.

To get A through Z, I had to do some finagling to get it to work out. You’ll notice some repeats, for instance, it felt like I had 23 “H” entries and there could’ve been at least half of these starting with “S.” And you’ll also notice THAT I HAVE AN ENTRY FOR Q and Z! Hell yes.

Interview With Pinup Artist Erica Hesse

Erica Hesse brought to life our vision to commemorate The Sexy Armpit’s 10th birthday in a vivid, epic work of art. In my interview with her, we get an in-depth look at her creative approach, her influences, her favorite comics and horror movies, and growing up in New Jersey.

SA: I’ve had this idea for a commission from you in my head for quite a long time and it’s finally come to fruition and it’s very exciting. Since I’m not an artist, how does it feel knowing that you’ve created the exact piece of art that I had in my head?

EH: It’s pretty rewarding, as an artist you can only hope you can bring every idea to life that the person has- and be able to do it justice. Especially when the client has original ideas and thoughts and you want to be able to convey what they are thinking. I think it helps in this case, a lot of the subject matter I’m familiar with and a fan of. So it made it that much easier to interpret and have fun with! 

I’m glad you had some fun with this project! Do you prefer to create a piece of art directly from your imagination or do you like having more of a direction such as in commission work?

I like doing both to be honest. Doing art straight from my imagination is therapeutic and freeing. I can do whatever I would like with no one to tell me any different. But I do like commission work too, because it keeps me on the straight and narrow and gives me a sense of direction. I learn a lot from each commission and it gives me a new perspective on how to solve or approach each new piece of art. I find that a lot of commission work I get the clients usually have a lot of imagination and creativity, some things that I wouldn’t think of doing. So it’s refreshing, challenging, and fun to do these pieces of art, subject matter that is “outside of the box” for me. There is this one project I’ve been working on with a writer for a while now, about a year or so. It’s completely different than what I’m used to illustrating, it’s really creative and thought provoking. The story is pretty amazing and we have a great working relationship. He has a great imagination and has a clear vision of what he wants, and that’s exciting. I welcome other people’s ideas and thoughts when it comes to art, I think a large part of it is due to the some of the training I had. I worked for a company before where I had a lot of art direction and creativity within a team. I welcome that because in some cases you only become better at what you do.

Can you briefly tell us about the process you went through to create this piece? You incorporate traditional and digital art, right?

Sure! You’re right I did incorporate traditional and digital art for this piece of art.  Every artist has a different way of approaching a new piece of art, I feel I kind of do things unorthodox as far as my approach in laying out the composition. I usually sketch/pencil in the main characters first, trying to capture a feel for them, then build up the background and elements around them. I usually do two different concepts and email them to the client to see if I’m heading in the right direction concerning their ideas. If it’s approved I then go back and print out the rough concept, lightbox the rough onto a piece of heavy bristol paper and start working on the final pencils. The final pencils is a tighter and more clean version of the rough concept. From there I ink over my pencils with a brush. I typically use a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or a Windsor and Newton watercolor brush. All depending on the look I need to achieve. When the inks are done, I erase any remaining pencil lines and it’s ready to be scanned and digitally painted. Once I have the line art scanned in and cleaned up, I started blocking in loose colors using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. From there it’s a lot of playing around with colors and determining if any small details in the composition need to be changed. Colors, for me, I find at times to be challenging, I like them to be heavily saturated and have a certain “pop” to them. I work best when I’m working on a piece of art and walk away from it for a day or so, that way I have a fresh eye when I look at it again. Sometimes it changes everything.

And that POP is certainly distinct in the final piece! How do you feel about it? Is there an aspect of it you think is exceptional?

I was a bit concerned as I first started digitally coloring the art and how I was going to make it all work with each other. Honestly I think every artist has that thought when they approach a piece of art, the gears are constantly turning and asking yourself “How am I going to make this work?” But as the piece progressed I was pretty happy on how it was turning out, I really love it.

The parts of the art I think are exceptional are how a lot of pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the art, from the He-Man sword to the Toxic Avenger-like waste barrels, the art is one big fun New Jersey pop culture piece. I love adding the little elements in there that perhaps only people from New Jersey would get. I honestly could have added more, but didn’t want to take away from the main focal point, which is the characters. l do have to say I did add a little personal touch in the art. The license plate on the beach is one number/letter off of my own old license plate I had for years.

Ha! That’s awesome. A little Easter Egg hidden in there! I love it. Switching gears, I’ve always been a huge fan of pinup culture. When did you realize you were in love with pinup style art? Is it something you realized you excelled at and just continued to do or is it legitimately your favorite style to create?

I think pinup style art has been part of me since I was a kid, it was somehow always around me in some shape or form. A lot of the comics I read growing up had a “pinup” aspect to the art, Archie’s Betty and Veronica, Katy Keene, Millie the Model, Sabrina the Teenage Witch all had an impression on me growing up. I didn’t actually discover pinup (in the form of photography and art) until years later. I knew this guy and he had this calendar of Pinup art, I believe it was by Olivia. I remember the image for that month, the woman was a brunette and had on a white man’s dress shirt and it looked innocent and incredibly sexy at the same time. And it wasn’t a photograph, it was a painting! I wasn’t drawing for a few years around that time, that image resonated with me and was in the back of my head. Fast forward some years later I was introduced to Bettie Page and was intrigued by her. I was at a point in my life where it seemed pinup art was always reaching out to me, calling to me and I finally made the leap. I guess you can say it’s been a slow steady progression.

I don’t know if pinup art was something I thought I excelled at, it’s definitely a form of art I enjoy doing. Some people liked drawing animals or wildlife scenery, for example. I like illustrating those things too, but I’m always drawn back to illustrating women. I’ve always been drawn to the female figure and consider it to be one of the most beautiful forms in nature. It’s a form of expression, an extension of myself if that makes sense.

Well, we think you definitely excel at it! As an added bonus, much of your subject matter incorporates comic art, horror, burlesque – which just so happen to be things that I am heavy into. Your piece Roller Bride of Frankenstein really seems to sum up the stuff you enjoy. With that said, can you share with us your favorite horror movies and comic books?

Ooh yes! Ha, I sure can! My favorites change here and there, but here’s what’s on top of my head at the moment. For horror movies, I love a lot of the classics. All of the classic monster movies, Bride of Frankenstein,Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy. I love Night of the Living Dead, White Zombie, Dawn of the Dead, Fright Night…I could go on and on! Fan of the first few Nightmare on Elm Street movies. For newer horror movies, none stick to the top of my head at the moment. I did recently see the remake of Evil Dead. While it was good, nothing beats the original.

For comic books, I’m currently liking/reading Brian Wood’s X-Men, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and the new Harley Quinn series by Palmiotti. Other favorites include Linsner’s Lucifer’s Halo, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, Wonder Woman, Witchblade and The Walking Dead series. I usually go for comics with strong and interesting women in them. Or if they have zombies.

Zombies are always a plus. I’m enjoying the new Harley Quinn series as well. Also on the DC front, what are your thoughts on the promo photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman from Batman v. Superman?

I thought the promo shot looked good, but kind of holding back my opinions until I see the movie. There’s a lot of thoughts and concerns that are rambling around in my head but I know that will probably change once I see the movie.

Can you tell us some of your artistic influences?

I kind of have a mash up of people, art, or artists that I’m inspired by. In no particular order: Gil Elvgren, George Petty, Alberto Vargas, Alphonse Mucha, Dan De Carlo, Stan Goldberg, Linsner, Coop, R. Black, Bettie Page, Rita Hayworth, Dita, Mosh…to name a few. Tara McPherson and Tokidoki are big for me in the Designer Vinyl Toy World. 

I’m a big fan of Vargas, De Carlo, and Miss Mosh as well. How about influence from your ? Were you born and raised in New Jersey? Growing up, tell us some of the places your frequented or fond memories you have from living here.

Oh heck yes. Born and raised here in good ol’ South Jersey. A lot of the memories I have growing up is where I used to live, in Egg Harbor City. I spent a lot of my time in the Don and Tom’s Newspaper store and the local Ben Franklin five and dime. Mostly buying comics and plotting which Barbie doll was going to be added next in my collection. I had a huge Barbie doll collection. It’s funny, I was never allowed to leave them naked (undressed) they always had to be fully clothed. I had a few Ken dolls but they were boring to me. I used to “borrow” my brother’s G.I. Joe dolls and make them Barbie’s boyfriend. The guy had flocked hair, how can Ken compete with that? I think I even somehow managed to make my brother’s 18-inch Alien figure Barbie’s boyfriend too. Barbie had great taste.

As far as places I checked out, I would say Ocean City was the top of the list. To me it was the “place to go” it had a little bit of everything. It had the boardwalk, ice cream, the beach, the Boardwalk Mall and of course boys. I was a bit of a boy crazy nut then. But what teen wasn’t? Of course I was rarely on the beach, I was always wanting to hop on the water slides or stuff my face with boardwalk pizza. Man, I loved that. And I used to tan, A LOT. So glad I gave that up…eventually, ha. Now I’m as “un-beachy” as you can get. The only tan I get anymore is a driver’s tan.

Same. I get as much tan as David the vampire from The Lost Boys. Similarly, I used to take my sisters Barbie dolls to have my GI Joes mingle with them on her party boat. It was a blast. So, what’s on the horizon for Erica Hesse? Are there any upcoming projects or comic shows you’d like to mention?

I’ve been keeping busy with quite a few sketch cards projects this year. Some are currently out right now. I did a few exclusive sketch cards for Zenescope’s Oz and Grimm Fairy Tales for San Diego Comic Con. I also did some cards for Chaos and the Women of Dynamite which were only available at the San Diego Comic Con as well. I have some more sketch card sets in the works but can’t mention them really until they are talked about in the press or been released. I’ve been kind of laying low on the comic con scene (which is really hard) this year due to commission work and the day job. I also made a point not to do any shows this year because I really, really want to jump back on some things I’ve been putting off. As much as I LOVE drawing pinups, I’m really itching to work on some sequentials/comics! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on pinups, but I just want to develop some ideas that have been in my head the past few years. These stories are dying to come out. I’ll be sure to talk about them when the time is right. To keep up to date on any news you can follow me on http://www.hesse-art.com or my Facebook page over at www.facebook.com/TheArtofEricaHesse.

We’ll be on the lookout! As we wrap up, being a fan of your work, I’ve read that you’ve really made your own way. You practiced hard to become a great artist and carved a space for yourself via Internet/social media as well as setting up at shows such as Wizard World to sell your prints. It’s very inspirational, so if you could leave us with some sort of motivational wisdom that might apply to anyone, not just artists, no matter how cheesy it might be, that would be awesome!

I guess the only thing I can say is do what you love. You’re going to get criticism and feedback on no matter what you do, just take it all in stride and grow from it- don’t let it affect you negatively. Do the best that you can do. Don’t worry about what this person is doing or how successful that person is, that’s a total mind killer. No art would ever get accomplished if we constantly compared or doubted ourselves.

Excellent advice Erica and thanks for the interview! The new Sexy Armpit artwork KICKS ASS!

Erica obviously has our full endorsement, so check out some of her art here:
http://www.storenvy.com/stores/159375-the-art-of-erica-hesse

CM Punk Rescued at Jersey Shore: A Sexy Armpit News Brief

If the wrestling news and rumor sites are accurate, it’s been reported that CM Punk is now officially a “former WWE Superstar.” I still have a slight amount of hope that it’s all part of storyline though. Whether Punk ever returns to the ring or not, he still deserves a vacation. His woman, WWE Diva AJ Lee, begged him to go to Wildwood this summer, and becoming a softy in his old age, Punk gave in. Ordinarily he wouldn’t be caught dead in Jersey, but the irony is that he WAS almost caught dead there. Watch the Sexy Armpit news brief above for all the details on this near fatal occurrence. Later in the news brief is a video montage of The Sexy Armpit and Dinosaur Dracula’s trip to the Wildwood boardwalk! Music by The Brigantines. See them live playing shows this summer! Listen to a Free track at their official site: www.thebrigantines.com

SUMMER KICKOFF 2014!

Watch the 2014 Summer Kickoff Show with The Sexy Armpit and Idiot at Play. It’s filled with nonsense, and a few good ideas of how you can enhance your summer experience. Plus, summer reading recommendations including Last Exit in New Jersey, Exit Zero, and The Non-Linear Flow of the Universal Tides by Michael Gary Wirth. Music by Lipstick & Cigarettes, Lux Devil, and Kevin McLeod.