RIP Steve Ditko, Co-Creator of Spider-Man & Creator of Doctor Strange

We want to take a moment to say #RIP Steve Ditko. The comic-book writer & illustrator co-created #SpiderMan with Stan Lee in 1961. He has died at age 90. Steve Ditko created Spider-Man’s look — the costume, the web-shooters, the red and blue design, which has inspired so many #cosplayers & #costumers to wear that #costume ever since.

Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy No. 15. and was an unexpected hit. This lead to the spin-off The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko also helped create such Spider-Man characters as Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Lizard and Green Goblin.

In 1963, Ditko created Doctor Strange, who debuted in Strange Tales No. 110. Ditko continued on that series until issue No. 146 in 1966.

After a dispute with Stan Lee in 1967, Ditko left Marvel Comics and worked for DC Comics and several others before returning to Marvel in 1979. where he worked on Machine Man and the Micronauts. Among his last creations was Squirrel Girl in 1992.

During his period away from Marvel, Ditko created Mr. A in 1967. He also created The Question, Hawk and Dove and the Creeper for DC Comics.

May he rest in peace.

Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko (1927-2018)

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Whatever Happened to RainFurrest?

There used to be a fairly large #furry convention in Seattle called #RainFurrest. RainFurrest conventions occurred annually beginning in 2007 and ran through 2015 for a total of 9 conventions. Attendance for the inaugural 2007 convention was 370. This grew steadily until it reached its highest attendance of 2,704 attendees in 2015. Unfortunately, 2015 was the last RainFurrest convention to occur. What happened?

RainFurrest 2015 was a 4-day event that began on Sept. 24, 2015 and ran through Sept. 28, 2015. From what we have been able to uncover, a myriad of problems that occurred at this final convention is what brought about the end of RainFurrest. While not all of the information that lead to RainFurrest’s demise has ever been published, enough information exists to get a good idea as to what probably occurred. What it essentially boils down to is multiple types of inappropriate behavior & activities that some of the convention attendees had engaged in while at the convention’s venue: the Hilton Hotel located near the Seattle-Tacoma airport (known as Seatac).

The full extent of what had occurred at RainFurrest 2015 came out in small chunks, the first of which appears to be a letter to attendees from the RainFurrest board that was posted on Reddit. While the letter begins by mentioning many of the good things that occurred at the convention, it includes a list of problems identified by the RainFurrest board that occurred at the hotel:

  • For the last few years, the Hilton sustained more damage during RainFurrest than it did from every other event at the Hilton the entire rest of the year. This doesn’t even include damage to guest rooms or other incidental wear and tear like the elevators.

  • This year’s incidents include two plumber calls, a flooded bathroom that soaked the offices underneath, towels stuffed into a hot tub pump, and multiple petty vandalisms and thefts. A final damage report is still being compiled.

  • We had to send three people to the hospital and call the police twice.

  • By Sunday morning of con this year, the hotel was so exasperated that they were threatening to evict attendees for single noise complaints.

But this wasn’t all. Hilton’s headquarters sent a letter to RainFurrest that included a long list of complaints:

* Two attendee drug overdoses that required medical response and hospitalization for both attendees;
*Over 2000 spend nitrous oxide cartridges which are used as an illegal inhalant were found discarded in a guest corridor after the group checked out;
*A drug arrest in the adjacent parking lot of a person that police believe had ties to the RainFurrest group;
*A RainFurrest volunteer staff member was reported to have sexually assaulted a female attendee (the responding Sheriff charged the man);
*A guest room smoke detector was tampered with and discarded in a guest corridor;
*An elevator inner door cable was broken by an attendee trying to force the door open;
*A RainFurrest security staff member was seen using marijuana;
*Hilton received a phone call and follow up e-mail from an attendee complaining about rampant drug use and alcohol consumption that was allowed by RainFurrest staff.

While we’re not sure when Hilton’s headquarters sent their letter, it was probably sometime in October, 2015 as suggested by a Feb. 5, 2016 post on the RainFurrest website explaining that RainFurrest organizers had been looking for a new venue for 2016 since October, but had failed to find one. A snippet of that post is listed below:

“As many of you know, RainFurrest has been in search of a new venue since October 2015. We have discussed and explored facilities in many wonderful areas, finding options with a number of excellent venues in Greater Seattle and western Washington state. Our hard-working hotel team has fought for every possible option that would suit what our fans want out of RainFurrest. Tonight, the last of those options has closed to us.”

Hence, RainFurrest 2016 never occurred. After the search for a willing venue in western Washington (which is closest to Seattle) had been exhausted, attempts had even been made to move the event to Spokane, which is in eastern Washington; but according the Tank Winters (a.k.a., Trapa), someone had sent letters to the hotel in Spokane that encouraged them not to sign a convention contract with RainFurrest. (That is further explained in the video that we posted below.) RainFurrest was then completely shut down in or before February, 2017, which is when the final tweet was made on the RainFurrest Twitter account saying farewell.

The following video is from a 2016 convention panel in Vancouver, B.C. with Tank Winters (a.k.a., Trapa) who was one of the organizers & board members of RainFurrest. He gave a rather detailed look into what happened at and after the final 2015 RainFurrest convention, as well as the attempts to have a 2016 convention at a different venue.

Another YouTube video was posted in early 2017 summarizing everything that had occurred at RainFurrest 2015 and why the convention could not find another venue. Some of the things in this video are exaggerated, but it still gives an idea as to what was occurring:

A longtime RainFurrest attendee & helper also posted a video blog regarding his thoughts on RainFurrest in Feb. 2016.

From everything we’ve seen, the number one problem that got RainFurrest shut down was drug use by some attendees at the final 2015 convention. Residents of Washington state had approved the use of recreational cannabis in 2012 and the first recreational cannabis stores in Washington opened to the public on July 8, 2014. That, however, didn’t obligate hotels like the Hilton to permit the use of cannabis at their locations. Unfortunately, some attendees chose to ignore this prohibition by the hotel and used cannabis anyway, along with a variety of other prohibited drugs and inhalants.

The question is, did all of the attendees truly understand that drugs couldn’t be used at the hotel? When we read the RainFurrest 2015 Code of Conduct, there is actually no mention of drugs in the Code of Conduct at all. While there is a reference to following the hotel’s rules and policies,

“As a convention attendee, you are a guest of the hotel and must abide by the hotel’s rules and policies whenever you are on the premises.”

there was no link to what those hotel rules and policies were as of 2015. This, in our opinion, was something that the RainFurrest board failed to publicize.

While tampering with a smoke detector was probably a major issue for the hotel (due to liability), we strongly believe that the lack of adequate security provided by the RainFurrest board was the other major contributing factor to the demise of the convention.

Thus, drug use and lack of security (plus all of the vandalism that occurred at the hotel) greatly damaged the reputation of the RainFurrest convention, its attendees and its board. While the problems were likely only due to a small number of attendees, it was enough to harm the entire convention.

As we posted in April of this year, the public perception of costumers, cosplayers & furries is the responsibility of all costumers, cosplayers & furries. Once reputation has been damaged, it’s usually very difficult to rebuild.

References

DIY: Making Your Own Fake Leather

#Leather isn’t an uncommon element for #costumes & #cosplays, but it doesn’t have to be the real thing. Real leather can be cost prohibitive (not just the leather, but the tooling also can be pricey), becomes hot to wear or there may be objections to using and/or wearing animal products.

To solve these dilemmas, there’s an easy solution: make your own faux or fake leather. The question is how? The most obvious solution is to use faux leather fabric (or pleather); but if you need something that’s thicker than pleather you can use some foam underneath it, or you could just transform foam into your own homemade fake leather. You could even paint fabric to make it look leathery.

The first video tutorial below by Ginny Di talks about combining pleather with foam to create realistic looking fake leather. To do this you’ll need pleather, paints & foam.

If you want to make your own fake leather from foam only, you can try a technique presented by Buddy Cosplay. To do this, you’d need several tools, including an iron, heat gun, paints, foam, aluminum foil.

The next video is similar to the first, but isn’t as detailed. It’s by ButtercupBrix.

There are other similar tutorial videos online. The key to remember here is that you don’t have to use actual leather and you can let your creativity take you where you want. You could even make a gas mask that looks like leather by combining these techniques with the gas mask tutorial that we just posted.

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DIY Cosplay Gas Mask

If you’re doing a #cosplay that requires a gas mask, you could use an actual gas mask, but it may be cost prohibitive or it may become uncomfortable to wear for long periods as actual gas masks are made with rubber and are intended to form a tight seal around the face. Solution? Make your own cosplay gas mask! Not only will you be able to customize it however you want, it will be very easy to paint! (It’s really not easy to paint stretchy rubber as it will crack when you stretch it or wear it.)

While we aren’t necessarily advocating that you purchase this pattern,  but #cosplayer Lost Wax provides an excellent one with a tutorial video on how to make your very own cosplay gas mask:

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Spatial Awareness in Cosplay

#Costumers & #cosplayers who wear bulky #costumes & #cosplays that effectively make themselves physically larger than they aren’t in #costume need to be aware of how that larger size affects their movement in relation to other objects, including people, doorways, furniture, etc. This is called #SpatialAwareness and it’s a complex skill that’s learned when we’re children.

Spatial awareness is the ability to be aware of oneself in space that includes an organized knowledge of objects in relation to oneself within that given space. It also involves understanding the relationship of these objects when there is a change of position. Thus, it can be said that the awareness of spatial relationships is the ability to see and understand two or more objects in relation to each other and to oneself.

As people walk & move around in their daily lives, they encounter a variety of obstacles, but they rarely bump into those objects because they’re spatially aware of their own size in relation to the distances between themselves and those objects. This awareness can be completely lost when wearing a costume that makes oneself larger than one normally is and it doesn’t require a significant increase in size to increase the probability that the costumer or cosplayer may bump into something or someone.

Any costume with bulky armor, a large hoop skirt, protruding parts, etc., will throw the wearer’s learned spatial awareness out the window because that internally learned sense of one’s own size is no longer valid. Thus, the possibility of bumping into others, furniture or doorways suddenly becomes a very real problem not only for the wearer, but for the costume itself.

Any costumer or cosplayer who’s planning to wear a bulky costume needs to not only spend some time learning new spatial awareness skills while wearing the costume ahead of time, he or she should also learn not to make any sudden swinging, turning or bending motions that could potentially bump into something (or someone) as this could potentially hurt someone, damage the wearer’s own costume or damage someone else’s costume if they’re standing nearby.

Spatial awareness will also be adversely affected if the costumer or cosplayer is wearing a mask or helmet that reduces the wearer’s side and/or peripheral vision. Our spatial awareness is dependent upon having a wide view of our surroundings, but a mask or helmet that limits vision to being more straight ahead makes spatial awareness to the sides impossible. If the costume includes bulky parts that extend out to the sides, then bumping into things and others is going to be difficult to avoid, especially in a crowded setting. In this situation, the wearer should have a handler who isn’t in costume and can help the wearer manage the movements that he/she can’t otherwise see.

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