ZANO more


Zano was to be the autonomous, intelligent, swarming nano drone. A drone with the ability to capture video and photos from an aerial point of view. In January of 2015 It’s kickstarter finished with a whopping £2.3 million ($3.5 million) in funding. Throughout the year there have been various updates, all the way up to October where they continued to confirm a delay due to material shipments. But this past month a tweet that basically put the nail in the coffin for this Kickstarter…

And now it seems that even with all that money Kickstarters can fail. Two more updates were given to backers-only, hopefully some of the backers who went in big get something back in return. Goes to show once again that Kickstarter isn’t a shop for cool things, your just helping products try and get to market. Check out the video below of what could have been.

Season of the Force at Disneyland


The holidays have been a big deal at Disneyland for a long time now. It’s a Small World has been decorated with Christmas lights since 1997 and the Haunted Mansion has had a Nightmare Before Christmas seasonal makeover since 2001. Just a couple of years ago, the Jungle Cruise boats have been rechristened with festive–and of course punny–names that look as if they were quickly painted by inebriated skippers. (Of course, there have always been holiday jokes woven into the spiels, officially or not.)

During the holidays, the park is more lit up than ever, with every facade, tree, and corner of the souvenir and gift shops glowing in festive colors. The parades end with Santa Claus instead of Mickey Mouse–unless they’re the same person. And what are those “holiday” odors pumped out in lieu of the fresh popcorn smell on Main Street? But this year all that is eclipsed by the Season of the Force.


My family and I went to Disneyland on Friday, just four days into the feeding frenzy for Star Wars freaks, and it wasn’t until then that I realized what a genius move it was for Disney to buy the George Lucas franchise. Of course, the movie trailers are excellent and the new toys are next level. But now a lot more of us know what it’s like when little kids see their princess heroes in person at Disneyland. I didn’t see much cosplay but there sure was a lot of Star Wars gear.

We arrived late in the afternoon and headed straight to Tomorrowland, where most of the Star Wars installations take place. Most notably, Space Mountain has been resurfaced as Hyperspace Mountain, with the planets and chocolate chip cookie replaced by TIE Fighters and a Destroyer zooming by and accompanied by a full-on orchestral score and voice samples. You actually hear female voices when riding on your mission in your X-Wing Fighter, too. It’s great and worth the wait.


Star Tours features a new segment featuring landscapes and characters for Episode VII, which will build on the excitement for most fanboys and girls who can’t wait for the December 17 premiere. It’s pretty cool, although there are certainly purists who won’t want to know anything about the movie until they can see the entire thing. Same goes for the 10-minute Star Wars sampler that’s playing at the old Captain EO theater. “Path of the Jedi” combines clips from all six movies as well as the upcoming one to get fans up to speed. Not much from Episodes I-III, thank Yoda.

The Launch Bay (the spot once held by America Sings!) has been transformed into an exhibition space for costumes and props. That’s pretty interesting, but I was a little bothered by the fact that it purports to be a Rebellion stronghold yet goes behind the scenes at the same time. There’s a disconnect after taking your picture with Chewbacca and having people in Rebellion gear say, “May the Force be with you,” to walk by video game previews and the gift shop. But that’s nothing that hasn’t been broached by the Abe Lincoln Story.


A more cynical or even just critical person might call out the Season of the Force as the latest cash grab for Disney. Another way for the World’s Largest People Trap Built By a Mouse to get locals to keep shelling out 100 bucks to get in as well as tourists. Did I mention that the food at the Tomorrowland Terrace has been renamed Star Wars style and you can buy a Han Solo in Carbonite lunch box for an extra 10 bucks?

Yet we loved it. My brother and I actually grew up behind the Orange Curtain and we both worked at Disneyland. After quitting he said something like, “To still enjoy Disneyland even after working there is like enjoying Christmas even though you know Santa Claus isn’t real.” I’ve probably quoted that on this blog before, but last week that was doubly true.


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POW! WOW! Taiwan BTS

In addition to being lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Tokyo for the inaugural POW! WOW! Japan recently, I also got to travel to Taipei for the very first time. I was there for the first week of this year’s 3-week-long POW! WOW! Taiwan mural festival. In short, I wish I could have stayed longer. Exploring Taipei was a tremendous adventure, and POW! WOW! Taiwan was so well-organized and operated, it was a pleasure to be involved, and educational for me too. I enjoyed hanging out with artists like Case Maclaim, Ben Horton, Kamea Hadar and Naturel. I also got to meet some new faces like Cloakwork, Girenhao, Debe, Dabs, and Omen. Huge props to Larry Chen and the whole POW! WOW! Taiwan crew for letting me tag along!

Live After 5 Circus Edition

Last week’s Live After 5 event was pretty cool. Every second Thursday of the month, bands and performers take the stage and put on a show for the public in the heart of Downtown Long Beach. This event was across the street from our office at the Promenade parking lot so getting there was not an issue. The circus themed event included live quirky bands, fire dancers, jugglers, and stilt walkers. I missed the main attraction, which was a sword swallowing world record attempt by Lucky Johns, but shooting pictures of the circus performers became my favorite part of the night.

Optic Nerve’s Adrian Tomine and TVOTR’s Tunde Adebimpe at Skylight Books


Last week, my wife and I walked over to Skylight Books in Los Feliz to see Adrian Tomine read from his new book, Killing and Dying, and chat about his work with Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio. We’re longtime fans of both Tomine’s Optic Nerve comics and Adebimpe’s band, so how could we miss such an event? We were actually the first to arrive at the bookstore and sat in the front row like the geeks that we are.

Tomine read “Intruders,” the last and most succinct of the new book’s six short stories. It’s also the most creepy and solipsistic. The other pieces are about relationships–doomed, damaged, or desperate–but this one is told strictly from the point of view of a displaced veteran who lets himself into the apartment where he used to live with his ex, and then proceeds to make it a habit. The protagonist goes beyond mere lurking or stalking and yet is as innocent as he is pathological. Or is he?


Fans of Tomine’s early work might be jarred by his transition from depicting young, insecure waifs seeking their place in society to older, fatter misfits in this collection. Still, his craftsmanship and the protagonists’ neuroses will seem familiar even if portrayal of them seems unusually warm, or at least not cynical.

In the Q&A with Adebimpe, Tomine mentioned that a lot of his readers had asked him if he’d follow up on his somewhat autobiographical Scenes from an Impending Wedding with a book about parenthood. He wasn’t into the idea, but said that his newer work has definitely been affected by having daughters. I think working on Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s pitch-black, slice-of-life works about postwar Japan may have made his topics darker–and more human–as well.


It’s also worth noting that the style changes with each story. “Horisculpture” (about a gardener transitioning into sculpture, or is it craft into art?) seems almost like a throwback to old comic strips with recurring title panels, thought bubbles, and sound effects; the pastel colors of “Amber Sweet” (recounting the struggles caused by a college student’s uncanny resemblance to a porn star) come off as cute and disconcerting; and the tiny panels of the title story are appropriately confining and practically claustrophobic (just like the portrayed family’s uncomfortable mixing of tragedy with comedy). But the stories are as lovely as they are sad, and always open ended.

To many, Skylight’s pairing of Adebimpe with Tomine may have seemed like a stretch. But they are old friends, and their relationship is documented in Drawn and Quarterly’s 25th anniversary collection. In the massive tome, the TVOTR singer writes about being a young, aspiring indie comic book artist who was devastated to find out that the creator of Optic Nerve was less than a year older than him. What hope did he have if Tomine was already so polished? Yet they became friends and Adebimpe went on to sing for a very cool (and successful) group.


Adebimpe pulled out a bundle of old comics to prove his fandom. He relished in sharing a list of favorite bands from one of Tomine’s self-published comics. At that moment, the award-winning cartoonist reverted to being a insecure high school student. It was a little uncomfortable. But when the topic changed, he was the confident-yet-affable master of storytelling once more.

When we got to the front of the line to have Adrian sign some books, he said that he thought he recognized me. Since featuring him a few times in the magazine Wendy and I helped make, I’ve seen him every now and then at Comic-Con and it was nice to reconnect and hold up the line for a couple of minutes. I tracked down Adebimpe to have him sign the Drawn and Quarterly book, too. He may not have made his mark in indie comics yet, but he will forever be in the same beautiful book as Tomine, Spiegelman, Sturm, Seth, Matt, Brown, Beaton, Bagge, Barry… Oh yeah, and me.


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