Some Comic-Con panels outside Hall H

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It’s true that Comic-Con is way more commercial than it used to be and it’s almost impossible to get passes. It doesn’t seem right for nerd culture to have been taken over by the popular kids, exclusive toys to be more coveted than comics, and models to be wearing cosplay. But if you manage to get in and look past all the distractions there are more amazing comic books than ever (Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics…), stuff you can’t find anywhere else (Super 7, Giant Robot…) and plenty of cool panels to check out (not necessarily in Hall H, where Entertainment Weekly hangs out) when you’re not on the floor looking for artists, writers, and friends gathered from around the world.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft Comics (Thursday, 12:00 – 1:00 in 5AB): Seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talk about his new Mycroft Holmes comics was a big deal to me. The NBA Hall of Famer, Lakers great, legendary Bruin, and friend of Bruce Lee had already transitioned into making a name for himself as a historian and culture columnist before writing his first fiction: an excellent mystery about Sherlock Holmes’s older and smarter brother. He explained that he was an English major at UCLA who always wanted to be a writer, but basketball got in the way. As for his choice of genre, he first read Arthur Conan Doyle at nearby Seaport Village when he was a rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks and his presenting the comic adaptation of his Sherlockian novel was coming full circle.

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Snoopy for President: Politics in Peanuts (Thursday, 3:00 – 4:00 in 32AB) – Politics can be divisive and depressing, but this fun discussion covered the social undertones in Charles M. Schulz’s famous comic strip, vintage licensing made to go with previous campaigns, and the Peanuts gang’s current involvement in the Rock The Vote effort to get Americans to register to vote. There was a lot of deep Schulz trivia thrown around, classic strips recalled, and  interesting licensed stuff as well as anecdotes dug up about the famed cartoonist from representatives of the Schulz Museum (one of my favorite pilgrimages) and Hallmark (longtime collaborators with their own vault of Schultz goodies).

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MAD about MAD (Thursday, 6:00 – 7:00 in 5AB) – The MAD magazine panel with the usual gang of idots (including Mad marginals illustrator/Con legend Sergio Aragones) was a crackup. Most jokes circulated about a certain Presidential candidate, and if the the enactment of the Trump vs. The Bible piece or free diploma from Trump University handed out after the panel weren’t enough, you can  check out the Mad Dumps on Trump ebook for free. Also, MAD TV is coming back.

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Hermes Press: Jim Davis and The Art of Garfield (Friday, 3:30 – 4:30 in 5AB) – Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, made his first ever appearance at Comic-Con. I have to admit that I am a recent convert to Garfield who grew up preferring Heathcliff. But the simplicity won me over, as did an appearance by the cat in Stephen Chow’s Love on Delivery and my eight-year-old daughter’s affection for the strip. Of course, Peanuts is the peak  of the art form and there’s a huge drop off after that. But I think Garfiled might be the next in line and Davis was a really nice guy when I had the new coffee-table book signed.

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Paul Gulacy: Spies, Vixens, and Masters of Kung Fu (Friday, 6:00 – 7:00 in 4) – Paul Gulacy is best known to Silver Age comics fans for his hyper detailed and pop-art stylized runs on Master of Kung Fu and Batman. As a Marvel collector in my youth, I am a big fan of MOKF, which combined the vibe of Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon and the aesthetic of James Bond flicks. I never thought I’d ever meet him, much less get to hear about what went into these issues and his partnership with writer Doug Moench. A legend of comics, who was super nice when I asked him to sign my book, too!

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MARCH with Congressman John Lewis (Saturday, 10:00 – 11:00 in 23ABC) – My wife and daughter we able to attend over the weekend, but we got in line too late to get into the MARCH panel with the Freedom Rider, Civil Rights icon, senator, gun sense advocate, and now comic book creator John Lewis. However, we placed ourselves in position so Eloise could join Lewis’s now-traditional children’s march (his third autobiographical book with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell just came out). The children followed Lewis in his iconic trenchcoat–not patterned after The Thing but what he wore in Selma–through the upstairs hall, down the escalator, and onto the floor where they got to be first in line to shake hands and perhaps even get an autograph. Now all three of our volumes are signed.

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World Premiere of DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year (Sunday, 10:00 – 12:00 in 6BCF) – The DC Super Hero Girls panel entailed a premiere of the straight-to-video/streaming feature and a Q&A with the writers, producer, and voice actors. Much of Comic-Con–and comics and media, in general–is a boys club and it was cool to take my daughter to see something like this that is made for girl comic book fans by women. The fandom runs deep, with traditional characters such as Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman in high school solving crimes but also facing stuff that might be faced by young viewers (loneliness, relying on brains instead of strength, being awkward, respectively). There are references to the larger DC Universe as well as plenty of male characters who don’t have to come to the girls’ rescue or be their love interests, which I like.

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Sailor Moon (Sunday, 1:00 – 2:00 in 6A) – More girl power, in the form of Sailor Scouts. This anime classic was a favorite of young riot grrls and indie rockers in the mid to early ’90s (way cooler than Spice Girls) and I like that Eloise is into them. The panel started off strong with free posters and a singalong to the theme song led by to women in cosplay and there were some cool videos previewing upcoming subtitled and dubbed releases from Viz. The trivia was way too deep for casual fans like us, though. Time to hit the floor one more time and get some comics!

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Don’t hate. Try to get passes to next year’s Comic-Con when they go on sale and and follow Imprint on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, too.

8 Question w/ 5YINA

We were introduced to 5YINA from Shirley Chau, a former colleague from our sister agency, interTrend Communications. The best referrals to founders are from people in our network, and thus it is no surprise that 5YINA is a wonderfully storied brand with thoughtful philosophies, beautiful packaging, and an impeccable product line. 5YINA offers modern skincare based upon holistic principles, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and grounded across five seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and All Seasons). I can attest that the line is quite unique in positioning and formulation, as I found the products very high quality. More than a skincare brand, 5YINA promotes holistic values and the lifestyle of achieving harmony of mind, body, and spirit.

The Co-founders Angela Chau and Ervina Wu were able to share some of the highlights of their experience thus far. Angela has a B.A. in integrative biology from UC Berkeley, with a Masters of Science from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She also completed a nutritional culinary program as well and has worked as a personal chef. Ervina is an herbalist and avid world traveler. Living in Hangzhou, she continues to study Traditional Chinese Medicine after receiving her Masters of Science in the subject as well.

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Describe how you came up with the 5YINA concept and why you focused on traditional Chinese medicine and holistic living as a differentiation point.

The concept of 5YINA happened spontaneously while developing our first product. It didn’t perform well when we used it in a different climate. Instead of reformulating, we created products for different seasons to encompass the major climate patterns, which at the same time, also solve common skin issues. Seasonal skincare is just as important as eating and dressing with the seasons. The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classics, an important 2000-year-old text on Chinese life sciences and medicine, documented the importance of living with the seasons.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is beyond science, as this ancient medical system is a mind-body-spirit medicine that remains more relevant today than ever. Having witnessed the profound effects of this medicine, we want to share this knowledge with more people.

Both of us are trained herbalists, and we believe that inner wellness and outer beauty are inherently intertwined. We also share strong entrepreneurial instincts, so starting a holistic skincare company seemed like a natural progression after we finished graduate school.

With more people embracing healthy holistic lifestyles and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) becoming mainstream, we believe that our products have a viable marketplace. When we couldn’t find any high-performing, cleanly formulated Chinese medicine based skincare, we knew that we had a good niche to fill.

What is your longer term vision for the 5YINA brand?
We have plans to develop a full spectrum of holistic hair/body/food products, all based on Chinese medicine, of course! We envision having our very own stand-alone boutique and wellness spa. Angela is also an accomplished chef who specializes in medicinal food therapy, an important modality in Chinese medicine. So we have visions of having our own farm and restaurant one day.

5YINA is more than skincare, it is about reconnecting with nature and learning to heal ourselves. We hope to make a positive impact with our business by cultivating relationships with suppliers and farmers with sustainable practices. We contribute to non-profit organizations that support education, culture, and women empowerment.

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Talk about the journey to date, including some of the exciting milestones that you are most proud of.
5YINA turned out to be a lot more work than we’ve imagined. Each product took years to develop. We are creating something that is complex, unique, and revolutionary; while making sure it’s high performing, safe and sustainable.

We are still at startup mode, and every step seems like a milestone for us! When we launched our first products in late 2015, after 4 years of R&D, it was a major achievement for our entire team.

Ervina also finished her doctoral thesis the same time 5YINA launched. This was an incredible feat in itself.

We also cannot be more proud of Angela when she received an award from PAAWBAC (Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition: http://www.paawbac.org/) this June, for being a visionary and a new young generation of Pacific Asian American woman leader.

Are there challenges, insights and learnings that you can share as an entrepreneur?
Having a small team has been both a blessing and a curse. While a small team allows us to work intimately at many levels, we are limited on how much we can accomplish. We are proficient at product development and design, but we experienced a big learning curve in other areas. There are days when we get overwhelmed and wish we had more manpower. We thought that we could do it all and we had to slow down and learn to ask for help. That has been a humbling experience.

Another learning is to be gentle to others and oneself. There is so much pressure to get things done, that sometimes we forget about taking time for ourselves. This is why we constantly remind ourselves to take deep slow breaths throughout the day and at least one full day off to rest.

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What does your typical day look like?
A: I wake up at different times depending on the season but I’m usually up by 7am. I start off my day with a warm glass of water before my morning meditation. I can’t live without breakfast. I usually eat rice porridge or a bowl of oatmeal before heading to the office. At the office, I check on all of our herbal infusions, giving each batch a good shake with positive intentions. I respond to emails, fulfill orders, take a break and stretch. Early afternoon I’m usually in our lab making a batch of our seasonal product or researching and blending a new creation. Late afternoon usually involves team meetings over a good cup of tea. I eat an early dinner around 5:30pm and take a walk after my meal. Sleep is very important to me so I’m usually in bed by 10pm.

E: When I’m not on the road, I’m usually up around 7am. I do some breathing exercises and meditation, have breakfast, and begin office meetings by 8am. The rest of the day I am reading, researching, writing, and creating content. My job tends to be more cerebral and sedentary, so I try to get 30 minutes of exercise every day. I also try to find time to have some good tea. Once a week, I see patients.

When I’m on the road, it’s less predictable, I may be in meetings with clients, collaborators, and suppliers one day or in a remote mountain sourcing for ingredients another day.

What are some of the trends in the skincare/wellness/beauty categories?

Clean beauty is one of the fastest growing trends in the beauty world and will continue to be so. It says a lot when mass market retailers like Target started carrying organic skincare products. There are more options in clean or green beauty products right now compared to 5 years ago. With green beauty being mainstream, there will be an inevitable diversification, from vegan, to artisanal, to locally sourced products and so on. We hope to be a leader in our niche.

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What is one of your favorite objects in your home?
A: My ceramic cup, Rouge. I made it a few years ago during an introspective time in my life. Every time I see Rouge, it reminds me of patience, perseverance, and kindness.

E: My tea ware collection (including one stunning item made by Angela), an old sweater hand-knitted by mom, an exquisite 9-piece ceramic wall painting in my tea room, and my precious stash of Chinese medical texts.

Where do you find inspiration?
A: I’m deeply fascinated by Chinese Mantic Arts, which is an important but lesser practiced branch of Chinese Medicine. There is so much information to uncover and discover, inspiration flows whenever I’m reading. I find inspiration when I sit back and just observe my environment; the sway of trees, chirping of birds, movement of bees, and vivid colors of flowers. Ideas also pop up whenever I use my hands. Whether it’s cooking, blending ingredients, creating magical elixirs or throwing pottery; inspiration is fueled by both stillness and action.

E: Traveling is one of best ways I find inspiration. I spend 6 months a year in China and being here inspires my work for 5YINA and my lifelong study of Chinese Medicine. Hangzhou, my homebase in China, is an important cultural hub, as there is an immense depth, history, and beauty here. I love reading, and I’m constantly inspired by poetry, from Song poems to Hafiz. It’s hard not to get inspired when you have an open heart and mind, as Henri Matisse once said: “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

Three small slivers of Pow! Wow! Long Beach 2016

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Since Wendy, Eloise, and I paid a visit to Pow! Wow! Long Beach last Wednesday, a lot has happened. Murals have been finished, closing parties have taken place, and artists have moved on. But dropping in even for just a little bit of time when the artists are at work has value. I think it’s cool for our daughter to see the artist at work and maybe even say hi. It makes the pieces seem less monumental and more human. We met Defer hard at work underneath an overpass by the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and he was a real humble, nice guy. He said had only been working on the wall for a day and it looked like it was halfway done!

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Then we headed over to the Westin where The Draculas were working on a row of emergency exit doors. I had met Jeff McMillan and Gary Musgrove at last year’s event and we hit it off pretty well. I thought they might be willing to answer some questions for Eloise, who happened to be taking an iMovie class at the Apple Store and was looking for a subject for her short. She asked them if they’d mind brief interviews while they were still setting up and they immediately said yes.

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How did The Draculas meet? What does their name mean? How do they work together? Is the third, canine member of the team there to protect the gear when the humans are focused on their work? Questions like these are answered in the short video, which also includes an anecdote about a guy who ran out the doors and triggered an alarm. Perhaps it will be posted someday.

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Questions asked and B-roll taken, we made promises to hang out before the next Pow! Wow! Long Beach takes place, brought them some iced coffees, and then let The Draculas continue painting unbothered. After all, they would be presenting the work-in-progress to Westin employees later that afternoon and we wanted them to have something good to share since the hotel was a sponsor of the annual mural painting event.

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We headed toward the Psychic Temple, headquarters of Pow! Wow! Long Beach partners Imprint and interTrend. Although Kami and Sasu (a.k.a. Hitotzuki) were up high on a lift, watching and taking a picture of them felt very personal and familiar for me. The married couple and art duo were a cover story for a magazine I used to help make. I never met the artists because they were interviewed in Japan, but it was nice to witness them in action. On top of that, I had spent a lot of time in and around the second-oldest commercial building in Downtown Long Beach when it was being renovated. It was nice to shoot it once more.

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There is a large crew that works hard months in advance to make the festival happen: Julia, Tanya, Calvin, John… I’m glad at least we saw Brandon out in the wild doing some documenting as well as coordinating. It’s important for Eloise to witness them in action, and know that it’s not just the painters making it happen but a team of friends who get permission, line up the gear, and do all the other stuff that makes the artwork possible. You don’t have to be an artist to make the world more artistic. And if you want to make art, there is not only a need for it but a demand.

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Check out powwowlongbeach.com, and follow Imprint on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, too.

8 Questions with: Ellie Lee

My life was changed after I met Ellie Lee. I moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn, I was freelancing and it was summertime; I had all the time in the world. I received a message from a friend of mine who suggested I adopt a dog that he was fostering. Was definitely NOT in the market for a dog and never even thought of owning a pet. But for some reason, something made me say “sure”. This decision sparked the first of many steps to meeting my first “child”, a rescue dog named Mitzy. At the time, Ellie was working with rescue groups in New Jersey and was rescuing dogs, fostering them and giving them new opportunities at life. You can follow her Instagram account dedicated to the rescues called @DawgFosters.

The native New Jerseyan is not just a dog lover with a kind heart, she is a TV personality for networks like MTV Korea, VH1 News, People Style, and Anime News Network. Many people recognize her from being the pop culture correspondent on VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live” hosted by Nick Lachey. In other words, she is besties with a pop star heartthrob. She is currently an entertainment journalist on “The Wendy Williams Show” where she talks celebrity gossip from time to time and is also one of the new faces for iHeartRadio. She also does these super hilarious “:60 Roundups” of all things Hollywood related; celeb beef, Game of Thrones episode recaps, Kanye rants, Taylor Swift relationship status. You name it, she’s covering it.

Ellie’s notorious for making celebs feel like they are back in high school; giggling in their rooms at a weekend slumber party, talking late night gossip and taking selfies. It’s pretty hilarious seeing Zac Efron and Seth Rogen play “Guess The Chest”. Yes folks, it’s exactly what it sounds like, they guess whose chest is in the picture. If the word “charisma” can be personified, her name would be Ellie Lee.

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Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in New Jersey with a conservative, Christian, Korean upbringing. I’m the oldest of 3 and grew up very timid and quiet and spent all my time in church. I’m 100% an East Coast girl, not only was I born and raised in NJ, but I went to school in New York, moved out to New York on my own at 24, and still work and live here now.

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What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a singer but I couldn’t sing then I wanted to be a teacher because I liked the idea of grading papers and putting stickers on them but I soon realized that my passion was to be on camera. I’ve known it since I was 13 that the only thing I ever wanted to do was to be a TV host.

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Best celebrity story, go!

I binge-watched every season of Game of Thrones and then covered the red carpet for their 4th season with VH1 and I nearly had a heart attack because I was internally fan-girling so hard. Everyone that I just became   obsessed with in the show was walking down the red carpet and I was speaking with them, it was nuts.

What is the one thing you wish you invented?

The first thing I thought of were silly bands-only because it was a quick trend and that guy made a lot of money off of it. I just want to make a lot of money so I can buy land/farm and fill it with rescue animals.

How did you get into rescuing dogs?

I’ve been doing this for 10+ years now! I really had a deep connection with one of my family dogs, Decy, and from there my love for dogs just kept growing and when I saw what was happening in shelters, with backyard breeders, with euthanasia, I know I had to do something.

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Thoughts on social media?

Gift & a curse. It’s a gift because it can be great for spreading awareness on issues, raising money for awesome charities/causes, and it’s been a heaven sent gift when it comes to rescuing animals, but it’s a curse because we all spend way too much time being glued to our phones/computers.

What is the next big project you have?

I’m currently the new on-camera talent for iHeart Radio so lots of fun stuff is happening!

Any hidden talents?

I can beat a lot of mediocre playing guys in ping pong.

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