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Independent Comic Con Artists

Earlier this month, I asked you guys for suggestions about what I should cover at Comic Con. An overwhelming number of you voted to see coverage of the independent artists at the event. I loved the suggestion and here is the result—a post highlighting some of the coolest artists seen at the convention.

These days the convention is no longer limited to just comic books and even the artists are scattered between comics, fine art, video game design, crafts and more. I tried to cover a little of all these areas to give you a chance to see the variety and the talent of the many artists displaying their works at the 2010 Comic Con. I hope you enjoy!

Kozik

Frank Kozik is one of the biggest artists at Comic Con. After gaining notoriety through his Labbit series with Kid Robot, he started his own booth at Comic Con, which features a number of awesome art toys, in both plush and vinyl.

Alex Pardee

Alex Pardee is another fairly big artist who has a booth at the convention every year. I actually met him at the 2005 convention (when he still had a tiny booth in the Artist's Alley) and talked to him about his work for a bit. My favorite of his projects are the Bunnywith comics, but you may know him better for his Team Conan shirt or his Chadam series.

Mitch O'Connell

If you've ever picked up a tattoo magazine, then you've probably seen the classic, flash-inspired artwork of Mitch O'Connell.

Peter Kuper

You may not recognize the name, but I'm sure most of you _flossers recognize the icon art of Peter Kuper, who is the most recent of the many Mad Magazine artists to have worked on the Spy Vs. Spy comics.

Crystal Chesney-Thompson

Here's another artist whose name may not ring a bell, but I'm sure you're familiar with a little show called Futurama and thus, have seen Mrs. Chesney-Thompson's work before. For years, she has been attending Comic Con selling books and plush toys for her own project, Haminal, but now that Futurama is back, she's also attending panels for the show.

As for Haminal, the basic idea is that this adorable little fellow is the result of genetic engineering a pig, a hamster and a guinea pig for the purposes of creating an animal that is tasty and built for the can. Over the years, he has gained some new friends, including the Deviled Haminal and the KiTuna Fish (seen in the photo before this one).

Battle Bears

Battle Bears is the first iPhone game slated to become a movie. Oliver (the brown bear) and his military unit crash land on a planet filled with huggables (the pink one), and find they must destroy all the adorable pink enemies in order to survive.

Battle Bears was created by a nine-man team that was headed up by Benjamin Vu (seen above) who previously worked on Coraline.

Alejandro Garza

Alejandro Garza is a comic book artist that has worked on titles such as the Teen Titans, Batgirl and Supergirl. At the convention, he seemed to be selling his own artwork, along with quick sketches.

Rosita Y Conchita

This booth had a great set-up, as it really looked like a little Dia De Los Muertos altar featuring the book Rosita y Conchita, a rhyming storybook in English and Spanish. The artwork in the book was adorable and the story was cute, too.

Devon Devereaux

Speaking of children's books, here one that's not actually for children: The Littlest Bitch by David Quinn and Michael Davis. It was illustrated by Devon Dereveaux, seen above, who uses a playful retro style in all of his works.

Laurie B

Laurie B's artwork depicts classic characters in a unique and distinct style that is completely irresistible.

Here's her take on Princess Leia:

Kirby Krackle

There are all kinds of artists at Comic Con, but Kirby Krackle is the first band I've ever seen to set up a booth. They fit in well because all of their songs are inspired by geek culture, particularly comic books.

Lark Pien

There isn't much to say about Lark Pien other than the fact that her paintings that generally feature a cute critter are simply adorable. Her clean style is visually stimulating and it was one of the booths I kept coming back to throughout the convention.

Mike Sosonowski

Mike Sosnowski is another artist that recognized the value of the convention years ago and has been coming back ever since. His pieces tend to focus on monsters and what they do with their free time.

Misty Benson

Do you like skulls with big deep eyes and creepy, yet cuddly animals? If so, Misty Benson's Morbidly Adorable Creations are sure to make you smile. She even makes mini prints of her paintings into necklaces so you can carry them around with you.

Geof Darrow

Geof Darrow is another comic artist who was there to sell his prints. His most famous work has been on the book Shaolin Cowboy, which is where the artwork above is from.

John Van Fleet

John Van Fleet has worked on a number of projects with major entertainment companies, but his pet projects are simply amazing, featuring dark mechanical imagery.

Paul Guinan

Paul Guinan and his cut out of Boiler Plate attracted quite a crowd throughout the convention. Boiler Plate is the star of a book by Guinan that was named as the third-best book by Amazon last year.

Denise Vasquez

Denise Vasquez was one of my favorite discoveries in the Artist's Alley area this year. She is quite the artist, experimenting with a variety of mediums, including music, drawings and toys. I wasn't the only one impressed with her talents. Apparently Stan Lee saw her toy version of him and told her he wanted to buy it after the convention.

Danielle Griffith

Danielle Griffith is a cartoonist and all-around artist. What was most impressive about her art, though, was the fact that she hand-sculpted and cast these toys all on her own, rather than hiring a company to do it for her.

She also had some really fascinating paintings that were some of the only watercolors I saw at the convention.

Will Quilt For Games

Crafts are a little less common at the convention, but they are still present, as you can see by this collection of pixelated gamer pillow cushions available from Will Quilt For Games on Etsy.

Jeff Pidgeon

Jeff Pidgeon and his adorable Happy Beaver have been a constant at the convention over the last few years. And with adorable vinyl toys, sketches, tees and more, they seem to do really well year after year.

Wardell Brown and Wattana Khommarath

While the sign behind these two reads Wild Monkey Works, the booth was actually a collaboration between these two gentlemen and another who wasn't present (the skateboards in the background are by the other person).

Wattana Khommarath (at right) is a 2D animation teacher at the Art Institute of San Diego, but at the convention, he was selling the cool prints above.

Wardell Brown has a cool cartoony style and for the convention, he printed these revisualized versions of a few classic video games.
* * * * *
Now there were literally hundreds of other artists at the convention, but obviously I couldn't cover them all. If you were there, did you have any favorites?

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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entertainment
Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked
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Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"
Netflix

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