Love of sci-fi, fantasy leads avid reader, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fan to live best geek life

When I first met Erin Gardner, I had no idea what deep and delicious layers of geekiness lurked beneath her deceptively placid demeanor.

Since then, Erin has become one of my very favorite geeks, a fellow bibliophile and lover of Ray Bradbury, and someone you can easily get lost in nerdy conversation with for hours about everything from “Beauty and the Beast,” to “Doctor Who,” to Harry Potter, to comic books, to conventions, to anime.

Nintendo and Disney were her gateway drugs into the world of fandoms and pop culture. A love of fairy tales and literature, particularly the genres of science fiction and fantasy, led her down the wonderful, winding paths of Narnia and Middle-earth, as well as the worlds of “Howl’s Moving Castle” and classics like “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

In this interview, she reminisces about the time she realized she had gone “full nerd” on a solo trip to the Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida. She also chats about her dream Disney wedding, her budding love of anime, her ample Funko Pop! collection, her “Battletoads” obsession, and her adorable dog Falkor.

As a bonus, Erin reveals the hidden treasure that is Phoenix Comic Fest and what the sweetest revenge is when you’re a girl gamer.

To those who don’t know you, you can seem kinda quiet, so I think people don’t always realize the ever deeper levels of geekiness that exist within you. Are people sometimes surprised when they figure this out about you?

I am a pretty shy person for the most part so, yes, most people are very surprised. My favorite surprise story is when I first started dating my husband and he had a picture of Deadpool as his phone’s background, and I saw it and said, “Oh, cool, Deadpool.” His jaw hit the floor. Since then it has been a wonderful geek-filled relationship.

Were you a geek child? How did you first become interested in nerd stuff?

I wouldn’t say that I was. I must have been about 7 when my grandma bought us our first Nintendo, and I loved playing it. That was definitely the gateway into me being a nerd. But I wasn’t quite as obsessed as I am now.

So, first off, I must ask you about your love of late science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury because that’s something we share. How were you introduced to Bradbury’s writing and why do you enjoy it?

It is such an off-the-wall story. I was a member of, a website where you post books you are willing to “swap” with other people. All I had to do was pay the shipping cost. Then I could request a book from someone else and they would send it to me. So I would go to the library book sales, where I could get a bag of old books for $1, then post them on the website.

One of the books I grabbed was “S is for Space,” a collection of his short stories. It sat on the shelf forever, and now I am glad that no one wanted it. Then one day, my mom said something about it being a Bradbury book, and that he was a pretty well-known author. So I picked it up and started reading.

I started with the introduction: “Jules Verne was my father, H.G. Wells was my wise uncle, Edgar Allen Poe was the bat winged cousin we kept high in the back attic room. Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers were my brothers and friends. Adding, of course, that in all probability Mary Shelley was my mother. With a family like that, how else could I have turned out as I did; a writer of fantasy and most curious tales of science fiction.” — Ray Bradbury

I was hooked after that. I never thought of myself as someone into weird and unsettling stories, but I just loved every word of every story. It was so different from my normal young adult fantasy stories I was currently reading. You have also been a big influence in my love for Bradbury, like showing me his favorite booth at Clifton’s, and lending me the Bradbury books I have yet to read.

Erin, center, and fellow book lovers Lavender Vroman and Christy Rooney, sitting in the Bradbury booth at Clifton’s in Los Angeles.

Do you have a favorite Bradbury book or short story?

This is such a hard question! I loved “The Halloween Tree.” “Fahrenheit 451” was great, too. I would have to say my favorite was still my first book of his, “S is for Space.” My favorite short story from “S is for Space” would be “Come into my Cellar,” a story about children growing mushrooms in the cellar, but these mushrooms aren’t just normal mushrooms …

Erin visiting the Halloween Tree dedicated to Ray Bradbury in Disneyland.

Do you have any thoughts on HBO’s upcoming adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451”?

I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to my favorite books being made into movies. I would love it to be the exact same as the book. Which is impossible, I know. After “Ella Enchanted” was made into such a terrible movie adaptation, I am a little hand shy about this one. I still plan to see it though. I’m sure you will be one of the first to hear from me when I do.

Judging by your email address, you’re also a fan of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia.” When and how did you discover the series?

My mom had her set from junior high on the shelf, right below “S is for Space,” funny enough. I was first drawn to them because of the fantastic illustrations on the book jackets. I started reading them in Junior high, as well, also on my mother’s suggestion.

What makes it special to you?

I love that it is a fantasy-style story of the Gospel of Jesus, a retelling of how Jesus died for me because of his great love. It will always be something quite special to me.

Which is your favorite book in the series?

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” has always been my favorite! “The Silver Chair” is a close second though. Who doesn’t love Puddleglum?

Who’s your favorite Narnian inhabitant?

There are so many good ones to choose from, Reepicheep, Eustace Scrubb (who you hate at first, but then you grow to love), and Mr. Tumnus, the first Narnian inhabitant I met. However, Aslan has always been my favorite. His presence is so comforting, not to mention he is the creator of Narnia.

You’re also a fan of Lewis’ BFF, J.R.R. Tolkien. Are you more into the books or more into the movies?

For “The Hobbit,” I am more into the book. Why the heck is Legolas even in the movie? For “Lord of the Rings,” I am into both.

I saw the movies first, but I will only watch the extended editions. I read the books after, and as always, the books are better. I am part of the group of salty people who wanted Tom Bombadil in the movie, because he is so awesome. I love both the movies and the books though. They are each good in their own way.

Who’s your favorite resident of Middle-Earth and why?

My favorite in both the book and the movie is the Mouth of Sauron, (cue my love for the creepy I didn’t know I had until Bradbury brought it out). He has been Suaron’ s mouthpiece for some 60 years, learning great sorcery, and his name is remembered in no tale. He has such a small part in the story, and he is so mysterious and very creepy. So, of course, he is my favorite.

Erin’s husband, Tim, proposed to her at Snow White’s Wishing Well in Disneyland.

You’re quite the Disney fan, as well. This might be a difficult question, but do you remember your first Disney experience?

Disney movies started coming out more frequently when I was born and I grew up watching them, so I think my love for Disney came gradually. I think the movies were where it started. My brothers and I watched them over and over again. “Beauty and the Beast” was my go-to movie. Disney was such a big part of my childhood (and everyone else’s) that it is nostalgic to me.

Even the parks, my first trip was when I was 2, and I walked the whole day. When I was a little older, I once got lost at the park and thought I would never see my family again, but I didn’t mind the idea of living in Disneyland if I had to. I have spent every birthday at Disneyland since I was 15. My husband asked me to marry him at the wishing well. So many of my memories are at Disneyland or have to do with Disney.

You are specifically very into “Beauty and the Beast.” How old were you when you first saw it? What impression did it make on you?

It came out the year before I was born, but I couldn’t tell when the first time was. When I was tiny I am sure.

I related to Belle the most, she is still the only brunette princess, too, I think. She loves to read like me. She also feels like an outsider, which everyone relates to in some aspect. There are places where we feel we don’t fit in. The biggest one though, is don’t judge a book by its cover. Someone might look scary on the outside, but be a great person, while others might look very attractive on the outside, but a real jerk on the inside. Ahem. Gaston …

Can you sing all the words to all the songs?

I can! For the original, the Broadway version, and the remake.

Are you a fan of the live-action remake?

I am a fan of it! They incorporated aspects from the original story written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, like when she asked her father to bring her back a rose (which made my bookworm self very happy). The song the Beast sings at the end is so good, and I am a fan of her new dress. I got to see it at the El Capitan Theatre (in Hollywood).

I understand you have quite a collection of “Beauty and the Beast” merchandise. Tell me about some of the prized items you’ve amassed. 

I do have a lot of things. Many are gifts from family and friends. My favorite things would be my Jim Shore figures, a life-size set of Lumiere and Cogsworth, a hand-painted sign that my brother and sister-in-law got Tim and I for our wedding. My most favorite, however, was an outfit I had growing up. It was a purple shirt with belle on it. I wore it when it was almost dress length to when it was a pretty short shirt length. I would still wear it if I could. I still have it too.

Erin in her favorite childhood “Beauty and the Beast” shirt.

You and your husband, Tim, had an adorable Disney-themed wedding. Please tell me all about it.

It was the best day ever, obviously. I got to wear a Disney Alfred Angelo ballgown dress covered in sparkles. Surprisingly enough, I wore a dress styled after Cinderella. The Belle-style dresses just looked weird on me. All my bridesmaids were dressed like other princesses and their bouquets were made specially to match their princess.

Each table at our reception was decorated after a Disney ride. The Jungle Cruise table even had a pop gun to scare away renegade hippos. Our candy table had a Monorail driving around the edge, our cake had the rose from “Beauty and the Beast” on top, with Iron Man hiding among the rose petals falling down the side of the cake.

A bridesmaid carries a “Brave”-themed bouquet.

The men all had action figures for their boutonnieres, and a matching shirt with their superhero’s logo under their suits. Our ring bearer was Thor and the pillow with the rings was shaped like Thor’s hammer.

We had so many people help out to make the day so amazing and I am still so thankful to all of them.

Why did you choose that as the theme for your big day?

I always wanted to get married at Disneyland. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, and I once planned our perfect Disney wedding on their website, and then cried when we saw the price for the most basic wedding package. So the next best thing was having a wedding themed after one of Tim’s and my favorite places.

Caitlin Hawkins, left, and Erin at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood.

Harry Potter is another of your major fandoms. How did you discover J.K. Rowling’s series?

There was the crazy girl I met in junior high, who was a bigger reader then I was, and she was so in love with Harry Potter that she would wait hours outside the theater on opening night to see the newest Harry Potter movie coming out. I went with her to see one of the movies, I can’t even remember which one it was, but after that I was hooked, I went home and started reading all the books. That crazy girl, Caitlin, is now my sister-in-law and my very best friend. We still geek out over Harry Potter all the time. I love sharing that with her.

What’s your Hogwarts house?

I am a proud Slytherin! I got sorted in high school on a field trip to Warner Bros. Studios. I got to sit on the same stool from the movie, then they put the hat on my head, the hat started yelling at me because he said I thought he was ugly, then put me in Slytherin. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I recently took Tim to Warner Bros. so he could be sorted. He was put into Ravenclaw.

You actually once went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando by yourself, just ‘cause you had the opportunity. That’s so awesome! How did that happen? Tell me all about that visit.

My best friend Kristy lives out in Florida. She moved there when we were very little and it broke my heart. She is also quite the nerd. It was her wedding that weekend, and since I was out there already I stayed an extra day to see Universal, since I had never been there before. Kristy’s uncle works there so he got me a free ticket.

That was when I knew I went full nerd, by myself on the other side of the continent, going to the Wizarding World. It was such a good day, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I sent Snapchat videos to everyone back at home. Being by myself though, I got to go in all the single rider lines, so I rode most of the rides there.

Is the Orlando theme park way better than the Hollywood Wizarding World?

It is SO much better. They have it spread between two parks, so there is a ton more there. Not just Hogsmead, they have the Hogwarts Express you can ride to London, Lavender Brown comes and writes love notes to Ron while you are on the way there. Diagon Alley is so amazing! My favorite part though was when I found a pitch black alleyway. It was Knockturn Alley! I was terrified to go in, and once I went in the smell was horrible! It was so fantastic! I highly suggest going.

You’re a major bookworm in general. Do you have a preference for science fiction and fantasy? If so, why do you think that is?

I do prefer science fiction and fantasy. I think it is because in this genre you can push the limits, it is so different from reality, and that makes a wonderful escape from the real world.

What are some of your favorite book titles?

“Howls Moving Castle” By Diana Wynne Jones. “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. “The Great Good Thing” by Roderick Townley. All the Gail Carson Levine books. I could list so many more, but these are few of my favorites.

Do you have a bajillion books in your house?

I do. Haha. I just counted, I have 245 books throughout my house.

You work for a travel agent. This may be a stretch, but does this job ever intersect at all with your geek lifestyle?

It does in one way. My boss has the most amazing collection of Disney figurines. They are so beautiful. I couldn’t tell who made them though.

A couple of your other fandoms are “Doctor Who” and Star Trek. Who’s your Doctor and why?

Nine. I love Ten and Eleven, too, but Nine is my doctor. He was the one that got it started again, and he was more serious than the others and also had a dryer humor, which is my favorite humor. My favorite way to put it is like this: Nine is a tiger, serious and strong, always in charge of things. Ten is like Tigger, cute and silly, bouncing around but still getting things done. Eleven is a house cat that knocks over a vase and pretends he planned to do that all along.

Which incarnation of Star Trek is your favorite?

The Original Series, but Picard is my favorite captain. The new movies are a close second though. Anton Yelchin was my favorite in the movies, so I am so sad about his unexpected death.

You’ve recently gotten into the “Flash” TV series. What do you like about it?

The Flash is my favorite superhero out of both the Marvel and DC universes. The show just sucked me right in! I love all the characters, the writing is good too. Tim and I have tried to get into the other CW shows but they just aren’t as good. I still want Barry Allen and Felicity Smoak to be together. Even though I know that will never happen. I have even started reading The Flash comic books.

Erin and Tim at one of Erin’s favorite attractions, Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout at Disney’s California Adventure.

In other comic book related news, it seems you’re pretty obsessed with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” right now. What’s that about?

I seriously don’t know, I just love everything about it! The soundtrack is amazing and all I have been listening to recently. Baby Groot is just so cute! The chemistry between Peter Quill and Drax is so funny to me. It also has my new favorite actress, Elizabeth Debicki, who is covered in gold. This is a spoiler, but I love the redemption story arc of Yondu. I hated him in the first movie, and in this one he becomes pretty awesome.

I was also super unhappy that they changed Tower of Terror to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride, but now I can’t get enough of it! It one of my favorite rides!

You’re currently wading into the wonderful waters of anime. What shows have you been watching?

I have only watched two so far, “Death Note” and “Full Metal Alchemist.”

What’s intriguing you so far about this genre of animation?

The story of these shows are so elaborate! It keeps me interested, and it is fun to see how their culture and how they tell stories are so different from how things are done here. The different mythology is really cool to me. Like learning about Shinigamis and how they work. It’s really cool.

You have an impressive collection of Funko Pops. How many do you own?

I have 161, as of right now, but that is always changing.

What are some of your favorites?

I have a Rose Tyler Pop! signed by Billie Piper, a 2015 San Diego Comic-Con Unmasked Barry Allen limited edition, worth about $170. I am pretty picky when it comes to the ones I get, so all of them are my favorite.

Where do you keep them all?

I have an Ikea cabinet that I have most of mine in, but I am in desperate need of another, they have already out grown it. The cabinet is in the room we call the Nerd Cave, where we keep most of our nerd memorabilia.

Do you collect anything else?

Just books and Pop! figures, I don’t really have space to collect anything else.

You’re also an avid video gamer. How did you get into gaming?

It started with our first Nintendo, and I just kept playing games. It helps that all my brothers were into gaming, and as the only girl in the family, spending time with my brothers meant playing video games, so I always thought it was normal for girls to play video games. I learned later that I was more of an anomaly.

What’s your experience as a girl gamer been like?

It has been good for most part. I think gaming does come more naturally to guys, so I have always had to work hard at keeping up with them. Playing online is where things are different. If I have a mic in and am talking to the other people playing, most of them think I am a 12-year-old boy, and when they do find out I am a girl some of them can get pretty vulgar. Then I beat them, and that is pretty satisfying.

I made some pretty good friends too, though, and that was fun. Now though, I play mostly with my husband, my brother Sam and his wife Caitlin, and my brother-in-law Brian. It has been fun to see more girls get into gaming now though. It has been such a guy-dominated hobby, but not anymore.

I understand you own an old-school Nintendo console just for your favorite video game of all-time, “Battletoads.” What is it about that game?

This game has been named the hardest game of all time. I have only ever made it past level three once, you literally have to memorize the entire game to beat it. My brothers and I spent hours playing it, it is a nice piece of nostalgia for me. I also love the idea of toads being totally B.A. It is such a different kind of game to play.

You’re also a big fan of the Lego games. What do you like about those?

They are just so fun! They have a mice mix of action, puzzle solving, and humor. The Harry Potter ones are my favorite, I have played them through a couple of times.

How good are you at “Call of Duty”?

Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good. I used to stay up till three in the morning playing it, so I have had a lot of practice.

How many hours have you spent playing “Overwatch”?

61 hours so far. We actually haven’t played much lately.

How crazy are you about “Portal”?

So crazy! The first time I played it, I put it in the console, and then emerged three days later, having beaten the game. I couldn’t stop playing it. I heard they were talking of making a movie, which would be fun to see I think. I have played it through several times since then.

You’ve discovered the joys of the Phoenix Comic-Con (now called Phoenix Comic Fest). What’s the advantage of immersing yourself in one of the smaller fan conventions?

We went in 2016. It isn’t affiliated with (San Diego) Comic-Con. So all the guests they have there aren’t contracted to be there. They come because they want to, which makes the atmosphere more comfortable I think. It wasn’t as crowded as some of bigger cons. It is in Phoenix, but the heat isn’t a problem because it is in the downtown convention center, which is huge! So everything is inside.

Tim and Erin with Billie Piper at Phoenix Comic-Con.

What were some of the highlights of your con experience?

Meeting so many “Doctor Who” actors! Billie Piper, Alex Kingston, Dan Starkey. We also got to meet Timothy Odmunson and Oded Fher, who thought he knew Tim from somewhere. Alex Kingston was my favorite to meet though, she is seriously the nicest person.

The selection of Pops there was also astounding! I found so many exclusives I was looking for, and they were cheaper then Amazon!

The best part though was when we stumbled upon an Aquaman panel. The one guy on the panel casually dropped that he was a writer for the show “Scream,” which Caitlin and I were currently obsessed with. I about died! So I found his booth the next day and got to talk to him about the show and what theories we had! It was one of the best parts of the whole weekend!

Erin with “Scream” TV series writer Heath Corson at Phoenix Comic-Con.

Are you planning to go back?

I would go back every year if I could. I really hope we can make it this year. The cast from “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be there, also Paige O’Hara! Plus William Shatner and Tim Curry. I would love to cosplay this time too.

What’s left on your geek bucket list?

To go to Disneyland in Paris! Maybe to go to San Diego Comic Con once. To start getting into cosplay.


To close, I must mention your adorable doggy, Falkor, just so we can include a photo of him. Tell me a little bit about this lovable real-life luck dragon. 

He is crazy sometimes, but since we got our cat, Tonks, he has become the mature one. They are the best of friends. He is such a smart dog too! When he is outside and wants to come in, he knocks on the door. We didn’t teach him that, he just started doing it on his own! We just love him to pieces. I didn’t know his ears would stand up, otherwise we might have named him Ghost.



Artist’s paintings, pins fueled by imagination, inspired by Disney, Ghibli, and more

“Daydream and paint” is the slogan of artist Megan Chaney’s Etsy shop, ChaneyAtelier.

Fueled by her imagination and a desire to let others experience this fantastical inner world, she creates magical paintings and whimsical pins, often inspired by the fandoms she loves, including Disney, Game of Thrones, Studio Ghibli, and Star Wars.

At the age of 12, the gift of a beautiful wooden easel from her parents started her down the road to the artistic life. A Disney fan since the days of “The Little Mermaid,” she discovered she could make her own Magic Kingdom-themed accessories for much cheaper than theme park prices.

When she’s not studying art at the University of California, Bakersfield, or teaching kindergarten, Megan is fangirling over Marvel, video games, artists who stream on Twitch, Chris Pratt, and tall, dark, handsome Jedi-gone-bad Kylo Ren. 

Meanwhile, she’s dreaming of the day when she can dedicate herself solely to art. “We live such boring, mundane lives and we forget what makes life fun and enchanting,” she says. 

Megan’s creations are definitely helping to combat that problem. 

You’re an artist who sells your pins, paintings, and other creations on your Etsy shop, ChaneyAtelier. Have you always had artistic inclinations?

I’ve always been interested in art, though, my skills were definitely learned over time.

How and when did you get serious about art?

When I was 12, my parents got me a beautiful wooden easel with a large paint set for Christmas. It was my most prized possession and I was so proud to own such nice tools that I painted vigorously ever since. I still use that easel today!

A pin inspired by Disney’s famous Dole Whip.

A lot of your Etsy products are fandom-related (Disney, Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, etc.). Tell me your geek origin story. Were you into geeky things as a child?

As a kid, I was obsessed with Disney. I had Disney princesses on my walls and would watch “The Little Mermaid” on repeat. My younger brothers were interested in the more boyish shows like Pokemon so I’d watch along. We all moved on to watch animes and just loved them.

Who and what do you consider to be an influence on you artistically?

I am a fan of so many artists! I really aspire to paint like Thomas Kinkade. My favorite YouTube artists are Danica Sills and Kelogsloops. They both create gorgeous, fantastical characters.

When did you begin painting? How would you describe your style?

I began painting in kindergarten. My style is a mix of Disney, anime, fashion, and surreal landscapes.

Many of your paintings are nature-based with a particular focus on water. Why are you drawn to these subjects?

I’ve grown up at the beach and in the water. My life revolved around nature as a kid and I still love just being surrounded by it.

Disney-themed pins by Megan Chaney.

 When and how did you begin making pins?

I only began making pins in February 2017. I was fortunate enough to get Disneyland passes and found that pins there are very pricy. So, instead of spending big money on pins, I began making some for myself and thought others would love to have them as well.

Tell me a little bit about what goes into the process of making a pin. What techniques and equipment do you use?

My pins are made of shrink plastic. First, I design the image for the pin in Photoshop. Then, the image is printed onto the shrink plastic. I cut each pin out and then shrink them in the oven. After they’re shrunk, I spray the pins with an acrylic enamel and let them dry overnight. They’re topped with epoxy top to give it a glossy dome and the pin is glued on the back, then they’re ready to ship!

When did you realize that an Etsy shop was a viable option for you?

I sold a few watercolor paintings locally and realized that if I expanded my audience, I could show my art to more people and sell more.

How did you arrive upon the name of your shop? Why did you incorporate the idea of a workshop or studio into that title?

I am not creative with names, so I simply decided to keep it related to me my using my last name and instead of using studio, I chose “atelier.” My studio is essentially my shop, so my Esty and studio are directly intertwined.

Your shop slogan is “daydream and paint”? What would you say is the “daydream” aspect of your work?

I spend a lot of my time imagining a fantastical world that I’d much rather be a part of. I paint my daydreams to allow others to experience it as well.

Where do you tend to get your ideas for your products?

I’m very inspired by nature and elements of fantasy. I also enjoy a lot of different cartoons and shows.

What are some of your favorite creations so far in your Etsy shop?

This watercolor galaxy was very fun to make and sold to a wonderful person. I also love several of my pins, like the Oswald and Hatbox Ghost, which are very popular with my customers.

You’re open to custom orders and requests. Have you done any interesting customizations or collaborations so far?

I have! I’ve recently created a Disney Name Tag pin for the Haunted Mansion. The customer was wonderful to work with and very pleased with her product.

Your Disney pins are your best-selling items. Why do you think this is?

As a passholder, I know that pins are very popular at Disneyland but they can be very pricey. Everyone wants these cute pins, but they can buy them from my shop for 1/3 of the price.

There seems to be a real trend with Disney fans toward expressing themselves through fashion, custom ears, custom accessories, etc. Why do you think Disney inspires this in fans?

It’s fun to express to everyone else what you think is fun and interesting. Having the option to wear something custom and one of a kind just allows your fashion and accessories express exactly who you are.

Megan at Disneyland.

You describe yourself as a huge Disney fan. When did that obsession begin for you?

Since I was a toddler I’ve loved Disney. I used to ask my mom to play “The Little Mermaid” on repeat when I was a kid.

Do you visit the theme parks often?

I do, I’ve only ever been to Disneyland in California, however. I also go to Universal Studios regularly and love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“Tangled” and “The Little Mermaid” are among your favorite Disney movies. What other Disney movies, franchises, attractions, etc., do you love?

I also love Star Wars, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Thor.” I love Pixar, Marvel, and Warner Bros. for Harry Potter. My favorite Disney attractions are Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indiana Jones.

 What’s still on your Disney bucket list?

I want to visit every Disney theme park and go on a vacation at the Aulani Resort in Hawaii. I would love to meet Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt as well.

Studio Ghibli-inspired pins by Megan Chaney.

Another of your artistic inspirations is Studio Ghibli and the films of Hayao Miyazaki. What is special to you about these movies?

Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki create very whimsical and fantastical movies. The art of their films inspires me.

“Spirited Away” is one of your favorite Ghibli films and, when it comes to other anime, you’re a fan of “Death Note.” What appeals to you about these?

“Spirited Away” has a fascinating story and characters and the relationships between the characters are so sweet. “Death Note” is very suspenseful and makes you think. I love shows that have deep plot twists and keep you on the edge of your seat.

You’re also very into Star Wars with a particular liking for Kylo Ren. Why Kylo?

It’s one of those tall, dark, and handsome things. I guess I just like the story of a tormented soul.

What did you think of his evolution in “The Last Jedi”?

I think he grew from being whiny to knowing what he wanted and how to get there. He kind of transformed from looking for sympathy to saying f— it all.

Tell me your personal Star Wars saga. How did you first discover George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away?

When I was a kid, my grandpa used to play Star Wars movies on repeat. I was really too young to appreciate them, though. It wasn’t until my best friend in high school became obsessed with cosplaying that I began to enjoy the movies too.

Reylo. Yes or no?

No, I’d say don’t force what shouldn’t be. Rey should never be bad and Kylo should never be good.

 Porgs. Yes or  no?

Yes! They’re so cute!

 Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. Yes or no?

Yes, he fits the character perfectly.

Marvel is another one of your passions and you’ve got a thing for Star-Lord in particular. Should Chris Pratt just go ahead and star in every movie already?

Yes! He is the hero we’ve all been looking for!

What are some of your favorite Marvel movies?

My favorite Marvel movies are “Thor: Ragnorok,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Spiderman: Homecoming,” and “Dr. Strange.”

What are your thoughts on “Avengers: Infinity War”?

I think it will be amazing to have so many awesome characters all in the same movie.

Speaking of war, you are also a “Game of Thrones” fan. How did you get into the series?

I ran out of other things to watch and decided to catch up on the series. I binge-watched it until I was caught up.

Have you read George R.R. Martin’s books?

Nope. I can’t say I have the time to.

 Who should sit on the Iron Throne?


One of your hobbies is video games, with an emphasis on “Assassin’s Creed,” “Kingdom Hearts,” and “Animal Crossing.” How did you get hooked on these games?

I love great stories so RPGs like these games are great to me. All of them have wonderful, ethereal stories that just keep me hooked.

What’s your experience as a girl gamer been like?

I feel that being a girl hasn’t changed my experience as I have always had good guy friends and girl gamers to play along with.

You’re a supporter of YouTubers and Twitch Streamers. For those of us who are unfamiliar with Twitch, what’s that about? What do you like about these forms of media for artists and gamers?

Twitch is a platform for gamers, talk shows, and creative artists to livestream their content to others. I like being able to watch other artists and gamers and I enjoy sharing my own work as well. Twitch is convenient, too, because you can directly talk to the streamer and make friends.

You’re studying to be an art teacher at California State University, Bakersfield. What inspired you to pursue this career?

I love art and love children. I feel that being an art teacher, I can continue my passion, spread my knowledge, and still have a stable income. I enjoy the summers off, too!

You’re currently a co-teacher of a kindergarten classroom. Do you find that your students influence or inspire your art in any way?

No, unfortunately school systems are pretty strict about getting stuff done, however I get to influence my students with a bit of directed drawing time.

Are they aware of your artistic pursuits? If so, what do they think?

They are, though, they’re only 5. Their opinion doesn’t go much farther than, “That’s cool.”

Do you have a studio or space where you do your art? Can you describe it for me?

My space is very small and very busy. I just have an L shaped desk in my bedroom. The desk is used for all my computer activity, school work, gaming, and art so there are containers of paintbrushes and markers on one side of my monitor, textbooks on the other, and my easel in the far corner. I don’t mind the small space but I would love to have some dedicated table room for my art.

Your ultimate dream is to paint and “never have to do anything else.” What would your ideal artistic life look like?

The life of an artist consists of long hours of searching through inspiring photos, watching tutorial videos, and talking to other artists. I would love to spend my days paintings and being inspired. I’d love, also, to have the time to attend art shows and host my work in galleries. Hopefully as I settle into my career I’ll have more time to dedicate to my passion.

Do you have any future plans for ChaneyAtelier or for selling your work?

Paint more, sell more. My paintings are successful when I sell them, but I don’t have many paintings to sell. If and when I can, I’d like to have more of my paintings up for sale. It would be nice to design and sell my own clothes as well.

What are some of your other artistic goals or dreams?

I’d love to get into mural painting. I’m still learning and don’t feel I’m ready for such a large-scale painting, but hopefully someday I can be.

You’ve said the work featured in your shop is meant to “enlighten others to see beauty, adventure, and fantasy in our normal world.” Why is that important to you?

We live such boring, mundane lives and we forget what makes life fun and enchanting. If we would all see the world through different eyes, we could find its beauty and live happier.

The geek fashion industry has a size problem: An open letter to Ashley Eckstein

Dear Ashley Eckstein,

To begin, I’d like to thank you for giving women a voice to express their love of fandoms through fashion. I remember all too well the days when we had to make due with ill-fitting Star Wars T-shirts from the men’s section, or the thrift store, or our boyfriends’ closets.

Because of Her Universe and the geek fashion empire you’ve created, women have so many more options for self-expression and have been inspired to boldly and unashamedly celebrate their love of Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel, Studio Ghibli, and many other fandoms and franchises.

Your pioneering work in the geek fashion industry and your partnerships with Disney and Hot Topic place you in a unique position to create positive change, which is why I’m writing to you about a specific, industry-wide problem that geek fashion designers, manufacturers, and retailers need to address.

I’m talking about the fashion industry’s size problem, which makes shopping for clothes a source of frustration and discouragement for any woman who doesn’t happen to have the body of a teenager. (I’d say that’s most of us.)

Inconsistent sizing, lack of availability of plus-size products, higher prices for plus-size clothing, flimsy and unflattering fabrics and materials, and other related issues often combine to make shopping for geek clothes a fangirl’s worst nightmare.

Clearly, addressing and resolving these issues isn’t just Her Universe’s responsibility. I’m writing to you, Ms. Eckstein, because Her Universe markets itself as an inclusive fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand that caters to a diverse spectrum of women.

Your brand prides itself on catering to women and girls of all shapes, sizes, and styles, from plus-size shoppers to kids. The company’s motto is “Fashion for Every Fangirl.” Too often, though, it seems the brand’s actual target demographic is an extremely narrow one, namely young women and juniors with a very specific body type.

My friends who wear plus-size clothing have been talking to me about their concerns for years. This Christmas, however, I had my first personal experience with the geek fashion size problem when my husband gifted me with Her Universe’s adorable, vintage-style Star Wars Endor Landscape Dress.

Since the picture of the model wearing the dress on the Her Universe website screamed “teen heroin chic” more than “40-year-old lady in a cosplay dress,” I probably should have been prepared for the fact that I couldn’t even get the zipper to close halfway on my medium-sized frock.

Now, I comfortably take a medium in every item of clothing I purchase, from T-shirts, to blouses, to dresses, so I was surprised, even shocked, and saddened that I wouldn’t be able to wear the dress to WonderCon as planned.

Around the same time, I was shopping on the Her Universe website for a gift for a family member. I found several plus-size dresses I knew she would adore, including designs from Doctor Who and Star Wars. Every time I clicked on a dress, however, I found that her specific size was out of stock. This happened over and over again, until I eventually gave up and went to another retailer’s site to find what I needed.

Now, it’s entirely possible the Endor Landscape Dress was designed for a younger, slimmer gal than me and I just didn’t realize it. And it seems geek fashion retailers have an ongoing problem with maintaining their plus-size stock, for whatever reason, be it demand or lack of supply.

But if the issue is that companies like Her Universe don’t in reality cater to a demographic of average-size women and plus-size fangirls, then the company needs to be transparent about that.

I polled my friends about their experiences shopping for geek fashion items and they all seemed to have disheartening stories that suggest this particular niche market is just as focused on youth and twiggy, anorexic beauty as the rest of the fashion industry.

By far, the biggest complaint I heard was about inconsistent sizing and labeling.

“I shouldn’t be a 3XL in a dress when I’m a large in a shirt from the same company,” said one of my friends.

Her solution? Switching from companies like Her Universe and We Love Fine to smaller outlets, like Elhoffer Design, that she feels care about her and her body.

Another friend who wears plus-size clothing recounted three failed attempts to purchase items from Her Universe, which culminated in a frustrating and overlong return process. She now has resolved to buy only shoes from the company.

Those I spoke to also described a constant struggle with thin, clingy fabrics and form-fitting cuts that are unflattering to their body types.

“See-through is not what I’m going for,” one of my friends said. “Also, I don’t want form-fitting. My fix for this is wearing men’s T-shirts instead. But it would be nice to have better options.”

Another major pain point for plus-size shoppers is the unavailability of desired clothing items, which always seem to be sold out or out of stock when they go to click and buy them.

“I think most times that I think to myself, maybe I’ll buy that, it’s sold out already,” a fellow geek shopper said.

Then there’s the fact that plus-size dresses and other clothing items tend to cost more than smaller-size items, which is just patently unfair and discriminatory. A quick glance at the Her Universe website reveals the cost of a plus-size dress can run about $10 to $15 more than the equivalent outfit in a smaller size.

The friends I polled mentioned lots of other things they’d like to see change in the geek fashion world, as well, including more dress-length options for taller fangirls and less gender-stereotyping when it comes to designs, like the over-feminized, flowery fashions that tend to be marketed to women and the edgier, artsier fashions targeted at men, for example. Why not make a wider variety of designs available to both genders and let fans decide for themselves what they want to wear?

I realize the problems I’m presenting to you won’t necessarily be easy to solve. Fangirls come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, and have lots of strong opinions. However, the fact that a large percentage of the female geek population isn’t being represented by companies that claim to represent them is a serious concern.

Ms. Eckstein, you’re at the forefront of the geek fashion world. If anyone can raise awareness and begin to address these issues, it’s you.

Thanks for your attention and consideration.


Lavender Vroman



The mind behind Miss Havisham’s turns poisonous wit to tea-things

With a wicked twist on the prim and dainty tea-things we’re accustomed to seeing in dusty china cabinets or adorning lace-covered tables in costume dramas, Miss Havisham’s Curiosities bedecks beautiful antiques in refreshingly poisonous wit.

These aren’t your granny’s teacups, yet they were inspired by Melissa Johnson’s restless antique dealer/entrepreneur of a grandmother, whose influence is felt and seen in every exquisitely ironic piece offered by Miss Havisham’s.

Johnson, the lively mind behind Miss Havisham’s famous Vintage Insult Teacups, had a childhood like something out of a gothic novel, growing up in the home of her great-grandparents, which she describes as “filled with dark wood, chandeliers, and worn-out deco furniture,” not to mention secret passages used by bootleggers during Prohibition.

A veteran animation producer and writer, Johnson upholds the passion for “decaying elegance” shared by all the women in her family. It’s an obsession that manifests itself in a love of antiques, horror movies, Halloween, taxidermy, old books, and abandoned places.

This quick-witted businesswoman’s life is so jam-packed with the weird and fascinating, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

Should we talk about her epic, Halloween-themed wedding to puppeteer Tim Lagasse? Her teacups’ appearances on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”? That time she faked a possession at Catholic school? Or her job in a literal Russian troll factory?

Thankfully, Johnson isn’t shy about sharing the particulars of her adventurous existence as the “goth Martha Stewart.” Read on for all the morbid details. 

Your business, Miss Havisham’s Curiosities, is famous for selling “vintage insult teacups” with phrases on them like, “Kindly f—- off,” “No one likes you,” and “I hope you choke.” I understand you took your inspiration for your wonderfully ironic wares from your grandmother, who was an antiques dealer. Tell me about her. 

She wasn’t the happiest lady, she had a bad temper and a mouth like a sailor. One of her many ventures was as an antique dealer. Her specialty was china and glassware. The house was full of mismatched pieces, essentially nothing matched.

She used to write offensive things on broken or chipped pieces, often in nail polish. Never underestimate the usefulness of nail polish. I once glued beads in my hair with it.

She moved from project to project constantly. She also embroidered funny sayings into intricate quilts. At one point she wanted to be a cake decorator so she and I took an ill-fated cake decorating class. My sister had to take a class with her on being a clown. Neither were particularly suited to that line of work.

Her art projects were her way of expressing her dissatisfaction with the world.

Your grandmother was an “entrepreneur at a time when women weren’t.” What did you learn from her?

You couldn’t label her with one career. She’d once owned a hair salon, she’d worked for the local government, she was an antique dealer, she sold real estate. One day she was taking French classes and the next day she was embroidering ducks on pillow cases. There really wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it. She was just looking for something to keep herself occupied.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs along the way myself and I share her short attention span. At one point she had a terrible fire and lost most of her antiques in it. The first thing we did was look at one another and ask, “Is grandma an arsonist now too?” She was definitely a character.

You spent a lot of time with her at auctions and estate sales. Was that also an influence for you in starting Miss Havisham’s? 

She never paid the ticket price. She always bargained. She loved the hunt as much as I do. I remember at one point I had a school play and needed a costume. She went into her closet and pulled out a Victorian mourning gown and a stole dyed bright blue. She just had these amazing pieces that would come and go as she bought and sold them. I’ve always wanted to own an antique store so, yes, I think that was her influence, though all the women in my family love a good estate sale. It’s part collecting, part voyeurism.

How and when did you decide to start the business?

I’ve always collected antiques and china. All the ladies in our family do. Vintage jewelry too, we’re magpies. When I lived in New York I started considering opening an antique store with a focus on china. Then I remembered my grandmother’s pieces and began considering what I could do with all the antique pieces I owned.

I did a lot of research, years of it. I looked at all the ways you could use china in art and how others were doing it. I’m not the first person to add an image to a plate or put an insult on a cup but I knew I wanted mine to be different. I wanted to be able to drink and eat off of my plates and cups and I also wanted them to have a slightly more refined one to the insults.

That name though! How did you arrive at it?

Miss Havisham is a terrific character. I think there’s a little Miss Havisham in all the ladies in my family in one way or another. Decaying elegance, obsessive collecting and preserving of the past, even her machinations and eventual repentance spoke to me. I’d seen all of that. I grew up surrounded by beautiful but often very broken things and women who wore their pasts like Miss Havisham wore her wedding dress. That character rang true for me.

Where do you find inspiration for the hilariously poisonous phrases you emblazon on your teacups?

Miss Havisham. The Dowager Countess. My own rabid indignation tempered by Midwestern politeness.

You said your grandmother’s art projects were a means of expressing her frustration with the world. What are you expressing through your projects? 

Most women are taught to be nice, to be polite, to smile and not make waves. You don’t have to look much farther than the women’s marches to see that most of us were crushed by Trump’s election. I wanted to turn the notion of feminine politeness on its head. I also needed a creative outlet. As a producer, most of my work the last few years has been about crisis management, personality management, and logistics. It started to take a toll on me.

Where do you find the teacups and china that become the canvas for your creations?

All over. I’m always on the hunt.

Your website says “each cup is insulted by hand.” Tell me about the process that goes into designing one of these cups.

They’re made with good old fashioned witchery by a very small team.

What sort of reactions do your teacups tend to inspire?

Mostly laughter. Some people find them a bit cruel. I always say that you have to know your audience. While most of the people in my life wouldn’t be offended by them, some would and therefore I know who and who not to give them to. I hope they’re being used to put dreadful people in their place or to make someone smile.

For me, it’s all about intention. When they appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” I did get a few Trump supporters who said among other things, “Miss Havisham is a liberal asshole,” to which I reply yes, sir, I imagine she would be.

How would you describe your customer demographic? Do you tend to cater to a lot of anglophiles and tea fanciers? I know your work is popular with the Drunk Austen community.

It’s a fairly broad spectrum, actually. Everyone from tea drinking grand dames to young goth girls. Anglophiles to sassy gay men. Parents seem to love the “We hate your baby” one which I find surprising and delightful. I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of highbrow and low. In graduate school I wrote about burlesque and vaudeville while studying for a PhD. Highbrow and low brow!

So it pleases me to see so many different people buying them. Internationally, the UK seems to be a fan. That’s a nation of witty people so I’m flattered. I’ll be in London this summer so am looking forward to insulting that whole country.

You sell your wares at some very unique popups, events, and conventions. Can you tell me about some of those?

Yep, I’m a fan of horror conventions like Monsterpalooza or Midsummer Scream in L.A. The Edwardian Ball in San Francisco is another favorite. I decided to try to vend at the horror conventions because I’m a huge horror fan and noticed that there really weren’t any products that spoke to me as a lady of a certain age and certain tastes. I don’t need another plastic skull necklace. I’m not 15.

While I do appreciate a darker aesthetic, I also like pretty and delicate things. The Edwardian Ball is another wonderful fit because it’s one part Edward Gory and one part circus which pretty much sums up my house.

Your cups have been featured on the #Tea4Tuesday segment of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” How did that come about?

The producer of that segment, Cory Schaub, is an encyclopedia of tea knowledge. He even has a portable tea setup he travels with so he can serve tea anywhere, anytime. He loved them and bought them for Stephen. Turns out Stephen liked them too, which was a dream come true. Stephen Colbert is all the things I love: liberal, fair, nice, smart, gutsy. I also have a thing for funny brunettes in glasses (like my husband).

A Fortune Telling Teacup from Miss Havisham’s Curiosities.

Miss Havisham’s Curiosities also features a wide variety of vintage antiques and oddities, including tea towels, art, paper products, jewelry, Fortune Telling Teacups, and dinner plates. How do you decide what objects you want to showcase?

They have to be items I’d personally own. They have to be made by independent artists and have the right mix of creepy and pretty. I have some new products I’m about to debut that have a literary theme. I also throw literary teas with author Shawna Kenney so I’m hoping to open those up to the public soon. Right now, they’re invitation only while we finesse the programs.

As a child, you spent time living in your great-grandparents’ home, which you describe as a “huge, drafty, old house filled with dark wood, chandeliers, and worn-out deco furniture.” The house contained tunnels and trapdoors from your family’s time as bootleggers during Prohibition. That sounds amazing! Tell me about your experience living there and what influence it had on you.

Aesthetically, it imprinted itself on me. If you look at everything I love, it can all be traced back to that house. I still love old houses, dark wood, creepy Catholic imagery, which was all over that house, Art Deco furniture, old bottles, anything that’s old and spooky. That house terrified and thrilled me at the same time. I was scared of the attic and basement which held all the family artifacts.

Again, the decaying elegance comes in because the house was really falling apart at times. It actually doesn’t even exist anymore. In fact, the street is no longer on the map. Youngstown has a policy of leveling abandoned houses and letting the forest take over rather than paying to maintain streets no one lives on. It’s a shrinking city being swallowed by nature.

You’ve also said your childhood was “odd,” that you spent most of your time with adults, and your friends were largely books and pets. Tell me more about that. 

The short version is that my family is full of odd characters and old antiques. It was a truly unique experience growing up as one of the few Lebanese families in a failing industrial town. Youngstown, Ohio, is famous, or I should say infamous, for being a rough place to live with high crime rates, high unemployment, and a legendary corrupt government. Think of it as Detroit’s younger knocked-up sister in jail. Pair that with an eccentric Lebanese family with lots of family feuds and secrets and you’ll get a good picture.

As a child, you watched horror movies “way too young and those also imprinted” on you. What are some of the films you remember watching and how have they influenced you as an adult?

Well, I really loved “Amityville Horror” because when I was a kid I was convinced the house I grew up in was haunted. I also loved all the Dario Argento films. I wanted to be a ‘70s era witch and live in grand European houses. Who wouldn’t? I liked the movie “Who Slew Auntie Roo” when I was a kid. Shelly Winters menacing orphans while she kept her daughter’s corpse in an elaborate casket in her room? Yes, please. Anything related to demon possession and the Catholic church. I went to Catholic school and hated it. I wanted to be possessed. I faked a possession once in fifth grade.

Do you still enjoy horror movies? What are some of your favorites?

I liked “The Witch.” I definitely still watch horror movies. The witchier the better. Give me a good coven or an exorcism. A haunted house is a happy house.

You graduated from Oberlin College and spent 20 years as an animation producer and writer. How did you get into the animation field? What were some of your favorite projects? 

Animation was the perfect mix of my interests. I got to develop the concepts, work with the writers, cast and sometimes direct voiceover talent, work with designers and animators. All my favorite things. After 20 years, I needed a break though.

What was your experience like as a woman working in that field?

I was spoiled in that my first job in the industry was working with brilliant women developing and producing 13 animated series for women by women. In the two years I worked on that project, I got to work with some of the most talented animation people in the business. It was really animation boot camp. I went from knowing nothing to producing a series by the end of it.

Another project I loved was working with Nathan Love Studios producing an animated horror short. My time at Curious Pictures also gave me the chance to do a lot of stop-motion and to work with a stable of really talented directors, both men and women. I worked on the Dante’s Inferno video game animated segments and that was a blast. I still love animation.

It’s important to note that there are amazing women in animation and we’re kicking ass. My advice would be to find the other women, work with the other women whenever you can and as a recruiter, seek out the talented young women. They’re going to change the face of animation and design. They already are, I promise you.

You worked with puppeteer, writer, and comedian Robert Smigel on projects that appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report.” Tell me more about that. 

I also produced the animated series “Tek Jansen” for “The Colbert Report” and that was my first time meeting Stephen Colbert. It was a short-lived project but I just remember loving every minute of it. I remember how gracious and kind Stephen was throughout. I had a crush. You can imagine my excitement at having my teacups appear on his show more than 10 years later. He’s good people that Stephen.

Melissa and her husband, puppeteer Tim Lagasse, were married in an elaborate, Halloween-themed ceremony that was covered by the New York TImes.

You’e also married to a successful puppeteer, Tim Lagasse, who worked on “Sesame Street” and Disney’s “Crash & Bernstein.” What’s it like to be married to a puppeteer who is also apparently a magician and total nerd?

Oh man. There’s never a dull moment with that one. When I married Tim I knew I was signing up for a lifelong fun pass. You never know what you’re going to get or where any day is going to lead with him. Oh, we’re flying to Haiti to work with orphans? Sure. Oh, you’re building the Skeksis for “The Dark Crystal”? Ok. Oh, you want to make a secret door behind a bookcase in our hallway? Go for it. What are you doing? Building a miniature set with alien pandas that explode? Of course you are.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that the love of my life was going to be a children’s television star who did magic I’d have punched you in the face but it’s true. I spent years dating mopey or angry people thinking that unhappiness was somehow tied into intelligence.  It doesn’t have to be, my young goth girls. Sometimes happiness is a choice.

He doesn’t require me to be relentlessly upbeat and I don’t need him to be broody and dark. His weird fits my weird and that’s really the key to any happy relationship. That and cats, all the cats.

I read about your Halloween-themed wedding in the New York Times. Please, please describe that special day for me in detail. Why did you choose that theme?

A lot of our friends are costumers and puppet builders, magicians and burlesque performers. It seemed a crime to not have a wedding that would showcase those talents. We got married on Oct. 30th, mischief night. It was an adult only, costume mandatory affair. We essentially threw a giant Halloween party where we paused for a half-hour and got married in the middle of it.

We had a Balkan marching band, a burlesque performer in a giant balloon, acrobats, a magician and, yes, even puppets performed. We’re show folk so we made the decorations and did all the setup and producing. The woman who makes Miss Piggy’s costumes made my wedding dress. Tim had a Gomez Adams velvet suit. We had hundreds of carved pumpkins set up in the middle of Prospect Park in Brooklyn at night.

It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to. We had a blast planning it and all I could think was that the wedding planning was a perfect microcosm of what our marriage was going to be and I was right. I haven’t stopped laughing since I met that man.

You and Tim moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles about five years ago. I understand it was quite a culture shock for you. 

Yeeeeeah, turns out I hate driving and constant sunshine. Ooops. I do love my garden and having a house to tinker with though and I have met some really amazing women here in L.A. through my teacups. There’s a terrific horror and effects makeup community here and I’ve been lucky enough to weasel my way in. I’m meeting other writers now too. And there are a lot of puppeteers here so we have our people, but NYC will always be my home.

Tell me about the home you share, which is apparently filled with weirdness. 

It’s full of taxidermy and cats. I dragged all my antiques across the country so everything had to fit somewhere. Our house is a hodgepodge of decades and styles. If I like something, that’s enough for me. It doesn’t have to match everything else.

One room looks like an Art Deco bordello and the next one is filled with collectible toys and bright colors. The hallway is all black and white horror prints. Tim’s office is all magic books and puppets.

The house itself was built in 1948 and has an early Mid-mod look to it. Someday I’ll own a creepy Victorian or at the very least a Craftsman. I troll listings online all the time. Someday.

You’ve had many interesting jobs over the course of your life, some of which I need to hear more about. 

You wrote obituaries! What was that like?

When I was in graduate school, I worked in the Public Affairs office and had to write obituaries for some of our faculty so we’d have them on hand for when we actually needed them. It’s morbid, I know. The New York Times, for example, has obituaries standing by for notable public figures just in case. I should write my own. That would be a fun exercise.

Tell me about your time as a sex researcher in Canada. 

Well, it was for the Canadian TV show called “The Sunday Night Sex Show” and then later “Talk Sex with Sue Johanson,” which were both call-in shows where people could anonymously ask their sex questions to Sue Johanson. Sue is a nurse and sex specialist and Canadian national treasure. Think Canadian Dr. Ruth with more pizzazz.

I was the fact checker when Oxygen Media in New York picked up the show. Hilariously, I had just gone through a truly hideous breakup and I was sitting there watching hundreds of hours of footage talking about relationships and sex, fact checking my broken heart out. I thought I was never going to have sex or fall in love again. How wrong I was.

What was it like being a tour guide in Budapest?

I was studying abroad in Budapest and got hired by Julia Szabo, an art historian at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. I gave English language tours to visiting politicians and fancy Europeans and would write the English descriptions of the art and correct the grammar of some truly dreadful academic translations. I got to attend all the schmancy parties and meet the Hungarian elite. The building itself is beautiful so if you’re ever in Budapest, go.

Dare I ask about the time you spent in a factory that made troll dolls?

That is the only job I’ve ever been fired from. I glued hair into the hollow skulls of those horrible troll dolls, then I dipped their little feet into a boiling vat of glue and stuck them on top of jars of candy. Everyone else who worked there was a recent Russian immigrant except for me and my two friends. The three of us were all in high school. Now when I hear the phrase Russian Troll Factory in relationship to the last presidential election, I can’t help but laugh. I really did work in a Russian troll factory.

How do you feel about troll dolls?

They’re PTSD inducing.

Your interests include old books, abandoned places, and history, so let’s talk about those things. 

What are some of your favorite old books?

When I was a kid, my mom would buy boxes of old books at auction and give them to me. I just read all the time. I was that pale, delicate kid who rarely left the house.

The books she brought me were about everything from botany to poetry and they all had that old book smell. My mom didn’t discriminate, if it was a book and it was old she bought it for me. A lot of them were too advanced for me.

I worked in the local library in high school and then at the college library while attending Oberlin. I went to graduate school in NYC and the libraries in NY are heavenly. I’m a sucker for a pretty and well stocked library.

What are some of your favorite abandoned places?

Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. It was an amusement park that closed down in the ‘80s. I love an old, abandoned house, too. When I was a kid, I would sneak into them and look around. I love old cemeteries. There was one you could reach from a wooded path at the end of my street growing up. I’d go there and read or, you know, be emo.

What type of history most interests you?

19th century primarily. Give me a good period drama. I think one of the reasons I’m so homesick for NYC is the architecture. “Devil in the White City” is one of my favorite books.

You also have an obsession with taxidermy. I’m almost afraid to ask, but how do you express that obsession?

Well, I only buy antique taxidermy. For some reason that makes me feel better about it. I go to every natural history museum I can find. My favorites are in Paris.

I have zero interest in actually making taxidermy and even less interest in having my cats mounted when they die. Trophy hunting disgusts me. I know that’s a bundle of contradictions but my relationship to taxidermy is a weird one.

You’re working on a memoir that you describe as ” ‘Running With Scissors’ but with Arabs in the rust belt.” Tell me more about that. 

I’ve been chipping away at it for several years. Memoir is tricky in that it really forces you to face your past, to dissect it and look at it from every angle. I want it to be a celebration of my weird childhood because, even though it was far from idyllic, it made me who I am.

When I was 11 and showed a knack for writing, my mother said to me, “Promise you’ll never write a book about our family.” So there you have it, there’s the conflict. We’ll see if I actually ever publish.

Because Youngstown, Ohio, has a policy of tearing down parts of the city and letting nature take over, most of the places I remember are gone, they’ve been replaced with trees. That sounds romantic but honestly it feels like my past is being erased. My elementary school, my high school, my grandparents’ house, several of my houses and even the hospital I was born in are just gone, so my book is also a love letter to those places.

What advice can you give those of us who want to, like you, embrace their inner goth Martha Stewart?

Ha! Well you should only buy the things that you really love. Even though my house is full of stuff, crammed to the ceiling really, I actually value experiences like foreign travel over possessions. I prefer to buy old things that have a story but the stories I’ve collected traveling are far more valuable. If there was a flood headed my way, I’d grab my cats and my photos and Tim, of course.


Actor who loves Batman, Tolkien immerses herself in stories, on and off screen

As a kid, Abigail Culwell was hooked on Batman, specifically the cheesy, yet addictive Adam West TV series, and grew up surrounded by creative types at her family’s Santa Monica art store.

By age 10, she felt a pull toward telling stories and creating rich characters who felt real. After acting in a play, Abigail followed the director’s advice, found a manager, and booked her first gig, a Savage Garden music video, which blossomed into a career packed with indie and horror films, awards for acting and directing, and an appearance on “Law & Order: LA.”

The mother of two little future superheroes, Abigail doesn’t just play a badass, she is one in real life, at least when it comes to fandoms, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (don’t get her started on Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations), Star Wars, Monty Python, anime, and “Doctor Who.”

Below, she reveals what her experiences have taught her about the #metoo and #timesup movements and what needs to change in Hollywood, how her views on representation have evolved, and how “The Last Jedi” impressed her with its female-forward perspective. (Also, she really needs more time to play video games.)

Oh, and one more thing: DC, if you’re looking for someone to star in that inevitable Catwoman reboot, she’s right here.

You’re a professional actor. What sparked your interest in that line of work?

Making people feel. I love watching stories that pull me into the world which they are a part of, with characters that experience life in different ways or go on adventures. I want to be used to make others feel the way those stories make me feel. I find I really enjoy creating a person, a “real” person with feelings and desires behind them that serve a purpose in the story (be it a large or small part, they all help support the story.) This started when I was around 10 years old, even though I’d had the pull toward acting through imaginative play before that.

Abigail Culwell in the horror-comedy short “Morning Latte.”

When did you know it was something you really wanted to pursue?

When I was 15 years old, a director of a play I was in told me I should be doing this professionally. So, I got a manager and booked my first gig a few months later (the Lead Girl in Savage Garden’s music video “Crash and Burn”). I LOVED the experience and was hooked.

Did you receive any professional training or mentorship, or are you self-taught?

A little of both. I’ve had some formal training with a few acting teachers along the way, but I’ve never felt the need to subscribe to a particular technique. For the most part, it’s been pretty intuitive for me and I like letting the script and relationship with the director and other actors form my performance.

Abigail, dressed as Batgirl, at her family’s art store in Santa Monica.

Throughout your acting career, you also worked at your family’s art store in Santa Monica/Venice. Did being surrounded by artists influence you in any way?

It has in some ways. I found that I love serving people. I actually love retail in that manner. Having someone, be it a prestigious artist or a complete novice, come to me with a problem and then work out a creative solution that gets their vision across has definitely helped me communicate with directors and that then helps me be a more truthful person in the parts I play.

Abigail Culwell stars as a woman with superpowers in the short film “Affliction.”

What is your favorite role that you’ve played so far?

Hard one. There’s a few I really enjoyed, but I did love the role I played in a short film called “Affliction.” I played a mentally unbalanced girl that acquires superpowers and struggles between her need for the powers and the unintended harm they cause. It was a lot to pack into a short, but I really like how it turned out.

Please explain this role to me:

Hahaha. I’m Six. A henchman for a bad guy in a short film. I think I had like one line but it was sooo much fun to dress up like this and I ended up with some awesome pics.

Someone I know described you as a “badass.” You certainly look like one in the photo above. What are your bad-ass credentials, acting-wise or in life in general?

Honestly, I think that’s always a better question to be answered by someone other than yourself. But I guess a few things that make me feel badass are that I survived two swift labors with no meds that produced two amazing kiddos (Can’t take much credit for them though. That was God’s work!), that I’ve been able to travel to Japan, Sweden, Belgium and Italy, the fun fact that I used to nurse my baby while on an exercise ball playing video games, that I turned down a couple guys to give my first (off-screen) kiss to the man I ended up marrying.

I’ve also caught and chased after multiple shoplifters (one through a mall, yelling at him till he dropped the bag) and once stood up to a very large man that was giving a gas station worker a hard time … I don’t think some of those were the wisest choice in retrospect.

Before I had my kids I didn’t mind putting myself in the middle of a conflict if I felt I could make a difference. In life I tend to run toward danger. But now I need to remember there’re crazy, unpredictable people out there and I have people depending on me to come home. I guess I have to cool the jets a bit and find another way to deal with my instincts and injustice when it crosses my path.

Abigail Culwell in “Affliction.”

You won an award for acting for “Affliction,” in which you played a girl with superpowers. That’s basically every geek’s dream. Tell me about that.

This was a fun part. “Affliction” is about a mentally unbalanced girl that acquires superpowers so it’s got emotional torment, an intriguing red costume, and I got to kill instead of be killed (a few of my past death scenarios include a samurai sword through the neck and a vampire pity killing), so it was a bit of a dream to play out! But I totally didn’t see it that way when I read the script.

The producer had seen me in a feature length film called “Fugue” (another story about a tormented girl). She really liked my performance, and called me in to the audition. It was such an odd story and I really wasn’t feeling it. But then I met the director and, after he offered me the part, we had a meeting where we talked through some of the more abstract details. I accepted the part and ended up winning an award for my performance!

Another fun thing was they shot on 16 mm film stock, so we couldn’t do take after take like when shooting digital. I was having such a fun time on set that the director told me later it made him nervous. But he began to trust me as the shoot went on and realized I didn’t need to be dark and moody to play dark and moody. We ended up having a lot of fun with a pretty messed up story.

You once appeared on “Law & Order: LA.” People are crazy about those shows! What insights can you give us into the ubiquitous world of “Law & Order”?

They have GREAT FOOD on set. I never really watched the L&Os, so I can’t speak into the story much, but on set they are a well-oiled machine. The crew could set up and tear down with amazing swiftness. And, it was an honor to meet Alfred Molina. He was quite the gentleman and kept offering me a seat in the shade.

You also directed a short film that won an award at the Santa Monica International Film Festival. Are you interested in directing more?

Yes, I am. But I would like to learn more about editing and story structure before I do. It takes a lot to try and see it all as a cohesive piece. I found there’s great power in editing a performance. I was lucky enough to have a friend that’s an American Film Institute grad edit my short and work on it alongside him.

There’s a saying in the industry that goes something like: Every movie is made three times. In the Script, on Set, and in Editing. So far, I’ve found this to be pretty accurate.

Abigail and her husband, Grant.

Your husband, Grant Culwell, is a camera operator. What’s it like to be married to someone who’s also in the industry?

For the most part, it’s great! We sort of get that side of each other and can engage with each other about the work. I have had to grow a lot as a person in both trust and patience though the years. You have long days when you work in this industry, so he can be gone 12 to 16 hours a day for five days straight when he’s on a job. It’s definitely not for everyone. There’s little predictability or stability. But when you have a partner that’s committed to you in this life and you have realistic expectations on each other, you can work through it all.

I know this interview is about you, but Grant worked on “A Wrinkle in Time”!!!! Do you have any insider info you can give us?

Haha. Nope. Sorry. A few of his steadicam shots made it into the trailer but that’s kinda all I got. I’m excited to see it though!

Abigail Culwell in the horror thriller “Fugue.”

With the #metoo and #timesup movements raging, it bears asking: What has your experience as a woman in Hollywood been like?

There’s a ton of sexism, of course. Some things I didn’t quite view as wrong, even though they made me feel weird in the moment. You can let a lot slide. It can be hard to use your voice and be able to articulate why you don’t want to do something or have something done to/around you.

One time, I was meeting with potential agents and I informed them I would not do nudity, but I was still willing to audition for parts that “require” it. If the production wanted me for the part there would need to be discussions and revisions. The male agent ended up arguing with me to the point that the female agent in the room had to step in and move the conversation along. I had just met the guy, but he had a type of ownership over my body and what I would be comfortable doing with it. There’s so much I now wish I had said, but I didn’t want to ruffle feathers, even though I was being belittled and bullied over how I use my own body.

This type of ownership over a person by some happens not just in the entertainment industry. People using people for their own desires, goals or gain. This corrodes the heart and removes empathy. Everyone is only in this world for YOU and life becomes only about you. This is not what I believe we were made for.

Is there anything you’d like to see change in that regard?

Of course. I wish that people would stop treating other people like objects! To quote my husband, of whom I am exceedingly proud, “no film is worth a person”. He’s packed up his gear and walked off set when he’s seen abuse from a higher up and challenged it. People are fearful of standing up to bigwigs as they need the work and are afraid of getting blackballed out of the next job. But if you just sit and do nothing, you are just helping the abuse. Be a voice when others can’t find theirs.

I’m also curious how all this will help change the lens through which we tell stories. As females start having stronger and more confident voices what changes will happen to the type of stories we see on our screens, and comedians we hear, and books we read? And on what we, as the audience, will want to see and how we see it. Not that it’s related to the movement alone, but I saw a lot of interesting shifts in the way “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was told. But that’s for another time.

Let’s talk about your many, many fandoms, starting with The Lord of the Rings. How did you discover J.R.R. Tolkien’s series?

My mom. We would watch the 1977 “The Hobbit” cartoon growing up and then one day she said, “There’s more to the story,” and around that time we heard they were going to be making movies of them. So I jumped in and just kept going! It’s a marvelous world Tolkien created and he had such a poetic way of telling it that I really ate it up.

You said not to get you started on why you’re not a fan of Peter Jackson’s films. Consider this me getting you started … .

I say, tell the tale that Tolkien told, not the tale you like to tell. Peter Jackson took the material and, I feel, poorly executed key intentions of Tolkien and just was sloppy in the storytelling of most of the characters. I understand you need to adapt stories for the screen, but I feel overall he let Tolkien and his fans down.

He had said in an interview once, before “Return of the King” came out, that the second movie would be the furthest from the books, and I held on to that! And then seeing the third film just crushed me. It was trash compared to the book and it felt like he just let his head grow too big and started pandering to Orlando Bloom fans more than the fans of the books. If you enjoy the films, that’s fine. I just don’t have the time.

One of the main sub-stories that I thought was an unfortunate deletion from the films was the Scouring of the Shire. It’s at the end of “ROTK” and, in brief and without spoilers in case anyone wants to read the books, it shows how evil touches down in even the most wholesome and secure areas of our lives. Even happy little hobbits have to find within themselves a willingness to put off the old ways and rise against oppression. Also, Merry and Pippin get to shine a bit more.

Now, the “Hobbit” films. Tolkien served in World War I and thought of the first line of “The Hobbit” while in the trenches. Even though it is considered a young readers book, it carries a weight to it that touches down with all ages. A comfortable, country hole dweller gets thrown into a mission against an oppressive evil. There really isn’t anything he needs out of it, just a pull to save something that’s beautiful. Many lost their lives in World War I. Many countries had to wake up and fight an evil, including America.

So, I ask you, is there truly any heart, wonder or a sense of perseverance in any of the “Hobbit” movies? Did it truly capture the type of bonding and respect that comes from going through painful hardship and close camaraderie? It could have. But it didn’t. Where was the “Dark” in Riddles in the Dark (the scene with Gollum)? It all was so unnecessarily dull. Which is such a pity as Martin Freeman had all the makings of a great Bilbo (even if a bit too skinny for a Hobbit.)

What does it say about your film when a cartoon from the ’70s is more moving and relatable? Like I said …  don’t get me started.

You’re deep into Tolkien, including “The Silmarillion” and works published after the author’s death. Why do you enjoy immersing yourself so deeply in that world?

It came into my life at a very beautiful age. I was about 15. Just stepping into acting. Feeling mature and a touch romantic and found this deep storytelling style refreshing. I remember coming off of reading LOTR and “Silmarillion” and then starting in on Harry Potter and hardly making it through the second book because it felt dull, silly and unimaginative.

I was a total snob, that’s for sure! My little brother kept telling me to keep reading and I’m really happy I did! I’m not as attached to J.K. Rowling’s world, but it was still fun. And if you like the type of fantasy worlds they create, I really recommend Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance Cycle” (“Eragon”). It’s really quite wonderful.

A young Abigail dressed as Batgirl.

Batman is also one of your obsessions. You started watching the Adam West series when you were 5. What about that cheesy but addictive series appealed to you?

I’m a fan of the punny, hokey, camp and silly! It makes me smile. It’s also what started my love of Catwoman.

A young Abigail and her Bat-themed birthday party.

I heard you were pretty upset at West’s recent passing.

I don’t know if I’d say upset, just saddened. It’s always a hard thing to know that your childhood heroes are gone but the truth is, no one lives forever. I guess I always hoped I’d meet him again or work with him, so it can be sad when that person is gone. I feel honored that I was able to meet him while he visited my family’s art store when I was 14 years old. I remember being a bit starstruck and noting how tall he was and he had the largest hands I’ve ever shook!

How do you feel about Batfleck?

No comment.

Another of your interests is anime. How did you discover this art form? What are some of your favorite series, movies, or manga?

Adult Swim on Cartoon Network! That introduced me to shows like Tenchi Muyo!, Cowboy Bebop, DBZ and Outlaw Star. The only manga I’ve delved into is Battle Angel: Alita! I’m excited about the movie and kinda happy it’s been years since I’ve read it so I can hopefully enjoy it a bit more than it being fresh in my mind. Hayao Miyazaki is great as well.

Are you interested in Japanese culture in general? I understand that you speak and read some Japanese and have visited the country. Tell me about that.

Alongside anime, I saw a movie called “Shall We Dance?” (1996) and together they started my hunger to know more about the culture and language of Japan. I tried teaching myself, but it wasn’t until I took a summer course at Santa Monica College that I really started learning it. Being dyslexic, in some ways I actually found it easier to pick up than English. It’s memorizing characters and the sounds don’t change on you constantly. I didn’t learn to read English with phonics or sounding out words, but by memorizing how words look instead. I don’t practice much anymore, but I do use some phrases with my kids.

And as for my trip to Japan, it was fabulous! I was 22 years old and stayed in Kawasaki with a family that had sent their son to the U.S. a few years earlier and had stayed with my family for a bit. When I was there I got to go to a baseball game, eat sushi for the first time, sing karaoke for the first time, visit a beach, rode the world’s smallest escalator and I was extremely fortunate to be there the week the cherry blossoms started to bloom. SO FABULOUS!

And then, one fine morning I looked out my window and saw Fuji San (Mount Fuji)! It was a dream trip of only nine days, but I hope to take my family there one day and get more time.

I was told I should ask you about your beloved “Cowboy Bebop” shirt.

Haha. Yep. They are super hard to find in a female cut, so I hardly ever wear it. One of my treasured tees!

When it comes to video gaming, you’re a Legend of Zelda girl. What do you enjoy about that?

I love adventure games. Games with some puzzles or mystery to them. I just wish I had time to play! The Switch by Nintendo has been great post-kids but still, I need more time! Uncharted and the newer Tomb Raider games have expanded my gaming now. But I did have to stop playing Last Of Us while I was pregnant as it was too stressful for me and after I ran into a glitch, I thought it best I stop. That’s gonna make an awesome film! I now have a long list of games I want to play and it’s just been getting longer. I so am in need of a Mom Cave!

And just because my husband recently became obsessed with it, I must ask, what is the deal with “King’s Quest”?

They are old school PC adventure games that first came out in 1983. Each one was innovative and pushed the boundaries of gaming at the time of its release. I love them because they are full of classic fairytale storylines and puzzle solving, and puns. They are fun, and even though a bit silly now, can still be challenging.

You’re the first professing Monty Python fan I’ve interviewed. What’s your favorite sketch and why?

There’s sooooo many good ones but I always love Hell’s Grannies from Season One, Episode 8. “Make Tea, Not Love!”

Who introduced you to the Pythons?

My cousins. But when I first saw “Holy Grail,” it really wasn’t love at first watch. It took catching a few “Flying Circus” episodes and then we (my siblings and I) were all over it! British humor is addictive. Also, if you want to check out a young and funny Hugh Laurie, check out “Black Adder”! It’s ruddy brilliant! Our family cat is even named after one of the characters, Baldrick.

And, of course, you’re very into Star Wars. Tell me your personal Star Wars saga.

Bahhhhh?  Not sure what you mean by my “saga,” but I have had some interesting thoughts pop up around “The Last Jedi.” I really enjoyed it even though it was obviously flawed in story and character development. I found myself crying at random points as I let myself feel excited that my daughter will grow up in a time where there will be strong female characters that aren’t just a prop to a main male character.

I grew up pretending to be a female version of Peter Pan or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and its looking like she won’t have to as much. I used to think it didn’t matter having diverse representation on screen. That we are all supposed to use our imaginations anyway, so go ahead and use it. I feel very differently now. I hope we see more films like “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther” (haven’t seen it yet, but I’m excited to) and others with new characters that won’t feel labeled by their race or gender but are just people with good stories to tell.

What did you think of the recent trailers for the “Solo” movie?

Cheesy, and I’m gonna love it!

What are some of your other fandoms?

“Firefly,” “Doctor Who,” “The Goonies,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Mel Brooks films, “The Princess

Bride,” Frost and Pegg films and many others that I enjoy but I guess don’t consider “fandoms.” Oh! And spy/detective stories. My first on-screen crush was Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.

Abigail Culwell in “Fugue.”

Do you feel like being an actor gives you any unique insights into the world of fandoms?

If anything, it can sometimes hinder my enjoyment of them. I look at the technical side a bit too much sometimes — the acting, lighting, makeup, effects — and I start picking it apart. But I think that’s one reason why I love the shows I do. They invite you into a heightened reality that, while based in the human experience and emotion, can be so different, you have to let go and enter into that world.

You’ve taken a break from acting to be a mother. Does your family share your geeky interests? If so, what are some of your shared fandoms and activities?

My husband and I actually connect on a bunch of fandoms and geeky things. He’s the one who really introduced me to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “X-Files” and some great fantasy book series. He also has a great working knowledge on the Marvel and DC comics, so I just fact check with him after we see one of the films. It’s been wonderful to be with someone who I can talk about everything from

Biblical theology to “Doctor Who” theory. And you may be surprised how often those cross paths.

As for my kids, I have one that’s only 8 months old but our 2-1/2 year old has seen some of the Batman movie (with Adam West) and loves to put on his mask and cape and zoom around with the toys he got at the baby shower my mom and sisters threw for him. It was Superman/Batman-themed.

My husband and I have always said we want to let our kids find their own thing and not force our childhood likes on them … but if my kid likes robots, and I happen to buy him an R2-D2 Bop It … that’s ok too, right?!

Is acting something you plan to go back to eventually?

God willing, yes. It’s part of who I am and how I look out at the world. There’s many stories I feel

I can add to or be a part of in some way. Not sure when I will try to get back to it cause right now

I’m very happy with where I am, but I’m always willing to jump back in if the right thing came along.

What’s your geek dream acting role (in an existing franchise or series)?

The feline femme fatale. CATWOMAN!

What’s your geek dream acting role (in a franchise or series that hasn’t been made yet)?

Something like Jessica Jones mixed with Zoé from “Firefly” or a part like Geena Davis in “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” Or Catwoman … I like Catwoman.


You probably didn’t see ‘Annihilation,’ but it’s revolutionary

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We’re only about two months into 2018, but a remarkable trend seems to be developing and it could constitute the beginning of an amazing year for women in Hollywood.

On Feb. 16, Marvel released its latest comic book adaptation, “Black Panther.” The movie is groundbreaking in terms of black representation, but also achieved something close to gender equality in a historically male-dominated genre.

While Marvel movies are generally huge blockbusters and considered superior to other, similar offerings (cough, DC, cough), the studio has struggled when it comes to figuring out what to do with its female characters.

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, for instance, is a compelling figure, but she’s also been highly sexualized, overshadowed by her male counterparts, and sidelined in subplots that don’t do her justice (she deserves more than a romance with the Hulk).

But along comes “Black Panther,” which features four strong, complex, memorable female characters with voice and agency equal to, if not greater than, the male characters as they render considerable support to King T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman.

“Black Panther” gives us Angela Bassett’s dignified and regal Queen Mother, Ramonda; Lupita Nyong’o’s superspy, Nakia, who is basically James Bond with a passion for social justice; and Danai Gurira’s spear-wielding Okoye, who is the freakin’ general in charge of T’Challa’s elite, highly-skilled, fiercely loyal, all-female bodyguard, the Dora Milaje.

Then, we’ve got Letitia Wright, who steals the movie with her portrayal of T’Challa’s little sister, Shuri, a 16-year-old genius in charge of developing all of Wakanda’s formidable technology. Shuri rivals Tony Stark himself with her brains, innovation, ingenuity, and super-cool wisecracks. She’s also, refreshingly, way less arrogant and destructive than Mr. Stark.

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While we’re still processing all of this, director Ava DuVernay is about to unleash her take on Madeleine L’Engle’s childhood classic “A Wrinkle in Time,” which showcases a star-studded, wildly diverse cast that includes Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Gugu MBatha-Raw, and young star Storm Reid.

“A Wrinkle in Time” will be followed by a reboot of the video game-inspired “Tomb Raider” franchise, starring Alicia Vikander. The jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not, but judging by the trailers, the film will at least present a much less objectified version of the iconic Lara Croft character.

Things on the female representation front got even more intriguing this weekend as an underrated, but critically acclaimed science-fiction movie called “Annihilation” made its debut, quietly sandwiched between “Black Panther” and the upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Whether due to a lack of marketing or the fact that it’s more challenging than crowd-pleasing, “Annihilation” bombed at the box office with a meager $11 million opening haul. The film’s international rights have been sold off to Netflix, which indicates the studio didn’t have big expectations for this one.

“Annihilation” is worthy of attention for two reasons: It’s actually good. And it also happens to be something virtually unprecedented – a sci-fi film with an all-female cast, and a diverse one at that.

There are literally only three dudes in this movie. One of them is Oscar Isaac, who appears occasionally in flashbacks or as a largely catatonic figure. The other two guys show up even more briefly in minor supporting roles.

So while science-fiction cinema has had a decent track record of women playing lead roles, ever since Sigourney Weaver was Ripley and Linda Hamilton was Sarah Connor, this is the first time I can remember that the entire ensemble is made up of women. And these are some smart, self-sufficient, complicated, body-positive women, not an assortment of tank-top-wearing eye candy.

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“Annihilation” centers on a team of scientists and academics who venture into Area X, a coastal swampland swallowed up by a mysterious phenomenon known as “The Shimmer.” Natalie Portman stars as an emotionally detached biologist who signs on for the mission after her husband returns, dramatically changed, from a previous expedition into the area.

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the team leader, a psychologist who may know more about the mission than she’s letting on. The other members of the group are played by Tessa Thompson (“Thor: Ragnarok”); Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin); and Swedish actor Tuva Novotny (check her out in the Netflix series “Nobel”).

As the women enter The Shimmer, heavily armed and determined to approach things objectively, they encounter grotesquely beautiful genetic mutations in the local plant and animal life, as well as strange lapses in memory and maybe even sanity.

To say any more about the plot would spoil pretty much the entire film, but I will say this is a tense, unsettling, truly terrifying psychological trip of a movie, punctuated by spine-crawling WTF moments that are more horror than sci-fi.

The film obviously takes cues from the “Alien” movies and sometimes plays like a much creepier version of “Arrival,” but it remains boldly original nonetheless. It’s also quite stunning on a visual level and the questions it raises and ultimately leaves unanswered will haunt you.

None of this is at all surprising when you consider that “Annihilation” was written and directed by Alex Garland. Garland’s debut film, “Ex Machina,” is a mind-blowingly brilliant thriller, starring Vikander as an AI who uses her stereotypically feminine programming to turn the tables on her narcissistic creator (played by Isaac).

Garland based his script for “Annihilation” on the first volume in the “Southern Reach” trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. The filmmaker’s take is very different from the book, which is much more internal and layered.

Despite its dismal performance this weekend, I hope “Annihilation” will enjoy a second life when it’s released for home-viewing. While it didn’t make the waves that “Black Panther” did and “A Wrinkle in Time” ultimately will, when it comes to female representation, it’s revolutionary.












Why ‘Black Panther’ matters: ‘The fulfillment of a wild dream’

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Marvel’s latest comic book adaptation, “Black Panther,” is officially a pop cultural and box-office juggernaut, racking up more than $500 million globally in just one week. Its opening weekend was the fifth highest-grossing of all time. 

The film has a 97% fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as stellar word-of-mouth from moviegoers, and has completely shattered the long-held Hollywood myth that black-led movies will inevitably tank with international audiences. 

More importantly, the film has connected powerfully with black moviegoers, who are thrilled to see themselves represented on-screen in unprecedented ways. 

I asked my friend and fellow geek, Dareece Shaw, to talk about what the groundbreaking representation of “Black Panther” means to her personally. Dareece is a Marvel fan, musician, licensed marriage and family therapist, and mother of two daughters. (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD.)


My experience watching “Black Panther” as a black and female moviegoer was like the fulfillment of a wild dream. It was surreal for me to be sitting in the theater watching a major Marvel superhero movie and seeing nearly everyone on the big screen looking like me. It was comforting and emotional at the same time.

Now, I’ve seen my share of movies with predominantly black casts. But they are not made at this high of a level and they certainly aren’t as mainstream. This was such a different experience. It was so cool to mention to friends that we were seeing “Black Panther” and have them know what movie I was talking about and state their own excitement to see it.

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I especially loved the strong presence of powerful black women in the film. I mean, the royal guard of Wakanda, the people charged and trusted to protect the very life of the king, were women. Women. The lead scientist/engineer/inventor … she was a young black woman. That just made me so happy. In a world where women are often devalued and viewed as unequal to their male counterparts (particularly women of color), that was such an awesome sight to behold.

Though this is a superhero movie and should be evaluated as such, this movie stands for a lot more than that to me. It shows the acknowledgement of the need to have black representation in film and it shows how successful it can be when given the chance.

Without explicitly stating it, the underlying message many minority groups are given by Hollywood oftentimes is that our white counterparts can do the job better. Again, it’s not that anyone has expressly spoken this, but it’s implied.

Whenever a role that was intended to portray a minority is given to a white person, it’s implied. Whenever the Hollywood elite and SAG members only nominate white actors, directors and so on for awards, it’s implied. So, how cool is it to know that there were white executives in Hollywood who saw this concept, the cast, the director, the screenplay, and said yes?! It’s a good sign that society is becoming more ethnically inclusive and more representative of the population at large.

That fills me with great hope for the future and for my daughters who will grow up and live in a world where they may often be viewed as being at the bottom of the totem pole. My little girls (who will be grown women one day) matter. That’s a big message I took away from this film. One day when I can watch it with them, I hope they are excited to see it and I hope we can have conversations about what it means to them.

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Another aspect of the film that struck me deeply as a spectator was the tension between Killmonger as the African American character as he returned to his African royal heritage. It felt sadly familiar to be able to relate to that “out of place” feeling I’ve often felt in my life, even amongst other black people. It’s a sad reality that as a culture we can be at war with ourselves.

Even the moment when T’Challa went to seek help from the other tribe to overthrow Killmonger was eye-opening. The initial reaction was anger and the leader (M’Baku) brought up the fact that T’Challa and his people historically had never been there to help their fellow Africans. It happens right now in our culture and I appreciated seeing a version of that in the film. This movie, along with being a solid superhero entry, was socially self-aware. That’s beyond awesome.

Overall, I left the theater feeling proud, excited, hopeful, and thoughtful. I look forward to the future of cinema as it takes steps to be more inclusive of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I also look forward to future entries in the “Black Panther” series and to seeing more of this world included in the Marvel universe.

I also look forward to the day when a young person in the future asks me if I’ve heard of the movie “Black Panther.”

I’ll smile and say, “Yeah. I saw it in the theater opening day. And I loved it.”

Photos: Marvel.



Cosplayer smashes barriers to become Internet sensation, inadvertent role model

Growing up as a geek who loved Star Trek and X-Men, Krystina Arielle Tigner didn’t have many positive role models who looked like her to reference, which makes what she has accomplished even more remarkable.

After an accidental brush with convention culture in Atlanta, Krystina was hooked on cosplay, which appealed to her childhood love of dress up, and has since become a rising star in the field.

She’s featured in one of the most irresistible gifs of 2017, a “dance-off” in which she plays Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia, to Gal Gadot’s movie superhero. That instant piece of pop culture heaven has been viewed 35 million times. A Buzzfeed video in which she transforms into four different iconic black superheroes has also gone viral.

Krystina infuses everything she does with joy, including elaborate cosplays from Wakandan Wonder Woman, to Hamilton, to “Frohawk Rey”; Trekkie-themed photo shoots at Vasquez Rocks; a spread in Cosplay Culture magazine; and appearances at cons, where young fans have been known to seek her autograph.

She’s found herself breaking barriers, becoming an inadvertent role model to future geek girls, and meeting some of her personal heroes — Ava! Uhura! — along the way. 

You’re going to want to follow her to see what she gets up to next @KrystinaArielle.

Krystina Arielle Tigner as Wakandan Wonder Woman.

You describe yourself as a “Hollywood cosplayer, pop culture enthusiast, and professional geek.” How did you first discover the world of cosplay?

I have always been into comic books and pop culture, but I truly discovered cosplay for the first time on a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Atlanta with my friend Janna. Our hotel just so happened to be the site of MomoCon. I knew of it, but I had never felt the energy and passion of a convention. I decided that day I would try my hand at cosplay and when I got home I ordered tickets to Dragoncon and the rest is history.

What specifically drew you to this form of geeky self-expression?

I love comics. I love pop culture, and I love dressing up. This field allows me to honor those things and I love it.

Is your love of dress up something that stretches back to childhood or did you embrace this interest later in life?

I’ve always loved to play dress up. We didn’t buy costumes when I was a kid, we just created something. From playing in my Mom’s closet to revamping my wardrobe today, I love style and being able to show creativity.

What do you like about transforming yourself into an iconic character?

Being able to honor the characters that got me through rough times and good times. Most of the characters I portray are characters I have loved since childhood and it feels like a dream come true every time I suit up.

What’s the most challenging aspect of that?

The most challenging aspect for me is being sure that I bring the character to life but still feel comfortable in my skin.

When did you begin to realize that you might be able to take your cosplay to a professional level?

I don’t know that I ever have. From the beginning, I have just followed my heart and that has served me well to this point. I started because I love it, not because I thought it would take off to the point that it has.

2017 was a big year for you! You became an Internet sensation with a wonderful gif featuring you dancing joyfully, dressed as Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia. It’s been viewed about 10 million times. What has that experience been like for you?

As of today, it’s at 35 million views and I’m still absolutely stymied by it. I love that gif. It makes me chuckle every time.

Tell me about how that gif came to be.

After the Gal Gadot dancing video came out, I knew that I wanted to re-create it. When we were on the set for the Buzzfeed video, I recorded it and set it to Britney Spears as a dance-off between Nu’bia and Diana. A dear Twitter friend, @mobius_strip, created the gif and the next thing I knew, it had a lot of views.

People have really responded to it. Why do you think that is?

I think the fact that my joy in that moment is genuine, as was hers. Two authentically joyful people, one being a six-foot knockout with a great smile, and the other having really cool hair, speaks to people, I guess.

Are you a big fan of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman”?

YES! I have probably watched it about six times in the last week alone.

Tell me your geek origin story. Were you into fandoms and pop culture as a kid? If so, what were some of your favorite franchises or fandoms?

My first fandom was X-men. When I was younger, my Grandpa Jack took my sister and I to our first comic book store. X-men was the first comic book I ever owned and I watched X-men the animated series with my family. It will always have a special place in my heart.

As a kid, there weren’t many pop cultural role models to inspire you. In fact, your husband created a “wall of representation” for you to remedy this. Would you mind telling me a little more about that?

When my husband and I first got married, I saw a Vogue issue that featured models that all had natural hair. I cried my eyes out because it was just so powerful. I ended up telling him about how it felt to be a child and not see many characters that looked like me. Characters of color who weren’t sexualized or objectified. Characters that could inspire something in the next generation.

We have this area over our sink in the kitchen and my husband had some art there. One day, he started buying every magazine that featured women of color for me and placing them on that wall. By seeing those pictures, I could feel inspired and see the people that came before me.

Last week, my first magazine spread went up on that wall. When we started it three years ago, I never would have imagined that would end up happening. It’s an amazing feeling.

Do you feel like you want to be a role model for young girls who might find themselves in a similar  situation.  

I never signed on to be a role model, because I guess I never felt worthy of that title. When I go to conventions now and I see little kids that are excited to the point of tears by my characters, it really puts things into perspective. Whether or not that’s what my intention was getting into this, it is now a reality. I want future little cosplayers to know that they can be strong, inspiring, wear their hair how they want, and that there is space at the cosplay table for us.

As a black woman, what changes would you like to see when it comes to representation in the world of fandoms and geek culture?

I would like to see cosplayers of color represented at conventions in the same way the non-POC cosplayers are. Quirktastc compiled a list of over 500 cosplayers across the country. Having one black cosplayer for every 12 non-POC cosplayers just to meet a diversity quota isn’t acceptable.

There are people with amazing talent and because we are seen as “black cosplayers” rather than just cosplayers, it puts us into this box of being a novelty rather than talent. I want to see more panelists of color, more cosplay guests of color, and less gatekeeping within the community.

What fandoms are you currently into?

I’m a die-hard original series Trekkie and I love “Doctor Who.”

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year in terms of representation with “Black Panther” and the upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time.” What are your thoughts on that?

I believe it’s amazing. Seeing “Black Panther” for me was a powerful experience. To see a young black girl be the foremost STEM expert. Strong fierce warrior women. Characters portrayed as Kings and Queens. It was beautiful.

I am so excited to see “A Wrinkle In Time” and to feel the same way. Ava DuVernay is a truly powerful filmmaker and it is going to be amazing to have Storm Reid inspire a generation of young black girls. Her presence in that film will help some little girl delve into the world of sci-fi and that is beautiful to me.

I fell that we are on the cusp of a very important paradigm shift and I am ready to see what that brings. I hope that seeing black characters portrayed positively will help our society and media do the same. I hope that we will continue to have the tough conversations and that hearts and minds will be changed.

Krystina as Ironheart.

Aside from the Nu’bia gif, you’ve achieved a lot in recent months, including shooting a Buzzfeed video in which you transform into four iconic comic book characters — Misty Knight, Storm, Nu’bia, and Ironheart. How did this video come to be?

I was approached by a fellow cosplayer, Bernie Bregman (The Geek Gatsby). He recommended me and I worked with the amazing (visual artist and writer) Kasiemobi Udo-okoye.

Tell me a little about the Buzzfeed shoot. Was that fun to do?

The Buzzfeed shoot was a really great experience. Everyone was really kind and it was enjoyable.

The video has received an overwhelmingly positive response. How do you feel about it?

I’m really proud of it. Everything that I am currently doing is beyond my wildest dreams so it feels really exciting to have these amazing opportunities. I am really glad that it has been well-received, and that I made my Grandma proud.

Are you a comic book fan? Were you into comics as a kid? 


What are some of your favorite titles/characters?

I started with X-men. I am currently deeply emotionally invested in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Which do you prefer, Marvel or DC?

I honestly like both. There are different characters in each that resonate with me in different ways.

You were just featured in Cosplay Culture magazine. What’s that feel like?

That has been a really cool experience. Just yesterday, a kid came up to me with his copy at a convention and asked for my autograph on his copy. It was a really overwhelming moment. To see my cosplays in a magazine is something I never expected in my wildest dreams. It just came out this month so I am still terribly excited.

You also recently joined the Nerdbot Girls. How did you become involved with them?

I’m a part of an online forum called “Drinking Bros: Nerds” and I met my friend Dana Jane (who is also a Nerd Bot Girl in this group). We met in person at Nerdbot-Con and I ended up clicking with a lot of the girls on that day without them realizing I was the girl Dana wanted them to meet. They took a vote and invited me to join them.

Perhaps the most exciting that happened in 2017 was that you got married. Congratulations! Does your husband share your love of geeky things?

Thanks! Yes, we were married May 28. My husband is not a comic book nerd but he is a magician, so I guess that counts. He has been incredibly supportive of this journey and I am so grateful that he is by my side through it.

Another project you recently participated in was a Star Trek-themed shoot at Vasquez Rocks, which was the location of several episodes of the original series. What was that experience like?

That shoot was organized by a dear friend, Aliza Pearl, who is a cast member on the Geek and Sundry RPG show “Shield of Tomorrow.” We jokingly call ourselves “Uhura’s Angels.” It was really great to be in that spot that I recognized from so many great shows.

You actually met Nichelle Nicols, aka Lieutenant Uhura! Tell me about that!

She is amazing. She is the kindest, most intriguing person that I have ever met. Being able to spend a couple of days with her last year was just beautiful. She’s sharp, witty, and still absolutely gorgeous.

It seems you’ve recently met several of your personal heroes, including Ava DuVernay. What’s that been like?

I live in Hollywood and I have a lot of by chance meetings. The Ava DuVernay run-in was a really big one for me. Two days before, I had been making a list of my goals. One of those was to meet and work with Ava. I told her that when we met. So now I just pray for part two to come true.

Do you make a lot of appearances at conventions?

I’ve been making more lately. I really enjoy the environment and the amazing friends that I have made in this community.

That sounds like a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. What sort of efforts go into this?

For those that do custom builds, it can take months. A coplay look is a complete look. There’s hair, costume, shoes, props. It’s truly a process.

For those of us who don’t know a lot about how cosplay actually works, do you collaborate with a creative team of costumers, hair stylists, photographers, etc., for your various cosplays? Tell me about the process of designing a cosplay.

It’s different for each cosplayer. I love bringing characters to life but I work with some amazingly talented people that step up in the areas where I am weak.

I work consistently with Bonnie Ayala for makeup looks. She did my makeup for my wedding and almost every character I have ever cosplayed. My custom leather builds are designed and executed by Corena Gibson.

The cosplay community has a lot of talented photographers that attend conventions and book shoots through their websites. Photographers like James Rulison, who shot my Cosplay Culture issue photos, my Gwenom and Storm, Gil Riego, Ruy Arena, and, of course, Stefan Pinto.

My process is to decide on a character, which usually comes from a list of beloved characters from my childhood and curate my head to toe look. I fancy myself a stylist in my head. I just do cosplay instead of runway. I am very fortunate to be able to work with an incredible group of talented and creative individuals.

Is there an element of acting to cosplay? Do you have to kind of “become” the character?

There really is, in my opinion. Certain characters, like Gwenom, who is my only villain at this point, have to be presented with a certain confidence and swagger. I do enjoy that aspect of it. To get into character as Gwenom, I listen to “Monster” by Kanye West. Each of my characters has a theme song that puts me in the mood to carry myself as they would.

Krystina cosplays “Hamilton.”

You’ve cosplayed as Nu’bia, Storm, Deadpool, Hamilton, Gwenom, a Hogwarts student, and one of my personal favorites, “Frohawk Rey.” Do you have a favorite?

Wakandan Wonder Woman. Her war paint, combined with the costume and weapons, made me feel truly powerful.

Are there any dream cosplays you’d like to do in the future?

Definitely Vixen and Moon Girl.

I understand that you sometimes like to slip a little “casual cosplay” into your everyday life. Tell me about that. 

I like to wear simple outfits with odes to my favorite characters. Star trek pins, color schemes that match a certain character’s identifiable outfits. I just enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers, especially those who worry they don’t fit the cosplay “mold”?

Drop the idea that there is a mold. Nothing is wrong with making your costumes, nothing is wrong with commissioning. There is no right way. Cosplay is a creative outlet and a form of SELF- expression. If you expect everyone to love everything that you do or to do things exactly as you do, you are going to spend a lot of time disappointed.

Be yourself, and be comfortable. Do this because it means something to you or gives you an outlet to express yourself. It can be intimidating but just stay true to yourself. You don’t have to be a professional costumer to be a cosplayer. Its costume play. Play and do you.

It looks like you spend a lot of time at L.A.’s Magic Castle. I’m jealous! 

As I said earlier, my husband is a magician. I actually got my associate member pin before my engagement ring. It’s an amazing place.

Have you actually attended the Houdini Seance?!?! Spill the beans!

We actually did the seance for the first time in January for my birthday! It was an absolutely wonderful experience. It’s truly magical.

You’ve said you want 2018 to be a year of “chasing dreams and achieving goals.” What are some of the goals and dreams you’re currently pursuing?

I have a lot of auditions coming up and I hope this will be the year I get to see my acting dreams realized. My goal overall is to be true to myself. To be kind to myself and to live and do things that make me happy. That seems simple but we tend to focus more on others than self-care. This year, I will take care of myself and my family.

What mark would you ultimately like to make on the world of geek culture?

If nothing else translates, I just want my love of what I do to resonate with people, because I feel truly blessed to be able to do it. I have no clue what is next on this path but I am going to keep making kids smile, and making my inner child happy.


Wakanda Forever: ‘Black Panther’ has the best movie merch

“Black Panther” merchandise on display at a BoxLunch store.

Marvel’s “Black Panther” officially opened Friday to the record-breaking tune of $75.8 million. This basically means the long weekend is shaping up to be one big, ecstatic Wakandan celebration.

Not only is “Black Panther” a groundbreaking work of cinematic representation for people of color, it also happens to be one of the better entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (review to come shortly).

The film is definitely worth supporting and celebrating, and it’s accompanied by some truly awesome merch, so if you’re looking to show your #WakandaForever spirit, here’s a handy guide to the stuff you’re gonna want to buy.

All the Funko Pops! based on “Black Panther” are on point. You’re probably going to want to add them all to your collection. Our favorites are sympathetic villain Eric Killmonger and T’Challa’s tech genius little sis, Shuri, because they’re just so simultaneously cute and bad-ass.

Black Panther Action Figure - Marvel Toybox

You’re also gonna want to make room on your collectibles shelf for this Marvel Toybox action figure.

Nakia Action Figure - Black Panther Legends Series

But of all the action figures we’ve seen, we love this Nakia, from the Legends Series, the best.

Royal Talon Fighter Attack Playset by LEGO - Black Panther

Your Lego collection would not be complete without a few new sets inspired by the movie, like this Royal Talon Fighter Attack Playset.

Black Panther Vibranium Power FX Mask

Get the Marvel Black Panther Vibranium Power FX Mask for your kid and play with it when she’s not looking.

If you’re planning to sport your best “Black Panther” look, but don’t want to go full #WakandaCameToSlay, here are some excellent options:

Check out this graphic Marvel “Black Panther” Shadow T-shirt.

You’ll want to take selfies in this hashtag-worthy tee.

Be ready for the elements in Her Universe’s windbreaker, exclusive to BoxLunch.

If you came to slay, this Nakia Cold Shoulder Top is just what you need.

Glam it up with this Marvel Black Panther Gold Foil Women’s Tee, available at BoxLunch stores.

You gotta love the cosplay style of this Shuri Girls Tank Top.

Black Panther Upside Down T-Shirt

This Black Panther Upside Down T-Shirt is one of the most unique we’ve seen.

Black Panther Two-Piece Tank Top & Leggings Set for Girls by Our Universe

This fierce two-piece tank top and legging set is part of Her Universe and Disney’s new Our Universe collection for kids.

Black Panther T-Shirt for Women - Red

I may be biased because I wore this T-shirt when I went to see “Black Panther” last night, but it’s one of my absolute favorites and one of the few graphic tees that highlights the film’s fabulous female warriors.

Appropriately accessorizing your Wakandan look is no problem, thanks to the myriad jewelry and other baubles inspired by the film.

Image result for rocklove jewelry black panther

RockLove Jewelry offers many sharp and stylish options for “Black Panther” fans, including the Kimoyo Bracelet and Talon Necklace.

There’s also this shiny Onyx Tooth Necklace, evoking T’Challa’s sleek signature catsuit.

Marvel Black Panther Handbag

Pack all the movie snacks you need into this fun handbag.

Black Panther High Top Sneaker

Score a pair of these high top sneakers and you’ll have the coolest Wakandan kicks.

I tried my best to limit this list to more reasonably priced items, but if you’re looking to spend big on a truly gorgeous “Black Panther” memento, you won’t be able to resist the adjustable Protector necklace from Optimystical Studios. It features midnight silver Swarovski crystal claws on a delicate gunmetal armor link chain.

Black Panther Logo Watch

Keep track of all those “Black Panther” showtimes you’ll be juggling with ThinkGeek’s Logo Watch.

Black Panther | Black Panther Head Emblem OtterBox Symmetry iPhone 8/7 Case

Swaddle your cellphone in some serious Wakandan style with one of two striking, customizable options for the iPhone 7 or 8: the Black Panther Head Emblem Otterbox Symmetry Case or the Black Panther Pattern Case.

If director Ryan Coogler’s vision for “Black Panther” inspires you to pick up a comic book, here are a few of the more notable runs you may want to try.

The movie takes a page from acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Nation Under Our Feet,” which paints a complex picture of political discord and dissent by varying factions vying for control of Wakanda. This is unusually compelling, heady, and philosophical stuff for the comic book world.

Coates also pens Marvel’s most recent entry, the ongoing “Rise of the Black Panther,” depicting T’Challa’s early years and drama from King T’Chaka’s reign.

Penned by Coates and none other than Roxane Gay, “World of Wakanda” tells a love story between two members of the Black Panther’s elite bodyguard, the Dora Milaje.

Writer Christopher Priest’s 1998 to 2003 Black Panther run is renowned for turning the character into a cool cat.

If you’re looking for something kid-friendly for your little Wakandan, there’s “Black Panther: The Young Prince,” about 12-year-old T’Challa and the trouble he gets into with best friend M’Baku.

Geekdom is one big adventure for traveler, Disney theme park connoisseur

Many geeks use their passion for fandoms as a jumping off point for adventure.

This is certainly true of anglophile, Marvel movie enthusiast, dedicated con-goer, obsessive Disney visitor, and fearless traveler Christy Rooney.

I’ll admit it. This interview got a little bit long. Well, ok, a lot long. But only because I can’t resist vicariously going along on the epic adventures Christy has experienced, solo and with friends and family, while wholeheartedly pursuing her geekier interests and inclinations.

Yes, she’s visited every Disney theme park in the world … except one! Don’t worry. She’ll fill you in on all the juicy details below. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Walt’s spin-offs in Paris, Asia, and elsewhere.

She’s also made several other geeky pilgrimages abroad, instilling a healthy love of travel in her young daughter and son. She happens to be a patron saint of sorts to her friends who need cheering up in the form of photos of dreamy British men. And she’s one heck of a celebrity spotter, bumping into famous folks everywhere from the airport to IKEA.

Let’s join her — shall we? — on an adventure of a lifetime.

Christy Rooney poses for a “Sherlock”-themed photo shoot.

It seems to me that you embraced your geek identity a bit later in life, and by that I mean like in your 20s. Is that accurate? 

I was in my 20s when I openly started showing my geeky side! But honestly I’ve always been a fangirl! (Cough. N’SYNC. Cough.)

How did you discover your geekier side?

As I mentioned, I’ve always been a fangirl, first with boy bands, but I’d say that my first true geek love (other than my lifelong Disney obsession) was J.R R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. After “Fellowship of the Ring” came out, I fell in love! I saw that movie in theaters seven times, and the others several times as well.

It was then that my room went from having NSYNC posters to a LOTR vibe. My dad had managed to bring home a poster big enough to cover my full-sized bed (which ended up attached to my ceiling because there was nowhere else to put it!) and I started filling my bookshelves with the trivia books, behind-the-scenes books, the movie soundtracks, and even a Galadriel doll.

It’s all been a big snowball since then, when Marvel started releasing their superhero films, I fell in love all over again! Iron Man, Loki, and Dr. Strange are some of my favorites.

So, you are a super Disney freak. I mean that in a nice way, of course. Going to the parks is a tradition for your immediate and extended family. How did that start?

I remember going to the parks once a year as a child. My entire family would pick a day and head over! This included grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! We’re a fairly large group, but we made it happen! Now, several (at least 20) of us have season passes and go multiple times a month!

Christy’s son Gavin and daughter Gwenyth, Disneybounding at Disneyland.

Tell me about the epic Disneyland trips you do.

Back in November, about 19 of us decided to try our hands at Disneybounding! My mom and cousin got the ball rolling, and we ended up having a great time finding our outfit pieces, and my mom made several pairs of custom ears to go with them! With that many people, we were thankful for my cousin, Cami, a school teacher, who can be decisive and get the group making plans and making them happen!

Even as I type this, we are headed to Disney tomorrow with a group of seven, which for most people may seem big, but for us is a small/normal size!

And next week, nine of us are headed to the park Disneybounding again, but all of us dressing specifically from “Tangled.” My mom is handcrafting new ears for ALL of us, and they are looking spectacular!

Christy with Gwenyth, Gavin, and husband Owen at Walt Disney World.

You’ve actually achieved the feat of visiting every Disney theme park in the world, except Shanghai. Tell me how that happened.

Haha! Owen and I were just talking about this. We’ve had passes for years, which took care of Disneyland. Then, in  February of 2015, Owen had a work conference in Orlando at one of the Disney resorts. We decided that for this trip, the kids and I would join him! The timing was pretty great, because Gavin was still 2, which meant he was free.

In 2016, we had made plans to visit Owen’s Irish side of the family. And since Paris is such a short flight away, we decided to spend about four days in Paris itself before jumping over to Disneyland Paris! We had a blast!

Christy and Owen at Disneyland Paris.

My in-laws currently live in Japan (though they’re moving soon) and we decided to visit them over the holidays in 2017. We flew into Japan on December 22, and headed to Tokyo on the 26th. We were able to spend one day at Tokyo Disney Sea, and one day in Tokyo Disneyland.

A few days into the new year, Owen, the kids and I jumped on a plane from Tokyo to Hong Kong (because it was just SO CLOSE) and we were able to experience their park as well!

Would you briefly compare and contrast the various parks for us?

Each park is set up differently. It throws me every time!

Disney World was actually the most overwhelming for me. (It may have something to do with the fact that our kids were 2 and 4 at the time). It is MASSIVE. Everything is spread out, and it was the first time in decades that I’d needed to use a map in a Disney park. And, honestly, I hadn’t done the research I should have for the dining, Magic Bands, and a few other little aspects.

Gavin and Gwenyth at Disneyland Paris.

Paris’ Magic Kingdom was laid out quite a bit like ours, which was nice, and it was smaller than our park. Their second park, Walt Disney Studios, is close in proximity (like ours is) but doesn’t have as many rides or attractions. The big ride in that park is their “Ratatouille” ride. As soon as the park opened, everyone (literally everyone) rushed to get in line or try to score fast passes. Within half an hour of park opening, the line had already hit the three-hour wait time.

Tickets to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.

Tokyo’s Magic Kingdom was interesting. Instead of going through the gates and walking down Main Street, you walk through a covered … pavilion? It was almost a Main Street, but the whole thing is covered.

The day we went, it was pretty crowded, so we didn’t get to do all of the rides, but we spent a good portion of time in Fantasyland. Theirs is more condensed, while their Tomorrowland makes ours feel like a sardine can! We did get to see the Country Bear Jamboree there! And their Pirates of the Caribbean.

It’s fun to see what is consistent, and what they change on the rides. Their Teacups spin more easily, which makes for great spinning speeds! And the Haunted Mansion was great! It was still Christmas decorations, so Gavin was super happy about seeing all of his favorite “Nightmare Before Christmas” characters, but in different places, and I got asked about the various differences the WHOLE ride.

Tokyo Disney Sea was a whole different ballpark. I could not figure out its layout! It seemed to have shortcuts, big loops, and tunnels. Some of our favorite rides were Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Aquatopia (think Autopia, but with raft-like things) and their Nemo ride. Gavin was ecstatic to find that they had an entire Atlantis area. He loved the entire area.

Tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Hong Kong only has one park, but the shuttle bus ride into it made us feel like we were headed into Jurassic Park. It was built into an isolated area that is surrounded by greenery of all kinds that grows super tall and lush.

Hong Kong is by far the smallest of the Magic Kingdom parks. It is laid out quite a bit like ours, but condensed. I think the strangest thing about that park was how empty it was! We walked onto the Iron Man Experience ride, which is exclusive to Hong Kong, and enjoyed being able to meander the parks without bumping into big crowds.

They also had a beautiful princess garden that has themed areas for different princesses that include large moving dioramas. All four of us loved their Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars (similar to Thunder Mountain), their Lion King Show, and Mystic Manor (our equivalent would be Haunted Mansion).

What are some of your favorite international Disney theme park memories?

Riding Teacups! That may seem like an odd favorite memory, but it is the one ride that we have ridden in every Magic Kingdom thus far. It’s a Small World and Pirates were in the running, but both Small Worlds were shut down for refurbishment, much to Gavin’s dismay, and Hong Kong doesn’t have a Pirate ride.

We’ve also enjoyed just spending time together doing something we all love. And the kids love to point out the differences in the parks. Gavin has asked several times why we don’t visit the dragon anymore, and i have to remind him that the dragon lives under the Paris Castle, and not our own. Another special memory is taking the time to take a family picture in front of the different castles. They are all different, and beautiful in their own right.

Which of all the parks is your favorite?

Oh, man! I would say that Disneyland is my favorite! It’s the original Disney park, and the one I know like the back of my hand. Our park may be little compared to some of the others, but for me it truly is one of my happiest places on earth.

Which park was the most challenging to get to or visit?

I still would say that Disney World was hard, simply because of the sheer size of the parks. And the parks weren’t super close to each other, the resorts, or their Downtown Disney area. But there was some minor difficulties in the Asia parks because we don’t speak the languages and the cultures are different. But I think the great thing about the Disney parks is the fact that even when you are completely lost, there’s a friendly cast member that can help.

Which attraction is your favorite?

Ugh, so many hard questions, Lavender! My favorite ride is Peter Pan. My favorite nighttime attraction is the Electrical Parade. We were able to do both of those in the Tokyo park and I adored them! There are some differences, but let me say, their Electrical Parade was amazing. And Peter Pan was such fun! We still soar over London (which is my favorite part of the ride) and help Peter fight Hook.

Which park has the best food?

Ohhhh, that’s tough. In Tokyo we ate at The Queen of Hearts’ Banquet Hall. They had various salads, chicken dishes and some awesome desserts. In Hong Kong, they have an entire restaurant that’s all Iron Man focused. Those meals were really good too! But I think my favorite places to eat are the Blue Bayou and Rancho del Zocalo in our own Disneyland!

Gavin with a Hank hat found in Tokyo.

Which park has the best merch?

In Tokyo, it’s SO strange! It’s as though Mickey has taken a backseat … . He may be in a different car altogether! Instead of Mickey ears, backpacks, shirts, etc., they have Duffy Bear. Mickey’s face may be on the sign, but Duffy rules inside the parks. I saw purses, backpacks, popcorn holders, ears, headbands, shirts, lanyards, hats, and stuffed animals everywhere. Mickey and his gang were spotted, but those sightings were few and far between.

I think I’m drawn more to our merchandise here in the states. We have so many stores inside and throughout the parks (instead of just near the gates) and our World of Disney shop has such a varying selection. The Tokyo Disney Store outside the park was about 85% Duffy merch, which, if you’re a Duffy fan, would be awesome. But all I wanted was a Disney shirt that said “Tokyo” and they were nowhere to be found inside or out of the park.

Which park is the weirdest?

I vote Disney Sea as the weirdest. We all loved it, but it was such an odd place. They have a volcano that “erupts” at night, they have an entire East Coast lobster village in one area, and rides that have nothing to do with Disney (like Venetian Gondolas, and Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage).

So when are you going to Shanghai?

Ahhh, the elusive Shanghai. We tried to see if we could add it to our trip, but it would’ve been too hard. Not to mention the added cost of visas. We are hoping to visit the Shanghai park if we visit Owen’s parents when they move to Taiwan. So if it were to happen, it would be sometime in 2019-2020.

You and your family are avid travelers. Have you visited any other famous geek spots in your many travels?

We have! In 2014, I dragged my poor husband all over London finding places related to the BBC show “Sherlock.” We ate at Speedy’s (the restaurant right next door to the famous 221B in the show), found the hospital where he jumped off the roof, and went to the real 221B on Baker Street.

On our Ireland trip, we did a day tour that took us up into Belfast, and the bus took us to The Dark Hedges (featured on “Game of Thrones”), a very famous road that looks absolutely forbidding even in daylight!

On your very recent trip to Tokyo, you visited the Studio Ghibli store. Please tell all.

In Tokyo, Studio Ghibli is huge. I mean … HUGE. While we didn’t get to go to the museum, there was a fabulous shop near where my in-laws live. I’ve just recently been introduced to this portion of the geek world, so I’m sure a true fan would’ve appreciated it far more than I did. But there were playing cards, blankets, bath mats, stuffed toys of all shapes and sizes, luggage, finger puppets, coin banks, key chains, and so much more! It was probably what a non-Disney person feels like when they walk into World of Disney for the first time. There was a lot to take in and see.

I think it’s really cool you’re teaching your kids to be travelers at such a young age. Do they share your geek interests? What are some of your mutual and individual nerdy fascinations and activities?

My kids love traveling! They definitely share my love of all things Disney, and are excited when we get to do something new. Disney is our biggest shared interest. Gwennie has her own love of My Little Pony, and Gavin has started taking an interest in DC villains (namely ClayFace and Mr Freeze). Someday, I’ll be dragging them to conventions with me, I’m sure!

You’ve enjoyed a career as a sign language interpreter. This may be a stretch, but has that work intersected with your geek life at all?

Interpreting hasn’t really intersected with my geek life. I’ve often enjoyed watching interpreters at both conventions and Disneyland alike. I’m always in awe of them, as a lot of random topics are brought up at conventions and the panels are sometimes insane!

Christy and actor Kevin McKidd at IKEA.

You are a dedicated and very successful “stalker” of celebrities (not in an illegal way). Tell me about some of your top celeb encounters.

Hahaha! I’m definitely the type of person that likes to know what is happening in my nearby environment. I think because of that, I’m a people watcher, and I’m just constantly skimming over what or who is nearby.

I’ve run into George Newbern at The Grove in L.A., Kevin McKidd at IKEA, and saw a few celebs at Disneyland before I was brave enough to approach them.

I have also gone to a play to see James Marsters and do the meet and greet, and I’ve asked questions of several people at WonderCon: Richard Armitage (swoon) Chris Hardwick, the guys from the cast of “Orphan Black” (along with a meet and greet a different year) and a meet and greet with the several “Once Upon a Time” cast members.

Christy with Sean Maguire.

I’ve also been lucky when wandering at some cons. My friend Jenna and I snagged pictures with Sean Maguire for “Once Upon a Time”, and I waited patiently at D23 to get a rushed selfie with Colin O’Donoghue.

But one of my favorites was when Owen and I went to New York and saw “She Loves Me,” starring Zachary Levi. He was awesome and came out after the show to sign autographs and take pictures. I had platinum and purple hair at the time, and he told me he liked it! (It may still give me warm fuzzies just thinking about it!)

My biggest celeb failing though … Colin Farrell. I saw him at the airport when we were headed to Ireland, but Owen convinced me it wasn’t him … until it was time to board and Owen realized I was right!

I have also discovered that a great way to see celebs up close is to go to show tapings.

Christy with Zachary Levi.

Tell me about some of your favorite tapings.

I’ve found that getting tickets to “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “Jimmy Kimmel” are great ways of seeing some pretty awesome people. I’ve seen Gary Oldman, Matt Smith, Michael Fassbender, Zoe Saldana, Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, Jason Alexander, and several others.

You’ve slept outside at a convention before. Tell me about that experience. Was it worth it?

Oh, man. I was not prepared for that adventure!

My cousins and I were enjoying the D23 convention, and noticed (on Friday) that several people were already in the queue for events on Saturday. Now, one of my biggest obsessions is Marvel, and they were set to have a time slot in the big Live Action panel at D23. As the day went one, my cousins and I got more worried about the line, and after dinner we made the decision to swing by Target for some blankets, then our hotel room for some overnight necessities, and head back to the convention center.

By the time we got there, there were already tons of people in line (far more prepared than we were!), and the line twisted and turned around the outside of the convention center. We were fortunate in that they let us into one of the underground halls to stay the night (I think it had something to do with crowd control).

Let me tell you, concrete is HARD … and COLD. Because we were so woefully unprepared for this, all we really had was our blankets, while people around us had chairs, blow-up pool floats, mattresses and several other things that would have made that night more palatable.

It was an odd experience, because even when 90% of the people were sleeping, the lights were all on, and Disney movies were playing on several TVs throughout the room. I remember waking up in a panic and discovering that the explosions that woke me up weren’t real, but that the movie had switched from “Moana” to a Star Wars movie while I slept.  I think I counted four to five different movies that night.

In some ways, yes, it was worth it. I think D23 has grown considerably, so to see these big panels with all my favorite people it was something I had to do. And this year’s Marvel presence was EPIC! So many stars (including Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr.) graced the stage. My poor cousin probably ended up with bruises from me slapping at her in excitement.

Christy and Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe.

As a woman, is there anything you’d like to see change about the world of geek culture or fandoms?

I would love to see more merchandise made by women and for women! I have a hard time finding things I can wear because I’m taller than what people assume geek girls are, so dresses tend to be on the short side.

And I’d love a bigger selection! I love what Her Universe has accomplished, but we need more. Hot Topic is great, but only if you fall into certain fandoms. Costumes need to be made more realistic for women.

And I think we need more movies like “Wonder Woman.” While I love all my Marvel boys, I want to see a movie about Black Widow, I want more of Scarlet Witch. I’m excited about Captain Marvel!

Amongst your friends, you’re known as a sort of patron saint of dreamy British guys who might send a few pics of Hiddles or Richard Armitage to cheer someone up or wish them well. How did that start? What is it about British dudes?

I admit I have a slight (or embarrassingly large) obsession with the Brits. I’ve always loved all things British. “Pride and Prejudice” has been my favorite book for as long as I can remember. And I absolutely adore British accents.

I have just stumbled upon more and more handsome men in all of my fandoms! I think I started sending them as a joke, and it became a thing. I enjoy picking one … or several Brits to send to people on their birthdays, or just for fun, or if someone is feeling down. Sometimes I’ll send them just to see what their response will be. Your husband has been on the receiving end of a birthday collage a time or two, though this year I took it easy on him.

Since you’re a serious anglophile, I have to ask: Why are so many geeks also anglophiles?

I think geeks are also anglophiles because so many geeky characters are either portrayed as British or are portrayed by British actors. “Doctor Who” is one of the most iconic examples I think. A madman in a box, constantly saving the world, yet oddly centralized in London. Captain Picard on “Star Trek: Enterprise,” also a British actor.

And we’ve had an influx of Brits playing our superheroes. Superman, Loki, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, to name just a few. I think in the geek world, we also like to know about the people playing our favorite characters, so I tend to dive into Google to see where people are from, etc.

Wholock is one of your major obsessions. How did you discover “Doctor Who,” and what do you like about it?

Ahhhh, “Doctor Who”! I honestly can’t remember who introduced me to “Doctor Who. But I love it! It has the same kind of “out there” feel as “Buffy (the Vampire Slayer)”, another of my favorites, but takes it a step further. It’s set mostly in or around the UK, which makes me supremely happy, and I like the story of a lone Time Lord traveling through space and time to save the world over and over. I think it would be awesome to be one of his traveling companions (Rose is the best, always).

Who’s your Doctor?

The Tenth Doctor is absolutely my Doctor. David Tennant is amazing in that role, and his regeneration just about killed me.

Christy in front of St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London, where Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock” famously jumped from the roof in an episode of the series.

What about “Sherlock”? Benedict Cumberbatch is obviously a favorite of yours.

I have a very strong love/hate relationship with BBC’s Sherlock. I adore the show, I love the characters, and how they interact. I LOATHE that each series is only three episodes. And I HATE that it is so long between each series (generally around two years). With the main actors becoming a bigger presence in Hollywood … Marvel, I love you, but you’re making it hard for Benedict and Martin to have time for Sherlock!

I do love Benedict Cumberbatch! I stumbled across “Sherlock” on Netflix, during the hiatus between series 1 and 2. I’m fairly certain I binged the first three episodes, then threw a mental fit when I realized there weren’t any more. Not just the “Oh, I have to wait for Netflix to get the second series,” but the “WAIT, why isn’t it showing up as having a second series? HOLD ON A MINUTE! THEY HAVEN’T EVEN BEGUN FILMING?!?!?!?” kind of mental fit.

It’s been really fun watching the actors grow and change. Benedict looks like a baby in series 1! But watching him portray Sherlock got me hooked and I spent a long time seeing what else he’d been in, and seeing if I could find a way to watch them. I also spent a lot of time forcing my friends and family to watch, just so I’d have people who could commiserate with me during the hiatus (and maybe so I could discuss each and every little thing about the show … ).

Christy with her favorite Marvel supervillain, Loki, and the kids (oh, and Thor, too) at Disneyland.

Tom Hiddleston is another favorite of yours. You’re particularly fond of Loki. You have three sentences in which to defend the Asgardian villain. Go.

Hiddles is adorable. I need more than three sentences!

Okay, Loki has been raised by Odin to be a king, though Odin had no intention of ever letting him near the throne. Odin also made Loki’s life one big lie, when Odin stole him from his home planet and never told him he was a frost giant, which, incidentally, is the big scary monstrous villain in Asgard’s bedtime stories. All Loki wanted was some attention and approval from his father and brother, but was always cast aside in favor of Thor (when it came to Odin) and the Warriors Three (when it came to Thor). In short, everything Loki did was Odin’s fault.

I’d also better make it clear that my Loki knowledge is based on the MCU, not the comic books! That’s my disclaimer!

Are you a big fan of the Marvel movies? What do you like about them?

The Marvel movies are some of my absolute favorites. I’ve always been a fan of action movies, and I’ve liked Robert Downey Jr. since “U.S. Marshals” (a random movie, I know). When Iron Man came out, I was enthralled. It was epic. And each movie has been adding to the original story ever since. This is the MCU’s 10th anniversary, and it’s shaping up to be mind-blowing.

I have loved getting to meet new characters, seeing their backstories and struggles as they try to find their places in the wonderful and scary world of superheroes. The movies are really what opened my mind to the comic part of the geek world, and I’ve loved every minute of it. This year at D23, I was so excited to see 15 of the MCU’s stars grace the stage before seeing the first clips of the “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer.

Christy with James Marsters, aka Spike, of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

You’re also a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and you’ve met some of the cast. How did you discover the series? What’s the attraction?

“Buffy” may have been my first non-movie geek venture. I started watching it when my older brother did (based on his college friends’ suggestion.) I quickly became addicted!

“Buffy” is awesome because we follow Buffy, a high school girl with a calling to rid the world of vampires and demons, go through her life trying to be as normal as possible, all while battling various creatures. Vampires have always been an interesting topic for me. (Yes, I did go through a “Twilight” phase) But hands down, the Buffy vampires are way better.

Spike is my absolute favorite vampire. EVER. He’s British (Surprise! another British character!), sarcastic, and treats Buffy as his equal. He’s really the only male character in the show (in my opinion) that never underestimates what Buffy is capable of doing. Angel, Giles, and Xander constantly doubt her, which drives me nuts.

I was able to see James Marsters (Spike) in a play a few years ago! I paid extra for the meet and greet/Q&A session, and loved every minute of it. The play was supposed to also star Juliet Landau (another leading vamp on “Buffy”) but she had a scheduling conflict and wasn’t there the night my friends and I went. But we did see one of Buffy’s college roommates in the play also. It was a really fun night, and I’m pretty sure those memories are going to stick with me.

Christy and Owen at a Halloween party, dressed as Maggie and Glenn from “The Walking Dead.”

What other fandoms are you into?

I think we’ve covered all of my major fandoms, but I do have TV shows that would fall into fandom category. “Orphan Black” was a big one! It just ended last year, wrapping up a great series. I cried during the last episode (because it was super touching, and because I always mourn when my people won’t be returning).

“Grey’s Anatomy” is another one, though that is still ongoing. “The Walking Dead” is another fandom I love! We look forward to seeing Rick’s group struggle to survive every week.

Do you collect anything?

I have an ever-growing collection of Funko Pop! figures. I need shelves, desperately. And my drawers are full of geek shirts that are so numerous, I need more space.

What’s left on your geek bucket list?

I’d love to go to Prince Edward Island and see where Anne of Green Gables grew up. I long for the Lake District in England where Elizabeth stood regally looking at the scenery. I want to see Pemberley, and Cardiff, and Stratford-Upon-Avon. I want to wing my way to New Zealand and walk where the Hobbits, and wizards, elves and men came together to form the Fellowship.

What’s your next geeky travel destination?

Our next trip takes us to Alaska, and I know movies like “White Fang” and “The Proposal” were filmed there. I’m not sure if those count. But Shanghai’s Disney park is another option that could happen in the foreseeable future.

Will you send me some pics of hot British guys? I need some cheering up. Thanks.

I will always send you texts of British guys!

(And she did!)