Monday, 24 April 2017

Oxcon Oxford Comic Con Review 2017


Following my local Comic Con round up recently I thought I’d share my fist comic con review of 2017. This weekend I attended Oxford Comic Con with my partner, son and my pal and fellow Basingstoke Collective Cosplayer Andy Johns.

Following a recent blog post someone has published which has sparked heavy debate among the community online I thought there is no better time like the present to share my thoughts on the recent convention. I thought the blog post in question may have had some valid points however it was delivered in such an aggressive and negative manner that I can’t get on board and I certainly do not agree with his view on cosplay. Personally I do not like people thinking they are more of a fan of something than someone else. The blog post was focused around the person being a Comic fan and in turn slating people for having other interests and not being genuine comic fans. Not everyone has the cash to buy every piece of related merch, not everyone has the time to read every comic or watch every film, doesn’t mean they don’t have interest. I think its bullying behavior to single people out or attack just because they are different to you or don't like the same things you do. 

I understand comic conventions have changed over time. Comic conventions these days contain not only comic stalls but other related stalls. After all comics have inspired many films and TV series which have become extremely popular and helped bring comics and the characters to life and bring them into the mainstream. People want related products and collectibles from these fandoms. People attending want special deals, to find things they can’t find elsewhere, to have a chance to get their hands on interesting unique product. But I don’t just want to go shopping and neither do a lot of others. I personally think it works very well to have movie props and various things of interest to see and have photo opportunities with both in and outside the convention. I feel things such as talks, Q&A’s, contests, live music, displays, artists, all help to make the day an family friendly event for all. Special guests have become a big part of conventions which is great however I do feel that people who were hardly seen on screen a very long time ago shouldn’t be there charging for photo opportunities. I feel the guests do help to bring something different however it should be a good opportunity for the attendees at reasonable costs. Tickets for entry cost enough these days so additional extras shouldn’t cost the earth. A convention isn’t just a place which has comic book stands. It’s a place for people in a variety of fandoms to come together. It’s a mixture of being able to see things, do things, buy things, meet people and have fun. Cosplay for me is the heart and soul of a convention. For me a convention is a social event to hang out with and make new friends. I do not agree at all with the comments about cosplay in the other blog post. Ultimately conventions cost money to put on and it’s really tough to keep everyone happy especially with the huge amount of fandoms out there nowadays. Variety is key, I don’t want to be bored, I don’t want to have a quick walk around and be finished in 10 minutes. I want to see new things, meet new guests, find new stalls, learn new things, meet new people. There are some problems which seem to crop up again and again with how some conventions are being run and put together. I like to attend local conventions to see what they have to offer and decide for myself if I would make the effort to return and recommend them in future.


I thought I would share mine and Andy’s thoughts on your experience at Oxcon below:

L: They layout wasn’t ideal as there was a few rooms and I was given no guidance as to what was happening where and very little signage to help you find your way. When entering the Comic Con we were not advised what was happening when, where to find basics such as toilets, lifts etc or and schedule of events which would have been really useful.

A: The layout of the con was interesting with the majority of the stands upstairs and a small amount downstairs near the entrance. I didn’t feel like the layout was obvious as it should have been but that’s mainly down to the venue. Maybe I missed it but a map or more signs would have been useful.

L: The building itself was really nice and it was very central. Parking was a difficulty however especially for families which is expected in a city center. Due to the location there want anything happening outside the building giving no buzz and interest around the event which is a major let down. This really helps create atmosphere and bring people in off the street. There was no facility for rest stops or food and drink which isn’t great. If your there cosplaying you really need areas for down time, seating areas and to refuel with food and drink without having to leave the site. Also this is needed for families and those travelling with small children. There was nowhere I could feed my son or even offer him a chance to sit down properly.

A: Being in the middle of the city there was never going to be any outside attractions such a movie cars/large scale props etc which is something a lot of the other smaller cons are doing to try to add more interest to these kinds of events. I was disappointed there were no photo opportunities inside the building. With so many smaller cons appearing on the calendar there needs to be more to keep the public interested. This is in fact a general criticism of the comic con events across the country; one can only need so many Funko Pops! 

L: There was a good amount of stalls for a local con and a nice mix of types although it would be nice to find a comic con in general which doesn’t focus so hard on having stalls selling Funko Pop after Funko Pop as always. I came across a stall called Lil Fimo Keyrings which make and sell Fimo keyrings in various characters. For those unaware they are small clay baked characters made with various coloured clays. She sells them for £3.50 per character or £5 for a custom character. It seems to be a ‘thing’ now for cosplayers to want to have something in a character they have cosplayed, a little bit of merch/memorabilia that represents their cosplay. It can be really hard which some characters to find things, especially if you’re not on the Funko Pop band wagon. So far I have found Lego characters to fit the bill however now I think I’ve found a new favourite thing as these keychains are super cute! I am not sure if they will survive well as a keychain and I really don’t want to ruin my new cute friends so I will use them for display rather than as a practical thing.

L: There were a few special guests. Unlike other cons I have been to instead of having all the guests together in one set area they were positioned in among the other stalls. I personally didn’t think this worked well as it doesn’t follow what people expect. Also I think people could miss the guest they want to see not being able to find them among the sellers. It works well to have set areas for artists, comics, merchandise, special guests, talks, cosplay zone. It makes it easier to find what you’re looking for in general and to work your way around.

A: It might have been a good idea to keep the celebrity guests in one
place, they seemed very spread out and it wasn’t always obvious that they were in fact guests. I almost missed Virginia Hey (Zhaan from Farscape). I did meet Colin Baker (The 6th Doctor) who was very approachable and was happy to have his photo taken with me.  I thought for a small con the guest list was actually really good.

L: I was there when Andy met Colin Baker (The 6th Doctor) and he was very pleasant and made an effort to talk to us. He guessed my character had to be something from Harry Potter and when I started talking he realized that I was indeed Mrs Malfoy. He actually asked me if I had done the online test (Pottermore Sorting Hat) and he said he had done it himself and he is a Slytherin! I'm a Ravenclaw personally but with a touch of Slytherin for Mrs Malfoy of course! In fact even though I only went as a casual non screen accurate version of Narcissa I was recognised and stopped 3 times which was surprising! The hair is what people commented on being spot on which is good to know as its taken months of hard work! 

A: What stood out for me with this con was the amount of artists who were displaying and selling their work. Normally you see a few artists but there was definitely a larger number at Oxcon that the norm and it’s great to see talented people being able to show off their work at these events.

L: I thought for a small convention there were a good number of cosplayers at a mixture of levels. As I have cosplays in progress and was with family that day I went for casual Narcissa Malfoy. Andy dressed as the 10th Doctor. I saw the beginning of the cosplay competition just as I was leaving. This was held in the front of the convention which I thought was bad planning as I was trying to get out with a pushchair and couldn’t properly. With all the space they had it would have been much better in a different area I feel. My friend ‘Loki of London’ won the contest with this incredible version of Prince Nuada!

L: Overall it was a nice day out for a few hours. It’s not something I personally would attend for more than one day and think it’s quite expensive for what it is in comparison to other local conventions which have more to offer.

A: Would I go next year?? Yes, it’s a local con for me so it’s easy to get in to and doesn’t cost the earth. I would however only spend a day or afternoon as there really wasn’t enough there to justify more than that.

Stay tuned for more reviews and interviews coming soon! 

xoxo


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cosplay Masquerades by Jolly Holly


 
2016 marked my first year of entering competitive cosplay events. People decide to compete for different reasons, some want the prizes, some want the attention and some want to show off their costumes. Whatever your reason cosplay masquerades can be a lot of fun, but can also be a little stressful.
 
MCM London in October was my first big masquerade, up until that point I had only entered small contests at local cons. All I knew was that I was going to be up against some big competition. The standard of cosplay at MCM is always mind blowing and part of me wondered why I was even bothering to enter.

I decided to go for it anyway; I entered both the mini masquerade on the Saturday as Belle and the full masquerade on the Sunday with my Cinderella transformation.

After arriving at the cosplay station on the Saturday at 10am to sign in for the masquerade I had to wait around for the pre judging. I was prepared and had a series of work in progress pictures on my phone ready to show. My biggest fear was that I would be accused of passing off someone else’s costume as my own so having the photos showing the various stages was a big comfort.

Slowly people started arriving and I could get a good look at who I was up against. Boy, I was really starting to second guess myself. There was some tremendous talent.

When it came my turn for the prejudging my mind went blank. I was standing there in front of the three judges holding my album of images and my mouth dried up, I was so nervous. I thought they would turn me away and say that my costume wasn’t good enough to enter. The judges were lovely and patient as I mumbled my was through explaining as much of the process as I could in the three minute countdown I had to show and tell as much as I could.

I felt slightly like a statue in a museum as this point, the three judges surrounded me, looking over
every inch of my dress, looking at the hem, the underskirt, feeling at the bonding in the bodice, checking over the eyelets and lacing in the back, lifting some parts of the lace, looking at hand stitching on the trim. It felt a little invasive but I understand why they were looking at these details.

Once the prejudging was done I was free to go until 2:30 when I had to be back at the cosplay station to head over to the mini arena ready for the contest. I was so nervous all day. I had no idea what I was going to do once I got on the stage, all I knew was that I had maybe around 45 seconds as I was not performing, to move around the stage and show of my costume.

Finally the time came, we were lined up in the order we were competing and waited back stage, I was surrounded by fantastic cosplays and seasoned competitors. I was near the end of the line so I was waiting a long while, getting more and more nervous by the minute. I watched the line in front of me get shorter and shorter and finally it was just myself and two others left. All of a sudden my name was called and my music started and out I went. I rounded the corner and stepped up on to the stage and I princessed like I’d never princessed before. And I loved every minute of it. I posed, I twirled and I smiled to my hearts content. I was only on the stage for around 30 seconds but I felt like a life time.

I left the stage to a lovely cheer from the audience and moved to the side to wait with the rest of the cosplayers. The last two cosplayers performed and then we waited for what felt like forever. I was convinced I knew how it was going to go; I was convinced I knew who the winners were. Best performance was announced, and then runner up, then 1st place. Me.

I could not believe it. I stepped back on to the stage with absolute euphoria. It was so affirming to get that recognition for my cosplay. All the time and hard work spent on it just made it so worth it.

I have completely caught the masquerade bug now. I can’t wait to enter the next one.

Going forward I know what to expect now. What to show the judges, what to tell them, what to do when I get on stage, to have more confidence in myself and my costumes.

Jolly Holly 

xoxo



Cosplay and Convention 101 by Jolly Holly

Bags Packed and ready for MCM 2016
My name is Jolly Holly and I am a cosplayer from the Hampshire area. I am a new contributor for Appleton Pin Up Girl so you can expect to see lots of blog posts coming from me in the future. To give you a brief overview about me I have been attending comic conventions in the UK and abroad since 2013. I am best known for my viral video of my Cinderella transformation dress. I sing, sew and live life to the fullest! You will learn more about me in an upcoming post however for now I wanted to share some of my cosplay wisdom. As cosplay season is upon us I thought this would be a good time to share a cosplay and convention 101 with you all. 
 
When I think back to my first year of cosplaying and attending conventions I realise just how unprepared I was. From costume emergencies to blistered and bleeding feet, I have experienced many of the ups and downs of convention going. I have learned over the years the things I really need to pack, and the things I’ll never use, whether it’s a one day con, a long weekend, or a week-long stay at an international con.

Traveling to cons is never easy, even if it’s a local one. I'm an incredibly forgetful person. I’ve forgotten essential bits of costume before and have now learnt to write a list of every single thing I will need to be wearing with each outfit and to lay it out the night before so I know there’s no chance I will forget a glove, or a shoe, or a strap.

When my dad say my packing list and the two massive suitcases that I was taking to MCM London last year he incredulously asked if I really need to take ‘all that stuff’.’ Um…yes!’ I was doing three Disney princesses; each one has different shoes, different accessories, different undergarments, different make up and different wigs. I was essentially packing three of everything!

It’s taken a few years to perfect, but here is the essential packing list for attending a convention.

Everyday essentials

  • ·         Street clothes – for traveling, to change into after the con.
  • ·         Toiletries – I cannot stress the importance of remembering to pack deodorant and a toothbrush!!!
  • ·         Towel
  • ·         Underwear
  • ·         PJ’s – particularly if you're sharing a room with friends!!
  • ·         Electronic chargers – no one wants their phone or camera to run out of power
  • ·         Purse and spending money
  • ·         Shoes
  • ·         Slippers – for your poor tired feet after a day of wondering the con
  • ·         Brushes and combes


Cosplay essentials

  • ·         Costume – sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget a part of it!
  • ·         Sewing kit
  • ·         Duct tape
  • ·         Safety pins
  • ·         Glue
  • ·         String
  • ·         Wigs
  • ·         Props
  • ·         Accessories
  • ·         Undergarments


Miscellaneous essentials

  • ·         Travel cards
  • ·         Con tickets
  • ·         Snacks and drinks!!!!! Con food is so expensive!


When it comes to getting all this in a suitcase? Always roll whatever clothes you can. It compacts things down and will prevent too much wrinkling. Vacuum bags are always a big space saver too, but make sure to get the ones you can roll the air out of; you might not have access to a hoover!

Traveling to cons can be a nightmare, especially if you're going by public transport. I once went by train with two large suitcases and 3 big dress bags! Getting that lot on the underground was HELL!

When it comes to foreign travel, I always have a fear that a suitcase will be lost or put on the wrong flight, or that security will search my bag and something won’t be put back in. I try to make my suitcases distinctive, ribbons, lots of stickers, bright colours. Not only will this help you spot your suitcase on the baggage carrousel, but it’ll also help airport staff in tracking it down if it does get misplaced.

I once travelled with a hoop skirt that was folded in a way that would not bend the hoops…when I unpacked my suitcase at the other end I found the hoop skirt had been unravelled then squashed back into my suitcase so haphazardly that the hoops were snapped in two places. It always seems that my bags get searched by TSA. The padlock will be broken and there’s that tell-tale sticker or note attached to the case. So I have taken to leaving a little note to the security people inside my suitcase, for example;


I hope that these tips and tricks help. As you get more and more seasoned at attending cons and cosplaying you’ll pin down your own essential lists.


Happy cosplaying!

Jolly Holly 

xoxo

Comic Con Review: Alton, Guildford & Reading Comic Cons

Angel Effects at Alton Comic Con
Sorry for the delay in posts folks, this parent lark doesn't half eat away at your time! Its been a few months but now I am very much back and you can expect to see many more regular posts from myself and some new contributors. 

Convention season is now upon us and I thought this would be a good time to share a round up of some of last years local conventions I attended.
Me with Bond girl Caroline Munro

Last year I decided to bite the bullet and finally get myself to some comic conventions. I have already let you all know about my experience at MCM London last May. Since then I have managed to get to three smaller local conventions and I thought I would share my experience with you all.

Alton Comic Con

Alton Comic Con was arranged by events team Nerdageddon. Due to how local Alton is for me I thought I would give the convention a try. I decided to visit Alton on the Sunday of the convention. Sundays are typically the quieter day for crowds, cosplay and special guests and that seemed true at this convention. The event was held at the Alton Assembly Rooms which is a gorgeous old theatre venue in the heart of Alton with easy access and parking nearby. Adult tickets cost £6 on the door.

Me with actor Julian Seager
There was a good flow of people for the small venue although I am sure the Saturday would have been busier. The venue was split into two rooms downstairs of exhibitors and gaming upstairs. Due to the size of the venue there wasn’t a huge amount of stall holders. There was however variety of stall types and product which is good. I only purchased some badges myself.  There were displays outside and some cosplayers circling and posing for pictures and all seemed very friendly. There were some special guests all of which were approachable and had proper conversations with me and allowed selfies without any charge. There was a Ghostbusters car outside that received a lot of attention, some different daleks from Doctor Who and a fantastic display from Angel Effects of Iron Man costumes and a variety of movie shields which are very impressive. You can check out their work here.
 
The overall feel of the convention felt very friendly and a worthwhile event to attend. I would happily go back this year if my schedule allows however would rather try the Saturday this time instead to see if there is more buzz and more cosplay and hopefully cosplay myself.

Guildford Comic Con

Guildford Comic Con
Fanzone Events run Guildford Comic Con. I decided to take my partner and son again for a family day out. This was held at the Guildford Spectrum Leisure Center which was a good easy location to get to and park at. I went swimming with my partner and son first then attended the convention afterwards. A ticket for the day cost £10 and we could pay on the door. I went to Guildford Comic Con again on the Sunday and experienced a similar feel with quieter traffic, not much cosplay and not many special guests. The Saturday is definitely the next I would like to try at a convention. 
 
My goodies from Snikt & Bamf
There was a good variety of stall holders. There were comics (always essential at a ‘comic con’, anime products, selections of memorabilia of different fandoms, handmade jewelry etc. As mentioned in my previous post I came across stall Snikt and Bamf which is was ecstatic to see at the event. They produce laser cut geek jewelry and I had previous seen their work on social media. Seeing them at the event and being able to purchase from them made the event for me personally.  It looked as though the venue could possibly hold more stall holders. There was some special guests however I only actually saw one at their station and there was no fans talking to them/getting signatures etc at all the whole time I was there. Unlike Alton this con had its own dedicated Cosplay Zone with masquerade and talks from special guests. This was impressive to see some specific dedication to cosplay and it was very well run and planned. The only downside was that is wasn’t advertised or sign posted well. I only found out about it from another stall holder otherwise I would have completely missed it.
 
This convention was bigger than Alton with a larger variety of things available. There were differences between the two. For example Alton had the dedicated gaming room whereas Guildford had the cosplay zone. They both had similar types of stall holders but Guildford probably has the edge for me purely based on the stall Snikt and Bamf as that was a highlight for me. Alton I think had the edge when it comes to cosplay for the amount of dressed up people and the quality of outfits however Guildford had the dedicated cosplay zone. Overall it was a good event. There was clearly still come teething problems with this being their first event however it was good and hopefully improvements will be made for the next one they do.

Reading Comic Con

Me with Death Eater
Jon Campling
I attended Reading Comic Con with my cosplay group the Basingstoke Cosplay Collective, I dressed as a casual Narcissa Malfoy. The convention was run by Fanzone Events held at Rivermead Leisure Centre Reading. The venue was great and an ideal location.

I entered the Cosplay Contest for the first time. I entered my son as baby Draco Malfoy paraded around to the Harry Potter theme tune by his mother Narcissa Malfoy and I entered the group contest with my crew the Basingstoke Cosplay Collective as the random individual cosplayers we are. Some of our members entered separate categories and won, Andy Johns won for best props and Holly Anne Rixon won for overall competitive cosplay where she fully handmade her Belle ballgown and sang on stage. This was my most fun convention based on the fact that I was with my friends and taking part in the competition was a great and fun experience.


Holly as Belle and Andy as Ripley last 2 top right
All had good and bad bits to them but are equally good events to attend (on a Saturday if you want more buzzing atmosphere) if your local and fancy something geeky to do! If your traveling from a good distance then do be aware these are small conventions so have your expectations to fit.
 
I will be attending more this year to attend so stay tuned for more Comic Con reviews coming soon!

xoxo

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Interview with Artist Melanie Adams from Madams Pinups


Behind all great comics there are great artists bringing the stories to life. In fact all films and ideas come from paper first. Artists are hugely important in nerd world but what about in the land of pinups?? Well yes there are pinup artists out there! I came across the work of Melanie from Madams Pinups at Bristol Alternative & Burlesque Fair and fell in love with her work. To see an artist producing pinup art in so many different ways, prints, paintings, homewares and incorporating burlesque, film, comics and more just ticked all boxes of interest for me which is why I need to introduce you all to her and show you her incredible work. Take a read of my interview with Melanie from Madams Pinups below to learn more and grab your special discount code!

How long have you been a pinup artist and how did it come about?


Oooh! What A Lovely Pair
Madams Pinups began at the beginning of 2013, shortly after I got married and became Melanie Adams. (hence Madams Pinups!) For around 10 years prior to that I had been painting ‘pinup’ based fairies but felt my girls, as I call them, were becoming more pinup and less fairy. Pushing my art towards an actual business venture rather than hobby / source of pocket money came after forgoing my job as an Interior Designer due to relocation. It seemed like various aspects of my life were converging to push me towards new beginnings and I haven’t looked back since.

What mediums do you use for your artwork?

I’ve always been reasonably creative and dabbled in most mediums, but for most of my professional artistic life I have been a watercolour artist. Though I do have an A-level in Art, I only ever painted one piece at school as was told “paint is not your medium”! Years later, that comment still haunted me so I decided to pick up the same paint palette I had used back then and teach myself to be a better painter. I still learn something new with each painting I do. More recently I have found that my years of reading graphic novels have finally crept into my work and have been doing more comic book style ink drawings which I am really enjoying exploring.

Can you tell us some of the pinups you have drawn? 

I have a very broad view of the idea of pinup so my works include paintings based on women from Bettie Page and Tempest Storm to Edward Scissorhands and Catwoman! To me all my girls are pinups, even if they are not based on expected pinup themes. Part of what I love about traditional pinup is the cheeky, playful side of the girl next door and the tongue in cheek humour. Many of my works have pun-based titles, Such as “Oooh! What A Lovely Pair” (two pinups sitting on a crate of pears) and “Sheer Eggstacy” (an homage to the works of Elvgren with a sheer-stockinged pinup sitting atop a hoard of Easter eggs!) I also love my “Tattooed Venus” which is my interpretation of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” starring the very fabulous Coco Fierce rising from her clam shell, tattoos and all.


Teenage Bedroom
Who are your personal pinup icons? 

Since I was about 11 I have been obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. My teenage bedroom was a shrine to her and I still have over 50 books on her. In the early days I was just hypnotised by her beauty but as I read more about her as a person the fascination came out of knowing that from incredibly humble roots she transformed into an actual real life Goddess! Growing up in a Yorkshire mining town the glitz of Hollywood and the glamour that came with it seemed like an alien and unachievable concept, but Marilyn really was a girl next door transformed. It wasn’t really until I discovered the burlesque world that I realised there are women the world over who are doing exactly that on a daily basis and I love them for that. We all have a pinup hidden inside us. I also have huge girl crushes on Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson and more recently drag superstar Violet Chacki! I love that they are all pinup chameleons and no matter what style they choose that day they rock it hard! If I had to body swap anyone though it would probably be Christina Hendricks J

   Lulu Vesper
(Winner Miss Pinup UK 2015)
Where do you get your artistic inspiration from?


Anywhere and everywhere! Anything from a beautiful girl on the street, Instagrammers, to photos I snap whilst out and about of architecture, fabrics, flowers, these things often find themselves seeping into the faces of my pinups or the patterns in their costumes, colour combinations etc. My Pinterest boards get bigger every day! I’m a big music fan too and often my current listening shapes the final outcome of a painting. It also helps that I spend an awful lot of time immersed in the burlesque world. As an artist you’re never short of influence surrounded by all those sequins, feathers and sheer abundance of beauty in all shapes, sizes and skintones.  I have a pretty varied taste in other pinup artist’s work too. I adore Vargas and Elvgren for the traditional pinups but love Olivia and Soryama for contemporary stuff. I’m also pretty obsessed with the art in pulp fiction book covers, particularly Robert McGinnis, his women are always such badasses! As a comic lover I also fan-girl pretty hard over the work of Michael Turner and Steve Morris’s Buffy covers are astounding.

What kind of commissions have you taken on? 

Most of my commissioned pieces have been from new burlesque performers wanting logos. I love working on these at it’s great to drill down to the nub of who and what they want to be as a performer and trying to translate that into a single image which most people will only ever see as one inch square on a social media profile! I also do a lot of private commissions for non-performers, especially bridal pieces as saucy gifts for hubby or as a cartoon version of the bride which I then print onto satin robes as hen party gifts. I also love supporting other women’s ventures and every year offer a free commissioned artwork to the winner of Miss Pinup UK run by Rio Wild and of the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival’s Legend In The Making competition. Heidi Bang Tidy and Lady Wildflower who run the event do so much for the burlesque industry, female entrepreneurs and any woman that happens to enter into their sphere that anything I can do to support them feels like an honour.

Do you prefer working in colour for black and white?

Almost all of my favourite photographs are black and white yet as an artist I would have to say I prefer to work in colour as I love how the choice of colours changes an image. More recently I have been working in monochrome as I have been working on a burlesque colouring book. Whilst I have found it hard not to shade the images or colour them in any way I am looking forward to seeing the colour choices people will make for themselves.

Bombshells In The Rain
Wonder Woman Goddess
I know you are a huge comic nerd just like myself! Who is your favourite female character? 

I am a nerd! Growing up in the 70’s my first encounter with any superhero was Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman and whilst she was kind of campy and fun she was still fascinating to me. I loved the dichotomy of this creature embodying enchanting beauty whilst intellectually foiling schemes and kicking ass like Bruce Lee!  I’ve now read a lot of the written versions of her story and she has a great mythology. It’s great seeing how different artists see her and how she is finally starting to be drawn as the Amazonian muscular woman I always pictured her to be. I’m very excited that October 21st has been designated as International Wonder Woman day!
Fun pinup fact; at the turn of the 20th Century as a rebuff to the European idea of beauty the ‘Gibson Girl’ was created. She was an illustrated idealisation of the perfect American woman; she was statuesque, had an hourglass waist and carried herself with a nonchalant confidence. One of the main artists to prolong the Gibson Girl image in the popular press was H G Peter who went on to draw......Wonder Woman!

I’m also a huge Witchblade fan (I have every issue) though I felt the bones of a great female character were never 100% fleshed out as I would have liked them to be. I’m hoping that one day she will get a rebirth and be more fully realised. I love a bad girl too so Catwoman is pretty high on the list, you have to respect a woman who can bring Batman to his knees! I’m also totally spellbound by Harley Quinn. At first glance she’s just a wise cracking hottie but her back story is so full of conflict, trauma and depth. She’s a very interesting and complex character from a sociological point of view, wrapped in a great looking, honest and hilarious package, she’s kind of the perfect comic book character for me.
Nancy’s Nightmare

Have you ever drawn any of the DC Bombshells or Comic/Film characters at all? 

I have been doing a few fan favourites lately, such as Catwoman, Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy ahead of trading at more comic-con events next year. As a massive film buff, especially horror films,  I have also been inspired to paint Morticia Adams, a gender bent Edward Scissorhands (thanks to burlesque performer Kitty Noir) and a piece called ’Nancy’s Nightmare’ which features Nightmare On Elm Street’s Nancy, now Mrs Freddy Krueger atop a blood splattered bed with the infamous glove! Even pinups can have a dark side!

Would you ever do a comic bombshell series?? 


With Great Boob Comes
Great Responsibility
DC Bombshells is my absolute favourite series and annoyingly exactly how I would have written a DC series! All the great female characters working together in an era when Pinup was perfect! The story’s great, the artwork is spectacular and they all have great hair J I’m loving doing my interpretations of existing comic book characters and there are definitely more of those  to come but I also do my own ‘Everyday Superhero’ series of images based on the old Spiderman mantra of “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” except with my girls power is replaced by things like Hair, Nails or Boobs! There will be more of those next year too. There’s also a graphic novel in me full of strong foxy women that I’m longing to actually finish one day.

I know you have drawn burlesque performers before, who have you drawn so far? 

One of the earliest instances of my swing from fairies to pinups was my portrait of Dita Von Teese. She’s such a pinup icon and a true legend of burlesque. In the original version of my painting she has wings, but now I sell prints of her minus the wings. I have also been fortunate enough to have met and been given permission to paint modern greats like Anna Fur Laxis, Dirty Martini and Immodesty Blaze whose piece I embellished with 500 Swarovski crystals. All of them now own their artworks. Last year I was lucky enough to meet Tempest Storm who loved that I had painted her sitting a tea cup and enjoyed my punny title (Tempest Storm In A Teacup) and I was amazed I was wearing a self-made dress with the image on. It’s a very special moment for me to have the muse seem so pleased with the final product though I do get very star struck and usually end up being a gibbering idiot! One day I’d love to do another portrait of Dita, this time based on a wholly original pose and hand it to her in person.


Dita Von Teese          





Me presenting Tempest Storm with a
chiffon scarf with my art on


What makes a good pinup model for artwork?

There are loads of models out there who can pull a great ‘pinup’ pose but the ones that draw my eye are those with that little bit extra. It could be a glint in the eye, a cheeky attitude or a quirky pose. I have always used photographs rather than live models as references but as I’ve developed as an artist I rarely stick to just one photo. It seems disrespectful to essentially ‘copy’ the great work the photographer and model have done together, at least without credit. Often I take three or four photos and blend them to get the pose I have in mind and then get creative with costume, props etc. I do have a lot of friends now who are professional models and they have been kind enough to pull the occasional crazy pose for me so I guess the best quality in a model is lack of fear to look a bit daft sometimes.

Scarlett Luxe

Can anyone be a pinup model? 

Whilst there are an awful lot of beautiful women out there it takes more than beauty and Betty bangs to make a great pinup model. To me pinup is an attitude rather than a specific aesthetic. So whilst I adore the traditional pinup style of someone like the classically beautiful porcelain skinned Scarlett Luxe I’m also drawn to the more edgy looks of someone like Masuimi Max. You only have to look at pop-culture through the ages to see how our preferences in beauty have changed but there’s no doubt that Jean Harlow, Sophia Loren and Beyonce are all perfect pinups in their individual ways. I do believe that in every woman there is a pinup trying to get out. For some it seems effortless, for the rest of us mortals it takes a team of MUH artists, serious underwear and a great photographer to bring her out, but trust me she’s in there somewhere.



What is your most popular piece? 

Trading as much as I do at burlesque events it’s no surprise that my Dita Von Teese portrait is a long standing favourite. However she is now being given a run for her money by my comic book styled “With Great Boobs” picture, but then who doesn’t love boobs! My Catwoman painting entitled “....Meow” (named after Michelle Pfeiffer’s opening line to Michael Keating in Batman Returns) is also a regular favourite across the board at burlesque, comic & alternative events.

You have released homewares featuring your artwork, tell us about that… 


....Meow!
It was not long into creating pinups that I realised that whilst lots of people responded positively to my style of art, not everyone would hang my saucy style in their homes and not everyone can afford original art, so I developed my own line of merchandise featuring my work because everyone has that one cheeky mug in their cupboard even if they don’t have sexy pinup art on their walls. Almost everything I sell I hand-print myself in my home studio from mugs, cushions and bathroom sets through to clothing items like hand printed dresses and tie & cufflink sets for the gents. I even do pinup dishcloths which I call my Dirty Scrubbers! People can even bespoke their products on the website by choosing any of the images from my gallery. I will then print them to order. The only things I don’t make myself are my ever-popular double sided wired hairbands made from fabric I’ve designed. These are made by the queen of pinup hair-bands herself, BeBopa Hairbands. I’m a bit of a control freak so the fact that I trust someone else to make a product line of mine means she must be good. She is a star!

What is your favourite drawing you have done? 

That’s a bit like asking me to choose a favourite child! I suppose I have a few, for different reasons. I think the one that I feel is my best, most complete work is probably ‘Mina’s Dream’ which is a love letter to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It has Whitby Abbey in the background and gravestones of all the characters that die in the book. It’s pretty dark which is a side of myself I don’t put on paper very often. I love my “With Great Hair” picture as it was the first time I thought I might actually have in me the right style to finally create the artwork for my graphic novel. I think the wildcard would have to be my portrait of Catherine D’Lish. Whilst it is by no means my best work, it is the one that first got me noticed by the burlesque community thanks to Heidi Bang Tidy and without it I may never have had the career I have now so that piece does have a special place in my heart.


Mina’s Dream
Tell us about Professor Pinup… 

Ah, the Prof! Professor Pinup is many things. He’s a time travelling scientist, a discoverer of elements and purveyor or practical potions. He’s also my husband! After growing weary of basically being my roadie at trade events, he decided to put his Chemistry degree to use and created me a line of pinup lip balms which I could sell featuring my artwork on the compacts. Since then he has gone on to develop a plethora of fully tested and approved cosmetics and grooming products all named after new elements the Professor has discovered throughout his travels through time. He has a wibbly jelly soap called Jigglonium, (which comes in the shape of a brain, a heart or a pair of rhubarb scented boobs) an amazing range of beard oils, Groomium and a moisturising whipped body butter loaded with natural micas which make the skin glisten. It’s proven incredibly popular with tattooed men and women alike as it really helps the skin stay plumped and refreshes the colours in faded ink. I love trading side by side with him and our customers seem to really respond to our husband and wife team work.

You can find out more about the Prof and his products at www.professorpinup.co.uk

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time? What’s that? J When your passion is also your job the line between business and pleasure is often blurred so even on ‘nights off’ I am often at a burlesque event and inevitably end up talking about my work. No complaints though! When I’m making the Professor’s cosmetic products in the lab (yes, we have a lab!) I listen to music and when I paint I generally have horror films or box sets on next to me so even then it’s not all work. If I truly want time away I immerse myself in a good comic in my beautiful garden and always make time in my schedule for the latest Neil Gaiman or Stephen King book. Usually the only time I separate myself from work is to travel which the Professor and I love to do as much as possible. We have spent Mardis Gras in New Orleans, New Year’s Eve in Times’ Square and scrubbed elephants in Thailand. The world is a beautiful place.

Spill the beans and reveal your nerdy side…



Colour changing Bath Crystals & Test Tube rack 
of time travel inspired room scenting crystals
I’m not really sure I have another side other than my nerdy one J Even at gala events I’m still a nerd, just in a sparkly dress! However, here’s a few nerdy confessions; I do have an alarming amount of superhero t-shirts and knickers. I can only sleep if Family Guy is playing on the TV.  I often speak only in quotes from film or tv which drives my husband mad. I carry a Wonder Woman soft toy in my bag at all times who often appears on my Instagram feed blogging about travel or food! If I was ever on Mastermind my specialised subject would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the greater Whedonverse and I am a tea addict with a hierarchy of mugs which no other human could ever comprehend. Oh, and I have series of spreadsheets cross referencing all my comics with dates bought, price paid and links to cross over events. Is that nerdy enough for you? J

Do you have any events coming up where people can see your work? 

There is rarely a weekend where Madams Pinups and Professor Pinup cannot be found selling their wares somewhere across the country. We can be found at most Alternative & Burlesque Fairs, (Glasgow & Manchester between now and Christmas) all major UK Burlesque Festivals (Glasgow coming up in November, North Wales in January) as well as Tattoo and Comic Conventions. To keep up to date, follow our respective facebook pages where we announce upcoming shows.


Halloween Queen
Are you taking seasonal commissions and artwork pieces in the run up to Christmas? 

I’m always open for commissions but fill up pretty quickly on the run up to Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Halloween is my favourite time of year and there are usually a couple of new ‘horror’ pieces around October time plus there’s always at least one new card design every Christmas. And of course Madams Pinups and Professor Pinup are the perfect people to turn to when shopping for the pinup or bearded hipster in your life at Christmas.

What are your plans for the future? 

This year I have been working on a burlesque colouring book featuring over 30 new images ready to colour alongside a brief history of burlesque with contributions from renowned corset makers, burlesque historians and international performers. It’s a project that started small and grown crazy big but I’m very excited to see it all as a final product. Finger crossed it will be available to buy ahead of this Christmas. After that, many more comic themed images, a couple of innovative products from the Prof and ultimately my graphic novel. It’s been in the making for over 8 years now so who knows when it will be finished but as it draws together all my favourite things, superheroes, burlesque, music, humour and horror it is a true labour of love and will hopefully be worth the wait.


As a thanks to all Appleton Pinup Girl blog readers, the following discount voucher code, APPLETON10 will get you 10% off across both our websites.

To see more of Melanie’s artwork, homewares, clothing & accessories visit www.madamspinups.com
For cosmetics, gent’s grooming and home fragrancing see www.professorpinup.co.uk
For news on events, special offers, works in progress and random pictures of all things nerdy look for Madams Pinups and Professor Pinup on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Tumbler.


Melanie in a Madams Pinups original dress

Thank you so much to Melanie for her time with this interview! Make sure you make excellent use of the discount code available to you! Treat yourself or someone else in time for Christmas!
Stay tuned for more interviews coming soon

xoxo