Gulf Coast Maker and Comic Con is an opportunity for everyone to join together to share resources, learn a craft, hone their skills, find career and academic opportunities, try new tools and innovations, and much more.
This week, we are at Gulf Coast Maker and Comic Con 2018. We'll bring you artists, cosplayers, craftsman and more during our 4 hours at the show.
Gulf Coast Maker and Comic Con welcomes makers of all forms, including inventors. Electrical engineer Joe Nahum is prototyping a solution to clean air after serving our country as part of the US Army in Desert Storm. He noticed air pollution in the Middle East and he decided in that moment that he wants to solve that issue. He returned to the United States and became an electrical engineer to help him with his journey.
Joe's vision, EASY-AIR, is supposed to convert carbon dioxide into pure oxygen. While the prototype is small and designed to be used in a consumer-type scenario, Nahum says the technology could be scaled to any size. While the first thought might be about the carbon offset of cleaning the air while using power, Nahum has an answer for this as well. He imagines placing a larger implementation on the device at the top of the chimney stack at the power plant, cleaning the air as the power is produced.
In addition to the conversion, it also acts as an ionizer. Similar to the process that occurs as water hits at the bottom of a waterfall, as the air flows through the device, it is energized. This is not an unfamiliar technology for many, as both Sharper Image and RadioShack had made the technology popular in the mid 2000s. Sharper Image offered the Ionic Breeze and RadioShack offered the Environizer for several years. This device combines the once popular tech with the carbon dioxide converter into a single product.
Nahum is currently in the prototype phase and came to GCMCC 2018 to gain recognition and funding for his project. He is hoping to be able to run clinical trials to verify the results as well as bring the product to market.
Cosplaying is a key element in all great conventions and that does not exclude Gulf Coast Maker and Comic Con 2018. Aaron Knowles from Better Actions Cosplay visited us to specifically discuss the importance of cosplay and explain his passion for bringing fictional armor, weapons and props to the real world. He lets his creativity flow by learning about how he can bring that passion to life.
Aaron uses a plethora of crafts and materials that are mostly self taught and he continues to better his abilities. One important message that he told the PLuGHiTz crew was "every time you make one thing, you level up and gain experience and you make it to that next level." Aaron strives to be a positive influence for new cosplayers and he finds importance in supporting them in their future projects to gain that new experience.
Aaron brought with him 3 props to show his craft. The first is a replica of Thor's hammer Mjolnir, nearly entirely 3D printed. The hammer was printed in several parts because of its overall size. The pieces were then attached together, painted and the detail items, such as the leather handle, were added afterward. He also showed off a super sledge from the Fallout series. This piece required a different set of skills, as it is made of a variety of materials, including 3D printing, pipe and thick gauge wire. Finally, he showed off a bazooka from a custom character: GI Joker. This piece is made of foam and PVC pipe and weighs far less than it looks like it should.
Better Actions Cosplay is the outlet Aaron uses to support anyone looking to create and design costumes and props to bring the wildest idea to life. Anyone is welcome to contact him through Facebook and Instagram using the same handle: @BetterActionsCosplay.
One of the first makers we ever interviewed was Ana Mailer from Gypsy's Weavings, and remains one of the most unique. Ana creates something that is fairly uncommon in modern life: chainmail. She got started in the Renaissance Festival scene making chainmail for costumes and competitions. Eventually she discovered that people were interested in her craft and began making items for others.
One of the things that keeps her skills sharp is that every year, she takes on a challenge to learn a new aspect of the craft. While she initially learned the modern loop mail, over the years she has taken on the challenge to learn other styles and fastenings. The last time we spoke, she was learning scalemail, while is similar to standard chainmail, with the addition of dragon-like scales. Ana is wearing a scalemail top during her interview.
This year, her personal challenge has been to learn the more traditional style of chainmail fastening. Unlike the modern, where the loop is opened and closed, the traditional method involves closing rivets with special tools, including an anvil. Obviously, this method is not as convenient as the modern method, which only really requires plyers to open and close loops. It requires the special tools, but is also far louder than the modern style, with hammers and anvils ringing with each loop being closed.
Ana doesn't just take these challenges on for her personal experience. In the case of the traditional chainmail, she has done it to experience the history of the trade. She has even joined a competition that evaluates the accuracy of the process and the end product. She hopes that her annual challenge will pay off in this competition, whose prize is one of recognition among her peers.
In the world of cosplay, there are innumerable characters to portray. We would like you to meet Starlight Darling Cosplay. She is a very enthusiastic participant in the Gulf Coast Comic and Maker Con in Seminole, FL and was honored last year and this year to be a judge. Her favorite character is Rin Tohsaka from Fate-stay night.
After doing this for 6 years, she makes all her own costumes and has taught herself to sew in order to do so. It was a challenge at first because she had to keep at it until she got it right. She absolutely loves doing this and recommends picking out a character that you love and can relate to and just sticking to it. She likes her costumes to be big and poofy with lots of sparkle. Needless to say a problem arises when she has to travel to her cons, especially when she has to fly. That's where she has to get really creative!
She says it takes her about 150 hours on average to complete one costume. A more complicated costume can take much more time and she has been known to knock one out in a weekend. She has made probably 30 of them. With having an outside job from 9-5, her free time is totally taken up with her passion for creating her perfect costume. It is very important to her for positive feedback on her efforts, as it is for all participants.
She has been at the event since it started and attends probably 6 cons a year. She has trimmed it down from a larger number in order to put more focus on doing better job on the ones she attends, making it quality not quantity.
When you hear the name Ghostbusters, you probably immediately think of the movie. In the realm of cosplay, it is a group of people who have formed an alliance to do good in the community and have fun in the process. We met Ellery Christensen, a ghost cadet who is part of the Ghostbusters: Lost Spirits Division, one of 2 groups based in the Tampa Bay area. She became a member because of her love of the movie and through friends. She started out as a photographer for it and is now a participant.
This group of happy people is one of several groups in the area that, put together, would number over 75. Their goal is to spread joy and fun to charities, school groups, hospitals or fundraisers in the area. The group works with an organization called Cosplay for a Cause to find local events to participate in.
When they are at the con, they wander around meeting the people and particularly children. At this event one of the games they play with them is a card game that tries to test their "psychic ability." When they go out into the community, they make appearances in hospitals to cheer up the sick children. Their visits at schools are a lot of fun, and children wherever they go are fascinated by the Proton packs on their backs. These packs can weigh 40 pounds and can cost up to $1,600.00. Needless to say they are glad when it is time to take them off! There are people who have even named theirs.
This group of wonderful people are having such a good time being together and sharing their fun. Their main goal is to add a level of enjoyment to these events for kids of all ages.
Florida is known for it's high tourism between the sandy beaches and the theme parks, but few are aware of the legends and mysterious creatures found in Florida that can make your toes curl. The PLuGHiTz team learned that there are numerous eerie stories that our lovely state has to offer, and we got to hear about some of them from the Florida legends expert and local author, Mark Muncy. Mark and his team traveled throughout Florida to share the greatest stories they could find.
These tales were not easy to come by but when they were discovered, Muncy researched them tirelessly and made it his mission to find other witnesses and references to support each legend. Once he gathered enough tales, he compiled all his findings into his own book, Eerie Florida: Chilling Tales from The Panhandle to The Keys. The stories are arranged from north of the state and travels south to the Florida Keys.
If this grabs your attention, then you may be pleased to hear that Mark is preparing to release a follow up, Freaky Florida in Fall 2018 just one year after his first book was brought to market. This new story is less revolved around the monsters and more involved in the freakiest places you can find in the Sunshine State.
To find more information about Mark and Eerie Florida you can go to the Eerie Florida website and find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter under the handle: @eerieflorida.
Nicola Cuti is an American artist known for his work in background animation from popular cartoons throughout the industry. He has made his way from animation and comics to film and movies but has come to the realization that writing is his number one passion. Nicola knows that writing is what he was meant to do and now he is the author and creator of his own fictional universe revolving around the intergalactic teenager and crime solver, Starflake. Starflake was created to bring less gender bias to the comic and science fiction fandom by including a feminine interest along with real humanlike conflicts.
Nicola has 55 years invested in the science fiction industry under his belt that has helped him become a magnificent story teller. He has numerous stories published and 7 of those are from the Starflake universe. With so many stories written about this special space teen, he then set out to have proper marketing surrounded by her character. After a competition to be the popular main role, Alicia Sage became the girl on the covers. There was no better person for this role.
Cuti is currently writing a movie script to bring Starflake to the big screen in his favorite story Starflake Rides with the Galactic Bikers. For more information about Nicola Cuti and his work you can go to his website.
PLuGHiTz Live is no stranger to the Electrathon teams of Tampa Bay. Gulf Coast Maker and Comic Con gave us the opportunity to learn a little bit more about them while speaking with the USF Electrathon team captain, Sai Chelikani.
Electrathon is a competition where people build and race electric vehicles within three categories: high school, college, or open enthusiasts. This competition consists of 2 one-hour long races where the biggest limitation is the battery life of the vehicle. The organization's main goal is to promote the awareness of alternative energy sources.
Sai Chelikani is a natural born racer that loves his role on his team. He was exposed to Electrathon after being on a high school robotics team and decided he wanted to expand his knowledge mechanically. Sai then realized that this program is a stepping stone into the technologically advancing world that he wants to be a part of. He discusses the skills he has learned and the journey he took to be where he is today.
You can learn more about Electrathon of Tampa Bay by visiting their website or connect with them through their social media.
Any maker can agree that a most of their work takes a lot of time, dedication, and experience to their craft. Deborah Gibson demonstrates this type of dedication in her company, All About The Stitches and the name says it all. Her work includes mostly any stitch you can think of: crotchet, knitting, embroidering, cross stitching, sewing, and more.
Deborah's passion all started when she was 14 years old when her grandmother passed down the skill of working with fabric. Ever since then, she has been growing her craft and skill with as much as she can learn while making memorable items for friends and family. Her family has always encouraged her to create and 7 years ago, her kids explained how she needed to establish herself through her own company where she can sell and share her amazing work with others.
After gathering feedback from many different events and conventions, All About The Stitches is looking to expand their work even further by teaching the skills that Deborah has spent years acquiring. You can stay connected with her through the All About The Stitches website for more information about the classes as well as the other services they offer.
There are many people behind some of your favorite movies and video games that make the whole project possible and we had the honor of discussing major future technological changes with one of them. Tony Mecca is a well-known animator that has his mark in popular films like X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hotel Transylvania 2, Rio 2, and much, much more. He has worked with so many studios and movies within a span of 15 years since he started out in his animation career and is currently working with EA in the cinematics division.
Tony is a very special guest this year at Gulf Coast Maker & Comic Con 2018 while leading his talk titled, "How to Break into The Future Film Industry." He moved to Florida for some of his current projects while the cinematic presence in the Florida area is increasing. This growing presence is a vital step in the advancements in technology all of us are eager to be brought to entertainment. Mecca explains revolutionary ideas that are in the works behind the scenes for what is to come.
If you are interested in learning more about Tony Mecca and the work he is apart of, you can visit his website.
3D printing is an art in itself but local artist with Blossoms of the Heart, Christine Samad and her husband have brought it to the next level. Christine is a very creative individual that has a passion for creating plot lines with characters and props that she designs. With the plot idea in mind, her and her husband bring them to life using one of their four personal 3D printers, but it doesn't stop there. With the 3D figure physically in front of her, Christine then paints over them to establish her original imagination of her creation.
Blossoms of the Heart came to Gulf Coast Maker & Comic Con to show off just what they can do and discuss their passion with buyers and other makers. Christine's creative inspiration comes from her 2nd grade classroom, as she is a teacher on the side. She has found that her stories bring joy to the kids and that's where it all started. As well as her art, she has also self-published a few children's books on Amazon.
You can go to the Blossoms of the Heart website to view some of Christine's creations and for links to purchase some for yourself. You can also find them on Facebook: @Blossomsoftheheart.
FIRST Robotics is a very important organization that brings more and more educated students into the workforce with robotics experience that will propel them into the future. Once these students graduate from high school, they are encouraged to join the FIRST Alumni Association to stay involved in FIRST and to help students just like them. Alumni volunteer their time and prior experience to encourage the next generation of great minds as well as push the bar up for robotics around the world.
Vishal Vellody is a perfect FIRST alumni example. He was apart of FIRST Robotics Competition 5276 Edgar Allan Ohms as a vital part of the mechanical team for three and a half years. After graduating, he realized that he can apply what he learned on the team and work with the current students to help them learn like he did. Vishal made it his mission to ensure his team learned from the team's past mistakes so that they can evolve robotics. Now, he has volunteered a year of his time and he loves it.
Vishal is a current intern at the Pasco County Library in Land O' Lakes where the Edgar Allan Ohms meets. The space is free to the community to work on projects and teaches anyone numerous skills. Vishal's job is to work with visitors to make sure they have tools and help they need to complete their own projects.
A long-time guest and friend of the show and the founder of Tangible Labs, Mo Eppley stopped by to show us the new additions to their stock. Tangible Labs is a 3D printing and prototyping company that also does client-based work. Mo and her husband are huge fans of the Harry Potter stories and their new Wizarding Wonder's Collection for is inspired by Universal Studio's Harry Potter World.
This exciting collection includes eight 3D printed wands, a 3D printed golden snitch, and wizard identification cards/licenses. Each 3D printed item was assembled from multiple prints and painted in acrylic to resemble the look and feel of the wands and snitches in the movie. The IDs and licenses are targeted for any cosplayer to be "certified" in Quidditch, be "permitted" to conceal a wand, or be an official Hogwarts student of faculty.
Tangible Labs also focus their time and dedication to their work on Nerd Swag that will suit nerds of all interests. Mo has realized that you can't find certain fandoms and designs on the internet so Tangible Labs design their own original T-shirts with unique nerdy passions. You can purchase these items and learn more about Mo's work at the Tangible Labs website. You can also follow their work on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter under the handle: @tangiblelabs.
As part of the maker and journalistic communities, it was wonderful for us to get to know Tiffany Razzano, founder of Wordier Than Thou. We had a chance to chat with her for a few minutes before the show, at her simple, book filled table here at Gulf Coast Maker & Comic Con. We started off with a curiosity of the meaning of their name that turned into total excitement for what they do.
Wordier Than Thou is a local nonprofit for the literary arts in the Tampa Bay area. They organize various readings and events for local authors to come out and get some exposure. It all came about five years ago because Tiffany, a journalist by trade, recognized that one of the things she hated the most was public speaking. Since this was something that she would periodically encounter in her career, she decided to do conquer it head on. She accomplished this by doing something where she could overcome this hatred in a more controlled environment - storytelling.
They started out simply, with just one event where authors could tell stories and prose in an open mic style. It has since grown significantly and they are now doing 8 to 12 events per month that tap into different parts of the literary community. It has become a great support system for the authors to showcase their work and also to draw in people who wouldn't normally attend this kind of event. They actually strive to "sneak the books" into their events where some audience members are surprised that they just loved a show that ended up being about books. For example, one of their most successful events is a burlesque show with wonderful performers and amazing costumes that they put on twice a year.
During the interview, Tiffany introduced an upcoming event called Eat Our Words that Scott and Michele actually attended. The authors made various dished that were inspired by their books. It was a fun way to interact with the authors and learn about their latest works while sampling some really good food. We look forward to attending some of their future events, as well.
You can check them out yourself by going to their website, or by visiting their Facebook page.