The Curtain Falls on 2013

2013 was a big year for me. I did some scary new things, like driving myself over the Tappan Zee Bridge for the first time to get to ConnectiCon or officially committing to train travel over the more direct bus route because I would get really sick on the commercial buses. I feel like I've grown a lot as a person and actually found the confidence to include a more personal touch on Sketchy Details again. Directly related to this site, I did some things I didn't think were going to happen. I launched a YouTube channel featuring my art, my haunting, and my thoughts on pulp culture. That will be coming back in a couple weeks with a new schedule and better formatting. I even entered the Geek & Sundry Vlog Search with Slipstream and was surprised not just by the response to the series pitch but the opportunities that opened up by entering.

I briefly launched The Preston Files and came to the conclusion that the series doesn't work without the premise of Food Don't Go Stale In Space. I have no desire to continue that series without the help of my two friends, so I'm leaving those characters behind. I am actively developing a new comic inspired by convention life this spring. It's going to be insane and unlike anything you've seen from me before.

I picked up a weekly column at Man, I Love Films writing about--what else?--horror films, started my tenure as the editor of Foreign Chops for The LAMB, and will be able to tell you very shortly about my new gig writing video game reviews.

I also self-published a collection of horror stories because I was tired of waiting on the approval of editors who either immediately rejected horror because horror bad or asked me to do crazy things like turn a home haunting story into a werewolf story. Take Out & Other Stories: A Collection of Weird Fiction is now $.99 at Kindle and available as a pay what you want title at Smashwords (available epub, mobi, and pdf). Nook, Apple, and Sony stores are adjusting the entry and will be available again shortly.

So on this, the last day of 2013, I thought I would reflect on some of my favorite pieces of the year. Tomorrow starts the annual tradition of The Sketchys, where I hand out awards to the best in the many media covered at this site. We'll be adding on TV and web awards, as well as a few stand alones for some other notable categories. But today, we stay inside the warm confines of Sketchy Details.

The Top 12 Films of 2012--remember these?

Psycho-Pass and the Morality of Justice--I started writing longer pieces on Anime to get into AnimeNEXT as press, the single worst convention experience of my life. The resulting pieces are what I strive to do with every critical article at Sketchy Details.

Stoker Review (Film, 2013)--I still love Stoker 9 months later. I got the Blu-ray for Christmas and it holds up.

Explore: Broodhollow--if my write up of this charming and disturbing webcomic was good enough for series Kris Straub, it's good enough to be proud of.

Quinni-Con 2013: Now That's a Fan Convention--seriously, people. If you're anywhere near Quinnipiac University and you like anime/manga, you need to check out this free student-run fan convention. One of the best I've ever attended.

The Tao of Gantz--a different spin on the ultraviolent anime, focusing on the unexpected intrusion of Buddhism in a major story arc.

Deadman Wonderland and the Prison-Industrial Complex--this one is less of a stretch than the Gantz one. The series references the US prison system repeatedly and literally concerns jails turned into commercial enterprises as tools for profit and deterring bad behavior.

Blast of Tempest: Shakespeare Unbound--I'm still thinking about this analysis months later, going so far as to pitch a more expansive Shakespeare and Anime panel to a big convention in the area. Stay tuned.

Slipstream #1: Welcome to Pulp Culture--here it is. The pilot episode of Slipstream created for the Geek & Sundry vlogger search that continues to take on a life of its own.

AnimeNEXT: The Worst Convention I’ve Ever Been To: Fighting for Fun Against All Odds--do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Never attend AnimeNEXT.

Pretty Good for a Girl: Tomb Raider, Lollipop Chainsaw, and the Vision of a Hero--want to know why I'm excited for that new game writing gig? I submitted this post as a sample and they liked it, feminist arguments about video games and all. Good people.

ConnectiCon 2013: Something for Everyone Without Losing Anyone--This is the first time I ever just took a wait and see approach to conventions, wandering around, chatting with people, and catching events I could get into. So rewarding, both the con itself and the approach.

SyFy's Heroes of Cosplay: Holding Out for a Hero (Or a Clue)--the follow-up is good news. Yaya Han and the other cosplayers tackled bullying in the fan community head on in the final two episodes and made it clear that, no, Yaya is not the nasty person the show made her out to be. Such a sweetheart in real life, you guys. I swear.

Papers, Please Review (PC/Mac Game)--there were a lot of really cool, politically-relevant social commentary games this year. Papers, Please was easily the best.

Asylum Jam is Coming--a look at negative tropes in horror gaming inspired by a game jam event where one of the worst offenders, hospital horror, was banned.

Banned Books Week 2013--seven videos, seven books, seven days celebrating the freedom to read.

The NYCC Cosplay Experience: Putting It Out There--I have bad anxiety and am working through some major issues with big scary things like cosplaying at huge conventions. I pushed myself all summer to build up the confidence to really go for the full-blown cosplay experience this year. This is that story.

Carrie Review (Film, 2013)--the great thing about film is never knowing if you'll like something until you watch it. I was prepared to hate the Carrie remake; I didn't. Quite the opposite, actually.

The Haunting Ground #5: This Club is a Haunted House--the reveal of my over the top night club-themed Halloween yard display, including set-up and tear down.

Only God Forgives Review (Film, 2013)--if I didn't assign scores, you'd probably think this was one of my top films of the year. Scores might go away next year. I haven't decided yet.

High Tech Halloween on a Low Tech Budget--a huge chunk of my panel at the Geek Creation Show; shame that my DSLR stops filming at the 30 minute mark and I didn't know.

Watch: Sharon Needles' TV Will Never Love You--I feel like more people would get into performance art if more people were willing to talk about how performance art like this shocking concert performance by Sharon Needles actually applies to the real world.

Horror Thursday: Room 237--that The Shining documentary is a horror film about obsession that just happens to be culled from critical analysis of a 30 year old horror film. Brilliant.

Letting Go: Art, Anxiety, and the Competition at Chiller Theatre Expo--it's not a contest, but this piece of creative non-fiction is easily my favorite piece of writing to ever go up on Sketchy Details. I've worked on it, no joke, for two months and I still want to expand it into a longer piece with a couple extra contextualizing fragments for submission to big name literary fiction journals.

And I leave you with a few of my resolutions. I will update Sketchy Details five days a week with exciting content for you to enjoy. I will continue to push my creativity in new directions, experiment with form and genre, and put myself out there as an artist/creator. I will continue to work on myself, physically and mentally, to be the very best person I can be. And I will get back into my former daily reading/creative writing schedule to continue expanding my catalogue of references and work to create more opportunities based around Sketchy Details.

I hope you had a great year and wish you the best in 2014.

Best in Books 2013

Watch: If you are in a shell...