Tag Archives: phoenix comic con

Interview with Aurora O’Brien

Interview with Aurora O’Brien

 By Michael Bradley

[Note:  This article is for publication in The WOD Magazine and a future podcast of KWOD Radio.  Aurora O’Brien is one of the many awesome Arizona cosplayers and models.  Haven’t moved to Arizona yet?  LOL, you have no idea what you are missing.]

 MB:  Today our interview is with Aurora O’Brien, an outstanding young cosplayer and professional model.  Most people see you at events or photos and have no idea the true diversity of your interests.  You studied at the Art Institute of Phoenix and are an artist as well as a model correct?

AO: Yes! My dream has always been to be an artist. To create something from nothing is the best feeling in the world.  After attending though, I lost interest in art completely, not drawing for over five years. I soon realized I had to let out my creative energy somehow so I decided to give modeling a try. I later linked up with famous American comic book artist Steve Rude and became his model in exchange for lessons! He helped me regain my passion for art, and now I can’t stop!

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MB:  Tell me about your outdoor lifestyle.  I know you have an interest in motorcycles, riding horses, and even welding.

AO: Oh yes! I’m just one of those people who loves an adventure! These are my escapes from reality. There is nothing like hopping on my bike to go see my horse, spending the afternoon with her, then making my way back home to help fix something. A fun lil fact, is that I did not learn to ride before getting my bike or horse. I just decided I wanted to do it, and learned along the way!

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MB: How long have you been into cosplay now, and what got you started?

AO: I first became interested in cosplay in middle school…well, I mean I wanted to dress up like my favorite anime characters. I went to my first con in 2009 and had the time of my life! I felt like I had finally met people I could connect with. Sadly, I did not have much money and I was only able to attend two others in the next few years. After I began modeling though, things changed. One my amazing photographers paid for my ticket and gas costs to get in just so he could take my picture and hang out. Then I began getting paid to be a booth babe and asked to cosplay more characters! It’s so amazing how things work out sometimes!!

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MB: What are some of your favorite characters to cosplay?

AO: Revy from Black Lagoon & Red Sonja for sure! I just love their rough around the edges attitude and the way they rose up from a rough past. As they say, the flower that blooms from adversity is the most beautiful…or in this case, badass!!

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MB:  Do your cosplay choices match those you read and watch, or are there some differences?

AO: Yes, 100%. I cannot cosplay the character unless I can connect with them in some way. Otherwise it just isn’t all that fun. If I have a request for a cosplay, I will check out the series first. Besides, it’s just another excuse to watch more anime!

MB:  How many cons and events/photo shoots are you doing per year?

AO: That is a hard question…Sadly I cannot afford to attend many cons. Usually, I only get the opportunity to go to about three or four a year. As far as photo shoots go, I average around 75 per year and the events are always a surprise. I am a brand ambassador so I work anything from a cigar girl at Barrett Jackson to promoting liquor at clubs on the weekends or holidays, and even caddying for golfers (including the D-backs) for charity events. What can I say? I am all over the place.

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MB:  You look a lot different in many of your shots, which is a credit to your modeling skills.  When I saw you at Amazing Arizona Con with Mary DeBalfo, I at first did not recognize you.  You even had a contest to find you this year at Phoenix Comic Con.  How many people were able to found you each day?

AO: Thank you so much, it’s something I take a lot of pride in. I was shocked at how many people found me each day! I certainly felt the love! It was so great to finally meet the people who follow my page in person! It’s much better than just reading messages!

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MB:  No one naturally looks good on camera.  I never met a model who had it easy.  When you wore your Red Sonja outfit one day at Phoenix Comic Con, I was kind of shocked at how ripped your abs were.  It reminded me of Toni Darling, and I know she does physical training for a living.  Do you have a special diet and exercise regimen as well?

AO: Oh my, you are so sweet to say that!! Well, honestly I don’t enjoy working out in conventional ways. Sure I do some crunches and yoga from time to time, but I find that hula hooping, dancing, riding my horse, jump roping, and playing Kinect on Xbox is WAY more fun!

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MB:  Are there certain photographers you have recently worked with that you would recommend to other cosplayers/models?

AO: Adam Patrick Murray is fantastic!! He is so easy to work with, creative, and catches the character in a simple, clean, yet engaging way. Another one would be Dave Kelley. He is sort of my go to guy, and one of my best friends. We just had our 30th shoot together the other day!! He is amazing and SOOOO creative!! As far as professional modeling photos go, Michael Luna is the best Arizona has!!

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MB:  What are some of your favorite events or locations?

AO: The geek in me loves Amazing Arizona Con! It’s not too big, not too small….its juuuust right! You have much more time to get to know your favorite artist and authors. Not to mention you can actually walk in the aisles without getting bumped and crinkling your brand new comic book!! The rebel in me however, loves working bike week selling cigars! The crowds are so free spirited, fun, and are always offering me free beer!

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MB: Do you make all your outfits or do you have some preferred helpers?

AO: Here is where the pros will get mad at me… I cannot sew. Instead I go on the hunt. Thrift stores are wonderful for piecing together outfits, and finding other clothes to bring to photo shoots.

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MB: What are some of your best cosplay moments?

AO: Meeting fans is always a touching moment. It’s still hard for me to believe that people are legitimately interested in meeting me and hearing my opinions. That being said, one of my all time favorite moments, was at an anime con before I was a ‘public figure’. It was help at a hotel that had a bar in the center. Since I was cosplaying Revy, it only seemed appropriate to have a drink…you know, get into character and all. As soon as I sat down, a man ordered me a shot of rum, winked, then walked away (Black Lagoon fans will understand).

Soon after another guest approached me & bought me a shot then handed me a six inch moveable Revy statue (which I still use today for my art). He said I did an excellent job with the cosplay and he would consider it an honor if I took the gift, and a shot with him! We downed our drinks, hugged and he left…I think there were about three others that came almost immediately after to have a shot with “Revy” before I decided that was enough.

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MB: Do you cosplay just for fun, or do you have a store and blog site we can plug for you?  Also, for photographers out there and people needing advertising or spokespersons, what is the best way for them to book you?

AO: I cosplay for the fun of it! What other reason is there? I do have a store where prints are available, but that’s only to help with some of the costs of cosplaying. You are welcome to visit my store at aurorart.storenvy.com. If anyone is interested in hiring me for an event they can contact me on my website, www.auroraobrien.com or send me an email at dmobrien88@gmail.com

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MB: How safe do you feel at cons now that the attendance has grown so much? Is it safe to walk from parking lots in costume? Are the bigger crowds bringing out “touchy” people who break barriers they shouldn’t?

AO: I am exceptionally thankful to say I don’t really get messed with at cons. I think I have a natural aura around me that says, “ I may be cute, but I can kick your a**”. I’m pretty thankful for that too, because I would hate to subconsciously knock someone out over a wandering hand… again.

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MB: What advice do you have for people starting out?

AO: HAVE FUN!! There are no rules, you are among friends. Be fearless, and if anyone makes fun of you, just laugh it off. For those people, just aren’t your people, and are probably just jealous of how awesome, brave, and fun you are!! Just be you, and make new friends. That’s what it is all about, don’t forget that.

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MB: Who would you like to give a shout out for being someone who helped you get started with modeling and cosplay and friends you look forward to seeing at events?

AO: My shout out would be to all of my amazing fans, photographers, family, friends and supporters! If it wasn’t for you all, I wouldn’t have the confidence, nor the drive to get as far as I have. Before I entered the modeling world I was not in such a good place. Since then though, I have met countless amazing people who have shown me what it is to be happy, strong, loved and simply not ashamed to be me.

 

 

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Naomi Novik – An Author to Read!

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Naomi Novik would be at Phoenix Comic Con 2014.  So, I left my booth in the capable hands of my wife and friends and stood in line to get her autograph.  My appreciation for her work came from a random coincidence.  I receive free books from publishers through Patti Hulstrand in exchange for my reading and reviewing them.  I read over a book a week, in addition to writing my own, so this works out well for everyone.

I am usually disappointed at the quality of books I receive, even from major publishers.  I was very happy as I opened Blood of Tyrants and started to read to find that the author, Naomi Novik, wrote outstanding prose and has great characterization.  As a result, I actually spent my own money to buy her other books in the series and I am rapidly going through them.

When I met Naomi Novik in person, I was also happy to find that she was quite charming, appreciative of fans, and fun to talk to.  This is more rare in celebrity guests and writers than you would think.  Here is a picture of us at PCC, followed by the Book Review I wrote for The WOD Magazine:

Naomi Novik and I

And here is the book review:

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Blood of Tyrants

by Naomi Novik

 Book Review by Michael Bradley

 Blood of Tyrants is the eighth book in the Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik.  Generally, it is difficult for me to properly evaluate a book starting at book eight.  I must admit I had never read any of the series prior to this one.  The two main characters are Captain William Laurence and Temeraire.  Temeraire is a dragon, though one of remarkable intelligence and character.  What helped me out surprisingly is one of my most hated overused writer tropes or devices – the character with amnesia.

Still, Captain Laurence is washed ashore with amnesia, which being the eighth book in the series, actually let me discover who he was and his relationships as if the first book in the series.  Please authors, stop with the amnesia though.  It just doesn’t happen like that.  But back to the book…

I was immediately impressed by the pacing and the outstanding prose of Naomi Novik who immediately makes you interested in the characters and their adventure.  This particular book takes place in the orient during the Napoleonic Wars, early nineteenth century.  I was so impressed that I went out and bought the early seven books so I could read them as well.  I have finished the first two but seem to have missed buying number three, so I am stuck for now.  I definitely recommend reading them in order.

Naomi Novik creates a world that in many ways is a realistic historical novel of the Napoleonic period, heavily reminiscent of Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander series, the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester, or the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell.  In this way, her novel is far from revolutionary.

Then Naomi Novik mixes in the concept of dragons used to fight in the war.  This is not very original either, as other authors have done so, such as Harry Turtledove’s Darkness Series which recounts World War 2 in a medieval setting with Dragons as aircraft, behemoths as tanks and magic for nuclear weapons.  Similarly, local author Michael Stackpole uses the same concept in The Crown Colonies Series, only set during the American Revolution.  Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and countless others have trod this literary path.

What makes this book worth reading, is not the historical sense, nor the use of dragons in an otherwise near historical tale, but instead her excellent characters and writing.  Any published author will tell you that excellent writing has very little to do with the story and very much to do with the characters.

The relationship between Captain William Laurence and his companion Temeraire is as engaging as Captain Jack Aubrey and Doctor Stephen Maturin or Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.  She captures every detail and nuance of their characters, friendships, conflicts, self-revelation and discovery in a delightful and artful way.  I was unable to find any fault at all in the book and strongly recommend the series to any science fiction or fantasy readers.

The series also deals with war and adult issues but refrains from any language, violence or situations that would be inappropriate for younger readers, so I can safely recommend it for everyone age twelve and above.  The first book in the series, which I recommend you start with is entitled His Majesty’s Dragon and is widely available in bookstores and online.

 [You can connect with Naomi Novik at the following locations:  Naominovik.com  Facebook – NaomiNovik  Twitter – @NaomiNovik and Temeraire.org]

Her new series of books, starts with Uprooted, due out June 2015 from Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House.

 

 

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Day 3 and 4 of Phoenix Comic Con

Last night Phoenix Comic Con 2014 ended.  I had a great time, but wow, sensory overload, 100,000 or so people and tons of old and new friends.  I spent most of today just chilling with the dogs and resting up.  Standing on hard concrete for four days for up to fourteen hours a day takes its toll.  I am really not sure how some of my friends are able to do up to 50 conventions per year.

There are a lot of photos below, but they are all fun and from my own camera.  Enjoy!

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Day 2 at Phoenix Comic Con…

Friday at Phoenix Comic Con was a blast, lots of fun, but my stamina meter is dropping… I need one of those big health bottles or stamina boosts you get in video games.  Shout outs to all the old friends, new friends and those awesome folks who buy my books!

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Opening Day at Phoenix Comic Con 2014

Already tired and Thursday is only a half day of fun.  Phoenix Comic Con is a sensory overload of fun, costumes and friends, all set on a very firm concrete floor.  You don’t realize how much you walk until the end of the day when you have sore feet from all the standing on hard surfaces.  I forgot to buy those little spongy floor tiles for my booth again…sigh.

I had a great time today and I am looking forward to the next three days.  Here are some samples of the first day:

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Come Stop by My Booth at Phoenix ComicCon 2014!

I will be at booth #1629 back by the Star Wars exhibit area at Phoenix ComicCon.  It is my same spot as last year.  I will be signing discounted copies of my four latest books.  In addition, my wife will be selling her custom made pop culture jewelry, including avengers, hydra, Vampire Diaries, Alice in Wonderland, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, classic movies, and other items you can ONLY get from her shop, Susannes Treasures.

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Joining us at our booth this year is the lovely and talented cosplayer Cassandra S. Kyle.  Also, Chris Wilke will be selling copies of his latest novel Scarlet Angel, and Hal Astell will have copies of his books on classic B-movies.  The PCC has grown until tickets are hard to get and certain times they might have lines to get into the vendor area during the peak hours due to fire marshal codes.  Be sure to stop by though and say hello.

If you have not been to a pop culture convention before, PCC is my favorite.  It has lots of things to do from indie movies, costuming, authors, comic artists, vendors, panels, zombie walks, competitions, steampunk events, manga, anime, and a host of awesome guests from TV, sci-fi, movies and other popular shows.  You can check out the con at:

Phoenixcomiccon.com

The vendor area will be open today from 4 pm until 9 pm, and open all day Friday through Sunday.

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More Awesome Cosplay Pictures

Once again, more awesome cosplay pictures.  For more, type “cosplay” into the search block on my home page.  I have posted about twenty sets so far.  Keep the awesome pictures coming in.

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