dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
It's not a terribly well known fact, but I'm a devotee of Vogue magazine and haute couture in general. I don't usually indulge in talking about it because it seems a love of comics and a love of fashion don't really go hand in hand. I mean, both IRL and online, I hang around comic people and talking fashion at length in front of a geeky circle of friends often feels like talking into the ether. And you know, that's perfectly fine. Comics are definitely my thing, more than anything else, and I'm completely content with parking myself in a chair with a stack of fashion magazines for a few hours to sate myself.

But, every once in a while, my main obsession crosses with one of my minor ones and I get the opportunity to excitedly hop around, flapping my hands and squealing like a little girl, because OMG THERE ARE COMIC BOOK BARBIES NOW.

(Did I mention one of my other minor passions is fashion dolls? No? Well now you know. And I gotta admit, I am way more ashamed of that one than the haute couture...)

I've been doing that very thing for the past week or so, ever since some shots from the set of The Dark Knight Rises hit the interwebs.


My first reaction was Oh greeeeat, it's 'When in Rome' Catwoman.

(Well, actually, my first reaction was Oh! It's Silkstone Barbie Selina!:

...like I said: Fashion dolls.)

But all the buzz got me thinking about something I've been wanting to talk about for awhile.

Namely, high, high fashion. )
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
I disappeared for six months, I know. I have the best excuse ever, though: I've been busy being pregnant.

But, now I'm back and to make up for my horribly long hiatus, I have brought you one hell of a scans-heavy post. The scans-heavy post to end all posts.

We Now Proudly Presents: The Ultimate Catwoman Origin

"How did I get to be so brave?" Selina asks herself in a fear toxin induced haze above.

It's a fair question. But to answer it, we have to look at its deeper roots--roots that lie in a question of motivation. What compels a seemingly ordinary individual like Selina Kyle to don a mask and stalk the night?

For Bruce Wayne, it took the seeing his parents murdered in front of him; Jonathan Crane, a lifetime of ridicule and pain; Harley Quinn, all-consuming obsessive love. All the best heroes and villains in every medium, from literature to film to comic books, have traceable motivations for their behavior. It humanizes them and makes them easier for us, the audience, to understand and sympathize with.

For Selina, there was no one defining moment--at least, not in the way that there was for Bruce Wayne. Instead, it took numerous experiences, some positive and some negative, conspiring to strengthen her, both inside and out. A series of misfortunes, teachers, mistakes to learn from and some very lucky twists of fate to put Selina Kyle in the position for the stars to align just right for her to become the Feline Fatale we all know today.

If you were to wander into a comic shop and ask the clerk behind the counter why Selina became Catwoman, chances are they wouldn't be able to tell you in great detail. Not because she doesn't have a detailed history, but because most of the comics that touch on her origin stories are out of print--and have been for a long, long time. In fact, this problem isn't limited to just the clerk in the comic shop; so little information is available online regarding Selina's origins that there is no way to get a complete picture of who she is from any source.

As a result of this, there's some very wrong info floating around. People remember events wrong, or misrepresent them, or misinterpret them, or they've heard it from a friend-of-a-friend. However the bad information is created, it then gets spread around until it starts to look like fact.

People who don't like Selina's origin as a dominatrix, for example, state over and over again that the events of Batman: Year One have never been confirmed by other sources, or that they've been contradicted by Catwoman: Year One. Others say that she never trained with Ted Grant, or that she couldn't possibly be as skilled as she is in the art of hand-to-hand combat because we never saw her training with anyone, or that it doesn't make sense for a dominatrix to suddenly have mad cat burglary skillz.

Up until now, there's never been any way to dispute these statements, no matter how incorrect they are. Personally, every time I see them, I get hopping mad because I know better. But, that's me. I've been collecting Catwoman's appearances for ages; I've been reading her stories for fifteen years; I can't expect everyone else to track down every single issue just to find out what really makes Selina tick.

One of the underlying reasons I started this blog was not just to spread love for Catwoman around, but to serve as an educational resource. About eighty percent of Catwoman’s post-crisis comics appearances remain uncollected, including all of her 90‘s solo-series (except four issues in ‘The Cat File‘--which is out of print). This means the only way you’ll find them is by scouring back issue bins--and even then, you might not know what to look for. If you ever want to read Selina’s complete origin story, it’d take forever to track everything down and piece it together.

Thus, after nearly nine months of preparation, searching, research and hard work, I have compiled the most complete post-crisis Catwoman origin in history. Since I own about four hundred of Selina’s four hundred-sixty comics appearances published since the crisis--indeed, I own EVERY appearance from 1986 to 1999 as well as her 1989, 1993 and 2002 series and am slowly filling in what few gaps are left--I was able to comb through every appearance, looking for mentions of her origin so that nothing would be left out.

Piecing together the timeline took a fair bit of doing and a fair bit of me pulling my hair out, but all in all, the result was worth it. The timeline draws from several different sources that contain information about Selina’s beginnings: Batman: Year One, Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper, Catwoman Annual #2, Catwoman #0, Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins, Catwoman #81 and Catwoman #94.

In the interests of clarity and conciseness, I had one rule while compiling the timeline:

Events must be either CONFIRMED by another comic or UNDISPUTED throughout continuity to make it onto the timeline as canon.

If part of an event is disputed, while another part of the event is confirmed, then only the confirmed part makes it onto the timeline. Also, with the exception of a couple of pages from Selina's Big Score (still found in Batman: Ego and Other Stories), all of these comics are out of print.

This post is most definitely NOT dial-up friendly and is VERY, VERY image heavy. But I swear it'll be worth it.

Selina Kyle's own 'Year One' origin story starts here... )

Now, with this post finally, FINALLY complete, I can go off and start playing catch-up with back-logged posts that I owe you guys. :)
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
When I think of Selina Kyle, ideally I think of the perfect fashion plate; gorgeous, sophisticated, elegant and poised. Her taste in clothes and jewelry, in my mind, has always reflected this--even when...comic artists don't exactly portray it as such.

This brings us to today's off topic Tuesday topic, "This, Not That".

As a haute couture/general fashion enthusiast, I thought I might allow a couple of my passions to intersect: the passion for fashion and Catwoman. So, let's have a look at fashion that SCREAMS Catwoman and how to do it well...and how to do it...not so well.

Today's fashion statement that can be either fabulous OR a faux pas?

Leopard print.

It's making a comeback, if Glamour's latest Jennifer Lopez shoot is to be believed...

But...it never really went away, honestly.

Leopard print is something you've gotta be careful with, though. It's like alcohol: for best results, use in moderation.

So...go for THIS:


(Though I must say: if she plans on becoming a supervillainess, she's WAY more than halfway there.)



As with all things, overkill is the enemy.
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
DISCLAIMER: In no way is this blog intended to advocate theft--museum theft or otherwise. It is pure speculation in the interests of character-based research.

The museum heist. It's a staple of cat-burglar fiction, from Entrapment to even one of the Pink Panther sequels. It's been done and done and done.

And of course, Selina's pulled her fair share of museum jobs. She's the world's greatest cat burglar--at least, within the confines of the DC comics universe. But just because she's the greatest doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't put any thought into what she's doing.

Today, we're going to play a little game called "This, Not That".

When planning a museum heist, what do you go for? What's the biggest payoff? What's the easiest route to take?

Today, we're going to plan a heist. But not just any heist. We're gonna plan to knock off the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History--the place where the Hope Diamond is kept.

But we're NOT going to steal the Hope Diamond.

"But, Dr. Von Fangirl," you ask, "isn't that the whole point of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History?"

Well, invisible interjector, for some, perhaps, but not for us. And not for Selina. Aside from the fact that the Hope Diamond is supposedly cursed (not that we're the cowardly or superstitious types, oh no), it's housed inside this:

What that photo doesn't show you is the series of video cameras and electronic eyes scattered all over the room. The glass case the gem is kept in is also pressure and weight sensitive, there's no way in from above (no matter what the movies may try to tell you) and there are no entrances or exits to the second floor room that aren't protected by security measures--not even an air vent.

"Well, darn," you say. "Is it impossible to steal from the Smithsonian?"

Nope. In fact, it's happened before--and recently, not sixty years ago when it was 'easier' to steal from a museum if you had the right tools and know-how. A series of fossils were stolen--and not just one or two, but nearly a dozen. So it's possible--so long as you choose your target wisely.

When wandering the Smithsonian the handful of times I've been there (as research for this piece, I assure you. Ahem.) it's impossible not to note that some exhibits are better secured than others--even on the second floor, where the gems and mineral exhibits are kept.

The layout of the museum is this: the Hope Diamond room leads into a room of similarly valuable mounted stones--pieces by Harry Winston and Cartier, etc.--which then gives way to a room filled with huge display cases of precious and semi-precious stones--both loose and mounted--before finally giving way to the rocks, metals and other minerals displays.

Now, we've already established that the Hope Diamond is a poor target for us. What about the other jewelry the Smithsonian houses? There are dozens of valuable pieces--both from a historic and monetary standpoint. From Marie Antionette's earrings to a diadem worn by Napoleon's wife Josephine, there's a literal treasure trove of pieces that are more than worth their weight in gold.

There's even 'The Mystery Diamond'--a diamond of unknown origin that is on display:

But, aside from the fact we're not the Riddler (because really, that would be so his style), these gems--valuable though they are--are almost as much of a hassle to get to as the Hope Diamond. Each piece of jewelry--with only a couple of exceptions (as shown above) are kept in separate sealed cases with each case boasting what appears to be a series of electronic eyes and pressure sensitive glass. While one of these pieces may fetch a pretty penny on the black market, it's a lot of risk for what is--in the long run--not much reward.

But what other options are there?

Why, the room beyond with all the raw gems, of course!

"But," you say, brow furrowing in confusion, "those aren't shiny and pretty and faceted and from Cartier!"

Well, actually, invisible interjector: they are.

Amidst all the raw gem stones--the huge chunks of Amethyst and Quartz that are unpolished--are hundreds of loose, faceted gems--including dozens of diamonds AND jewelry.

What these pictures don't show you is that each display case houses dozens of gems behind a single piece of glass. This includes the diamond display where several faceted gems of unbelievable clarity and quality reside. Here's an example of one of the cases:

In that example, I see at least ten faceted stones/jewelry settings. That's a lot of payoff for very little effort, don't you think?

In half the time it would take to break into the Hope Diamond case--were it ever deemed possible--or one of the cases that holds a pair of Harry Winston earrings, you could crack open each and every one of the loose mineral cases, pick out all the most precious loose faceted stones and pieces of jewelry and be well on your way out the door.

And if you're feeling especially greedy, you can even duck around to the raw minerals display and take every single piece of raw gold:

And can you imagine the museum curator's reaction to the break-in the next morning?

"Sir, we've had a theft."

"Oh no! Is the Hope Diamond safe?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then what did they get?"

"...everything else."

Not only is it a massive payoff, it's a statement. The kind of statement that I think our beloved Catwoman might like to make:

"Sure, I could take the Hope Diamond if I really wanted to...but everyone goes for that. I'll just completely clean you out instead."

Of course, the question of fencing the goods is bound to come up--but unlike a high profile item like the Hope Diamond, it's possible to just sit on any of the pieces you can't fence immediately. Gems don't go sour like milk, after all, and there's always a buyer somewhere in the world looking for what you've got.

Next time on "Think Like Selina Kyle", we discuss handcuffs and how to escape them.

Or maybe, Art: You Wanna Be a Cat Burglar? You Better Know Your Shit.

Or maybe even Whip Cracking: The Finer Art of Not Smacking Yourself in the Face Accidentally.
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
Seeing as I don't seem to do much else with my Off Topic Tuesdays very often, I thought I might start a new feature: Think Like Selina Kyle. From what she'd steal to what she'd drink to how she does that voodoo that she does do oh so well, this (probably very irregularly delivered) feature will be a supplement to all the merch, fanart, reviews and scans to be found here.

Today, we learn how to pick a lock.

More DIY videos at 5min.com

Now, understand that Selina would have much more sophisticated tools for such a job (various picks actually meant for these things, for example) but if there's one thing a cat burglar needs to be able to do, it's think and perform on the fly. Sometimes, you're going to be without the usual tools of the trade and you'll have to cobble something together and make it work.

I can also personally attest to the accuracy of this video's technique, as I've tested it and successfully cracked a lock with it. So next time you lock a file cabinet or your luggage and lose the key (or are taken hostage and tossed into a prison cell), you've got the skills to deal with it.

Next time, we play "This, Not That"--in which we explore the finer points of taste, style and robbing museums.


This is the back-up account for what I hope will be the Ultimate Catwoman Fan Blog--Dr. Von Fangirl on LiveJournal. You should go check it out over there. I much prefer the original article.

November 2011

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