Author Archives: Heather Nichols

About Heather Nichols

Heather is an all-around entertainment buff (with the exception of male-dominated Westerns), though she has a special affinity and encyclopedic knowledge of all things Japanese: J-Horror, Anime, Manga, and above all Miyazaki films.

Review: Batman The Killing Joke (2016)

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

Courtesy of variety.com

Courtesy of variety.com

Let me start off by saying if you’re a hard core fan of Batman you’re going to want to see the newest entry, Batman: The Killing Joke. If you’re not a Batman expert, this is not the film to start off with. However, if you would like to jump into the Batman animated pantheon there is no shortage of material. I highly recommend you start with the 90s animated series, it’s very film noir, and possibly the best direction of a comic book series to date. Well, now I’m about to spoil this whole thing so if you want to go watch it and come back, please do so now.

The Killing Joke, adapted from the graphic novel of the same name which has influenced most of the newer Batman-related material, follows the basic outline of what is considered to be one of the darkest Batman stories ever told- In an attempt to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, the Joker tortures and subsequently paralyzes his daughter, Barbara aka Batgirl, in front of him. The plot point as well as the ambiguous ending has long been a source of controversy amongst the Batman fandom community. Of course, now that we’ve seen it play out on the big screen, the controversy continues.

The 1988 graphic novel only spans about 64 pages, which really doesn’t cut it for a feature length but it’s also not short enough to cram into one episode, so the creators decided to go ahead and write an almost half hour long prologue that focuses on Batgirl, setting her up as the central character. This is fine because in the events of the graphic novel she’s just there as a catalyst and really there’s nothing more to her involvement. In fact it’s something that to this day has angered Batgirl fans (of which I’m actually not), feeling that the comic disrespected her by disregarding her life and using her suffering as a motivator for the men in her life. The prologue sequence adds depth to the character, showing her as strong and capable and for that I like it.

Courtesy of movieweb.com

Courtesy of movieweb.com

I’m just going to start off by tackling the “big controversy” since the main issues are in the Batgirl prologue arc. The main reasons circulating around the internet by Social Justice Warriors who see this whole arc as a misogynistic portrayal of Batgirl include, the fact that she’s a librarian (which comes from the comics guys), she has a sassy gay friend (who doesn’t?), the fact that she isn’t as capable at fighting crime because she’s a woman (first of all that’s your reading into it, secondly even Batman states she’s still a rookie, a thrill seeker, so nope not letting you have that one) and of course there’s the whole thing where Batgirl has sex with Batman…

So let’s back it up here- the film opens with Batgirl and Batman in pursuit of a cocky little SOB- named Paris France, who is planning on robbing his mafia boss uncle and is obsessed with Batgirl. Not much to him. However the devil is in the details with this one, if you pay close attention to his dialogue he’s basically representative of a misogynistic fanboy. It is heavily implied he regularly uses date rape drugs, which he unsuccessfully tries this tactic on Batgirl. A subtle but notable moment that emphasizes how deep his fetishism of Batgirl goes is when he has a call girl wearing a bat mask. His lines are sexist, at one point saying that “it must be her time of the month,” when she delivers a word of hurt on him. However neither Batgirl nor Batman actually addresses his comments, rather they just ignore him and continue to kick ass.

Now as far as the Batgirl/Batman relationship goes this is where some fans might be turned off out of the sheer idea of Barbara being with anyone other than Dick Grayson, aka Robin who eventually becomes Nightwing. His character is noticeably absent. He was most likely omitted so we could really focus in on the central players, not to mention he’s not actually in the source material so keeping it simple is just the way to go sometimes.

Courtesy of comicbook.com

Courtesy of comicbook.com

Barbara’s story fits into the classic, rookie cop makes amateur mistakes and gets bailed out by veteran cop. It’s not a sex issue. Several Robin stories also have this sort of mentor-who-has-to-correct-his-dumb -pupil storyline (see Son of Batman for another example). To further this point Batman even says, “You’re not like I am Barbara, it’s still a game for you, still a thrill.” And he’s right. In fact it’s pretty early on and she’s already starting to lose that thrill of being Batgirl. But there’s still a couple things driving her down this path; one giving her the chance to open a world of hurt on Paris France, the other her feelings towards Batman.

But of course Barbara is a layered character. To simply say she’s Batgirl just because she’s in love with Batman doesn’t do her feelings justice. In one of her exchanges with her sassy gay friend she says she’s in a relationship with her yoga instructor and wants the acknowledgement that she is his best pupil- this of course is code so as not to give away their identities. When he asks why the instructor, she says it’s the yoga, she likes the yoga.

So breaking that down, she’s attracted to the Batman but she’s also frustrated by him. Some people on the internet are using this as fuel for their misogyny argument.  To them I say imagine this scenario- you’ve had a crush on your favorite celebrity for years and now you’re finally working with them and you’re realizing they are a giant pain in the ass to work with, but you’re still attracted to that idea of them. I can totally believe in Barabara’s sexual frustration if you look at it from that angle.

Courtesy of www.techtimes.com

Courtesy of www.techtimes.com

Furthering my point is the fact that Barbara is the one who initiates the sex; she knocks him down, she takes off her own top before the camera pans up and away- if the film makers wanted to they could have shown the whole thing, the film was rated R. They didn’t because this was supposed to be a moment for Barbara to shine as a strong sexual independent woman and they didn’t want to spoil that image because if they showed everything that’s all anyone would talk about.

So we get to see Barbara in the aftermath of that and it’s not the prettiest of pictures but keep in mind this is Batman, a character with dozens of love interests both with and without the cowl (really, check out DC wikia. His love interests have their own separate page). Are we surprised he didn’t call? People have been critical of the scene after in which Barabara walks by an arguing couple and throws the guy in a bush, citing it as an example of “women’s rage.” You know for a fandom community so concerned with misogyny ya’ll make some pretty messed up comments.

I think this scene is just thrown in for comedic effect and I think she’s mad because her hopes and expectations are not being met- oh my god she’s acting like a real life human being. The first arc starts to wind down, and yes I’m still talking about the first 30 minutes of this film. They confront Paris France and she beats him nearly to death and then every piece of advice Batman was giving her just sort of clicks in her head. She doesn’t like the idea that she nearly beat a man to death and decides this isn’t the life she wants so she retires the Batgirl and goes on to live an otherwise normal life… and then you remember you’re watching The Killing Joke

Courtesy of moviepilot.com

Courtesy of moviepilot.com

The remainder of the story follows the original graphic novel almost note for note, with a few lines of dialogue updated since it is from a story written in 1988. There are two narratives interwoven, the current timeline where Batman is perusing the Joker and a series of flashback that gives the Joker an origin story, one where the audience can finally view him in a more sympathetic light. How Barbara plays into this, as mentioned before, the Joker shoots her and as a result she becomes permanently paralyzed. In a featurette they showed after the film they mentioned that even though they had the R rating, they wanted to tell the story in a way that didn’t make you want to jump off a cliff at the end.

Barbara is raped after being paralyzed by the Joker but it’s never explicitly shown, however we know it happened from four subtle beats. The first being the Joker undoing her top button before the camera cuts to the next scene. When Batman is visiting her in the hospital a detective says something to the effect that she was found naked and bleeding on the floor. While searching for Joker, Batman questions three escorts and one playfully says he usually pays them a visit first but didn’t this time so they assume that he’s found a new play thing.

The final piece solidifies this when Commissioner Gordon is forced to endure a hellish roller coaster ride, during which Joker sings a disturbing song and at the end television screens are covered in bloody naked pictures of Barbara. We don’t seeing anything explicitly detailed, but we know what’s going on. The reason I break this down is because of how much flack the sex scene earlier in the film had. I’d much rather know that Barbara was living life to the fullest then have my only image of her in the film be the victim of a horrific act of violence.

Courtesy of lockerdome.com

Courtesy of lockerdome.com

My criticism of the film is that the whole first part was supposed to be an introduction but really it feels like an episode lead in to a miniseries. Then you have two stories being told simultaneously that have very little to do with the introduction. However I think I understand why the directors did it because prior to the start of the Graphic novel DC was in the process of retiring the Batgirl character so she’s just a tool in a male driven storyline.

To show her in her prime, being Batgirl, kicking ass and showing that she’s just decided to live a normal life gives the audience more of an emotional attachment to the character and gives her more agency to the overall narrative rather than “oh well she was just there.” The biggest criticism the graphic novel received was that it crippled Barbara for no reason. But the film was already alluding to Barbara’s computer skills and in doing so her eventual dawning of the identity of Oracle, so it all comes full circle. The last image of the film is of her, so we know that although broken she is not defeated.

Review: Oscar Short Films 2015

Let’s give it up for the little guys!

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

Courtesy of www.uica.org

Courtesy of www.uica.org

So the Oscars have come and gone. For all the controversy there was a still a silver lining to it all. Mad Max: Fury Road taking away multiple honors shows that a film can be acclaimed both critically and commercially. Leo finally got his Oscar so the internet can be at peace as far as that goes though I’m sure that they’ll still rampage about Stallone and Gaga being robbed- at least that’s what half the headlines on Buzzfeed read. Personally I’m just ready to completely tear down the Oscars and create something new in its place. The spirit of the Oscars should be about celebrating all things film.

Okay, I admit I caught one small segment while I was brewing my tea last night; Jason Segel showed some footage from an award ceremony dedicated to just the technical side of film and something like that is really refreshing to me. It was also brought to my attention online that voice actors do have their own award show, but it’s not widely known or even broadcast, but still we’re getting there.

So my local theater did a neat thing. The Oscar nominated short films (live action and animated, documentary was omitted) were screened the Friday before Oscar Sunday. This was a 4 hour session with a brief intermission between live action and animated, but still totally worth it to see some overwhelmingly under noticed master works of film. From my understanding some of these are available on Netflix so I hope you get the chance to enjoy them for yourselves. There might be some spoilers due to the nature of short film so just a heads up before you read on.

Courtesy of Youtube.com

Courtesy of Youtube.com

We started off with Ave Maria, probably the lightest offering in the live action shorts. The premise is that a Jewish family’s car crashes into the statue of the Virgin Mary outside of a convent of nuns on Sabbath. There’s mild conflict due to the different religious practices but ultimately the nuns help the family get on their way. And conveniently one of the sisters is a mechanic. Honestly this one just didn’t do much for me so I don’t have much to say. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be comedic but I had trouble with the whole sister being able to fix up the car with a pair of pantyhose, it was just bizarre. If they were going to go that far they should have pushed it further and revealed the nun to be a religious messiah or an android masquerading as a nun, just something more interesting so it didn’t feel so flat.

Things got dark quickly with the next offering, Shoke. Imagine the film Stand by Me but with one of the boys getting involved with a terrorist group and ending with some of the kids getting shot. That is pretty much it in a nutshell. I felt more engaged during this film, the editing was tight and the overall look of the film was just better. Props to the cinematography department, I really enjoyed the look of this film.

Everything Will Be Alright should be viewed as an excellent example of tight editing and storytelling. The pacing was great, making it my second favorite of the live action selections.  Also a really good example of “show, don’t tell.” We open with a man picking up his daughter from his ex-wife’s house. In the car they have a conversation about how she’s playing the role of the queen in the school play and all seems normal. Then they get to the toy store, he lets her pick out two really expensive building kits which to me just gave away where this was going. Even so I sat at the edge of my seat until the conclusion. Now is the story a bit cliché perhaps, but as I said in terms of a finished product this one was quite excellent. Also would like to point out that Simon Schwarz who plays the father looks like an Austrian Simon Pegg.

Courtesy of atodmagazine.com

Courtesy of atodmagazine.com

Now after a couple of pretty heavy films the eventual winner came on, Stutterer. This one was quite enjoyable and my favorite of the night. A simple premise: a couple of linguaphiles are engaged in an online relationship, the film is presented through the eyes of the male in the relationship and it is revealed that he has a stammer. The girl ends up in his town and wants to meet him for the first time. Self-conscious of his stammer, he contemplates whether or not he will meet her. I don’t want to give away the conclusion but I found this film to be really sweet and endearing. Overall I felt the message was to not let our disabilities no matter how great or small get in the way of opportunity.

I must confess I missed half of Day One. You see normally I’m in bed by 9 and at this point I was starting to nod off so I needed a coffee break. I came back in at the climax of the film. From my understanding this was based off of a true story. The subject matter was handled well and I couldn’t see them making an entire feature length film out of the story. Really I can’t say much about it, like I said I missed half but the ending was very sad so it felt like that might be the only reason it was even nominated given the fact the Academy seems to love misery.

I will start off by saying I’m glad the Pixar film, Sanjay’s Super Team, did not walk away with the win. More often than not I feel Disney and Pixar take away a win by default because the other animations aren’t as widespread which is really a pity. Of the animations this was probably the weakest and I don’t mean it was a bad film, it just was very surface level in terms of meaning and presentation.

Courtesy of www.awn.com

Courtesy of www.awn.com

The next film we viewed was World of Tomorrow. If you want to feel the mental strain of running a full marathon, this 17 minute film is perfect for you. In fact it’s been so long since I’ve seen an animated film with this much depth to it tackling deep philosophical thoughts and questioning humanity’s morals. Interesting note, this was the only film with spoken dialogue. The visuals were simplistic in nature, but I feel that really allowed you to focus on the story and the messages therein.

After that emotional drain I was delighted by the opening visuals of Bear Story, a unique 3D animation that blended techniques to make some sequences reminiscent of stop frame animation. The story does quickly turn sad in that it holds a similar theme to Blackfish, where animals being separated from their natural habitat in order to provide entertainment for people. The bear is personified and shown to have a wife and child so I think that drives it home even further. This was a good one and I’m glad it received the victory.

Courtesy of festival.dcshorts.com

Courtesy of festival.dcshorts.com

If you like the Dilbert comic strips, We Can’t Live without Cosmos, a Russian import, is a very similar visually. No spoken dialogue, it’s all action driven. I really enjoyed the score on this one too, they kept it engaging by adding sound effects as well. This one even had a bit of humor to it throughout which was refreshing considering the heavy load that the other nominees provided.

Before we began Prologue we were treated to three other shorts that didn’t quite make the cut. One is the story of a traffic light that is narrated by Patton Oswalt, who you may remember as the voice of Remy from Ratatouille. It was enjoyable but I can see why it just missed the mark, the visuals were a little underwhelming and the story itself too simplistic. Another short was the story of a family of Meerkats fighting a bird of prey over a piece of fruit. It was cute, reminiscent of a silly symphonies cartoon. The Story of a Fox and Mouse was visually gorgeous and had a beautiful score to accompany the piece. But again I think this one fell short because it didn’t have much going on beyond the surface level.

Courtesy of www.bristol247.com

Courtesy of www.bristol247.com

So Prologue, I didn’t like this one. Visually, absolutely stunning. Created by one of the brilliant minds behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it literally brings a drawing to life. Now I didn’t like this on two fronts. As the name implies this is the Prologue, it feels like a very small piece of a much larger picture. And I mean not even a slice of the cake, more like the frosting or decoration on top small. The other reason comes down to personal preference, I just didn’t like the violence, fighting with spears is rather nasty business. Though again that’s just a personal preference.

Before I conclude I should take a moment to talk about best animated feature length. Now for me last night it came down to Inside Out and When Marnie was There– I know Pixar versus Ghibli. Both are stunning films, both moved me to tears and either deserving. I would have loved to see Ghibli’s final studio film clench the victory. I missed Inside Out during its original theatrical run, when I did get around to renting it I have to say it caught me off guard.

In regards to what I said before I have no problems with Pixar, it just seems like no matter what they always win and lately their films have been alright, nothing spectacular. Inside Out blew it out of the park. We also have to take into account the larger social impact this film has had, making it more comfortable for children and parents to discuss their feelings which is so important in this technological age. Really it’s a great film and it makes me look forward to 2016’s offerings in animation.

Review: Deadpool (2016)

Courtesy of www.comingsoon.net

Courtesy of www.comingsoon.net

Hello everyone and welcome to the first 2016 review from yours truly. I’ve been on a bit of a break to work on a research project that I was hoping I’d be sharing with you, but it turns out what interested me was the tip of a much larger iceberg. So stay tuned. Here’s a hint, it has to do with my love of animation.

I never thought I’d be saying this but Deadpool is a 10 out of 10. I honestly thought that Captain America: Winter Solider was the best Marvel movie ever and never thought they could ever top it. Well this movie delivered. But I should preface this by saying Deadpool might not be for everyone, if crude jokes are not your thing or you really just can’t dive into this superhero craze. I say might because Deadpool isn’t exactly a hero, but to explain why might raise the spoiler flag so I will wait to get into that.

Courtesy of www.foxmovies.com

Courtesy of www.foxmovies.com

You also don’t have to understand Deadpool before walking into this one. In fact if you don’t understand the tone from the 3 minute introduction where director Tim Miller has replaced the starring cast’s names with “God’s perfect creation,” “A moody teenager,” “A CGI character,” and “A gracious celebrity cameo-” then I really don’t think you’ll be able to get into this one and you should probably leave. Again this movie is not for the easily offended, but I had a ton of fun.

You might only know of Deadpool because it’s starring Ryan Renolds and you might have seen this image around the internet…

Deadpool Infographic

This is where we’re going to have to put up the mild spoiler warning. If you’re going to go see it do so now, just leave the kiddies at home. I feel sorry for the four elementary aged kids I saw walk into my screening and I’m not trying to be sexist here but all of them were with their fathers who probably thought, “Oh it’s a superhero movie, that means it must be child friendly.” I have a feeling mommy is going to be seriously pissed off this Valentine’s Day. Even if you haven’t read anything about Deadpool you can see this is an R-rated movie on the poster. “Well if they really didn’t want children to see it then make it NC-17” you argue. But you may not realize most major movie chains will not even show a film if it earns that infamous rating so they really don’t want to do that.

Ok so it’s an R-rated movie it’s got some violence and strong language. You right, but like my passion project you’re only touching the tip of the iceberg. As I said before Deadpool isn’t exactly a hero, he is whatever he feels like being in that moment. If you want his full life before becoming Deadpool you may want to consult the Marvel wiki online but if you just want the short end, he’s a sarcastic asshole who gets cancer and thinking that he has no other option goes to a sketchy medical facility that claims they can cure him. He finds out they’re using people who are at the end of their rope as guinea pigs to try and bring out mutant powers through acts of torture. This is shown in the film and honestly the torture scenes were hard to watch for me as an adult, so heads up.

Courtesy of moviepilot.com

Courtesy of moviepilot.com

So this mutation does stop the effects of cancer but leaves Wade horribly disfigured hence the costume and assuming the identity of Deadpool. He wears the color red so you can’t see him bleed because he’s also somewhat immortal now because of how quickly he can heal as a result of the mutation. In fact he can even regrow limbs.

Okay so there are some scary images. What else isn’t child friendly? If your children are highly influential you might not like the language in the film. An example would be when Wade is hitting on a lady by basically trying to outdo her with upsetting childhood stories. He claims he was molested by an uncle, the woman replies with my uncles took turns which will then lead you into one of the funniest sex montages I’ve ever seen, sorry Team America: World Police. Oh and while we’re on the subject part of that sex montage involves the woman wearing a strap on so I mean you might be a progressive parent but even so, I don’t think even you will want to answer an elementary school aged child’s questions about masturbation and pleasuring the prostate gland. And yes, Deadpool masturbates with a stuffed unicorn so I mean really know what you’ve getting into before you expose your children.

Courtesy of www.slashfilm.com

Courtesy of www.slashfilm.com

When I say children I’m thinking pre-teen and younger. I think a high school age kid can go with their parents because let’s face it, we don’t like this statistic but kids are becoming sexually active between the averages of 15-17 so as a parent you should be answering those kind of questions because I mean you really don’t want the internet to be their teacher. So I would give a yellow light for teens seeing the movie, but if you’re a very conservative family I just would say all of you would be much happier at Kung Fu Panda 3.

Holiday Shopping: A Few of My Favorite Things Pt. 2

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

[Editors Note: This is the second part of a 2-part article. You can find Part 1 here]

So let’s talk apparel. If you’re shopping for someone that you know well enough and feel comfortable purchasing some clothing for them here are some of my favorite sites to choose from. Just one thing to note here many of these sites use junior sizing for their women’s clothing, which means the shirts are fitted and tend to run small. It might be best to order men’s/unisex if your lady friend has a heavier build. When in doubt, each site will have a size chart to serve as your guide.

Popuptee (http://popuptee.com/) –First up on our list is a tee shirt rotation site. How this works is you’ll notice a timer at the top of the site, when this timer runs out a new list of shirts will be featured. The average is about 4 days per group of shirts. They have more shirts available in the vault section of their site; these are ones that sold very well and are offered again at a higher price ($19.99 versus $12.99). Often times there will be a theme or two featured so if you don’t find what you’re looking for try again later. One thing to note, this one can take a while to ship since they don’t print the shirts until after the sale is over.

RiptApparel- (https://www.riptapparel.com/) –This site started as a 24-hour tee shirt rotation site, but has evolved into so much more. On the home page you will see a few shirts featured. These change every single day so if you see something, grab it because it could be gone tomorrow. Similar to the previous site, this one offers some of its best sellers in the store section but in addition to shirts you can also get hoodies, onesies, coasters, sketch books, prints and toys. Also this site features both toddler and youth sizes which is good if you’re looking for the little ones.

TeeFury- (https://www.teefury.com/) –The one that started it all for me, this store also started as a 24 hour shirt site but has also expanded its catalogue within the past year. You can order hoodies, ugly sweaters, leggings, shoes, and prints.

TeePublic- (https://www.teepublic.com/) –This site is awesome. All the designs are made for fans by fans. It also pays the artists one of the highest percentages of all these sites which is why I support them. Now all the designs are available as shirts but selected designs can also be printed to tank tops, long sleeve tees, baseball tees, kid sizes, crewnecks, hoodies, wall art, and phone cases. Unfortunately the  site has one glitch I found recently. The only way to find out if the design you like is available is to click on the shop, filter by what item you want and see if it lists your design. Basically the drop down menu has a bug which I’m hoping they can fix soon. Otherwise I’ve got to say I’ve order over $200 worth of gifts from them in the past and their customer service is excellent, I think my order arrived within a week as well so that’s always a good thing.

TeeTurtle- (http://www.teeturtle.com/) – I might be biased in saying this is my favorite of all the tee shirt shops because they are just so cute. This site uses a particular style and features chibi-fied versions of your favorite characters and anthropomorphized animals. They also have a sister site, http://lookcuter.com/ which features all original designs.

 

A couple things to keep in mind, since you are online shopping just pay attention to your shipping dates. Remember if you’re not seeing the person until after the holidays you don’t have to expedite and pay an additional charge to rush it in. Above all remember it’s the thought that counts. Here’s to you and your loved ones, we’ll see you all in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Shopping: A Few of My Favorite Things Pt. 1

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone contributor

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

Season’s greetings everyone! No matter what holiday you are celebrating this year we all know shopping can be really stressful, especially when you don’t know what to get someone. Personally, I am not a fan of going the gift card route. I want to give something that has a bit more meaning behind it.

Every year Oprah Winfrey releases a list of her favorite things, but let’s face it you have to have an Oprah sized salary to afford about 90% of that list. This is why I’m making one of my own, most of which will be under $20. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite gift ideas I found while browsing the net. Oh yeah, all of them are geek/nerd/pop culture friendly, whether their love is for film, books, or music there’s something out there for everyone. So here we go!

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When it comes to online shopping, most people’s first thought is Amazon. There’s no need to worry if you missed out on Black Friday or cyber Monday, Amazon will continue to add new deals throughout the season. I’m not going to go into much detail here since Amazon is so well advertised and most people know how to get what they’re looking for.

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One of my favorite online places to shop is Etsy. This is for two reasons; one, you’re supporting artists running their own independent businesses, and the other is you can find pretty much anything you want. Here’s just a small sampling of stores I decided to check out for this holiday shopping season.

Home decor– If you’re shopping for someone who may have just moved out or is a collector of a particular fandom getting them a nice ornament might be a good route to go. The Perfect Cup has a wide assortment of ornaments including super heroes and video game designs. Additionally you can personalize your gift and the site offers a small selection of other items such as keychains and blankets.

Comic Decor could be a good place to look for the comic book lover in your life. They have frames, boxes and other decorative items for your home.

Another shop I liked for decorations was Burrito Princess. The highlights are the 8-bit inspired frames and magnets. The Adventure Time set is absolutely adorable. And even though we mainly rely on our smart phones to tell the time, a handsome clock could still bring the room together, especially if it features the fab four on its face.

American Dreamy also features other various wall hangings that lovers of anything pop culture will enjoy.

Candles– Candles are usually a good holiday gift. They smell nice and can literally brighten up the room. Tracks On Wax and Old Glow Candles step your candle game up to the next level. Tracks on Wax is pretty self-explanatory, candles created using music as their inspiration. Included in the selection are Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time,” and Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song.” For those of you who know me well, you’ll immediately know why the second shop caught my attention. In addition to the Miyazaki inspired candles, this shop has various scents inspired from film and literature. The description for “The Shire,” inspired by The Lord of the Rings series, reads –“fresh hobbiton grass, English garden flowers and a hint of a cozy log fire.” If that doesn’t sound pleasant and inviting, I don’t know what is.

Mugs- Another classic gift idea but never a bad one. I enjoyed browsing the mugs from these Tula Tinkers  and Coral Bel  both of which feature some cute sayings and quotes.

And of course we can’t forget what goes inside. I found this delicious looking coffee merchant, Free the Green Bean who even has some festive blends available. And if coffee isn’t exactly your cup of tea, might I suggest Duval Tea?

And how about a nice treat to go with your hot beverage? Sweet Belle Cakes has several to choose from, including truffles that are Han Solo frozen in carbonite from that iconic Star Wars scene.

Kitchen Equipment- Whether it’s a present for your friend who loves being in the kitchen or for you to make them a more personalized basket of treats, there are so many shops that feature everything from personalized cooking boards to Super Mario cookie cutters. These are a few shops I liked; Star Cookies, La Boite a Cookies,  and Rainbow Rolling Pins. They mainly cater to video game fans but there are a few other fandoms included.

Jewelry- Full disclosure here I’m not into super expensive jewelry. Most of my necklaces are butterflies and dragonflies, nothing super fancy. That being said I really enjoyed what these shops had to offer. First up, Sun and Stars Jewelry  covers the whole spectrum of fandoms. I also like their science inspired jewelry, particularly the solar system bracelet. If you have a Disney or young adult literature lover Amanda Jane might be the place for you. They have both charm bracelets and necklaces available.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you the rundown on the cutest apparel stores.