This is the Henley dress manufactured by American Apparel. I have several of them in a few colors. (For the record, unlike the models on the AA site I tend to button mine, wear a bra underneath and not wear a size smaller than my frame.) I try to snag one whenever budget allows because who knows when they'll stop making them? Find something that works, load up! This dress is comfortable, practical, looks good on my body type (and others as well, but this is about Me). Though I wish they would expand their color scheme to include more bold jewel and earth tones as opposed to all the ugly pastel colors AA seems to be enamored with, I love this dress. It's practically become my uniform.
When I was packing for CCI I decided to make my life easier, dispense with the Detailed Outfitting of past years and simply bring enough of these dresses to get through the week. Grabbed the white one from the closet, started tossing it into the suitcase, an idea hit. This thing is like a blank canvas. Beanworld is possibly coming back. I <heart> Beanworld so very much for reasons both meta/storytelling and personal. Larry Marder is going to be at show. Wouldn't it be cool if he drew a little bean sketch on this dress? It would be like a commission, but on wearable cotton instead of on paper in a sketchbook.
Then I started thinking maybe it was a stupid idea. I don't know him except for to say hi, and I'd never heard of anyone asking a creator to draw on a dress. Just because one of the items on the Long List Of Things That Irritate Me is the chronic failure of the industry to come up with female-centric clothing items and accessories related to comics properties doesn't mean Inflict my agenda upon him. I mean, an artist in Montana created the Chris Ware purse on her own. Because of production costs and the perception that there is no buying audience within the Tribe to balance out those costs, there is a paucity of female-fit shirts. How long has the Mage: Love Charm been out there available only in boy cut? At least a decade, that's how long! Where is my Kid Miracleman-impaled-by-a-girder necklace? My Sin City "Molly's Escort Service" or my Rocket female-fit T-shirt? (Perhaps it's best to not even get into the Total Void Of Milestone merchandise.) Astro City, anyone? Sandman? Why has there only been one Los Bros female-fit ANYTHING? That one is a CRIME, by the way. I can understand why even Chris Ware seems to be unaware of his large female following, what with the man finding the very idea of a 'following' frightening, but for the publishers of Los Bros to have so completely dropped the ball on female-audience merchandise in support of a pioneering, multicultural, brave, genre-busting, female friendly opus? *pfft* I say. *pfft*
I got a Martha Washington doll at least, so that's something. And now a Mavis shirt and two Owly shirts to go along with my Los Bros anniversary shirt. And though it's not comics directly, the smaller of the uber-cool Anansi Boys shirts seem to be cut closer to the female form. Crumbs! I'm satisfied with CRUMBS. They got us well trained, huh?
Anywho, the Beanworld dress idea wouldn't go away. Thought some more and a light bulb went off. I wondered if he would do it if I gave a donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in exchange? That way it's still a commission, but one that goes for a very worthy cause! And *because* it's for a very worthy cause, if he thought the idea was stupid he might be inclined to do it anyway because it's for the Fund.
The word for that kind of thinking, by the way, is conniving.
For reasons I'm not going to get into, I was still worried about making the request myself. (Yes! SHOCKER! Every once in a while I wuss out.) Then I remembered I know a guy. The Secret Lord of Fluffy Bunnies is a friend of mine, and he knows Marder. I'll have *him* ask for me! That way, if the answer comes back No, Because That Is A Stupid Idea Even If It Is For A Good Cause I don't have to be told 'no' directly by Marder. I'll be told 'no' by proxy and Marder will never know it was me who asked. Everybody wins!
On preview night I hunt down the Secret Lord of Fluffy Bunnies and asked him to ask Larry Marder if he would draw something Beanworld on my dress, anything he wanted, and I would give a donation to the Fund in exchange. I handed over the dress. The next day the answer came back 'yes'. Because I was busy, I didn't think about it again until last day of show, when The Secret Lord of Fluffy Bunnies called up and said "he's almost done. Wanna see?" I go running back to convention center to see. I was expecting maybe a couple of beans sketched somewhere on the dress. Boy was I wrong.
Yeah. I REVEL in your envy.
I also thought I was going to cry. When I went over to Marder to thank him with massive amounts of inarticulate and hugs, I almost did. The Secret Lord of Fluffy Bunnies said I had to give it back because Marder thinks it needs more blue. I think it's just fantabulously awesome as is, but what the hell do I know. If the man wants to put more blue in it, okey dokey. The bunny lord then attempted to explain why he thought Marder thought it needed more blue, but I was like shut up and give me the dress so I can run around and show it off to people! Off I went, promising to return it by the end of the day so that Marder could add more blue. When I picked up the completed dress on Monday morning, I discovered Larry Marder's definition of It Needs More Blue.
Did I already mention the Reveling In Your Envy?
It's like the man was DELIBERATELY attempting to make me cry. Look at that Baby Bean! Isn't it joyous? To me it seems to be surrounded by the sparks of life, celebrating the simple luck of existing.
That's a Reminder, that is.
Each of the beans on the dress has a different personality. Click on these mini-picts to make them bigger if you like.
Another thing I like about what Larry Marder did is that it's clear he approached it not as a piece of paper. He *designed* this, he didn't use the dress as a backdrop but made his contribution fit the item. I wonder if he was aware that this was something that was going to be worn by an actual person, not sealed in plastic in a longbox, and so he created something to be seen, if that makes sense? The bands on the sleeves are an obvious clue. Another is how the beans and the dots on the front line up perfectly with the opening. This is not clear in my pictures, but the dots & beans stop precisely where the front opening of the dress stops. That had to be deliberate.
I love this dress so very much. I can't thank Marder enough for taking time to do it. I would like to formally apologize to his wife for smothering him with hugs. It's just that I was in shock, I didn't have Words and sometimes one defaults to the basics.
Update! Here is Marder's perspective on the dress he made! I want to hear more about his history of drawing on T-shirt material, don't you?
I've been thinking again. I wonder if other women or girls would like to have a Henley dress decked out by a creator from our realm, and would they be willing to donate money to the CBLDF to get one? What creators would women or girls like to see throw down on a Henley dress? What creators would even be interested in doing something like this is probably a good question to ponder, too, but for now that's secondary.
Right now I'm just wondering if there is interest. I don't know. I'm extremely curious to find out!
I'm not opening up comments. If you have thoughts make with an email, which you can find over at the top of the siderail on the right. Feel free to share a link to this entry far and wide if you are so inclined. I'm going to let this post sit up top through the rest of the week.
And if there are any guys out there going hey, what about us? Be a man, recognize that this Is Not About You, and shut up for now. Thank you.