Cartoon Series Review: Gravity Falls

gravityfallsposter

It took me a long time to watch Gravity Falls. Too long, in fact. It was only after seeing posts from it on Tumblr that I decided to investigate the show and finally watched the episode Summerween. I realized just how much I had been missing pretty quickly and became hooked on the show, watching both seasons all the way up to the latest episode Weirdmaggedon in just a few days time.

mysteryshack

About: Gravity Falls is a cartoon series that airs on Disney created by Alex Hirsch. The main characters, Dipper and Mabel Pines, are twins, inspired by the fact that Alex Hirsch and his sister, Ariel are also twins. Dipper and Mabel move to Gravity Falls to stay with their Great Uncle, Grunkle Stanford Pines for the Summer. They realize soon after that there is more about Gravity Falls than meets the eye, as Dipper discovers a mysterious Journal, Journal #3, that delves into peculiarities that the Author found while there. The entries turn out to be true as Dipper and Mabel encounter bizarre creatures like Zombies, Gnomes, etc all while working for their Grunkle to help run his tourist trap, The Mystery Shack. Gravity Falls is not just meant for kids either. The show has received critical acclaim and has been nominated for several awards. It won an Annie Award for Voice Acting in an Animated TV Series and Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children.

Warning! Potential Spoilers Ahead!

The Plot: Without going into too much spoiler territory, I can say that without a doubt, Gravity Falls has an overarching plot that drives the entire show.  More than having a “villain of the week” to the show, Gravity Falls takes the time to build up more mysteries that aren’t solved right away. Their Grunkle acts peculiar and is hiding something, but what? Who is the Author of the journals? Dipper and Mabel also make enemies that carry over into other episodes, such as Gideon and Bill Cipher. Parts of the show also hint toward an Apocalypse! Ciphers and Easter Eggs are riddled throughout the show as well, giving enthusiasts plenty to puzzle about while they wait for the next episode. Gravity Falls also tackles a lot of darker themes that are usually avoided in a children’s show. The most comparable cartoon to Gravity Falls, in my opinion, would be Over the Garden Wall.

gravityfallsjournal

gravityfallsjournal22

Characters/Character Development: The characters were definitely what ended up drawing me in and making the show stick with me. Dipper is the smart, observant one while his sister Mabel is boy crazy and super energetic. Dipper is jealous of Mabel for her ability to be outgoing and a social butterfly, while Mabel is jealous of her brother for his intelligence. Grunkle Stan appears to just be a con-man who is great at tricking unsuspecting tourists out of their cash. Soos is the fix-it guy. A “man child” no one’s really sure of his age for most of the series. He’s youthful at heart and also super dependable. Other characters include Wendy, a tough-as-nails woman from a family of Lumberjacks; Robbie, a stereotypical emo teen and the town crazy, Old Man McGucket.

These might seem like the ultimate cliches, but the characters are more interesting and complex than they appear to be right away as the story progresses and I think that’s what keeps me ultimately hooked to them. For instance, the twins might fight and bicker but at the end of the day they still love and care for each other, will come to the other’s aid and will band together as a team to get something accomplished. They might be fighting in one scene and in the next be laughing at a shared joke. An example would be that despite Dipper’s huge crush on Wendy and his clear opportunity to finally get ahead in building a relationship with her, he sacrifices this opportunity to ensure that his sister wins a prize pig in the episode ‘The Time Traveler’s Pig’.

jpeg

Another example would be in the very first episode, Tourist Trapped, we’re introduced to Old Man McGucket. He seems like the town crazy… The weirdo everyone avoids? But there’s more to McGucket than meets the eye as he’s been shown to have an understanding of mechanics and building elaborate contraptions. The story there unravels later down the road, but is hinted at the entire series until the revelation.

mcgucket

The Humor: The Humor in Gravity Falls is definitely a major portion of the show just as much as the dark underlying tones. The show uses slapstick humor, potty humor and even adult humor that passes under the radar. One minute you might be seeing a Gnome throwing up a rainbow and the next it’s commenting on societal issues that kids might not catch, but would be humorous enough for adults (for instance, the fact that the Mystery Shack’s letter ‘S’ always falls off, making it look like it says ‘Mystery Hack’). Basically, it gives kids enough to laugh at due to the over the top nature of a lot of scenes, while also slipping in things that adults can appreciate.

The following are all actual quotes from the show:

internethistory

whattheh

fanfic

The Score/OST: This animated series was nominated and won for Main Title and there is a good reason why. It’s twisty, a little bit dark and catchy that playing it on repeat is addictive… *shifty eyes* N-no I don’t have it on repeat right now, why do you ask? *tugs on collar*. Care is also taken for the rest of the OST to fit in well with the episode, changing for ‘humorous” portions to “scary” or “action packed” when needed utilizing a wide range of instruments to convey the feelings across to its audience. Nothing is as impactful as the main opening, however, and you won’t really realize how much of an influence the track really has on your mood while watching unless you pay attention to it closely as it blends in so perfectly.

The Animation: Take a minute to admire the background art of the show…

gfbackground1gfbackground2

gfdippermabelroom

gfnorthwestmansion

gfbunker

The Scares/Creepy Elements: I’m honestly not quite sure how Gravity Falls gets a lot of its humor across, being a Disney show, other than the fact that it’s so subtle that kids probably won’t notice it. However, the dark elements of the series are so blatant that it’s hard to ignore. Gravity Falls holds back a lot from being over the top on its dark elements, of course, being a kid’s show, but it takes opportunities to make sure you’re reminded that this is a show about the supernatural and can get creepy. I mean, some of it is just nightmare fuel… And I love it! The intro even shows Dipper running into the skeletal remains of a monster. The episode ‘Northwest Mansion Mystery’ shows a blood red substance leaking from the mouths and eyes of the heads of mounted animals, ‘The Inconveniencing’ episode features a ghost haunting where a floating brain, face and veins appears and ‘Into the Bunker’ presents a horrible creature that’s able to shape shift into some creepy stuff.

gravityfallsintro

gravityfallsdarkgravityfallsdark2

nightmares

shapeshifter

Have you seen Gravity Falls yet? If so, what did you think?

No Sew Cosplay: Randall Ascot from Professor Layton

randallscott

You asked and shall receive~!

Glasses: Randall is actually wearing the same glasses that I linked to for Grunkle Stan… Huh! Weird. But, anyhow, they are a pair of half-frame glasses like these ones.

stanglasses

Bandanna: Funnily enough, the Professor Layton wiki says that Randall Ascot is wearing… well, an ascot! Ascots are pretty small in size, however, and to me it’s pretty clear that he’s actually wearing an orange bandanna based on the shape. But I guess you could go with an ascot just for irony if you wanted!

Jacket: Randall is wearing a wine to eggplant purple blazer with a lot of buttons. Unfortunately, most blazers come with two buttons and the one that I found that I liked (pictured below) right off the bat only has one. I did find alternatives, but like this one here, they were more red than purple. Make sure you wear the blazer open.

randalljacket2

Shirt: I knew right away that this shirt was going to be a nightmare to find, if it even existed. By some sort of miracle, I actually found a shirt that had a solid white stripe going across it. Only problem is it’s more blue than anything. Your best bet is to get a shirt that is the correct color and to use fabric paint to carefully paint over a rectangular area. To get straight lines, use a ruler or simply tape off the areas you don’t want to accidentally touch around where you are painting.

randallshirt

Belt: Randall is wearing a black belt with a silver buckle like this one.

randallbelt

Pants: I’ve seen a lot of people wearing jeans for this cosplay. It works in a lot of ways, but it really seems sort of out of place in the world of Professor Layton. I would think work pants or dress pants would seem more consistent with everything else like these ones here in the Lincoln green or silver gray colors.

randallpants

Shoes: Honestly, Randall’s shoes are so stylized that it’s difficult to tell which type he is really wearing. I feel like going simple as well would work the best and still look dapper? Such as slip on dress shoes. Don’t forget that a lot of thrift stores have old dress shoes for cheap and it might be worth it to check them first. You can also check and make sure they fit with the outfit as well.

randallshoes

Lookin’ good!

randalloutro

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

No Sew Cosplay: Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls

stanpinesfullbody

Step right in folks and behold!

Fez Hat: Don’t worry! There are Stan fez hats out there already made like this one (top picture). Thankfully, it’s made for all sizes as well, so anyone can wear it and the reviews are mostly positive. They also have the first style of Fez (bottom picture) that Stan is wearing during the opening for Gravity Falls so you can choose which style you’d prefer. Fez hats are typically made cheaply as well, so you probably won’t find anything of better quality for that price (I used to work for a gift shop that sold them. N-no… It wasn’t the Mystery Shack!? Or… Was it!?).

fez1

fez2

Eye Patch: A completely optional piece, you could toss in an eye patch to put overtop of either of Stan’s eyes. Remember that he puts this OVER his classes though. Practically, I’m not sure if it’ll work but give it a shot~ This one here is supposed to be one size fits all.

Glasses: While I’ve seen a lot of cosplay pics of Grunkle Stan that look freakin’ fantastic that used black rim glasses that were all the way around, I really noticed right away that Stan’s glasses actually don’t have a rim around them on the bottom. Instead, they’re closer to these ones here known as an English Warfarer style with a half frame. You can check out pictures in the customer review section also to see if you agree with me that they look a heck of a lot better than these plus they have fantastic reviews.

stanglasses

Suit: Now, a suit by itself can end up costing a lot, especially if you’re looking for a particular one. I tried at first to find a suit with just one button, but the ones I found that weren’t slimming fit were not cheap. You could just put a blazer together with some pants and make a suit, which ends up being a lot cheaper anyhow. Just try to get the colors of black as close as possible when doing this so it looks consistent.

stanjacket

stanpants

Tie: Grunkle Stan is wearing what’s called a Colonel Tie in a dark red to maroon color like this one here. While the picture isn’t the greatest, the reviews are good. Not only that, but it’s not a clip on and instead goes on with a band, which is probably a lot easier as some of the reviews for another one I found were saying the clip was not working properly.

Undershirt: It’s like… Some sort of conspiracy that a lot of cosplays require a long sleeve dress shirt… Hmmm… I’m sure Dipper would be interested in this kinda thing, but that won’t sell merch in the Mystery Shack so MOVING ON.

stanshirt

Shoes: Grunkle Stan… Really should be wearing black shoes with this outfit. Did anyone notice how much he needs Fashion Advice from Mabel?! Well, moving on real quick before he gets mad. I’m pretty sure that Stan is supposed to be wearing light brown Oxford shoes. You could definitely get a darker color in order for it to match better but… He’s really actually wearing that light of brown.

stanshoes

Alright, now that’s over with… Wait, were those sirens!? Gotta go!

grunklestan

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

No Sew Cosplay: Young Layton from Professor Layton

younglayton

A gentleman never leaves a puzzle unsolved!

Vest: Professor Layton is wearing a dark orange (also called burnt orange) vest in his younger days. His vest is orange on the back as well, which makes finding the proper one a bit more difficult, as most formal vests have a black side to the back. I managed to find this one here that I liked (top picture), though I wish it was a tad less shiny. I would probably end up getting this vest (bottom picture) however, due to the better color despite the backing being black. Make sure to wear this open and not buttoned together.

professorlaytonvest3

professorlaytonvest2

Tie: Layton is wearing a dark teal colored tie similar to this one. I like that this is also made out of cashmere and seems like something that Layton would wear for sure.

laytontie2

Undershirt: Once again, a white dress shirt seems to be everything when it comes to a lot of cosplays. You just can’t go wrong with having one in your wardrobe. It’s also something you can get a lot of use out of outside of conventions as well (interviews, parties, etc).

Belt: Young Layton is wearing a light brown belt like this one here.

laytonbelt

Pants: Much like Professor Layton in present day, Young Layton is wearing a pair of dress pants. Only this time, he’s wearing a pair of dark green to olive green colored ones.

laytonpants

Shoes: The shoes that Layton is wearing in the past are definitely a bit different than the ones he has on in the future. Not that much different, however. In fact, you could probably still get away with wearing a pair of Oxfords like this pair. I like that this shoe also has a thinner sole to it and it is white like Laytons. These are a tad on the pricey side but don’t forget that thrift stores often have these types of shoes available at a very good price.

laytonshoes

And hopefully now you aren’t stumped on a solution for your cosplay (tosses hint coin)!

solvepuzzle

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

No Sew Cosplay: Ford Pines from Gravity Falls

stanfordfullbody

Please… Call me, a friend!

Glasses: Ford is wearing a pair of large glasses with a “nerd” frame. They are huge, really! I personally like these pair because they are the correct style that Ford is wearing. The lenses are clear as well. I’m not sure if the material would crack? Instead I would take some paint and draw on a crack versus attempting anything else, as you might shatter the lens entirely. These are also unisex!

fordglasses2

Coat: Stanford is wearing what’s either a trench coat or a field coat with elbow patches. It is ripped on the bottom as it is old. I think that the design is vintage, since the coat was from around the 70’s to 80’s. I managed to find one but in a women’s style like this one (top picture). However, I’m sure it would still work, especially if you leave the belt untied. Only problem is that this one does not have any chest pockets so you wouldn’t be able to have a pen in a pocket like Stanford. Alternatively, you could get a field jacket like this one (bottom picture) in an extra large size (to get closer to the length).

 stanfordjacket2

stanfordjacket

Sweater: Uncle Ford is wearing a darker red turtleneck sweater. Since there are a lot of details in this sweater, I’d think it would be a good idea to get one with cable knitting or at least a ribbed knitting. I personally like this one here.

fordsweater

Strap: I’m honestly not sure what the purpose of Stan’s strap is. It’s not attached to a bag that I can tell and it’s really just a belt slung over his chest. For now, until we know what the purpose is for this, I’d recommend getting a brown nylon belt and strapping it across. I’ve seen people also use leather belts, but I think this more closely matches the type of belt Ford has on.

fordbelt

Pants: For Ford’s pants, you could either do black jeans like these ones (top picture), especially if you happen to already have a pair in order to lower the cost of the cosplay. Or you could alternatively use a pair of black tactical pants like these ones (bottom picture). I personally like the tactical pants and think this would fit better, but I’m not sure how well this would look with the sweater. The jeans would probably be your best bet.

fordpants

fordpants2

Boots: With Ford, like Wendy, it’s difficult to tell what type of boots he’s really wearing. Due to the lack of shoelaces on the boots, my assumption is that he is also wearing a pair of working boots like these ones due to his occupation. Alternatively, you could probably get away with safety boots or rain boots to keep the cost a bit lower.

fordshoes

Extra Fingers(?): I have not been able to find any sort of tutorial video on how to make it appear that you have extra fingers. Stanford has six fingers on each hand, after all. Your best bet if you are handy enough (get it) would be to make Ford’s gloves from Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons and use those to add a sixth finger as I think any sort of attached latex might not hold up or look right. I don’t think this will make or break a cosplay of him though if you hide your hands in photo-ops or have someone photoshop you extra fingers afterward.

stangloves

And now, you’re hip to the times. Like eight tracks, those are still popular right?

 stanfordeighttracks

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

No Sew Cosplay: Wendy from Gravity Falls

wendyfullbody

I make the rules, sucka! BOOSH!

Hat: Wendy almost always has her lumberjack hat on even while indoors work in the Mystery Shack. It’s basically her trademark piece!

wendyhat

Flannel Shirt: Honestly, nothing beats wearing an actual flannel shirt for this cosplay. I’ve seen pictures after researching of cosplayers that used real flannel shirts versus those that tried to paint on the lines exactly as she has then in the cartoon. The former really works the best and looks the most realistic, in my opinion. So, grab a light green flannel shirt and roll up the sleeves a tad and you should be good to go.

wendyshirt

Undershirt: Wendy wears a plain white tank top underneath of her flannel shirt. I’m not sure whether or not it’s a spaghetti strap or a normal tank, but either one will work honestly.

Pants: While there aren’t a lot of details drawn into Gravity Falls because of the more simplistic art style (which is awesome~), Wendy is most likely wearing jeans as it would make sense along with the rest of her attire. A dark blue to almost charcoal grey color would be the best for this cosplay. They are pretty tight jeans as well.

wendypants

Shoes: While hiking boots would definitely work for this cosplay and fit in with the rest of the outfit, Wendy’s shoes in actuality seem to have no laces to them versus Dipper’s that do. This leads me to believe that the Gravity Falls wiki is correct when it says that she is wearing a pair of dark brown rain boots, especially given the strap on the side.

wendyboots

Earrings: It’s pretty easy to find fake stud earrings~! Wendy has one on each ear in the typical spot: the earlobe. These are magnetic and have good reviews. Some say that they wish the magnets were a bit stronger, but there are plenty in a pack.

Name Tag: I found this awesome name tag you can customize online with any name of your choice. All you have to have is a white background with black text and the name “Wendy” if you want to add that to your attire. She only wears this while on duty at the Mystery Shack.

Now…

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

No Sew Cosplay: Mabel from Gravity Falls

mabelfullbody

Mabel you’ll be able to look like Mabel after you read this article… While at your table! Heh, Mabel puns~!

In this article, I’m going to go over how to cosplay as Mabel for her first outfit introduced in the series, but you really can’t go wrong with this cosplay as Mabel has an array of sweater, skirts and headband combinations to choose from!

Headband: I’m not sure if Mabel is supposed to be wearing a soft or a hard headband. Honestly, with it being set so far back on her head, a hard headband will probably be easier. Either way, Mabel wears a dark pink headband like this one when wearing her one of her first outfits in the show. Since Mabel has an array of headbands and sweater choices, however, you could get this same headband in a different color.

mabelheadband2

Sweater: You could shell out a lot of cash that would give Gruncle Stan a heart attack to give up and purchase an already made Mabel Sweater. I think that this one was the cheapest one that was close to hers that I stumbled across at a whopping $70! I also found this reasonable one here but the cross-stitching is pretty visible and I’m not sure I’m a fan of that. But either way, making it yourself is probably a better idea, right?

However, if you want to be nice to yourself and not have to spend your Summer vacation saving up for one sweater, there is another alternative. All you will need is a pink, almost pink sweater like this one here.

mabelsweater4

Next, you will need some felt and fabric glue if you follow the steps in the video below that I found. Of course, you could switch up this step and do any number of different Mabel sweaters. The other method would be to simply take fabric paint and use the same design to paint it onto the sweater. I think this might end up looking more natural.

Undershirt: You can really get away with just about anything for an undershirt for Mabel. Her wardrobe is vast. However, in the episode The Deep End, you can see her wearing a light pink t-shirt with a crew neck.

thedeepend

Skirt: For this outfit, Mabel is wearing a purple skirt much like the skirt here. Usually, as an adult you want to make yourself look shorter by getting your clothes larger or longer. However, with Mabel, her skirt is not all that long past her sweater. I’ve seen a few cosplayers that have done her with the short skirt and it looks better than trying to over compensate with a long one. Instead, some went with longer socks to give the appearance of shorter legs, and I prefer this style.

mabelskirt

Socks: If you don’t already have a pair of white socks or knee-high socks… Why? Aren’t your feet all sweaty? Who are you, Dipper!?

Shoes: Wearing ballerina flats with socks? Why not~! I actually got these in yellow for my Joy cosplay and they are pretty good quality shoes.

mabelshoes

Braces: I’m not sure why, but it seems like it’s impossible to find fake braces that aren’t attached to fake teeth you have to use. Personally, I would hate to use this method because having in fake teeth is just ewwww. I found an awesome video on Youtube, however, that shows you how to make fake braces!

And don’t forget Waddle~!

mabelpun

I guess now you’re just irresistible!

Which character do you want to see featured next? Leave a comment below with a suggestion and I will see what magic I can work for you!

Halloween Contest: Guavaween

Guavaween is a Halloween party that takes place in Downtown Tampa, Florida in Ybor City. While in the past it had a bad reputation, they managed to change it up and bring in security. They also have a $1000 Best Overall Costume Contest. A group of friends and I decided to give it a shot, dressing up for the Best Group category and hoping we would be good enough to at least win in the category, of course. Unfortunately, this isn’t a happy story and we didn’t go home with the prize for even the category, but at least we had fun doing it!

We essentially ended up matching the theme of the event, going for an Apocalyptic version of Scooby-Doo. To explain our missing Fred, well, unfortunately… We think the zombies got to him. Like, maybe we can reattach the foot and arm we found later if we find him alive?

shaggyvelmadaphne

In our head canon:

Daphne has become leader of the group now that Fred is missing. No more splitting up is allowed.

Velma is the medic and smart one. She keeps us patched up and looking… good?

Shaggy stores supplies, responsible for making sure we never run out of food.

Fred is most likely dead, as we found both of his arms, one leg and lots of blood. Zombies?

Scooby-Doo was shrunk due to radiation in the immediate area after a fall-out.

In the future, I would not recommend cosplayers to take a leap to entering Halloween Contests, especially those that feature a large amount of drinking. Unless partying is your kind of thing, you end up experiencing a whole lot of things you’d rather not experience. If you want to maybe just come in for the portions of the contest and leave, that might be your best bet, but get prepared to sit around doing nothing for a long time.

Writing Tips & Help: Character Development

Starting with a character is great. You’ve come up with the premise for them, understand their personality (hopefully) and have placed them into an environment. Now what? Well, firstly you should already have a character with flaws or a certain perspective on life which is why you develop that personality for them. So, firstly you have to answer what are they like and then toss a problem at them. Often times, this problem could be an obstacle that they are unprepared for or that works against some aspect about them. If you don’t necessarily have a problem that they can’t solve? Well, there are several ways you can pursue developing your character…

Learning a New Trade

Any type of ordinary learning experience is a good way to develop a character. When they are learning something new, they are stretching their brains. For instance, learning how to do a martial art might make someone’s balance better, their mood perhaps calmer or more confident.

Meeting a New Person

When you encounter a new person and hang out with them a lot, some of the things that they say or do will have an influence on you, particularly if you like that person or admire them. If your character is introduced to new individual characters with personality quirks unlike their own, they might pick up on certain things whether or not this is actually their intention. It could even be a person that the character actually dislikes and this character could either be a good or bad influence on them.

Failing at a Solution

It’s okay to let your character fail. Sometimes I see, especially in roleplaying but also with people dreaming of writing their own novel, this strong resistance to letting go of control and an inability to let the character finish at anything less than perfect. Firstly, your character should have flaws at the get-go. No one is perfect and neither is a believable character. Secondly, sometimes they just can’t win. But if you do have your character fail at something, whether it be a battle of strength, wits or just doing their mundane everyday job, make sure that they at least learn from it for the next time (unless your character’s flaw is that they are an imbecile or something which COULD work too). If you have your character in a situation and fail, then a similar situation comes up, they shouldn’t be coming at it like it’s brand new to them. Give them a contingency plan even. There are a lot of well-known characters that have failed at something. Even Sherlock Holmes was outsmarted in a case by Irene Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia”.

Being Blindsided

Okay, well, not necessarily blindsided, per say? But any time you have a character that believes one way about the world, and then is shown something different, you have the chance for character development. A betrayal of a loved one, something supernatural occurring, a death of a loved one, etc could work for this or even something normal like being fired from a job suddenly. Even initially showing disbelief, anger or even refusal to accept it is great but eventually this should lead somewhere to some level of acceptance. For instance, in How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup’s dad utterly refuses to accept anything Hiccup has to say about Dragons. After finally witnessing things up close and personal, he finally comes to realize his son was right and Dragons are not horrible creatures set out to kill all humans.

Whatever you do, however, make sure that at the core, your character is still the same or doesn’t change suddenly for no reason. Wildly changing can also be just as bad as no Character Development at all and is a trope known as Character Derailment.

Do you write? If so, what ways do you go about character development?