Comic-al Craziness!!

Lake Charles, LA

Last week saw the internetz explode with excitement over the trailer for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film.  To be quite honest, I wasn’t all that excited.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the film.  I just am not as hyped up about it as everyone else seems to be.  Stylistically it looks great, but I will hold judgment until I actually see the film.  Yes, Rocket Raccoon looks cool, but will the story hold up?  Only time will tell.

I do have to give kudos to Marvel Studios for successfully generating so much positive hype over the film.  The GOTG characters aren’t nearly as popular or well known to general audiences as Captain America, Thor, Hulk, the X-men, Fantastic Four, or Spider-Man.  Even Iron Man had a larger following than the GOTG gang.  Now he is just as popular if not more popular than the aforementioned characters.

What Marvel did correctly, though, was test the waters with major characters before taking their cinematic universe into a wider arena.  All of the films that led up to The Avengers were above averager to excellent, particulary the Iron Man films.  Ang Lee’s attempt with Hulk was a miscue, but it occurred long before Marvel’s development team set the Avengers into motion.  I felt that Captain America and the first Thor film suffered a bit due to the fact that they were the last films to  bridge all of the characters together before the big film, but Thor:  The Dark World did a solid job and I have extremely high hopes for Captain America:  The Winter Soldier.  In fact, I’m more excited about Soldier than I am about GOTG.  I’m also looking forward to the Ant Man film.

Sony and Fox are also upping the ante with their latest Marvel-based options.  The new Incredible Spider-Man does look rather interesting to me, even with the changes to Rhino, Electro, and Green Goblin.  Of course, the last time more than one primary villain showed up in a Spidey flick, it was a disaster.  I hope Sony has remedied this with the new film.

The new X-men film looks very, very crowded.  Fox also took liberties with a few of the characters.  While I don’t mind tinkering with the characters a bit (I though that Spidey’s biological webbing in the first trilogy was an improvement on the comics), there are some sacred cows you just don’t touch.  Rumor has it that Beast will be able to control his form, alternating between human and “beast” mode.  That takes away an integral part of that character’s development.  He no longer has to come to terms with his looks, which hinders the character in my opinion.  Also, Quicksilver is supposedly getting the club kid treatment……oh boy!

Then there’s the young cast of the new Fantastic Four film.  While it looks like they are going for an Ultimate FF reboot of the films, I just can’t get over the cast that they have.  Now, before anyone cries foul, know that I don’t mind younger actors taking on roles, I just hope that they don’t ruin an already struggling franchise.  I happened to enjoy the performances of Ioan Gruffudd,  Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, and Julian McMahon.  Jessica Alba was sufficient, but could have been much better. 

Now, with the reboot, we get Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as Invisible Woman, Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch and Jamie Bell as Thing.  In my opinion, Bell has the best acting chops in the bunch, and I’m assuming he’ll spend most of the film in either heavy prosthetics or CGI, or perhaps a combination of both.  Jordan can act.  There’s no doubt about that, but I wonder what fan reaction will be like to his race.  Personally I don’t care so long as they give a reasonable explanation for his relationship with Sue Storm.  I do think that the general public’s reaction, or more specifically comic fan reactions, will be negative.  I honestly don’t know enoug about Kate Mara to make a call on her, but I hope she does well.  Teller has me worried.  I haven’t seen him in many things and he hasn’t impressed me very much with the little that I have seen of him.  There are also rumors floating around that Doctor Doom might be a lady in this film……what?????

Well, all of this talk about comic films has me wondering.  What comic book character(s) or comic teams would you like to see on the big screen?  It can be characters that have already been in films that you’d like to see portrayed by someone else, or a character that hasn’t even been rumored to be in a film past or present.  Personally I would love to see a stand alone Nightcrawler, Gambit, or Magneto film.  I love all three of these characters, and I believe that if Blade could get three films, why can’t any of these guys get a solo project for themselves?  For the record, I loved the first and second Blade flicks, and it was refreshing to see a lesser known character take center stage.  Other characters that I would like to see flying solo on the big screen include Black Panther, Flash, Iron Fist, the West Coast Avengers, and a Swamp Thing reboot.

How about you?  Let me know and once again, thanks for reading.

Fan Friendly

Lake Charles, LA

I’ve been a fan of many things over the years.  Some of them, like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Batman, and Nightcrawler, have been a part of my life for a very long time.  Some of my other interests, such as Star Trek, Firefly, and Harry Potter, haven’t been with me as long.  

I grew up watching Doctor Who and Batman.  Star Wars was that magical series of films that I watched on the big screen.  As I grew older, I turned to the X-men, Thor, Daredevil, and the Flash for inspiration.  Harry Potter and Firefly didn’t arrive in my life until I was already an adult, but I’ve grown to love both of them very much.  

Star Trek took a bit more time for me to fall in love with.  The original series was off of the air many years before I was born, and since I grew up without cable television, I had only glimpsed a few episodes at friends’ houses or on vacation at a hotel.  It wasn’t until Star Trek:  The Next Generation came into being that I really took an interest in the series.  I watched all of the films that had been released to that point, but Trek just didn’t grab my attention.

Once I graduated college, I took a much deeper interest in Trek.  I started watching TNG again and eventually fell in love with the original series.  Couple that with the fact that many of my current friends are major Trekkies, and it’s the perfect recipe for me to fall in love with the entire franchise.

There are plenty of fandoms out there that I’m not very fond of.  For instance, I just don’t get Bronies (male adult fans of My Little Pony) nor do I understand the fascination with Twilight.  However, if I ever make fun of either of these fandoms or the franchises they are a part of, I do it only in jest.  Why?  Because whether I enjoy or get these fandoms, they are obviously important to the people that do enjoy them.

Basically what I am saying is that we all nerd out over something, whether it’s a TV or film series, a collection of books, Hello Kitty, or our favorite NFL/NHL/MLB/NBA team.  We find comfort within the confines of our respective fandoms no matter how silly others might see them.  When I tell people that I collect Star Wars and comic book toys, many of them laugh at me or tell me to grow up.  When I do the same thing amongst fellow fanboys, I get asked about my collection, offered tips on how to improve and/or grow my collection, and sometimes I get offered money or trades.  I’ve even been invited to places to talk about certain parts of my collection.

The bottom line is that for those of us who enjoy things like Harry Potter or Spider-Man, we need to stick together.  Mainstream fandoms such as NFL fans, reality tv fans, and popular music fans can freely declare their love for whatever it is they are into and no one seems to mind that much.  However, turn up at a party wearing a Spock t-shirt and nerds are automatically ostracized.  So, if you do ever find yourself in a similar situation, seek out your fellow oddballs and embrace their love for their favorite things, even if it is My Little Pony.  Don’t become one of those people who picks on a person because of what they love.  Support them.  Support each other!

Much love, folks, and thanks for reading.

What Makes A Fan A Fan?

Lake Charles, LA

I often read reports, opinion pieces, blog posts, and social media comments related to fans and fandom.  Most of them boast about the true fans of a certain sports team or the hardcore fans of certain superheroes.  Some of these fan groups that are mentioned have actually been given names like Trekkies/Trekkers, the KISS Army, and Twi-hards

Seeing all of these fan references made me think:  Exactly when does a person become a fan of something?  Are their degrees of fandom?  Are their some fans that are more deserving of the title than other fans of the same thing?

Of course, narrowing down a definitive answer on who is a bigger fan than someone else is pretty much impossible.  You have to take into consideration things like money, access to interests, social influences, advertising, and exclusivity.  What I mean by this is that there might be a person out there who loves Star Wars and has multiple screen-accurate costumes that they wear to conventions like Star Wars Celebration, buys books and comics related to Star Wars, and collects toys, shirts, etc., but are they more of a fan than the guy who only owns the films on DVD that watches them repeatedly and can quote them line for line because that is all he can afford?  I honestly don’t think so.  In fact, I know a few people who don’t own any Star Wars goodies save for the films and they can run circles around cosplayers when it comes to trivia.

But who is a truer fan?  Who is the real fan?  I guess that is all a matter of opinion.  I consider myself a Whovian, a New Orleans Saints fan, a Star Wars fanboy, a Browncoat, a mild Trekkie, a Houston Astros fan, a member of the KISS Army, and a comic book fan, particularly of Batman, Nightcrawler, Gambit, Thor, Flash, Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, the Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Captain America.  Do I love other sports teams, comic characters, science fiction, and/or fantasy titles?  Absolutely.  I consider myself a Ravenclaw and have read all of the Harry Potter books and watched the films.  Could I argue with someone over the virtues of Snape?  Yes, but only to a degree.  I’m much more involved in other fandoms.  Do I consider myself any less of a HP fan?  Nope. 

Heck, I’m not that big of a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy and I’m more excited about seeing Captain America:  The Winter Soldier than GOTG.  Does that make me any less of a comics fan?  In no way whatsover.  But I do wonder if there are people out there who snub their noses at me for not being more interested in GOTG or other things.  I’m sure they are out there.  In fact, I know they are.

I’ve witnessed true fans try to out people for their fan worthiness.  I’ve watched men try to outwit female cosplayers on whatever character they happen to be dressed as.  I saw one idiot attempt to embarass some female Trekkies and watched as they turned the tables on him, correcting him on multiple topics.  He had no idea what to do with them next.  They had him beat.

But are there people out there that we can consider truer fans than others?  Can people who watch Doctor Who for the sole purpose of seeing how cute Matt Smith or Karen Gillan looks in a particular episode really be considered a fan of the show?  Or are they simply fans of Smith/Gillan?  Just because I can’t name all of the Robins from the Batman comics, does that make me any less of a fan than the guy who has a poster of Nightwing over his bed?  Honestly, I don’t think it does.

What it all ultimately boils down to is that we are all fans of many things to varying degrees.  If you believe you are a truer fan of Star Trek because you can speak Klingon, good for you.  But in no way are you entitled to some special sort of recognition for this fact.  Why?  Because while you were learning Klingon, another fan of Trek might have been checking out Blake’s 7 or Percy Jackson

I guess what I’m really getting at with this rambling post is that we all need to get along no matter what we love and no matter to what degree we love something.  This is especially important for the Trekkies, Whovians, Browncoats, Bronies, etc. to understand.  Why?  Because like it or not, society looks down upon geeks, nerds, and fanboys.  While things are much better than they used to be, use nerds are stil considered outsiders.  If you find people who share a love of something with you, TALK to them!  LISTEN to them!  ENJOY their company!  Don’t scoff at them for not knowing who Remy Lebeau’s alter ego is.  Just be happy that you have made contact with someone who gets you and your passion for something.

I challenge any and every person that reads this to seek out a new friend in your chosen fandom.  Attend a fan group meeting or strike up a conversation with someone reading a novel you enjoy at the library or a book store.  That person might know more about the topic than you, or they might know less.  In either case, befriend them.  Eventually you will both grow as people and that is a beautiful thing. 

Thanks for reading.  Now go make some friends!

Excellent Conventions That Are Happening In The Gulf South

Biloxi, MS and Lake Charles, LA

Biloxi, MS is home to one of the biggest “little” conventions in all of the United States.  Each year it is home to CoastCon, a fan-run convention that focuses on gaming, fantasy, and science fiction.  I’ve had the great opportunity to attend this convention on two occasions and hope to attend it again very soon.

2014 finds the convention in its thirty-seventh incarnation (dubbed Revenge of the Red Shirts).  The convention has an excellent list of guests this year including John de Lancie (Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Little Women, Days of Our Lives, etc.), author Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld, Blackwell Pages), and Gaming Guest of Honor Michael Brock.  Also expected to attend are authors Allan Gilbreath, Kimberly Richardson, “The” Rob Cerio, Brandon Black, and Michael Moreau.  There will also be numerous cosplayers at the event.

I call CoastCon the biggest “little” convention because despite the fact that it is a fan-run convention, it manages to get some excellent guests and artists to attend.  It also has the feel of a large convention but with the intimacy of a smaller con.  If you’re in the area, be sure to visit.  You won’t regret it!

CoastCon takes place at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center on March 7,8, and 9.  It’s an excellent convention and I highly recommend it.  Get more information at www.coastcon.org.

Another excellent convention happening in the Gulf South during the first part of the year is CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA.  This particular convention has been growing steadily since its first year and shows no signs of slowing down.  It focuses on anime, science fiction, and gaming, but has a little something for everyone. 

One unique aspect of this convention is that its staff has planned events throughout the year.  These events focus on different fandoms, from gamers to Doctor Who.  There’s even a branch organization, CyPhaKids, that has activities throughout the year for younger fans of science fiction, fantasy, and comics.

This year the convention will be held on April 4, 5, and 6 at the Lake Charles Civic Center.  Special guests will include Kandyse McClure of Battlestar Galactica, anime guest Tiffany Grant (Neon Genesis Evangelion), and multiple artists and authors.  MechCorps’ gaming pods will also be at the location providing plenty of pulse-pounding entertainment.  The Suzaku 7 will also be at the convention playing some wonderful tunes.

I do plan to attend CyPhaCon this year and will give a full report once the convention has ended.  For more information, check out www.cyphacon.org.

That’s all for now, kiddies.  Thanks for reading!

Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con

New Orleans, LA, February 7-9

There are very few things in this world that I enjoy more than going to comic and science fiction conventions.  These conventions are the only places (outside of fan group meetings and get togethers) that I can truly nerd out and have no need to worry about backlash or scrutiny.  People at comic and science fiction conventions get me and share many of the same interests that I do.  We are all lovers of Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Batman, The Avengers, Hellboy, Firefly, and just about any other thing that bleeds pop culture.  Granted some of us love some things more than others and a few even hate certain fandoms, but we ultimately share a passion for whatever might be our favorite thing  and THAT is what really brings us together.

Few places can draw that passion out of a nerd and geek like a Wizard World event.  Yes, these types of events are primarily cash grabs for Wizard World, but they are often the only chance many of us will ever get to meet the likes of Stan Lee, Norman Reedus, Matt Smith, and other celebrities who just aren’t affordable enough for smaller fan-run conventions to get their hands on.  On top of the celebs, there are also tons of artists (both regionally and worldwide) that attend these conventions and let us partake in their brilliant work.  I’ve met a number of artists over the years at events like this and have handpicked a few that I plan to blog individually about.

After meeting all of the celebs and artists, conventions of this scale also offer the chance to meet fan groups and smaller fan-run conventions.  From Browncoats to Whovians, every fandom seems to be represented.  Then you have vendors selling their wares, from collectibiles to original works, and those wonderful off-premises events such as room parties, club parties, and, in the case of New Orleans, Bourbon Street.

Now, getting down to business here.  I was lucky enough to hitch a ride to Wizard World NOLA with the crew of the U.S.S. Lafitte and CyPhaCon, one of those aforementioned smaller conventions.  They let me come with them in exchange for holding down the fort at their fan tables.  We arrived on Friday and set up both tables rather quickly.  Once the doors opened for the VIPs and then the general admissions gang, the convention center became very, very busy.  Friday was light, but not nearly as light as I expected it to be.  I saw plenty of wonderful costumes ranging from Harley Quinn to Amy Pond and Spider-man to that guy from Assassin’s Creed.  I didn’t leave the table very much that evening, but I got to meet some really great people and hang out with some wonderful friends.

When the doors closed on the convention for the evening, myself and a friend dressed as Batman headed over to the Howlin’ Wolf for a Friday night full of nerd bands and the wonderful ladies of Orion’s Envy.  The first band of the evening was Space Metal, who served up some excellent sci-fi tunes for those of us who listen to music on the heavier end of the scale.  After them, the Orion’s Envy took the stage to perform a couple of dances for the audience.  Thank the gods that they performed Moves Like Shatner, as that happens to be my favorite.  Once the lovely ladies exited the stage, Sci-fried took control of the masses and played a great mix of metal, hard rock, and even a bit of rap.  They topped off their set with their version of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla.  The Consortium of Genius capped off the evening for us with another brilliant set.  If you’ve never bowed to the C.O.G. before, you need to check them out!

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Myself and my friend exited a bit before the end of C.O.G.’s set and decided to head on down to Bourbon Street.  Along the way we were invited to a bar mitzvah.  It was the first time that either of us had ever been to such an event.  It was amazing!  People were laughing, dancing on tables, and having a generally good time.

After a few minutes, we headed out to Bourbon Street to partake in the drunken idiocy that occurs there.  Countless people took photos with my friend in his suit.  He even got tipped a couple of times!  Soon enough we reached a part of Bourbon that had crowds that were just a little too thick and a little too inebriated for our tastes (and our safety) so we headed back to the hotel.

Saturday found us extremely tired, but still excited from the night before.  Once again the floodgates were opened and a massive crowd strolled through the convention hall.  It was on this day that I met Zach Galligan (Billy from Gremlins).  He was extremely nice.  I received an autograph and a photo with him and headed to Sara Jean Underwood’s table next.  Sara Jean is a rather famous model, but I know her best from her time on G4’s Attack of the Show were she gave updates and performed in a skit as the superheroine, Bustice.  She was very nice.  I snagged an autograph from her. 

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I also took a little time to visit with some of the cosplayers that were at the convention.  My favorites were the lovely Ivy Doomkitty and Ryan Frye, who is almost the spitting image of Chris Hemsworth.

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I met more wonderful people and made plenty of new friends on this day.  I also checked out the vendor area, but left empty-handed.  There were plenty of things that I wanted to buy, but that amazing thing called money has done an excellent job of avoiding me as of late, so my budgetary skills held me in check.

Sunday was almost as packed as Saturday, which is quite a shocker.  I managed to meet Steven Yeun (Glen from The Walking Dead).  He was exceptionally kind and even took a selfie of us for my Facebook page.  He looked extremely tired from signing autographs, taking photos, and shaking hand after hand after hand for the last couple of days.  Still, he was a pro and made sure everyone left with a smile.  I took a little time to visit my good friends in Orion’s Envy once again.  Instead of their usual green greatness, they channeled She-Ra for the day. 

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As the convention drew to a close, I was really sad to see it all end.  This was definitely the best Wizard event that I have ever attended.  Crowd control was excellent, no one got too rowdy, and the celebs and artists were all extremely nice.  I can’t wait till next year.  Overall, it was a fun and wild weekend.

In my next post, I plan on highlighting a couple of upcoming conventions in the Louisiana/Mississippi area.  Thanks for reading!