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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Fandom, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 94
1. LeakyCon.com and Social Media Updates!

In preparation for the exciting LeakyCon 2016, LeakyCon is updating their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. These sites are currently veiled under an air of mystery, as they are being rebuilt from the ground up. With constructing a new theme, LeakyCon promises new and exciting details about the relaunch of LeakyCon in Los Angeles in 2016.

Next Tuesday, September 1, is the “start of term” and the day LeakyCon will unveil it’s new sites. Are you ready to go to Hogwarts?

Please watch the LeakyCon website, Twitter, Facebook page, and Tumblr for more exciting news coming soon! Sign up for newsletter updates on LeakyCon.com.

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2. Flame Con announces 2016 return: twice as long, new location

2016 Flame Con will be held for TWO days this time. And that's not all: they're moving to a bigger location too

1 Comments on Flame Con announces 2016 return: twice as long, new location, last added: 8/26/2015
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3. Doctor Who Comics Day is tomorrow!

We've been writing about it for months now, and can hardly believe it's almost here: the second annual Doctor Who Comics Day is tomorrow!

1 Comments on Doctor Who Comics Day is tomorrow!, last added: 8/15/2015
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4. Interview: Paul Cornell talks Manic Pixie Dream Doctors, Warcraft, and that time he “messed up.”

We talk with series writer Paul Cornell about his Four Doctors crossover event for Titan, his Dark Horse limited series This Damned Band, a recently announced Warcraft graphic novel due out next year and the one comic he walked away from.

1 Comments on Interview: Paul Cornell talks Manic Pixie Dream Doctors, Warcraft, and that time he “messed up.”, last added: 8/12/2015
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5. Great Moments in Star Wars cards signed by Mark Hamill

Autograph authenticator Steve Grad has a collection of 100s of Star Wars cards signed by the original cast, and he’s posted a gallery on FB, with more to come. But I think this one by Mark Hamill may be the best one of all. Although these are pretty good, too. More in the link.

2 Comments on Great Moments in Star Wars cards signed by Mark Hamill, last added: 7/31/2015
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6. Doctor Who wrap up: BBC renews, Titan previews 3-Doctor FCBD issue and Texas celebrates “Dr. Who Day”

Doctor Who is here to stay…at least for the next five years. Whovians around the world have reason to celebrate today, as the BBC reported executive producer Steven Moffat’s comments to Doctor Who Magazine that the rebooted series would do a “minimum of 15 years” in total.  Ben Stephenson, BBC’s outgoing head of drama commissioning  was even more optimistic, saying: “As long as the people looking after it are passionate about it… there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t do another 50 years.” This announcement comes on the heels of the new series’ 10 year anniversary, celebrated by fans across the world. The show’s popularity has led even mainstream outlets like MTV News to cover the anniversary, ranking the modern episodes in order of quality.

When the modern version of the series went on the air in 2005, Doctor Who was largely unknown to mainstream America. The adventures of the time-traveling, two-hearted alien known only as “The Doctor” were confined to PBS rebroadcasts of the original or “Classic” series, which was produced by the BBC from 1963-1989. Low production values and the show’s undeniable Britishness were barriers to crossover success in the States, though a cult following developed among science fiction fans who grew up watching the series.

That all changed in 2010 when BBC America licensed the show for broadcast in the United States. Instead of waiting months for rebroadcasts of episodes, they now waited weeks. Perhaps there is no better bellwether of the shows immense Stateside popularity than the town of Denton, TX. Local comic book store retailer Tim Stoltzfus of More Fun Comics lobbied to nab an exclusive cover and won. Titan Comics released 29 variant covers for Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Issue 1 and among them was a cover featuring the TARDIS parked outside the Denton County Courthouse.

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Local Denton artist Jake Ekiss drew the exclusive cover.

The recognition drew the attention of Denton Mayor Chris Watts, who drew up a proclamation declaring April 4, 2015 “Dr. Who Day” in Denton. Local Whovians attended a reading of the proclamation in front of the courthouse where local a local cosplay group erected a TARDIS prop. Brothers Travis and Tom Huston attended the ceremony, dressed as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors, respectively. Tom, 12, liked seeing “so many Whovians,” while Travis, 9, said: “there aren’t many great shows on like it, our whole family watches it together.” Both brothers agreed it was  “really awesome that our courthouse is on the cover.”

Geronimo and Allons-y! The Huston brothers dressed as their favorite Doctors: Travis, age 9, dressed as Eleven and Tom, age 12, went as Ten.

Geronimo and Allons-y! The Huston brothers dressed as their favorite Doctors: Travis, age 9, as Eleven and Tom, age 12, as Ten. Photo by Cristy Flowers Huston.

Likely the Houston brothers are among the fans excited for the upcoming three Doctor issue to be released on May 2nd, Free Comic Book Day. Check out the cover and preview pages below:

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0 Comments on Doctor Who wrap up: BBC renews, Titan previews 3-Doctor FCBD issue and Texas celebrates “Dr. Who Day” as of 4/10/2015 5:46:00 PM
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7. Interview: Joey Stern, co-founder of Geeks OUT talks Flame Con – NYC’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention

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Back in November, queer nerd organization Geeks OUT launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a convention by queer nerds, for queer nerds. A month later they’d far exceeded their $15k goal, raising nearly $20,000 to make their con a reality. I spoke with Joey Stern about what led him start Geeks OUT, how that led to Flame Con, and what queer geeks and their allied communities can expect from New York City’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention on June 13.

Edie Nugent: Tell me a little about your role at Geeks OUT and how you got involved with the organization.

Joey Stern: We founded Geeks OUT in 2010 after New York Comic Con.  There was only queer panel that year and it was so packed that you had to stand in the back just to be there.

We wanted to make an organization that connected these fans, and gave them a more than once a year event to gather and see each other. We also wanted to make NYCC a gayer place, so we held events and parties as we fund raised to get enough money for a table.

It was really intense, but a year later, we debuted at NYCC with monthly queer comic/geek events and a table where people could come and find a group for themselves.

Nugent: So how did you decide to make the leap from that to putting on an entire convention?

Stern: We and the board of Geeks OUT felt like it was a natural progression and an opportunity to introduce an existing queer audience to amazing queer and ally artists and creators.

There’s so much out there now, it’s really hard to find a lot of the stuff that’s made for you, and Flame Con offers a connection for people and creators to meet and find new passions.

It also creates connections and empowers queer fandom, which is an important part of what we do.

Nugent: Why do you think comic book fandom appeals to the queer experience?

Stern: There really is no art like Comic Books. It’s not only informative, but it offers a lot more context for the writers’ words than traditional books do (or paintings offer on their own). They also have an indie experience, and like queer culture, were for a long time considered the realm of weirdos and freaks.

Comics in general are often about exploring new worlds and future tomorrows. And I think that idea is really appealing to anyone who has experiences of being on the outer edge of polite society.

For me, the X-men’s construct of creating new family, and finding friendship with people like you was really informative.

Nugent: You really leveraged queer fandom to launch Flame Con, raising almost $20k for the event. Were you surprised by how much support you received?

Stern: Yeah! Oh man, it was terrifying, we were worried the whole thing was going to fail, but people really came out to support us and this effort. It just shows how vibrant and important this community is.

Nugent: Do you think recent media attention on sexual harassment at cons, especially of cosplayers, helped identify a real need for a more progressive type of con experience?

Stern: Sure! But I think a lot of that work has been done by cosplayers coming to the media. It’s been really amazing to see people having that conversation and pushing for safer spaces (and to see cons, like NYCC respond positively to those changes).

Nugent: What are some programming highlights from Flame Con that you’re excited about?

Stern: We’re excited to be putting on all sorts of programming – hopefully something for everyone! A panel about writing for LGBT teens hosted by award-winning author David Levithan, a Q&A with Steve Orlando, writer of DC’s upcoming Midnighter series (DC’s first ongoing title to feature a gay man as a lead character,) a great panel on queer horror with Mark Patton, star of the infamously queer Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Cecil Baldwin, voice of the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a panel about looking at Sherlock Holmes from a queer perspective, a discussion with some up-and-coming industry pros about costume design, and lots more. We’re really packing something interesting into every minute of this con! There’s also a performance from Sarah Donner!

Nugent: What makes Flame Con different from other cons that aren’t queer-centric?

Stern: It’s tailored to its audience. All Gender bathrooms, queer artists and creators taking center stage, and panels that are not Gay 101, but a bit more focused.

Nugent: How so? 

Stern: Bigger cons have panels focused on Gay Artists, we have panels focused on writing Gay Sherlock Fan Fiction.

Flame Con is a one-day event on June 13 in Brooklyn. Here’s a complete list of guests appearing at the con. For more information check out their website and their Facebook page.

0 Comments on Interview: Joey Stern, co-founder of Geeks OUT talks Flame Con – NYC’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention as of 5/26/2015 3:35:00 PM
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8. Marvel panel at NYCC Special Edition reveals no Secret Wars reboot

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There were quite a few announcements the NYCC Special Edition Marvel panel. We learned of the fall launch of a new line of $1 comics featuring women of Marvel, saw new pages from the upcoming Lando Calrissian limited series, and were told of a new post-Secret Wars Iron Man series from Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez.

But perhaps the most interesting moment of the panel was when Bendis, speaking on the dais with Marguerite Bennett (A-Force) and Charles Soule (Inhumans: Attilan Rising), said that Secret Wars was “never planned to be a reboot” to the Marvel Universe, and that “no continuity would be damaged or reversed.” Bendis explained that Secret Wars was always meant to be part of on-going continuity.

Bennett received loud applause when speaking to a fan during the Q & A portion of the panel who asked her what advice she had for women and girls interested in the comics industry. “Don’t be scared,” Bennett replied, “I’ve had one of the worst weeks of my life with hate mail and it doesn’t matter.” Bennet said she would “prove through her work, I’m not going anywhere.”

Sound issues plagued the presentation, which alternately found Bendis yelling into his mic and audience members having to approach the panel and speak into their mics to be heard over a panel in the adjacent space (separated only by a curtain).

Keep reading for panel exclusive images of forthcoming series, including those never before seen pages from upcoming Charles Soule penned series Lando!

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The new “True Believers” line of $1 comics debuts in September 2015, and will feature a women of Marvel theme for it’s first 10 issues.

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Marvel also showed art from their forthcoming variant covers, including several images from an upcoming line of Manga variants. A House of M variant cover was shown, drawn by Katsuya Terada (Blood: The Last Vampire).

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Marvel’s variant announcements continued with images of a line of variant covers honoring the fast-growing cosplay scene.

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Artist Alex Maleev joins Soule for the upcoming Lando limited series. Soule said the series would have “a lot of twists and turns” but that it would be the charming, “smarmy” Lando we all know and love, as Con-exclusive images were shown on the big screen.

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“New Armor, new villains,” promised Bendis of his upcoming Invincible Iron Man series, scheduled for release following Secret Wars. He promised the series’ first issue would have a “whopper of a last page,” and reveal the identity of Tony Stark’s biological parents. He also confirmed that, despite internet rumor, it was indeed Stark inside the Iron Man suit. Though he wouldn’t confirm how many limbs Stark still had following the events of Secret Wars.

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When a fan approached the panel to ask “how important are the X-Men” after Secret Wars, Bendis joked, “it’s almost like Marvel is screwing around with people who have X-Men paranoia.”

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5 Comments on Marvel panel at NYCC Special Edition reveals no Secret Wars reboot, last added: 6/10/2015
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9. The Dylanologists by David Kinney


So when you ask some of your questions, you're asking them to a person who's long dead. You're asking them to a person that doesn't exist. But people make that mistake about me all the time. 
—Bob Dylan, 2012

If you've ever spent any time around any sort of fan community, most of the people you meet in The Dylanologists will be familiar types. There are the collectors, there are the hermeneuts, there are the true believers and the pilgrims. Some reviewers and readers have derided a lot of the people Kinney writes about as "crazy", but one of the virtues of the book is that it humanizes its subjects and shows that plenty of people who are superfans are not A.J. Weberman. They seem a little passionate, sure, and if you're not especially interested in their passion they may seem a bit weird, but how different are they, really, from denizens of more culturally dominant fandoms — say, devoted sports fans? (Indeed, the term "fan" as we think of it now dates back to 19th century American sports, at least according to the OED.)

Or how different are they from academics? That was the question that kept buzzing through my brain as I read the book. It's no surprise to me that one of the great Milton scholars of our time, Christopher Ricks, would have become a Dylanologist; the fights among the Dylan fans are at least the equal of the fights among the Miltonists, who can be a rather contentious lot... (Speaking of Miltonists, Stanley Fish's invaluable "What Makes an Interpretation Acceptable", a chapter from Is There a Text in This Class?, came to mind again and again as I read.) In so many ways — its esotericism, its gate-keeping, its initiation rites — academia is a collection of high-falutin' fandoms.

Given that I have spent most of my life studying written texts, it's probably predictable that the chapter I found most exciting in The Dylanologists is the one about Scott Warmuth and other researchers who have traced the vast web of references, quotations, echoes, allusions, shadows, and traces of other writings through Dylan's own, particularly in Dylan's work over the last 15 years or so. (See Warmuth's fascinating essay for the New Haven Review about Dylan's Chronicles: Vol. 1.) One of the things that makes Dylan so extraordinary is that he's like a human filter for particular strains of Americana and of musical and literary history. He's like a human cut-up machine. Puritanical squawkers may scream, "Plagiarism!", but for me the effect of, for instance, Warmuth's revelations about Chronicles is that I was in even more awe of Dylan's achievement — the book reveals itself to be not just a memoir, but a more readable cousin to Finnegans Wake. Dylan's references, allusions, echoes, riffs, cut-ups, and copies expand his work and connect it to networks of meaning.


Don Hunstein; Bob Dylan, New York, 1963

(It's worth noting, tangentially, that these references, allusions, echoes, etc. are most effective at the level of language and music. While Dylan certainly has written songs and even entire albums that are explorations of what in fandom get called tropes, he's too great an artist to exert most of his energies at that level.)

(It's also worth noting that there are inevitably differences of power in how such references, allusions, echoes, etc. are perceived and the effect they have, especially in a culture of white supremacy. Dylan's not always great about this, but he's also not always bad, and to castigate him for "appropriation", as some people do, seems to me too reductive to be useful. At the same time, as I pointed out in a review of a book about Charley Patton and Jimmie Rodgers for Rain Taxi's most recent print issue, racism shaped what was possible for even the most talented artists, and the popularity of Patton and Rodgers, for instance, can't be said to be parallel: "The nature of their popularity was significantly different, and no small bit of that difference must be the result of race — both the race of the musicians and the racialized marketing of record companies that offered one set of music to black (and mostly Southern) audiences and another to white (and nation-wide) audiences." Both men were significant to the history of American music, both were hugely talented, and both drew from and played off of similar influences. But Jimmie Rodgers got rich and Charley Patton didn't, even though today it's Patton's name — partly due to Dylan's advocacy and homage — that is probably more likely to be recognized.)

Masks are easy to pick up and just as easy to discard. He's a man of masks, the man of thin wild mercury — the Dylan we know, the Dylan we can know, is a performance. The original image that was sold of Dylan — the earnest protest singer — has been resilient, and people still seem shocked when Dylan does something like a TV commercial. But Dylan was never pure, and it drives purists crazy. Dylan is all poses, all artifice, and he always was. He's not, though, a postmodern ironizer; his earnestness is in the earnestness of his artifice. (His art is real for as long as he performs it.) Many fans fall in love with the earnestness, but hate the artifice.

Fans tend to be both passionate and possessive. This is a bad recipe for Dylan fans, because he seems to take a certain joy in pushing against whatever expectations are set up for him. The history of Dylan fandom is a history of fans denouncing him at every juncture. The "real" Dylan is Dylan before he went electric, Dylan before he went country, Dylan before he went gospel, Dylan before the doldrums of the '80s, Dylan before he did a Victoria's Secret ad, Dylan before... Kinney does a good job of showing the ways that great passion can also lead to great disillusionment and even great hatred. The relationship between fans and celebrities can be pathological and destructive. One of the strengths of Kinney's book is that it shows various ways that pathology may manifest, from the benign to the fatal.

There's a kind of Harry Potter syndrome to a lot of fandom, well expressed by one of Dylan's die-hard followers, an expert at getting to the front of the admission line at concerts. Kinney asked him if he wanted to meet Dylan (not all fans do). Charlie said yes. "I think he would think I was funny. I really believe I could be the one guy who could talk to him without bullshit."

I really believe I could be the one guy — the one guy who understands, the one guy who knows the beloved's soul, the one guy who really gets it. The true fan. Another fan says late in the book:
"He and I have been through a lot together and he doesn't know it," she said. "He doesn't know I exist. Can you see how that would be frustrating? I don't have any grandiose idea that because he's affected me he's going to care. I just think it's not fair that it's a one-way relationship." She wasn't delusional. She didn't think he was going to ask her out on a date, or invite her to his home. But if he did she would have to drop everything and go. "I don't think he's Jesus, I don't think he's the messiah. He's just a human being. But he's filled with poetry."
Or another fan, one that Dylan seemed to occasionally pay some attention to:
"I think it's a wonder he shook my hand. I don't want to speculate," he said. But a few minutes later he stopped midsentence and looked me in the eye. "I take that back. I do have a theory, and I happen to think it's right. I don't think it, I know it. I think he's got a problem similar to my problem: being misunderstood, being misjudged. People take me the wrong way. I suspect it's because they don't listen to the words I say."
Fans may want to distance themselves from religious fanatics, but theirs is still a religious position — fan as worshiper, artist as God — and as various people have pointed out over the years, there's a secular religiosity that such fervent fandom satisfies. The fan is created in the god's image, the god in the fan's. I could be the one guy; He and I have been through a lot together; I think he's got a problem similar to mine. Throughout its history, the word fanatic possesses a religious connotation, and a fan, of course, is a type of fanatic. We don't worship gods that seem alien to us.

I don't say all this to scoff. Personal identification is a fundamental part of any artistic appreciation. It's hard for such identification not to slip toward certain types of fantasy, dreams of contact. I'm a huge fan of some things, and so is Bob Dylan: Kinney tells the story of Dylan's visit to John Lennon's childhood home, and the experience described is that of a fan. Even in academia, at least in my field of literature, one of the things that motivates some of our work (now and then, here and there) is the sense that we can understand a particular text or writer in a way that nobody else can.

And then there are relics. Kinney tells various tales of collectors: people who not only listen to the music, or collect rare recordings, but seek out physical objects somehow related to the singer. As I was most intellectually interested in the hermenauts close reading Dylan's texts, so I felt most sympathy for the people whose lives have been in many ways hindered by their quests for Dylan's stuff. I inherited a collector's personality from my father, though I hope I've also learned from his negative example, because for all the pleasure it sometimes brought him, his quest for the stuff (in his case, militaria, guns, etc.) in so many more ways limited his life. On the other hand, like so much else in fandom, collecting seems to have given the Dylan collectors a sense of purpose as well as a sense of community.

Relics are also religious, a kind of objective correlative for the zeal of worship. The Benjaminian aura becomes for some people even more important in the age of mechanical reproduction. Is anybody who really cares about a work of art impervious to this? I was recently at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, where a friend works, and getting to see and even hold so many unique items of literary history was overwhelming. "I now know what people mean by 'religious experience'," I said. I understand the impulse to buy the windows of Dylan's childhood home, even as I recognize that such an impulse is absurd. Kinney's book conveys both the attractions of the impulse and the absurdity.

This paragraph toward the end of the final chapter is especially revealing of the complexities that Kinney is able to find in the subject of Dylan and his most passionate fans:
What must it be like to be Dylan, the music writer Paul Williams once wondered, and carry around "the half-formed dreams of millions on your back"? Dylan always had been afraid of his followers, and Williams could understand why. "Their relationship with him is so intense, they expect so much, and more than once over the years they've turned really nasty when he chose to deliver something other than their notion of who 'Bob Dylan' should be." Williams wrote that in the aftermath of the first gospel concerts in 1979, but he just as easily could have said it after Another Side in 1964, Newport in 1966, Nashville Skyline in 1969, Live Aid in 1985, or London in 2009. So many controversies. So much disappointment. Dylan acted entirely unfazed: "Oh, I let you down? Big deal," he said once. "Find somebody else." More than one fan really did wish he had died in the motorcycle wreck in 1966. It would have been better that way. He'd have been frozen in his glory. Instead he got old. He kept putting out new records and doing shows. He kept confounding.
One of the effective choices Kinney makes is to set the book up as a kind of biography. It generally, though not slavishly, follows Dylan's career from the early days to later. The Dylanologists become a kind of cast of characters, moving in and out of the narrative. These two structural choices sometimes can be frustrating or feel a bit strained, but nevertheless give the book a unity and sense of narrative momentum that wouldn't otherwise be available. I expect readers' interests will ebb and flow depending on which types of Dylanologists they themselves find most interesting, and it's also likely lots of people will want to know more about particular people and less about others, making it difficult to say the book is entirely satisfying, but Kinney's interest is not so much in individual manifestations of Dylanology, but in how the idea of Bob Dylan gets kaleidoscoped through the many different ways of hearing him, seeing him, loving him, and hating him. I'm Not There did something similar in a more abstract way, and it might make a good companion piece with The Dylanologists, certainly more so than any conventional biography, which can really only tell us so much, and very little of what truly illuminates the work. Whether The Dylanologists can illuminate the work depends on what you desire for illumination. Certainly, it illuminates the quest for illumination.

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10. Eventbrite Survey: conventions have achieved gender parity but some still feel unwelcome

EventBrite, the ticketing agency, caused a lot of talk last year when they released the results of the first survey of convention attendees with breakdowns on gender, spending and more.

They’ve done another survey this year, and the results are even more detailed. Rob Salkowitz has done a round-up over at ICv2 but the Beat has also been given an exclusive preview of some of the data on safety at the con.

The survey was done to provide greater insight into the multi-billion dollar fandom events and convention business, and surveyed 2165 total respondents over two weeks in May. Respondents were drawn from Eventbrite users, with a few from external respondents via social media. 94% of respondents attended a fan event or convention in the past 12 months, While the poll did not cover sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, it delved into gender, and the news is that as far as men and women go it’s now even steven. Also, there is far more gender diversity among purchasers of indie/alt.comix than among regular comics. And that attendees of Tabletop/role-playing games felt less safe than any other kind of event — perhaps because fans of these are actually USED to acting out? Just a guess there.

 

SO MUCH TO CHEW ON. For breakdowns read on:

 

 

Fandom Overall Has Achieved Gender Parity

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• Last year, in a survey using the same methodology and roughly the same sample size, the overall gender breakdown across all fandoms was 46% female, 54% male, but was 50/50 under age 30. (the survey did not provide a non-binary/other option in 2014)
• This year, gender identity breakdown across all responses was 48.9% female, 48.7% male, , 2.4% non-binary/other
• Fandom as a whole is trending female, with women very slightly outnumbering men in our overall sample.
• Under age 40, it’s 50.8% female/46.1% male/3.1% non-binary/other
• There are hardly any significant attitude or behavior differences expressed between male and female fans across most topics polled.





…but gender gaps remain across specific fan interest areas.

• Despite the overall trend toward women across all fan interest areas polled, no individual fandom is close to 50/50
• Tabletop and role-playing gaming and comic book fandom are where the boys are, clocking in at over 62% male.
• Female fans flock to anime/manga, science fiction and genre/comics-based media.
• Fans identifying as “non-binary/other” are most likely to be found in Alt/small press and anime/manga fandom.

Cosplayers are Intense Fans, Spenders, Frequent Con Attendees




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• 499 respondents, or around 23% of our sample, identified themselves as serious cosplayers and/or people who attend shows just to engage in cosplay
• The highest percentage – 29.4% – identified themselves as primarily manga/anime fans. 21% are fans of comic and genre-based media, and 17.7% science fiction and fantasy fans.
• More than 85% of cosplayers are under 40, with nearly 60% between the ages of 23-39.
• Cosplayers are predominantly female (62.5%), with 32% male and 5% non-binary/other
• Only 30% of cosplayers report spending less than $100 at shows. Most (42.7%) spend between $101-250, consistent with the spending patterns of non cosplayers.
• Cosplayers go to more cons than practically any other group. 64% of serious cosplayers attend 3 or more fan events per year. More than 27% attend 5 or more fan events per year.




Cons Generally Make Fans Feel Safe and Welcome
• When asked “In general, do you feel the fan events you attend do enough to make all attendees feel safe and welcome,” 7.2% of respondents (143 total)  said no. 92.8% said yes.
• Anime/manga and toy/collectible fans seem to feel their events do best, with fewer than 5% feeling unsafe.
• By far the worst fandom for safety is Tabletop/role-playing games, with around 17% of fans in that category answering “no.”
• Videogaming fans (mostly male fandom) response is at about 10%; comic and genre-based media (the most female fandom) is around the same.
• There were few statistical differences between how men, women and non-binary/other genders answered this question.




• Among those who feel unsafe and unwelcome:
o 53.5% are female, 45.1% are male, 1.4% are non-binary/other
o 20% are serious cosplayers. 44% do not cosplay at all.
o 40% have been going to cons for more than 10 years
o 35% spend $250 or more
o 85% go in groups of two or more, including family




1 Comments on Eventbrite Survey: conventions have achieved gender parity but some still feel unwelcome, last added: 6/30/2015
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11. SDCC ’15 – Comic Book People at Comic-Con

FullSizeRenderWant to know what comic-cons are really about? Get these books.

In my previous post I talked about the importance of community — it is central to proper understanding of ethics, and as such it is essential to a fan life well-lived. As an influx of new people explore the comics universe, the risk of losing sight of what connects us beyond passive viewing increases and the importance of learning from our history only grows.

That’s why Jackie Estrada’s Comic Book People is so vital – and if you’re at San Diego Comic-Con, you can get the hot-off-the-Kickstarter second volume at the Exhibit A Press booth, #1909 (aisle 1900, near the Lobby B2 entrance).

If you’re new to comic-cons there might be a temptation to think that books filled with photos of people from the ’70s and ’80s (vol. 1) and ’90s (vol. 2) are just for people who went to conventions back then, but as Don Draper would say, this isn’t nostalgia; it’s a time machine. The genius of these books is that you are in many ways their target audience — in addition to names and photos, Comic Book People explains who these people are and why they are important. Not only will this help you discover stories you might have otherwise missed, but they show you a world-shaping network as it grows. These folks built a global pop-culture empire that made billions and changed lives, inspiring an intensity of personal connection that rivals if not transcends that found in other art. Know them and you’ll understand the world you’ve just entered; follow their example and you’ll create a world that today exists only in dreams.

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12. SDCC ’15: Lego Doctor Who and a September 19th season 9 release date among highlights from Doctor Who panel

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Many of the fans packed into Hall H on Thursday waited overnight on the street outside of the San Diego Convention Center for their chance to catch Peter Capaldi’s first appearance at SDCC since becoming the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who. Capaldi himself had visited the line for Hall H earlier in the day, embodying the goodwill actors portraying the Doctor have shown fans going all the way back to the classic series era.

Headoverfeels.com creators and editors Sage Young and Kim Rogers held their spots in line for 21 hours, with only one break to rest at a nearby friend’s house. “We had an amazing time,” Rogers said of the nearly day-long experience, “we thought it would be miserable but it was a gorgeous day. We had food, we had friends, and we knew we would have an amazing seat.” The pair ended up being some of the first 100 people let into the massive 6,500 seat hall.

If the fans were tired from their line-waiting experience, their enthusiasm was undimmed as Capaldi took the stage with co-stars Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez, who portray the Doctor’s companion Clara and long-time nemesis The Master respectively. The stars were joined on the panel by showrunner and long-time Whovian Steven Moffat. Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist and Talking Dead moderated the hour-long discussion.

Hardwick kicked things off by commenting on Capaldi’s take on the Doctor’s newest regeneration, saying:  “I love that you’re kind of cranky and intense.”

Capaldi replied: “I think he [Steven Moffat] just saw those qualities in me, and just cast me.”

For his part, Moffat explained that writing for the different Doctors wasn’t what made them unique, saying: “On paper the Doctors are actually quite similar, it’s what the actors bring to it.”

Putting on the mantle of a character that’s over 50 years old is no simple task. “Did you feel the weight of Who immediately?” asked Hardwick of Capaldi, who is still in the midst of filming the show’s ninth season.

“It’s in my bones, it’s the only show I’ve followed since I was six years old,” said Capaldi, who then referenced his first appearance on the BBC series in the rebooted fourth season. “I thought that would be the only time of being in Doctor Who.” He then related how excited he was to be on set while David Tennant was playing the part of the Doctor’s Tenth incarnation, asking: “‘David! David! where’s the TARDIS?’ I got quite teary.”

Coleman revealed that her character, Clara Oswald, companion to both the Eleventh and and Twelfth Doctors, “has a rule that that she gets dropped off 30 seconds before she left. I think she’s a bit of a control freak.” Coleman then added that “This series she’s more head first into the TARDIS,” and would be spending more time on-board the Time Lord’s time-traveling spaceship.

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Following “Death in Heaven,” the finale episode of season 8 which saw Gomez’s character seemingly de-materialized in the final moments of the show, there was much in the way of fan-speculation that we hadn’t seen the last of The Master’s game-changing female regeneration known as Missy. Her appearance on the panel confirmed the theories correct.

When Hardwick asked Gomez’s approach to playing Missy, she replied: “Luckily I never know why I’m saying what I’m saying…the writing is all there for me. It’s just a thrill to turn up and get this opportunity to be The Master, it’s still ‘pinch me?’” Gomez further explained her take on the long-running character, saying: “I think he or she or it is the best friend you love to hate…the rules don’t apply to her and that makes her really fun to play.”

Moffat agreed with Gomez’s assessment of the Doctor/Master relationship: “They are friends, which is terrifying. It’s like a friendship between a vegetarian and a hunter.”

Gomez added: “It’s this great friendship that just went wrong. And we’ve all had those…and you’re trying to get in the way of me destroying the universe,” she said, looking to Capaldi, “which I have to do! We both kill a lot of people, he feels bad about it, I don’t.”

Capaldi expounded on his feelings regarding the character of the Doctor: “ I think he doesn’t know who he is, he’s always scrambling around trying to figure out who he is…he’s a constantly growing character.” Echoing a debate his Doctor has with Clara’s love interest Danny over his military past, Capaldi continued: “He’s not a soldier. He’d rather sit at night in a car park looking at the stars than be blowing up Daleks,” before adding: “I like blowing up Dalek’s.”

Though Capaldi felt his Doctor was still mostly a “bohemian/philosopher/rebel time lord,” Coleman was asked about her character’s trouble with the transition of the Eleventh into the Twelfth Doctor.

“She was familiar with how it was working,” said Coleman, “then suddenly your best friend changes his face and who knows what to trust anymore? It’s changing all the rules basically.”

Hardwick inquired after the health of Twelve and Clara’s relationship, asking: “Are they okay now?”

Coleman felt they were, saying: “They’ve found their groove, eating up all of time and space with reckless abandon.”

A never-before seen trailer for Doctor Who’s upcoming ninth season was then shown, which announced the return date of the series as September 19th and ended with a shot of highly publicized guest star Maisie Williams squaring off with Capaldi’s Doctor. The Doctor clearly recognizes Williams’ mysterious character, saying, “You?”

To which Williams replies: “What took you so long, old man?”

When the lights came back up, Moffat explained he could say no more about the episodes featuring the actress, best known for her work on Game of Thrones as fan-favorite character Arya Stark.

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Capaldi told the crowd about the first moment he felt he was really the Doctor: “I think it’s when they threw a rubber spider in my face and said: ‘fight it!’ I said, it doesn’t work, where’s the operator? And they said:  ‘there is no operator, it’s just a big rubber spider. Fight it!’”

Coleman was asked about her character’s difficulty in returning to a normal life after adventures on the TARDIS, to which she answered: “I think it becomes addictive and I think that’s the problem.”

Pondering the fact of the TARDIS’ “bigger on the inside” feature, Moffat said “I used to wonder why the Doctor didn’t use that more? ‘Don’t believe I’m an alien? Look at that!’” When the crowd didn’t react, he continued: “I guess that was just me, then. My Mom was right I should have got a girlfriend instead. Applause for my imaginary girlfriend!” The crowd offered some, and over the sound of the clapping Moffat teased: “Virginity kept me pure.”

The Doctor, for all his humanity, often fails to understand human nature. This seems particularly true of Capaldi’s incarnation, with Coleman commenting: “Clara teaches him how to interact with humans more this season…helps him with his social skills, makes him more of a welcome party guest.”

Speaking again of the Doctor/Master relationship, Moffat said: “This is not new, the Doctor and the master being friends.” He explained he recently went back and viewed  “the Delgado and Pertwee episodes.” Said Moffat: “One of them wants to blow up the world the other one wants to stop it, but they don’t let a little thing like that get in the way.”

When the panel opened up to questions from the audience, one came from a young boy who thanked the panel for helping him with his “Make-a-wish.” Moffat seemed visibly moved in recognizing the child, who asked what Capaldi felt was iconic about this Doctor.

Capaldi answered: “Eyebrows.”

Hardwick extended the question to the other actors on the panel, and when Coleman balked at answering, Moffat chimed in with: “Eyes, huge eyes!”

Gomez added “Lips. Obviously.” She then talked of her kiss with the Doctor in episode 11 of last season, asking fans to decide who was kissing who, saying that if they watched it back again: “Peter is —  there’s some suction there…what you couldn’t see was I was also holding Clara’s hand.”

“That’s hot!” a fan cried loudly from the audience.

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Another fan asked of Moffat what literature he drew most from for inspiration. Moffat answered: “Doctor Who is what made me wanted to be a writer…. I was so inspired by Doctor Who.“He added: “Every screenplay William Goldman has written is great, and if you want to know about comedy writing read Neil Simon.” He later added: “For the record, I do anything for a laugh, I’m a tart.”

When the panel was asked to describe their character’s perfect day, Gomez replied she thought Missy would start her day with a croissant and some tea before saying: “And then slapping Wonder Woman in the face.”

One of the final questions asked if the panel had any advice for aspiring actors. Gomez said: “My agent calls me the roach because I keep getting squashed like a bug and coming back,” before encouraging the audience: “just never give up. This world is abundant, there’s enough for everyone.”

As the panel drew to a close, Capaldi reflected on his first SDCC experience: “To come here and find this warmth and affection for something I’ve been following since childhood is extraordinary….I feel the warmth of the full 50 years pointed right at me.”

Hardwick closed the proceedings by showing a trailer for the recently announced Lego: Dimensions video game featuring a Lego version of Capaldi’s Doctor interacting with Lego Batman and character’s from the Oscar nominated The Lego Movie. Hardwick also announced that his Nerdist network would be broadcasting a TV special titled Doctor’s Finest on August 15th, showcasing the Nerdist’s top 8 favorite episodes of Doctor Who hosted by Youtuber Hannah Hart.

1 Comments on SDCC ’15: Lego Doctor Who and a September 19th season 9 release date among highlights from Doctor Who panel, last added: 7/11/2015
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13. SDCC ’15 Photo Essay – Cosplay Culture

IMG_3070If you’re into cosplay, Saturday night is made for fighting the lines to get into the annual masquerade contest. Here are a few backstage pics from the show, along with a few other shots.

If you attended any of the panels I moderated, you know that my themes this year were community and personal connection. The above candid of what appear to be a mother and son is probably my favorite scene of the show.

As you know, guys have a proclivity toward taking pictures of cosplaying women in revealing garb, with little regard for who these women are as people. A pic I didn’t get: a young woman in an artful Poison Ivy costume who explained her costume to the photographer with a rather revealing statement: “I’d rather wear this every day than be slinging coffee.”

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Captain America stopped by lunch on Saturday afternoon, and judging by the detail on the costume he wasn’t a cosplayer but the real Captain America.

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The good folks at Comic-Con let me join the lucky few Jimmy Olsens and Peter Parkers who get to go backstage the shoot posed photos after each entry performs their routine. Before the show, however, cosplayers who aren’t part of the contest can have their photos taken as well. Harley Quinn dazzled the photographers with an array of poses …

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… and afterward she handed out business cards – turns out she’s a talented seamstress, designer and costume fabricator. This is the case more often than one might guess — cosplay is often a marketing tool as much as a form of self-expression, an aspect of the culture that your typical “babes of cosplay” photo essay tends to miss.

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The daughter of Batman and Poison Ivy enchants the photographers. Kids open the annual cosplay masquerade contest.

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Princess Anna of Arendelle. This is where being in the photographer area was rather illustrative vis a vis the real culture of cosplay. The cosplayers weren’t told to strike a sexy pose — the repeated requests were for them to show the fabric details, construction, and in many cases, lighting and other tech that didn’t show up all that well on my iPhone under bright lights.

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Fabric on display – cosplayers are asked to pose front, back, side to side, in angles highlighting key details, and finally, in whatever pose happens to be their favorite.

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This looked great, but when the head came off it looked like the costume had almost killed the wearer. These things are hot and heavy.

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The Transformers Bumblebee cosplay was a technological marvel to behold – and so tall that it couldn’t fit in the photographer staging area. As a result, we could photograph only the folks who made it work.

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Minecraft 3D.

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This costume was clever and funny – the Barbie doll was a fantastic touch. After the photographers called out for poses highlighting particular aspects of the design, one called out, “Show us your teeth!” — to which the cosplayer deadpanned: “I don’t have interesting teeth.”

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There were a number of other costumes worth highlighting, but like most of the other folks I know here, I’m beat.

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14. More from Daniel Radcliffe at Comic Con

Daniel Radcliffe has shown his good humor this week at San Diego Comic Con.  While officially there to promote Victor Frankenstein, he hasn’t shied away from media interviews and selfie shots.

The photo of the Con so far has been Maisie William’s Instagram post of herself with Hannah Murray, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jenna Coleman.  Nothing makes fandom swoon like a Game of Thrones/Harry Potter/Doctor Who meet-up!

Also, Daniel Radcliffe has done some brief camera interviews while in San Diego.  Talking to Extra, Radcliffe confirms that a cameo in Fantastic Beasts is highly unlikely.  Considering the action of the new film takes place decades before Harry Potter is even born, this isn’t surprising.

Radcliffe also shares his excitement for Victor Frankenstein, calling it a “buddy-adventure movie, but with a lot of, like, you know, dissection of animals and stitching them back together to make new improved animals,” since Frankenstein and Igor’s projects involve a lot of animal re-composition as part of the larger storyline.

In another interview, Daniel Radcliffe jokes about his Rear of the Year award.  To E!, he glibly says, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been campaigning for years.”  Radcliffe then gives a mock acceptance speech for the award, saying that he’s honored– and we’ll all get to see more of his backside in the future.

To read more about the Instagram photo, see here.  To read the article from E!, see here.

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15. More details on Doctor Who Comics Day: new website and variant covers

We’re less than a month away from the second annual Doctor Who Comics Day on August 15th, and if our SDCC exclusive details on Paul Cornell‘s four Doctor series (not to mention the book’s first six pages) aren’t enough to get you vworping with excitement, check out the recent updates to the tumblr Titan has set up for the occasion. There you’ll find a trailer for the five-part crossover arc (which kicks-off in connection with the Doctor Who Comics Day celebration) featuring Doctor’s Ten through Twelve, their companions, and The War Doctor.

The four Doctor series is illustrated by Neil Edwards (Assassin’s Creed) and officially debuts on August 12th, but you’ll only get the chance to meet Doctor Who comic creators and artists if you drop by a participating store the following Saturday for Doctor Who Comics Day. The tumblr has a list of of the talent you can catch at in-store signings, as well as a peak at the local cosplayers scheduled to appear. Not enough? Most stores will also feature Doctor Who themed giveaways, contests and games.

My favorite two variants so far:

Bohemian Rhapsody inspired Forbidden Planet exclusive cover from Joshua Cassara And Luis Guerrero:

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*and*

This lovely nod to the season five episode “Vincent and the Doctor” from David Carr for Twilight Comics:

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1 Comments on More details on Doctor Who Comics Day: new website and variant covers, last added: 7/26/2015
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16. Shocking Russian dash cam video captures furry beatdown

I’m addicted to Russian dashboard camera videos. The best ones have loud Russian disco playing, but they are pretty much all good, revealing a sullen post-modern, post GTA world of grey skies (occasionally streaked by shocking meteors), endless snow, brutalist architecture and of course, bad driving. Why Russians love dashcams so much isn’t quite clear but it has something to do with police brutality.

Anyway, the above video is staged, I’m 99.99% certain, as a car stops after being cut off and a mascot brawl ensues. Even if it is phony, it is still funny as heck.

Oh and if you want to see more Russian dashcam videos, here’s an example of a monthly compendium. In internet speak, what happens at 2:57 will blow your mind!
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17. Nerdist launches ‘Just Cosplay’ with Stella Chuu episode

Just Cosplay   Stella Chuu as David Mack s Kabuki on Vimeo

There’s a new show on the Nerdist Channel called ‘Just Cosplay’ and I was given a sneak look at the first episode, live now. It features Stella Chuu at Emerald City as she goes around cosplaying as Kabuki from David Mack’s series of the same name. The series will follow popular cosplayers and show how they make their costumes.

I have a short tolerance for video but I watched this all the way to the end. Chuu is industrious and looks amazing. Her choice of the 90s indie icon Kabuki—and her quest to find anyone who recognizes the character—is a real sic transit gloria mundi thing, but when was the last time an issue of Kabuki came out anyway? Anyway, I also enjoyed the glue gun and sewing machine scenes in this show.

Nerdist is launching another cosplay show, Origin Story, which premieres on October 24 and is described as “mad-libs on meth” and stars Andrew Bowser. OK then.

1 Comments on Nerdist launches ‘Just Cosplay’ with Stella Chuu episode, last added: 9/6/2014
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18. The Bendis Board goes bye-bye and so does a slice of comics history

Jinxworld Forums The Bendis Board goes bye bye and so does a slice of comics history

On Friday, the long running—22 years!—Brian Bendis message board shut down with the above message, and al of its archives went with it.

The Bendis Board was especially busy in the golden age of the message board (1998-2004) and hosted forums for many comics pros, including Gail Simone, David Mack, Kelly Sue DeConnick. I guess some of that will be available on the Way Back Machine, but with the CBR boards being scrubbed, the Bendis Board going away, and rumors of several other foundational message boards being shut down, a lot of comics history is vanished in a way that print just doesn’t offer. As I’m always reminding people, THE INTERNET IS NOT FOREVER.

Former forum member Albert Ching has a good look back including the reminder that it was an incubator for a whole generation of comics pros who posted and became friendly there, including Nick Spencer, Charles Soule, Joe Eisma, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain. A refugee message board has been set up here, according to comments.

I was active on the boards for a little while before time ran out, but there were some good people there…and some jerks, as always, but mostly good times.

 

powers copley heyward1 The Bendis Board goes bye bye and so does a slice of comics history

Anyway, the Powers TV, er, filmed entertainment show, is in the works with Sharlto Copley as Christian Walker and Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim. I know Copley won;t be using that super South African accent he had in Elysium, but I can dream on. “My WAFF.”

12 Comments on The Bendis Board goes bye-bye and so does a slice of comics history, last added: 9/23/2014
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19. Her Universe and Ours

image 158x300 Her Universe and OursSigns aren’t the only thing greeting attendees at the entrance to New York Comicon. Amidst the registration booths and all too quickly emptied bins for lanyards ReedPOP has its own boutique, featuring the geek-chic fashion of Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe line.

Her Universe has become a significant presence at both the San Diego and New York conventions, which in turn reflects as place as a market leader in pop-culture inspired fashion. I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Ashley back at SDCC after her successful geek couture fashion show, and as an attorney I have to say that she is a role model for anyone who wants to incorporate copyrighted and trademarked material in their line. In a world where “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” has led any number of creators astray, she has from the outset been conscientious (and ambitious!) in licensing characters for Her Universe clothes.

But that’s not the only way in which Her Universe reflects the better angels of geek community’s nature. Besides integrating the participatory spirit of comics-related media discussed in my last post, Ashley has also been a prominent advocate of geek fashion’s capacity to empower those who wear it, both through her clothes and her anti-bullying activism. Create, speak, show others who you are with fear – where the less imaginative may just see licensed properties, her community sees freedom woven into her designs.

Which brings us to the future of geek couture and its role in the community’s future. Walk around San Diego and New York Comic-Cons and you’ll see expressive fashion everywhere, from handcrafted TARDIS earrings and comic-related t-shirts carried in the ubiquitous TARDIS bag to sophisticated cosplay and brands such as Her Universe itself. As the Her Universe show embodied back at San Diego, the key to the future is to go beyond prints and other reproductions of licensed material to transformative geek-inspired design – in fact, for a useful indication of where things are going, watch the development of the co-branded Marvel line announced last July.

As I discuss in my Fashion Ethics, Sustainability and Development class for the Fashion Law Institute, when we wear clothes we wear ourselves – our values, our aspirations, our communities.* It should, then, come as no surprise that when we look at geek couture, we see the future.

 

*Check out Professor Susan Scafidi’s “Fashion as Information Technology” for more on this.

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20. NYCC ’14 panels you missed: Geeks of Color Go Pro

by Edie Nugent

geeksofcolor 1000x635 NYCC 14 panels you missed: Geeks of Color Go Pro

From L to R: Diana Pho, LeSean Thomas, Alice Meichi Li, Daniel Jose Older, I.W. Gregorio and Tracey J. John

The main stage spectacles of NYCC saw panels filled with celebrity actors and moderators alike, whipping thousands of screaming audience members into a frenzy. No less intense or enthusiastic, however, were the panels scheduled towards the end of the night in the smaller conference rooms at the Javits Center. Once such panel —Geeks of Color Go Pro —filled its room to capacity with a diverse audience of fans and comic book industry hopefuls cheering just as passionately as fans in the rooms twice its size.

“Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo,” declared Tracy J. John, writer for such marquee video game franchises as Oregon Trail and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  This comment, which came later in the proceedings, proved to be a kind of mission statement for the panel as a whole. Moderated by Tor Books editor Diana Pho, the panel participants represented a diversity of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Pho opened by asking the panel to tell their “origin stories,” referring to how they arrived at their current careers within an industry that has long suffered from a dearth of diversity.  Tracey J. John kicked things off, saying: “a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…I went to NYU and got a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies.” She went on to say that she garnered an internship at MTV News, which led to a job working for MTV.com. “We wrote about these things called ‘music videos,’” she joked. This job placed her in the perfect spot to capitalize on her World of Warcraft addiction when MTV looked to launch a video game focused section of its website. She recalled thinking, “whoa, I can get paid to write about video games?” She later turned to freelance work for Wired, NY Post, and Playstation Magazine. Desirous of a more stable paycheck, she turned to a job at Gameloft and worked in game development. Recently she decided to shake things up again, and has returned to freelance work.

I.W. Gregorio, who claims she’s still getting used to being addressed by the pen name her day job requires, opened by speaking the question on the minds of many an audience member:  “How did a urologist end up being a YA author?” She went on to explain she felt the better question to be “why would an aspiring author become a doctor?” She spoke of her racially isolated childhood where she knew immediately she wanted to be a writer, but felt family pressure “like a lot of kids of color” to enter either law or medicine to be deemed a ‘success’ culturally. Her talents in math and science led her to choose the path of medicine, “enough people had told me that I wanted to be a doctor that I ended up being one.” She did attempt, in her words, to “try to have my cake and eat it too” also studying English while in college. She went on to pursue medicine and take a 10 year break from writing before her passion was reignited during her residency. She is, however, grateful to be a doctor because it “enables my writing career…and gives me a lot of stories.” She described how her new book None of the Above was inspired by an intersex teenager she treated during her residency.

Daniel Jose Older, author of the upcoming Half-Resurrection Blues, the first book in what is to be an ongoing urban fantasy series for Penguin Book’s Roc imprint, began by saying that Gregorio’s story “actually really connects to mine. In 2009 I was a paramedic and community organizer doing work on gender violence and intersections of racism. I was trying how to figure out how to have a voice and what that meant as a writer.” He  explained that he loved Star Wars and Harry Potter, but that he and the kids of color he was working work didn’t see themselves in those stories, “and there was a disconnect.” This inspired him to “sit down and write Shadowshaper which got picked up by the folks at Scholastic that put out Harry Potter, so it was this really big dream come true.” He went on to explain that the process of publishing that first work took over 6 years and that “publishing will make you learn patience” which drew a big laugh from the crowd. He continued to work on stories during that time, and work on adult fiction, which led him to Half-Resurrection Blues, due out in 2015. He explained that his background as a paramedic directed inspired the new book, saying: “a lot of this comes from being on the front lines…dealing with life and death.”

Author Alice Meichi Li knew she wanted to be an artist since the age of five. “I grew up in a Chinese restaurant in a really rough part of Detroit,” she said. She explained how this kept her indoors for her own safety, drawing on the back of the placemats of her parents’ restaurant. She also felt pushed towards a career in more economically dependable fields like law, medicine, or IT technologies. “When faced with the prospect of applying for college, all I could think about was arts school. I was in Army Junior ROTC and my Staff Sargent saw some of my art and he said: what are you doing here? You should be taking art class, you should be pursuing this.” She eagerly took his advice, worrying her family regarding her future. As she graduated High School at the top of her class, they told her she should be making “six-figures somewhere”—not becoming a starving artist. She conceded that’s “pretty much what happened” to the amusement of the audience, “I did have to end up balancing a day job,” with her art career, working at the well-known comic book store Forbidden Planet. “But I was doing Artist’s Alleys and that’s how I made a lot of my connections. If you’re trying to be an artist in comics that’s pretty much your best bet.”

“Everybody’s got all these cool stories,” remarked Black Dynamite producer and director LeSean Thomas. “I was born and raised in the South Bronx, John Adams projects at 152nd Street,” some in the crowd applauded at this mention—then laughed as Thomas joked that he was in the part of the Bronx that exists “past Yankee Stadium” where most New Yorkers’ familiarity with the Bronx begins and ends. “I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, reading comics books, “ he recalled, saying that he felt comic books was a more realistic career path for him, as the tools used to produce comics were more affordable than that of cartoon animation: “they don’t sell light-boxes at the bodegas,” he quipped.

Thomas ended up in a High School arts program called Talent Unlimited. Following High School he took a job at a sporting goods store to make ends meet. While working there, he was spotted sketching by his store manager whose wife worked at a children’s accessories company. The company quickly employed him to work on designs for accessories featuring licensed characters. Through his work there, he met Joe Rodgers who mentored the young artist and eventually Thomas “became a flash artist/storyboard artist on this web-cartoon called WorldGirl, and it got picked up by Showtime, I think it was the first cartoon to get picked up by a major network.” His success there led to his meeting Carl Jones, who moved to Los Angeles and teamed with The Boondocks creator Aaron MacGruder on the now famous Cartoon Network series based on MacGruder’s comic strip of the same name. “He needed people who could understand Hip-Hop culture, Anime, and social political racial satire, and it was very hard to find that kind of talent in Hollywood,” he paused as the crowd laughed before putting it bluntly: “let alone somebody who could draw a black person.” This led him to move to Los Angeles to work on the show, which he feared would soon be canceled due to its controversial and sometimes “wildly inappropriate” content.

The series proved a critical and ratings success for Cartoon Network, and Thomas felt liberated by the mostly black racial makeup of The Boondocks’ creative team. “I grew up in a society where the White male was the dominant character…to be able to work on a show where my boss was Black, the characters we were creating were Black and we were saying the things we wanted to say without caring what other people thought, Black or White, was really liberating and was one of the best experiences for me.” He went on to comment that his experience working on The Boondocks “catapulted his career,” gave him the chance to move overseas, and opened many career opportunities for him-not the least of which was his teaming up producer Carl Jones to produce the Adult Swim series Black Dynamite. He noted how rare it was to have three shows in a row to his credit that found him working under Black people, on shows starting Black characters: The Boondocks, Legend of Korra, and Black Dynamite.

“I guess I should pitch in about myself, and I thought: oh, I’m the moderator—just sit here and look pretty,” joked Diana Pho, before continuing:  “I grew up in New England, in a very White town. I was always the only Asian girl in my class and my family is from Vietnam: no one knew where Vietnam was, because actually in my High School they never talked about the Vietnam War.” This statement elicited shocked sounds from the assembled crowd, but also some knowing murmurs that appeared to understand all too well the sort of erasure her statement described. Pho explained that she found escape from her outsider status through books, especially science fiction and fantasy novels. While studying English at college, she knew felt her options for employment were limited to work as a teacher, continuing her studies of Russian-her minor field-in order to obtain her Master’s Degree in it, or something else. “I chose something else,” she said, “and that was publishing.”

She explained she felt publishing to be a small field, insular in nature-and a field where it “has to do with the connections you make, that’s what I learned” and mentioned that her first job involved editing test books for college admissions for a summer. “What it did provide me was internship experience in marketing,” Pho remarked, explaining that this led to her getting a job with Hachette Press. She worked there in sales and marketing for several years before a colleague recommended her for a position at the Science Fiction Book Club making catalogues. She ended up following this with a Master’s in Performance Studies-doing her thesis in Steampunk performance-and graduated to assume her current role at Tor Books.

The panel then opened up for questions from the audience where Pho asked that the questions be “tweet-sized” to try and get to everyone’s question , but the line for the microphone grew long enough that the panel was forced to wrap up with audience members still on line. When asked: “what was one thing that you wish you knew when you started out that you know now?” Gregorio explained that as a representative of the We Need Diverse Books campaign (weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com) “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there are obviously challenges for diverse authors, the first book I wrote had and Asian-American multicultural protagonist-and three different editors said: oh, it’s too similar to another book with an Asian-American character.” She explained that she knew other authors of color who had run into enough of the same problem that they feared they might have to only write about White characters going forward. “The We Need Diverse Books campaign is most effective because it’s been showing the gatekeepers that they are wrong. Fifty percent of children in schools today are children of color, but only ten percent of books have minority protagonists.” She also called upon the audience to open up their wallets and support works by authors of color and/or featuring main characters of color.

John added on to Gregorio’s comments by telling the audience to not be afraid of the status quo, and gave an example of her work in gaming journalism. “Things that I did…aside from asking the questions I needed to do my job, I’d throw in some poignant questions, I’ve asked Shigeru Miyamoto: why does Princess Peach need saving again? Didn’t she get some self-defense classes by then? Or the developer of a family game why there wasn’t an option to be a Black person, they just had different tans? Ask those kinds of questions. It can be intimidating: Oh I have this opportunity to interview a game developer, I don’t want to screw it up. I’d say ask the normal questions and then save those for the end.”

“When you’re starting out as a writer there’s a lot of advice given out to you, like: you have to build your platform, you have to network! And there’s this very common, very White Western narrative of breaking out as an author. Where you’re that singular rocket ship that flies away to become famous overnight…what it requires us to do, especially as writers and creators of color, is to really reimagine what success means to us anytime we’re entering into any kind of project or career.” He went on to emphasize the need to build community, outside of a “putting points on your resume” style of thinking. “What will sustain you is unity. That’s what will have your back when things are hard, and things will be hard.” He noted that more than fans, writers need people who will tell them the truth-people who will give them the “hard critique.” He also said he wanted to shout-out to: fanbros.com, nerdgasmnoire.net as well as blackgirlnerds.com, saying of the organizations: “these groups are collectives of people of color, proudly nerds, proudly of color, talking about racism, talking about Sleepy Hollow. We need to talk about these things because that’s community” to many loud cheers.

Li wished to add “a piece of advice I hear a lot: you are the average of the five people you interact with most in life. So if you have a bunch of people who are ambitious, who are trying to do what you’re trying to do you’re going to kind of automatically get lifted up with them. So you want at least three of them to be in a place where you aspire to be. I add that you should look for someone who is: 1) an older mentor, to get advice from, 2) an equal, that you can be a comrade-at-arms with and share you career path with and 3) someone you can mentor, because you can learn a lot from teaching.”

“The thing that I wish I’d known before getting into animation, that I do now is that all the animation jobs are in California,” said Thomas, to the laughter of the crowd. Thomas clearly meant the comment seriously, adding: “I wouldn’t have stayed in New York as long if I’d have known there were no real animation jobs in New York the way there are in California…I probably would’ve made my pilgrimage a lot sooner.”

Another attendee asked how the artists dealt with accusations of racism. “I just got called racist the other day, so that was fun,” recounted Older, saying that because the bad guys in a recent story were White he had the accusation leveled at him. “There’s no easy answer, but you have to go with your gut and trust your instincts because when the shit flies, you have to be able to stand up for your work. I know what I did in that story—and I have much worse stories about White people than that,” he said, laughing.

Gregorio added: “publishing is a team sport, you’re going to have editors and marketing people-they’ll catch anything really bad. And also you have to realize we’re all going to get criticism. Haters are gonna’ hate, it’s alright!”

A reporter asked if the panel felt any responsibility towards social justice storylines. Thomas replied, “You know on Black Dynamite me and Carl Jones, the executive producer, always used to joke that we were like social workers in animation, not to belittle social work, but we liked to joke that because we were one of the few [shows] that touched on those issues. The most important thing for us is that it has to be funny, that’s the golden rule. The second rule is that it has to be genuine. If it’s honest, if it comes from a good place there’s always humor in it….and the third is to make people uncomfortable, not in a negative way but to make them think outside what they normally expect.”

The final question came from a Bleeding Cool reporter who asked, “Why are we still having this conversation? I feel like we’re constantly having the same conversation: do you see an end to it, do you think? Where we’re not going to need to have ‘Geeks of Color’ in the corner at 8:00pm?”

“So you’re saying Geeks of Color needs to be at noon, is what you’re saying? I agree I think it should be much earlier.” Thomas joked.

Pho added: “we’re going to keep having this conversation until we hit critical mass,” she explained that critical mass was not when people stopped asking questions, but rather that “we need a critical mass of answers from all over the place, not just from us but from you guys—not just from you guys but from everyone at this convention, and not just this convention—about how pop culture functions, how media functions…we all have to hit that critical mass point and that’s when the conversation stops.”

“I feel your point a lot,” Older added, indicating the reporter, “we do need this and part of the reason is the industry is still very racist, still very White, and so we need to have these conversations…the job and the struggle and the challenge for us is to push the conversation forward so it’s not so circular. So that’s why we need diverse books, which is such an important way to get everyone together. We need to talk about power analysis.” Older also stressed that he felt there were necessary conversations that weren’t had before this generation of creators and it was important to recognize: “we’re here because the folks before us fought their fight, so we’re fighting our fight for the next generation of artist of color, writers of color…and that involves getting together and having ‘geeks of color’ panels which makes people uncomfortable, which is good, as it should.”

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21. 19 hospitalized in poison gas attack at furry convention

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That is certainly not a headline I ever thought I would write. Thousands of people attending MidWest Furfest, a large gathering of Furry enthusiasts, were forced to evacuate the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel when chlorine gas was found on the 9th floor of the hotel. 19 people were hospitalized, complaining of dizziness, while investigators found chlorine powder in a 9th floor stairwell. Authorities believe it was a deliberate attempt to cause harm.

The incident happened around 12:40 a.m. at the Hyatt, at 9300 West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Rosemont, according to a statement from the Rosemont Public Safety Department. First responders were called to investigate a noxious odor that was spreading across the ninth floor of the hotel, where a high level of chlorine gas was discovered in the air, the statement said.

Nineteen people were transported to nearby hospitals after complaining of nausea, dizziness and other medical problems, according to the statement. All people inside the building were temporarily evacuated and sheltered at nearby facilities, including the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.


Convention organizers issued an official statement:

At around 12:45 AM on Sunday, December 7, the Hyatt Regency O’Hare received a complaint of a chemical odor on the ninth floor. Following a 9-1-1 call, first responders determined that a container with a chlorine-containing chemical was broken there. At 1:10 AM the entire hotel was evacuated, first across Bryn Mawr Ave. in front of the Hyatt as per Rosemont Fire Department’s standard procedures, then when it became apparent that the wait would take longer the Stephens Convention Center was opened to provide warmth and shelter to our guests. A full HazMat response was called in at that time.
In the course of investigating the scene, the Rosemont Police Department determined that this was a criminal act and began investigating it as such. This delayed allowing our guests back into the hotel. Midwest FurFest is deeply thankful for the cooperation and patience shown during this time, and please know that everyone was working to get you back into the hotel as quickly as possible. At 4:21 AM the all-clear was given and we worked with the Hyatt staff to return all of our guests to the hotel in the quickest and safest manner possible. 
Rosemont Public Safety has reported that nineteen people who complained of nausea and dizziness were transported to local hospitals. Because they were transported after the hotel (including Hyatt staff) was evacuated, we do not have any identification of these individuals. We have been informed by the Hyatt Regency O’Hare that some of those individuals have been released as of this morning.
As we wake up today we want to continue to provide the best possible convention that we can, despite the trying circumstances. The convention will be running on a full normal programming schedule today. We ask you to continue to be patient, and remember that the volunteers who make Midwest FurFest happen intend to give 110% to make sure that the fun, friendship, and good times of Midwest FurFest 2014 overshadow last night’s unfortunate incident. 
To dispel rumors: Because this was an unforeseen possibly criminal act, Midwest FurFest will not be offering refunds, nor will the Hyatt Regency O’Hare be comping any rooms. Any further questions should be referred to info@furfest.org.


As numerous news videos and photos (and the tweet below) show, the occasion of a convention full of 4000 furries, many of them in full costume being forced to flood out into the street is one that….it captures the imagination. While we are allowed to silently marvel at the scene, it shouldn’t be forgotten that chlorine gas can be very harmful—it’s one of the chemical weapons that is banned in warfare, for instance—and can cause many respiratory problems and skin irritations. So this was a real attempt to harm, if it was deliberate. The idea of people having a good time at a convention being assaulted with the kind of thing you thought only dictators and terrorists used is pretty alarming to everyone. I’ve long been dreading some kind of “incident” at a con—this one seems to have been less harmful than possibly intended. But it is bizarre and disturbing.

That said, it seems the show went on and good times were had. And just to add the final soupçon of irony, the furries who were evacuated to the Donald S. Stephens center found a dog grooming show going on. When Furry meets furry…

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22. Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again

humble3 300x269 Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again

By Bruce Lidl

Lost somewhat in the initial burst of news from last week’s ImageExpo was the announcement of a new Image Humble Bundle offering, beginning that morning and lasting until January 21. The “Humble Image Comics Bundle 2: Image Firsts” is a massive collection of digital comics that can be purchased for whatever price the consumer chooses. Included in the basic bundle are the beginning issues of a number of recent series, including Alex + Ada, Deadly Class, C.O.W.L., Elephantmen 2260 Book One, Minimum Wage, God Hates Astronauts, Genius, and Satellite Sam. Paying at least $15 also gets you the slightly higher profile titles The Manhattan Projects, The Wicked + The Divine, The Fuse, Velvet, Sex Criminals, Wytches, The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning (#127-132), The Fade Out #1, Nailbiter, Stray Bullets, Southern Bastards, and Shutter. And finally, a stretch price of $18 brings The Walking Dead Compendium One (#1-48), East of West: The World, and Saga Book One (#1-18). For anybody at all interested in Image brand comics, the price truly cannot be beat, especially as the retail price of the comics would be over $300 according to Humble Bundle. Also, purchasers are strongly encouraged to mark a portion of their price paid towards charity, in this case the comics creator focused Hero Initiative. As of this evening, the Image bundle has generated almost $318,000, with over five days left to go.

The current offering is the third Humble Bundle to include Image titles. The first time Humble Bundle included any digital comics was the Image bundle in April 2014 that generated almost $400,000 revenue in two weeks, with titles including Saga, Walking Dead, Fatale, Invincible and Chew. Image imprint Skybound also did a special Comic-Con Humble Bundle in July 2014 as well, which was almost entirely Kirkman based titles such as The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves, and Super Dinosaur. That bundle alone generated $232,000.

Other comic publishers that have released Humble Bundles since April include Dark Horse, Oni, Dynamite, BOOM!, IDW, Top Shelf and Valiant. According to Kelley Allen, Director of Books for Humble Bundle, comics publishers are eager to work with them, and she has a number of ebook and comics bundles planned in 2015 alongside Humble Bundle’s traditional gaming focused offerings. The average revenue number for the comics based bundles so far has been $288,000 for the 14 day period. According to Allen, non-gaming bundles allow Humble to “break out from their core gaming audience” but from the comics perspective, they can also create “enormous crossover” by getting great comics in front of the very large Humble Bundle community. With a very clearly defined, and devoted, young male demographic, Humble Bundle chooses comics with both a logical appeal, like Transformers, Star Wars and The Walking Dead, but Allen also curates high quality titles that may stretch demographic borders. She “pushed very hard” to include titles like Sex Criminals in the latest Image bundle, trusting the Humble Bundle audience to appreciate an outstanding title, even without prior awareness.

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While the Humble Bundles may help expand the reach of digital comics, they are also helping to encourage comics publishers to feel comfortable with forgoing DRM protections for their products. Humble Bundles, regardless of content, gaming or ebooks, do not use Digital Rights Management anti-copying technologies, both for philosophical reasons and from a practical standpoint. As Allen pointed out, why use DRM when the consumer could theoretically decide to purchase the content for one cent in any case? Even Dark Horse, which has been very reluctant to forgo DRM generally, was convinced to try not using it for their big Star Wars themed Humble Bundle in October and was rewarded with sales over $375,000 for the two week offering.

Fundamentally, the Humble Bundle “pay what you want” approach reflects exactly the insights independent game developers have learned over the years in regards to digital sales. Since their products are almost universally available to be pirated, often in formats that are actually *more* user friendly than the official versions, game creators have learned to embrace the concept of giving customers compelling reasons to purchase, in the recognition that they do not have to anymore. Distribution options like Steam and Humble Bundle provide explicit value beyond what a pirated version can give, whether through ease of use, personal connection to the creators, community recognition, charitable giving, etc. The Humble Bundle experiment really leverages the unique potential of digital distribution, as the pay what you want model could not really scale in a system that necessitated fulfillment and postage charges. With this almost “donation” type model there is no extra expense for the seller after the first sale, everything after that is essentially “profit.” And the possibility that the new readers exposed to the material may become fans, and go on to make further purchases, even print purchases in local comic books stores, only heightens the value of the Humble Bundle offering. We are likely to see a number of interesting comics based bundles in 2015 and we will learn if this kind of non-traditional sales can become a significant portion of publishers’ revenue, in much the same way digital has already established itself recently.

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23. Ten Moments in Boom! Studios History

By Davey Nieves

In 2015, BOOM! Studios celebrates 10 years of publishing comics, and to commemorate this milestone, the publisher has assembled what it considers to be its top 10 moments of the past decade—all highlights that contributed significantly to the company’s founding, rise, and continued growth. Straight from the mouth of BOOM! it reads as a chronological time line of the publishers history.

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December 2004: Comics writer Keith Giffen, in Los Angeles for a comic book convention, has a beer on a Saturday night with Ross Richie and pushes Richie to start his own comic book publishing company.

 

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June 2005: The first BOOM! Studios book, Zombie Tales #1, ships (6/29/2005), showcasing work from Mark Waid (Daredevil), Keith Giffen (Future’s End), and Dave Johnson (100 Bullets). BOOM!’s focus on original content over the next decade spawns bestsellers like Irredeemable, The Woods, and Lumberjanes as it launches the careers of next-generation talent like Rafael Albuquerque (The Savage Brothers, American Vampire), Emma Rios (Hexed, Pretty Deadly), Aaron Kuder (Key of Z, Green Lantern: New Guardians), Jordie Bellaire (Malignant Man, Captain Marvel), and Russell Dauterman (Supurbia, Thor), among many others.

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December 2006: BOOM! Studios publishes its first licensed comic book, Warhammer: Damnation Crusade #1. BOOM! goes on to work with some of the biggest brands in the world, including 20th Century Fox, Disney, Cartoon Network, MGM, Peanuts Worldwide, Paws, and The Jim Henson Company.

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July 2007: Mark Waid is named Editor-in-Chief and goes on to become the company’s Chief Creative Officer, contributing numerous original titles to the company’s lineup before returning to freelance writing in December 2010.

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March 2009: The first KaBOOM! (previously BOOM! Kids) comics, Incredibles: Family Matters #1 and The Muppet Show Comic Book #1, ship (3/25/2009). BOOM! Studios is the first Disney licensee to be granted the ability to generate new canon material for any Pixar property.

 

January 2010: Voted on by comic shop retailers, BOOM! Studios wins its first “Best Publisher Under 4%” Diamond Gem Award for 2009. It is awarded this honor four more times since, earning the award five out of the last six years. The publisher wins its first Harvey Award for Roger Langridge’s work on The Muppet Show Comic Book (8/28/10) that same year and its first Eisner Award for Shannon Wheeler’s I Thought You Would Be Funnier a year later (7/22/11).

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June 2013: BOOM! Studios announces its acquisition of Archaia (6/24/13) (publisher of titles like Mouse Guard, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, and The Killer), adding the company as a wholly-owned imprint alongside its other imprints, KaBOOM! and BOOM! Box, and expands the range of diverse content Archaia publishes.

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August 2013: “2 Guns” opens in theaters (8/2/13) starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The film is based on the BOOM! Studios five-issue series created by Steven Grant and illustrated by Mateus Santoluoco.

 

October 2013: BOOM! enters into a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox for feature films (10/2/2013) and then signs a first-look deal with Fox for television the following year (8/20/2014).

 

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February 2014: Former DC Comics President & Publisher Paul Levitz joins BOOM! as a consultant and a member of the Board of Directors. Levitz categorized his role as the voice of experience that says, “Well, we tried to attack that problem this way [at DC Comics]; it didn’t work that way. Maybe times have changed, but let’s think about what the issues were and try to find a way around what the dilemmas were.”

As for the future, Boom! Studios has an entire year full of announcements lined up and are already off to a great start with their new book Burning Fields. It looks like the next ten years could be even bigger for the little publisher that could.


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24. Can a fan-led branding campaign save Constantine?

Constantine-101-1 

When people talk about saving John Constantine, usually it’s a hopeless task, as the scouser magician’s soul has long been consigned to hell for his many sins on earth. But another campaign to save Constantine is under way—and this time it’s fans attempting to keep his TV show going past a 13 episode commitment despite middling ratings.

Arrested Development has plans for a fifth season on Netflix, Twin Peaks will see you on Showtime twenty-five years from the 1991 series finale, and Yahoo Screen will bring Community closer to its promise of #sixseasonsandamovie, airing new episodes this spring. It’s a golden age of fan campaigns with the ability to resurrect dead and mostly-dead shows with measurably vocal fan bases. It’s a golden age fans of NBC’s Constantine are counting on, as the last of the series’ 13 episode initial run airs this Friday, February 13 at 10pm. The network has halted any further production on the show, prompting fans to organize on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #saveconstantine in support of its renewal — whether on NBC or another network entirely.

Fan campaigns to save television shows are nothing new, with the late sixties fan campaign to save the Star Trek original series largely credited as the first of its kind. Still, there does seem to be a trend in the growing power of fan campaigns to have an impact on programming, even those who represent much smaller audience shares than the high-profile efforts of yesteryear, prompting fledgling networks to pick up where network and even cable channels have left off.

Constantine - Season 1

So what does all this mean for fans of Constantine, starring Matt Ryan as trench-coated demon hunter John Constantine? Do they feel a campaign to save the show, based on the long-running DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer, has a better chance of being saved now than it would have 10 years ago? “They definitely are more successful — especially with social networking being the way it is,” said Breanna Conklin, who has been active in the campaign to #saveconstatine since NBC confirmed in late November they would stop production on the series. “I am in a few nerd groups on facebook. You’re able to spread the word to like minded folks and your friends within a few seconds. Social media gives awareness that wasn’t available to us ten years ago.”

The #saveconstantine effort began to gain momentum when a slick-looking website, saveconstantine.com, went up in December. In addition to links to the petition and fan communities, saveconstantine.com offers a detailed description of the importance of the recently introduced Twitter TV ratings model from newly-formed group, Nielsen Social. An off-shoot of the more traditional Nielsen ratings, Nielsen Social “identifies, captures and analyzes conversation on Twitter in real time for every program aired across over 250 of the most popular U.S. television networks, including Spanish language networks, as well as over 1,500 brands” according to the company website.

The challenge for Constantine fans is to ensure that their awareness of the need to campaign for the continued life of the series is leveraged in a way that speaks both to NBC and their advertisers. It’s not enough to simply prove there’s interest in Constantine from the hallowed 18-49 age demographic; advertisers need to ensure that ad placements can actually have an impact on that demographic. As television consumption proliferates on an increasingly diverse group of content platforms, strong same-day viewing ratings don’t necessarily show advertisers that their ads will be seen instead of fast-forwarded on a DVR viewing post-broadcast.

It’s a challenge the organizers of the #saveconstantine effort hope to meet by being better educated on the increasingly complex world of network tv ad buys. “It’s a big group effort,” said Allison Gennaro, one of the campaigns many organizers. A fan of the Hellblazer comics, Gennaro became involved in the campaign upon hearing “NBC had capped the airing to just 13 [episodes],” which she took to mean the show was “in trouble” but also that the “ratings might not be meeting the NBC demo of choice.” Hoping to convince NBC not to cancel the series, the #saveconstantine organizers publicized a petition for the show to get a second season across social media platforms in late November. The petition cites a “38% bump in the ratings and an 87% viewer retention rating (after Grimm) with the introduction of The Spectre” as evidence of the viability of the series which currently boasts over 20,000 signatures.

The description on saveconstantine.com explains the impact live tweeting Constantine episodes can have on the Twitter TV ratings. The site believes the live tweets “denote that a show has a consistent and loyal audience,” and may show advertisers they “are being rewarded for their investment in the network…so if you want to save Constantine, please watch, tell your friends, and tweet.” Gennaro cultivated a group of Constantine fans through a mailing list to help push the #saveconstantine hashtag and live tweet campaign. “We even threw Friday night twitter parties before the show to trend and gain attention,” she said.

Fan campaigns of the past relied on letter writing, placing ads in trade magazines like Variety, even buying billboards to plead for their respective shows. While Constantine fans have also employed letter writing and email to NBC executives in this campaign, their informed approach in targeting advertisers and leveraging their consumer power is in step with more recently successful ‘save our show’ campaigns. In 2009, Wendy Farrington began a campaign to save another NBC series with supernatural overtones: Chuck. Her game-changing approach acknowledged the fact that the show enjoyed better ratings on off-network viewing platforms and galvanized fans of the series to support a major advertiser of the show, Subway.

According to a 2014 article by Christina Savage for Transformative Works and Cultures, which examined fan-run ‘save our show’ campaigns, on the day of Chuck’s season finale hundreds of fans went to their local Subway and bought a $5 foot-long sandwich featured on the series via product placement. They then left behind comment cards explaining their purchase was in support of Chuck. Savage explained that by “focusing on Chuck as a business transaction, fans used their knowledge of the industry” to support their effort. Shortly thereafter, NBC ordered 13 more episodes of the series. Savage wrote: “co-chairman of NBC Ben Silverman said that this campaign was one of the most creative he had seen, and as a result, Subway would increase its presence within the show.”

John Constantine may not eat at Subway, but fans of the demon exorcist are invoking similar brand marketing powers with their #saveconstantine efforts. Only this time, the fans themselves are the product. By targeting Nielsen’s Twitter TV ratings specifically, Constantine fans “become valuable social ambassadors for programmers and advertisers alike as they amplify content and messaging through their social spheres,” Nielsen Social wrote in a an article posted in September. But will it be enough to push NBC to order another season of Constantine? Could it make the show attractive enough to warrant a rumored move to sister-network Syfy, which has released several high-profile interviews with network executives seeking to return the channel to it’s Sci-fi/fantasy genre roots? NBC president Jennifer Salke told IGN in January that “we wish the show [Constantine] had done better live. It has a big viewership after [it airs] in all kinds of ways and it has a younger audience, but the live number is challenging.”

We spoke with Dr. Balaka Basu, a professor specializing in pop culture and fan studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte about the viability of the type of campaign #saveconstantine is waging. “Campaigns helped to save Chuck and Roswell, and gave Firefly fans closure in the less-than-successful Serenity,” she said. “ I think the key was demonstrating an understanding of how television economy works. With Chuck, for instance, fans literally gave their monetary support to the chain sandwich shop Subway…this demonstrates a comprehension of the relationship between advertisers and television producers.”

Fans like Miguel Gonzalez Cabañas, who lives in Madrid, show the global reach of the #saveconstantine fan efforts. He calls Constantine “the best series with a paranormal plot” on television. He, along with Allison, Breanna and the thousands of other fans who make up the campaign to #saveconstantine will be redoubling their efforts tonight: tweeting their support for the show before, during and after the season finale. But beyond the comic book fanbase, beyond charismatic lead Matt Ryan or the show’s arcane mythology: what is it about Constantine, or any other fan-campaigned series, that produces this kind of fan advocacy? “Whether it’s a show like Constantine, where many fans came into the show already in love with the character,” says Dr. Basu, “or shows like Buffy and Angel, where they were allowed to fall in love over the duration of the show, it’s really when the characters feel like real people that you don’t want your relationship with them to end, ever. And that’s been true since the days of Star Trek.”

 

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25. Baseball, Comic-Cons, and Paying Volunteers

Minimum WageYesterday The Mary Sue published an article noting that for-profit comic-cons might be violating federal labor law by not paying minimum wage to workers improperly classified as volunteers. However, a recent case involving Major League Baseball shows how commercial comic-cons could beat the tag.

The use of free labor by for-profit companies has become a hot issue in recent years. Internships have become a particularly touchy topic – class action lawsuits by former interns have prompted some companies to end their unpaid internship programs, although there are at least a couple high-profile cases on appeal in which companies are challenging the Department of Labor’s standards for determining whether an intern is actually an employee.

Given how costly it can be for a company to fall afoul of federal law on this issue, it is indeed prudent for the companies that run comic conventions to assess whether it is legal for them to use unpaid volunteers. This is especially conventions run by for-profit companies, since charitable nonprofits enjoy a special exemption from minimum wage and overtime requirements in regard to volunteers. The Mary Sue has once again performed a service to the community in calling attention to this important issue.

With that in mind, in making this analysis it’s important to be aware of both the law’s requirements, the specific practices of each company, and the exemptions that are available outside the one given to charities.

First, since conventions produced by ReedPop — NYCC, ECCC, C2E2 — were mentioned in the post, it’s worth noting, as several “volunteers” have stated in the original comments thread and a related Reddit thread, that ReedPop pays volunteers minimum wage as official crew. Calling people volunteers in this context is a great way to foster a sense of community and community — one of things for which Lance Fensterman and company are to be commended is the way that they have fostered this communal sensibility while maximizing return on investment.

But not every for-profit comic-con that brings on volunteers gives these workers compensation – in fact, depending on the convention, you might actually be required to pay a fee for the privilege of helping the company out! Although this may seem on its face like a violation of federal law, there’s a legal loophole that has enabled countless commercial businesses to use volunteers in the standard sense of term.

Over the years the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has accumulated dozens of exemptions for a wide range of ventures, from homemakers making wreaths to C-level executives. For a company that operates a program taking place within a limited period of time during the year, there is one exemption in particular that catches the corporate attorney’s eye: minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply to “any employee employed by an establishment which is an amusement or recreational establishment…” that operates no more than seven months a year or meets a financial test as to revenue generated at different times of the year. (29 USC 213(a)(3))

There are several cases that show how a commercial comic-con can take advantage of this provision, but the ruling perhaps most on-point was issued just a year ago in the Southern District of New York – coincidentally, the same federal district in which the New York Comic-Con takes place. Chen v. Major League Baseball Properties was brought by a former volunteer for the 2013 All-Star Week FanFest at the Javits Center (!), and the volunteer made arguments similar to those made in the intern lawsuits: volunteers at the event met the criteria for employee status, and thus Major League Baseball should have paid them at least minimum wage.

Major League Baseball — and the court — disagreed. As the court observed, although Major League Baseball operates all year long, Department of Labor regulations distinguish an entire enterprise from an “establishment,” which specifically refers to “a distinct place of business.” The exemption was put in place to accommodate seasonal ventures employing people for discrete periods of time in activities that might offer “non-monetary rewards.” The court concluded Major League Baseball’s FanFest was analogous to the amusement and recreational activities in view when legislators originally enacted the exemption, and the plaintiff’s federal as well as state law claims were summarily dismissed.

The plaintiff has appealed the district court’s ruling – in fact, it was argued in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today, March 30 – but as noted above, there are a number of cases in other circuits that have reached similar conclusions. What’s more, even if the appeal succeeds, the main case being cited in opposition focuses on aspects of one baseball team’s operations that are distinguishable from a comic-con. For instance, while the team in question utilized its stadium for events throughout much of the year, comic-cons typically take place in rented facilities for discrete periods of time.

The analysis gets somewhat trickier for an entity operating multiple conventions. For instance, let’s assume that Wizard World doesn’t pay its volunteers — there’s nothing about compensation in the volunteer information packet, at least; Wizard World volunteers don’t even get munchies or parking reimbursements. The fact that Wizard World operates year-round could be grounds for arguing that the seasonal establishment exemption doesn’t apply, but there are also clever counter-arguments and organizational strategies that could persuade a court to disagree. Others have tried and succeeded with even more daunting facts – which, on a related front, is why the NCAA doesn’t have to pay taxes on ads sold for March Madness.

The seasonal exemption has long been a lifeline for companies offering an opportunity to volunteer for ventures that operate on a limited-term basis, such as amusement parks, outdoor swimming pools, Oprah’s Life You Want Tour, and New York Fashion Week. If you are an unpaid commercial comic-con volunteer who believes a lawsuit for back wages would be a clear home run, expect Major League Baseball Properties and cases like it to be deployed to strike you out.

1 Comments on Baseball, Comic-Cons, and Paying Volunteers, last added: 3/31/2015
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