Comic Con

All posts tagged Comic Con

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By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

The first true Science Fiction show. The first Science Fiction fandom.

Pop culture owes so much to a little under-produced British television series called Doctor Who, which made its debut Nov. 23, 1963. With its 50th anniversary special just a few weeks away, there are some that might be intimidated to just jump in and watch without a “History of,” or a proposed list of “catching up” episodes. Though BBC America has had specials all year featuring the personality and contributions each facet of this timeless alien, The Doctor, has undergone, it is nice but not necessary.

“The Doctor,” (name unknown, hence his being referred to as “Doctor Who”) is an alien from Gallifrey, the planet of the Time Lords. Time Lords are able to not only travel time and space but can to regenerate their lives approximatley 12-13 times. The show’s mastermind Steve Moffat isn’t always clear to us on this matter.

Each incarnation of the Doctor is played by a different actor who presents their own interpretation of the character. The show saw much success and influence with British children and many musicians in the 60’s and throughout the 70’s and 80’s the show became a British staple. With the end of the 7th Doctor’s tenure, the show went off air but was briefy revamped in the late 90’s with a feature film featuring an 8th Doctor (a great place for new comers). Its success and the buzz it generated led to the show being relaunched completely (this time with AMAZINGLY high production) with a new 9th Doctor in the 00’s. The new Doctor Who featured complicated story archs and new, more involved travelling companions.

As far as a true “history of…,” it would be impossible to discuss the range of influences this program and its thought-provoking idea/ls have had on any number of creative mediums, or even actual science, in the last 50 years but its influence in recent years alone has spawned a loyal fandom which is far from anything lukewarm.

You either love The Doctor or you don’t.

While fads come and go in entertainment, and the recent popularity? (shakes head) of “geekdoms,” a concern for yours truly, usually people who truly grasp onto Doctor Who are quite changed. But fandom is not about collections, it is not about who has seen the most episodes and it sure is not about a geekdom which is now maybe something amusing on primetime but that might lose its “coolness” overnight with the next fad or social phenomenon. NOR is it about the previous “laughing at” and now “laughing with” a geek of said interest, or any interest. It shouldn’t be. The Doctor would not say that. None of these things matter in all of Time and Space.

However, shows like Doctor Who, along with a small handful of other highly influential series, have seen die-hard fandom endure. Nowadays, fandom has gone mainstream. The influence of popular comic books that have been turned into blockbusters, along with the popular graphic novel The Walking Dead seeing a successful run on television, has seen fandom widely acceptable by the masses.

The upcoming 50th Anniversary special is going to examine “who” this entity of the Doctor really is. His culminated nature, his “name” and what he has done throughout history in “his name.” What does he mean to the Universe (real or imagined)? And as such, this cultural historian really has little to say for a “History of…” because as compared to more longstanding fans, whatever I say would be trite. Though much research has been done prior to this article and really as soon as “fandom” hit with MY “first doctor,” the 9th Docotr played by Christopher Eccleston. But again that is not the point of this fandom of Whovians. It shouldn’t be because it is not the message of the Doctor nor his archetype. Yes, it can be intimidating even though one might have heard great things about the series being thought-provoking, about the endless possiblities posed by time and space travel and the 900 year old alien entity that shared his experiences with little old humans because he chose to. In the series, the Doctor chose to see the good and foster it in this imperfect race. But when one jumps in and finds that yes, there are complicated story arcs but the average episode, any episode, can intrigue a new viewer to watch and crave more. Similarly to novellas.

Fandom. Merchandise. While it is nice to have something one likes become more accessible, one must beware the capitalism. Not “Capitalism” in a broad sense, but by other fans’ capitalization. The, “Oh yeah, I’m a geek too” that a Whovain might hear at say, a convention or even in a more average mundane place. And just proceed with the mission of well, watching the show.

Having said this, a recommended list of books about Doctor Who will not be provided. Although there are some great ones, there are many bandwagon sensationalists that are, again, capitalizing on die-hard fans’ commitment. To truly appreciate the program, one must simply watch it. Watch it alone. Watch it with others. But don’t watch it out of peer pressure or because geekdoms are cool right now and the other geeks are tweaking over it. Don’t believe the hype!

So without further ado, in addition to watching the show, I present some media in appreciation of the Whoniverse in its most basic, honest and/or comical manner.

With love, Ms. Rose

Fandom Picks:

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

For some, Science Fiction is more than merely science fiction. It is a way of life. The philosophies often found in most Science Fiction works often represent a strong sense of morality, diplomacy, democracy and idealism. Often times, where other artistic mediums appear to be hypocritical and/or biased, Sci-Fi has always held it’s ground, all while providing a strong sense of intellect and excitement.

From the practically Christ-like morals of The Doctor (Doctor Who) to the balance of the Force (Star Wars) and the Enterprise’s galactic mission of peace and diplomacy (Star Trek), Sci-Fi franchises, no matter how violent or futuristic, still stress the importance of good triumphing over evil. This is a facet to Science Fiction that artist Larry Lee Moniz finds both inspiring and crucially important.

“Well, I think outside the obvious escapism, I like Sci-Fi when good is conquering evil, the wrong gets set right. Sci-Fi with a message of good vs. evil,” said Moniz. “To quote Craig Ferguson, a HUGE Doctor Who fan, ‘Intelect and Romance over Brute Force and Cynicism.'”

Moniz is a San Francisco-based graphic artist and huge Sci-Fi fan. His love for the genre and its principles came from a very early age.

“I was drawing pictures of spaceships and robots since I was able to pick up a pencil!” explained Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

He quickly turned his admiration of particular Sci-Fi works into inspiration, that have ultimately paved the way to his career.

“I got through art school essentially making every project I could about Sci-Fi! Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost In Space, Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was never at a loss for material for my assignments!” Moniz said.

Through his art, Moniz proves that great appreciation can be converted into inspiration, ultimately making for intense creativity. And, as he stated, there is more than just escapism to the high fantasy genre. There is the ability to connect with others, and on very artistic fronts.

The multi-talented Moniz offers some of his most interesting works, including his original reinterpretation of the Doctor Who theme song.

1001199_10151728969039210_262961048_nBy Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Local comic book writer Chris Yambar had a vision some four years ago. That vision was to give his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio the experience of the popular Comic Con comic book showcases that other major cities have annually. He took it upon himself to organize a free showcase held on his own front lawn.

Now, in its fourth year, Yambar’s Lawn Con boasts an eclectic lineup of mainstream and independent artists and writers, as well as all the specialties you’ll find at any other Comic Con. Also, even some surprises that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Yambar, who is well-known in the comic industry for his Mr. Beat series, keeps his annual showcase free for the public and for featured artists alike. He does this because independent artists often get shafted at larger events.

“The independent guys, self-publishers and small press guys, are always having their prices jacked up to compete with the other high-priced tables and it’s not fair,” said Yambar. “Some of these people are driving from all over the country, they deserve to be able to sell their stuff at a reasonable price and walk away with something.”

Yambar also indicated that the money it takes for an independent artist to set up a table at a major event is equal to what they could use to publish themselves on a mass scale.

“It costs them $500 to $800 to do a show. As a small press guy, that’s a lot of money. That’s a ton of printing for a lot of things,” said Yambar.

He stressed the importance of smaller publishers and why their work is important.

“These guys are what it’s all about. The small publishers have a lot of passion and love for what they do. There’s some really interesting people coming this year, a little something for everybody,” said Yambar.

Lawn Con 4 will also feature a good selection of mainstream artists too. Some of the people behind The Simpsons and the actor who portrays Spawn will be attending, along with some pop-artists including an artist behind Popeye the Sailor.

“We’ve got Spawn coming this year,” said Ymabar. “We’re all really excited to get to hang out with him.”

The showcase will also be unique in many ways to that of run-of-the-mill comic book shows. Aside from the arrays of exclusive independent talent, there will be a side-show featuring unique talents, stand-up comedians and live performances from local acts Baroque Monody and Phoenix Rising.

Recently, Yambar discovered that DC Comics and Warner Bros. in particular, held an event called “Lawn Con” in San Diego. He indicated that he was displeased with their lack of research before naming and holding the event.

“Would it have killed to do as much as to Google the name before using it? I’m not against what they’re doing, but I just wish they would have done their homework first. I did this for three years prior. I’m not after their money. I just want credit for the idea. I’d love to see Lawn Con Albuquerque someday. It would just have to be done right,” said Yambar.

Lawn Con 4 will be held on Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Yambar’s front yard, located on 23 South Hartford Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. The event is free, but all donations will go toward children’s literacy via First Book Mahoning Valley.

“This year we are again proud to partner with Amy Neral and First Book Mahoning Valley by providing an environment to not only encourage literacy, but to make sure that every child has the opportunity to read and own their first ever book. Over the past 3 years, Lawn Con and First Book have put hundreds of free children’s books into the hands of young readers without charging them or their parents a dime. We’re excited to continue this tradition,” said Yambar in a mission statement.