Last weekend I went on assignment to Rose City Comic Con for Panda Mony Toys. We are releasing our first action figure line next year and we are looking for cool shows to visit. Rose City was pretty great! Here’s a video of my adventures:
If you like t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs I suggest you check out our merch in our SHOP.
I did this movie last year. We shot at Aldworth Manor in late September and October. It was a gorgeous location and such a great time with a great team. I’m very grateful to have had this experience and I’m REALLY excited for you all to see it!
I don’t think that this is any kind of real surprise to anyone who reads this blog or knows me, but it’s not something that I bring up that often for public consumption. Working in toys has really activated my geekery gene and since that is what I’ve been spending so much time on turning it into content for the internet seemed like the next natural choice. But as I’ve gotten back into my geekier pursuits I’ve noticed that I’m not feeling particularly connected to “geek” as a community – and I don’t know how I feel about that.
Why do we care?
In all likelihood you probably don’t, but it’s very possible that we are about to see a change to geek culture and since geek culture has been mainstreamed any changes that come are likely going to affect the entertainment industry in a massive way. I think my identity crisis is just a symptom of something bigger… maybe.
Being a geek is nothing new and we are somehow still in a geek culture golden age. If you were to tell me twenty-five years ago that some of the most popular things on YouTube, videos that were getting MILLIONS of views, were of people playing Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games I’d laugh until I passed out. Put on top of that the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular, profitable and unstoppable franchise factories making household names out of characters that no one knew of merely a decade ago? And the fact that Star Wars as a universe is still chugging along in mainstream media? And that I can find Iron Man action figures in just about every single armor that he has ever worn both on screen and in the comics? I tell you my little teenage heart would burst.
But it was not always this way.
I like to frame myself as a “proud geek,” but if I’m being honest that hasn’t always been true. Even in times as geek popular as now I tend to hold that part back from the spotlight. In the past I have justified this hiding because of my “brand.” On this blog and on social media I preferred to be an actor first, focus on career related things… and every once in a while toss in an obscure movie reference, mention that I need to go play D&D, or talk about Iron Man. But that was not very authentic in how much of my private identity can be tied back to what are considered geeky (sometimes VERY geeky) things.
Although some of the geeky things have gained a hip status, the fact of the matter is that all the cool popular people playing or involved in this stuff are a very small, niche part of the people who play and participate in the core of geekery. The core audience still carries the stigma that was turned into stereotypes used in TV and movies, especially in the late 70’s through the 90’s. Hell, that was my bread and butter for most of my young acting career.
I think that Simon Pegg has presented the best definition of the modern geek:
As he points out, this doesn’t just apply to things like superhero fans and Warhammer 40,000 players but sports fanatics and people who love cars too. But the stigma doesn’t follow the latter the way it does the former. Jocks and nerds may be satisfying the same itch deep down, but society in general views them in very different ways and always at odds.
I was at Rose City Comic Con this year. It’s the first con that I’ve been to since San Diego ComiCon back in either 2012 or 2014 (I can’t remember) and even longer than that since I went to a convention of any size that wasn’t related to the entertainment industry in some way shape or form. This year felt different than what I remember.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad and I going to comic cons all over Southern California (mostly the Shrine Shows in L.A.) looking for old Iron Man back issues, checking out old toys and collectables, and doing our best to bargain down a price with the dealers. At these shows I built a very impressive collection of Yoda memorabilia, got my first Iron Man action figure from the defunct Secret Wars line, and completed a volume 1 collection of Iron Man comics.
I would spend my days reading comics and coming up with adventures for all my favorite characters in my head. The reading material came in handy for auditions as well since I was merely a passengers for nearly a decade. I was proud to know as much about the Marvel Universe as I did. I knew Doctor Who lore and stories that would surprise adult fans. I knew Star Wars down to the Tonnika sisters. But I had very few people that I could share all this with.
Junior High School, the worst of all the “schools” in my opinion, was when I met my core group of friends, people I still know and love to this day. Jeff Garvin was my entry point to the group. He and I met doing Annie with a community theater group (another thing that is generally considered pretty geeky, but that’s another blog post altogether). We shared mutual interests, Star Wars and comic books in a general sense, and he introduced me to his Dungeons and Dragons group. Jeff, Dan and Scott became my best friends through school.
In addition to D&D we shared other common interests in movies and music. Star Wars and Indiana Jones were big favorites and we spent way too much playing the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer games. We tried some other RPGs and Dan, Scott and I all started playing Warhammer 40k. We had each other’s backs. We were our own little community and we could run in the circles of other geek communities without effort.
At Rose City Comic Con I was the outsider. Even though I’m an over 40-bearded-beer-gut-guy (a description that has come to be the standard archetype for the stereotypical geek) I saw the distrustful looks that came from the cosplayers and gamers and comic book fans. I imagine I must’ve looked like a dad who was missing his kid, especially since I was there by myself. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Don’t worry I’m totally one of you.” But even writing that seems condescending and pointless, especially since geekdom and fandom are plagued by toxic jerks right now. I can’t find fault with the suspicious looks. If you didn’t know any better I could be one of those entitled, angry and anonymous man-children screaming about The Last Jedi. Toxic Fandom is the culmination of people who felt powerless finding a voice and, in most circumstances, trying to claim ownership on a fictional world that should be open to everyone. When that kind of “fandom” finds other people who feel the same we get things like what we saw with recent Star Wars stars leaving social media.
But that’s not what I want to see. Sure there will always be jerks, but in general the community is at its best when it is supportive of each other and when people who want to learn about and participate in the geekery are welcomed. Even though I got a lot of side-eye yesterday, the folks at the convention we all very polite and super excited about what they were doing there. That’s the part I like. That’s what I’d like to see more of.
To that point I’m going to start talking about my geekier pursuits here on the blog more. I may not feel like I’m directly linked into the community like I used to be, but I still D&D like a boss, build and paint 40k armies competently, and can still throw down in Supernaturalcontinuity conversations with the best of them. The old saying goes “be the change you’d like to see” and I’d like to help put some positivity back into the geeky stuff that I love.
Please join me! Tell me about the geeky stuff you love in the comments. Introduce me to that thing you like that maybe you’re self conscious about. Let’s build a better community without entitlement and toxicity.
I needed the caffeine and sugar hit. Having a puppy, even a well behaved puppy like Arlo, still requires a lot of work. Thankfully he is sleeping through the night, but that doesn’t stop Rene and I from waking up every time he moves. But he got a clean bill of health from his vet yesterday so, in general, we are very happy puppy parents!
Starbucks is not sponsoring this post, but feel free to join me in celebrating the return of the #PSL by sharing pictures of you and your own #PSL in the comments or on the fan page.
So here is the first is what I hope will be many more videos – not just vlogs but other stuff as well! In addition to the sketches and things that Rene and I have written I’ll also be delving deeper into my geeky side and you are going to see a lot of our new dog Arlo.
And don’t forget, every little bit helps, so if you’re willing we have a PATREON.
Or if you like t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs I suggest you check out our merch in our SHOP.
I have not written on this blog since May 22nd (Happy Birthday Author Jeff Garvin!). Oddly enough that was also my 1000th post on this blog. I’ve covered a lot of things on here, mostly about acting and my career in entertainment, but back in May things started changing.
They didn’t change in bad ways, they just… changed.
Since we’ve moved up Portland both Rene and I have not done as much performing as we thought we would. There has been some, but not as much as we had hoped. Speaking for myself, a lot of the reason why is on me. After Frankie died I threw myself hard into work. Any work. I really buckled down with the marketing consulting during the morning and pushed hard to make sure the Alter Nation action figures were ready for our run at ASTRA. Then I was traveling for work and traveling back to California to see family. And then back to work again and so on and so forth. I was purposely keeping myself moving so fast that I didn’t have to deal with Frankie actually being gone.
But trying to keep that up is exhausting and unsustainable, and the predictable thing happened, I crashed.
That sounds more dramatic than it actually was. In the end I just needed rest and a chance to sit down and focus on the things that I wanted so I could figure out where to put my focus. And after doing all the digging and self work and journaling and over-coffee-conversations I’ve decided that…
I have no idea what to do next.
So I’m trying a bunch of things to see what I like best. Lately this has included a lot of writing, a little podcasting, not as much acting and a return to writing in this blog.
I have been very bad about videos lately as well as blogging. If I were to follow my own advice I would tell myself that I am not doing the work necessary to foster a growing organic audience, the kind of audience that I want to build to maintain a long term entertainment career. This is also where my other self, the one who has to time manage, would argue with excuses about jobs and exhaustion and all the other things that go into “resistance” as it is called in the War of Art.
However, while I do not like excuses, I will say that the things that I’ve chosen to spend my energy on are starting to bare fruit – at least the kind of fruit I can talk about.
For those of you who may not know, I am currently working for a new toy company start-up: Panda Mony Toy Brands. For the last eight months we have been preparing to debut our first toy line. It’s been work that has essentially been secret, and frankly I can’t even tell you that much about it right now, but we’re getting close to having everything birth-out like an alien out of John Hurt. Our first toy line will be debuted at the ASTRA show June 10th through 13th in New Orleans. I’ll be there along with the other partners as we dazzle the sales floor with our stuff.
I promise that I will post more when I can, but for now this is all I can show you:
You can follow everything HERE, but I’ll also be posting it on all of my social medias.
How is this tangentially related to the overall goal? Well since one of the best ways to promote a toy line is through an animated series and comic books that is something else that I have been actively working on as well! So I’ve been stretching my producer muscles looking for the perfect co-production. However, that doesn’t make for good videos so there’s that. In the end, because there is so much to do with the release I have had to modify my goal this month. I will not be rebuilding my class as I hoped (although I will probably do another one-day seminar in late June) but instead I’m working to make sure the launch goes as planned.
Being an artist of any stripe, musician; actor; painter; writer, means that you are trying to engage an emotional response in an audience. You want a reaction. You want the audience to feel something. As actors we typically have the benefit of collaboration in that there is typically a script from a writer, there is a director in charge of the overall project, the actor is allowed to be very specific in the scope of their work. That’s a nice place to be. You are in charge of you and get to mold something with other people. I really like that kind of creation, which is why I’ve continued working in this industry for so long.
However, in the modern world, where monetizing art is possible due to more opportunities yet harder due to the amount of stuff being put out into the world on the available channels, being a collaborator is just a part of what you must do to keep yourself afloat. Now, and for the foreseeable future, just about everyone (at least anyone with a smart phone and a social network account) is a content creator.
“Content creation” is the current marketing buzz word/phrase. It includes things like social media posts (especially Instagram), video creation (and live streaming), and written blog posts/articles (yes, those are still important). Entire jobs exist for this now, mostly as curators but sometimes as actual creators as well. When you are trying to promote yourself, like I’m trying to do at the moment, the same tactics apply. I need to produce content that represents me in the work that I want to do so people can see that I am good at it and want to hire me to be included in the content that they are creating (ideally “they” is a big ol’ studio that wants to shove me into a minimum 6 of 13 deal on some kind of serialized television show).
This has been the thought that has been distracting me from writing and doing video updates for the last week.
And it distracted me so hard that I actually didn’t finish writing this yesterday. It is now May 10, 2018, Day 39, and I’m not in a much better position than I was.
Scratch that, May 11th.
Nope, May 12th.
I’m keeping track of the date changes and the amount I actually get done on each of these days because I think that the “warts and all” experience is really important when I do things like Operation:2.0. It’s easy to create a personal challenge like this, set some attainable goals, and then just cover the highlights. It makes the subject easy to root for. People love a winner and they like to see people do well (at least until they don’t, but that a different bridge to burn when we get to it). I feel like that is disingenuous. If it were really that easy then everyone would do it. As it is, it is really hard to create an entertainment career and still just about everyone thinks they can do it. It’s when they see how much work goes into creating any kind of sustainable acting career that their priorities tend to shift.
But this is not what I had intended to talk about four days ago when I got started on this post. So as I was saying, I’ve been pretty distracted by my need and seeming inability to create content based on me. Part of this is just straight up exhaustion. I’m working 12 hour days right now and my energy is going into those jobs. When I’m done so is my brain and there’s just nothing coming out of me after that. But another big part is that I don’t feel like I have anything to say.
May 13th – Happy Mother’s Day
I remember back in the late 80’s when Madonna was in the height of her popularity, right after “Vogue” and Truth or Dare came out, and she was being interviewed for MTV. Although I don’t remember the core of the interview there was something she said that has stuck with me ever since and cast a bit of a shadow over every creative thing I’ve ever done since. She said, and I’m paraphrasing, I may not have been the best singer, but I had something to say and it needed to be said.
I don’t know that I have ever felt that.
I believe that there are things that must be said, I’m a massive consumer of things that I feel have “meaning,” but I don’t know that I, myself personally, have ever had “something to say”. I used to have this problem when I bought journals in my early twenties. I was really into journalling as a teenager. I have volume upon volume of hormonally fueled rants that a 16-and-angry Curtis felt very justified in putting down on paper. Some of them have story attempts, however, that are missing that kernel of a central point or theme beyond my-friends-and-I-having-amazing-adventures. When I entered my twenties I found songs by other people tended to focus my angst more than writing it down, but I still really liked blank journals. I found myself not sure what to do with them. I was just collecting books and then feeling obligated to use them, which led to me having a bunch of really cool half-filled journals that I have much better use for now.
The specter of Madonna’s words are popping up again now as I struggle to figure out what content I want to produce. I don’t need it to be revolutionary or profound. I don’t need it to be a viral hit (although that would be nice) but it does need to be more than me doing updates in front of my desk. And of course the biggest trick to this is making the time to create these things.
This post took five days to write. I’d like to do better next week. While I figure out what else to create here are the existing playlists for Operation: 2.0: