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 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 say readers because today I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Dan and he writes about the books that he reads.
A little back story…
Getting to Know is something new that I’m trying so that I can introduce you to other things that I like beyond the videos that I shared on Fun Video Friday. This might include people, websites, books, movies, TV shows, whatever. I’m not sure if it will have a set schedule or just be a thing that I put out as I find things I want to share, I’m playing it very fast and loose. I’m a wild man.
A little back story about Dan…
Dan and I have been friends since junior high – over 20 years. He has always been a good writer, but rarely done enough with it. He wrote a spec script for “Seinfeld” that was so good that our mutual friend, Jeff, used to reference it as if it were a real episode. If Dan drank a bit more he might be the very perfect model of the modern American novelist. Or the classic American novelist? My desire to make an Pirates of Penzance reference may have clouded that description. Regardless, Dan is a good writer who writes about what he reads. His website, Bookthump.com, is a series of book reviews that are both a comment on the book and his personal relationship to the experience of reading that book.
Unlike other reviews, the personal reflections offer a way for you, as the reader, to get a better feel for the story. I find that his reviews tend to be more persuasive when I think about what I want to add to my reading list. I’ll admit that there is a certain amount of bias; he and I have known each other a long time and we share similar interests, but I feel that his authentic approach and honest thoughts on what he reads will appeal to a wide audience.
There are previous posts about my geekness. I’m a guy who still plays D&D (3.5 with the same guys who I’ve been playing with for about 20 years), I love scifi, horror, & fantasy and I’m a Warhammer 40,000 gamer. I’m going to let my freak flag fly and start doing blogs under the Geekatude banner where I’ll talk about stuff I’m doing associated with my hobbies and whatever else seems kinda’ geeky.
To start I’m going to show off some of the current hobby projects that I’ve either just finished and the ones I’ve just started. First things first – I’ve FINALLY finished my Mordheim Witch Hunters warband! For the un-initiated Mordheim is a Games Workshop table-top skirmish game. You can learn more about it HERE. The last time I played this game was 2003. Yeah, it was a long time ago. I’ve been a bit busy. The Witch Hunters are religious zealots who wander the streets of Mordheim beating mutants and rat men and anyone else who crosses their path. Insert your own political joke here. The Witch Hunters themselves look like really mean pilgrims and they are followed by crazies and flagellants and keep warhounds. Here’s the whole warband:
I was playing in a league when I put these guys together and did well enough, but I’ve always wanted to play them again, I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity in the next league – Mordheim is not a widely played game. These are some of my favorite guys:
This is a warhound based on Frankie. This bit of resin is 1000 times more vicious than the real Frankie.
This is my WH Captain. That contorted face is the face of righteous anger!
This guy is so zany he fights with a hand puppet.
This was the guy I finished when I started painting again this year. Started in 2003, finished in 2011.
This is the bounty hunter I finished before starting the new project.
On the “New Project” front I have started filling in the troops for my Warhammer 40,000, AKA 40k, army (learn about it HERE). I used to be a Space Marine guy, at the time I had more money than sense and bought a LOT of armies – Nurgle Chaos Marines, Tau, more marine stuff and loads more plastic and pewter than a man could ever paint or use. These extra bits came in handy when it came time to pay for my divorce, but I kept the Imperial Guard Army because deep down that was always the army I wanted (although I have had some pretty good Space Marine ideas again… but they’ll have to wait…). This is the state of my paint station as of this afternoon:
If all goes to plan, as slim a chance as that might be, then I should have a fully painted 1,500 points of IG by the end of summer…
…or a lot of primed plastic. We’ll see how things go.
Well not me, per se, but my character, Hyrak Durgog, a dwarf cleric of Moradin – The God of Mountains and Stone!
Yes, my dear readers, I am a big old geek, nerd, goober, call me what you will but I am confident enough in myself that I don’t mind shouting out to the world that I am a D&D player and proud. I’ve been playing for about two decades and in that time I’ve fought creatures great and small, monsters, demons, elves, dwarves, orcs and even the occasional human. It’s a good time around a table with friends and, despite the stereotype, does not require a dark basement to play in nor is it evil.
Side Note – Geek Cred: So you know I know what I’m talking about.
Player since AD&D – All editions
Currently playing 3.5 Ed. – The older editions, while great, aren’t as quick as the d20 system for our group and we just can’t get on board with the changes in 4th ed.
I usually play a cleric but have also played a paladin, fighter and, my most advanced character, a bard.
We don’t multi-class.
Our current campaign, where we are trying to save the countryside from an army or orcs dedicated to overtaking all of the land, has been going for a few years but we have only played very sporadically. I play with two of my childhood friends, Jeff and Scott, and their wives, Ami and Liz. Rene avoided drinking the Kool-Aid. The boys and I have developed a very specific (read: loose) play style that apparently doesn’t mesh well with regular D&D players. Or maybe it would, we’ve rarely ever played outside our little circle. We have always used the game as a reason to get together and catch-up, not just to play, which can lead to long off-topic conversations right in the middle of battling all manner of horrible creatures. While we play very diligently, we don’t play very seriously. Tonight was no different, but we did get ourselves into a bit of a situation.
It takes months to manage everyone’s schedules to point where we can all be in the same room at the same time so each time we actually sit down to play we truly come from a place where we want to get as far through the adventure as we can. But as all well laid battle plans, this intention never survives contact with “the enemy.” The enemy here being side conversations and, particularly in my case tonight, over confidence. Taking so long to plan a session means that when we are around the table we actually want to catch up so we wander into the inn, then we talk about Jeff’s tour around the mid-west/east coast. We fight some cobalds and then talk about Scott & Liz’s baby. Then the baby cries so Scott or Liz go to see her, Jeff and I hop on our Blackberry’s to see what’s going on in the world and like that for five or six hours. While it may sound boring, we actually enjoy ourselves quite a bit – especially when it comes to harrowing feats of combat!
Scott has a reputation among D&D players as a cruel, cruel Dungeon Master (that’s the guy who sets up the game and controls all of the monsters and civilians who aren’t the players at the table). I’ve watched as my characters have been laid low by some vile plan of his only to have my sorrow met by the cackle of his evil laughter. This game was no different. To get to the point we were investigating an underground city when we were attacked by by a small group of evil dwarf-like things that resemble Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings.” We beat those, but the fight got the attention of a group of heavily armed and armored orcs, the same one’s we’re trying to save the countryside from! So, naturally, we attacked them.
This was not the smartest of moves.
Not the dumbest either, but definitely not smart. We rushed in, as did the orcs, and, at first we were actually doing pretty well! Spells were cast, swords hit their mark, all the things you want to see happen, but just as easily as things can go well they can turn against you. And boy-howdy did things turn. First Jeff’s guy was beaten near death, so he took off running only to be followed by the enemy. Then Liz’s character went into hiding to avoid getting herself killed. So Ami and I were all by ourselves facing over a dozen angry orcs. It went about as well as you can expect.
So there we were surrounded by a green wall of death, swords crashing against shields, my dwarf’s warhammer crushing skulls, and then… nothing! I was slashed at and brought down! Ami fought on valiantly but was brought down as well. I paraphrase Jeff when I say, “You haven’t lived until you’ve died in a Scott campaign.” Or something like that, it’s hard to remember and I like my phrasing better.
At that point I had to leave, I had to teach early in the morning in San Diego, so I left my near dead body on the battlefield as my companions tried to figure out what to do.
Rene just told me that I’ve gone into too much detail on a story that no one cares about. It is entirely possible that you don’t and the big part of the story is told so I’ll wrap up the rest quick: I didn’t “totally” die. Ami did. Liz and Jeff saved us and resurrected Ami. And that’s it.
Yes, it’s true, I used “death” in the title to trick you into reading my blog. *EVIL LOL’s!!!!!!!!!*
If you are a regular reader of my blog then you have seen my comic reviews and know that I have a least a little bit of geek in my blood, but recently a old bug has started buzzing in my ear and I’m getting the urge to play Warhammer 40,000 again.
What is Warhammer 40,000 (or 40k as we gamers call it)? It is a table top war game, a cross between Risk and Dungeons & Dragons, where you have “armies” of little army men who fight across a table top war zone. The game has been in existence for almost 30 years and has a very rich background story and community.
I have had several armies over the years:
Space Marines: genetically engineered supersoldiers who are each as good as a squad of ordinary men.
Chaos Space Marines: the same supersoldiers, but warped by evil “gods” that live in an alternate dimension.
And my current army, the last one I was working on before I stopped playing back in 2006, The Imperial Guard: normal human fighting men with tanks and big guns!
I just pulled out my modeling stuff and my old guys. I’m going to be re-building this army and talking about the hobby aspect of it as I go. I hope that you find it half as interesting as I do.