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.
Good grief! If these blogs are ever compiled into some sort of archive or whatever I doubt that this post would make it in. This is mostly for me to be able to call myself out in public for missing the most basic of posting rules that I had set for myself. I missed posting a Fun Video Friday last week and didn’t even notice until today.
EDIT: To top it off this post failed to go out last Friday. *facepalm*
It’s not all bad news. Well I guess it’s really not bad news at all, frankly. The stats show that FVF is popular but I certainly didn’t receive any angry emails or letters so, yeah. But the bigger implication is that some of our other creative endeavors have taken priority, and we do have some very exciting things that are coming!
The one that is coming up, that has tickets that will be available, is The Big Bear Lake International Film Festival! September 19th-21st featuring a wonderful line-up of feature films and short films. Tickets go on sale this week and can be purchased at the Big Bear Film Festival website.
Today’s video is the old opening for the Captain America cartoon. I hope that if you are in the U.S. you have a wonderful holiday!
When it comes to popular media there you can safely bet that whatever it is that you enjoy follows a formula. These formulas can be given names so that we can recognize them easily like Slasher Movie, Space Opera, or Film Noir. Super heroes have a formula now too, and nothing shows it off better than this short from the Above Average YouTube channel.
This story marks my first incomplete story of the challenge. Posting this was a tough decision for me to come to. I had an idea in my head about using super-heroes as a cipher for multinational corporations. Originally it was going to be a first person story re-telling the history of the rise of the super-heroes, how they helped to build up the country, and then describe their downfall and turn to villainy using the Great Recession as a cataclysm akin to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Very epic in scope and requiring a good deal of research to get the broad facts correct.
I was really excited about it.
But it was a tough write, especially on a deadline. Things weren’t going as well as I hoped. But then I had a stroke of genius: make it an oral history so that some of the disparate ideas can be brought together in different voices that make sense to the facts! A general, a banker, a history professor, a personal assistant and a blue collar guy. These voices would be able to tell the story from a variety of angles and it would help broaden the scope of the story. That worked a lot better.
But then it was Saturday…
I said “screw the deadlines!”
Then on Monday and Tuesday I had no time due to schedule (it’s part of the reason why Monday is my post day).
So here we are, Wednesday, and the story isn’t finished and another is due in just a few days. I had to call it. I’m not ready to fall behind on all of my deadlines yet.
I’m taking a lesson from this about deadlines and how it’s important to find a way to work within them. This story was a bit too ambitious for the week that I had. It would have been better saved for when I had more free time – and maybe I’ll revisit it when I have that time – and I should have done something a bit smaller for a week that I knew ahead of time would be short.
All that being said, here is what there is of the story and, as usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.
Super-Beings and the Fall of the United States: An Oral History
Dr. Robert Lanager, Professor of History, Harvard University –
It was the downfall of America. Sure, the rest of the world felt it, especially the Euro Zone, but the U.S. was hit hardest of all. They had the most sway here, most were headquartered here and those that were headquartered in other parts of the world made regular trips to the United States. It’s like the U.S. was the eye of the storm, so when the damage and destruction started we noticed it too late to do anything about it. They were super-beings with far more power and almost inexhaustible resources which allowed them to do just about anything they wanted and we, wanting to benefit from what they did, allowed them to doalmost anything they wanted. Oh, God, how foolish we were! I look back on the early days now and I get so angry at myself and at the country as a whole. In hindsight it’s so clear what was happening, where the road would lead and yet we didn’t listen to the people who warned us. They were derided and laughed off; completely dismissed by people, who thought they knew better, but none of us really knew and now it’s too late. The damage is done and, frankly, I have no idea how we’re going to get out of this one.
Walter Smith, Retired Banker –
I’ve been around since the beginning; I remember when they first started to show themselves. Bear in mind that we know now that they were always around, but they obviously they weren’t operating as publically. Actually, I take that back, there were a few that were active in the late 19th into the 20th century, I remember my father telling me about them. The beings helped build the infrastructure of the country. They had their hands in the railroads, minerals and energy. In some cases they even helped to report the news of the time. For the most part things were fine, but a few of the beings got a bit big for their britches and some started to consolidate power, keeping everyone they could under their watch. The fall could have come then, but the government put together legislation that seemed to bring them under control and, with those controls in place, most of them started going about normal, proactive lives – generally contributing to society without attracting attention – and then just fading away into the background.
Gen. Thomas Black, Retired Army General –
At first we called them super-heroes. Here they were these amazing beings with amazing powers that could defend us from enemies thousands of miles away. With the help of hundreds of thousands of human soldiers, they fought in every major combat through history: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, The Gulf Wars, all of them! And, in most cases, we won those fights and we couldn’t have done it without them. But that was part of the problem; really, we truly couldn’t do it without them. We knew it, they knew it and for while it was actually ok, a mutual appreciation society. They’d work for us and we’d work for them, building things together to keep this nation great.
Leslie Howard, Office Assistant-
When they first started to appear, at least when I was growing up, people weren’t ready to believe it. I mean, who would? Suddenly, as if from nowhere, you had these magnanimous beings coming down from the sky to save us. It wasn’t even the powers they showed, movies prepared me for that, hell I expected it… but in real life, seeing people fly and having energy flowing out of their bodies… Sometimes it was too much to take.
Gen. Thomas Black-
If you look at it, the whole thing is kind of generational. We had our heroes start off loyal and patriotic. They believed in the people and what they could do. These were the folks that helped build the America that we call “The Good Old Days.” But as the heroes got older they were replaced by newer heroes, super-beings with different ideas about their contribution to society should be. Now, I want to be clear, these were not villains. While there were always a few of them that worked against society, by and large the heroes were no worse than anyone else. And I guess that’s the rub, they were like us. As the modern times made the world smaller, suddenly our heroes were branching out. They would go to foreign countries, establish headquarters there, and make alliances with the beings that were there. Were we worried in National Defense? A little, but frankly they were still something that we relied on so much that as long as we were the ones getting their “A” game we chose to turn a blind eye. I think that carte blanche may have hurt more than we realized.