Comic Con 2014 PowWow

When I was a camp counselor we would gather with our cabins at the end of the day and go around the circle doing a powwow. The “pow” would be the low point in the day, something that was frustrating or disappointing, and the “wow” would be the best part of the day.

This year I managed to snag a badge for Comic Con. I was there for Saturday and Sunday and probably could have planned things out a little more in advance. Like I did with VidCon, I’m going to PowWow each day I was at the convention.

DAY 1
POW: Meeting so many new people at once. Another friend of mine who goes every year introduced me to her rather large group of friends. It was great to have some people to hang out with, but it was also a bit much for my introverted side. I kind of crashed from too much social interaction while we were waiting in line for dinner. Whoops.
WOW: Feeling like I finally got a sense for how the expo hall was set up. Last year I was only there for one day and I mostly walked around in a daze because I was so overwhelmed by it all. This year I managed to find a bit of order in the madness, which was quite calming.

DAY 2
POW: The realization (even though I knew it going in) that I wasn’t going to get to do some of the things I was really excited about. The lines were too long. The crowds were too much. And I was too tired. I definitely git a brick wall of tired on day two around 2:30. I was about to go into another panel when I realized that I should probably start my mini road trip before I got tired enough to fall asleep whist driving.
WOW: The Women of Marvel panel was definitely a highlight. I loved hearing about the female driven titles that Marvel has and the women who write/draw/color/manage/produce them. I’m so excited for the future of women in comics both as creators and creatives as well as the female characters that we see and will be seeing in the future.

All told it was an exhausting weekend, but I’m very glad I went. I am honored to be even a small part in the industry that puts these things out into the world. I’m excited that Comic Con is a thing I go to now, and will continue to be going forward. Every year I learn more and I’m excited to be learning and growing into this industry.

If you’re interested in seeing some of these thoughts in video form, let me direct you to this week’s YouTube video. And while you’re over there maybe subscribe to see more of my videos? I’ve very much appreciate it.

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A “Fake Geek Girl”s Comic Book Fears

While I don’t pretend to be a comics girl (I’m not cool enough for that), I have fallen quite hard for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve seen nearly every movie since Iron Man, and continue to be excited about upcoming films. Joss Whedon heading up the franchise was the icing on the cake for me as a long time Whedonite (check out my series’ on Buffy and Angel).

I’m also using the films as a starting point to get into the overwhelming world of comics. That’s not to say that I’m even close to know what to do yet, but I’m slowly figuring out what to be looking for. Comics is a huge scary world to get into though, especially as a girl.

Part of my fear of getting into comics is that I will be shunned as a “fake geek girl” for joining in now when there is so much hype around the Marvel Universe. I’m tentatively treading into the territory of the Marvel subreddit, but I keep waiting for someone to call me out. I know that I’m not supposed to let that stop me, but I also wouldn’t know how to respond.

All this to say that I’m very excited (and still quite scared) after hearing the news about a female character taking over for Thor. While I am loving the Marvel Universe, Thor has always been the least relatable Avenger for me. He’s a ‘god’ from another realm who has unmatched strength who is all good and has these highly idealistic hopes for the human race. Of course I know I’m simplifying, and if I were to read the comics I’m sure there would be more to it, but… meh.

A female Thor on the other hand? A woman who is just as strong and capable as Thor himself, who’s armor wont be parodied on The Hawkeye Initiative is intriguing to me. What happened to Thor that he’s no longer worthy to wield Mijolnir? Who is this chick? And from the realist in me: How long will this last?

With Age of Ultron coming up on the horizon I don’t doubt that Thor will be back to the man we know by next summer. The majority of the movie-going audience will not be following along with the comics, so for continuity’s sake I’m sure Mijolnir will be safely back in his hands by then. But I’m beyond curious as to how this whole thing shakes out.

Adaptions

One of the questions that comes out of the Superheroes discussion from a few weeks ago is the question of adaptions. Most superhero TV shows or movies are adaptions from comic books or graphic novels. Some from straight novels.

Studios and executives (people who fund moves and TV shows) LOVE adaptions. Something that is being adapted from something else will have a built in audience: the people who watched/read/followed the original material. Those people will come out and see a movie or tune in every week for a TV show because they’re already invested. This is especially true with direct interpretations.

There are two type of adaptions: the more obvious and “normal” is the direct adaption, where they take what’s on the page and put it on the screen. The more removed is what I call a “loose” adaption. The first will be pretty true to the original while the later will often can mix it up and be a little different.

Direct adaption stories will lock in the hard core fans. You are guaranteed a decent sized audience with a direct adaption… if you can pull it off. The hard part of direct adaptation is that if things are too different from what the fans had been thinking of then there will be push back. Talk of people ruining the original story. Some of this will happen regardless, but sometimes if the control room doesn’t look exactly the same or better than the fans imagined it in their heads… you could be feeling the back end of some serious hate.

With a direct translation the creators live and die by how accurately they portray the original source material. And even if it’s pretty close, sometimes it’s not enough. At the same time there’s fear of looking too much like the old material and if that material is culturally outdated or morally suspect to today’s society it can lead to calamity. So sometimes you just change it all.

The changing everything mind-frame leads to a loose adaption. This is something where we skip a generation and follow our main character’s son or daughter. Or where we take a side character and give them their own story entirely. Parallel to, and occasionally intersecting with, the original story, but able to stand on it’s own. Or when we take the characters and story from an older novel and put them in modern times.

A lot of times a loose interpretation can be more accessible to an audience who isn’t familiar with the source material. It allows for more wiggle room as you redefine characters we know and introduce us to new ones. Settings and relationships can feel more fresh in a loose adaption, and the re-introduction can be a great way for new viewers to access old material.

Of course this is not to say that one type of adaption is better than the other.  Only that the two are different, and it’s good to be aware of the differences. What are your favorite adaptions? Is it a loose adaption or a direct adaption?

 

The Time to Be Super

I’ve noticed in the past few years that superheroes have become a reoccurring theme. As far back at the new batman trilogy, and slowly growing, there have been more and more superheros breaking out of comic books. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are all evidence of a new uprising.

Of course this is far from the first surge in popularity of comics and superheroes. In the past few decades since superheroes have arrived on the scene they have risen and fallen in popularity. My hypothesis is that their popularity is related to the political and economic status of the world at the time, but that would be for someone much more seeped in comic lore than me to prove or disprove.

What I can do is give a little bit of history of superheroes in comics and their breakout into other mediums (mostly TV). Because I am a nerd and I spent a few hours researching comics on the internet and it’s interesting. Get ready.

We start off with the Golden Age of comics. This is when the big wigs showed up. Superman, Captain America (originally Captain Marvel), among others made their first appearances in or soon after 1938. You’ll notice this to be soon after the depression as it became obvious the world was going to go to war again. Superheros made people feel like there was something out there to save them. In these early comics the hero always saved the day and the damsel (because that’s all women were in these stories).

In 1955 the Golden Age gave way to the Silver Age of comics. Now more superheroes arrive on the scene to help get delinquents off the streets. This era lasts until the early 70’s and I’ll point out that this is around the time when television becomes popular. Near the end of the Silver Age is the first time we start to see superheroes on TV, Batman being the first, and launching many others that make appearances in what’s called the Bronze Age of Comics.

In the Bronze Age (~1970-85) the stories in comic books become darker. The dark hero is clearly the picture of the decade and a half of the Bronze Age. On television there are superheroes abound with Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and the Hulk being pulled from comics to star on the small screen. Alongside them, there are heroes such as the Six Million Dollar Man and it’s spin-off, Bionic Woman from other original material ($6M Man was adapted from a novel).

The adaptations make way for original superheroes in the Modern Age of comics (~1985-present). Shows such as Greatest American Hero and Misfits have no ties directly to comics or novels. Meanwhile comics such as The Flash and Superman are still brought to life in movies and on TV. These shows and their comic counterparts are more psychological, and many are darker, than any of their previous incarnations. 50-plus years of super work will do that to a hero.

More here.

As more and more superhero series and paraphernalia crop up I can’t help but think that we are on the cusp of a new era. We want heroes we can relate to. Heroes who are ruthless and fantastic in their search for the true villain, but are also vulnerable and real. We want more out of superheroes than we have before, but I think the new generation of creators will be able to deliver.

Who is your favorite superhero? What would you like to see in a new superhero (or changes in an old favorite)?

My New Favorite ‘Ship

It’s the one between comics and television of course!  This falls under a category called Transmedia, because it goes from one to the other and on to another.  That’s a strange and vague description that is better explained with an example (or how about three).

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Angel as well) was first a TV show; when the show ended they started writing comics.  There are also action figures, but I’m not sure where those fall on the standard of media.
  • Another: Beauty and the Beast was a Disney movie, a TV show (in 1987), a Broadway musical, and a TV show again (premiered this season).
  • My favorite: Doctor Who was TV show in the 60’s, then branched into comics, audio books, and video games, and was then relaunched as a TV show in 2005.  This is the fandom that will never die!

There are countless examples of this, but a common thread is that each of these examples (and countless others) was first one thing and was quite popular in that medium.  Then it was expanded to include other mediums.  This occurs for both economic and fan-ish reasons.

Of course the company that created the original media wants to get the biggest profit from it, so they capitalize on it.  They create all sorts of new ways for fans to interact with the story (by buying their products).

It also happens for reasons of awesome.  Fans want more.  As much as the corporations are going for the capitalist side of the media, if there isn’t a market for it, they know better than to try.  That means that fans (that’s US!) demanding things to exist can help them start to exist.  If we want something to exist (even something like The Hawkeye Initia… that may not be the best example) we can make it happen.

In the same way good-but-unknown things feed the imagination and creativity of creators leaving us with things like Sherlock, The Dark Knight, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, our favorite fictional characters on Twitter, and The Avengers.