Fans swarm 'Walking Dead' finale party in Atlanta
"Walking Dead" actor IronE Singleton (right) hangs out with a surprised zombie at the Diesel Filling Station finale party.
March 20th, 2012
06:34 PM ET

Fans swarm 'Walking Dead' finale party in Atlanta

Editor's note: Emma Loggins is the editor of Fanbolt.com, an fan news site that specializes in behind-the-scenes information and interviews with the casts and crews of entertainment franchises with organized fan bases. She can also be found on Twitter @EmmaLoggins.

As the home of "The Walking Dead," Atlanta, Georgia, has no shortage of zombie love. If that wasn't already apparent, the "Walking Dead" season finale party cleared up any confusion. While there were multiple fan viewing parties across the city, it was the Diesel Filling Station, a local restaurant, that hit capacity one hour before the finale started.

This wasn't just your typical viewing party either. About 200 fans entered into a quarantine zone, and in efforts to reserve generator power, only the ATM and televisions were operational. No lights, no air conditioner, and a limited menu consisting of items that could be scavenged from an outside grill while keeping everyone safe inside. Survivors were also asked to bring in canned food items to donate to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

With good karma being shared among all, the fan camaraderie was in full swing when IronE Singleton, who plays T-Dog on the series, arrived. Fans rushed to get their picture taken with him and show their support and love for his character.

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A superhero original gets a major makeover (and a name change)
March 20th, 2012
04:46 PM ET

A superhero original gets a major makeover (and a name change)

There are reboots, and then there are reboots.

With Wednesday's release of "Justice League" #7, the character known since 1941 as Captain Marvel will officially go by the name "Shazam" - a name which many of the uninitiated might have thought was his name for decades.

According to DC Comics' Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who had a big hand in the recent relaunch of DC Comics characters with "The New 52,", told the New York Post that the name change made sense for a number of reasons, including that, "Shazam is the word most associated with the character." (DC Comics is owned by Time Warner, which also owns CNN.)

Gone also is the white collar on his cape, which is now more of a cowl, and the famous lightning bolt on his chest now glows.

"His place in the world will be far more rooted in fantasy and magic than it ever was before," Johns told the Post.

"This will be a complete revamping of the character, all the way back to his origins with new powers, and what I’m sure will be changes to his family of supporting characters," said John Barringer of A Comic Book Blog. "This could potentially be one of the biggest changes for a character as a result of the New 52."

The change in Shazam's appearance is potentially significant, as it makes him look a good deal less like Superman than before. In one of the most legendary court cases in comic book history, DC successfully won a lawsuit in 1953 with Captain Marvel's creator, Fawcett Comics, due to those similarities with one of their most popular characters. (At one point in the 1940s, Captain Marvel comics were outselling Superman).

"Captain Marvel was the first character that really refined the superhero formula," said Chris Sims, a senior writer for Comics Alliance. "He's the ultimate wish-fulfillment character. Every kid wants to be a grown-up and be big and strong and have the ability to get whatever they want, and Billy Batson is exactly that. He says a magic word and he doesn't just get super-powers, he turns into an adult that can fly around having all the adventures that kids want to have. And that's what made him a hit."
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'The Future' is now? Hoverboards arrive three years early
March 19th, 2012
06:26 PM ET

'The Future' is now? Hoverboards arrive three years early

Back in 2007, when the "Back to the Future" ride was shut down at both Universal Studios theme parks in the United States (in favor of a "Simpsons" ride, though there is still a "Future" ride in Japan), it might very well have been seen as a sign from the powers that be that the interest in the 1980s sci-fi comedy trilogy just wasn't there anymore.

Since then, something funny has happened: Christopher Lloyd started popping up in commercials in Argentina, in character as his most famous character, "Doc Brown." Replicas of Marty McFly's famous 2015 Nike shoes went on sale in September.

Now, replicas of the hoverboard, perhaps the most famous piece of "Back to the Future" lore from 2015, are being made available for pre-order by Mattel, the same company that, in the world of "Back to the Future," put the product out in the first place.

Bob Gale, producer and co-writer of the "Back to the Future" movies, was just as surprised as any other fan when he heard about the hoverboards.

“I had no idea about it until it was announced at New York Toy Fair," he said. "I checked it out and called up our licensing person at Universal to find out about it."

Soon Gale was meeting with some of the people at Mattel, with some of his actual hoverboard props in tow: “They were so excited to have their hands on the real things. They had booklets of paint swatches to match the exact color."

Why so much excitement over a board? Gale recalls the demand for them was overwhelming when "Back to the Future Part II" was released in 1989.

"Bob Zemeckis did a very tongue in cheek interview and, totally straight-faced, said ‘Hoverboards have been around for years and parents’ groups wouldn’t let it on the market.’ Oh man, did that catch fire," said Gale. "Someone from Mattel was totally aggravated that we put [their logo] on the hoverboard because kids were calling and writing and convinced that somewhere there must be a stash of hoverboards they weren’t able to market."

Scott Neitlich, marketing manager at Mattel, said the company is happy to finally make this a reality: "We've been looking forward to making a prop replica for years."

The company saw a similar level of success with replicas of "Ghostbusters" PKE Meters and ghost traps.

Though we're three years away from hoverboard technology (and they still won't work on water), the Mattel hoverboards will "gently glide over most flat surfaces," with accompanying sound.

Gale said he thinks the enthusiasm about these items (not to mention fan creations like mini-flying DeLoreans), shows that the "Back to the Future" fan base is alive and well.

“Had [Universal Studios] not made that decision to dismantle the ride when they did, had they put it off until the 25th anniversary, they might have said, ‘Maybe we ought to keep "Back to the Future" going. Maybe if enough people write in, they’ll take half of 'The Simpsons’ ride and turn it back into ‘Back to the Future.’"

The fan community for "Back to the Future" has gathered at sites like BTTF.com over the last several years.

CNN Geek Out spoke to Stephen Clark, creative director for the site, and a few of his compatriots, all of whom are placing orders for hoverboards, anxiously awaiting their arrival in November.
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Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'
Visitors at "the Art of Video Games" exhibit at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art.
March 19th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'

Bringing video games into an art museum would be considered an ambitious undertaking in years past, but visitors to the Smithsonian opening of “The Art of Video Games” say it isn’t surprising at all.

The new exhibition explores 40 years of video games as art through interactive games people can actually play, pieces of gaming memorabilia and dynamic visual displays that highlight the artistic work done by developers. It is the first such exhibit to appear in a major museum, and visitors of all ages came away from its opening day with feelings of nostalgia.

Groups of family members – parents and children, grandparents and grandkids – marveled at the exhibit, and each took away something different.

“I thought it was pretty neat to watch the evolution of games,” said Kim, a mother from Columbus, Ohio. “I grew up playing 'Frogger' on the Atari but got away from games until my son started playing.”

“I thought it was amazing,” said Jimmy, a 21-year-old from southern Maryland. “I thought it showed the great history and beauty of video games. People will be able to come to the Smithsonian and still learn about video games and see the beauty in them.” FULL POST

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Leveling-up at the Smithsonian
Images from "Super Mario Brothers 3" are part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "The Art of Video Games" installation.
March 16th, 2012
10:36 PM ET

Leveling-up at the Smithsonian

"The goal is not for us to put a stake in the ground and say ART!" said former Sun Microsystems chief gaming officer and Past Pixels founder Chris Melissinos.

And yet, Melissinos is the guest curator for the Smithsonian American Museum of Art's newest exhibit, "The Art of Video Games." That's right. Video games are now included in the leading art museum in the nation. What else could this mean but ART?

How about legitimacy for an entire generation of gamers who grew up playing 8bit games and weren't taken seriously by the rest of mainstream culture?

"It was intentional," Melissinos said. The medium of video games, after 40 years, is "worthy of examination as an art form," he said. It is also the first reflection of nerd culture within a museum that, Melissinos said, is arguably one of the arbiters of what is art  in the world.  The weight of the Smithsonian's stamp of approval not only starts a cultural dialogue about whether "Pitfall!" is art, but also what devotion to video games actually means. FULL POST

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