A celebrity's take: Comic-Con is all about the fans
Actor Doug Jones and director Guillermo Del Toro spread the love at a fan autograph session at San Diego Comic-Con.
August 3rd, 2012
01:25 PM ET

A celebrity's take: Comic-Con is all about the fans

Though it may sometimes feel like there are two Comic-Cons, and the fan experience meeting celebrities at conventions can certainly run the gamut, there are also celebs for whom meeting with fans is the biggest reason to attend a Con.

The late Andy Hallett ("Angel") exemplified this spirit, with a smile and a kind word for just about everyone he came across at conventions.

And today, there are fan favorites such as Chris Hardwick ("Nerdist," "The Talking Dead") and Ashley Eckstein ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars") who will tirelessly meet and greet with those who admire their work.

So, it was on the Friday of San Diego Comic-Con 2012 that a similar scene could be witnessed at the Gentle Giant booth, as actor Doug Jones ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy") wrapped up an autograph session, to be replaced by his friend and frequent collaborator, director Guillermo Del Toro.

It was something to witness as Jones pointed out various fans he recognized in the crowd and waved at them, even "signing" messages to them as they waited patiently for face-to-face time. It's also not unusual for a fan to be enveloped in one of Doug Jones' famous hugs. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
Zombies with personalities? Yes, it's happening
Look deep into the dead eyes of "R," the zombie teenage heartthrob from "Warm Bodies."
August 2nd, 2012
05:11 PM ET

Zombies with personalities? Yes, it's happening

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

A zombie invasion has been in full effect for a couple years now, with the ghouls shambling into pop-culture’s top monster spot more each day.

Just turn on your television. Aside from being the threat of AMC’s hit show “The Walking Dead,” they’ve taken a bite out of non-zombie franchises with guest spots on shows like "Community," "The Simpsons" and "South Park." Not even their undead cousin, the vampire, has achieved such total immersion. Actual hard news stories are even speculating about a zombie apocalypse spurred by bath salts and occasional cannibalism.

Zombies, man, they creep me out – but that might be about to change with a major evolutionary step signaled at San Diego Comic-Con a few weeks back: Zombies With Personalities. Even though it sounds like the name for a garage rock band, Zombies With Personalities (ZWP) are members of the monster horde with names, personalities, individual behaviors, etc., emerging in a big way within pop culture. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
Alien geeks unite in Roswell
UFO convention attendees dressed the part -- even representing sumo aliens and alien babies.
July 31st, 2012
02:58 PM ET

Alien geeks unite in Roswell

Editor's note: Emma Loggins is the editor of Fanbolt.com, a fan news site that specializes in behind-the-scenes information and interviews with the casts and crews of entertainment franchises with organized fan bases.

This year marked the 65th anniversary of a mysterious object crashing down just north of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, and launching decades of speculation about the truth behind the wreckage.

The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) released an initial statement claiming that a "flying disk" had been recovered. The following day, a second press release was issued which stated that the 509th Bomb Group had been mistaken, and the wreckage was actually that of a weather balloon.

Years later, believers and skeptics alike flock to Roswell for the annual UFO convention. The event attracts scientists, doctors, engineers, and of course alien enthusiasts. This year, there were two festivals commemorating the event: One was put on by the city, and the other festival was hosted by the International UFO Museum.

Cameras in hand, Barry and Ann Lasky stood outside the museum waiting for the opening ceremonies to begin Sunday. The couple moved to Roswell a few years back after attending an earlier festival and falling in love with the city. They moved to Roswell from Los Angeles, California, and began selling collectible memorabilia.

"My official reason for moving to Roswell is I wanted to be kidnapped and probed by aliens," Lasky joked. "But the other reason is it's too expensive to live in Los Angeles. We know people out here, and we're into the science fiction. We sell comics, magazines, and collectibles, so this seemed like a good place to go. We're having a lot of fun here." FULL POST

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Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom
'Make them ... love zombies even more'
What a packed Comic-Con panel looks like if you're a speaker.
July 31st, 2012
11:58 AM ET

'Make them ... love zombies even more'

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

If Comic-Con is "nerd Christmas," then speaking on a panel at the con feels like taking Santa’s sleigh out for a spin. I have been fortunate to speak at large cons like New York Comic Con and Dragon*Con, but San Diego is the “really big shoe” – so obviously I didn’t want to crash and burn.

When Matt Mogk, founder of the Zombie Research Society, invited me to join him and zombie intellectuals, authors and experts on the “History of the Modern Zombie” panel, nerdy giddiness overcame me. That was then immediately followed by an “Oh, crap” moment.

Sure, I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about zombies but these were dudes whose work I followed, like Max Brooks, Steven Schlozman, Scott Kenemore, Bradley Voytek and Dan Drezner. Speaking in front of a crowd didn’t freak me out and I have confidence in my knowledge. But I’m also a fan and very aware that the ZRS has legit legend George A. Romero on the Advisory Board.

So, to prep, I did what any good journalist would do: call in an expert. Actor Bruce Campbell is con royalty and if he didn’t attend San Diego, it could be considered a harbinger of doom in some nerd cultures. Instead of deep, philosophical advice about my first SDCC panel appearance, Campbell kept it simple. FULL POST

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July 26th, 2012
03:22 PM ET

Hidden beneath the costumes

Every summer, thousands upon thousands of people pack their suitcases to head to San Diego, California, for Comic-Con.

Sometimes that's a challenge: Many of those suitcases contain a costume packed underneath their daytime clothing (or, perhaps the costume IS their daytime clothing).

Convention costumes can be an all-year endeavor  - some attendees have a different costume for every day of the con. And even as cosplayers walk the show floor, they may already be thinking of how to assemble the fantastic costumes they will wear next year.

Why do people cosplay? Well, it's simple. Everyone needs a hobby. And yet, it seems like there can be so many other explanations. Like, it's fun (and yes, it is). Or, there's the theory that cosplayers are just attention junkies (and yes, sometimes, we are). But just like every other human habit, there's something a bit more complex beneath the surface.

It's my experience that when a cosplayer puts on a costume, we capture a moment. In costume, we are all children again. We are joyful, open, excited, able to let go of responsibility. We also wear what makes us happy. By becoming a character that we love for a day, we transcend our own reality and enter one that we often dream of inhabiting.

Yes, it's wish fulfillment, real-life role play. We lose and find ourselves in those costumes. We stand in a sea of other people who are drawn to the same things that we are. We fit in, and at the same time, we don't. But we want to.

Underneath our costumes, we dare to reveal ourselves to the world, bit by bit. By wearing a mask, we reveal who we really are.

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