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With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

It’s another week and time for another winning entry from our annual student competition. This one’s a great read.

Communication in the Unknown
By Sean Tierney

You’re steps away from entering an unfamiliar building, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, in an unfamiliar land; it’s your first day at a new school and the only thing you know for certain is that you don’t. Now imagine we bottle up this tense sensation of being engulfed in uncertainty and crank the dial up to eleven, that’s the feeling encountering main character John Blackthorne in FX’s Shogun. A character who is not only navigating the trials and tribulations of an unfamiliar culture and language, but one who is also coping with the understanding that his life is in another man’s hands and even the slightest false step could put him six feet under.

While Blackthorne strives to understand the foreign land he has stumbled upon, even more is hidden behind the stoic expressions of the Samurai and their culture. Blackthorne effectively serves as a tour guide through this renowned culture as both he and the audience are uncovering the many layers all at once. There’s a notion surrounding film culture that exposition is cheap and film/TV should ‘show don’t tell’. By utilizing Blackthorne as a tour guide, Shogun subverts the need for exposition allowing the audience to see Japan for the first time through a newcomer’s eyes. That is the superpower of Shogun, the show’s ability to demonstrate rather than explain, utilizing its main character for both practical and impactful purposes.

Japanese culture has always seemed to have somewhat of an aura around it; there’s a natural intrigue surrounding the uniqueness of it, yet also kind of a mysterious nature surrounding their culture. The podcast Hardcore History, hosted by Dan Carlin, did a six-part series called “Supernova in the East” centered around the Pacific Theater during World War II. This series focuses heavily on the fanaticism of Japan’s culture and the prevailing narrative surrounding them is that “The Japanese are just like everyone else, only more so”. Continue reading “With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review”

With Further Ado #299: Guest Columnist – Let’s Look at Those Live Action Reboots

With Further Ado #299: Guest Columnist – Let’s Look at Those Live Action Reboots

It’s another week and time for another winning entry from our annual student competition. For the previous excellent submissions check here.:

Live Action
By Claire McGinnity

For the past nine years, it seems the biggest trend in entertainment has been reboots of older properties, especially live-action versions. This isn’t a new concept, live-action movies have been a consistent aspect of media properties, especially for cartoon shows or comic books, take the 1994 live action Flintstones movie or really any superhero movie, for example. However, there seems to be a rapid uptick in the live action reboots and, unfortunately, a notable drop in original or compelling content for them. The trend seems almost like a new “gold rush” that different studios are trying to capitalize off apparent interest instead of truly developing a story for the property that fits the media.

Starting with Disney’s yearly release of a live-action version of their classic Disney princess movies to today’s current live action tv show reboots like the recent Avatar, the Last Airbender are some of the main offenders of this issue. These properties have their origins in animation and are beloved by the public for their vibrant storytelling, fantastical worlds and characters, and beautiful artistic styles. Though not impossible, these aspects are very difficult to replicate in live action, and each release has seen varied success in doing so.

The live action versions also tend to lose some of the fantastical elements of the properties in order to increase the “realism”. It is unclear if this hyper-realism is an artistic choice by creators or just a downside of the medium of live action, but either way reveals a disconnect between this material and the reason why many fans enjoy the original properties. Additionally, many of these live-action reboots tend to just repeat the same story as the animated versions, which increases the accessibility of the content, but honestly does a disservice to the storytelling opportunities of each property. This isn’t to say that there is no value in re-telling a story in a different medium, in fact I believe that some of these reboots have had valuable updates to outdated stories and created space for previously underrepresented groups in Hollywood, like Asian representation in the Avatar reboot. Continue reading “With Further Ado #299: Guest Columnist – Let’s Look at Those Live Action Reboots”

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

Following up on the theme from last week’s entry, here’s another winning entry from our annual student competition:

Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate
By Oliver Rucker

So, I am super late to the party. Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I’m frankly embarrassed, but I finally got around to watching Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series diving in on the beloved Jedi’s life in between the fall of the Republic at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and our introduction to Luke Skywalker and the gang in A New Hope.

For starters, I’d like to attempt to explain myself. I was coming off of The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett, both of which I did not care for. I can go on and on, but to keep it brief, if I was twelve, I’d love Bad Batch, and I simply found Boba Fett to be remarkably boring. So as excited as I was to see what Obi-Wan was getting up to on Tatooine, my spirits were down, expectations low, I was dejected, and honestly just a little but Star Wars’d out.

Before going any further, I’d like to explain that I am not like every other Star Wars fan in existence, who just has a fiery hate for everything new that is put out into the cosmos. In fact, I find myself to be in the strong minority that really enjoyed Attack of the Clones. Sure, the dialogue is just awful, but the story is incredibly strong and it evokes emotions like sadness, anger, jubilation, memorization, and the anticipation of imminent disaster. All things I love in a movie. Continue reading “With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate”

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?

You might have heard (maybe from me?) that we had another outstanding ITHACON. As part of Promoting and Managing ITHACON, a class I teach at Ithaca College, each year we embrace this annual tradition with the With Further Ado column.

Each spring, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this space. Our crack editorial staff pours over the submissions and selects a winner, and they get published on this website. (The fact that it gives me a little break right after ITHACON is of no concern to anyone but me.)

Anyway, we have several amazing columns to publish this year. Our first winner runner-up of this year’s fill-in columnist contest is Nina Amato and her thoughts on superhero fatigue. (Nina just got finished working on ITHACON, and was on our program team creating a fantastic publication.) Congrats and thanks for all the hard work, Nina!

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Is Superhero Fatigue Real?
By Nina Amato

Whether we like it or not, superheroes are ingrained in our everyday media. Today, more than ever, we can see superheroes all over our film, television, and even literature. In fact, movie and television studios introduce the public to a new superhero almost bimonthly. It makes sense for them too, as superhero movies have been proven to serve as box office decimators. But why? While we’re seeing these movies succeed, they’ve also been heavily scrutinized by critics, especially recently. So, are superhero stories getting worse, or are we just getting tired of them? Continue reading “With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Is Superhero Fatigue Real?”

With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen

With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen

I have reached the end of this year’s Ithacon season. The class of Ithaca College students that promote, plan, and execute the convention have come to the end of their tasks. As has become a tradition, this column has become a venue to host the winner of the “guest columnist” assignment that the students complete.

Last week, we published the runner-up Tyler Haraden’s piece. This week we are publishing the winner’s column. Reece Clausen combined some new pop culture news with a bit of opinion and some genuine fanboy emotion while discussing the Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga video game. Those are the three things we strive for in this column.

I look forward to bringing next year’s winners to you and hope that they are as wonderful as this year’s.

The Urge to Purchase Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is Destroying Me

by Reece Clausen, Ithaca College

The balance of the force has been shaken. The draw towards the dark side of the force is consuming me faster than Anakin Skywalker being told that he can save his wife from certain death. In case you somehow did not read the title of this article, I’m talking about Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga that just released. Now, I’m a 21 year old college student and I have fond memories of playing Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga when it released in 2007. Now, I and many other people my age can tell you that this game was our childhood. I have so many fond memories, from starting fights in the cantina hub, smashing my controller over the podracing level, and constantly killing my friends for no reason other than it was funny to see them fall apart into many Lego bricks. Like I said, good times.

Now when I found out back in 2019 that there was going to be a new Lego Star Wars game that would include levels based on all nine films, my hype levels were through the roof! Fast forward three years and delays, and the game has finally arrived! The gaming community has been giving nothing but praise for this game and all the new things it has brought to the table. Over 300 characters, open world environments, expansive levels, and all the humor you would expect from a Lego game, this masterpiece has it all! It even has Obi-Wan saying “Hello there.”, and multiple jokes about Anakin Skywalker not liking sand! What more could I want? The world is falling in love with this game, and I’ve waited so long for it. Except there is just one problem. I am a broke college student. Continue reading “With Further Ado #197: Winner of the Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 – Reece Clausen”

With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden

With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden

Well it is that time of year again. Spring is finally really here, and kids are getting antsy because school is coming to an end. As I have mentioned, I teach the Promoting and Managing ITHACON Class at Ithaca College, and we have developed a bit of a tradition that ties this column to the class.

Each year, I ask the students to submit a column on pop culture as if they were the author of this space. The crack editorial staff at PCS pours over the submissions and selects a winner, and they get published on this website. (The fact that it gives me a couple of weeks break right after Ithacon is of no concern to anyone but me.)

Anyway we have decided that we will publish two columns this year. The first one is the runner-up and the winner will be posted next week.

Just a reminder the first year we did this, there were two columns published Anthony Hernandez and Tyler JennesLast year we published three winners: Jordan Green, Maya Lewis, and Caleigh Clarke.

The runner-up of this year’s fill-in columnist contest is Tyler Haraden and his lament for the lack of Grand Theft Auto VI.

Will we ever see Grand Theft Auto VI?

Guest Columnist Tyler Haraden – Ithaca College

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is one of the greatest gaming titles ever released. Developed by the famous game development company, Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto can be traced back to its first game of the series, Grand Theft Auto One, released back in 1997. Since the release of GTA One, we have seen many great games including Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto Four, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and more. Continue reading “With Further Ado #196: Third Annual Guest Columnist Contest 2022 Runner-Up Tyler Haraden”

With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage

Last week I turned With Further Ado over to one of my students, Anthony Hernandez, as the winner of the first annual Ithaca College Guest Columnist contest.  At the Ithaca College School of Business, I teach entrepreneurism, including classes on planning and managing trade shows – like comic conventions.  This semester, we’ve examined the many changing issues of this unique segment of entertainment business.  I invited the students to submit potential With Further Ado columns for Pop Culture Squad, and I was very impressed with their thoughts and writing.

Because it was hard to select just one, here’s the “runner-up”, Ithaca College student Tyler Jennes. I think you’ll like what he has to say too!

Leading Man and Superman: Superheroes on Stage

by Tyler Jennes

When you’re someone who harbors a deep love of superheroes as well as theater, you don’t tend to see a lot of crossover between those two interests. So, imagine my surprise when 2019 produced two substantial contributions to that middle Venn Diagram portion – that being the Marvel Spotlight series of superhero plays commissioned by Samuel French, and the Tom Kitt musical Superhero. But not all stories end happily, for the Marvel Spotlight plays don’t show any indication of being produced on a scale larger than local theater, and Superhero was, well, not great. But I’m used to disappointment as a superhero/theater fan. Continue reading “With Further Ado #124: Leading Man and Superman, Superheroes on Stage”

With Further Ado #124: An Outside Interpretation of the Fans of Geek Culture

With Further Ado #124: An Outside Interpretation of the Fans of Geek Culture

Taking a page from one of my favorite columnists, Nicholas Kristof, this week I’m presenting the winner of the first annual Ithaca College Guest Columnist contest.  At the Ithaca College School of Business, I teach entrepreneurism, including classes on planning and managing trade shows – like comic conventions.  We also explore the many issues of this unique segment of entertainment business.  I invited the students to submit potential With Further Ado columns for Pop Culture Squad, and I was very impressed with their thoughts and writing.

It was hard to select just one, but my first annual guest columnist winner is IC student Anthony Hernandez.  Anthony has some smart insights that I’m eager to share with you all.  Congrats, Anthony!

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I love Star Wars and really enjoy watching the Marvel superhero movies, but that’s about it when it comes to diving into geek culture for me. I never went to any conventions or picked up a comic book out of my own will. I never had any ideas for new content, speculated on the future of any fictional universe, or spent more than $100 on merchandise. I have deep hesitations about immersing myself into the world of geek culture for many reasons and have quite often distanced myself from doing so. While I could list them all, I’ll just mention two and expand on them.

Just a small note, when I say “fans” I’m generally referring to anyone who identifies themselves as a hardcore geek or a related title.

Firstly, fans have been associated with a certain stigma of being extremely obsessive when it comes to their interests; It’s even perceived that they’ would blindly do or buy anything if it has any correlation with their interests.

I just recently watched the Star Wars episode on The Toys That Made Us (a documentary series on Netflix about various toys) that embraced and amplified that type of behavior. Kenner Products, a small toy company, deployed a two-phase plan of satisfying the Star Wars toy market when they decided they could not produce action figures in time for the holidays. The first phase was simply recycling their old products and slapping a Star Wars sticker on it. The second phase is what really stood out to me as unique and dumb from a business perspective. It should have failed.

The second phase consisted of making consumers purchase an empty box with the promise of sending action figures once they had been produced at a greater scale. Surprisingly, it worked. I mean really, how was this successful? How is it that a small toy company that hardly anyone had any confidence in could have pulled this off? It was all due to the consumers’ blind faith and hope that they would receive their Star Wars merchandise.

Now of course, Kenner Products intended no harm with their strategy, but it can be said that they were confident with it because they relied on the fact that the Star Wars label was enough for people to throw money at the company. It almost insinuates and makes the generalization that obsessive fans are mindless. When looking at it from this perspective, who’d want to be part of that community? At the time of purchase, consumers were really spending their money on a promise that their Luke and Leia action figures would come in eventually. All of this fosters up a sort of “we can do whatever we want, and these idiots will pay” attitude amongst producers even though (for obvious reasons) they may not show it.

Also with the action figures, a rocket firing Boba Fett figure was promised as a promotion that would arrive by mail. Many people actively sought out and eagerly awaited this figure. While present day Star Wars fans might not see the problem of wanting a limited Boba Fett figure, you have to keep in mind that Boba Fett’s character had not even made an appearance in the films yet! The only real glimpse that fans got of Boba Fett was during his first appearance in the dreaded Star Wars Holiday Special. By this logic, it seemed as if George Lucas didn’t even have to put in much effort to get the fandom hooked on a character. Boba Fett virtually did not exist yet in live action form, yet his was the most sought out action figure all because he looked cool, and he was going to fire a rocket.

Much to the disappointment of fans, when their Boba Fett eventually arrived, he was not fitted with the rocket-firing mechanism due to potential choking hazards. This is when serious desires for a rocket-firing Boba Fett really began to come up. Collectors paid top dollar for anyone who could produce one (one Boba would sell for $20,000 today).

This sort of mindset is one of the reasons why I’d be hesitant to be associated with geek culture. To an outsider like me, fans seem absolutely mindless. Who’d pay $20,000 for a 4-inch plastic toy? The fans who praise content creators and place their complete confidence in them have been at the mercy of said producers emotionally and financially.

Secondly, on top of seeming to drool over anything with a label, fantagonism comes into play. The term “fantagonism” refers to any hostility that fans display towards content creators. In a previous course I took, I was able to explore fantagonism and how it evolved. Even before I knew the term existed, I was well aware of it and it was a main reason why I thought that fans seemed flat out crazy. It steered me away from ever considering myself a geek.

While the relationship between producers and fans certainly has the potential to be beneficial and friendly, it looks to have been mostly antagonistic ever since fans and fandom came into existence. Why is that? It’s no doubt that it’s the fans themselves who are at fault of stirring relations. They feel the absolute need to not only give their opinions on their favorite books, comics, or movies, but also their scathing criticisms. Some even go as far as giving death threats to creators just because they killed off a fan favorite or some wild speculation didn’t come true!

Actual petition to throw out the stories in Star Wars Episodes 7, 8, and 9

On a lesser scale, some fans of the Skywalker Saga have decided amongst themselves that the new Disney trilogy is “not canon”. Huh? They claim that anyone who doesn’t show a sliver of hate for the sequels or Disney isn’t a real fan. Just because they hated the new movies does not give them the ability to overstep their authority and declare what’s canon. They actively put themselves to war with producers and then get mad when they don’t get their way. Obsessive fans tend to be the loudest, which is probably why I find myself creating these stereotypes and applying them to all geeks.

Needless to say, fans are to blame for the hostile environment in geek culture. At first, it used to be through letters, however with the expansion of the internet and social media, we are beginning to see the fans take on producers directly, almost eliminating the blind following that producers once had. Geeks have never been so dangerously close to producers, and they’re definitely not afraid to show it.

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Anthony Hernandez is a sophomore studying Business Management at Ithaca College in New York. While he’s cautious about connecting with other fans, he loves fan objects possibly just as much as they do.

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

Bill Turner is guy who’s been impressing me for over 40 years. I first met him when I was a kid attending the early ITHACON Comic Conventions.  As a college student, my school was located in town so I joined the Comic Club of Ithaca and helped out a bit on a few legendary ITHACON conventions. And now, teaching at Ithaca College, it’s a privilege and an honor to work with him again (along with Professor Katharine Kittredge, Carmela Merlo and many other impressive folks) on ITHACON.

And with that, I have a real treat this week.  I’m turning over the reins of With Further Ado to Bill Turner, as he’s the guest columnist this week with a fascinating tale of comics and fandom – from 1977.  Take it away, Bill!

Frazetta 1977

Sept. 10-11, 1977
Penn Stroud Hilton Inn, Stroudsburg PA

by Bill Turner
©2020 William R. Turner III – all rights reserved

Advertised guests of honor: Ellie Frazetta, Harvey Kurtzman

Other scheduled guests: Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Charles Vess, Steve Hickman, Ken Kelley, Ian and Betty Ballantine

Surprise guests: Will Eisner, Burne Hogarth, Jerry Robinson

In September of 1977, I decided to attend the Frazetta 1977 exhibit in Stroudsburg, PA that was being organized by Charlie Roberts and Chuck Miller. I had met them both at the Lancaster Comic Art Convention that they held in 1975 and 1976, and I had bought an item or two of artwork from Charlie and the first of the Underwood-Miller books from Chuck, so I was on their mailing list. We had just bought a house, so I was quite busy and planned to go down only for Saturday; it was a bit over three hours each way, a day trip. I invited Tim Gray and Aaron Pichel to join me, and they accepted. We are three of the founding members of the Comic Book Club of Ithaca and had run two ITHACON conventions by that time, so of course we could talk about comics all day, any day. I was 25, Tim 24, and Aaron 15 years old. Continue reading “With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta”

Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca

Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca

In the “before times”, people would come to the gathering place and wander the concourse taking in the sights purchasing shiny wares with no fear of deadly disease. That was three years ago. Are we back to that point? Probably not, and probably not for a while still, but we are getting closer.

Comic convention season is back in full force. That break in con scheduling that we normally have from before the December holidays until late February didn’t really happen this year. Most people seems to be willing to return to the circuit with little concern for the pandemic creating coronavirus. The best part of this is that my social media feeds are not filling up with tales of infections or even the dreaded con-crud.

All of this has me even more excited to begin my 2023 convention season in a couple of weeks. Your intrepid correspondent will be part of the press contingent at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, more commonly known by its geek friendly acronym C2E2. I will be walking the floors all three days talking to exhibitors and fans and checking out some of the interesting panel programming.

However, the most exciting panels, in my not so humble opinion, will take place on Sunday April 2, 2023. I will be hosting two panels a Reed event for the first time in my career, and I am beyond excited. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #022: Planning Panels and Conventioning in the Windy City and Ithaca”