Category: Star Wars

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Well, we made it to the end of 2020. I am sure that it didn’t turn out like any of us expected. There have been plenty of low lights, and there are too many people who have been irrevocably harmed by the local and global tragedies that happened this year. That is awful.

However, someone told me something recently that stuck with me. Despite the horrible dumpster fire that 2020 has brought, your mental health can benefit from the activity of looking at the good things that happened in this past year. So, that is what this final post of 2020 will be about.

The SquadCast

This year I finally got off my tush and started presenting the interviews that I do with comic book professionals in a podcast format. In the past, I had merely transcribed the interview, but I found that there was more interesting content in the discussions that people would enjoy that didn’t quite fit in a text post.

So, I went to Buzzsprout and created a hosting site for the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition. I learned enough of Audacity to edit the interviews and splice some sound together, and here we are.

I need to say thanks to our artistic genius Marc Allan Fishman for the logo and episode art. Also Space In Time is the band that we use for the intro and closing music. You can check there music out at Bandcamp.

And of course, thanks to the pros who to took the time to talk to me about their work.

The Books

While all of you Pop Culture Squad Members know about our digital presence here on the site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is now physical printed evidence that Pop Culture Squad exists. On the back covers of two trade paperback collections, I have blurb quotes for reviews.

I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see my name on a comic book. I could not even have ever imagined that five years ago.

Both of these books are special to me. Hyperbreed from Louise Simonson and Guy Dorian is a fun YA space story from Storm King Comics. Did you notice that? My name is on a book written by THE Louise Simonson!!!!

I have been following the Love and Capes stories that Thomas Zahler creates for years, and when he told me last year that he would be coming back to that universe, I was stoked. He totally made it work, and I am grateful for his putting my review blurb on the back of the book in some seriously impressive company.

The Comics Industry Adapts and Supports Itself

This year has hit the comics industry hard. Publishers and retailers had to deal with a nearly two month shutdown of new comics distribution. But through it all, people worked hard to support each other and save the industry that relies a lot on in-person contact.

So many great new comics were made and you can check out our list of the years best here.

Fundraisers and charity auctions popped up all over the place. We detailed some of those as they occurred.

Give Comics Hope is one of the charities that we highlighted through the year and will continue to do so.

There were plenty of Kickstarter campaigns launched to find different ways to publish and create comic book content. You better believe that we covered them.

Conventions Happened… Sort of

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard in March, comic conventions were scrapped as we all needed to isolate to stop the spread of the dangerously contagious disease. But plenty of talented people scrambled to turn the experience of seeing pop culture personalities and comic creators in virtual cons.

Some were better than others, and none truly replaced the experience of strolling down artists alley and chatting with creators and friends. However, they were good enough to be a decent placeholder for the time that we will be able to be vaccinated and able to go out and see each other in person.

Geek Culture TV

There was a massive amount of quality television programming that was produced and broadcast this year. There are more outlets, streaming and otherwise that are now committed to delivering high quality shows. Here is a list of some of our favorites in no particular order:

  • SCHITT’S CREEK: SEASON 6 – AMC
  • WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: SEASON 2 – FFX
  • HARLEY QUINN: SEASON 2 – HBOMax
  • THE BOYS: SEASON 2 – Amazon Prime Video
  • THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2 – Disney+
  • LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: SEASON 2 – Netflix
  • STARGIRL: SEASON 1 – CW
  • I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS: SEASON 1 – Neflix
  • STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 1 – CBS All Access
  • KILLING EVE: SEASON 3 – BBC
  • PERRY MASON: SEASON 1 – HBOMax

And don’t forget there were some other shows like Tiger King (Netflix) and The Vow (HBO) that left us captivated, or horrified, or both.

Based on the announcements from Disney, Warner Bros, and others, it looks like this trend of high quality serialized episodic programming with continue.

Pop Culture Squad Thrived

Even before the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, we worried that this would be a slow year for PCS. However, we persevered and continued to bring you content as best you can.

If you are not a regular reader of Mike Gold‘s two columns here, you are missing witty and entertaining stories and opinion.

Ed Catto’s regular With Further Ado column finds new ways to look at comics, books, film and other cool stuff.

While we have bigger dreams for what is to come, it was a pretty good year for Pop Culture Squad and we are excited for making them happen in the next year.

Thanks for being here, and READ MORE COMICS!

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!

***

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.

***

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.

Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream

Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream

Star Wars! / Give me those Star Wars! / Nothing but… Star Wars / Don’t let them end — written by Nick Winters, 1977

With all the streaming at our fingertips, the entertainment business is making a lot of headlines promoting what they’re going to do once Earthlings return to mobility. But don’t get excited just yet: the only cameras operating right now are working Zoom and not Studio Binder. When Keith Richards self-quarantines, everyone should self-quarantine.

Next week’s launch of HBO Max has turned up the heat. Clearly, studios are concerned about competing for subscribers with promises of new content, which, at best, won’t appear until after the winter solstice. My take on HBO Max is simple: it’s goddamn expensive, and right now they’re running little but reruns. It’ll probably work out because they’re not promoting that fact. But reasonable bean-counters understand that few people are going to maintain subscriptions to HBO Max, Disney+, AppleTV, CBS All Access, Peacock Premium, and Amazon Prime – to name but a very few – all at once. That’s a lot of money, and it’s also more programming than one can handle. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream”

Katee Sackhoff Cast in The Mandalorian S2 As Bo-Katan  [/Film]

Katee Sackhoff Cast in The Mandalorian S2 As Bo-Katan [/Film]

“Battlestar Galactica star and Star Wars veteran Katee Sackhoff is joining The Mandalorian season 2. We have exclusively learned that Sackhoff will be playing a live-action version of Bo-Katan Kryze, a Mandalorian warrior she previously voiced in Dave Filoni’s animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and later Star Wars Rebels.”

Source: The Mandalorian Season 2 Bo-Katan Casting: Katee Sackhoff – /Film

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

A long time ago in a galaxy far away… a nerd convinced a studio to give him money to make a visual effects masterpiece with significant merchandizing appeal. He mashed together the tropes of the science fiction and fantasy serials he loved growing up, and put together a wonderful homage to the hero’s journey. It made a lot of money, and soon thereafter, Star Wars became an empire. But you already knew that.

As I’ve detailed before: my personal Star Wars fandom was mild to possibly salsa verde at any given point. As an only child of parents not into pop culture, I didn’t actually sit down to enjoy the original trilogy in earnest until the late 90’s special edition releases. And while I’d been inundated to all the significant moments through delightful pastiches abroad, as well as avidly played through any number of Star Wars licensed video games (Tie Fighter, Rebel Assault, and Dark Forces)… in the battle between the light and dark side, I was quite the mercenary. That’s to say that I was a fan only when it suited me to be. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I have a solemn confession: I don’t love Disney. I barely like it, in fact. The House of Mouse has come to own basically over half of all known creative content within my personal wheelhouse — that of the nerdy variety. It seems suspect that my head tells me I should have been coocoo-bananas for the recently launched Disney+ steaming service, yet my heart makes a wet fart noise and I move on.

And trust me, it feels like a rare feat. My social media feeds are nearly choked with baby Yoda (not Yoda)  memes, and genuine gushing goo-goo’ing over all the content on the service. Yet, no matter how many trusted friends stamp The Mandalorian with their recommendation, nor posting about reruns of Darkwing Duck… the excitement bounces off of me much like I assume elation over a new BTS album dropping does to a hipster. And let’s be clear as day kiddos: I ain’t hip. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?”

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Cecil Castellucci is an incredible artist in the true sense of the word. She began her quest to share art with the world by spending her life studying to be a filmmaker. Ultimately, she has thrived and shared stories with the world through many mediums. She has written Young Adult novels, and graphic novels. She has written for DC Comics and is the current writer on Batgirl. She has fronted a couple of punk rock bands, and also written hockey-based operas, to name a few media.

Most recently, she has written a graphic memoir called Girl on Film that is published by Boom! Studios. We acquired an advanced copy of the book that comes out in comic shops on November 12, 2019 and everywhere else the following week. Let me tell you, it is wonderful, and there is a more detailed review below.

We also reached out to Ms. Castellucci, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. You can find our interview below the book review. It was a great experience from us and we hope you enjoy it too.

Girl On Film
Boom! Studios / Archia
Written by  Cecil Castellucci
Art by Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagnon & Jon Berg
Colors by Kieran Quigley & Joana Lafuente
Letters by Mike Fiorentino
Cover Art by Caz Westover

Original Solicitation

One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then, in 1980, the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R, and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid.

Continue reading “Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview”

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

We are living in a golden age of fandom. Gone are the days of hiding your comic collection in the closet when school friends came over. The time when liking sci-fi books was cause for odd glances in the cafeteria is in the past. There are incredible things happening in the world today.

Let’s take for example the things we can point at that show the geek/nerd culture is popular in the mainstream;

Avengers

The best selling motion picture in the world is Avengers: Endgame. It is the epic conclusion to over ten years of movie storytelling. I was moved to tears of joy while watching it at the massive amount of comic book characters from my your being translated to the big screen. This move was highly anticipated and it shattered box office records left and right.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!”

Working Title #006: The Uncivil War

Working Title #006: The Uncivil War

“Fuck civility!”

Chuck Wendig, an author of (among other things) Star Wars novels and comics, was working on a Darth Vader miniseries for Marvel when his editor informed him he was fired. Wendig said it was “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring… It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”

It should be noted this is Wendig’s characterization. Marvel has not commented beyond confirming Wendig had been removed.

On October 6, Wendig tweeted: “There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do…Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil. . . Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must. . . Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy. . . They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back. “

Basically, as some put it: ”Fuck civility.”  Continue reading “Working Title #006: The Uncivil War”