Denver Comic Con 2014 – Beware the Walkers Walking Dead

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Panel Name: Beyond the Walkers! – Walking Dead

Topic: Rooker being Rooker, Interaction between walkers and cast, Q&A

Featured Guests: Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon), Michael Koske (walker), William Hart (walker), Vincent Gonzales (Assistant Director)

 

Ah, back at it at the 3rd Annual Denver Comic Con. Friday’s programming began, for us, with a panel featuring The Walking Dead‘s Merle Dixon, Michael Rooker. After writing a “Respect My Craft” on him, we learned how much fun he is at panels, and how much he loves his fans. This was our first taste of Michael Rooker and, accompanied by two of the show’s long-time walkers and former Assistant Director Vincent Gonzales, they put on an entertaining and informative show for the us.

The convention was Rooker’s first time in Denver, and he had good things to say about the Mile High City. The first thing Rooker commented on was that this city has a whole lot of tattoos, and was impressed that we get around 300 days of sunshine a year (this is a debatable claim, but let’s just say that we get a butt-load of sunny days here). However, Rooker believes that, as a city, we have poor eyesight when he heard chants of “Rooker!” when asked who was the better looking star, he or cast-mate Norman Reedus.

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This was the type of rhetoric Rooker had throughout the panel. From the get-go, he wrestled the spotlight away from the moderator (poor guy), introducing guests, asking the other guests questions and leading the overall discussion. It was awesome to watch, and even though the panel really became about him, he did a great job of interacting with the other panelists. Rooker and Co. go into detail about exactly how hard these actors work – all day long in over 100 degree weather, caked with “sexy dirt.” Nothing was more grueling or rewarding than the fight scenes.

Guest walker Michael Koske has played 43 different zombies on the show, more than any other walker on the show. His favorite scene was at Woodbury, when Merle and Martinez were putting on a show in the zombie pit. Rooker made more of a joke about the situation, but long story short, when they were choreographing the fight, Rooker got caught up in the moment and accidentally clocked Koske in the face with his metal stump of an arm. It wasn’t the first time either. Koske mentioned that actors will regularly get in a good lick or two, trying to make the stuntwork as realistic as possible. Did he complain? No, his biggest complaint is that he never gets the famous Death Dinner all his posthumous cast-mates did – a privilege that Rooker says gets revoked when you die 43 times.

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The Q&A section of the panel was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a whole lot straight answers, just a whole lot of smart-ass answers to generic questions – true Rooker style. Who is your favorite actor on the show? Michael Rooker. Who from the show would you pick to be in your group of the zombie apocalypse? The fattest, slowest people – so all of them. How do you have your hand back now after you lost it in the show? I’m part lizard. Alarmingly, a lot of parents sent their little children up to ask questions. Who is letting their young children watch this show? Sickos – like the parents of this sweet little girl who asked what went through Rooker’s mind when he was murdering people. Perhaps the best question, or answer, rather, was the response to what the actors took away from the veteran presence of Scott Wilson (Herschel). William Hart, who had been quiet up to that point said, “I got his leg.”

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TOO SOON!

At the end of the panel, we were in love with Michael Rooker and his ability to not take himself seriously, but still recognize his position as a total rockstar at the con. He’s a swell guy with a deep respect for his work and the hard work of others. Continue to follow us as we cover Denver Comic Con!

Cosplay, Consent and Those Who Respect Neither

Cosplay is fun! You watch, read about, or play a character that you fall in love with so hard that you decide you have to be them. This involves spending an enormous amount of time and money to create your costume, tweaking it with all the creativity you can muster. It means slaving over the entire ensemble day after day until the convention arrives and you finally get to slip it on. Wearing it makes you feel like a total bad-ass, like you can take on the world the way that character does. When you walk into the convention center you get tons of compliments, people want to take your picture, and you’re proud of what you’ve created. You feel awesome… That is, until you don’t – until someone decides to take that feeling away from you and you feel creeped out, violated, and in some cases unsafe. Harassment and stalking has taken Cosplay from a fun, creative hobby to a borderline dangerous one. As we count down the days to Denver Comic Con, this topic is of particular importance.

Charlotte Renken, Catwoman
Charlotte Renken, Catwoman

“Cosplay does not equal consent.” You may have heard the phrase before, but some people don’t seem to get the message. While this topic has just recently started to be addressed in the media and by convention organizers, Cosplayers have had to deal with all kinds of harassment for years. Mostly directed towards female Cosplayers, it can range from cat calling to stalking to even physical harassment. Being a Cosplayer myself, I’ve had to deal with this on numerous occasions; being told  how I should alter my Catwoman Cosplay to show more skin or being purred at as I walk down the hall.  Luckily I have never been stalked. Some people are not so fortunate.

Mike Rosenberg, Bilbo Baggins
Mike Rosenberg, Bilbo Baggins

One such Cosplayer, who wishes to stay anonymous, was forced to face both harassment and stalking at and leading up to StarFest 2014 in Denver. At Animeland Wasabi, an anime convention in Denver,  the Cosplayer had met someone.  The two became intimate quickly, but things stopped when the other con goer revealed they were underage. The Cosplayer then turned them down as they did not want to engage inappropriately  with a minor. This was the right thing to do; however, the con goer didn’t seem to agree. In the next two weeks, the Cosplayer began receiving messages to the point of harassment and asking for their address. The Cosplayer blocked them on all their social media accounts as well as their phone number. At StarFest 2014, the con goer began following all the Cosplayer’s friends in an attempt to find the Cosplayer and once the con goer did, cornered them. At this point, the Cosplayer ran away but later that night was chased into an elevator. Feeling panicked, the Cosplayer turned to their friends to calm them down, then later became angry as their stalker had now violated their security in a place they once felt safe.

This same Cosplayer, like many others, has also faced sexual harassment. However, much of this came from larger and older people, making them afraid to say anything. Many Cosplayers feel this way. Trying to balance your need to call someone out on their inappropriate behavior and self preservation is a difficult thing to achieve and the scale is usually tipped towards the latter. Cosplayers are forced to remain silent about these matters for their own safety, which only worsens the feeling of being violated. Con goers must become aware of the harm they are causing by being inappropriate this way. They need to understand that wearing a Slave Leia costume is not an invitation for them to act like Jabba the Hutt.

Jake Lichliter and Meg Coulburn, Superboy and Poison Ivy
Jake Lichliter and Meg Coulburn, Superboy and Poison Ivy

Denver Comic Con does not tolerate harassment of any kind towards anyone regardless of their ethnicity, creed, religious background, political background, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, sexual orientation, fandom, etc. They define harassment as “physical assault, verbal harassment, sexual harassment, stalking, unwanted physical contact, unwanted advances, or inappropriate media capture”or anything else that makes someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe. They go on to define inappropriate media capture as “photography, video, audio, or some other form of recording where the subject feels they are being stalked, exploited, degraded, or disrespected through being recorded.”

Their harassment policy is detailed on their website and should be read by everyone attending the convention. The important note on this page is that harassment is defined by the victim regardless about how the perpetrator may feel about the situation. If one is determined to be harassing someone, Denver Comic Con reserves the right to ask the perpetrator to leave the convention or even ban them permanently. Con goers are encouraged to report any harassment to the nearest Denver Comic Con volunteer or security personnel or call the police at either 911 or The Denver Police Department District Six non-emergency number 720-913-2800.

Stormy Cone, Human GLaDUS

There are a few rules that should be followed when interacting with Cosplayers. While most Cosplayers are happy to have their picture taken, it is always important to ask first. They may not want their photo taken or simply do not have time. In addition, asking a Cosplayer to pose in a way they are not comfortable with is not okay and can easily be deemed as harassment. It’s fine to have fun with the photos you are taking, but when a Cosplayer says no understand that they mean no. When speaking with a Cosplayer one must be respectful and steer away from inappropriate topics. While you may think you are flirting, they may not. Unwanted attention is never a compliment.

While the change needs to come from the perpetrating group, there are things Cosplayers can do to protect themselves both during conventions and outside them. While an online presence is important to grow your audience it’s more important to keep yourself safe online. Having Cosplay accounts separate from your personal social media accounts is a good start. Never display your personal information on these pages and keep an eye on who is liking or following your page. If something seems fishy, report it. Better to overreact than under-react.

Raya Jade Lieberman, Sherlock Holmes
Raya Jade Lieberman, Sherlock Holmes

Studies suggest that if you are being stalked, to change your routine frequently, instruct friends, family, and employers not to give out your information to strangers, take note of each incident, and in extreme cases, file a restraining order. If you feel your life is in danger, always call the police. If harassment occurs at the convention, remove yourself from the situation. Walk away but stay in a crowded area. Sticking with one or two friends is also a good way to stay safe. It is perfectly fine to report the harassment to a convention volunteer or security personnel, or call the police. They are there to make sure you have a fun, safe weekend.

Never enter the hotel room of someone you don’t know especially if you are alone. If you plan to drink at the convention, keep an eye on your cup and toss out anything you haven’t been paying attention to. If you come in contact with someone who you feel has been paying an inappropriate amount of attention to you, report them immediately. Too often victims of stalking and harassment ignore what is happening and try to rationalize the situation, and by the time they report something it is often too late for officials to do anything about it.

Conventions are one of the best things about nerd culture. They are exciting, often host some of our favorite actors, artists, and writers, and only come around once a year. They are one place were we undeniably know we can be ourselves without judgement. For some people, it is the only place they feel at home. It is our duty as nerds to keep these safe havens free from harassment and fear. We’ve faced enough of it already.

In order of appearance photos courtesy of Sydney Nicollette Hall Mayhew, David Chandler and Kat Colvin, Charlotte Renken , Mike Rosenburg  Jake Lichliter  and Meg Coulburn, Stormy Cone, and Raya Jade Lieberman 

 

“Respect My Craft” – Nicholas Brendon

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

NOTE: Nicholas Brendon can’t make Denver Comic Con.  So sad!  We will see you next year!

Name: Nicholas Brendon

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I want people to say, ‘Nicholas Brendon, he’s supposedly the nicest guy in the world.’ I want to do good work, but more than that, I want to stay a good human being. That’s more important than any character I play.” -Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon has been in my life for 17 years.  Typing that seems so surreal, and it makes me seem much older than I really am.  When I was 9 years old, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on TV, and I was hooked from the start.  I instantly knew I was Buffy, and subsequently, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander Harris became my best friend.  When I was in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school.  I made fast friends with a boy and a girl and I often roped them into playing “Buffy” with me on the playground.  It worked out well that the boy was named Alex, and he was the best Xander any 10 year old could ask for.  15 years later, when I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the real life Xander Harris, Nicholas Brendon.  I remember being very scared, even at 25, to meet one of the people who influenced my thought process and language.  He even gave me the oft said line, “It’s funny if you’re me.”  I nervously approached his table and as sweet as pie, he asked if I wanted a hug.  Who would say no?

Adrian and Nicholas Brendon 2012 SDCC
Nicholas Brendon and I San Diego Comic Con 2012.

Nicholas Brendon was born in 1971 in Los Angeles.  And yes, he does have a twin brother named Kelly. And yes, it is mind boggling how similar they look.  Brendon was a huge baseball fan growing up.  As a child, he dreamed of being a Dodger.  Brendon loved baseball so much that at his own prom, he decided to watch a Dodger game instead.  “We had better music at Sunnydale’s prom than at my real-life prom. And at my prom, I didn’t really have a date, which is sort of what happens to Xander. At my real prom, I kind of ducked out the hotel ballroom and watched a Dodger game until 3 a.m. because it went about 22 innings. And my friends were saying, ‘Oh no! Where’d Nick go?’ I think I was trying to get people to worry about me. That whole teenage angst thing.”  When he was a teen, he injured his arm, making his professional chances slim.  After dabbling in many different careers, Brendon decided at age 25 to try to become an actor.

Brendon’s career really began with Buffy.  He had been in showbiz for about 3 months before he got the job of a lifetime, playing Buffy’s quirky, yet lovable best friend, Xander.  Before Buffy, Brendon had played background roles in Married with Children and Children of the Corn III.  It has been highly publicized that Brendon has a stutter.  He has talked very positively about how he has dealt with it, becoming a role model for people who also stutter.  When it comes to his decision to act, he has said, “I always wanted to be an actor, but with a speech impediment it’s kind of tough. I decided to roll the dice and take an acting class, which was very, very nerve-wracking… my stomach would just be in knots.”  His roll of the dice led to his most notable role.  For 7 years, Brendon was a lead role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in 143 episodes.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in BtVS.

Brendon’s Xander started out as a goofy, not so popular skater, and best friend to other not so popular Sunnydale High sophomore, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan).  Over the shows 7 seasons, Xander became more than just comic relief, although he was always good at that.  In his relationship with Buffy and Willow, he was the heart of the group.  Along the way, he ended up becoming the secret boyfriend to the most popular girl in school, the go-to guy about weapons due to his knowledge of the Army, and the only guy on the show without some sort of “label” who also saved the world.  Xander may have been “The Zeppo”, but Brendon’s portrayal of the character allowed everyone to love him.  And led everyone to cringe, wail, and yell violently when he got his eye poked out.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).

Since Buffy ended in 2003, Brendon has been in roles intermittently, though he admitted in his panel at Comicpalooza 2014 that he believes he has been typecast.  Despite that, he is a recurring character on Criminal Minds as Kevin Lynch, a technical analyst and love interest to the character Penelope Garcia.   He also played Lee McHenry, a rapist, who had a 4 episode arc in Private Practice.  He has spoken on how emotionally difficult that was to play.  Aside from acting, in 2010, Brendon and artist Steve Loter started an online comic, Very Bad Koalas.  Currently, Brendon helps write the comic adaptation of Buffy, contributing largely to his own character, Xander.  In two weeks, Brendon’s new movie Coherence will come out in theaters,  Coherence is a science fiction drama about a group of friends who are together when a comet passes over Earth.  It is being highly touted, and you can read a spoiler-free review here.

Hush Comics is very excited for Nicholas Brendon to come to Denver Comic Con.  Buffy may have ended 10 years ago, but Xander will always be “the heart.”

Most of the media in this article belong to Hush Comics; it  belongs to their respective properties (Mutant Enemy). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with chameleon Karl Urban.

written by Adrian Puryear

“Respect My Craft” – Julie Newmar

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name: Julie Newmar

Profession: Actress

Notable WorkToo Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar, Li’l Abner, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and of course, the 1960’s television series Batman

“It’s an honor — it really is — that something stays for so long with people in the sweet depths of their feelings.” – Julie Newmar on her fans reactions to her portrayal of Batman villainess Catwoman

Catwoman ties up Batman
Catwoman ties up Batman. Meow!

Julie Newmar is Old Hollywood.  A lady who exudes class, Julie Newmar has been in show business since she was 17 years old. Newmar was born to Zeigfield Follies girl Helen Jesmer and Donald Newmeyer, a professor of Engineering and Football Coach at Los Angeles City College.  Julie grew up dancing, and studied ballet extensively.  She graduated high school at age 15.  Her intellect is something Newmar prides herself on, even saying, “Tell me I’m beautiful, it’s nothing. Tell me I’m intellectual – I know it. Tell me I’m funny and it’s the greatest compliment in the world anyone could give me.”  Just before turning 18, Newmar became a choreographer at Universal Studios.  She was also a teacher of dance and a dance double.  Newmar was, and still is, known for her build.  She is 5’11 with her legs being over 3 feet of her height.  Her legs were even insured for 10 million dollars.  I repeat, 10 million dollars.  One of Newmar’s first performances on screen was as The Gilded Girl, a woman who danced for Cleopatra and Marc Antony in Serpent of the Nile.  You can watch her bust a move in the video below.

Julie Newmar does Ballet
Julie Newmar, the accomplished dancer.

Newmar was the bride named Dorcas in the classic film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  She spent a long time on Broadway in the 1950’s, too.  Her first role was in Silk Stockings.  Later, she was the “Stupefyin’ Jones” for 2 years in the Li’l Abner play, based off the famous comic strip.  Newmar reprised her role in the film version made in 1959.  Newmar acquired a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Katrin Sveg in The Marriage Go Round, Newmar’s first speaking role on stage. In 1962, Newmar starred in the TV series My Living Doll.  The series, about a Amazonian-like android who learns about human society through comedic foils, only lasted a season.

Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones in "Li'l Abner."
Newmar as Stupefyin’ Jones in “Li’l Abner.”

In 1966, Julie Newmar’s career took her from Broadway starlet to household name; she was cast as Catwoman in the TV series Batman.  She describes the initial experience in the following quote: “I had lived in New York at the time on Beekman Place. I remember it was a weekend, Friday or Saturday, and my brother had come down from Harvard with five or six of his friends, and we were all sitting around the sofa, just chatting away, when the phone rang. I got up and answered it, and it was this agent or someone in Hollywood, who said, ‘Miss Newmar, would you like to play Catwoman on the ‘Batman’ series? They are casting it out here.’ I was insulted because he said, ‘It starts Monday.’ I said, ‘What is this?’ That’s how television is done: they never know what they are doing until yesterday. Well, my brother leaped off the sofa. I mean he physically levitated and said, ‘Batman!’ That’s the favorite show at Harvard. We all quit our classes and quit our studies and run into the TV room and watch this show.’ I said, ‘They want me to play Catwoman.’ He said, ‘Do it!’ So, I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.'”  Newmar played the seductive thief for 13 episodes.  Her looks and mannerisms gained the attention of viewers and of the Bat himself.  It wasn’t until Season 2 of the show that Batman and Catwoman finally admitted their attraction for each other in the episode “The Bat’s Kow Tow.”  To this day, Newmar is one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of Catwoman.

Newmar as Catwoman
Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

Since her time on Batman, Newmar has guest starred in a plethora of shows including Star Trek, BewitchedThe Love Boat, and Hart to Hart.  In 1995, a movie was made in honor of her name.  Starring Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo, Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar followed three drag queens in their trip across America to compete in a drag competition.  The name was taken from a headshot the writer had seen in a Chinese restaurant in New York of Julie Newmar.  She did make a small cameo at the end of the film.  Aside from her acting career, Newmar patented pantyhose, which she called a “Nudemar” and a brassiere in the 1970’s.  In 1981, Newmar gave birth to a son with now ex-husband J. Holt Smith.  In the 1980’s, she made a successful career out of real estate in the Los Angeles area.  She recently made news because of a feud with Jim Belushi over the height of their neighboring fence.  Newmar felt the fence height would ruin the sunlight on her plants.  Newmar has a zeal for gardening, claiming her garden to be paradise.  After many antics by both parties, they settled out of court and she even appeared on Belushi’s show, According to Jim as a feuding neighbor.

Most recently, Newmar has stayed with the Batman family, voicing Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne in a 2010 episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  She also is active on her website julienewmarwrites.com, where she muses about beauty routines, politics, health and so much more.  In two weeks, she will appear along side Adam West and Burt Ward, the original Batman and Robin, at Denver Comic Con!

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to Julie Newmar, herself. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight Batman and Spider-Man artist, Tim Sale.

written by Adrian Puryear

“Respect My Craft”- LeVar Burton

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name: LeVar Burton

Profession: Actor

Notable WorkRoots, Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and recently raising nearly 3 million dollars to bring back Reading Rainbow in 2 days.

The “Roots” experience was one where I really was schooled on the power of the medium: television. My life was changed in two nights of television. I watched a nation be transformed around the idea of slavery and our relationship to that part of the American story. It was like ‘Wow.’ The opportunity to do “Reading Rainbow,”  to do half an hour of television in the summer when kids are spending most of their time in front of the TV and try and steer them back in the direction of literature made all the sense in the world to me. My mother was an English teacher, so it was really a no-brainer. ” -LeVar Burton in an interview with the HeroComplex at the L.A. Times

Levar Burton shares the joy of reading on Reading Rainbow.
Levar Burton shares the joy of reading on Reading Rainbow.

LeVar Burton has been a household name since the ’70’s.  However, depending on your generation, you may know him from something different than your parents.  You may know him as Kunta Kinte from Roots, or if you were born in the ’80’s, you may know him as the host of the children’s literacy show Reading Rainbow, or as Geordi La Forge in Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Burton was born on an Army Base in Germany in 1957.  His mother, an English teacher, moved to Sacramento when Burton was a child.  When he was 13, he decided to join a seminary to become a priest.  Yeah, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was almost a priest.   After some soul-searching and reading different philosophies, Burton decided not to be a priest and enrolled in the Theater Program at University of Southern California.  Burton began his acting career when he was a sophomore in college.

Burton auditioned for Roots, his first Hollywood audition, and got the part of Kunta Kinte, a name now synonymous with slavery and race relations in America.  Roots was the first mainstream slavery story to be told through the eyes of the enslaved man.  Kunta Kinte was a man from Gambia and a slave who never forgot where he came from.  Kunta was badly abused.  At one point, after trying to escape, part of his right foot was cut off.  The visual images that came with Burton’s role as Kunta are still prevalent in American culture today.  Roots is highly regarded as a turning point in how black people and white people viewed each other.  Burton can be quoted as saying, “Roots wasn’t just art for art’s sake. It was art as a way of moving the ­culture forward” in an interview last year with Vulture.  Burton’s portrayal of Kunta in Roots earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Actor in 1977.

LeVar Burton in Roots as Kunta Kinte.
LeVar Burton in Roots as Kunta Kinte.

His groundbreaking role garnered a lot of attention.  Burton hosted the last season of the children’s show Rebop.  He starred in the TV movie One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story as Ron LeFlore, the baseball player who was recruited to the MLB out of prison.  Burton was in a myriad of other movies and had a guest spot on Fantasy Island once.  Then, in 1983, LeVar Burton became of the host of Reading Rainbow on PBS.  It was from that moment on that children across America learned to read.  Ok, ok, I am exaggerating.  I really hope (and on some level, I know) kids could read before Reading Rainbow was on the air.  The show took kids on “field trips” to different places in America and then an awesome celebrity guest would read a book to us as the pages were shown on screen.  Then kids would recommend books they liked. I can honestly say that Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows growing up.  I was, and still am, a bookworm, and I truly believe Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton were major catalysts in my love of reading (my grandmother and father were huge roles, too, just in case they read this).  Reading Rainbow‘s original run was from 1983 to 2006.  Now, LeVar is bringing Reading Rainbow online to the kids of the digital age.  He famously launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising over 1 million dollars in 11 hours.  In the last day, the campaign’s goal has expanded to 5 million dollars.  The plan for Reading Rainbow is to not only be a full-fledged website, set up similarly to the television show, but a tool for teachers, particularly in underfunded schools, and to provide it all for free.  If you would like to contribute to the cause for literacy, click HERE.

LeVar Burton meets Kermit in the "Pig" aisle on Reading Rainbow.
LeVar Burton meets Kermit in the “Pig” aisle on Reading Rainbow.

In 1986, Burton was cast as Geordi La Forge, a blind pilot, in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Burton grew up watching Star Trek, so working on the show was a dream come true.  Geordi was a character who inspired many fans.  Because of his “disability”, he wore a VISOR, which gave him the ability to see things even the human eye couldn’t.  That prop wasn’t the best thing though, according to Burton.  He has stated it obscured 80 percent or more of his vision while filming, causing him to trip or lose balance often.  He also felt that without the audience being able to see his eyes, a large part of his acting skill was limited.  He has also stated that he hopes that the technology of the future would be more advanced than the VISOR for blind people to be able to see.  Since the series ended, Burton has been fairly vocal about the lack of a love life La Forge had.  He has noted that Star Trek is generally better than to stereotype people, but that La Forge was stereotyped because he was a nerd and a black man.  He says that everyone has a sexual identity, but that was denied to his character, something he would have changed.  Burton was eventually able to direct an episode of TNG, and continued to do so, even beyond the TNG franchise and on to Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  To date, Burton has directed the most Star Trek episodes than any other actor from the show.  His career as Geordi La Forge lasted 7 television seasons and continued in 4 Star Trek movies.  You may wonder if Geordi La Forge inspired me, the way Reading Rainbow did.  I do admit to being a Trekkie when I was a kid.  I had a Geordi action figure and often walked around my house with a headband over my eyes. I was an odd child, but it has made me a pretty cool adult, and I’d like to think Burton and Star Trek had something to do with it.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And the best reason for him to appear at Denver Comic Con.
LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. And the best reason for him to appear at Denver Comic Con.

Most recently, Burton has been a staple, whether on screen or not, in Community.  Burton was Troy’s idol and caused him to go catatonic at one point because of his presence.  LeVar Burton also happened to be the man who took Troy away from the study group and on Pierce’s boat the “Childish Tycoon.”  However, the boat was then taken by pirates, so who knows what happened to LeVar and Troy? He has also appeared in The Big Bang Theory as himself.  Burton is  the voice of Doc Greene in the Hub Network series Transformers: Rescue Bots.  He has said he believes it was one of the few children’s shows that portrays pro-social behavior.  Burton believes all television is educational, but wonders what we are trying to teach our children.  Currently, Burton is a regular on TNT’s Perception as Paul Haley, anthropologist best friend to Eric McCormack’s character who is a paranoid schizophrenic who helps the FBI investigate difficult cases.  In addition to all his acting endeavors, Burton has been working as the “Curator In-Chief” for the Reading Rainbow website and campaign with business parter Mark Wolfe and revolutionizing how kids learn to love reading.  I’d say, LeVar Burton is a pretty big deal.  Live long and prosper, folks.

Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) meets LeVar Burton on Community.
Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) meets LeVar Burton on Community.

After you donate to the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, go ahead and listen to this while you think about tiny children reading all thanks to LeVar Burton.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight author Kevin J. Anderson!

written by Adrian Puryear

Countdown to Denver Comic Con

With the third annual Denver Comic Con just a month away, the Hush Comics family is still reeling over the amazing line-up of guests that will be attending the Con. From voice actors and comic book writers to novelists and editors, there’s somebody for everybody to get excited about.

Hush Comics has decided to share our love for these guests through our article, “Respect My Craft.” This biographical spotlight, referred to as “RMC” here, is more than a culmination of wiki-facts; we give you the down-low on why these all-stars deserve recognition as industry greats. Have you ever been to a convention and walked right by somebody that has changed your life through their work but not even recognized? Or maybe you wanted to get a crack at the business but the daunting title was too intimidating for you to approach them? “Respect My Craft” could show you that these are just people who get to live what they love doing – and you can, too.

“RMC” has typically been a periodical with us, but for DCC, we will be doing thirty spotlights in thirty days – starting tomorrow. this will be Hush’s largest group effort, pooling most of our writers as they pay homage to the very people who make us love being nerds in the first place. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the “RMC” experience. Oh, and we love feedback! Just click on the image and it will take you to all our Denver Comic Con spotlights.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

StarFest 2014

StarFest is an annual convention in Denver dedicated to celebrating all things “Star”, from Star Trek, to Star Wars, to StarGate.  The great thing about this con is that you don’t have to be boxed into any of these Nerd worlds, because all nerds are welcome!  This year, Hush Comics had the luxury of running a panel.  We had a blast!  Here are some of our pictures to share with you… we think they are better than vacation photos!

 

 

Todd McFarlane said what?!

Hush Comics got the amazing honor of meeting one our all-time heroes yesterday, Todd McFarlane.  Writer John Soweto will say more about that later, but here is what Todd had to say:

Denver Comic-Con 2013

After going to San Diego Comic Con last summer and not being able to get tickets for this year, going to the 2013 Denver Comic Con seemed like the second best choice.  Albeit, we were disappointed with my choice at first, well because, it’s San Diego.  But after attending Denver’s 2nd con, our first time going, we were pleasantly entertained the whole weekend.  Friday night was good for 2 things: seeing the line and getting an idea of the layout of the exhibition hall.  The line was ridiculous, a gripe to be heard around Denver for days to come. By the time we arrived at about 5 p.m. people were told that if they did not pre-pay for a ticket, they would need to leave the line because tickets had sold out.  But as we found out later, this was not the case.  Several people in the Hush family were still able to get tickets for the weekend.  That night we checked out the main hall.  The goodies were pretty good.  The Artist Alley had some pretty good pickings.  Our friend Zak Kinsella was in attendance with his comic series MidspaceJenny Parks  was there with her illustrations of cats as superheroes.  We picked up these four:

catman and mewane
Batman and Bane by Jenny Parks
Katniss and Black Widow by Jenny Parks

Blake Henriksen had a booth, too.  We had picked up some of his art at Denver’s Starfest.  His Ninja Turtles were such good art, we couldn’t pass them up.  There was also a booth for Sparkle Jewelry designs where we bought this awesome Breaking Bad necklace charm.

Breaking Bad Charm
Breaking Bad Charm

Spending all your money on the first day can be a curse or a blessing, but for us, it worked out well, because we weren’t tempted to blow money we didn’t have the rest of the weekend.  The highlight of the evening for Adrian was meeting J. August Richards, notably from Angel and soon to be notably in Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Obviously, I’m a huge Whedon fan.  Growing up watching Buffy and then Angel, I (Adrian) looked up to Charles Gunn a lot.  He was the best character on Angel consistently.  Meeting him was a real pleasure.  He is very down to earth and really cares about his fans and their reaction to him.  It was really refreshing.  A lot of people in the entertainment industry can be nice and laid back, but with J., it really felt as though he could be your best buddy.  We like best buddies.

J. August Richards, Adrian and Sherif
J. August Richards, Adrian and Sherif

Saturday was really the day to be there.  Yes, the line to get in even if you had a badge was ridiculous.  I hope that with all the backlash, next year will be a smoother process.  However, being that it is only the second year of its existence, and that it is now half the size of the international con, I imagine that there weren’t enough volunteers to keep up with the masses.  Our day started off great.  Sherif, Taylor, Evan, and Adrian all dressed as meth cooks from Breaking Bad.  Sherif, Taylor and Evan were Walt White and Adrian was Jesse Pinkman.  We all dressed in yellow chemical suits.  The guys had different aspects of Walt, but all wore his glasses and facial hair.  Adrian wore yellow shoes and a yellow striped beanie to match the suit.  It was a lot of fun getting stopped all the time to take pictures.  We even gave out samples of our “blue stuff” (which was really just rock candy) to people who wanted our picture.  But there is a down side to this costume.  Have you ever worn a chemical suit?  It’s hot.  Have you ever worn a chemical suit in a room with 40,000 other people?  Oh dear God.  Never been so sweaty and stinky.  But when you dress up as meth cooks, bad hygiene seems to be part of the costume.

Sherif and Adrian aka Walt and Jesse
Sherif and Adrian aka Walt and Jesse
Taylor and Evan aka Walt and Walt
Taylor and Evan aka Walt and Walt

Sherif and Adrian went to J. August Richards’ panel on his new project called The Hypnotist.  It was a short featuring Lisa Gay Hamilton and Sharif Atkins.  The story is simple: a man goes to a hypnotist to cure his smoking addiction.  But the ideas behind the story are brilliantly complex.  The cast is black, and of course J. is black.  What is great about this all-black cast is that it doesn’t matter the race of the characters, the story is relatable to everyone, which is exactly what J. wanted.  Of course because Richards is brilliant, the writing is impeccable.  The characters are both easy to relate to.  The theme of African-American history is apparent in the story, but more importantly, it is direct symbolism.  I love when little details mean so much to a story.  It shows a high intelligence of literary tools.  There should be more coming soon with different characters being hypnotized.  J. did say that he doesn’t want to put it online.  In today’s society, it really does need to be online for people to want to watch it.  He said he doesn’t want people to be flipping between tabs while his story is on in the background.  I, for one, would not do that because the story is really compelling.  I think it would be great if he could sell it to Netflix to avoid that, but with each story being so short, I don’t know if that is a possibility.  Congratulations to J. and his new project.  I hope the public gets to see the rest of his brilliance.

Evan and Taylor also got to experience the Star Wars trivia event, hosted by Geeks who Drink.  This event was the most exciting and disheartening experience Taylor had all weekend long – allow me to explain.  I’ve only ever participated in one other general public Star Wars trivia event in my life.  During that faithful day I choked on a relatively easy question and knocked myself out of the running for first place (I had to settle for third… shameful, I know).  This day at DCC would serve as redemption and was guaranteed to put me in a room with dozens of other fanatics just like me.  While the competition was indeed exciting and my brain-farts were gratifyingly limited I was overall disappointed in my fellow enthusiasts.  Plain and simple – they were jerks.  Now, I’m not speaking for everyone – my experience is limited to the extents of my sight and hearing of my immediate surroundings – but since when did SW fanboys become the elite of the nerd world?  Before the competition I enjoyed the prospect of happy and accepting fans congregating and sharing a common passion.  By the time we left I was practically holding my brother back from “unleashing The Force” all over an exceptionally snobby guy that had been sitting next to us the whole time.  Overall the experience was enjoyable, but I hate that it was cheapened by those who weren’t there just to have fun.  That being said – one of our Hush goals is to foster a nerd-universe where all are welcomed, accepted and wanted regardless of depth of knowledge or interest.  If you’re a fan/enthusiast – don’t disservice the passion you have by putting down others who aren’t at your level.  Share the love and knowledge and I guarantee everybody wins.

During the day, Sherif and Adrian met with J. August Richards again, Clare Kramer from Buffy, and the awesome, “it’s ok” to be George Takei.  All are wonderful people.  And all were willing to sign our official Hush Comics poster.  It was lovely!  George is a fun guy who loves to talk.  He also has really good penmanship.

It's definitely ok to be George Takei!
It’s definitely ok to be George Takei!

To spare you reading a novel of my (Taylor’s) adventures over the day and a half of my time spent at the convention, I’ll share just a few highlights.  First being the time my little bro and I spent just walking around.  This was neat for the obvious reasons (people watching, ogling artwork and crafts, stalking famous people), but was enhanced by what my brother and I were wearing.  What I mean to say is that we were in costume as well.  Anybody watch Breaking Bad?  If you do then picture Walter White in his yellow haz-mat suit (respirator and all) carrying around little sample baggies of that crystal blue meth.  Got the image?  That was me and Evan at DCC (our meth was actually candy though – just for the record).  What made this uncomfortable experience so worth it (hazardous material suits don’t breathe people… not one bit) was really feeling like you were a part of it all.  I mean really, really feeling a part.  I know I would have loved it had I gone in normal people clothes, but there’s something extra special about a Storm Trooper coming up and asking to get a picture with you.

Taylor and said Storm Trooper
Taylor and said Storm Trooper

Saturday was a good day for all of us.  Being in a land of nerdom was like being at home.  There were so many people who shared our interests.  It was really inspiring.  We plan on holding a booth there next year!

On Sunday, Sherif and Adrian went to the Whedon panel, which featured J. August Richards and Clare Kramer.  J. of course played Charles Gunn on Angel and Clare Kramer played Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It was a little like a town hall meeting.  They talked about their time working with Joss and their stories of being hired.  It was very informative to listen how the business works for actors.  Clare had an easier time than J. did with being hired.  Both actors recalled big learning experiences with Joss and the other actors on both series.  J. told the audience that his favorite actor to work with was Andy Hallett, who played Lorne on Angel and has since passed away.  Clare talked about being given the “reward” of being able to do her own stunt in her last scene in season 5 where she is thrown through the brick wall.  She also talked about doing fight scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar and their stunt doubles.  It was interesting to hear how those scenes are filmed, because as Clare said, one time, she hit Sarah’s stunt so hard that she got a black eye and a huge bump on her head for 3 weeks.  They also talked briefly about their new endeavors.  Clare works on her website geeknation.com while J. is working on The Hypnotist and the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  J. was mum about what his role would be in the series, but from previews it looks like he will be a mutant.  Overall, it was a great panel.  There were many tid-bits fans wouldn’t get from any other source.

The rest of our day was just walking around and observing the costumes.  Our costumes were ditched the day before.  We couldn’t handle two days of being Walt and Jesse.  Their life is beyond our realm…  The weekend was a success.  We had fun, saw some things we hadn’t seen before, met new people and enjoyed being ourselves.  We can’t wait until next year!

written by Adrian Puryear, Sherif Elkhatib and Taylor Lowe

Using Fear to Prey on the Fearful

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

Christopher Nolan released this statement earlier yesterday about the “Aurora Batman Shooting,” a phrase that will come to describe the events that unfolded at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado – and will ultimately ruin anything with the words “Aurora” and “Batman” in the same breath. In a neighborhood we grew up in, in a movie theater we have frequented since we were getting rides from our parents to sneak into movies they would not approve of, our city’s safety and well-being were violated by a gunman who shot 71 people, killing 12, in pre-meditated act of cruelty in Theater 9.

That night, the Hush Comics (Adrian Puryear, Panama Soweto, Evan Lowe, Sara Elkhatib, a couple other friends, myself) family were excitedly awaiting the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. We had decided on the Arapahoe Crossings Chinese Mann theater, choosing it over Century 16 because Fandango would not allow me to buy tickets for Century. The reality is that we were very close to going to that theater and it is a fact that I am very grateful for. Unfortunately, we all had friends in the theater and many of them will be scarred for life, physically and emotionally.

People inside, and outside, of Aurora always joke that Century 16 is and always has been the “ghetto” theater. Being the most heavily populated black community, those jokes are always thrown around. We said it when my parents had their catalytic converter stolen from under their 4Runner in broad daylight a few years back. We definitely said it eight years ago when I, a scrawny 16 year old at the time, was stabbed and robbed of my car after a midnight showing of Aliens vs. Predators by a group of desperate kids. But this, this was much worse. This hit so close to home. I think what makes me feel the sickest about it, is that it wasn’t just a group of desperate kids, nor a rise of testosterone. This was a planned attack on a movie theater full of young people. This coward walked into a dark room, trapped and killed defenseless members of our community while wearing full ballistics armor. A 24 year-old PhD neuroscientic, James Holmes goaded police officers with his master plans as if he were Jonathan Crane. Oh, and by the way, asshole, the Joker has green hair.

To add insult to injury, the response I get from everybody is, “well yeah, it’s Aurora.” This kind of this should never happen in Aurora, never anywhere. When I went places today, it was business as usual. No empathetic looks, no common courtesy; it’s like the whole world has been numbed to tragic violence. There needs to be more to this than Facebook statuses and news coverage. There must be real substance in our reaction as a society, not just a gilded excuse to push gun control and political agendas.

In time, our wounds will heal. Just as New York City has with the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Aurora will become hardened from the scars left. After that night, 8 years ago, when my sense of security was violated, my parents forbid me to go back. Understandable from their point of view, but I needed to face my demons. If I allowed my demons to keep me from feeling safe in my own hometown, how much longer would I go on running from things that scare me? It was very similar to taking the same route home from school as a kid, even if it means the school bully was waiting for me every day. To sum it up, I will not allow anybody to make me feel weak, and I implore the city of Aurora to stand behind this landmarked theater, instead of allowing it to wither into a frightening reminder of that night.

I am pretty sure now that, although a superior movie, The Dark Knight Rises will not outsell The Avengers. I can only predict that somebody will trick the ignorant into believing that Batman somehow caused this massacre (much like the way he is accused of causing the sociopaths of Gotham to exist in the comics). I also would like to point out that, at the time of writing, I have not seen any Marvel social media that has raised any awareness of the situation, losing my money and support for quite a while. DC Comics and Warner Bros., however, have been very understanding in the matter, canceling shows, supporting blood drives, as well as showing an overwhelming amount of support from writers, artists and publishers through various social media outlets. What we should take this as is a wake-up call. We have been fooling ourselves, thinking that we can disappear into a digital world, in effect disconnecting ourselves from our community with this bullshit “not my problem” mentality and expect those in power to take care of us.

I will take it one step further to infer that from the ashes those bullets laid at our feet to say that we need a Batman to rise from the pit of despair we find ourselves in. We cannot let Aurora become Gotham City. To give in to the fear is to stop believing in Batman.

written by Sherif Elkhatib