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Denver Comic Con 2014 had so many Cosplayers. So many in fact, we had so many photographs to go through, we missed some! Here are the best of the rest!
This weekend at Denver Comic Con 2014, Hush Comics interviewed the wonderful artist Georges Jeanty, famous for his work on Buffy Season 8 and 9, as well as his current stint on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. He had a lot to say about his past, present, and future, including his time with Joss, what he really thinks about Buffy hook-ups, and whether or not Wonder Woman is in his future.
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Hush Comics: What was it about comics that sucked you in?
Georges Jeanty: I guess when you’re a kid, you really don’t know anything else. Maybe now you do with video games and all, but that really didn’t exist. Maybe Pong existed when I was a kid. It was just the love of stories, reading, and things like that. I was a very weird child. I liked to read when I was younger. And, comics just grabbed me. And it grabbed me in a way that it just never let me go. And then when you get older, you realize, ‘Hey, I can draw!” And then you go, ‘Hey, I’m actually kind of good. Hey, look I can do this.” So it was sort of a natural, evolutionary process.
HC: Currently, you are working on the Serenity comic, and I know you were a fan of the show Firefly, when it was on the air, so can you tell me a bit about what made you love the story?
GJ: Love the story that I was doing or the show?
GJ: Well it’s a show that really had potential and obviously cut down before its prime, type of thing. So, it’s very sad. The vindication, of course, is that it got a movie and it goes on from there. The comics, honestly, it’s all because of Joss Whedon. I firmly believe that if Joss Whedon didn’t like comics, it would not be a comic book, per se. Buffy probably would have been, because I believe Buffy is co-owned by FOX, but Joss has Firefly and had he never really been interested in the medium, there probably wouldn’t be a Firefly comic book. The story is great because it’s the first one that really is post film and it takes place after and you find out what happens to everybody and where they went after the film. So that’s the really cool part about it. As a fan, I couldn’t wait to read the scripts when I was getting those.
HC: Awesome! I am a huge fan, too. When you were younger, I have heard that you wanted to be an actor. Who were your inspirations and did you ever act in anything?
GJ: Man, when I was younger, Robin Williams was Mork in Mork and Mindy. I have always been more attracted to comedy and the people who make you laugh. It is sort of a philosophical thing. You never forget the person who makes you laugh. Somebody can you make you cry, somebody can make you mad, somebody can you give you all those other emotions, but it’s the people, you may not even remember their names, but the people that make you laugh. I did a little bit in high school, acting, and in college, and church plays here and there, but I quickly realized I was a better artist than I was an actor. Or that it would probably pay better for me sooner than later.
HC: So at one point you were an artist with a collaborative Gaijin Studios. What did you do there and how did being with them get you the big gigs that you ended up with?
GJ: Gaijin Studios was primarily just a studio with a bunch of artists. We didn’t necessarily produce anything. We all worked in the same area as a sort of cohabitation. We all had our cubicles or rooms as it were. The great thing about that was a lot of the guys there had been in the business a little longer than I had, and had a reputation that when I was looking for work I could say, ‘Yeah, I’m part of this group called Gaijin,’ and it was part of this swag of being part of that studio that people were like, ‘Oh! Interesting. I know the studio. I don’t know you, but if you’re part of that studio, you must pretty good. ‘ So that probably got me Bishop: The Last X-Man years and years ago, and that probably got me that gig.
HC: Speaking of Bishop, Days of Future Past just came out and as a kid I always connected with the animated version of the story. So how does it feel to have your version of Bishop on the big screen?
GJ: It was the version that I did. It wasn’t technically my version because that concept was already done when I came to the book. I evolved in it. I did about 15 issues of Bishop, so it sort of evolved into whatever version it was. It was really cool. I have no criticism, per se, but, of course, you’re looking at something and thinking, ‘Yeah, he would have been a little bit bulkier,’ or ‘He would have been a little more of this.’ But just to see the character that you did, and essentially went into obscurity, its nicely vindicated. Granted he didn’t have a lot of screen time. Funny enough, if you didn’t now who he was, you’re going, ‘What? What’s he doing?’ Bishop could absorb power and redirect it. That was his mutant power. But they never actually explain that in the movie. So, you’re kind of like, ‘Ok, I guess he can shoot stuff out of his hands. Cool.’
HC: Can you tell me a little bit about how you were able to work with John Ridley on The American Way?
GJ: John Ridley, who has just blown up, totally. Actually coming out next he has got a musical biography of Jimi Hendrix coming later this year.
HC: With Andre 3000?
GJ: With Andre 3000. Yeah he [John Ridley] was a great guy. Again, another guy who just loved comics. He did a couple of things with Wildstorm. He wrote Authority and then something else, a short story. And then he pitched this creator owned gig and they brought me on after the fact to say, ‘Hey, he would love to collaborate with you.’ I created the look of the characters with a description that he had done. He said essentially, ‘You being apart of this, I know there aren’t any big stars or Superman, Batman, any of those characters are not in here, but what I can offer you is a piece of this particular pie should it ever go anywhere. This was 8 or 9 years ago, where you going, ‘Oh, whatever. Cool.’ And the story was so good. I think at the time, I was pegged to do The Flash. So I was geared towards something that was more established and more known. After I read his script I was going ‘Oh my God. This is so good. If I didn’t draw this, this is something I would want to pick up and read.’ And finally Ben Abernathy, the editor, at Wildstorm at that title at the time was really selling it. Through Ben’s generosity, I said, ‘Sounds like these would be really cool people to work with.’ When you’re looking at a project like that, originally it was 10 issues and it ended up being 8 issues, but you’re going, ‘I’m going to be with these guys for 8 months.’ That’s a relationship where you’re like, ‘If I don’t like you now, I’m really not going to like you in 8 months. But if you seem cool, hopefully there is hope that we will really get along.’ John and I got along great. I mean it was a lot of back and forth. We called each other a lot and talked about it. He loved the comic medium. He really loved the idea that he was saying something about the Civil Rights Movement and all that stuff. It is probably one of the things I am most proud of in this business.
HC: That says a lot. After you were done working on The American Way, you were contacted to work on Buffy. Up that point you hadn’t seen the series yet, but piggybacking off of my Firefly question, what is it about the Buffy story that you love, not only the show, but what you did?
GJ: Uh, that it was Joss Whedon. I didn’t even read the script. I didn’t know what the script was, but they said, ‘Well Joss Whedon’s going to be writing the first arc. Would you be interested?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah. Sure.’ And I hadn’t really watched Buffy. I knew Buffy through pop culture, but I had never really absorbed her, and I really quickly caught up when I did get the gig. Joss was really generous. I knew who he was, and just the fact that he was giving this to me, this guy who really had no reputation. I mean, I had done books, but whatever. He had seen my work, liked it, and wanted me. I was like ‘Yeah, you’re Joss Whedon. Cool.’ [Now referring to Joss] ‘No, no, dude, here’s my phone number. Call me if you need anything, or if you have questions about his or that.’ This was the first time Joss was actually doing a Buffy comic book which was very monumental. Buffy had been printed up until then for years, but he had never actually done anything. He did a little something in the Tales of the Vampire and the Tales of the Slayer, but never on Buffy directly. I quickly realized how much of a big deal this was. I jumped in on that strength, not really knowing the character.
HC: I know that you didn’t watch it before hand, and I have heard you watched it out of order. What order did you watch it in?
GJ: I did. I started with season 6 and then 7. I liked it so much, because the sent me season 6 and 7 on DVD, I liked it so much, I went back and watched 1-5 on my own.
HC: And did you watch 6 and 7 again so you felt you had the whole series?
GJ: No. I sort of watched little bits here and there where I needed to get the characters a little more defined. No, in my mind when I think of Buffy in the end it’s when she actually dies saving Dawn. That season 6 two-parter was kind of strange because I’m like, ‘She’s dead? So she’s coming back? And who is this biker gang? And now there is this other Slayer thing? What is this?’ And a big thing that I just never understood was her Slayer strength. I knew she was a Slayer, but to me that did not automatically denote she was more powerful than everybody. So, a lot of the first few episodes I saw, I felt bad that this girl is getting beaten up and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is like a masochistic television show. That poor little girl.’ And then when I talked to Joss, because I was doing the comic book… I sort of need details. You need your stage in order to perform. You need to know what’s on that stage so you know what you can use. And with Buffy, I told Joss, ‘Well she’s strong. Ok. I get that, but how strong? Is she Superman strong?‘ And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s funny. We’ve never really tested her limit, but in all honesty, think maybe Spider-Man strong, not Superman strong. But definitely more than Batman strong.’ So that sort of put things in place to me where as an artist I knew how far I could go. She could probably turn over a car, but she would have a lot of trouble lifting it over her head. Those little details, which obviously never came to play in the book, but I knew what she could do.
HC: I have heard season 6 is your favorite season. Is that still true?
GJ: Yes. Totally. I’m all about change. I totally get it, the people who were with it all the way from the beginning, people love season 3 when Faith comes in, and no one likes season 4 for some reason. But there were moments like Oz and Willow, and then Tara coming in. There are moments in every season. It’s not that any one season is a blanket of awful or great. There are moments. But I thought season 6 just said, ‘This is what it was, and now these guys are growing. ‘ Sometimes, you might have a bad year, or you might get fired. That year is your lowest year, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a person, but your life has changed. That year was such a year of change. A lot of people who didn’t like Spike were like, ‘Well, that’s because they hooked up that season and it was awful.’ I appreciated that change and I loved Andrew, Warren and Jonathon coming in. Those guys were so funny. It’s obvious the writers were having a great time writing their dialog. That felt to me like a cool season.
HC: Do you have a moment from season 6, that you are like, ‘That’s the moment’?
GJ: I’m probably supposed to say The Musical. It’s been a while now and all of has just morphed in to one big Buffy ball. I couldn’t tell you the specifics of season 6. I will tell you though, and since Joss was such a big comic book fan, he modeled Willow’s dissension on Jean Grey and Dark Phoenix. When you watch it having known that, you see that when Willow brings Buffy back and then Giles has that conversation, like, ‘You incompetent idiot. How could you have done that?’ And she’s like, ‘Maybe you should be a little nicer to me knowing how much I actually did.’ You can see she wasn’t bad there because she didn’t have the black magic obviously, but you can tell there was that seed that was planted and I love that. And it’s something if you’re a long time you’re like, ‘Cool, this is going somewhere.’ Oh! Ok, I do have a moment. Probably the best moment, and Joss loves to do this, is when Dark Willow is doing whatever, he [Joss] recreated it in season 8 in the first arc, where Willow is like ‘Nothing can stop me now.’ And then bam! She gets hit and Giles is like, ‘I’d like to test that theory.’ And that’s the end of the episode, and it’s like, that is the coolest ending ever. And when Amy the rat comes back and she does it and Willow does the same thing, it’s ‘Oh my God that is so cool. And I was a part of it. Cool!’
HC: That is awesome! How has working under Joss’ direction influenced the way you tell stories through art?
GJ: His story telling is not so much about the script. I learned a lot more talking to him. I’m the kind of artist where I get the script, I read it, absorb it, but of course there will be little nuances and I always tell a writer I work with, ‘Do you mind if I call you because I want to get your thoughts. When you say this person walks into the room upset… Buffy walks into the room upset, that could mean a lot. Could be upset that she just had a hangnail, or she didn’t get her nails done, or upset that she got really bad news.’ I would usually talk to my writers and ask, ‘What is the context of this? How upset? What is their body language?’ I guess that is the actor in me who is coming in and saying, ‘Well, what are they doing that gets them to that point?’ Obviously, if you’re upset, you’re standing in a different way, or you’re looking in a different way. Your posture is definitely different. That was one of the things I would talk to Joss about. There was one time where he was writing a script and he was a little late and I was like, ‘When do you think it’s going to get done? The editor is on my back because I have to draw it and it takes a whole lot longer to draw. ‘ And he said, ‘Yeah, the only problem I am having with this script is that I don’t know what I am trying to say.’ And that is when it solidified to me that Joss works on theme. Like the theme of loss or redemption; anything you can put in a theme. That’s where he says, ‘This is my theme and I am going to try to structure the episode around that theme. Everybody is going to be affected in some way by that theme. They may not be the central focus of that theme, but they are going to be affected.’ That to me makes really good story telling because you’re combining everything. Especially in television, since it is a serialized drama, it keeps going on and on, all you really have are themes because there has to be that arc, and usually for that episode, you know that there is something they went through. That is the biggest thing he taught me, indirectly, just reading his work and listening to the man talk.
HC: If you could draw any scene from a Whedonverse show, what scene would you draw?
GJ: Well, why would I do that? I will counter that statement, actually. I did have a conversation with Joss just about this. I will tell you there is a scene that I would have loved to have drawn that never made it on television but should have. When we were doing season 8, I hate to give myself credit for this, but I am the Buffy fans, best friend because I was going to bat. When Buffy slept with another woman, I was like, ‘Nuh-Uh! She’s not going to sleep with another woman. I’m not going to draw that. You need to justify that to me before I can do that.’ When Giles died, “Nuh-Uh! Giles isn’t dead because I’m not going to draw it. You have to justify that to me first.’ So I was really going to bat. I went to Joss at some point and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got Spike coming in season 8. That’s great, we are finally getting the gang back together.’ But I was like, ‘Joss, you realize, if you think about it, Buffy doesn’t know Spike is alive. Because he became alive in Angel obviously and there was never that scene where it’s like, ‘Oh my God’ [referring to Buffy]. He [Joss] was like, ‘Yeah but the fans are really…’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, the fans want to know that stuff. That’s the stuff that they love.’ He said, ‘No, they can probably assume that Andrew told them’ because of “The Girl in Question” in Angel, they both go and see Andrew. ‘They can just assume Buffy found out from him. ‘ I said, ‘It’s a little bit of a cop out, I gotta tell ya.’ In my mind, over the years, I wonder what that scene would be like. The writer in me, doing Buffy for so many years at that point, I was creating that scene so I could justify it when they did get together and of course subsequently have all these conversations. In my mind, that is what I feel happened in continuity, although it never actually showed up.
HC: Do you have time to read comics, and if so which ones are you currently reading?
GJ: Yes. I hate to say this because it probably makes me a bigger geek than I am, but I’m at the comic shop every Wednesday, looking and seeing what’s out. I’m reading The Uncanny X-Men that Brian Bendis and Stuart Immomen are doing. And the Miracleman reprints, the Alan Moore stuff. Comics today are a very different animal, and very rightly so because of the movies. Now, limited series is a thing. A continuity book is virtually non-existent, and reading this has really restored my faith in what comics could do because while Alan Moore isn’t reinventing the wheel with his stories that he did back in the ‘80’s, it’s obvious that he is taking the story telling medium, and these were a bunch of 8 page stories that he did that were collected eventually, and with these 8 pages he is just telling the story as it is progressing, but every 8 pages is doing it in a different way. It is so entertaining. Miracleman is sort of a British knockoff of Shazam. Even in that, he plays with that factor, and it is just so good. I cannot recommend it enough. Anyone who wants to be a comic writer ought to be reading those Miracleman comics because he is just doing great storytelling.
HC: You drew Buffy for season 8 and 9, will you be making a return in season 10?
GJ: That is a very interesting question. Well, I did Serenity, which was sort of always the plan. Yeah, personally feel that Buffy was the girl I came to dance with. I certainly don’t want to abandon her. If they ask me back for something, whatever it is, probably not as long as I did before, but I would come back for something special.
HC: Since Serenity will be ending soon, do you know what your work will be in the future?
GJ: I personally finished Serenity a few months ago, because of course you have to do it ahead so they can print it. But, I’m working on The Future’s End for DC right now, which is their big 52 book, a whole year, every week. I am doing what I can; I pretty much do a book a month. So, I’ve done an issue and I’ve got an issue waiting for me, so I will for the foreseeable future be doing that. And there is some talk of maybe doing some Wonder Woman stuff down the line. Who knows? It’s just hearsay right now. So, we will see!
Leila del Duca, the artist for Image Comics Shutter, was kind enough to allow us this interview. Shutter is a fantastical adventure book and, although it is just three issues in, has already grabbed readers’ attention. It’s the kind of story that comic books were made to be about. The creatures, the action sequences – it all boils down to being a fun and exciting story about even crazy characters and situations. Short of making you buy the book, I’ll just say that the books are just as interesting as Leila is, so we’ll hop right to it!
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Hush Comics: I keep telling my friends how awesome Shutter is, but it’s hard to explain the story to them. How would you pitch the book to somebody who has never seen anything like it before?
Leila del Duca: It’s a hard book to pitch because it’s so weird and out there and belongs in multiple genres. I usually say it’s about world-famous explorer Kate Kristopher who is thrown back into the adventuring life she tried so hard to leave behind. If I have more time, I stress that the book is about family, who you adopt into your life and how you deal with blood relations you don’t want. And if they still don’t look interested I’m like, “But sir, it’s set in this crazy version of Earth with mythological beings, talking animals, and spacemen!”
LD: It feels freaking phenomenal! I love having strangers come up to me and tell me they like my work, which never really happened before. It’s super validating to finally feel this way after working towards this my whole life. I truly hope I continue to “make it” in this industry, because I’m having the best time creating comics for you guys.
HC: You’ve worked with other publishers, but how is Image unique?
LD: Working with Image has been such an educational, uplifting experience thus far, standing by me every step of the way and teaching me how the industry does, and, in many cases, should be run. Their amazing team is professional, timely, encouraging, and excited about what they’re doing. I’ve felt like I’ve joined a sort of family that takes care and looks after each other, and this family produces some of the most unique and enjoyable stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
HC: Although the book is pretty new, it’s been a long time coming for you as an artist. What kinds of projects did you take on to stay afloat as an artist?
LD: I worked on various genres, but mainly sci-fi and fantasy comics. I’ve also done slice of life, superhero, and zombie western stories. As much as I rave about how brilliant and perfect it working on Shutter is, every past project has a warm place in my heart. Without these stepping stones, I never would have made it here and though working on these past projects hasn’t always been a dream, I appreciate the good and bad that came with all of them and the creators I’ve worked with.
HC: On a similar note, which books other than Shutter can we find your work on?
LD: A few years ago, where it kind of started, was ESCAPE FROM TERRA, a libertarians in space web comic. I claim pencil, ink, color, and writing credits depending on when you jump in the story. It’s still online at Big Head Press. Next, I self-published a book of short comics called THE FOX WITCH AND OTHER TALES. I also art directed two volumes of the Denver-based literary and arts series, CELLAR DOOR. More recently, I did a zombie western with Fried Comics, DEADSKINS, which is still slowly being released online on their website. Lastly, I’m still finishing up the fourth and last issue of THE PANTHEON PROJECT, written by Erik Taylor, soon to be printed with Action Lab at the end of this year.
HC: How do you get the most out of the comic book scene in Denver as a professional?
LD: By being social, showing up to events, making friends, connection with other professionals. So much of comics is just networking.
HC: Joe Keatinge is known for his crazy imagination. How does his creativity fuel yours?
LD: In probably every way… His unbelievable imagination and ideas inspire me to create the best, most imaginative images I can. We’ve said a couple times that our mutual desire to impress one another is in large part what drives this comic.
HC: For being a new artist, you get a ton of gorgeous, full-page spreads. Is that something Keatinge pushes for, or is that something you present to him?
LD: Joe definitely is the one with all the great double page spreads, and 16 and 9 panel grid page ideas. He leaves other page layout stuff to me, but he really knows what needs a full page, what sequence needs a different type of panel layout, etc. He knows how to pace a story and what’s important to emphasize on a page.
HC: The various animals in Shutter are a huge selling point for me: foxes riding triceratops, lions in mobster suits, you know – the usual. Is there something that draws you to anthropomorphic characters over humans?
LD: I wouldn’t say I prefer them to humans, but I equally enjoy them just as much. I love giving characters personalities and it’s a different kind of challenge when I have to do that with an anthro character. Also, for the record, I never told Joe that I wanted to draw anthropomorphic characters, I just said I wanted to draw anything and everything and that’s what he gave me, and I’m super happy he did because they’re all a blast!
HC: Which of these characters around Kate is your favorite and can you give us a hint at any more of the insanity coming up?
LD: Awe man, I’d have to say Ekland is my favorite. She’s so fun to draw and I love her personality, her pointy samurai gear, her mohawk–everything! As for the insanity coming up, no spoilers for you! I think I already leaked some crazy things that happen in issue 4 to the internet so I don’t want to give any more away. But rest assured…there is a lot more insanity. Shutter wouldn’t be Shutter without it.
HC: Where is the best place for fans to connect with you?
The artwork posted belongs to Leila del Duca and Image Comics.
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Denver Comic Con 2014 was a weekend I will always remember. I spent it with my roommate, cosplaying with her as Sherlock and John from the BBC Sherlock, attending engaging panels and meeting some of our most beloved stars. One of those stars made a huge impact on me. I was able to tell Julie Newmar (in full Catwoman attire) how she and her character had empowered me; she took my hand and inspired me all over again.
In 2009, I was a freshman in high school and had just escaped a tortuous relationship with my middle school peers. I was only starting to discover that my preconceived notions that being a nerd was something undesirable were wrong. The extreme contrast between the Catholic middle school where liking Star Trek warranted harassment and the arts magnet high school that condoned nerd expression had my head spinning. I had two friends who were exceptionally nerdy. Together we would talk for hours about everything from Harry Potter to Rocky Horror Picture Show. We were a nerd trifecta and they had made me realize that reading comic books wasn’t something to be ashamed of. However, it didn’t help me become any less timid or socially awkward.
One day, my friends approached me about a Science Fiction convention called “StarFest”and asked if I was going. I told them I had never heard of it and they promptly said, “Then you’re going.” So I bought my ticket and, a few days after, they asked if I wanted to Cosplay with them. It was as if they were speaking another language. Again, when I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about, they made the decision that I was going to join them in their costumed escapade.
They were going to Cosplay as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy so I decided I would complete their femme fatale and go as Catwoman. Their costumes were amazing. Mine was…less so. At the time, my Catwoman Cosplay consisted of a long sleeve black shirt that was fraying at the sleeves, black skinny jeans, my mother’s black leather boots and my friend’s mask. If it weren’t for the mask, I would have looked like just another person attending the convention, but it was the funnest weekend I had ever had. Those leather boots and that mask made me feel like a literal superhero, even though I was Cosplaying as a villain. Nothing could cut through the euphoria of running around the convention center and having our picture taken over and over again. Having been bullied relentlessly for liking Catwoman in middle school, the fact that that character empowered me now felt like I had finally won the battle.
Over the years my Catwoman Cosplay evolved, becoming more complex. One year, I traded my shirt and jeans for an actual catsuit. The next, I got my own cat ears and began painting my mask on. I kept my mother’s boots as an homage to her, and because they still worked perfectly for the cosplay. I dawned a belt and this year bought a whip and googles to complete the transformation. To this day, the Catwoman I become every few months is still evolving, much like myself outside the convention center. I’ve gone from an emotionally scarred girl who didn’t think she’d make it to age sixteen to a strong woman on my way to college, determined to achieve my dreams. I’ve gone from kitten to Catwoman.
“Never let any barriers hold you back, Charlotte,” Julie Newmar told me this weekend. “If something feels right, you do it! And if it doesn’t, then you don’t.” I was unable to hold back the tears as she spoke to me. “And look at you! You’ve got the suit, the ears. You even have the whip!” She then signed my cat ears and though it was supposed to cost money, she got out from behind her booth and took a photo with me. Even at age 80, she is inspiring, sassy and purrrfect as ever. I don’t believe in epiphanies, but I think that moment with Julie has set something in motion in me. I no longer have to slip that catsuit on to feel powerful. I am.
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Panel Name: Reading Rainbow – LeVar Burton
Topic: Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, Q&A
Featured Guests: LeVar Burton
Imagine the thunderous roar of a room full of twenty-somethings as the panel opens with, “Butterfly in the sky…” The crowd chimes in, “I can fly twice as higgggh!” LeVar Burton, whether or not he wants to take credit for it, has helped raise a generation of readers. The revolutionary show Reading Rainbow lasted over twenty years and 150 episodes; each episode was comprised of a guest reader, who would read pages from a children’s book, and field trips, where LeVar would take kids to explore various careers or investigate the moving parts that make everyday activities so interesting. To this day, I’ll always remember the bowling alley episode, where Burton’s explanation of an entire mechanical part of the back room blew my little mind. For most of the 90’s, RR was like my Sesame Street, my Dora the Explorer. I could go on for hours about how great Reading Rainbow is, but I think the rest of the world already knows.
Late May 2014, LeVar Burton headed a Kickstarter campaign to make the Reading Rainbow app more accessible to children. The initial goal of $1 Million was intended to bring Reading Rainbow back to schools. Yes, back – we all remember when the teacher would roll in the TV/VCR cart into the classroom, and nurse a hangover while LeVar Burton took the class on a fantastical journey. What a lot of people didn’t know, us included, is that the Reading Rainbow app for tablets had been around for two years. The app works off a subscription basis and instantly gives kids access to hundreds of licensed books, accompanied by virtual field trips and other neat additions to the story to give kids the complete revamped Reading Rainbow experience. With the Kickstarte-funded project, a new app – specifically designed for classrooms – would be able to fund year-long subscriptions for over 1,500 classrooms. The thought of bringing a premium service to mostly under-privileged schools, whose students’ parents may not have the technology at home, made this an easy sell.
Even with over a month-long period to reach the goal, Burton was a little worried it would not get funded. When the Kickstarter went live on May 28th, it reached it’s goal a mere 11 hours into the campaign. LeVar said that he cried when he got the news. He was so endeared that a generation that grew up watching his show is now helping fund the show for the next generation of readers. Now with 15 days left of the campaign, Reading Rainbow’s goal of $5 million is certainly a reachable one, but it will be close. With this new goal, which they are approximately 75% of the way to fulfilling, will give children universal access. That means the app will be available on mobile phones, gaming consoles, OTT boxes – you name it. It also means putting it in the hands of public libraries, who have been seeing book collections shrink and digital media catalogs increase. While Burton did not eliminate the possibility of bringing back the TV show, he was focused on the direction that the app (existing and new) was headed. “To reach today’s children, you need today’s technology.” It’s hard logic to argue with – and the fact that he will be trying to bring it back to the schools and libraries backs up the plan for streamlined service. A good point that somebody in the audience led Burton to was that while the app is ideal for 3-9 year old readers, it works wonders for ESL students.
The panel wasn’t all Kickstarter, though. A lot of questions were aimed at LeVar personally. LeVar shared that he is always reading, and that his summer reading is his “escape” reading, so he always science fiction in the summer. Right now, he’s reading Octavia Butler’s The Goldfinch. He also revealed that his family loves to read books aloud to each other, and stated that the best way to get your children to read is to read in front of them. Burton even gave us an insight of what he used to read his daughter: Goodnight, Moon and Harry Potter. The two books he recommends most are: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman for girls and Enemy Pie by Derek Munson for boys. The panel wasn’t even all about reading, as Burton told the audience that he wasn’t even there. He was still with Troy on Community, fighting off pirates on the Gambino. Burton called Donald Glover “one of the most talented people on Earth,” which was just kind of a twist of the knife already in place that Community has been cancelled and Donald Glover left the show before it was over. Glover’s moments on the show with LeVar Burton were some of my most cherished.
Most of those attending the panel had already contributed to the Kickstarter, or were familiar with the what the campaign was trying to accomplish. This panel was all about The House that
Love Reading Built. I was astonished at how many teachers and writers and volunteers were directly affected by having this show in their life. Question after question was full of love and a few of those throwing up questions were brought to tears just by getting up to the mic. One of the most sentimental to me was a young lady who had been home-schooled growing up in a poor learning environment. When she got to public school in 8th grade, she had a 2nd grade math level, but a college level reading level – thanks to Reading Rainbow instilling a love for reading. She graduated high school on time and now has a career in writing. That’s just one example of many touching anecdotes we heard at the panel… But you don’t have to take my word for it! We have the full panel on YouTube below.
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Hush Comics and Colorado local artist Lewis Brown were meant to meet. Lewis has attended many of the same events we have attended in the last year. We have watched his art grow in the last few months, which has been amazing to see. We got the chance to interview him before this year’s Denver Comic Con. You can find him at All C’s Collectibles booth working on charitable art for Aurora Rise, as well as selling prints.
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Hush Comics: What is your origin story?
Lewis Brown: I grew up the son of a Trekkie, I and would stare at covers of Sci-Fi books my mom read. So Sci-Fi is in my blood. My father was rumored to have the ability to draw. Those traits started to show in me at an early age. I had the need to draw. I would also create complex Lego battles. I have worked at being a comic artist since 5th grade. I have been studying anatomy since then just to develop the skills to create the stuff in my head.
HC: Where are you from?
LB: Denver, Colorado
HC: How did you get into comics?
LB: My mom took me to a 7-11. She said I could choose between a comic or a ball of candy. I chose the comic.
HC: What was the first comic you read?
LB: The Daredevil/ Captain America crossover in the 1980’s. I have no recall of what the story was about I just remember the anatomy and details of the art.
HC: Who are your comic book inspirations?
LB: Jim Lee, Stjepan Sejic, Marc Silvestri, Michael Turner, Joe Mad, and Greg Capullo.
HC: What was the moment you realized that you wanted to be a professional in this business?
LB: I think I was nine or a little younger. Just reading comics and watching morning cartoons like Super Friends.
Then seeing my mom come home tired and depressed from her day job. I realized that comic animation and art in general would be my happiness to get me through the formalities of life.
HC: What are your long-term goals in the industry?
LB: I want to be like Stan Lee. I want to create my own universe and give new entertainment ideas for movies, games, etc.
HC: What is your dream job?
LB: In the long term, I want to produce a movie. In the short term, I want to start my own comic company. I have a big story I’ve been working on for about seven years plan on releasing the first issue in 2015.
HC: What do you think are the best comic books/stories out right now?
LB: I really like Top Cow Universes like Artifacts and Darkness and Batman Death of the Family.
HC: How well-connected do you feel to the Denver comic community?
LB: I feel pretty well connected, like, I’m teaming up with All C’s Comics and the Aurora Rise Century 16 fundraiser at Denver Comic Con to do some free sketches. I plan on doing a book release/signing at All C’s in a month or so. I’m actually trying to merge comic geek with hip-hop. I mostly fall into the hip-hop, skater, hipster type crowd I guess. Shout out to Hush Comics, Geek Street Society, Drink and Draw groups, and any other groups starting their own movements. I’ve done DCC for 3 years now so things have definitely developed over time.
HC: Where can the masses see your work?
The artwork posted belongs to Lewis Brown.
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Panel Name: Doctor Who – Peter Davison
Topic: Short discussion between Peter Davison and two moderators followed by questions from the crowd.
Featured Guests: Peter Davison
The first panel for me at Denver Comic Con was that of great actor and of course the fifth Doctor from Doctor Who, Peter Davison. After already speaking to him and getting his autograph earlier, I was rather excite to see this panel as he seemed to be a very awesome person – which always makes being a fan of someone that much better. This discussion started with a couple questions from two moderators leading into questions from fans. Davison seemed to understand fans well and had quite a presence on stage as any actor who has played the Doctor should.
When it came to questions it was rather interesting and actually gave me a lot more faith in Denver after some of the David Tennant and Matt Smith obsessed activity from the past. We had questions of course regarding Who but a surprising amount about another one of his big shows in the U.K., All Creatures Great and Small. Davison went through the always asked questions of Doctor Who actors including, “Who is your favorite Doctor?”, “Who is your favorite Companion?,” among others and he course carries it with the grace and patience you would expect from the Doctor.
One answer that surprised all if not many of the fans there was that there was no importance of who followed who on Doctor Who in the U.K. it is just a character and he was just the fifth Doctor not the guy that followed the fourth Doctor. Here in the U.S. Doctor Who fandom has sparked quite the odd reaction in that with the new series it grabbed a lot of young girls with David Tennant and Matt Smith, where it feels like the end of the world when a Doctor leaves. When in reality it should be an exciting and wonderful experience and the only person who should be sad is the actor who has to leave the role behind.
Other than mostly Doctor Who questions the panel focused on the Hugo nominated short film Peter Davison made with fellow former Doctors, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, called the Five(ish) Doctors Reboot where the three of them are trying to find a way into the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Although the short film is delightful Davison spoke of how difficult it was because not only was it meant to be a small thing filmed on his home video camera, but once it became big the entire thing had to revolve around the busy schedule of other and sometime people only had an hour or so to film their role in the film.
Ultimately, Davison is the real deal and seems like not only did he get the job to play the Doctor but once he had, it changed him and made him become that much more like the Doctor.