Denver Comic Con 2015: A Dynamic Workshop with the Dynamic Duo

With so much going on at a comic book convention, it’s important to know what to spend your time doing – especially when it comes to sitting in on panels. Most con-goers want to be part of a community, but many of the panels leave nerds feeling further away from the culture they came to embrace. As a culture, we’ve been so connected that it’s become all about how we can capture the moment digitally instead of embracing the people that share the same interests. It’s high time to put the the community back into conventions. This past Saturday at Denver Comic Con, we were treated to a panel entitled “So you want to write nerd poetry?” that did just that.

The panel was run by two close friends of the Hush Comics’ family, Panama Soweto and Ken Arkind – or as they are better known to the college and slam poetry circuit, The Dynamic Duo. They are an unlikely pair that became close friends after a mutual friend let them fight over an original English dubbed VHS of the anime classic, Akira. Two poets with completely different origin stories came together to create something beautiful. After testing their mettle in the fertile land for poetry that is Denver (Denver as a city has won nearly every single major accolade for National Slam Poetry there is), Panama and Ken have traveled the country together for a decade, talking to college students about what was nearest and dearest to them: nerd stuff!

denver comic con 2015 dynamic duo 1

What exactly is nerd stuff? What makes a person a nerd? After some deliberation, the answer to these questions became clear. A nerd is just someone who loves something. No longer are nerds reserved to the 80’s stereotypes there are comic book nerds and computer nerds, video game nerds and motorcycle nerds, music nerds and cooking nerds. You get the point; being a nerd is a great thing – a powerful trait that allows you to be master of your own piece of the universe. Before even making poetry, the Dynamic Duo asked the participants several questions centered around what makes us nerds, having several volunteers of diverse fandoms and appearances come to the front of the stage for an exercise called a Culture Walk, a diversity exercise where seemingly-opposite people stand together and step forward at affirmations of common bonds.

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The veil of unfamiliarity had been lifted; everybody in the room was no longer a stranger. They were no longer defined by the fandom they represented. The actualization that we are all part of a larger culture is necessary – even more so at a convention that estimated a turnout of over 100,000 attendees. Being brave enough to let your walls down and love something as unequivocally as nerds do is more powerful than we realize. Nerds made a Deadpool movie happen, nerds resurrected the comic book industry, and nerds are the reason George Clooney is still apologizing for Batman & Robin. Thanks to panels like The Dynamic Duo’s, we’re reminded that the real power of these conventions isn’t in the glamour and celebrity, but in the ability to congregate countless people from all walks of life to celebrate their passions. This is what family looks like.

You can find the Dynamic Duo on Twitter and Facebook.
Panama Soweto: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. You can get his most recent book, PhotoMagnetic Explosions and Stuffhere.
Ken Arkind: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. You can get his most recent book, Coyotes, here.

Denver Comic Con 2015 – Cosplay Day 3

The last day of Denver Comic Con 2015 came and went, and the Cosplay just kept going! Check out all the looks below and don’t forget to look at Day 1 and Day 2 in Cosplay!

All images were taken by various photographers at Hush Comics. Please ask permission before re-posting.

Denver Comic Con 2015 – Cosplay Day 2

Day 2 and Denver Comic Con 2015 proved to be a great day to Cosplay! Check out the photos below, and be sure to check out Day 1 and Day 3 photos, too!

All images were taken by various photographers at Hush Comics. Please ask permission before re-posting.

Denver Comic Con 2015 – Cosplay Day 1

Denver went all out this year for Comic Con. We were blown away at the hard work and dedication fans pulled off this year for their Cosplay! For the rest of the weekend, check out Day 2 and Day 3 Cosplay photos, too!

All images were taken by various photographers at Hush Comics. Please ask permission before re-posting.

“Respect My Craft” – Alan Tudyk

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 take you to all of our Denver Comic Con “Respect My Craft” articles

Name:  Alan Tudyk

Profession: Actor, writer, director, below-average carpenter.

Notable Work: Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, I, Robot, Dodgeball, Death at a Funeral, Suburgatory, Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Con Man (coming soon)

“Wash does a lot of this; I land the spaceship and I go ‘Be careful, everybody!’ and then they do these extraordinary things and they come back and I go, ‘Thank God you made it! Strap in, I’m going to fly!’ I do the babysitting job on the spaceship.” – Alan Tudyk (SFX Magazine – 2004)

Alan Tudyk may very well be the funniest guy on TV. Some of my favorite Firefly moments are chalked up to Wash’s gut busting one liners. “If I were unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.” Every time I see this guy onscreen, I get all giddy, regardless of the role. He’s simply a joy to watch.

Tudyk was born March 16, 1971 in El Paso, Texas but raised in Plano, Texas. He had a brief experience as a stand up comedian but stopped due to an audience member threatening to kill him. Luckily for us, he didn’t give up on acting and studied drama as Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas where he won the Academic Excellence for drama. He briefly attended the prestigious Juilliard conservatory, but dropped out in 1996 without earning a degree. A few years later, Tudyk made his Broadway debut in Epic Proportions in 1999. He would go on to perform in Wonder of the World, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Misalliance, Oedipus and Bunny Bunny. He also filled in for Hank Azaria in Spamalot in 2005.

Tudyk’s career really took off when he was cast as the lovable pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne in Joss Whedon’s beloved and short-lived science fiction western Firefly. While the series only lasted 14 episodes, it remains a major staple in pop culture with some of the most avid fans in the world. Tudyk is astoundingly funny and charismatic in his role. Wash’s wisecracking, sarcastic attitude and undying loyalty to his loved ones is what makes him such a wonderful character. It’s also what makes his *SPOILER* death in the cinematic reprise Serenity so gorram heartbreaking. 

Tudyk also played the hauntingly deranged maniac, Alpha in the also short-lived Whedon series Dollhouse. Don’t get me wrong. I love Wash. He’s probably my favorite Tudyk character, but Alpha is deliciously insane and Tudyk’s portrayal of him is quite possibly the best acting of his career. Plagued with hundreds of different personalities floating around in his noggin, Alpha’s constantly shifting demeanor and sociopathic mannerisms are heart pounding to watch. Tudyk is great as Wash, but his range is best shown in Dollhouse.

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Tudyk’s latest project, Con Man, has Firefly fans absolutely ecstatic. Also starring Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion, Con Man is Tudyk’s very own brainchild. He not only stars in the upcoming web series, but also acts as screenwriter, director, and co-producer. Fillion is also co-producing alongside science fiction writer PJ Haarsma. Con Man tells the story of Wray Nerely (Tudyk) who a spaceship pilot on a canceled science fiction series similar to Firefly called Spectrum. His friend Jack Moore (Fillion) played the captain of the ship and has gone on to become a widely successful A-List actor. Meanwhile, Wray struggles to be happy with his lesser known career, traveling from convention to convention as he makes appearances for the sake of his fans. The series will explore the nuances of convention life and fan culture.

Here’s how Hollywood works. You write a script, you get an agent, that agent proposes your script to a production company and then, hopefully, it gets sent to a bunch of bigwig network people who will pay for it. It’s a grueling process and it takes years. Sometimes you can skip a few hoops if you’re a big name actor, writer, or director or if you work as a reader for a production company, but for the most part, you’re at the mercy of the system. And even if you do get picked up, your project can go any number of ways, including being canceled before its prime. Tudyk said “Eff that!” and took his project to Indiegogo. “It’s not that I have trust issues…” Tudyk joked in his campaign video. Instead of giving his project to a network who might not appreciate the concept and royally screw it up, he reached out to his fans to help fund the web series. He wanted the show to be backed by people who actually understood the nuances of convention life i.e. those who attend them. The initial goal was $425,000 for three episodes. What Tudyk and Fillion wound up with by the end of their campaign was $3,156,234 for 12 episodes and a “lost” episode of Spectrum. In only 24 hours the project raised $1 million, a new record in web series funding. There will also be a Con Man comic book, game, and DVD.

The project will begin filming in June to be released in September through Vimeo’s on demand service. The series will also include actors Seth Green, Felicia Day, James Gunn and Gina Torres. All twelve ten minute episodes will be released simultaneously, so make time in your schedule to binge watch this Fall. I certainly will be forgoing homework for the occasion. Scholarship be damned! I aim to misbehave!

Come see Alan Tudyk at Denver Comic Con this weekend where he will be speaking at two panels, signing autographs, taking photos and possibly pulling inspiration for his new project! Autographs are $40 and photos are $50, cash only. Tudyk will be at the convention Saturday and Sunday.

Photos and Firefly clip courtesy of 20th Century Fox. Video courtesy of Indiegogo.

“Respect My Craft” – Clare Kramer

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’ “Respect My Craft” articles 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 take you to all of our Denver Comic Con “Respect My Craft” articles

Name: Clare Kramer

Profession: Actress, Director, Internet Personality

Notable Work: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bring it On, Big Ass Spider!, and Co-Founder of the very popular entertainment site GeekNation.

“I think us Whedon actors tend to stuck together! I’ve become friends with many of the Angel and Firefly peeps. We do tend to travel together to a lot of the conventions – which I liken to summer camp! The great thing about getting Buffy was it was my first job in LA – so many of my lifelong friends were spawned from that job!” – Clare Kramer in her Reddit AMA in August of 2012.

Clare Kramer may be known to Whedon fans as Glory, or more appropriately, Glorificus, but she wasn’t always the hell Goddess. Kramer’s first job was the mascot for Wendy’s. You know, the little girl with pigtails. The perk? She did get free hamburgers during that stint.

Kramer went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts from 1997-2000, graduating from the prestigious program in just three years with a BFA. The young actress had some bit parts off-Broadway, but made her “big” break in 2000 when she moved to L.A. and auditioned for the little teen movie Bring it On. Kramer has admitted that she did not think anyone would see the movie. “This shows how poor my judgment used to be when filming. I thought that while we were having a great time, and it was so much fun filming and I had a blast, that nobody would actually ever see it. It would be one of those movies that kind of slips under the radar. But then I got a call from my manager and he had gone to Universal for a screening and he said ‘Okay. This is going to be successful.’ It was a pleasant surprise.”

Kramer’s role as Courtney, the bitchy cheerleader, started her career of playing the “bitch.” For people who know Kramer, this comes off as quite a surprise. In her personal life, Kramer is known to friends and fans as being a genuinely sweet woman. Her acting talent is proven with how well she portrays the snobby girl.

Clare Kramer in Bring it On

Later in the year, Kramer auditioned for a role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a move that would change the course of her career; becoming apart of the cast of anything by Joss Whedon automatically enrolls actors for a cast and crew family and a rather enthusiastic fanbase.

Clare Kramer as Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The beautiful blonde was cast as Glory, the Big Bad of season 5, and mega nemesis for Buffy. Glory was sexy, witty, strong, and the only Big Bad to successfully kill the heroine. What Kramer brought to the role was recognition that Glory wasn’t necessarily evil, but that she only had one thing on her mind: getting home. It should also be noted that Glory was Ben, which was just as much of a shock to Kramer as it was to the audience. She has publicly stated that she is happy that she didn’t know because it would have affected her performance.

Clare Krame as Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Fans connected with Glory very quickly. Season 4 of Buffy had a myriad of Big Bads. It felt like we didn’t know who the good guys or the bad guys were, but Glory’s entrance in season 5 made it very clear who Buffy was fighting against. The blondes fought each other many times,  and Glory’s personality was reminiscent of Cordelia when she was still in Sunnydale. But Glory also had a knack for summing up humans perfectly, making her really relatable.

Following her 13 episode stint on the critically acclaimed show, Kramer has gone on to several different roles, most involving horror or paranormal aspects. Some of those titles include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Mummy an’ the Armadillo, Tru Calling, The Gravedancers,The Dead Ones, Road to Hell, and Big Ass Spiders!.

Since 2012, Kramer has been working hard on the entertainment website she co-founded, GeekNation. GeekNation specializes in geek culture, focusing their content on news, podcasts, shows, and Mosters. Clare Kramer co-founded the site with film producer Brian R. Keathley and ran the podcast “Five by Five” and the show “Take 5 with Clare Kramer,” where she interviewed celebrities associated with the nerd world. Most notably, Kramer interviewed Stan Lee in her second episode of “Take 5.”

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Currently, Kramer spends a lot of time on the con circuit. Popular with fans, Kramer has worked her way up from just having a table to hosting main event panels at major cons such as Emerald City. You can see Clare Kramer at Denver Comic Con 2015 at her booth and hosting all the main event panels. Make sure you stop by and say hello to this self-proclaimed geek!

Sources: Pop Culture Addict, GeekNation, Comics Grinder, and IMdB.

Cosplay and Consent: AKA Common Sense and How Not to be a Creeper

Cosplay and consent is always a hot topic during con season. Most people say they totally get it but the sad reality is that they don’t. Cosplay and consent is more than just not grabbing a woman or man in costume inappropriately; it’s about discrimination and simply treating your fellow human beings with respect. The truth is, wearing a costume makes you a target for all sorts of unwelcome attention but in no way is wearing a costume an authorization for such treatment. It may be easy to forget, but behind those amazing costumes you see every year there are real people, just like you and their wearing of a costume does not necessarily mean that they want you to pay all of your attention to them. The likelihood of someone in costume wanting to just go about their day without being bothered is higher than you may realize. There are a lot of situations when Cosplay and consent comes in to play, many of which you may not be aware of. In hopes of having a smarter and more comfortable con season let’s break those down now.

NO Touching: For the love of god, DON’T FREAKING TOUCH COSPLAYERS. This should not need to be said, but year after year there are stories of Cosplayers being assaulted at cons. Think about it this way, if you were walking around the mall and saw a girl in jeans and a t-shirt would you just walk up to her and grab her by the waist? What about at the grocery store? If you see a guy in the produce section are you just going to walk up and start rubbing his stomach? You may be thinking to yourself, “What? No. That would be super weird.” Yeah it would be, and guess what? It still is totally weird even when someone is in costume. Now what if you’re thinking to yourself, “But that’s different. Girls at cons are always showing off their stomachs and cleavage. It’s all part of the fun.” First of all, don’t be a misogynistic dick. Second, many people might argue that part of the fun of going to the pool or the beach is wearing a swimsuit. I hear these days there are even such things as bikinis, which are two pieces and typically show a female’s stomach and tend to reveal more of their breasts than a sweatshirt. If you were at the pool would you just go fondle a girl in a bikini? Probably not, what with the whole societal standards things. So to simplify the whole thing I’ll put it this way: Conventions are a part of our society, therefore the implications of society still apply on the con floor. If you can’t do it to another human at the grocery store you can’t do it to another human at a convention. Do you want to just be grabbed and felt up by a stranger? No? Then knock that shit off and DON’T TOUCH THE COSPLAYERS.

No Touching

ASK to take a picture: This one is pretty important to me. Most cosplayers are very gracious and will pose for a picture with or for you happily. However, if you just start snapping pictures of them while they are walking around you are bound to make them uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy having my picture taken, but you know what I hate even more? Someone trying to take my photo without my consent. What’s even worse is when people just come up and pose next you so they can get their picture taken with you, without your permission. Don’t be a paparazzo, be a freaking person and ASK for a photo. Even more, don’t be an asshole if the cosplayer whose photo you seek declines your invitation. They have the right to say no, and you have to respect that. Don’t then start begging or call them a bitch, just move on.

Pictures Without Permission

Don’t hit on me: Oh you had a huge crush on Hermione growing up and you just LOVE my costume? Cool story bro, move along. Cosplay is NOTHING like fetish play in the bedroom, and regardless of how someone is dressed, it is 100% unacceptable for you to treat it that way. Girls dressed as Wonder Woman and guys dressed as Thor are not doing it for your sexual fantasies, so please do not confuse the people in those costumes for the versions of the characters you dream about. If you see a costume you like because it’s one of your favorite characters too and you want to introduce yourself, get to know the person throughout the day and then maybe see if they’re up for a drink or dinner after the con that is totally fine. But do not simply approach someone in costume, tell them how sexy they look and ask them out. You may be asking yourself why, and it’s as simple as this: Why do you want to go on a date with someone in a costume you think is way hot? Is it because you can tell how compatible you two are and because you always laugh at each other’s jokes? Probably not, since you don’t know each other. Chances are the attraction is 100% physical and the invitation will come with some sexual expectations that a cosplayer does not deserve to be subjected to. Even if your intentions are pure, it is likely to not come off that way without the whole getting to know a person first thing.

Don't Hit On Me

A costume is not an excuse to stare or follow: I don’t think one really needs an explanation. It’s plain and simple; you cannot follow someone around a convention because you like their costume. You can actually get kicked out and even banned for that because it’s a little thing called harassment. Also, you can look and you can respectfully complement someone, but don’t stare. You may just be fascinated and admiring a costume but no matter what, being stared at is super uncomfortable. If you want to look, at least make eye contact and smile, that’s polite. Staring is creepy.

Don't Follow

A costume is not an invitation for you to come and debate my accuracy or debate who I should have dressed as instead: True story – last year at DCC, I Cosplayed as Rogue from the X-Men cartoon in the 90’s. Towards the end of the day some guy (most likely drunk) started yelling “Hey Jean Grey!” at me. He walked over and told me how much he loved Jean Grey, and my costume. I thanked him, but let him know I was actually dressed as Rogue. I even dyed my hair and had stark white chunks in the front. He disagreed, and told me again that I was Jean Grey. I became slightly less polite when I corrected him again and told him I was pretty sure I knew who my costume was modeled after since I made it myself. He accepted, but then told me how much better Jean was and that I should have been her. THAT whole thing right there… yeah, don’t do that. If you see a costume you think could be more accurate or if you see a character you think was SO much better before the reboot, be a big kid and keep that shit to yourself. Cosplayers don’t want to hear your criticisms of their character choice; most people dress as someone because they love that character and criticizing them is just plain hurtful. When you see a costume that you don’t think is authentic enough just remind yourself that you have no idea what that person has gone through to get to that convention in costume. They might be new to cosplay and scared to make something all on their own, or they may have suffered something catastrophic with their well-planned out costume and they had to improvise at the last minute (i.e. when my handmade Star Trek costumes ripped two days before Starfest 2012 and I had to go mostly store bought – I was devastated and being called a “poser” was super hurtful and really unwelcome).

Keep Comments To Yourself

Shit talking – don’t be a hater: When I see the “Cosplay Fail” slideshows on BuzzFeed and similar sites, I just get sad. Laughing at someone’s efforts is cruel. There are not a whole lot of people who want to be made fun of when they are Cosplaying and the ones who are in it for the jokes are pretty obvious to spot. It is important to remember that we are all people in one place because we share a common love of awesome things; don’t be cold-hearted and put down your fellow conventioneers (like Musketeers, it’s a new phrase I’m trying). The same goes for body image shaming. Regardless of your body type and weight, if you feel good in a costume then I guarantee you are rocking it. Don’t be one of the bitches or douchebags that tries to make a plus-sized girl feel ashamed of herself for daring to Cosplay as someone in a revealing or form-fitting costume. And the very same goes for men because they don’t deserve to feel that shame either, you may think you’re super clever with your “Fat Thor” jokes but in reality you are a bully and an asshole. Finally, do not slut shame girls who are in revealing costumes. Guess what? Pop culture hasn’t really given women a whole lot of characters to look up to who aren’t sexualized in one way or another. Do you think Princess Leia is a slut? No? Then chances are the girl dressed in a Slave Leia costume isn’t either. She’s just a human female Cosplayer who doesn’t owe you shit.


 

And finally, I’m going to turn the tables for a minute and focus on manners for Cosplayers themselves.

Just because you are in costume is not an excuse for you to be a psychopath: Cosplaying is fun, and so is embodying some of the character you are dressed as, but there is a limit. If you are dressed as The Joker and therefore you think it would be fun to run around scaring kids and yelling weird things at people as you walk past them then I hate to break it to you, but you are being kind of a psychopath. If you are dressing up for an excuse to fuck with people anonymously then you are in the wrong place. You also still have to employ normal social graces. For example, last year at DCC a guy dressed as Quark came up to my husband and asked him if I was for sale. He then saw that I was pushing a stroller with my one year old in it and he asked my husband if he could buy both of us. Long story short, we ended up basically having to shove this guy out from in front of us because he refused to break character and accept that I was not going to play along. I kind of doubt whoever the hell that was would have dared ask my husband those questions if he wasn’t disguised by his costume. He may have thought he was being funny, but I did not and I made it very clear. When he refused to drop it and let us move past him he went from being annoying weirdo to psychopath. So just a friendly reminder, if you want to be treated like a normal person when you are in costume then you should still act like a normal person when you are in your costume.

Creepy Cosplayer


 

Well that about wraps it up. Please keep all of these things in mind as you go to conventions throughout the season and the rest of the year. The most important thing is to remember that we are all human beings who deserve and need to treat others with respect. Let’s set an example at Denver Comic Con this weekend. I want to get through the entire convention with no reports of assault or harassment showing up on the news, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

All images were carefully thought out and drawn by Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe and Adrian Puryear. And they are copyrighted, suckers.