Unreality Check

Finally the San Diego Comic Con is in full swing, and many interesting teasers and statements are emerging. It’s one of those hallowed events I would not only like to be there, but to be there in multiple bodies, one at every stand and panel simultaneously.

The term ‘Unreality Check’ was coined by Joss Whedon appearing in a panel with JJ Abrams, as he describes how coming to the Cons enables him to get a feeling for what people do and don’t respond to. I think that would have been a panel I would have not just sold my soul to attend, but those of my extended family. It sounds as if it were a sheer geekgasm as these two creators discuss the very future of pop-culture.

Yet is is the panel with Robert Kirkman that really grabbed my attention. You may or may not have already heard that The Walking Dead is being made into a television series, which for a zombie aficionado as myself is simply the best news. Even better is that the first season has finished filming, so it cannot be that far away. Woohoo!

One audience comment really grabbed me however. As reported by Newsarama, one fan had asked if there was anyway he could get involved as an extra with the show (hence the reveal about the conclusion of filming). Upon being frustrated, this fan apparently vented about ‘non-comics fans working on comics shows’. Kirkman replied in his stylistic irreverent manner with a simple ‘It’s because I don’t like you’. He then proceeded to state that The Walking Dead would cease publication at #78. Stunned silence.

(Except maybe an inner scream of NOOOOOOOOOoooooo passing through the crowd.)

Obviously the writer of Invincible was joking, which he made clear immediately. I think he obviously defused what had the potential to be quite an embarrassing rant, but it made me wonder.  As self-confessed geeks, we have a shared camaraderie, yet geekdom has become more and more mainstream over the past decade or two, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. Many demographics of our community have changed, as seen by the fact that 40% of the SDCC attendees are female. So, are we really that possessive over our comics world?

Yes, I would love to be an extra in the Walking Dead. (Maybe Season 2? Anybody out there listening?) But to think that someone who is an actor and maybe not a comics fan gets one of those jobs? Are we really that bothered?

I hope not. Don’t think of it as jobs leaving comicdom, but comicdom throwing its arms wide to newcomers. We can all expect endless bickering on the boards, indeed as was recently pointed out, many companies release their teaser images precisely to stimulate that bickering. Yet can we not keep it to the eternal battle of whether DC or Marvel are better, or whether independent companies grant creators greater integrity? If we close our doors or demonstrate such petty resentments, then we will be surely thrown back to the age of the social outcasts, back in our anoraks and losing this quality of cool that we have all desired so so long. I remember those dark days, and I can only state how grateful I am for that ‘cool’ factor for one main reason. I can now drop so many comic references (of which I possess in no short supply) into conversation and have people actually understand what I am saying, rather than simply turning their eyes heavenward.

Longevity.  We have always received a certain level of quality entertainment, but now the money has noticed and continues to back our favourite characters. The explosion of Marvel films, or Kick-Ass for example. Quality tv shows and game system tie-ins; and more draw to the general public to that greatest of all lifelines, our local comic book store.

Long live the LCS (local comic shop). What’s the phrase? ‘Think globally, act locally’? So come, one and all, into our world of the fantastic, the artistic and the unbelievable. Oh, and of continuities that would put any soap opera to shame.

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Darren Burr

A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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