Fanboy News Network Episode 5

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“2013: the year in geek culture”

A look at some of the big events in geek culture from the past year, and a look ahead to 2014.

The Hole Behind Midnight Episode 6

hole behind midnight cover sketches.inddAnd here is Episode 6 of the Hole Behind Midnight audio book podcast. Book by Clinton J Boomer. Audiobook produced by Julie Hoverson

Royden visits an old friend for help. Cake is involved. No lie.

The Hole Behind Midnight is meant for Mature Audiences and contains strong language and adult themes. There we warned you.

You can find the main sight for the podcast here.

And is you are interested in the book, you can find details here.

And hey, I’m somewhere in this episode. Good times.

Fanboy News Network Episode 4

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“The Year In Horror Part 2”

Jeff sits down again with horror author Michael Montoure and Fanboy News Network’s resident horror expert Jennifer Lovely to discuss the year in horror. This time they focus on the year’s horror offerings outside of cinema.

Fanboy News Network Episode 3

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“The Year In Horror Part 1”

Jeff sits down with horror author Michael Montoure and Fanboy News Network’s resident horror expert Jennifer Lovely to discuss the year in horror.

There was so much to talk about that there will be a second part to this episode later this week.

Wishing you a geeky Christmas

Christmas tardis

It’s Christmas time again. Every year we get all worked up as the need to buy gifts and arrange schedules overtakes us.

We make time for family, the ones we were born to and then ones we have forged for ourselves. We watch the traditional specials. We make travel plans.  We hear all the different sources try to tell us what the meaning of the season is.

On that last one, I think we have gotten a pretty good summation from a unique and very geeky source: Doctor Who. It’s become one of my favorite quotes about the season, and it came from the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special, A Christmas Carol.

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops, and turns, and hugs, as if to say ‘Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.’”

And this, to me, is the heart of the season. There is a reason that all the Winter Solstice celebrations deal with light. It is the darkest time of the year, and then just when it feels that nothing will ever grow or be bright again, on December 21st everything turns around. The days slowly get longer and, even though it is still cold and dark, there is the return of hope as things inch back towards spring.

We huddle together in our tribes, be they of blood, friendship, work, or shared experience. We stave off the cold and look forward to the world coming alive again.

So as I publish this on the day of the lights return, I, Jeffrey Robert Harris (aka Caliban), on behalf of myself and all of my friends and loved ones who help produce this little corner of geek culture, wish you and yours well during this time and look forward to the brighter future.

Well done everyone, we’re halfway out of the dark.

Fanboy News Network Episode 2

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In this episode:

A follow up on the subscribers getting their copy of Detective Comics #27

News on a possible Sandman movie

DC title cancelations.

Comic Industry market share.

A look at the fall finales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow.

The Hole Behind Midnight Episode 5

hole behind midnight cover sketches.inddAnd here is Episode 5 of the Hole Behind Midnight audio book podcast. Book by Clinton J Boomer. Audiobook produced by Julie Hoverson

Royden finally rejoins the regular world, already in progress. Of course there is still that whole framed for murder thing to deal with.

The Hole Behind Midnight is meant for Mature Audiences and contains strong language and adult themes. There we warned you.

You can find the main sight for the podcast here.

And is you are interested in the book, you can find details here.

And hey, I’m somewhere in this episode. Good times.

Death Threats in Geek Culture

amanda-abbington__130328102433A sad state of affairs currently plaguing geek culture is the wave of death threats that are being made with increasing regularity.

Seriously, we seem to have lost our ability to just disagree about things. Now, if something happens that people are not happy about, you can bet there will be a death threat. And the examples, of this, can be really mind blowing.

Anita Sarkeesian: received death threats as well, as rape threats and constant harassment, due to her web series Tropes vs Women.

Adam Glass: Writer of the New 52 relaunch of Suicide Squad. The reason for the death threats was the Suicide-Girl-like redesign of Harley Quinn. As a side note, the redesign was done by DC co-publisher Jim Lee, but the threats were made to Glass as he was the writer assigned to carry out the story.

James Gunn: The Writer/Director of the upcoming Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy. The reason for the death threats is that actress Karen Gillian (best known as Amy Pond on Doctor Who) shaved her head to play the villain Nebula, angering some fans.

Amanda Abbington: Actress and longtime partner to Martin Freeman (with whom she has two children), is getting death threats because she has been cast as John Watson’s fiancé Mary in the upcoming season of Sherlock. The reason behind this is that having her character in the show interferes with some fans speculation that Holmes and Watson are lovers.

I’m sure Zack Snyder and Gal Gadot are receiving threats over the casting of Gadot as Wonder Woman in the Superman/Batman movie.

We also see this problem in varied places around the video game industry. Dragon Age II senior writer Jennifer Hepler received death threats to both herself and her children, because some fans did not like the game.

And it isn’t just big names. My friend Mickey Schulz (who writes for the web site Geek Girls Rule) regularly receives both death threats and rape threats, simply for being a female who writes about feminist issues in geek culture.

I know that this is not limited to geek culture, but it sure seems pervasive here.

So why is this happening? How did we end up in a place that making death threats for minor inconveniences and disappointments appears acceptable to some people?

Well I wonder if Louis CK didn’t hit on a truth in this video. Start at 1:30 in the video.

But, basically, I think online interaction has reduced people’s ability to feel empathy, and embolded them to say whatever they want. Add to this their desire to vent their frustrations, no matter how irrational they may be. And finally, they want to influence the behavior of the person they are targeting. Add a shot of immaturity, and you get people who go straight to the death threat.

This leaves us with the question of how to deal with it. The answer is basically the same as dealing with misogyny and convention harassment; we have to speak up as a community, and make it loud and clear that this behavior is not acceptable. We have to make it a mark of shame to do so, and make it so bad that the people who would engage in this behavior are too scared of being branded over it to do it in the first place.

Do I expect this to work right out of the gate? Of course not, but we have to start making the effort if we have any hope of changing this at all.

I’ll admit this may sound harsh, but honestly it will be more effective than trying to encourage empathy.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, game designer JD Wiker:

“There’s a line. All you have to do is NOT cross it.”

Fanboy News Network Episode 1

Fanboy logoThe First Episode of The Fanboy News Network Podcast

Trigger Warning: This episode will discuss a sexual assault at the end.

This episode Jeff goes over recent news in geek culture.

The Casting of Wonder Woman in the Superman/Batman movie.

Subscribers not getting issue #27 of DC Comics.

DC’s success with the TB series Arrow.

The events surrounding the alleged sexual assault at Aki Con in Seattle.

The Arc of Thor


As the year comes to a close, it has been announced that Disney had broken a box office record. In 2013 its worldwide box office was over 4 billion dollars. This was achieved almost exclusively by the performance of this year’s two releases from Marvel Studios; Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.

I’m sure every studio took notice. At this stage Marvel seems unbeatable at the box office and I’m sure that there are some very smart people trying to figure out how to duplicate that success.

There are, of course, several factors that have led to this success. But I want to focus on two that I feel other studios are going to have a hard time copying, and the sad thing is that one of those shouldn’t be a problem.

The one that is problematic to copy is the interwoven nature of the Marvel films. As far as most fans are concerned both movies were part of the same series, and they only had to wait months for them, not years. And next year we get two more. I’m sure studios would love to get something like that going, but only Warner Brothers with the DC franchises have a shot, and they seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot with regards to that.

The other, that should be easy to copy but won’t be, is how Marvel handles character arcs. In short, Marvel does not back track on their character development. Whatever changes a character goes through in one movie are still present at the beginning of the next. It seems simple but it is not that common.

To illustrate this point, I want to focus on Thor as he has one of the most dramatic arcs in the series. Warning, there will be some Dark World spoilers in here.

In the first Thor movie he is brash, headstrong, and hungry for glory. He nearly provokes a war needlessly and is punished by being stripped of his powers and exiled. During this exile he learns humility and, after seeing destruction from a human level, is more tempered in his approach, throughout this process he learns to care for people.

In the Avengers, he is no longer seeking glory and regrets the destruction he can cause, but he is still headstrong as shown in his first meeting with Iron Man and Captain America. Over the course of this film, he learns to not just rush in and be a team player.

At the beginning of Dark World we see Thor no longer rushes in, and even gives his enemies a chance to surrender. When the rest of the warriors are celebrating their victory, he is sitting quietly, no longer concerned with glory. By the end, he embraces his destiny as guardian of the nine realms, and chooses to live on Earth.

At no point does he lose any of the lessons he learned between movies and his character is constantly moving forward.

Let’s compare this to the rebooted Star Trek movies. In the first movie Kirk has to learn to not be bull headed and work with his crew, especially Spock, to save the day. In the end, he is awarded command of the Enterprise.

In the sequel, he starts off making a bull headed move that has him lose his command and he needs to find a way to work with his crew, especially Spock, to save the day, eventually getting his command back. Basically, in the second movie things were reset to how they were in the first movie in an effort to give the audience something familiar.

Of the two, which do you prefer?

For me, the big test of this is going to be when Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes out. This is because it will feature the Black Widow, who is a character that has been moving around the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than attached to one specific franchise. It will be interesting to see where she is after the events of The Avengers and how that has changed her.

Of course they could just give us a Black Widow centric movie.

Anyway, I look forward to where the Marvel movies are going, and can only hope that other studios learn this lesson.