Pop Rocking Culture Goes to Comikaze 2015!

Blue Striker, Dad and I went to Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2015. For starters, this may be a landmark year for the five year old convention, because Stan Lee (who bought out the convention a couple of years ago) made an unofficial announcement on Friday that this may be the last Comikaze he attends. It would be strange not to see Stan Lee at Comikaze. However, he is in his nineties, and it is amazing that he maintains such a high profile.

We last attended Comikaze in 2012, and upon entering the Convention Center, it was obvious how much Comikaze has grown. For one, we had a hard time getting through the crowds in the vendor area. While this is generally a sign of success, it made things a bit overwhelming. Blue Striker also noted that it also made it difficult to determine who had stuff to give away. A suggestion to those responsible for the day-to-day logistics of the convention: Make sure attendees (including members of the press, like me) have easy access to the programs.

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There was a lot of neat cosplay at Comikaze. I noticed that there was a relatively small number of people dressed as “traditional” superheroes. That said, there continues to be a plethora of Harley Quinns, Jokers, Deadpools and Spiderhumans. There were also plenty of anime and video game characters (who Blue Striker had to point out to me), as well as TV and movie characters. For even a minor Doctor Who fan like me, it was neat to see people dressed up as Doctors Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith. There were more fezes there than at a Shriners convention!

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As Pop Rocking Culture is also about the pop culture experience for kids, I did notice a few kids who seemed overwhelmed by all of the action. I am sure many of them were tired, hungry and even bored as well. It would be great that on Sunday, which is supposedly the traditional “kids’ day” at cons, there were a few more things geared towards the young set. On the plus side, there was a pretty neat panel called “Pop Culture Parenting with the Geeklings and Parental Units”. I got the chance to find out like-minded moms and dads, who had a few great ideas for bringing up the next generation of pop culture mavens. There is actually a group called Geeklings and Parental Units, who host meetups in the Los Angeles area.

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There were plenty of Baby Boomer and Gen X icons such as Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig of Star Trek: The Original Series fame, as well as Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox from CHiPs. It was also neat to see kid star Kel Mitchell, the one half of the Kenan and Kel team from Nickelodeon whom we don’t see every week on Saturday Night Live. I pointed out to Blue Striker that this guy is the same one who played the goofy kid with the braids in Good Burger. (Note: I mentioned Mystery Men to Blue first, but then I realized that he’s never seen it. Another thing to add to his pop culture “to do” list.)

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All in all, we had a good time at Comikaze 2015. We hope that wpress credentials in 2016. Blue Striker says that he will definitely dress in costume the next time around. As for me, I might as well.

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Listen, on the radio — it’s Superman!

A little-publicized Thursday morning panel at the recent Comic-Con International: San Diego addressed the 75th anniversary of the debut of The Adventures of Superman radio serial. Despite being overlooked today, this radio show, which ran for more than 10 years and 2000 episodes, added important elements to the Superman mythos. Although he made his debut only two years earlier in Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938), Superman was already an established pop culture figure when the show began. According to How to Love Comics, the show ran from February 1940 to 1951, first on WOR and in syndication before being broadcast through the Mutual and later ABC radio networks. The television version of The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, started in 1952, a year after the radio show ended.

The 1930s and 1940s were prime years for radio programming. Radio audiences were familiar with daring heroes such as The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet. But there was no one on radio quite like Superman. The producers of the radio show had to meet the challenges of a character who resided in the public’s imagination as a visual character. As a result, the radio show featured plenty of sound effects — whooshing noises for the flying sequences, as well as explosions, fighting, and other action scenes. Echo effects mimicked large caverns, empty rooms and long-distance telephone calls.

The Superman radio show also introduced many of the now-familiar tropes of the character. Listeners of this show were the first to hear the famous phrases “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” “Up, up and away!” and “Faster than a speeding bullet…!” This show also gave us the long-running supporting characters of Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Inspector Henderson. In 1945 came two firsts: Superman’s exposure to Kryptonite and his first official team-up with Batman.

People more familiar with recent portrayals of “mild mannered” Clark Kent may be a bit surprised by Clayton “Bud” Collyer’s portrayal of Superman’s alter ego. As in the early Superman comics (later mimicked by Peter Parker’s exploitation of his Spiderman identity), Superman’s feats were a way for Clark Kent to get a big news scoop for the Daily Planet. Although Collyer raised his voice an octave to distinguish Clark’s voice from Superman’s, his version of Clark Kent was as much an active participant in the story (at times aggressively so) as Superman. An interesting fact about Collyer’s portrayal of Superman was that for the first six years of the show, his identity as the voice of Superman was a secret.

The radio show had its share of controversy. Lily Kaufman, writing earlier this year for Time magazine’s blog, noted that the February 26, 1940 issue of Time stated that “Superman or no superman, he has to watch his step on the radio. Mothers’ clubs have their eyes on him, the Child Study Association of America feels that his occasional rocket & space ship jaunts are a bit too improbable. “  Despite these concerns, The Adventures of Superman had an effect beyond radio and the comics that inspired the show. According to Durnmoosemovies, the most famous episode arc of the radio show, ”Clan of the Fiery Cross”, was suggested by activist Stetson Kennedy, known for his investigation of the Ku Klux Klan. In “Clan of the Fiery Cross”, Superman takes on the Klan, revealing many of the real-life organization’s rituals and code words. It is believed that this episode arc made a negative impact on the Klan’s recruitment and membership.

Episodes of The Adventures of Superman are available through the Internet Archive. Listening to these shows will take you back to the time of your grandparents or great-grandparents, when the whole superhero genre, as well as electronic media, were in their early days. Frankly, they’re just fun to listen to!

Photo: Husband, wife and two children, seated in a living room, listening to a radio, 1957. Warren K. Leffler. Courtesy, Library of Congress.

Lynda Carter Addresses “Wonder Woman ’77” and Her Music Career on The Today Show

Sorry that I haven’t posted for a while.  Just wanted to share of this interview of Lynda Carter by those two tipsy chicks Hoda and Kathie Lee on the 34th, er, 4th hour of NBC’s The Today Show.  She talks about “Wonder Woman ’77” and her music career.  She also demonstrates the fact that she hasn’t lassoed anyone in decades!

http://www.today.com/video/lynda-carter-still-has-her-wonder-woman-costume-429106755517

Opinion: What We Want to See More of and Less of in 2015

We at Pop Rocking Culture have come up with a short list of what we want to see more of and less of in pop culture in the next year.  Some are very obvious, while some less so.  Here we go:

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WHAT WE WANT TO SEE MORE OF IN 2015:

1. Adventure shows like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

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As regular readers of this blog probably guessed, we are big fans of MAOS at Pop Rocking Culture.  Sure, you have Arrow and The Flash, but we want more!

2. Truly funny social media memes.  When it came to new memes, we wondered if anything would rise to the level of the famous Batman slapping Robin meme.  Some new memes were a bit confusing — what does Kermit the Frog drinking tea have to do with anything?  But Michael Jackson eating popcorn as he eagerly awaits comments?  Pres. Obama anticipating blame?  Those are funny!  Keep it coming, you people with nothing better to do!

3.  The Simpsons.  This created a bit of controversy here at Pop Rocking Culture — aren’t there 25 years worth of episodes to watch?  But Blue Striker wants this show to go on forever!  Hope you’re reading this, Fox and Matt Groening!

4. Wonder Woman.  Earlier this year, Pop Rocking Culture posted a couple of articles about the casting and directing of upcoming movies featuring Wonder Woman.  Add to that the bestselling book, Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, and you have a regular Amazing Amazon renaissance going on.  Coming in 2015:  Wonder Woman ’77, a digital comic book featuring the world of Wonder Woman as it was portrayed in the iconic 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter, and another Wonder Woman book, Noah Berlatsky’s explicitly titled Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948.

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WHAT WE WANT TO SEE LESS OF IN 2015:

Unfortunately, this list is much more obvious, because A LOT OF PEOPLE want to see less of:

1. Justin Bieber.

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Good Justin, Bad Justin.  How about No Justin?

2. Kim Kardashian.  This includes her body parts, as well as her entire extended family.

3. Will and Kate.  Another controversial selection by Blue Striker, because I love Will, Kate and the children (those here and yet to come).  But I can see where Blue is coming from — he’s an American boy who has absolutely no use for royalty.

4. Family Guy.  Okay, you had your revival.  The door is to your right.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  We want to hear from you!

Comic Book Gift Guide Pt. 3

Part three of Wayne Xiao Long’s Comic Book Gift Guide (2014).

Wayne Xiao Long (小龙)

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While the first installment of the gift guide served as a starting point for fans of The Flash, Man of Steel, GothamSmallville, and the Batman:Arkhamverse/Injustice crowd and the second installment aimed to help readers looking for strong female characters and fans of the creepy comic book shows Constantine and The Walking Dead, the third installment deals (mostly) solely with (mostly) independent (mostly) non-superhero comics.

ALL-AGES ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: Buying something for a new reader? I’m a huge fans of using comics to both teach language and provoke the reader’s historical imagination. One book that I’ll giving this year is Van Jensen and Jose Pimienta’s The Leg: The Remarkable Reappearance of Santa Anna’s Disembodied Limb, which tells the story of the remarkable reappearance of Santa Anna’s disembodied limb. The book wanders around 20th century Mexican history with a few surprise guest appearances. The language…

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REDESIGNED LOBO CAUSING SOME HACK AND SLASH BACKLASH

From Bill:

Like most people out there, lots of negative harsh words are being said about the newest redesign of DC’s 80’s classic cult favorite comic book character LOBO, which made its debut in September during the publisher’s “Villains Month” campaign. The creative team behind it, consisting of Marguerite Bennett, Ben Oliver, Cliff Richards and Daniel Brown, have been getting lots of angry emails about taking the machismo out of the Main Man. Here’s DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harrass on the change:

“The Lobo you’ve seen so far in the New 52 is not who you think he is. In this one-shot, you’ll be introduced to the real Lobo. A ruthless killer, Lobo is on a quest to kill the man who has taken his name. In this design, Ken updated Lobo’s facial tattoos and weaponry by adding laser edges to his blades and gloves that’ll give him extra strength with their mechanical usage. In the end, Ken transformed Lobo into a lean, mean killing machine.”

But in the end, it’s up to you to decide which one’s the better of the two. As for me, there’s only one obvious choice.