Tagged: Deadpool

Box Office Democracy: “Fantastic Four”

Fantastic Four 4

Fantastic Four is a bad movie. Don’t go see it if you want an enjoyable 100 minutes in a theater and probably don’t see it for an ironic “so bad I want to make fun of it” kind of way either. It’s a lifeless bad, an entropic bad, a movie so bad it makes me question if there’s even a good movie based on this team to be made. Only the depths of history save Fantastic Four from being the worst superhero movie of all time (it might not even be the worst movie named Fantastic Four) but it’s certainly the worst superhero of this generation and is a top contender for worst film of the year.

Perhaps it isn’t possible to make a good Fantastic Four with the constraints that a non-Marvel studio would put on it. They need to make the principal characters young so they’re more relatable to young people, but then you have a team full of cut-rate Peter Parkers with none of the family-based charm that makes the FF work in the comics. You need to do an origin story but you also need to get Doctor Doom in there because he’s literally the only villain that anyone’s ever heard of so you end up shoehorning that character into a story that doesn’t involve him or he becomes some kind of vestigial Fantastic Fifth. There’s also an unwillingness to use the iconic costumes or codenames that aren’t The Thing, which takes a team with so much history and turns them in to a bunch of generic off-brand versions of themselves.

It’s become quite clear over the weekend that there were some serious behind the scenes squabbles over the making of this movie and it’s certainly apparent in the product given to us on the screen. After the four main characters get their super powers they are held as scientific experiments, a predicament from which Reed escapes and the remaining three are left behind. This creates a great deal of mistrust from Ben Grimm who feels abandoned but throws himself headfirst in to working as a secret weapon of the military. One such military operation is taking Reed back in to custody. When they bring Reed back Johnny is quick to embrace him, Sue feels guilty at being part of the operation that brought him back in and Ben still feels anger. Then Doctor Doom shows up and starts killing a lot of people and it feels like this is going to be the impetus for the four of them to put their differences aside and work together to stop this larger evil a few scenes later in the movie but instead this one confrontation is it. They fight Doom and at the end they seem to be the best of friends even though nothing really changed for all of them, they don’t talk, there aren’t even meaningful glances or anything. Reed goes from missing for an entire year to barking orders that everyone follows in what must have been hours. I bet there was a version of this movie that feels more complete but we’ll never see it and with the right NDAs we might never even know but this is the rare movie that’s boring at 100 minutes but might have been appreciably better at 120 minutes.

I don’t know where this property goes from here. There’s already word from Fox that their announced Fantastic Four sequel might get scrapped in favor of a Deadpool sequel. Oddly, not announcing sequels for movies that haven’t been released yet doesn’t seem to be an option at all. Perhaps this time Fox has finally stumbled so badly with the franchise that they’ll be willing to work out a deal that returns the characters to Marvel and we start seeing a slow rollout of Latverian mentions in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m not interested in seeing this version of these characters again and I’m sure as hell not excited to sit through another origin story in four years time. I want this to eventually be gotten right but maybe it doesn’t matter, there are enough super hero movies out there without another iteration of the FF taking up all of our time.

Emily S. Whitten: SDCC 2015 Part IV – Panels!

Deadpool

Greetings, ComicMixers! Did everyone have a good weekend? I hope so! But I know, I know, there was probably one thing missing from your hopefully glorious and relaxing weekend – my SDCC coverage! Yes, that’s right – Along with Part I (the con floor!); Part II (the Her Universe Fashion Show!); and Part III (The party round-up!), here comes Part IV – the panels!

Contrary to what folks who see me at cons might think, I can actually sit still for at least an hour at a time, and sometimes I even want to. In particular, I do like to try and see a few panels whenever I’m at a con; and going into SDCC, I definitely had some on my agenda. This year, unlike many, I actually even managed to see most of them, and I’m glad I did, because they were awesome and I want to share them with you. So here we go!

Voice Over Celebration with Beloved Cartoon, Video Game, and Film VO Actors

Look, the day they have voice actor panels at a con and I don’t make it to at least one is the day you’ll know I’ve lost my joy in life (the same goes for any panel featuring the delightful Rob Paulsen – and since I couldn’t make the TMNT panel (and see the awesome TMNT SDCC mini scene in person!) due to a scheduling conflict, this panel was definitely a must). The panel featured Susan Eisenberg, Rob Paulsen, Caitlin Glass, Anthony Bowling, Tara Platt, Yuri Lowenthal, and Genese Davis, and was primarily a Q&A, with the usual fun (and funny voices) that goes on at a VO panel.

Genese Davis was a fantastic moderator, and you could just feel the love these VO folks have for their work and the fans. It was also neat to hear, e.g., Eisenberg discuss what voicing Wonder Woman has meant to her, and other great and inspiring stories from the panelists. My favorite funny bit of the panel was Lowenthal’s explanation for why he has a mohawk, which basically varies depending on the moment and his mood. “You know, a fan will ask me, ‘Did you get a mohawk because your character has one?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, what a good idea – of course that’s why I got it!'” Hah!

The Black Panel

For those who don’t know, The Black Panel is an SDCC staple that’s been happening since 1997. It primarily features black creators in and connected with the genre entertainment industry (although often there is also a “token white person” on the panel) and discusses their impact on and experiences within the industry. While the panel is known for the irreverent humor and moderating style of organizer Michael Davis , it’s also known for the impressive list of top-tier creators it’s featured over the years, and the valuable advice they have shared for young creators and others in the audience.

This year, the panel featured Joe Illidge, Eric Dean Seaton, Don McGregor, Tatiana EL-Khouri, and of course, moderator Davis. Although distilled wisdom and good advice were shared with the audience by all of the panelists, as usual, this panel was also bittersweet and truly the end of an era, as we learned that this was going to be the last SDCC Black Panel. It then featured a scrolling list of all of the luminaries who have been on the panel, as well as at least two fans whose Q&A questions consisted of talking about how valuable the Black Panel has been to them over the years in raising awareness of black talent (one woman in particular, a librarian, discussed how the panel had helped her to find black-created comics to include in her library stock). It was truly an inspiring panel, both in hearing what the panelists shared, and in hearing what the panel has meant to people; although of course, the trademark humor of the panel was still present. In classic Black Panel style, Davis closed the final Black Panel with, “Oh yeah: white people, get out!”

Dark Horse: An Afternoon with Joss Whedon

This panel was an absolute delight (and can be watched in its entirety here, thanks to others who actually filmed it). Whedon started with a nice thanks to Dark Horse and a funny Oz joke: ” I want to talk about how ridiculously grateful I am to everybody at Dark Horse for doing what is honestly one of the hardest jobs in the world. When you take a licensed product, something that already exists, and you have to continue those stories, you have to be so faithful and yet so inventive to make the stories come to life. And that is a tightrope act. It is really difficult for someone; for anyone, to carry on something that is so beloved, and take it to another level, while still being true to all the voices and the characters and what we were trying to do way back when. Thank you to Scott, who’s been my editor forever, and Sierra, who is working on the books; Mike Richardson, who built the house we’re all in, and particularly the writers and artists – Christos Gage has been killing it, Rebekah Isaacs, and Georges Jeanty of course; Zack Whedon. …I feel like five years ago a tornado ripped up my house and dropped it in the land of Marvel, and it’s been a very weird time. And (pointing to the audience) you were in it, and you were there, and you were there…and all that while, all these people have been working so hard and doing such beautiful work, and it’s been so great for me to know that the things I care most about are being taken care of. So I want to give Dark Horse a shout-out for their amazing work.”

Following that was some big news from Whedon; the announcement of a new Dark Horse six issue book, The Twist, about which Whedon said, “it basically deals with the most important moral question facing us, which is why isn’t there a Victorian female Batman?” He then decided to impart some life and creative advice to all of us, which was, ” Continue to earn what you already have.” Followed quickly with more witty repartee, including discussion of the Marvel movies, about which he observed, “What’s exciting was that everyone was so perfectly pleased with how I handled Natasha.” Followed by, “Yeah, I still got it,” in response to the ensuing laughter.

The whole panel is well worth a watch, but in particular Joss’s answer to this fan question is worth paying attention to. The fan said, “I, like many of us, gain a lot of peace from your work, even though it’s about people who exist in very non-peaceful situations. My question is: what is the world, what is existence, why are we here, how can I and all of us feel more sane and purposeful in our own lives, and how do you represent that philosophy in your writings?”

Whedon replied with, “You think I’m not going to…but I’m going to answer that! The world is a random and meaningless terrifying place, and we all, spoiler alert, die. Most critters are designed not to know that. We are designed uniquely to transcend that. To understand that…Ooh, I can quote myself, this is fun! ‘A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.’ That what we have right now, right here, has as much meaning as anything we’re afraid of. And the way we’re designed to do this is that the main function of the human brain, the primary instant function, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and we would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and we learn to also distort, and from the very beginning, we’re learning to tell a story about ourselves.

I keep hoping to be the hero of my story; I’m kind of like the annoying sidekick. I’m like Rosie O’Donnell in the Tarzan movie that Disney did. I’m that annoying. I was like, “But I’m Tarzan, right?’ And they were like, “No. You’re that weird ape that we don’t know if it’s a girl.” But, it is still a narrative. And since we’re doing that from the moment we’re alive, living stories that we then hear and see and internalize and wear hats from and come to conventions about; we all come here to celebrate only exactly that: storytelling. And the shared experience of what that gives us. And it may give us strength; it may distract us. It can do almost anything. And that, for me, is how we live peacefully, and how we live with ourselves, and each other. We understand our story, everybody else’s story, that we’re all part of that; and that story is going to be with us, and can be controlled by us, and can be surprising and delightful and horrifying and all those things, but it’s something we can survive because, unlike me, you all are the hero of the story. That is my answer.”

Wow. And after that profoundness, I’ll end my summary of this panel with this quote from Whedon, which clearly needs no context: “This is very simple, and I think everyone can relate to where I am on this. I love bees. I just want to put bees in my clothes. And have bee-time.”

Thanks for that, Joss. And for being awesome.

20th Century Fox

Ohhhhh, you guys know where this is going, right? Okay, so the Fox panel showcased a bunch of projects, including The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, Victor Frankenstein (which featured the most hilariously homoerotic panel I have experienced in person), Fantastic Four, and X-Men: Apocalypse, several of which I’m excited about (X-Men in particular); but you all know why I sat my butt on those hard seats in the Most Depressing Room of SDCC for two hours after Joss Whedon left, right? Deadpool. (Look, I’m not the only one. The Wall Street Journal is all about the Deadpool, too. As is Nicholas Hoult, who, when asked about his character Beast on the X-Men panel, replied, “I can’t concentrate because I’m still psyched about the ‘Deadpool’ trailer.”)

In the midst of all of the other cool Fox stuff going on, moderator Chris Hardwick of Nerdist started the Deadpool ball rolling with, “I believe we have a special announcement before the next panel…?” That was the cue to roll an SDCC Hall H exclusive video which showed Ryan Reynolds in his full Deadpool regalia, seated in a Masterpiece Theatre-style chair, complete with pipe in hand, as he intoned, “In a world divided by fear, one man must save the world… From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time, comes five-time Academy Award-winner Ryan Reynolds as a man on an e-Harmony date with destiny. Ladies and gentlemen of Hall H, I give you…me! Deadpool! To teach you to take these broken wings and learn to fucking fly again.” And then, of course, Deadpool tried to put the pipe in his masked mouth and dropped it.

Amidst an absolute uproar of delighted cheers and screams, Reynolds snuck onto the still-dark stage to surprise us all as the lights came up and lead off an awesome, raunchy, totally Deadpool-esque panel that also featured Tim Miller (Director), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa Carlysle), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Ed Skrein (Ajax), and Gina Carano (Angel Dust). Reynolds responded to the crowd’s cheers with, “Looks like we’re ready to make the chimi-fucking-changas already. It’s only been eleven years in the waiting.” When Hardwick asked him how it felt for the movie to finally be coming out, Reynolds replied, clearly delighted, “One year ago, almost today, some asshole leaked that footage, and that’s why we’re standing here… You guys – the internet, fans, you made the studio do this.” Reynolds, Miller, and cast also gave credit to the excellent script of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

Miller said about the movie finally being made that, “I would have made this fucking movie anytime, but it had to come at the right time, and the studio was ready to make it now. And I think it’s because as Ryan said, it’s the fans. He is the perfect character for our time, I think.” Reynolds added, “I think this character inhabits a space in the comic universe that no other person can or will ever inhabit. It’s got everything you’d ever want. …For one I just think it’s an absolute miracle that a studio let us make Deadpool, let alone an R-rated Deadpool.” He added, “…No matter what the rating is, though, babies will love this.”

All of the actors discussed their characters, and were clearly excited about their roles in the film. When asked about her character Vanessa, Baccarin said, “She’s a badass. It was really awesome to read the script. You don’t get to read many superhero movies that have a badass romantic lead. She gives him lip right back, and not necessarily the talking kind. …She’s the perfect match to his crassness.”

After the Q&A they showed some exclusive footage, which was amazing and appears very loyal to Deadpool’s origins. Expanding on the earlier leaked footage, it showed more characters and backstory (including that Negasonic Teenage Warhead starts out in training with Colossus), included more great comedic moments, and highlighted Deadpool’s fighting prowess when he shot three people in the head with one bullet. It was also rife with fourth-wall breakage, and featured a Liefeld joke, a dig at Green Lantern, and an appearance by Blind Al (w00t!). It was such a hit that at the finish, Hall H exploded into chants of, “One more time!” and Hardwick obliged by running the footage again, to more cheers.

In summary, this panel was hilarious and the movie looks like it is going to be awesome and, and, and you guys. I can’t even. I almost died of happiness during the panel. Deadpool. Is finally coming to theaters. And it looks fantastic. Y’all are lucky I didn’t expire right there in Hall H and am still here to write this.

And that I was still vaguely coherent for the next Fox panel, X-Men: Apocalypse. I feel like no matter what, I’ll do this write-up a disservice, because I was still buzzing so much from Deadpool that I could hardly concentrate; but I will say that the footage looked amazing, the cast is huge but it seems to work, there was a moment where Hugh Jackman sat on Jennifer Lawrence’s lap, and I am really looking forward to the film. If Deadpool hadn’t been on the panel agenda, this would have been the Fox movie I’m most looking forward to.

The Fox panel wrapped with a giant selfie of “the most superheroes,” with the casts of Wolverine, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Fantastic Four, and a special appearance by Stan Lee. Sweet.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut

The last panel-like thing I did while at SDCC was actually a screening – of X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut. Essentially, a Rogue storyline got cut out of the movie for running time, and it’s been added back by Bryan Singer, who introduced the screening for the new DVD. The screening was cool – it was fun to see the film again on the big screen, and while the movie does work without the Rogue storyline, I did feel it added to the overall story to include it. Certainly for a movie on DVD (where you can pause anytime for snack and bathroom breaks!) I’d advocate getting the longer cut.

And that’s it for me and the panels! Check out my panel photo album here or my whole SDCC collection of photos here.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: SDCC 2015 Part I – On the Con Floor

GrootI just returned from the San Diego Comic-Con, and wow, am I beat. But that’s because there was just so much to see and do at the con – and of course, as always, I tried to see and do it all!

Sadly, there’s no way to actually experience everything (and I gave up on the FOMO some time ago), but I did manage to experience a ton of the stuff that was on offer. So much, in fact, that I think it’s going to take me about five posts to cover it all! So today, I’m sticking with the basics – the con floor and exhibits, some exclusives I scored (and coveted but missed out on!), free swag, cool cosplay, Artist Alley, and some of the stuff that goes on outside.

If you’ve been to SDCC before, you know just trying to see what you want to on the con floor and surrounding “activations” outside can be mega-challenging and exhausting. The hall is large, the activations spread out, and the crowd…well, let’s just say you aren’t going to be sprinting from booth to booth or buying any exclusives without a pretty big wait. Of course, that’s because there’s so much cool stuff to see and buy. So much, in fact, that it would take me forever to describe it, and so instead I put together this handy album of the stuff I stopped to take pictures of.

Favorite merchandise bits on the floor include this amazing Men In Black replica; upcoming collectible Marvel keychains from Monogram that will include Deadpool and X-Force Deadpool; and the Entertainment Earth booth’s many cool items, including this Boba Fett stool (there’s a whole set). Speaking of Entertainment Earth, while visiting their booth, I also got a chance to speak with Jason Lenzi, co-founder and co-owner of Bif Bang Pow!, which has partnered with Entertainment Earth to provide some cool products through their store. You can check out the interview here.

One thing any fan of miniatures, building sets, display sets, or the like really must check out is McFarlane Toys’ amazing building sets of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones characters and scenes. They caught my eye for their small scale and detail, and after talking with the Prototype Development Director I learned that Todd McFarlane’s idea was to have the individual pieces and sets (for kids approximately 8+ to adult collectors) be able to all be put together (including the characters, which come in pieces to be put together or mixed-and-matched) into larger scenes according to preference, and to have the larger building blocks (e.g. buildings) work with other brands. The Walking Dead ones are available or becoming available now (including e.g. Daryl on the highway and the Winnebago, and the hospital doors, due out in October), and the Game of Thrones collection, Series 1, will be out in December 2015 to early 2016 (series 2, including e.g. The Wall with Jon Snow, is due out in January 2016). The amount of detail in this product is great – including things like barbed-wire-topped fences in The Walking Dead line that can be angled if, for instance, you want your walkers to be “pushing the fence down.” Everything looks to be of good quality, and doors open, wheels move, grass is flexible, and more. They have everything from blind bag minifigs to sets of 5 figures in case you want to, for instance, quickly build up your Walker army (and the blind bags are labeled W for Walkers or H for Humans so you can at least have some idea of what you’re going to get). I love it; and I also learned they have their eye on additional licenses for the future (and maybe even some Spawn stuff, like a build your own alleyway). Can’t wait to see what else they come up with.

Along with all the cool stuff to look at, I picked up some fun exclusives and swag. My absolute favorite (since I missed out on the Hasbro matchbox-sized Ant-Man, which sold out in a hot second) is the Avocados at Law tee from the Digital PIMP booth, although the Fogwell’s Gym and Agent Carter shirts from Marvel are hella sweet, too. I was also pleased with the Supernatural “Swan Song” car with army man from CineQuest.com, pretty much everything from Quantum Mechanix (lots of Firefly stuff, including a mini Serenity and Firefly playing cards complete with IOUs!), and my ridiculously large Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps purchase. In the free swag category, getting the Google Cardboard viewer was awesome, and I was also well-pleased with my exclusive Firefly poster from QMx, my Little Twin Stars fan from Sanrio, the Comic-Con Mad Libs from Penguin, and of course the Entertainment Weekly mag with Deadpool on the cover. Because Deadpool. I also swung by Dark Horse and picked up plenty to read, including Mind MGMT and Lady Killers, which I’m looking forward to.

Fun displays on the floor included LEGO Minions and a life-sized Hulkbuster Iron Man suit that I just had to pose with.

Outside in the surrounding areas, this Hand of God promotion was pretty freaky – and also pretty amusing when some of the ardent religious protesters who always appear near the convention center during Comic Con got mixed in. They were clearly confused, at first thinking they’d walked into a crowd of like-minded individuals – until they heard some of the slogans being chanted by the Ron Perlman look-alikes.

The activations included the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, which a lot of people stopped to watch (increasing the crowd difficulty issue, but I get why they stopped – it was pretty damn cool!). Other outside stuff I was delighted to find included the Hello Kitty Cafe truck. I totally bought Hello Kitty macaroons and petit fours (tasty!).

But seeing exhibits and buying things isn’t all there is to do. There’s also a metric ton of great cosplay around, including favorites of mine like this epic Poison Ivy, this giant Groot, this somewhat Victorian female Captain America, this hilariously awesome Pikachu Deadpool, and the woman cosplaying my favorite Effie Trinket outfit. I love all the thought and work that people put into their cosplay, and how much joy they get out of it.

And of course, there’s also the entirety of Artist Alley to visit. I swung by to catch up with some favorite creators like Janet Lee, Reilly Brown, Sanford Greene, and Dustin Nguyen; and also visited Mark Wheatley‘s booth in the exhibits area. It’s always nice to take a few minutes to check out one of the main reasons SDCC even exists – i.e., the comics. And Artist Alley is a great place to do that.

Whew! I think that might just about cover the highlights of my con floor experience. Hope you enjoyed it! And fear not – there’s lots more to come. Stay tuned for coverage of convention panels, the Her Universe Fashion Show, Nerd HQ, and some of the fun party and nightlife stuff I checked out.

And until then, Servo Lectio!

 

 

Emily S. Whitten: The Deadpool is in the Details

Right now I’m walking a fine line between “super-excited for the upcoming Deadpool movie,” and “so excited I will finally give in and read the leaked movie script;” but I’m still trying to resist! It’s hard, though. With Ryan Reynolds constantly tweeting about the movie (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about!) and now set pictures of Wade Wilson and costumed Deadpool showing up online, I just want to dive into every detail of what we know about the upcoming movie, spoilers be damned!

But for now, I’m managing to restrict myself to IMDB and those sweet, sweet set pictures. (And the test footage, which never gets old. Oh, and of course this April Fool’s Day video.) Even the pictures are pretty exciting, though. The first set shows Morena Baccarin as Vanessa Carlysle, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano as Angel Dust, and Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool with a disfigured face, indicating that this is after he washes out of the Weapon X program. It’s hard to see exactly how bad they’ve made his face close up, but it appears to be closer to this than this or this. I was wondering how they’d do his face; given that in the comics he’s been depicted on all ranges of the spectrum when it comes to his cancer tumors and scars; but this looks at least reasonably bad without being completely out of hand, so I’m happy.

Even more important than his face, given the amount of time we generally see his face versus his mask, is the Deadpool costume we get to see here. I’m super excited about what I’m seeing; it looks both “real-world” practical enough to be convincing as the garb of a mercenary-turned super(hero)(villain)(insert murky moral code here), and faithful enough to the comics to make my inner fangirl jump up and down. It looks like it will appear realistic even in the midst of stunt work, which is cool.

All told, from head to toe it seems the designers are dedicated to getting this movie right for the fans, and like they know what they’re doing.

Details such as the seams and little back point on the mask, the bullet marks, the many pouches (hee!), and the leg holsters and sheathes really bring the comic book Deadpool to life, and that makes me all sorts of happy. (Now, if he had Deadpool symbols on the soles of his shoes and his boxer shorts as well as his belt buckle, I’d really know the designers are on the ball. Sadly at least the shoe soles look like they’re lacking the trademark circles. Who knows if we’ll see the boxers…eh? Eh? ) The one thing I’m not a huge fan of from what I’m seeing are actually his boots – the toe-caps are definitely sometimes canon, but man, do they kind of make the boots look like combat Mary Janes.

Oh well. If that’s the worst that can be said, that’s not bad. I’m also pretty curious to see how the mo-cap on his eye area will work out throughout the movie. In the comics, Deadpool’s uneven squint is a classic and common part of his visual personality. The test footage made the movement of Deadpool’s eye shields in the mask look natural; but we haven’t seen the squint as yet. Hopefully we’ll get at least a little bit of that in the film.

All around what I’m seeing, plus knowing that at least Copycat and Weasel will be showing up in the movie as well, are making it hard for me to bear the wait until February 2016 for the final film. But at least these pictures and everything I’m reading (and, you know, Deadpool fanboy Ryan Reynolds playing the character) are assuring me that the movie will most likely be worth the wait. And if the movie is awesome and does well (oh please oh please oh please), maybe we’ll even luck out and get more Deadpool. I’m thinking Taskmaster; I’m thinking Deadpool, Inc.; I’m thinking an epic Cable & Deadpool buddy flick!!!!! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Excuse me while I go daydream. And until next time, check out the Deadpool pics and Servo Lectio!

Marc Alan Fishman: Deadpool Will Kill DC To Death

This evening, whilst pondering and pontificating over what point I should pencil in the ole’ puter, I stumbled across this clip and its pretty sister clip. Suffice to say, color me curious, kiddos.

Contrary to the predilections of our esteemed Emily W. over here on ComicMix, I’ve never been fond of the Merc with a Mouth™. More often than not, I’ve found him to be a useful tool for a writer to take a short catnap and still be paid. I’ve often found most iterations of the chimichanga eating, joke cutting, kill-first-ask-questions-why ‘Pool to be lighter than light fare. I mean, check-off your aforementioned beats (with the chimichangas, and killing, and the what-not) and end it incoherently, and voila! Instant noodles in comic book form. Now with the character coming to the silver screen, the Marvel and Fox co-production will face becoming more than a farce to ultimately feast at the feet of the fans. Phew!

In less alliterative words: Deadpool, if handled properly, could be the death knell of DC and their movie making enterprise. How would a red-suited slapstick killer be so powerful you ask? Well, given the very nature of the character – as seen in the clips referenced above – the power to break the fourth wall is inherently at the ready. And Deadpool is very lucky to have a completely covered mouth when in full crimson regalia. Allow me to do the math, short-stacks. While doing their eventual ADR work for the film, the writers (and Marvel) will have the opportunity to poke more than a few wink-and-nudges right into the beefy chest of their rival.

Set to debut a month prior to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, who here can’t see a possible future in which ‘Poolie crushes it at the box office? No doubt chock full of gore, laughs, and potentially lethal barbs fired at the angst-to-be that is DC’s milieu at present, it’s not that far flung to think that as popular as Batman and Superman are, one can’t deny that a Deadpool that rips the World’s Finest a new sphincter might turn more than a few heads. In the same era Marvel drop the Guardians of the Galaxy on the unsuspecting public – to the tune of over 400 million space-credits (not counting merch sales) – having another C-Lister take a few box offices over just seems like a wonderful insult to injury.

The Deadpool movie is written by the dude who made the hilarious Zombieland, and stars an absolute wit like Ryan Reynolds in the titular role (heh, tits…). That being said, there’s no chance in hell it will bank more money than Batfleck and company. But all it’ll take is a few glancing blows by ole’ Wade Wilson before DC is out of the gate, and suffering.

Given how self-serious DC seems to be with each released promo, I’m more than ready for a laugh at their expense. Somewhere between the Samoan Bad Ass Aquaman, and Bald-n-Angry Zuckerberg, Deadpool will have plenty of targets to play with – all while shooting guns and killing mobsters or whatever. While I’m sure the Deadpool movie won’t be specifically targeting any DC property amidst its running time, the fact is they’ll have plenty of opportunities to sneak in some serious body blows. Combine that with a potential massive profit (beyond all that money they made on literally every other movie in their rolodex…), and frankly, I don’t know how Superman and Friends live to see another day. But I digress.

Deadpool will be the popcorn catnip immature nerds will flock to. With Looney Tunes mashing itself with curse words and death, you simply can’t get the raunch-loving masses any more in a tizzy. OK, you could promise some boobs or something, but let’s not get hasty. While I’m not one for purchasing Mr. Wilson’s exploits within the pages of his on-and-off series’ from the House of Mouse… I’m apt at least for 90 minutes worth of brain rot and guffaws at the local megaplex.

Which, I have to say, is a hell of a lot more than I’m willing to give DC these days.

 

Emily S. Whitten: Comics, New and Old

New Comics #1There’s a peculiar trait about the comic book industry that I never noticed until I was enmeshed in it enough to be aware that it was “the comic book industry.” Back when it was just “buying and reading comics I like, often in trade paperback or compilation formats” I never was aware of it – but once I became an active part of comic book fandom and started reporting on comics and trying to keep up with all the latest news, without even noticing that it was happening I embraced this trait, until after awhile it felt like it had engulfed me.

And no offense to the way the industry is set up, but I think it’s time for me to un-embrace it. The trait I’m referring to: The idea that the most important thing in comics, the thing to talk and care about, is always the newest thing; the latest thing; this week’s issue. The belief that what is worthy of discussion is something everyone’s buzzing about because it just came out; and that if you’re not up on the latest (book, new creative team, industry news) you are somehow not in the know about comics, or maybe not a true fan.

I get it; I really get why comics are pushed on readers with this angle, and why readers are willing and even eager to embrace and support the setup. And I get why the creators of comics support that structure as well. The way the industry is structured the longevity of many storylines, or the writers or artists assigned to those storylines, is only as secure as the numbers of latest issues being sold, or as the immediate feedback from fans (or haters). If you are a publisher, you want your newest creations to succeed, because that’s what keeps the money coming in. As a fan, if you like the current arc or character you want it all to keep going so you can keep reading. As a creator, you want to keep on working. Yes, it all makes sense. And given the way comics developed and continue to be sold, none of that may ever change.

I get all that, and I’m also not saying that there’s anything wrong with being excited about the latest thing or wanting to keep up on it, or that I don’t frequently experience excitement at the latest news. In fact, as a person who’s currently in the midst of writing a comic which I sincerely hope will someday see the light of day in the greater world, I’m sure that if my story does make it out there, I’ll be just as hopeful and concerned about the excitement over it and its immediate success. And as a comics journalist, I realize the irony of someone who is probably expected to be up on the latest news not wanting to always be talking about that (and the likelihood that my editor is shaking his head as he reads this).

But as a reader, I kind of abhor this mindset. After all, it’s never, ever been the way I’ve enjoyed reading or the reason I’ve read. Generally, I enjoy being able to consume whole stories; or at least whole chunks of stories that give me enough of the tale to satisfy for awhile. And what I love about a good read is that you can pick it up anytime, whether it’s a day or a hundred years after it was written, and enjoy or get something out of it. What I love is strongly developed characters; a driving plot; a new world of experience or thought opened before me; or some combination of these things. What I also love is the idea that these creations are spurred first and foremost by the desire to tell the story or the drive of creators to put their views to paper; not by marketing or the sheer need to secure a book’s continuing spot in the upcoming roster.

It’s weird that it’s taken me this long to figure it out, but I’ve realized that one of the reasons I’ve generally disliked crossovers, reboots, reimaginings, and the like is that even if a good story comes out of it (and sometimes that is the case), the impetus for the action is marketing; not storytelling. Granted, occasionally the story is served by it, if for example a character has been around so long that there doesn’t seem to be a new place to take him or her without rearranging some of the past; but in that case, honestly, sometimes I’d prefer to send a character quietly to the back of the queue, at least for awhile; and see a new creation take his or her place.

I realize I may be in the minority on this. After all, when you have, e.g., a Batman or a Spider-Man, who has had so many adventures and is beloved by all (including me), it can be hard to say goodbye. But on the other hand, even if we miss the characters when their adventures are done, there is something deliciously satisfying about whole stories with definitive endings; something we can find in good literature, but rarely in comics. There is also something satisfying about never having to see a favorite character diluted for the sake of stretching success.

I read to enjoy a story; and yet with comics, so often I find myself feeling an overwhelming pressure to read all the newest things no matter what they are; or to keep reading books I’ve stopped enjoying because they contain faint echoes of a character I once loved. I find myself stacks behind on the comics I think I might want to keep up on, or feel like I ought to be reading. And maybe the fault of this is with me, in that I’ve accidentally bought into the idea that I’d better read the thing everyone else is liking or keep reading what I once liked; but I think it’s also built into the structure of what comics are, and how they are published and marketed.

Whatever the case, in the end, comics are, like any other stories, for enjoying. And I’ve decided (as I stare at the stacked backlog of recent comics I’m meant to be reading for various and sundry of the above reasons) that I’m going to stop worrying about knowing all the latest, or what the industry or fans think I should be reading, and revert in practice to the way I’ve enjoyed every literary work I’ve ever read; by simply picking up whatever I’m in the mood for, no matter when it was put out or who created it, and enjoying the hell out of it for its own sake.

And at the moment, that means re-reading, for the umpteenth time, Joe Kelly’s Deadpool.

So until next time, beware of evil villains named Deathtrap and three-ton teddy bears, and Servo Lectio!

 

Emily S. Whitten: Deadpool’s New Year’s Resolutions

DeadpoolAs everyone knows, it’s a time-honored New Year’s tradition to not only make resolutions about all of the things you are really going to do better in the coming year, but also to share them with friends so they can encourage you to not be a bum and totally forget about all of your well-meaning promises. So naturally, my bestie Deadpool sent me a draft of his list and, just as naturally, I figured all of you would want to see it so you can be inspired towards your own lofty New Year’s goals. Therefore:

Deadpool’s List of Stuff I’m Definitely Going To Do Sometime In 2015… Probably:

  • Wash that weirdly pulsating pile of uniforms in the corner of the bedroom before it escapes and eats New York. Use actual detergent and stuff.
  • Kill/maim/otherwise injure more bad people
  • …Don’t kill/maim/otherwise injure any more good people?
  • Send Ryan Reynolds flowers (again) (and another cell phone with me as #1 on speed dial!)
  • Make paper-Mache Dogpool sculpture with that pile of Taco Bell receipts I keep tripping over (fulfills therapist’s requirement for “fun therapeutic crafts”)
  • Karaoke with Doctor Doom! (Track down Doctor Doom and drag him to karaoke)
  • Break record for Most Twinkies Eaten In One Sitting
  • Be in the next Avengers movie! As Iron Man’s best bud. (freeze Cap again?)
  • Finally figure out how to get drunk with a healing factor
  • Read all of my back issues of Soldier of Fortune
  • Be nice(r) to old ladies (in memory of my beloved Bea)
  • Replace Spider-Man’s web shooter fluid with neon Silly String. Again. :D :D :D
  • Perfect my patented Triple-Decker Killer Hot Fudge Sundae (needs more caramel?)
  • Always get paid for jobs before accepting them. Especially when Taskmaster is involved.
  • Find Bob a life.
  • More. Chimichangas!

Hope that helped you to figure out all the amazing things you want to resolve to do in 2015! Good luck with that.

And until next time, Happy New Year and Servo Lectio!

 

Emily S. Whitten’s Grand San Diego Adventure, part one

The San Diego Comic Con can be completely overwhelming. With panels, “experiences” (as they tend to call the activities set up outside of the Convention Center), pilot screenings, performances, and parties, it’s hard to know what to see first. And one of the craziest places to start is the floor of the Exhibit Hall. With wall-to-wall exclusives, freebies, announcements, signings, trailers, comics creators, scavenger hunts, merchandise, and maybe even a celebrity or two in disguise, it’s pretty much impossible to see everything, unless maybe that’s all you do for the entire con. And without fail, it’s also always a seething, writhing mass of other people who want to see or buy all of the same things you do.

I still love it, though. From accidentally walking through the same booth so many times you start to feel like it’s your second home until you realize you’ve actually never seen the part of it you’re standing in right now, to winding up in the completely wrong aisle from where you meant to be and discovering an awesome bit of merch, to running into a friend you totally never expected to see in the middle of the crowd, to seeing an amazingly clever cosplay, to taking silly pictures with booth displays (one of my favorite things to do), it’s just fun. And while I certainly didn’t see everything, here are some of the coolest things I experienced this year.

  • The trailer and announcement for the Disney Infinity Games Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy play set. I just happened to be wandering by the Marvel booth on preview night in time to catch this, and it really does look awesome. From the trailer, the one I’m most looking forward to playing is Groot, but Rocket Raccoon and the others look fun too. (You can watch the trailer here.)  I also was on the spot at the right moment to get a free Star-Lord design poster and Groot mask signed by artist Jon Diesta, which was pretty sweet (I guess I was the first person to ask him to sign the foam mask. We discovered it wasn’t easy). I’m glad I happened on that when I did, because every other time I walked by the Marvel booth over the weekend it was such a madhouse that I couldn’t even step into the booth area! Oh, except that I did see the most epic Marvel battle scene that has ever been, in toy format. Whoever set this up is clearly a well-versed Marvel nerd who thought of every detail, from Professor X’s chair hanging in the air to Deadpool just chillin’ while chaos ensued around him. I luff you, Marvel nerd. Also I want to play with this.
  • The Hasbro booth, including the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic photo op, simply because I love taking silly pictures and this may be my favorite silly picture of the weekend. They had several scenes and speech bubbles to choose from, for maximum silliness. Well played, Hasbro. I also got a cute free MLP poster and coveted their Spider-Man toys. (That mask is cool.)
  • Sideshow Collectibles!! I barely even know where to start with this booth. Every single thing was awesome, from the Back to the Future set to the gigantic Doctor Doom that so needs to be the first thing to greet people  in my foyer if I ever have one, to the Captain America movie figures and the life-sized Han Solo in Carbonite that you could win. But the most important thing to me was the Deadpool (!!!!!). Because you guys, they are making a Sixth Scale Deadpool, and he looks amazing. :D :D :D :D :D (Seriously, I can’t express my level of joy at this without emoticons. I’m that speechlessly happy. Also I need this immediately. When does it come out??)
  • The excellent cosplays. There were many, many cool costumes on the floor. A few of my favorites were this cute classic Harley Quinn (with smiley purse!); this Skipper from Penguins of Madagascar (he actually looks like he could be an official one? I don’t know. Either way, nice!); this picture-perfect New 52 Wonder Woman (she looked adorable with the Tonner Doll Company Wonder Woman, and made the entire thing, from leather to metalwork!); this clever Hamburglar (Hee!); this pair of Jay Garrick Flashes; this Discworldian Moist von Lipwig (someone said, “Is that a Snitch?” but I recognized him immediately. Yay, Discworld fans!); and this cute Little Mermaid family (that Ursula is boss).
  • San Diego GirlsThe DC Comics booth, celebrating 75 years of Batman with neat displays and a variety of custom-designed cowls like this Harley Quinn one. They also had several of the DC Bombshells statuettes on display. Even though I totally recognize the cheesecake-y sexism of pin-up girls and part of me wants to be peeved about these, I can’t help but think they are a really well-done homage to a time gone by, and kind of adorable (and hey, compared to all of the blatant and tasteless attempts to sell comics through sex and female exploitation or dehumanization these days, these feel positively classy). They also had a great depressed Batman statue in the middle, àla the new Ben Affleck Batman, which allowed for some more statue pose picture silliness. You can’t keep me down, emo Batman!
  • The Darth Vader Hot Wheels car. Who thought of this? Who did?? You get a prize. Also? I want one. To drive. And I will park it right next to the life-sized Funko Pop! Rocket Raccoon I plan to install on my lawn.
  • This thing. No, I don’t know what it is or what it is from or why there is a little floating demon joystick-driving its brain. It is just adorable and creepy and I love it. It can hang out with my Rocket Raccoon. They can be life-sized lawn gnome best buddies, and maybe have cute but disturbing adventures at night when no one is looking.
  • Life-sized Star Wars Rebels! I like Hera. She looks sassy. Like she will pwn you and not put up with your nonsense. I hope this is the case. Also she is voiced by Vanessa Marshall. Sweet!
  • Con exclusive merch! Like this Deadpool Mr. Potato Head, this glow-in-the-dark White Lantern Flash, this Harley Quinn purse (with bells!), this Firefly Leaf on the Wind keychain/necklace, this too-adorable-for-words Catbug plush, this ghost Yoda bank, and this fiercely adorable Final Battle Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Aaaaaand, that’s all, folks! Well, all of the stuff I can remember from the con floor. (Full photo set here) But I have plenty more to report on from SDCC, including fun panels, parties, and press interviews. So stay tuned for more, and until next time, Servo Lectio!

Part Two of Emily’s Grand Adventure will appear right here at ComicMix.com this Thursday!

Emily S. Whitten: Craft with Me, Skottie Young & Deadpool!

deadpool skottie youngSkottie Young has always had a unique style, but I particularly love his little chibi versions of comic book characters. When I first saw his Deadpool “Screw U” chibi art on the badges for Baltimore Comic Con a couple of years ago (and then on the Deadpool #001 Variant Cover it immediately went on my mental favorites list. Young has also done very cute chibi covers of other characters, like Wolverine and Spider-Man. So this past weekend when my fella (who’s a huge Spider-Man fan) and I decided to do some clay crafting, Young’s grumpy but adorable little Deadpool and his adorable upside-down Spider-Man were excellent tiny sculpture project choices for us.

I’m fairly pleased with how my Tiny Grumpy Mercenary turned out, and, I gotta be honest, having him slouching irritably on a shelf with my family of Deadpools makes me happy in my nerdy little soul. So in case you are craving a happy nerd soul too and are in the mood to give crafting a try, I thought I’d share a tutorial on how I made by newest little buddy.

Step One: Suggested Tools and Supplies

  • Fimo, Sculpey, or other colored sculpting clay, in red, black, brown, white, blue, and purple
  • wax paper (to work on – I usually tape it down to the table) and a bright desk or work light
  • aluminum foil, and an old cutting board and sharp knife or other handy cutting tool
  • basic sculpting tool set (this is the set I have). You can also use toothpicks or other household items if you don’t have official tools.
  • wire and wire cutters

Step Two: Photo References

It’s always good to get a reference for whatever you are going to make from all angles possible. Of course, if it’s just one image, that’s all you’ll have to work with. But if you search and and save a good-sized version of the image, you can also at least zoom in as needed to look at the details. In this case, of course, your reference is this image.

Step Three: Making Your New Friend!

SKDP_1This process is going to vary for everyone, but generally, if what I’m making is a creature or a person, I like to start with the head. Having the head done first helps me gauge how big I will want to make the rest of the character; plus, making the part of the character that expresses the most personality first just makes sense to me.

To make a tiny Deadpool head, start with a round red ball and trace out the black eye holes very lightly with a knife tip. Pro tip: rolling the clay in the palms or your hands is a good way to get a good round ball (after kneading the clay .to warm it)

SKDP_2Once you’ve got the eyes traced to your satisfaction, trace them again with a deeper cut, angled inward at a shallow angle. Next, lever the middle area out to make a little hollow where the eye will be.

SKDP_3Use your finger or a tool (the ball-tipped tool does well for this) to smooth the edges and insides of the eye sockets and get rid of any clay crumbs.

SKDP_4Then make a ball of black clay of a size to fill the eye socket, shape it slightly to fit the socket’s edges, and press it into the socket.

Use your fingers and the flat-tipped tool to smooth the edges of the black to the red.

SKDP_5Next, repeat for the other black eye, and the white inner eyes. Pro tip: if you are using white clay, ensure you first wash your hands and are careful smoothing the edges so other clay colors don’t transfer onto the white. You can also lightly scrape the top surface of the white clay after you are done to remove any color tint.

SKDP_6
SKDP_7Once you have the eyes done, squinch the nose area just a little bit to get a grumpy look. Then roll a tiny red cone, and affix it to the back of the head, using the flat-tipped tool to smooth the edges of the cone onto the head and get rid of the seam where the two meet. Bend and pinch the tail of the Deadpool mask as per the original image, and use the flat-tipped tool to make tiny “wrinkles” in the tail of the mask.

Hey, look! You have a Deadpool head! Hooray! But don’t forget the excellent crowning touch, i.e. the little dart. Roll a piece of brown clay out into a thin snake, and cut to the size of the dart handle. Make another little snake of blue, wrap it around one end of the brown in a circle, cut to size, and use the flat-tipped tool to smooth the blue onto Deadpool’s grumpy little forehead until it looks slanted like a suction cup dart. Pro tip: to stop the dart handle from drooping, put a little extra blue or brown on the underside of the dart to support the handle.

Now, put the head aside and move on to the body. For Deadpool, I chose to make the whole body out of one solid red piece of clay. Pro tip: For larger objects or complex shapes, you can also shape aluminum foil into a relatively smooth core for the object, to save clay and/or make the sculpture stronger. You can then roll out a thin sheet of clay, cut it as needed, and mold it around the foil like a skin, smoothing it with tools and fingers afterwards.

For the body, start with shaping Deadpool’s round tummy, and then shape the legs and feet, and then body and arms. Once you have the basic shape to your liking, roll out a thin sheet of black to use for the markings on his uniform and for his belt. For the uniform, you can cut several shapes with the knife tool and then fit them together and smooth them into one piece on each side of his body. I cut five shapes for each side: the front and back strips that also jut out a little near the top, a strip for around the top of each arm, a small piece to go on each arm where the black goes further down, and a piece for under the arm to connect the front and back strips. You can always cut less shapes if you want to.

After smoothing these into the uniform, roll a thin black snake to go around each wrist, and a thin silver snake for his zipper, and attach these. To make the zipper tab, you can form a tiny ball of silver into a little rectangle using, e.g., the flat of a knife blade and your flat-tipped shaping tool simultaneously on opposite sides of the shape. Once you have a flat little rectangle, attach it to the top of the zipper line, and use the tool that rounds to a point (or a toothpick) to make a little indent for the tab “hole.”

SKDP_8Now you can go back to your black sheet of clay and cut a long thin strip for the belt, smoothing it together in the front where the buckle will be. Finish up with the four brown pouches (made like the zipper tab, and using the flat-tipped tool for the crease of each pouch “flap”) and a little light purple oval for the belt buckle.

Your final step will be to attach the body to the head. Once you’ve lined up where you want the head and body to join, you can cut a short piece of wire and insert it in the top of the body and bottom of the head. Before attaching the head, knead a small piece of red clay and shape it around the wire in the body; that way when you join the two, they will also be held together by clay. Finally, use more red clay to fill in the cracks between body and head, and smooth those together until the seams disappear. And voila! You have a little Deadpool.

SKDP_9Now, follow the baking instructions (and keep an eye on the light clay colors on your Deadpool to ensure he’s not baking too long – if he is they will begin to turn brown, like a marshmallow would). I recommend baking your clay in a glass dish.

SKDP_10When the bake time is up, take him out very carefully, and let him cool SKDP_11completely before touching him. Pro tip: For some reason white doesn’t always bake as brightly as you might like. If you see that your whites are dull or translucent after baking, you can always use paint on your figure to brighten him up; and also, there are clay glazes available if you ever want to make a shiny critter. And now, your tiny Deadpool is done! And you can sit him up somewhere and enjoy your awesome handiwork every day! Hooray!

SKDP_12Good luck with your tiny creations, and until next time, Servo Lectio!SKDP_13

 

Emily S. Whitten: Fandom Is Beautiful

Whitten Art 131126I’ve seen fandom do beautiful things. In point of fact, I can see because fandom (and some great friends) did a beautiful thing. And as we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to revisit the story of something I’m thankful for every day.

You see, I have a degenerative, incurable eye disease called keratoconus. It’s relatively rare, and the causes of it are still not known for sure. In brief, keratoconus causes a thinning, malformation, and scarring of the corneas, leading to not only the typical bad vision one might correct with glasses or contacts, but also wacky fun stuff like “monocular polyopia,” other streaking and flaring around light sources, and sensitivity to light. Due to the way keratoconus distorts the cornea, once it reaches a certain point vision is not correctable with glasses or soft contact lenses. Hard (rigid gas permeable) lenses are required to, essentially, provide the proper shape for the corneas.

For some people, the disease will plateau and they may not reach that point. Or they may reach that point and live with hard lenses. For others, like myself, the disease keeps going. It is at that time that options narrow dramatically.

In 2010, my quality of vision and ability to wear hard contact lenses with any degree of comfort had lessened (imagine weirdly blurred vision and sudden, random stabbing eye pains every day and you’ll have my daily life), to the point where my specialist and I were seriously discussing the possibility of corneal transplants.

As you can imagine, I was dreading the possible need for a transplant. The recovery time is over a year, results are not guaranteed, and there’s a 20% chance of rejection, along with risks of detachment, displacement, and infection. So imagine my excitement when my dad found another option.

Remember how I said the disease is incurable? It is. However, my dad had learned of an experimental procedure called corneal collagen cross-linking, which had been in trials for about two years in the United States – 12 years in other countries – at the time. This procedure is much less invasive that a transplant, with a shorter and less difficult recovery time, as well as being less risky. And while it doesn’t fix your vision, if successful it can halt the corneal degeneration, and, in some cases, improve eyesight slightly through rebuilding the bonds between the layers of the cornea.

We looked into it further, and were happy to learn that I was a candidate for the clinical trial. However, the big downside to this procedure was that, due to it still being in the trial stages (only about 300 people had been treated in the U.S. by 2010), my insurance wouldn’t cover it. I would have to pay all $8,000 of the cost of the procedure; not to mention the costs of the medications, lost income from missed work during the recovery periods, and special scleral contact lenses that I now wear (which are, incidentally, what they use in special effects for things like whited-out or black eyes). And the plain fact of the matter was that I did not have the money for the procedure.

Although I had been living with the diagnosis of the disease for several years at that time, I rarely mentioned it. However, this difficulty was so distressing that I wrote about it in my online journal. And then, wonderful things began to happen. The first was that several friends in the broader LiveJournal community of which I am a part through my various fandom interests, including those I knew in person and those I only knew online, asked if they could contribute funds for the surgery.

Although I was touched by the generosity, I was raised to believe I should make my own way in the world, and didn’t know that I could be comfortable accepting the offer. So I called up my wonderful friend Cleolinda to talk it over. As we talked, she wisely pointed out to me that this was an unusual medical situation, and that, basically, yes, if nice friends wanted to help, I should let them. After I agreed with her point, she then surprised me by posting about my situation on her journal, and asking if people might want to help me.

Whitten Art 131126Cue wonderful thing number two. Immediately, people began to donate; and after Cleo posted, Heather, an online friend of Cleo’s who I did not know but have since become good friends with, understood my discomfort with just accepting straight funds and suggested a fandom auction on LiveJournal – in which people could donate fandom or handmade items, and others could bid, and the resulting funds would go towards the surgery, with the donators of funds getting some return value for their contribution. She offered to run the whole thing, and did so with great efficiency, jumping right in to get the ball rolling on setting up a community and spreading the word with Cleolinda.

The auction ran for a little over three months, and was a great success. Many cool items were offered and purchased, many kind good wishes came my way (which meant a lot to me as well!), and by the end of the auction, fandom, consisting of some people I knew but many I didn’t, had raised the entire $8,000. Add to that a few other generous donations from friends who had learned of the online fundraising secondhand (as I still hadn’t really felt comfortable mentioning it outside of the online forum), and my recovery and medication expenses were covered as well. I could hardly believe it, but there it was. This tremendous burden lifted from my life by the kindness of a community.

Seeing fandom come together to help me like that was, and to this day is, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. I can’t even begin to describe how much it means to me that both friends and total strangers banded together to make it possible for me to see.

I can, however, describe the results (and if you are really interested in the blow-by-blow saga of both surgeries and the results, start from the bottom of this and scroll up. Although Cleolinda’s recap of my first surgery is way more amusing than mine). Although of course the procedure was no picnic and the recovery time was over six months, by the end not only had the deterioration been halted (presumably for good), but vision in my right eye, which was 20/400 uncorrected, had been vastly improved, and vision in my left had improved slightly as well.

On top of this, after the procedure I was fitted for special scleral lenses, sometimes prescribed for cases of advanced or very irregular keratoconus. They are the most wonderful thing imaginable for a keratoconus patient like me. Yes, they are a real annoyance to get in and out, but with them, I am able to see better than I had for about six years prior to the surgery; and there is no pain. So although I still live with the disease (and its quirks, which still include occasional and unpredictable vision problems), this procedure vastly improved my quality of life; and it was all thanks to a group of people who were brought together primarily by their enjoyment of various sci-fi, fantasy, comics, or other genre fandoms, and by the online fandom community that resulted from that enjoyment.

Yes, fandom can be, and in this instance certainly was, a beautiful thing. Not only is my daily life improved thanks to fandom, but my fandom life is as well. As Marvel artist Reilly Brown pointed out when he generously donated a gorgeous Deadpool sketch to the auction, a comics fan no longer being able to see comics would be very sad. Now, not only can I continue to read comics, but I can also continue to pursue favorite hobbies like making tiny clay sculptures. And for those blessings and so many more, I am so, so thankful.

It’s been just over three years since my cross-linking procedures, and even if I don’t say it every day, I am constantly grateful for the help and kindness of those who contributed to those procedures; and I want each of you to know that through your caring, you touched a life forever. And I want everyone else who reads this to know what a great thing happened thanks to a bunch of awesome nerds and geeks and fans and friends caring enough about another one of their community to give something of themselves. I hope one day to be able to pay that forward in some manner. But until that time comes – a Happy Thanksgiving to all, and an eternal thank you to everyone who gave me such an amazing gift to be thankful for.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

Editor’s Note: Due to other commitments, Emily will be shifting to a monthly posting schedule through May of 2014. So look for her column on a monthly basis, starting in December. Emily will be back to her weekly posting schedule after May of next year. And we can hardly wait to have her back fulltime.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold