WonderCon Anaheim 2014: Little Sister Growing Up Fine, Just Fine.

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Category : Conventions, E-vents, Featured, WonderCon

Picture it … early-morning Saturday, March 15, 2014: San Diego Comic-Con Badge Quest

  • 6:00a.m.  Awakened ceremoniously with rousing rendition of John Williams’ Star Wars Theme, performed by Boston Pops
  • 6:15  Fully awake, finally, after repeats of  Star Wars Theme
  • 6:20  Espresso
  • 6:30  Text cohorts in NorCal, registration codes and Member IDs ready to go
  • 6:35  Re-read official CCI email re: SDCC badge-sale
Remember, there is no need to rush to the landing page at 7:00 AM! You can enter the waiting room two hours before the sale begins [ at 9:00 AM] or 10 minutes before the sale begins, and your chances are the same. Your wait time is up to you!
  • Ha!
  • 6:56  Forefinger poised. Nobody’s going to get in before I do!
  • 7:00  Go! Go! Go! I’m in!
  • 7:05  Text cohorts again; You guys in? Huzzah! Everybody’s in! One of us will surely get our badges!
  • 7:05-8:56  More espresso. More texting. Granola and youghurt. Comic Book Men, Arrested Development and France24 news.
  • 8:56-8:59  Check pulse. High. Mellow out, dork; it’s just a stupid convention. One more espresso.
  • 9:00  Huzzah! We’re in the official queue!
  • 9:00-9:20  This is so exciting! Already doing better than last year! We’ll have such fun! Better get hotel a.s.a.p.!
  • 9:20  Saturday badges are running low. Hmm. That’s okay. “Low” does not mean “sold out”.
  • 9:25  Saturday badges are sold out. Okay. No worries, we’ll go Thursday, Friday, take off Saturday, back on Sunday. Awesome!
  • 9:30  Friday badges are running low. Cool. Cool. No problem.
  • 9:33  Friday badges are sold out. Damn it. Okay, okay. Thursday’s awesome! First day, fresh, that New Con smell!  Anything but Sunday. Sunday sucks. Nobody dresses, no good panels. Vendors only have crap left. Thursday will be awesome!
  • 9:35  Thursday badges are running low. Tina Belcher-style groan.
  • 9:36  Thursday badges are sold out. I don’t care. Sunday rocks. I love Sunday actually! Lighter crowds, all the vendors slash their prices, loads of people will still be dressed. Sunday is going to be amazing!
  • 9:40  San Diego Comic-Con is now sold out. Thank you for your participation.
  • M*&$%#  F#*&@%!!!!
  • Instantly recall The Big Bang Theory‘s “Convention Conundrum” (S7e14)
 It’s okay. You know, th-there’s always WonderCon in Anaheim, you know? Th-that’s just as good. Excuse me. (Turns to cry)

-Dr. Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

Jennifer Susannah Devore as Louise Belcher, WCA 2014 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Jennifer Susannah Devore, a.k.a Miss Hannah Hart, a.k.a. Louise Belcher, WCA 2014 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

No. No, Sheldon, it is not just as good; but, as this girl is quickly learning, it is not something to pish-tosh, either. WonderCon Anaheim (WCA: April 18-20, 2014 Anaheim Convention Ctr.) seems to be growing exponentially. Like the Richter scale used to measure earthquake activity, what seems like a fractional uptick is, in fact, a greater output than one might presume. Noting the difference between this year’s WCA and WCA2013, it may retain slightly less cachet than San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC: July 24-27, 2014 San Diego Convention Ctr.), but like your best friend’s little sister who just started law school at Stanford, she’s starting to look pret-ty, pret-ty good.

Attendance at WCA, in its third year now, was estimated at 56K for 2014 (Red Flag: roughly SDCC’s numbers in the early-Naughties), continuing its yearly climb. 2014 numbers are an increase from, according to Publisher’s Weekly, the approx. 40K attendees for 2012, and slightly higher than that for 2013.  Further, SDCC 2014 is predicted to once again reach its self-imposed max of 130K attendees; this is to be topped only by CES Int’l Las Vegas (150K) and New York Comic-Con (133K), itself up from 117K last year, citing Events in America, a North American trade show and conference directory. Clearly, the geek con continues to trend.

The growing popularity in geek culture manifests not only via the annual mass-disappointment amidst failure to obtain SDCC badges, but also in the burgeoning desires of Hollywood. Longtime con-pros (distributors, producers, manufacturers, publishers) will tell you, quietly over a Dirty Shirley at Mix Bar in the Anaheim Hilton after the con doors close, that many of the old-timers still love the concept of the con, but philosophically loathe the H-town intrusion. “I noticed the change coming like a locomotive in 2004,” said a dead ringer for The Simpsons‘ desperate salesman ol’ Gil Gunderson. “Hollywood changed everything. Yeah, we’re makin’ more money, but it’s not the same,” he hung his head over his drink with the resolute shame of a jaded, tired mob wife. To drive the point home, I quote Mark Hamill’s character Donald Swan in Comic Book: The Movie (2004).

The movie people? I know they’re just doing their jobs; but they don’t care about us. They only care about our wallets.

Beefsquatch!! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Beefsquatch!! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Still, Hollywood is nothing if not shameless and persistent, and has now taken notice of wide-eyed, wallflower WonderCon, The Other White Geek, and is asking her to dance, too. Changes at WCA this year included, most notably, the restriction of badge sales to online only: nothing at the door this year. Wise move, considering it sold out completely. As well, whereas last year’s event used one exhibit hall, this year’s took over two, fully. “Artist’s Alley” and “Small Press” areas were expanded and, to boot, nearly every upstairs room was utilized for panels and L&D.

Of note, amongst hundreds of events were the following panels: Bob’s Burgers featuring Loren Bouchard, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Dan Mintz and Larry Murphy; Rotten Tomatoes moderating “Your Opinion Sucks” featuring Matt Atchity; Frozen: The Art of Story featuring Jeff Ranjo; Hanna-Barbera History featuring Jerry Eisenberg and Wally Burr; and Once Upon A Time featuring Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Never enough hours in the day or days in a Con; choose wisely when planning future cons and get in line early.

Another tell-tale sign WC is starting to hang with hip crowd? Celeb sightings are on the rise. Eric Bana, Jerry Bruckheimer, Joel McHale, Kristen Schaal, Ethan Spaulding, Olivia Munn and Kevin Smith. (Smith was more a snub than a sighting. We said, Hi! He appeared focused and on a mission. You still say Hello, big guy.) There was even a Captain Bloodstone sighting: best known as Blackbeard’s loopy first mate in Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates.

Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, BBCAmerica and Dreamworks were all present in force. Sony offered a sneak peek of Deliver Us From Evil; Warner Bros. presented the world premiere of Son of Batman; and BBCAmerica delivered the exclusive screening of Orphan Black‘s S2 premiere.

If Disney is your gig, as it is for so many of us comic geeks, you spent your evenings across Katella at Disneyland, or if you wanted to save your hard-earned Disney Dollars, went to the admission-free Downtown Disney. Back inside the Con, it was a treat to see Margaret Kerry at her booth: Walt Disney’s very own pick, the original model on whom Tinkerbell was based! Aimez-bien Les AristoChats? Gary Dubin, voice of zee chaton Toulouse from Disney’s AristoCats was also on-site, signing colour animation stills.

Other easily chattable guests on-hand included Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Kaite Cook (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Marjorie Liu (Dark Wolverine), Jim Pascoe (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica).

Where cosplay is concerned, if you’re thinking WCA is like going to a club on a Wednesday night, thinking you can leave your A-game at home, you’d be wrong. Cosplayers are as serious and creative as ever, if not as numerous as SDCC. Fewer folks might be dressed than at SDCC, but those whom are, are in their Saturday night best. Listen up, wheats; you know if Adrianne Curry, Mistress of the Dorks and cosplay queen, is in the house, you’d best get your act together. Professional stage makeup, Colleen Atwood-quality costuming and the spirit, personality and energy behind it all to make every character pop. Cosplayers don’t just pose, they become their characters, for your pleasure. They know their characters intimately and want to interact with you. Of course, de rigueur, there are lots and lots of boobs. There are always lots and lots of boobs. Funny thing is, after a few years of this, I’m beginning to recognize some of them.

Most popular costumes this year? Doctor Who variations, by far. The best Doctor Who costume? Not a Who, but a What: the villainous, ever-moist Lady Cassandra and her attendants. Halo Kitty was a bit unsettling, as was a male version of Morticia Addams. Thankfully Mary Poppins & Bert, Zelda & Link, Harley Quinn & The Joker, all the Pirates of the Caribbean, a score of Japanese Lolitas and a very attractive Morticia & Gomez (phew!) cruised the con floor and our Hilton lobby. There were also a few Bob’s Burgers folks: Beefsquatch! The Bob’s Burgers panel must have been a wild scene! Damned Anaheim Gardenwalk Happy Hour got in my way of getting there. I blame P.F. Chang’s Asian pear mojitos.

Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Lady Cassandra and her attendants, WCA 2014. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Vendors, as always, number too many to recall. However, I do treat myself each year to a few tidbits, as I like to help the economy and support independent artists whenever I can.  This year’s fave choice? Besides a couple of Big Bang Theory, babydoll tees, I acquired a beautiful bit of steampunk art from Awkward Affections of San Francisco. Charming and shy, the pretty artist known as Kaz proffered an eccentric, quirky and whimsical selection of cards, custom invitations, matted prints, and canvas wall art featuring animals I would very much enjoy meeting, all with a  Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland and Edward Gorey style and sensibility. Other fave pieces included her “Anatomy of a Mermaid” and “Anatomy of a Unicorn”. I say! (Of course, if you read my Savannah of Williamsburg novels, you’ll understand my weakness for les animaux anthropomorphic.)

Steampunk whimsy by Awkward Affections Courtesy: Awkward Affections

Steampunk whimsy by Awkward Affections Courtesy: Awkward Affections

If, like Yours Truly, you originally failed in the March morning mayhem that was the SDCC badge-massacre, I guarantee your first thought was similar to Sheldon’s: “At least there’s WonderCon. Right?” Well, kids, if you thought WonderCon was your Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free card and waited too long to buy those badges, epic fail. Now look at you. You’ve got no Comic-Con and you missed out on WonderCon. What a mook.

To make matters more tenuous, WonderCon is rumoured to return to San Francisco’s Moscone Center next year, it’s original home for nearly thirty years. (WCA was supposed to be a temporary show, as Moscone Ctr. received a full refurbishing.) Of course, CCI did take the effort to officially name the Con next to the Mouse House, WonderCon Anaheim. Maybe it’s here to stay? Maybe we shall have a Norcal and SoCal WC? Maybe you bring a sport coat next time so we have some options for dinner? As of the date of this posting, nobody, official or otherwise, has an answer. The best I could learn was to check the San Diego Comic-Con/WCA website over the year; WonderCon 2015 updates, be they North or South, will be posted there.

In the end, I’m still not sure I’m buying the common line heard at WCA. “You know. I really prefer this, to Comic-Con. The crowds are lighter, it’s easier to get a hotel room, it’s just nicer all around.” Sure. That’s like saying, “Dude, it’s so much easier dating Debbie in accounting. Kate Upton is probably totally high-maintenance. Debbie’s way easier to deal with, and a much cheaper date.” Sure. I do have to admit the Starbucks is nicer at the Hilton Anaheim, as opposed to the Sbux carts at SDCC. Of course, the line is so outrageous, who has time to wait, what with all those amazing panels and vendors such?

It's not a Con w/o my Starbucks! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

It’s not a Con w/o my Starbucks! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

If you can’t get an SDCC badge, WC is an absolutely fun and doable alternative (like Debbie). If you did get an SDCC badge, WC is just double-fun for you (You cad!). Yet, think about next year. Whether you get into SDCC or not, WC is fast-becoming a good time all her own and very possibly, depending on how things line up, just as high-maintenance. Next year, Debbie might not be available … if she’s even in town.

As for this kitten’s last-ditch chances for SDCC? As Orange County’s own George Bluth says, “There’s always money in the banana stand.”

"Oh, thous musn't speak to Master in such a manner." Sarah Sanderson Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

“Oh, thou musn’t speak to Master in such a manner.” -Sarah Sanderson, WCA 2014 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 Et voilà! Dr. Lucy’s Famous Slideshow!

For more WonderCon Anaheim 2014 pics, visit Twisted Pair Photography!

Special S/O: Speaking of supporting independent artists, if you like my Louise ears, and I cannot count how many folks at WCA loved them, please know the quality is superb, the cap-portion is very snuggly and comfy and the ears actually stay upright. Available via Epic Costumes on Etsy!

 

@JennyPopNet #WonderCon #SDCC

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

 

 

The Circus Pulls Up Stakes: Dr. Lucy’s SDCC 2013 Slideshow

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Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Well, cats, as Porky Pig struggles to declare, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”. San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is a wrap. The big burg with the filthy mayor and the small beachtown chill is back to it’s groovy, mellow, peaceful ways. (Save for trying to oust said-filthy mayor. What a loony, dangerous maroon!) The air around the Convention Center smells like salt air once again; the trademark smell of The Con hovering somewhere over Santa Fe by now. What is that smell, New Mexicans might wonder? It’s a simultaneously exhilarating, exciting and pathetic amalgam of anxiety, camping, body odour, latex, cheap polyester, sycophancy, Japanese perfume, cheap leather, desperation, domestic “beer” and nacho “cheese” sauce.

I seriously need a shower.

I seriously need a shower.

Seaport Village is back to hosting apple-shaped families from Minnesota and the humourless, tanned beach cops are re-focused on sunburned tourists frantically enjoying their last hurrahs of summer holiday. The “normal” clientele has returned to local strip clubs, replacing zombies, Zorg and Sheldon Cooper in the Champagne Room; alternately, barmaids about town have, thankfully, removed their faux nerd glasses and Hello Kitty “I Love Nerds” t-shirts. (Please, ladies. Leave hot nerding to the real hot nerds.)

The Gaslamp Quarter is still predictably lively with Happy Hours and summertime, bistro seating; but the dark-suited business folk of the downtown area are no longer treated to the  lunchtime spectacle and wonder, not to mention parking and traffic jumbles, of Comic-Con. No more Leeloos leaning over the bar at Lou & Mickey’s, no more Han Solos in line at Starbucks, no more Walking Dead at McCormick & Schmick’s and no more Transformers trying to work the fountain dispensers at 7-11. Like a birthday night in Vegas, we are left with sore feet, curious bruising, singed tendrils, oddly placed piles of sunflower seed shells, mysteriously depleted bank accounts, and a faint, pleasurable memory that it might be fun and/or nuts to do it all over again next year … but next time with an even better costume! (They’re called boobs, Ed!)

The Con will return, kids, no worries there. It has been speculated for years that it could move to Anaheim. Well, at least through 2016, Comic-Con shall remain in America’s Finest City; Hallowe’en in July is all San Diego’s. Until next year, enjoy a wee slideshow of this year’s scene, courtesy of our own Dr. Lucy and her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT.

All slideshow photos by Twisted Pair Photography with the exception of the following:

Rotten Tomato by Rebecca Lane; The Two Daphnes: Classic & Post-apocalyptic, all Conv. Ctr. exteriors and Once Upon a Time murals by J.S. Devore

  • BTW, because I know you care, each con, I treat myself to a wee something: a Chewbacca tank by WeLoveFine, a Bettie Page parasol by Retro a-go-go, a Jetsons tee, etc. This year, it’s my Evil Coffee Hour messenger bag by BeKyoot.com. Get one! “Cause Evil Coffee Hour is a brilliant idea and Christy Sanderson is a total doll who designs all the gear herself! It’s what Japanese girls and I call supa kawaii! Cheers, Miss Christy, Tuxie Cat and Momocheet!
Danger + coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Danger + Coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame (a.k.a. authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore) contributes regularly to the official San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide. Read her articles here: The Simpsons, Peanuts & Tarzan!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? jenniferdevore.blogspot.com  JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore


Portlandia Spies on Hannah and Lucy: WonderCon 2K13

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Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Television, Watching the Web, WonderCon

I think we are being spied upon, as of late. As Dr. Lucy and I prepare for WonderCon (Anaheim Convention Center March 29-31, 2013), it appears the bonkers-brilliant minds behind Portlandia have clearly been engaged in careful examination of our cosplay methods. We mistakenly thought our crossed fingers to be our little secret. (Uninitiated to the wonky randomness of Portlandia? Read a wee review by my pally, Jennifer Susannah Devore.) Yes, I imagine our short sojourn at the Anaheim Hilton and WonderCon shall prove raw-ther similar to Portlandia’s spot-on effort: Steampunk Convention.

Perhaps our own Ellen from Earth shall prove more useful. Nevertheless … huzzah, Captain D.D. Cumulus and Lady Nightstream! Rose City Steampunks, do hold the ascending-room doors for Dr. Lucia Devereaux and yours truly, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado! Check back here après-WonderCon for a wrap of the show, à la my SDCC 2K12 coverage, and another one of Lucy’s fab slideshows: cosplay goodies, booths, artwork, celebrity sightings and even the Saturday Night Masquerade. (Unfamiliar with her work? Peruse Lucy’s SDCC 2K12 snaps.)

To boot, we shall be attending, and covering for you, the Geeks Get Published – and Paid! panel, moderated by Jenna Busch (Fanhattan): featuring S. G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament), Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History), Alex Langley (The Geek Handbook), and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). You know, Jennifer Susannah Devore, is a geek who got published (Savannah of Williamsburg) and I do believe she shall be attending WC this year, dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange. Maybe she and her wand can work their Dark Arts and find her an elusive literary agent. Wish her luck! Better yet, if you know an agent, send them along to JennyPop.Net!

WonderCon Steampunk 2K13

BTW, Lucy and I shall be interviewing, one-on-one, Katrina Hill (MTVGeek, Action Flick Chick) and Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) whilst at the Con. We’ll also be covering Ms. Cevoli’s own panel All Shapes and Sizes Welcome: featuring Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse), Adrianne Curry (Adrianne Curry’s SuperFans), Helenna Santos Levy (founder, MsInTheBiz.com), Amber Krzys (founder, BodyHeart.com) and Lynn Chen (founder, www.theActorsDiet.com) Have anything you’d like us to ask these geek girls extraordinaire?  Leave us a comment below or simply Tweet us on the con floor @JennyPopNet!

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? jennypop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Tarzan, Peanuts and Cocktails with Boba and Darth

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Category : Comics, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Cheers, babies! It’s me, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado and it’s June! You know what that means? Summer is mere days away and San Diego Comic-Con is a mere month away!

If you think comic dorks can't party, you'd be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

If you think comic dorks can’t party, you’d be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

No one is more excited than yours truly … well, okay. I imagine there are some nibbling their fingernails a tad more than I. After all, part of the appeal of our Comic-Con is that it’s in glorious San Diego. I get to live here year round, kids, haunting my dilly of a Hotel Del. If you’re zinging your way here for the Con and it’s your first time in San Diego, we welcome you, one and all! Need some priceless, insider tips on all the SDCC how-tos? Check the SDCC Expert for Baby’s First Comic-Con.

Yep, ’tis no place in Cali quite like San Diego. Even the dearly departed Godfather of Comic Books, Richard Alf, knew that! Sunnier than San Francisco, cheaper than Santa Barbara, friendlier than L.A. and cleaner than Anaheim, why wouldn’t we welcome the world? Whilst you’re in town, may I heartily suggest Nerdcore Night at famed The Ruby Room in Hillcrest?

If you’re still looking for a hotel, I feel true pity, ya mooks. Whilst an average $560.00-$730.00/night seems lofty at my Hotel del Coronado, it’s a regal steal compared to some of the fleabag dumps near the airport: real slimy, 1-star m-m-m-motels charging upwards of $569.00/night during the week of SDCC!!! That should be criminal. It’s easily extortion and trust me, I lived in Beantown during Prohibition. I know all about mob behavior. If you have a room at all, huzzah for you!

Costume update, by the by: Dr. Lucy and I are pretty much all set. We’ve decided on a steampunk theme; she twisted my fragile ghost arms. She shall be the lovely and vivacious Lucy Westenra of Coppola’s Dracula. Moi? Lady Euphemia Greystoke of Stonington: traveller and archaeologist extraordinaire. I’ve found my 1920s, Cleopatra, chainmail headpiece and Lucy has been mending and modernizing some of her fine Victorian skirts. We are both in grave need of goggles, though. A very serious issue.

In celebration of the upcoming convention, I thought it would be fun to share an article from the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Written by my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, it’s a contemplative and philosophical look at Charles Schulz and the then-60th anniversary of Peanuts. (As a side note, Jenny’s just learned she’s being published once again in this year’s 2012 Souvenir Book with an retrospective of 100 years of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs and a nod to Dr. Jane Goodall … zowie, does that gorilla girl hold a grudge!

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

The First Beagle on the Moon

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

(Reprinted from the 2010 official Comic-Con Souvenir Book)

 

I think I could learn to love you, Judy, if your batting average was a little higher.

-”Just Keep Laughing”, pre-Peanuts Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz did not create a mere comic strip, a cast of characters to be listed on high school drama department playbills for eons to come; like all sustainable strips, the Writer-Artist-Creator gave us a neighborhood: a safe place where loyalty, security, friendship and a comfortable sense of continuity and familiarity are still unfailingly there for us. The Peanuts gang has been that other group of our friends, always ready to hang with us at a moment’s notice and at regularly scheduled mornings, especially Sundays. Similar to Shakespearean figures, the Peanuts gang has also been, as any psychologist with an ounce of humor and levity will tell you, a microcosm of humanity. A bevy of neuroses, borderline personalities, leaders and followers, Schulz, like the good Bard, nailed it all straight on the round-headed noggin. The psychology of Peanuts, not to drain the comic pool only to replace it with academia, pervades each and every “illustrated laughing square”.

No doubt, the young Schulz did not set out to create a controlled study of freckled subjects and lab beagles with sunglasses and tennis rackets; nevertheless, he did and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Psych 101 textbook without some reference to Charlie Brown’s martyrdom syndrome or Lucy’s narcissism. Blah, blah, blah, the kind reader may mock, but it is real humanity that is inherent in these characters. It is the nucleus of its success. The psychological endgame matters because in the beginning, and eventually that end, all creators start from the premises of what is known and, more importantly, what is felt.

If writer-artists give us some clue as to their failings, fears and fantasies within their oeuvres, then sports (baseball in particular) girls (darned, elusive redheads), loyalty and honor (Snoopy always comes through despite his egotism) were clearly on Sparky’s short-list. Charlie Brown’s undying dedication to his ball team, his tenacity and faith amidst rained-out games, Lucy’s “The sun was in my eyes”-excuses and dozing beagles-at-bat is a fortitude so many desire, yet oft do not posses.

The stomach-churning inner diatribes and teeth-grinding insecurity is thankfully, cathartically played out on-stage, as it were, in Charlie Brown’s (and Charlie Schulz’) quest for the affection of a little red-haired girl, even going so far as addressing the very adult, very 3-D distrust and heartache of jealousy, that love has been taken by a best friend: Linus, to wit, in It’s Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown. Charles Schulz’ real-life and nonreciprocal marriage proposal marks the launching pad of Charlie Brown’s everlasting expedition of unrequited and, despondently, un-returned love.

The fear of not being accepted, of not belonging is universally shared, regardless of what the aesthetics and sartorial effects may try to loudly declare. Searching the mailbox for that proverbial Halloween party invitation, learning it was a mistake, then going anyway is a Trick-or-Treat bag fraught with snakes and evil clowns: What if I’m not on The List? What if I am on The List? Who will talk to me? What if I’m left all alone? What if they make fun of my costume?

The fear of not receiving a single Valentine in class, and in front of everybody no less, the dread of an empty mailbox and heart at Christmastime, the cold, autumnal loneliness of being the only one whom truly believes in the Great Pumpkin; these comic worries are so real that the chest-pounding is audible, the butterflies are so visceral we can only cringe and endure, waiting nervously for the certain, happy ending. Sadly, it is not always so certain, though. The ending of Snoopy, Come Home is so gut-wrenchingly awful that it is suffered through only because of our own, Charlie Browniest belief that everything will be okay. It is not, in the case of said film. There is no good outcome, there cannot be; everybody loses, big time. To that end, everybody has heart and soul that trudges forth no matter what. This is why we continue to love, adore and cherish our Peanuts gang.

Be it Snoopy’s devotion to Lila, the dying girl, in Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy’s devotion to his supper dish, Linus’ unrelenting conviction for the Great Pumpkin and, deeper still, Sally’s dedication to Linus and his mission, it is all so human, so carbon-based. Family or friends, it matters not with Peanuts. As is often the case in real-time, digital worlds or the land of ink-and-watercolor, friends are often family, and family, good friends. The Browns and the Van Pelts are core, bound by blood; but that is not pivotal, being bound by blood. Snoopy and Woodstock, Charlie Brown and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Lucy and herself, Schroeder and his Piano, Sally and her Easter shoes and her Sweet Baboo: these are the real bonds, the vital relationships that keep Peanuts going year after sixty years.

In the vein of a youthful William Shakespeare, Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane whom all wrote of the communities they knew, the people and their foibles they shouldered through life, good and bad, lovely and horrid, Charles M. Schulz presented us with pencil and ink versions of ourselves: our ids, egos, superegos and alter egos. He gave us characters and friends upon whom we knew we could count through any rained out game, school exam or major holiday, even when It’s Presidents’ Day, Charlie Brown.

Above all, there is honor. Consider that, akin to so much great “children’s” literature, young-adult fiction, superhero tales, classic fairy tales, adapted fairy tales, graphic novels, comic strips and animated series there exists no ethical enforcement, save one’s own internal gauge and moral compass. It is universal, from Cinderella and Snow White to Snoopy and Spongebob Squarepants, that parents are either handily out-of-frame or conveniently ineffective; adults of any walk and educators of every sort are primarily a concept and rarely given a name, a face or, in Peanuts’ case, even a voice. Law enforcement is a rare impression lest it appears in an almost supernatural state of purity and perfection, like Scully and Mulder or Police Commissioner Gordon. The heroes cannot get away from themselves and must answer to their own merit of principle. There are no citations, no court dates, no weekend restrictions or media groundings. There is no law, no order, only the inner voice and scruples of the very good and, where it relates to our Peanuts, the very, very admirable and steadfast fraternity of fast and eternal friendship. The lasting appeal of Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz is that they are us. As Lucy states so wisely, “Charlie Brown, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!”

The Charlies and we are in the vital and primitive hunt for love, camaraderie and faithfulness. They and we are scared to death that nothing will happen and equally so that everything will. The round-headed kid, the barber’s son and we are all optimistic to a fault, likened to Spongebob in our unending and Bikini Bottom-deep belief that everything and everyone will be just fine. They and we are all flawed superheroes, or at the very least, we strive to be.

(A special thanks to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

Abyssinia on the Con floor, cats!

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? JennyPop.net jenniferdevore.blogspot.com & @JennyPopNet

Mr. Dickens, Meet Mr. Twain. Miss Hannah, Meet Mr. Spock. Agt. Scully, Meet Mr. Dickens.

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Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Holiday, Movies, Television, Travel

Greetings and salutations, cats! Gorgeous winter days still on the San Diego coast. So lovely, in fact, Dr. Lucy, Little Lindy and I have been whizzing around Coronado Isle in a juicy little breezer some wheat left running outside The Del. Fellow ghosties, want to cause some trouble? If you can get out of your haunt -I can for short bursts- snag a convertible, throw on a scarf and buzz the burg. Coppers won’t know from nothing when they see an empty flivver with nothing but fluttering silk flying down the flug! If you can get to a casino in that breezer for a little hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps (a separate, sipping glass for the schnapps) over a hand or two of invisible poker, even better!

Note to all wheats: don't leave it running! Photo: J.S. Devore

Speaking of winter and wagers, I’ll bet more than a few of you reading this are winter babies. The birthday season is as bonkers as the Hollywood awards season right now! I’m guessing Spring Fever manifests itself in more than just a good dusting and cleaning. A little May Day barney-mugging, anyone? Zowie!

Walt Disney, Woody Allen, Edgar Allen Poe,  James Joyce, John Steinbeck, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and funny enough, apropos to my situation, both Charles Lindbergh and one Miss Ida Lupino -that hoofer being the reason I’m here at The Del forever- share a February 4th birthday. As monumental, literary birthdays go though, today marks a doozy: the bicentenary of the midnight birth of one Charles John Huffman Dickens. All the world has its knickers in a bunch over this one, Dr. Lucy and Moi included. We’ve been up since the midnight hour celebrating and let me tell you, Lucy’s knickers are in more than a bunch; she’s plum in love with Mr. Dickens! She’s just bonkers for anything Victorian, has read The Old Curiosity Shop nearly a hundred times and has decided to head back home, up San Francisco way, this Christmas to partake in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party, in full costume of course. She’s also trying to revive the practice of mutton chops. Few have the personality and the face to pull off the fluffy, Victorian sideburn; but those who can, should!

Sorry, Lucy. He’s taken. Photo: J.S.Devore
As it happens, Dr. Lucy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Highmore & Hazel Devereaux of San Francisco, were quite the lucky ducks and actually attended a public reading by Charles Dickens himself in 1868, during his second U.S. reading tour, at Steinway Hall in New York! What’s the topper to that? They were seated right next to one Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain at the theater! According to Lucy, to this day Highmore & Hazel still regale the tale of the Big Apple Happenin’s to anyone whom will listen. Wouldn’t you? Mark Twain and Charles Dickens in one go? Wild stuff! Twain found Dickens’ oration remarkable enough to write about and the San Francisco Alta California found that account interesting enough to publish. Lucy’s dapper pop has saved his copy ever since and still reads dramatically from it at all social gatherings.

 

Quoth Twain of Dickens:

 

He strode — in the most English way and exhibiting the most English general style and appearance — straight across the broad stage, heedless of everything, unconscious of everybody, turning neither to the right nor the left — but striding eagerly straight ahead, as if he had seen a girl he knew turn the next corner. He brought up handsomely in the centre and faced the opera glasses. His pictures are hardly handsome, and he, like everybody else, is less handsome than his pictures. That fashion he has of brushing his hair and goatee so resolutely forward gives him a comical Scotch-terrier look about the face, which is rather heightened than otherwise by his portentous dignity and gravity. But that queer old head took on a sort of beauty, bye and bye, and a fascinating interest, as I thought of the wonderful mechanism within it, the complex but exquisitely adjusted machinery that could create men and women, and put the breath of life into them and alter all their ways and actions, elevate them, degrade them, murder them, marry them, conduct them through good and evil, through joy and sorrow, on their long march from the cradle to the grave, and never lose its godship over them, never make a mistake! I almost imagined I could see the wheels and pulleys work. This was Dickens — Dickens.

"That fashion he has of brushing his hair and goatee so resolutely forward gives him a comical Scotch-terrier look about the face." -Mark Twain Charles Dickens Photo: U.S. Nat'l Archives

If you read Twain’s entire account, you’ll note he wasn’t nearly as taken with Dickens’ delivery as he was with his attaboy writing: Mr. Dickens’ reading is rather monotonous, as a general thing; his voice is husky; his pathos is only the beautiful pathos of his language — there is no heart, no feeling in it — it is glittering frostwork.

Orating the written word is, in my experience, a difficult act to undertake, and endure. Ever listen to NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac? That’s some tough gum to chew! No matter how jazzy the wordsmithing, it’s meant to be read silently or performed, not taken as a dry recitation, like a spoonful of cinnamon, and especially not by the writers themselves. Very few can do justice to their own bon mots. Funny story, in fact, if not loosely related.

I floated myself up to the City of Angels one evening back in the early-Naughties for a celebrity, short-story reading at The Getty Center.  A week-long event, I chose to attend the night that the cat’s pajamas of cerebral celebs was reading: Leonard Nimoy! Well, wouldn’t you know it? I got there, looking smashing in a chiffon, beaded Nikki tea dress, feathered headband and hot pink ankle booties, and that darned management had changed the line-up: John Lithgow would now be reading selections. Selections from what, I can’t recall. Now, I do love me some John Lithgow, but I was there for Spock and anyone who tends to sign off their texts, tweets and jaw-flapping with an LLAP knows Lithgow just won’t do when Nimoy is in one’s sights. (Sorry, Dr. Solomon.)

Already in Brentwood and not about to turn down free museum booze, I settled contentedly into an empty seat in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium … until a plump Betty with a nasty, Rachel Maddow, barber cut came and sat on me. (Ghost tip: never arrive too early for public functions. Wait until curtain for a truly empty seat.) Once I was finally nestled in my own plush, velvet cushion and Lithgow commenced to orate, I became raw-ther bored, raw-ther quickly. Scanning the hall for this n’ that, I saw what a sartorial mess L.A. can be. Sure, there were a few snazzy twists out there, dolled up in their glad rags; but there were also a lot of slugburgers. Gentlemen, jeans and tees, no matter how expensive or in vogue, are not appropriate evening wear … even just to listen to someone read.

Nimoy at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper Ft. Lauderdale. Even in the '70s, decidedly not a slugburger! Photo: FL State Archives

Anyhoo, as I was marveling at some woman’s long overdue, salt-and-pepper roots, another noggin caught my peripheral vision: a closely buzzed, peach fuzzy head of sharp and intelligent proportions. Lo and behold, in the row below me and three seats to my left sat Mr. Leonard Nimoy! Applesauce! I was done for! I spent the rest of the night sitting on the lap of some boorish, old, art history wanker from U.S.C. (Lucky him and he didn’t even know it!) and rubbing Spock’s skull with my flat hand and breathing lightly into his ears: not pointed in real life. He never even twitched, by the way. That is one cool butter n’ egg man!

Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock Photo: BBC

So, long way around … Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Dickens! Dr. Lucy, Little Lindy and I have been celebrating the birth of your brain since the stroke of midnight this February 7th, starting with a Netflix marathon of the BBC production of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson, a.k.a. Agent Scully. Talk about a snazzy twist! We followed that up with a version of Nicholas Nickleby featuring the resplendent and beauteous Anne Hathaway and the modernized iteration of Great Expectations with the ever-regal Gwenyth Paltrow. Tonight, we shall wrap up your filmic fete with an Old Hollywood viewing event: A Tale of Two Cities and Mystery of Edwin Drood, both 1935 productions. We shall end the night honouring you, the man whom once took the pseudonym of Boz (Who uses pseudonyms, anyhoo?) with what Lucy and I equally believe to be the single greatest testament and flattery to your remarkable chef d’oeuvres: A Muppet Christmas Carol!

Thank you for letting me be a part of this!  -Rizzo, A Muppet Christmas Carol

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Love Leonard Nimoy, too? Send Hannah a happy LLAP @JennyPopNet!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com