In the summer of 1963, Disneyland debuted its newest attraction, the Enchanted Tiki Room. An ambitious show that pioneered animatronics, the Enchanted Tiki Room featured macaws, plants, and statues singing various songs, such as the endearing “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.” The attraction was in response to the active tiki culture that flourished in the post-war years; however, tiki culture would eventually decline due to south seas escapism being effectively destroyed by America’s intervention into Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. While tiki culture would remain in hibernation during this period, the Enchanted Tiki Room saw great success, with the attraction later being duplicated in Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.
From the animated Sword in the Stone (1963) to John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981), from Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur (2004) to Starz’s Camelot (2011), and not even including the various comics, books, video games, short stories, and other texts, Arthurian tales have enjoyed incredible longevity via adaptations and re-imaginings. It’s a genre that seems immune to accusations of unoriginality in Hollywood, which is cyclically plagued with remakes, sequels, and prequels. The mythology is so epic and timeless, yet so well known and open to playful reworkings, that each new iteration adds something to the legend, truly making it a dynamic mythology.
Though Alien and Aliens were released in 1979 and 1986, respectively, it was in the 1990s that Aliens, as a universe, solidified and proliferated itself across a variety of other narrative media and paratexts. While the '90s saw the release of the Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection films, it is easily these other forms of storytelling that provided the greatest contributions to the Aliens franchise, both in tangible products to sell, as well as lore and stories to expand the universe (canonical or not). Dark Horse Comics contributed the majority to the narrative through their various Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator comics, an IP they still generate material for to this day. Bantam Books released a plethora of Aliens books in the '90s before DH Press took the reins in the 2000s.
WonderCon 2017 saw quite a few panels and events celebrating milestone anniversaries and histories of various pop culture phenomenons. Fanbase Press’ own Michele Brittany moderated the panel, “Fanbase Press: Star Wars at 40” and other panels included “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Two Decades with Feeling: A 20th Anniversary Celebration,” “Wildstorm 25th Anniversary,” and “Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Panel.” Apart from these juggernauts of entertainment, there was a smaller celebratory affair Friday evening to a different pop culture icon. In a small, but very packed room, Warren Davis gave a presentation on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the iconic video game he had developed: Q*bert.
In the realm of pinup and cheesecake artwork, there are several important artists who have had a profound impact on the genre. These include luminaries such as Jim Silke, Dave Stevens, Alberto Vargas, and Gil Elvgren. Olivia De Berardinis is another influential pinup and erotic artist, known for her depictions of powerful women and iconic ladies such as Bettie Page and Julie Strain. De Berardinis has been prolific in her craft for nearly four decades, and a Saturday, April 1, 2017, panel at WonderCon provided an opportunity to not only honor her and her work, but provide an interview and Q&A session with her fans, as well. The panel was moderated by Bob Self of Baby Tattoo publishing, with model Ulorin Vex and De Berardinis’ husband Joel Beren chiming in, as well. A wall screen complemented the dialogue by showing many different pieces De Berardinis had realized over the years.
Pop culture conventions are first and foremost seen as a meeting ground for geekdom to congregate to purchase art and collectables, see their favorite cosplayers and celebrities, and gain first-hand news for major events in the industry. While these activities are certainly consumer-centric, there’s a large portion of attendees who are creators, or creators-in-the-making, who attend pop culture conventions to seek the advice of experts in one-on-one sessions or attend the various panels that impart advice on how to better their craft and careers.
In the final hours of this year’s Long Beach Comic Expo, as the attendees began to trickle out and a few vendors closed shop early, the panel programming was still vibrant with activity. One well-attended panel was the “Writer Seeking Artist: Finding and Maintaining Healthy Collaboration,” full of budding writers eager to be instilled with advice on how to partner with an artist in hopes to see their stories come to fruition. The panel was moderated by Rosie Knight (Cougar and Cub) with Kelly Sue Milano (Hex11), James F. Wright (Lupina, Nutmeg), Johnny Parker II (Elvish, Black Fist and Brown Hand), Joshua Henaman (Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman), and Nick Marino (Cougar and Cub, Holy F*ck) participating as the subject-matter experts.
While many folks attend comic book cons for the “con experience” of meeting celebrities, buying art, and viewing all the cosplay, there’s still a significant amount of attendees that take advantage of the various workshops and panels that offer access to decades of industry knowledge and insight from the professionals who make themselves available.
Since its inception in 1999, IDW has become the premier comic book publisher of licensed IPs from movies and television shows. From '80s staples such as My Little Pony, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Jem and the Holograms to more modern fare such as Silent Hill, Orphan Black, and CSI, IDW has given older properties renewed life and rejuvenation through continued stories via sequential art, employing amazingly talented writers and artists in order to give the properties justice; however, even though the licensed material is what IDW is known for, the publisher also has a handful of creator-owned titled as well, such as Amelia Cole, Satellite Falling, and The Electric Sublime! that all deserve underscoring, as well.
The comic series, Hex11, has had quite an adventure since its inception back in 2014. The series’ first six issues saw a release in a trade paperback collection after a successful Kickstarter campaign and was nominated for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. The series is about to see the release of their ninth issue sometime in February, spearheaded by artist Lisa K. Weber, writer Kelly Sue Milano, and producer Lynly Forrest.