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‘Star Wars,' ‘The Sandman’ Audio Drama, Dr. Fauci, & More Make Up Fanbase Press’ Top Picks of 2020

As the end of 2020 draws near, the Fanbase Press staff and contributors wanted to take a look back at the year's media from our very own geeky perspectives. Much like our readers and fans, one way we view and connect with the world around us is through the stories, characters, and heroes that we enjoy or look up to, and it’s always interesting to hear other’s opinions when it comes to their favorites of the year. After much consideration, below are a number of moments, stories, creators, and fandoms that we here at Fanbase Press believe were worth highlighting.





Most Emotionally Impactful Fictional Story of the Year

“Most times, reaching back into the past can lead to a heavy dose of nostalgia-laden money grubbing, but Audible's The Sandman brought Neil Gaiman's incredible story to audio thanks to Dirk Maggs, with deep stirrings of emotions. From the terror of “24 Hour Diner,” to the sadness of “Urania Blackwell's existence,” to the heartbreaking beauty in “The Sound of her Wings,” and the sheer joy of “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Audible's The Sandman was an emotional journey like no other this year.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“The Good Place ended its series run this year with a complex and heartfelt examination of death, personal fulfillment, and love. It was a splendid ending to an audacious and brilliant story.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“My first instinct was to try to recall something heart-warming, but as I thought about it, nothing I watched or read hit me as hard as Lovecraft Country’s “Sundown.” I’ve had the cops called on me simply for existing, I’ve had guns pulled on me for “fitting the description,” I’ve been given “The Talk” not just by my parents, but by former police officers. The terror that I felt watching Atticus, George, and Leti fleeing and begging for mercy from murderous officers was the most potent emotional reaction I’ve had watching TV in years.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“I tuned in to Luca Guadagnino's HBO series, We Are Who We Are, without even knowing the basic premise. As it began, I settled in for a coming-of-age story about an American teenager living on a military base in Italy. It turned out to be that and so much more — a tapestry of disparate characters like something from prime-era Robert Altman, bouncing off each other, looking for connections in this sometimes-unkind world. I've consumed (and written) a lot of stories in my life, yet there were moments here I'd never encountered before in any medium. Definitely a series to savor rather than binge.”
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman really made me feel sad for the main character, Kate, because she felt like her parents weren’t interested in her life. It made me immediately feel or question if I’d ever made my own kids feel that way. The story presents a character who learns about what she’s capable of and the positive results that come with taking on new challenges. Grossman also creates a story that reminded me of Roald Dahl’s books, which I loved as a kid.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“Nothing hit me stronger than the final scene in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Vader’s silent reflection on Ahsoka’s abandoned lightsaber can be read many ways, but, to me, it represented the death of one of the last human parts left within Anakin after the events of Revenge of the Sith.”
- Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President and Co-founder, author of Something Animal and Identity Thief



Most Visually Impressive Fictional Story of the Year

Something Is Killing the Children Vol. 1 is a tale that lingers well beyond reading, as the story and visuals affect the senses of our own real world. Who knew that taking out the trash (during the day) after reading would make a person apprehensive or jittery, especially when fallen leaves near a bush began shuffling and crunching without any wind, and the effect resembled the dark creatures within these grim pages? I love this story!”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“Werther Dell’Edera's work with James Tynion IV on their collaboration Something Is Killing the Children is downright visceral. Dark and beautiful, the violence he portrays is terrifying in the most nightmarish of ways. Every panel is chock-full of emotion. Dell'Edera doesn't let you off the hook, and because of that honesty, nothing ever feels gratuitous.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth. Daniel Warren Johnson's DC Black Label miniseries had me torn between zooming through the pages — carried by the story's momentum — and lingering on each panel, each artistic decision. I know some fans were turned off by Diana's look in this comic and, sure, if you isolate individual images, she's not the most glamorous WW ever presented... but in context, the elements play off and enhance each other like instruments united by a master conductor.”
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

“It’s hard for me to pick against His Dark Materials on HBO. The fact that this show sells me on its setting is amazing; the environments are gorgeous, not to mention brilliantly shot. The daemons of the story, digitally created talking animals, are utterly convincing with none of that weird live action Disney uncanny valley stuff.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“The second season of Netflix’s Lost in Space gave its audience some of the most stunning sci-fi visuals to hit the small screen...from amazing alien worlds to spectacular spaceships, the CG artistry on this show is at the top of its game.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space




Standout Geek Hero (Fictional or Non-Fictional) of the Year

“If you’re not saying Dr. Fauci or Cori Bush or Katie Porter or someone like that, you’re spending too much time watching and reading fantasies.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“In the wake of the devastating news of Chadwick Boseman’s death this year, we continue to learn about his resilient dedication to telling stories since his cancer diagnosis four years ago. His final performances, undertaken in the most adverse of conditions, continue to inspire us all. ”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“Phil Rosenthal is the reason to watch Somebody Feed Phil. He continues to exude such amazing positive energy wrapped around a wonderful desire to connect with anyone and everyone, while sharing delicious foods all around the world. Food can connect us, and his sense of embracing our differences is the top story of 2020.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“When I needed it the most, the Doctor finally found her voice. While I still haven't finished the entirety of this recent season, Whittiker and the creators of the newest season of Doctor Who finally came into their own and really brought the Doctor to life in a way they had only tap danced around in the first season.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series


Standout Character of the Year

“Zoe Kravitz's "Rob" from the Hulu series, High Fidelity — smart, stubborn, funny, aggravating, and so cool — is someone I'd want to be friends with in real life. I can only hope she'd want to be friends with me.
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

“This is a genuine toss up between James McAvoy voicing The Sandman which would seem an impossible task, Rosario Dawson killing it as Ahsoka Tano which would seem an even more impossible task, and Temuera Morrisson bringing Boba Fett to the screen which wasn't even a task I knew I wanted to see until I saw it.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“She’s been around for a while, but this really was the year of Ahsoka Tano. The former Jedi and apprentice of Anakin Skywalker featured heavily in the final season of The Clone Wars (voiced by Ashley Eckstein) - taking on Maul and the fallout of Order 66 - and appeared for the first time in live-action (played by Rosario Dawson) during a Dave Filioni-written and -directed episode of The Mandalorian. Finally, the announcement of a live-action Ahsoka streaming series coming to Disney+ heralds the best is yet to come.”
- Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President and Co-founder, author of Something Animal and Identity Thief

“I am surprised to admit that my favorite character this year is Harley Quinn, from HBO Max’s show of the same name. For the first time, I have met a Harley who is invested in purging toxic relationships and finding her best self, all while engaging in lots of expletive-laced violence. Delightful.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“Lavender Jack, the main character of the webcomic of the same name, written and drawn by the criminally unheralded Dan Schkade, is the hero I need right now. Imagine if Gotham was an Edwardian steampunk city, and Batman was a queer man of color fighting against the forces of a twisted elite. The whole cast is breathtakingly diverse and brilliantly executed, so I’ll choose the titular hero to represent the whole amazing lot of them.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“Erica Slaughter. It’s a name you need to discover on your own and learn why Something Is Killing the Children is a story that’s absolutely worth diving into.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide




Standout Geek Romance of the Year

“Charlie and Vita from Crowded Vol. 2 is the story that highlights a couple I want to see succeed, while also emphasizing the struggles from two people who absolutely resemble “opposites attract.” What will happen next? I have to know!”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“Nyles and Sarah, the time-trapped protagonists of Palm Springs. Time loops are tried and true sci-fi tropes, usually used so that deeply flawed characters can have all the time they need to learn their lessons and improve thereby. There’s something magical about their differing reasons to change and how those reasons relate to each other.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“My favorite couple in 2020 was Joe and Nicky from the movie, The Old Guard. They are a rare example of a happy and fulfilled romance in an action movie... and an even more rare example in the genre of a queer relationship.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space


Standout Fandom of the Year

The Mandalorian is solidifying Star Wars' place in the new era of streaming. It shall live on. ”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“This has been a phenomenal year in the Star Trek universe. From Jean-Luc’s return in Picard to the insightful comedy of Lower Decks to what is arguably the best season of Discovery so far, Star Trek fans have had a lot to celebrate. And the cherry on top? The announcement of Anson Mount’s future return as Captain Pike in the new series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“I’m biased, but I’ll take the small, snarky, witty, and extremely loyal readers of Hunter Black all day, every day.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

Star Wars began strongly with The Clone Wars Season 7, which was absolutely incredible. The creators find a new way to believe in hope, despite a story where we know where the final outcome is heading. When hope isn’t lost, anything seems possible.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide




Standout Creator/Creative Team of the Year

“Between the masterful final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the mind-blowing Season Two of The Mandalorian, it has been a good year for Dave Filoni.”
- Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President and Co-founder, author of Something Animal and Identity Thief

“David Pepose is a creator who I want to read all of his projects. His lineup of projects, including unannounced ones, is a reason to bookmark his stories. From an altered yellow brick road tale of The O.Z., to the dystopian nightmare Scout’s Honor, to a short in an anthology that resembles “Power Rangers tackling The Walking Dead,” Pepose is a writer I trust when it comes to impactful storytelling.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal is one of the most startlingly original cartoons I’ve ever seen. It takes real guts to an entire series without dialogue, depending solely on action and visuals to characterize and create sympathy for your cast; it takes guts to take a premise that seems like guaranteed crack-cocaine for kids, the adventures of a caveman and a dinosaur, and position it squarely for adults. Tartakovsky has big, long slippery guts.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“Seeing the one-man band called Daniel Warren Johnson make the jump from indie comics to Wonder Woman was a real treat. While handling a Big Two character obviously isn't as personal as something like his book Murder Falcon, DWJ's craftsmanship and passion came through on every page.”
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

“Dirk Maggs, Neil Gaiman, and the cast and creators of the Audible Sandman gave us the cinematic equivalent of audio dramas. From the music, to the voice acting, and everything in between. I'm already listening to it a second time.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“The top award for creative team this year (and probably last year, as well) goes to the entire team behind The Mandalorian, and, in particular, its rotating cast of directors: Jon Favreau, Peyton Reed, Bryce Dallas Howard, Carl Weathers, Dave Filoni, Robert Rodriguez, and Rick Famuyiwa.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space




Standout Actor/Cast of the Year

“The cast of The Boys (Amazon Prime), and particularly Antony Starr as Homelander, were amazing this year. Season 2 of this show told a devastating story that directly confronted some of the evilest aspects of humanity. Everyone in this cast delivered performances that were somehow equally unflinching and nuanced.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

We Are Who We Are, because they felt less like a cast of actors assembled for a project and more like a group of actual people. Honorable mention for High Fidelity, because of how much I loved just hanging out with them.”
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

“Despite not even being able to finish the entire season, because my CBS All-Access was a trial period, watching Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard was the most important connection from my youth, because Captain Picard is my ultimate hero. I’ve yet to watch the entire season, and those first couple of episodes allowed me to reconnect in a way that’s impossible to gauge. That’s how important this character has been to my life.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“All of the cast of Sandman's audio drama are pretty stellar, but Samantha Morton quietly tears into your soul. It's an amazing, heart wrenching vocal performance. The cast of The Mandalorian takes a cool second. The scene with Bill Burr and Pedro Pascal having the conversation with the Imperial officer was amazing. And a special shout-out to the voice cast of the video game, Little Miss Fortune, which was so delightful and twisted making it probably the most memorable indie game of the year: Yikes forever!”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

Killing Eve Season 3 wasn’t quite as out-of-the-box amazing as the preceding seasons, but the stellar cast, led by Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh, and Fiona Shaw, continued their amazing work. If there’s a better-acted show on television, I’m not watching it. I have to give honorable mention to Discovery’s Sonequa Martin-Green, who consistently gives one of the best performances in Star Trek history.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series




Biggest Geeky Surprise of the Year

“Boba Fett. Hands down. A character that whenever anyone said they wanted to see him come back, I'd simply roll my eyes. And here he is, brought to life under the direction of Robert Rodriguez, and it is amazing. And he is welcome.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“The overwhelming popularity of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a year of pandemic and quarantine life is, in hindsight, not terribly difficult to understand. It was a welcome surprise, though, back in March when we all really needed that perfect combination of comforting distraction and on-line connection.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“The 17,000 movie and TV announcements from Disney’s Investor Day. Talk about mic drop, holy crap.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

The Invisible Man was a fun movie, if not a great one. It creates a template for how Universal should approach their classic monsters, updating them to reflect the things that we fear in the here and now. The midpoint of that movie (or at least what I think is the midpoint) was a scene so surprising that my wife and I both jumped off of the couch -- I won’t ruin the scene, but if you’re looking to…kill…two hours, you might find some surprises there.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“Luke Skywalker showing up during the season finale of The Mandalorian was pretty mind-blowing, but nothing made jaws drop more than Captain America sending Twitter into a frenzy by accidentally sharing a picture of America’s *cough.* We love you, Chris!”
- Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President and Co-founder, author of Something Animal and Identity Thief


Defining Geeky Theme of the Year

“Maybe this is too on the nose, but all I can see is SURVIVING TRAUMA. From the time-tossed crew of the Discovery clinging to each other in their time of need, to the heroes of Lovecraft Country returning to face (in one case again) the horror of the Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa, to Ahsoka’s refusal to train The Child (I’m still warming up to “Grogu.”) because of his fear and her memories… maybe I’m projecting in the era of George Floyd and the pandemic, but I see people heroically dealing with their pain.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“Creators coming together to support other creators was a big deal this year. Seeing online conventions pop up and people sharing other people’s works on social media – it’s been a great way to find out about upcoming projects and support people who are doing Kickstarter campaigns or supporting very important causes.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

“We are waiting. Waiting for movies to release, waiting for conventions to come back, waiting for normal life to return. We are waiting to find out when the waiting might be over.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“Connection. Finding ways to stay connected to each other on an individual basis and as a community. Roll20 became as much a necessity as eating.”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series




What was the best representation of #StoriesMatter?

“For me, High Fidelity best demonstrated the way a story can evolve across various retellings. I enjoyed Nick Hornby's novel and Stephen Frears's film adaptation, but this version — developed by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka — did more than just "gender flip" the premise; it honored what came before while also setting out in an entirely fresh direction. The fact that we're getting only the one season is disappointing, yet also makes me savor this gem all the more.”
- Kevin Sharp, Fanbase Press Contributor, “Between the Panels”

“HBO’s I May Destroy You explored the trauma of sexual assault over the course of its twelve episodes. The fictionalized account of writer Michaela Coel’s own experiences, the show tackles sexual interactions of all facets in a world dominated by instant and irrevocable online communication. It’s uncomfortable, insightful, and absolutely vital storytelling.”
- Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of The Fanbase Weekly podcast, creator of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

“This is maybe an offbeat choice, but I’m gonna go with Woke, Hulu’s fictionalized version of the life of cartoonist Keith Knight and one of my favorite viewing experiences of the year. The treatment of minorities by police is front of mind for me and for us as a nation in 2020, and that is the inciting action of this series; “Keef’s” ability, and often inability, to deal with his resulting feelings, and the reactions of those around him, represent America in very real ways. Best of all, Keef himself is a storyteller, and his need to tell his story is central to the series.”
- Justin Peniston, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series

“My family watched Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, and it’s absolutely every reason to keep telling stories. Not only was it a fantastic story filled with great characters and perfectly humorous moments, it was incredibly emotional as I looked over to see my son get teared up (age 6) as he watched Forest Whitaker sing an amazing, heartfelt song. It provided me an opportunity to tell my son that “sad moments are okay, and it’s okay to feel sad. Some stories have humor. Some are scary. Others have moments that are sad, too. And it’s completely okay.” Connecting with a story, despite it being new to our family, made it feel like I was watching a classic that’s been around for years. That’s how great it is. Seeing an incredible cast put together such phenomenal performances is why storytelling can have such a profound impact on anyone. It’s going to be a new holiday tradition.”
- Travis Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor, Creator of the Geeky Parent Guide

The Sandman (Audible) is one of the most important stories told in comic book form, and the audio drama reminds us of all the themes of humanity, loss, love, death, life, and change that the original series touted. And it does it brilliantly. ”
- Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor, Co-host of Dream Journal Podcast Mini-Series



Last modified on Thursday, 31 December 2020 17:43

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