Grok #6: Avatar

Grok #6: Avatar

Jun 30

Summer again! Comic-Con countdown time! Ridiculous rerun-watching time! Exclamation point overuse time!

And also…time for a new Grok.

If you’ll recall, this is our PDF zine you can read on your computer screen or print out and tote wherever you desire. Within, you will find fiction, essays, and other general hilarity dedicated to geek culture and the nerd experience, all centered around a delightful theme. This time ’round, we’re all about…Avatar. Not the movie. The thing.

No, seriously. Not the movie.

Grok #6: Avatar (PDF)

In this issue…

An Open Letter to the Total Stranger Who Scolded Me About Political Awareness on Facebook, by Caroline Pruett: Sarcastic Facebook comments: you leave ’em and go back to watching 30 Rock and that’s it, right? Right?! Well…no. Not when there are Total Strangers lurking about, all too ready to engage you in social media-fueled “conversation.”

My Xbox Avatar Choices Become Too Life-Like, by Ivan Sian: Fourteen hours later, it totally looks just like me!

Strong at the Broken Places, by Anika Milik: Anika is Carol Danvers and Olivia Dunham and Ro Laren. And here, she explains why.

Monkeyshines79, by David Accampo: Julia — 30, single, and prone to LLOL (literally laughing out loud)-worthy disasters — is about to break one of her most dearly-held personal principles. Thou shalt not date on the internet. Sounds like a recipe for major double-u tee eff.

Alien, by Matt Springer: Tor-Kar just wants to enjoy the free Days Inn breakfast buffet in peace. Earthers, is that too much to ask?

Noble and Grand #0, by Jeff Stolarcyk, Matt Springer, and Joe Mulvey: Get a sneak peek at Alert Nerd Press’ first foray into comics! Superheroes! Terror Bears! I.T. experts! It’s crazy-amazing or amazing-crazy or whatever.

Avatars, Cultural Appropriation, and Chris Claremont’s GeNext, by Jennifer Smith: Jennifer looks at the real meaning of “avatar” as it applies to Claremont’s work. When we say “real meaning,” we don’t mean “blue people” or “that sweet animated Jacob-from-Twilight .gif you just uploaded to Livejournal.”

There Was an Old Woman…, by Daniel R. Faust: Brother Ofwynn has lost his way…but his journey’s just beginning.

With Violet Light, by Sarah Kuhn: Julie’s boyfriend is a total Star Sapphire. Julie’s best girlfriend won’t shut up about Sex and the City. Julie herself can’t seem to channel her own pink, girly side without cursing a few billion times…or can she? Find out in this sequel to One Con Glory!

Plus: Rejected Sims Expansion Packs! Hilarious graphics! And much, much more!

Gareb Shamus's Super Awesome Philly Star Trek Party A-Go-Go 2010

Gareb Shamus's Super Awesome Philly Star Trek Party A-Go-Go 2010

Jun 18

I ducked into the Wawa on Arch Street as I was walking back to my car after my trip to Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, and as I stood in line to check out with several con-goers, including one cosplayer who looked like the Snooki Polizzi version of the Silk Spectre, I saw that one of them was wearing a “Wizard World Tour” shirt from 2005, listing a titanic FIVE dates.  Today, the slate is upwards of one dozen shows. My, how times change.

While Wizard has changed their branding to ensure that easily confused rubes will think they’re buying tickets for Reed Exhibitions’ (the promoter who produces New York Comic Con, Chicago’s C2E2 and the epic nerd pilgrimage that is San Diego Comic Con) shows, they have not done much to put the ‘comic’ into Philly’s con. Only Zenescope and Avatar had a presence at the show that was outside of  individual creators’ tables in Artist’s Alley.  Instead, a large swath of the show floor was populated by TV and film stars – James Marsters, Ernie Hudson, Brent Spiner and John DeLancie being the biggest draws and having corresponding mobs of fans in their wakes, not to mention the massive queue for Sir Patrick Stewart’s signing.  Vendors appeared to be doing a brisk business as well, and I myself made off with about $200 worth of comics for a fraction of that price. I also grabbed some forthcoming commissions from Jaime Fay (of the third volume of Sentinels and the upcoming NeverMinds, both with Rich Bernatovech) and Avengers Academy artist Mike McKone.

Though I heard I several complaints about the length of the line to get in the door and some ire about increased ticket prices, this year boasted the largest Saturday crowd I’ve seen at this show in the past three years. The lines for the marquee panels, like the Bruce Campbell Q&A or the Star Trek: TNG panel, were expansive. Again, the big draws in the panel programming had little to do with comics apart from Raven Gregory’s “Writing Comics” panel.  As someone that generally goes to cons for the programming and not for the celeb autographs or the shopping experience, it feels a bit like this show isn’t ‘for me’ anymore, but the majority of the con-goers seemed to think Wizard is doing something right.  The crowd had some inventive costumes on display – with lots of Ghostbusters love, too.

As part of the vaunted ‘Con Wars,’ Wizard’s shows are changing their character, but the change just might be for the better in terms of turning attendance and engagement around.

Uneducated Thoughts on the 2010 WWDC Jobsnote

Uneducated Thoughts on the 2010 WWDC Jobsnote

Jun 08

The new phone feels more like an evolution than a revolution. This did not stop Jobs from continually positioning it as a “revolutionary” device. I’m starting to understand where this “reality distortion field” comes from.

I think the positioning of the phone was impacted by the Gizmodo leak. Without that leak, Jobs gets a big gasp and applause from the mere visual introduction of the new form factor and look. Since that was already widely seen and known beforehand, he had to lean harder on the feature set to get the kind of reaction he wants from a Jobsnote–excitement, making way for keen interest, bursting into unadulterated awe, all from the Apple acolytes.

This phone will probably be successful, but I don’t know if it’s exciting enough to impact general consumers in a significant way. If you’re going to buy an iPhone anyway, or thinking about it, it’s a no-brainer. It will impact a lot of fence-sitters. It will probably push those holding out for some kind of Verizon iPhone to just grit their teeth and suck up AT&T’s crappy service. But it’s not the kind of device that makes Joe Wifi drop his Droid in the trash and run out to the nearest Apple store.

Part of that is because I think the reality of the front-facing camera right now and the Facetime app is nowhere near the fantasy that Apple depicts in its new commercial. Unless you and all your loved ones near and far will be there on June 24 to buy the new device, you won’t have anyone with which to schedule time to view your face. The API is open so it’s a safe bet that before the end of this year, there will be a third-party app that brings the front camera to older iPhones, or the web. Until then, your face will be lonely.

That being said, I kinda want one.

I’m starting to wonder about whether Apple should tweak its product refresh cycle. I had no expectations of any big iPad news yesterday, but you know there’s gonna be a new one, and with the tablet market heating up, I’m betting it’ll be out within a year.

But when? If you release it a year from the iPad announcement, you get late January. To me that’s not an appealing time for any kind of product refresh. There’s nothing to hook it onto. Then again, I don’t think there’s anything in particular to hook the iPhone’s traditional June refresh onto.

It might make sense to refresh the iPods and iPads at the same fall event, or to push the iPad refresh to like August, to maybe grab some back-to-school business…which could push the iPhone refresh up to like March, maybe in conjunction with an iOS refresh.

That begs the question of whether there will be another new iPad before the end of this year, maybe incorporating some of the tech we saw in iPhone 4–the retina display, cameras, possibly even a new form factor. That would goose the iPad for the holidays, and maybe lower the low-end price point on the older version, making it a more appealing gift. Unlikely, but the slim possibility is fascinating.

As you may already know, I want an iPad too.

Consumerism as an interactive spectator sport is fun. In a blowhard kinda way.

Two Quotes From Ian Sattler

Two Quotes From Ian Sattler

Jun 07

“We have learned we need to be more mindful of things in the future.”

-Ian Sattler – DC Nation Panel, Heroes Con 2010

“We don’t see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink, and blue characters.”

-Ian Sattler – DC Nation Panel, Heroes Con 2010

I didn’t get to attend Heroes Con this year, so I don’t know if this is the most insulting doubletalk out of the DC Nation panel, but the reaction it seems to have gotten from some of the panel attendees seems to suggest that it was. A close second, the notion that it’s okay to kill Ryan Choi because DC has The Great Ten (a team whose 10 issue miniseries was chopped short after seven issues). Not said was that The Great Ten “are like ten Ryan Chois, people. Seriously. Suck it up.”