Geek Media Expo 2009
Over 400 people attended the first ever Geek Media Expo (GMX) last weekend at the Raddison Opryland Hotel in Nashville, an impressive number for a first year convention. The convention featured panels and events celebrating comic book, animation, science -fiction, fantasy, and several other fandoms and seems intent on becoming a mini Dragon Con for local Nashville fans.
Obviously, I was unable to attend all of the panels and events that went on during the 48-hour event, but here are my thoughts on what I did see:
- Defeat the Geeks: GMX's spin on the old game show Beat the Geeks saw four attendee contestants pit their knowledge of geek trivia against geek "experts" in the fields of comics, sci-fi, gaming, and Joss Whedon. I was disappointed that there were only two questions related to comics asked, but besides that, good fun was had.
- Watching Watchmen: An open discussion about the film adaptation of Watchmen, and the themes of the graphic novel itself. Intelligent panels like this one were the best thing about this convention.
- What is Steampunk?: The Apparition Abolishers crew gave a "Steampunk 101" course to anyone interested in this costuming craze. They also discussed their upcoming webcomic, literary steampunk inspiration, and Bar2-D2.
- Chronicling the Dream w/ Scott Sava: Scott Christian Sava, creator of The Dreamland Chronicles, shared some insights into the industry with fans. His "give and take" view of working with Hollywood seemed very mature when compared to more typical "Hollywood is evil!" or "we should just be grateful they made a movie at all" attitudes.
- The London Underground: Shows You Might Not Know: This panel aimed at introducing fans to British television shows that may have previously flown under their radar. It included clips from Blackpool (a bizarre mix of comedy, cop drama, and sing-along musical starring Morrisey and David "The Tenth Doctor" Tenant), Hyperdrive (a space station comedy in the vein of Red Dwarf, starring Nick Frost), a strange mix of celebrity talk show and music trivia called Nevermind the Buzzcocks, a modern take on the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called, simply, Jekyll, and The IT Crowd, a sitcom about two nerds who work in the IT department of a huge corporation and their female supervisor, who knows nothing about computers, that features many of the actors from The Mighty Boosh (I can personally attest to this last one being hilarious).
- Brit Comic Panel: Grant Goggins presented a history of British comic books that managed to pique my interest to the point that I may add 2000 AD to my own pull list.
- Grant Morrison vs. Alan Moore: I was joined by Grant Goggins and my good friend Nick Gore to run this panel, a comparison and contrasting of the works of these two brilliant, British comic book writers. I thought it went pretty well, and I hope those who attended thought as much as well.
- Animated History of Batman: An overview of Batman cartoons including the classic Batman: the Animated Series and its spin-off Batman Beyond, the generally reviled The Batman, and the currently running, campy antics of The Brave and the Bold. A solid panel, especially for potential new viewers.
- Dr. Horrible Picture Show: A showing of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog with shadow casting. I have to say, having the whole audience wave their hands in the air during "Everyone's a Hero" really adds to the effect.
- Comics For Beginners: Gore and I were joined by a local artist for this panel, though I have to admit that his name escapes me now (we only met during the panel). We included a synopsis of comic book history and a definition of what comic books are, but after that we got pretty off track. I think we still managed to leave with most attendees having something in mind that they could go pick up from their local comic shop or book store, so mission accomplished in that sense.
- Neil Gaiman: Cradle to the Graveyard: Pretty much a Neil Gaiman love-fest, featuring lots of video clips of him touring and reading his work. Great for fans.
- Futurama: TNG: A brief discussion of Futurama's future, with the latest news on the show's recent renewal and state of the cast's salary negotiation hijinks. Eventually degraded into a flurry of favorite quotes.
All in all, it was a good time and it looks to only get better in coming years. I hope next year to see more great panels, a larger and less anime-focused dealer room, and an even bigger crowd.
One last anecdote sticks in my mind: I was sitting with Nick Gore, Grant Goggins and his wife, Marie, Nicholas Qualls, and the head of the local Browncoats around a table in the hotel's atrium discussing comics, the economy, travel, food and other such things. During this discussion, a group of three teenagers - two girls in cat ears and one boy looking rather dapper for being, by the tone of his skin, undead - stood up from the table adjacent us and began playing some sort of Asian pop music. They then proceeded to put their "paws" up in the air and shake them, as well as their hips and heads in a manner which I could infer was meant to pantomime the flopping of their ears, back and forth to the music. I expected this to be the beginning of an elaborate dance routine, or perhaps a lead-in to some much more technical para-para, but, as it turned out, this was the entirety of the three youth's performance and they continued on with it until the conclusion of the three or four minute song. While this exhibition in itself would be seen by most as bizarre, what truly struck me as surreal was the nonchalant manner in which we continued our conversation, as if this "danse feline" going on no more than two feet from where we sat was barely worth noting.
Only at a convention.