5 Things Star Trek Fans Must Admit About The Film Franchise

In case you missed it in the wake of all the hype for that other space movie, the trailer for Star Trek Beyond dropped this time last year.

Did you enjoy that?
If your answer was “OH MY GOD YES!” then we’re going to assume two things about you: You’re not a fan of the original Star Trek, and you probably won’t like what we have to say. We’re sorry about that, and we hope you enjoy this exciting new colour in the garbage rainbow that is the reboot of Star Trek — a superfly mass-murderous series once known for its sci-fi innovation and optimistic space adventures.

To be fair, we’re not saying that the new Star Trek film is guaranteed to be terrible, considering we’ve seen fewer than two minutes of it. But it doesn’t take a Medusan to know where this series is headed, now that it’s been placed in the hands of a Fast & Furious director and peppered with a steady stream of totally relevant ’90s hip hop. Let’s be clear: In NO way does the Star Trek Beyond trailer resemble a Star Trek film. In fact, not a single installment of the rebooted Star Trek movies has come anywhere close to resembling a Star Trek film. It’s almost as if they’re deliberately trying to destroy Star Trek‘s fanbase and replace it with four-quadrant action fans.

… Yeah, that’s exactly what they’re doing. See, there’s no money in genre science fiction. The big bucks are in widely-recognised properties that can be sold to every single person on planet Earth. Which means getting rid of everything that made Star Trek what it was (heady science fiction, diplomacy, and adventure) and replacing it with explosions and constant running around.

So what happened? Well, what we’re seeing is the end result of an unfortunately common assimilation that not even Captain Picard would be able to resist …

#5. The Franchise Was Already In Bad Shape

Back in the mid-2000s, Star Trek was in poor shape. It had been over a decade since the last film based on the original series, and Star Trek: Nemesis marked the depressing, Data-murdering final chapter of the Next Generation movies, which had started out strong and then gradually dwindled into a blight on F. Murray Abraham’s career.

“Just put enough shit on my face so nobody knows I’m in this movie.”

Enterprise, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine reminded fans that there were no more likeable TV shows to adapt to the big screen. The quaint town of Treksville was in hobo shambles — an abandoned shell of a formerly glorious metropolis, left to be wandered by forsaken fans. But then 2009’s Star Trek emerged from the dust, literally glistening like a beacon of hope.

It’s so beautiful.

But that was poison candy, my friends. As fans soon learned when they saw the film and realised …

#4. The Reboots Have About As Much Understanding And Respect For Its Fans As The Star Wars Prequels

There’s a ton of money to be made in playing on nostalgia, as Jurassic World proved this year by simply filming a bunch of people saying “Hey, remember this part from Jurassic Park?” for two hours and becoming the third-highest-grossing film of all time. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek aimed to shamelessly trade in on fans’ love for the original series by bringing us Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest, and throwing in a few fun references for die-hard Trekkies while completely failing to grasp what people liked about Star Trek in the first place.

For example, the heart of the original series is the relationship between Kirk, Spock, and Bones, who are meant to be three sides of the same person. Kirk is the central decision-making part, Spock is the logical side, and Bones is the emotional side. With very little exception, Kirk always has to defer to the two of them before making his final decision, which invariably involves seducing some manner of a female alien.


“No, Jim, I said a female alien!”

Except in the reboot, Kirk is just running around shooting things and Spock is a moody Vulcan. Meanwhile, Bones has been absolutely replaced by Uhura, because the makers of the reboot decided that what Trek fans really wanted to see was a love triangle between her, Kirk, and Spock. Bones says a few funny things and then is barely seen. It’s even worse in Star Trek Into Darkness, in which he appears in maybe three scenes !

Speaking of Star Trek Into Darkness, that installment also sought to cash in some nostalgia chips by making its central villain Khan, the fan-favorite antagonist of the Original Series episode “Space Seed” and the titular angry man from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, which is widely considered the best Trek film ever. But the character in Into Darkness bears absolutely no resemblance to the legendary villain. J.J. Abrams and crew rewrote The Dark Knight and changed the Joker’s name to Khan. The one thing they did manage to keep was casting an actor who is in no way Sikh to play Khan, who is supposed to be a Sikh.


Yeah, neither of these is correct.

The Star Wars prequels absolutely ruin everything we liked about the Jedi with that stupid midi-chlorian nonsense. The Force was awesome because it was this mystical magic, not because it was a freaking mutant power. We liked Yoda because he was this small unassuming creature who was a master of this nonphysical magic Force. The prequels turn him into a break dancing, back-flipping master swordsman. That defeats the entire purpose of Yoda being an ancient, tiny puppet: His mind was his weapon. Boba Fett is a mysterious “man with no name”-type Old West bounty hunter. Giving us his backstory as a creepy orphan space clone ruins his mystique, which is the only reason anyone ever liked him to begin with. He doesn’t do anything in the movies; he merely stands there looking mysterious and cool. And the prequels gave us his entire elementary school history. And this isn’t even getting into the whole quagmire that is the Special Editions of the original trilogy, which is the clearest example of a filmmaker being completely tone deaf as to why people enjoyed his films in the first place.

Hint: It wasn’t this.

Speaking of which, neither the Star Trek reboots nor the Star Wars prequels have any idea what their tone is supposed to be. Star Trek the original series is very much for adults. There’s an inherent goofiness to everything, and some episodes (like “Spock’s Brain”) are downright farcical, but for the most part, it’s heady science fiction. Which is what the state of science fiction was back in the ’60s, before Star Wars came out and turned “science fiction” into “action movie in space.” In fact, the one thing Star Trek absolutely isn’t, is an action movie. The original series, and their subsequent feature films, are all relatively light on action and heavy on plot.

The Trek reboot was made by a bunch of people who grew up loving Star Wars, and so their first order of business was to turn Star Trek into a Star Wars movie. That meant throwing out all the heady plot stuff and replacing it with lots of running and space explosions. There’s a reason Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison wrote episodes of Star Trek, but were never contacted to whip up a Star Wars screenplay. And Richard Matheson wrote Jaws 3-D.


Seen here.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to nail down a tone in a Star Wars movie, because the tone of the original trilogy is so inconsistent. The first one was a swashbuckling space adventure, a Flash Gordon / Buck Rodgers copy. The second one is brooding and grim, and the third one is an action figure commercial straight-up designed for children (because by that point, Star Wars was an empire built on action figures). That’s why the prequels feel so uneven: They skipped the first two stages of discovery and went straight for “action figure commercial.” Revenge Of The Sith went more for the Empire tone, but after two films unabashedly made to sell toys to children, it felt out of the blue and strange when the movie’s main character ignites his lightsaber and kills a room full of children.

“Thanks for the money, suckers!”

Despite clearly failing to understand anything their fans enjoyed about their respective franchises, both the Star Trek and Star Wars prequels sold millions of dollars of tickets to loyal fans. This is because …

#3. Fans Tolerate It Because It’s Better Than Nothing

Okay, so the new Star Trek had a lot of awkward lens flare in it and brought us to an alternate timeline in which Kirk’s father died and Iowa is suddenly known for its scenic bottomless pits. But we smiled and nodded along to Beastie Boys anyway, because while it was off-putting to see Kirk introduced with a Dennis the Menace car chase, we were happy that the franchise was being given another shot. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. Despite a few missteps, 2009’s Star Trek did an amazing job at reinvigorating fans while potentially drawing in a whole generation of new ones. Now all they had to do was not screw it up by turning it into a baffling 9/11 truth leading allegory

Space cocks! Paramount is starting to build a franchise out of insufferable throwbacks and references the way a hipster bar in Brooklyn might add fake graffiti in the bathrooms. And we see this in other franchises as well: glimmers of hope for fans that could easily turn out to be reckless pandering. Like these guys:

Thirty-somethings everywhere had to swallow the pale mutant rubbish that was Tokka and Rahzar back in 1991’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze, so it’s hard for us not to get a little excited when the new film finally promises a live-action(ish) Bebop and Rocksteady after 30 years of Ninja Turtles movies completely ignoring them. But the thing is, the Ninja Turtles are supposed to be for kids, right? That’s why we liked them — because we were kids at the time. It shouldn’t matter whether a bunch of adults want to come see your children’s movie.

Only it does inexplicably matter, because …

#2. The Studio Made Star Trek Mainstream To Appeal To Everyone

Hey, quick question: Why was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot PG-13, and why did it feature Michelangelo making adult-humour jokes at Megan Fox?


It wouldn’t be the first time Paramount encouraged a bunch of adolescent monsters to slobber over Megan Fox.

The answer is, of course, that they wanted to somehow make a film both for the nostalgic adults and the impressionable children they would bring along.
Much like how Paramount wants to make a Star Trek film that actually generates a profit, little point in being in the movie industry if you are making a loss !

Yep — it turns out that the original Star Trek films didn’t do great at the box office. The highest-grossing one, First Contact, only brought in $140 million on a $40 million budget. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, for an iconic series spanning ten films and five TV series (six if you count the cartoon) over half a goddamn century, it’s not exactly a space king’s ransom.

Now that Trek was being resurrected, the people putting up the money to pay for it would expect to see a return on that investment. And so it needed to be retooled in order to draw in the maximum range of consumers. In other words, if Star Trek was going to be a blockbuster (which Paramount inexplicably wanted it to be), it would have to get with the times. And that meant following the popular trends, like this dumb-ass rumour:

Except now that we’ve all seen the trailer for Star Trek Beyond, we know that dumbass rumor was absolutely true. Beyond looks as much like a Star Trek film as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit felt like a prequel to The Hunt For Red October and Patriot Games. Which is to say, not at all. Coincidentally, both of these films were made by Paramount, and both feature Chris Pine doing sick tricks on his motorcycle.

 

 


Can you tell which one is Star Trek? Because we can’t.

To make Star Trek accessible for everyone, Paramount cranked up that Beastie Boys, took out all the unique sci-fi elements and world-building, and replaced it with generic action and hollow throwback references. And the worst part is that it will totally work, despite the fact that ultimately …

#1. By Making Star Trek “For Everyone,” They Alienate The People Who Love It

Here’s a totally insane quote about the making of Star Trek Beyond:

That’s a real quote from Simon Pegg, who wrote the script after quitting the job three times during the process … presumably because the people who hired him to write it didn’t actually want him to write Star Trek. After all, now that J.J. Abrams left, any connection to the spirit of the revival was long gone. And so they were left to do whatever they wanted with the series, which apparently included making it a bizarre piece of Guardians Of The Galaxy/Furious 7 crossover fan fiction that completely alienates Star Trek fans.

That’s not an accident or an unforeseen side effect, either. This was Paramount’s exact strategy: Take a unique property, refurbish it under the ruse that they are giving it back to the fans, and then make it as generic and safe as possible in order to make a bunch of money. Because who gives a shit if a movie has staying power when studios aren’t worried about home video sales? What matters is the immediate payoff … and that audiences will be hyped enough to pay to see it one time and then leave happy enough to see a sequel, never noticing that they just watched a re-dressed Fast & Furious film with worse physics.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-star-trek-reboot-hates-idea-being-star-trek/

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5 Insane Realities Of My Life In A Fake Colonial Town

“Living history” museums are like senior citizen housing centers. They’re remarkable reminders of the past, they dress and smell a little strangely, and all of the residents are effectively trapped there, waiting for people to visit. Every year, fourth-graders on field trips and old people collectively go on pilgrimages to places that people used to live in before highways and the Internet were invented, staffed by actors wearing period costumes and pretending the world was frozen in place 300 years ago by some kind of time ray.

The actors choose to live there, taking on the role on a daily basis. Their kids, on the other hand, have no choice. We spoke to one of the former children who grew up in Colonial Williamsburg during the late ’80s and who took a break from partying like it’s 1699 to tell us …

#5. You Can’t Have Anything Modern Be Visible In Your House

Several decades ago, one of my parents began to work at Colonial Williamsburg. At the time, Williamsburg was just on its way to becoming a travel destination for families who like the long, boring parts of vacation, such as traveling and sightseeing, but inexplicably hate all of the fun parts, such as beaches and roller coasters. My family moved into a historical house from the 17th century that we were told was an employee “perk.” We were to be living in the exhibits.

Whether building codes from the same time as Ben Franklin count as a benefit
is a question only the next major natural disaster can answer.

What they didn’t tell us about our new house was that it came with a list of insane rules designed to preserve the illusion that my family and I were currently living under the British crown. Most of them pertained to ensuring that nothing resembling a modern invention could be seen around your home, but try to imagine doing this in your own home. It gets complicated. We had things such as grills and bicycles we had to tuck away behind our houses.

Somehow, the rules got even more intrusive than that. Since the land our house was on was owned by the museum, the actual interior layout of our home had to be Colony-approved. Aside from the obvious rules about having a SNES sitting out where tourists can see it, our furniture had to look “18th century enough” to fool all the tourists occasionally peeking into our windows.

That “mattress” is really stacked-up video-game cartridges and bags of Sour Patch Kids.

As a result, I grew up on a street that had nonstop tourists going by and sometimes looking in. When I began visiting other friends at their houses, I was amazed that they left toys out in the open and didn’t have to hide them. I just had this notion that we always had to hide things away from tourists.

Going to school even got a little weird. Buses wouldn’t run into most of the historical parts of the colony, so I literally took a carriage to school like an American Girl doll.

#4. Tourists Have No Respect For Boundaries

Most of the tourists (*ahem*, I mean guests) weren’t so bad. Many just enjoyed walking around, visiting the museums, and having a colonial chat or two with us. However, far too many decided to get a little more up-close and personal than the 17th century would realistically prefer.

While guests were allowed to look in the historical homes, many people abused this privilege and just watched us — I mean full-on staring at us through our windows at least once a week. Like I mentioned, I grew up around this, so it didn’t strike me as unusual, and my parents were actually jazzed that we got to experience this. Some people wanted to show off the inside of the homes (like my family), and others opted to just black curtain it off from tourists.

Too bad window blinds weren’t invented in the 1750s.

People looking in was harmless enough, but things did get dangerous … at least for the animals. I would frequently see guests try to feed them all sorts of things. Horses were huge targets; tourist after tourist tried to feed them totally inedible objects, such as plastic beads or wood, because they apparently thought horses were just enlarged goats.

“I’m not, but you’re definitely an enlarged jackass.”

#3. We Have Actors Who Pretend To Be Slaves (And That Gets Awkward)

Colonial Williamsburg is, above all things, a museum, and it tackles every part of colonial history, including the racist parts. Southern Virginia has a large African-American population, so, consequently, we had a lot of black actors portraying slaves in town. As far as I know, Williamsburg is the only living history museum to show slavery to the extent we did.

It’s not like Walt Disney World is lining up to build “Mr. Turner‘s Wild Ride”.

There are small tobacco crops growing in Colonial Williamsburg, and the black actors will go out and do just enough field work for the visitors to look at. Visitors can also ask the actors questions, and, to put it nicely, some can be kind of insensitive about it (because, duh, there are insensitive people in this world). I’ve literally heard guests ask the actors if they ever get whipped, because people will always be exactly as terrible as they feel they are allowed to be in any given situation. But, the actors and reenactors were armed with the facts and highly trained — they knew exactly what to say.

Slave auctions are, for whatever reason, another hot topic. To be clear, we have never reenacted any of those, but when the guests ask about them, the actors pretend as if there is an auction coming up and use it as a chance to discuss the emotional impact of being sold like livestock. It’s pretty dark, but, like I said, Colonial Williamsburg is a museum, and nothing good ever came from pretending shameful acts of human cruelty never happened.

Where this took a turn for the terrible was when people, mostly children, would ask the “slaves” how much it would cost to buy them. This happens way more often than you would be comfortable thinking about. The “slave” actors in particular have a hard time with this — because they’re museum employees, they know what the factual answer is, but the whole point of the job is to be able to demonstrate how awful slavery was without being glib about it.

There is a silver lining, however. Many of the children making “offers” to buy the actors, especially the ones who aren’t totally aware that it’s all an act, do so because they want to set the actors free. So, as long as we teach kids to be like this, instead of training them to, I don’t know, feed trash to horses, everything should turn out okay.

My job didn’t require those kind of awkward exchanges, but I still had to interact with guests …

#2. The Kids Are (Unpaid) Performers

I won’t pretend to have any idea how difficult it is to get many small children to wear fancy clothing to a wedding or a funeral (I personally loved it, and you couldn’t get me out of it), but I dare any parent to attempt to get their child to dress like a 17th-century colonist every other day. I wore historical period dress three to four times per week as a kid, and it was quite the experience.

First off, we had our own costume department through which all of the clothing was handmade. A ton of time and money went into it. I remember women’s corsets having a two-year waiting period because they all had to be custom-made. As children, we had a file documenting our measurements and growth. because puberty is a costume designer’s worst nightmare. So, yeah, my parents had to keep a bunch of costumers in the loop as I grew up.

Nothing eases the humiliation of puberty like sharing your measurements with a glaring seamstress.

All of this was so that we could walk around acting like old-timey kids, turning us into unpaid performers (which absolutely seems like it’s in violation of a bunch of child labor laws). For example, the museum would often put out exciting games for us such as lawn bowling, just so tourists could point at me and my friends and say, “Oooohhh, look at the time children!” and get their children to come play with us. The colonial higher-ups would bribe us with candy to play with tourist children for three hours at a time, but, sweet mother of Pocahontas, we were never bored. The tourist kids would play with us for a couple minutes before asking us where the gift shop was so that they could have their parents buy them their very own wooden toys to take home.

“And it’s only yours for only 40 sheets of that strange paper you carry with General Washington on it!”

Colonial Williamsburg also puts on huge reenactments during the summer, with people portraying historical figures coming out to visit our town. It’s all hands on deck, but, since real colonial children were little more than bred farmhands, we were just expected to be scenery during these big productions. We were told to walk up and down streets with our pet goats and/or chickens, or maybe just spin wool under a tent. Again, we weren’t paid. But, since our parents did it, we had to pitch in, too.

So, why would a family decide to go through all of this?

#1. We’re Literally Keeping the Past Alive

Living history sites are run by people who love history and who are dedicated to making sure every single detail is historically accurate. This is another way of saying that anytime there was a project going on, everyone brought out their inner Stanley Kubrick. And 17th-century Stanley Kubrick is the Stanley Kubrickiest Stanley Kubrick there is.

For those not up on their lunatic filmmakers, that’s code for “Utterly batshit.”

For instance, all those animals the tourists feed garbage to? Colonial Williamsburg has a rare breeds program that has halted the extinction of several animals and reintroduced others that were around back in the days of wooden dentures and towns with five buildings in them. They brought in a shipment of Leicester Sheep from New Zealand (a breed that the colonists originally brought to America from the UK, but since died out), and, now, they are the only ones currently on the continent. They also brought back a few types of cows from the brink of nonexistence.

That’s right — we are so dedicated to historical accuracy that we essentially did a less-dangerous Jurassic Park operation. Some guests get confused that we aren’t running a more traditional Old MacDonald-type farm, but we are simply keeping animals that Williamsburg settlers would have had.

Minus the corks on the horns.

It isn’t just animals, either. We keep the cooper trade (the crafting of wooden utensils, casks, and barrels) alive, specifically the kind of cooper who isn’t just making whiskey barrels. We have one of the few gunsmiths who still makes and repairs flintlock pistols — he’s currently got a backlog about five years long for handmade guns. We’re home to one of the last silversmith programs in the United States. We even have our own movie studio of sorts — Cold Mountain is one of more than a few major productions to have filmed at Colonial Williamsburg, because we maintain the colonial aesthetic so well (in exchange for small sacrifices like privacy and the ability to ride a bus to school).

So, if Hollywood ever decides to make a movie about, say, the 1700s, there’s a place in Virginia for that.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1842-5-insane-realities-my-life-in-fake-colonial-town.html

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We Asked The Guy Who Drew Superman About Comic-Con’s History

The History of Comic-Con

When it was Comic-Con time, statistically speaking, about 20 percent of the people reading this were there then.
For a certain kind of nerd, it’s the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca: spiritually fulfilling, extraordinarily expensive, and primarily profiting the Saudi royal family.

However, Comic-Con wasn’t always a pop culture bacchanal of elaborate costumes, star-studded panels, and drug-fueled parties. We talked to early fan (and current media critic) Brian Lowry and legendary comics artist and early keynote guest Neal Adams. (He drew Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and, at various points, roughly 40 percent of your childhood.) Here’s what they told us about the early-ass days of a geek culture touchstone.

When Comic-Con Started, Comics Were A Shameful Business

In the late ’60s, the comic book industry was barely clinging to life after years of social stigma, rotten sales, and lack of interest by readers. Neal could have put “I drew Superman” on his resume, but that wouldn’t necessarily have been a smart move. In fact, if you’d popped out of a wormhole to tell him that in a few decades, the characters he drew would be the biggest names in pop culture, he’d have hit you in the teeth for your filthy lies.

As the 20th century edged into its second half, comics found themselves under attack by, well, one of the biggest things that you can be attacked by: Congress. And as Neal explained, this was because some people thought that a love of The Flash would turn you into a hoodlum, stealing milk money and listening to Elvis after 8 p.m.:

“… because [comics] obviously led to juvenile delinquency, and they should be burned, tossed in the garbage, whatever. And the sales of comic books were terrible. When I got out of high school and fell into this industry, they told me that comic books would be out of business in a year. So I did other things, and several years later I fell back into comic books, and they still hadn’t disappeared.”

Today

Today, comic books are a wild medium where anything can happen. Batman can be a Soviet Commissar. The Hulk can be a Las Vegas enforcer. Superman can be charismatic. But back then, after the attacks by Congress, work became pretty limited: “The leftover companies and artists continued to believe they would be out of business in a year, to the extent that they destroyed comic book artwork when they no longer needed it, they had no contracts or agreements [with artists]. Nothing was important, nobody cared, everybody walked around with a long face, everybody was ashamed that they did comic books.”

Then, into this period of doubt came a fine gent named Phil Seuling. An English teacher and bookstore owner, Seuling would put together the New York Comic Art Convention in 1968.


To put this in a timeframe that superhero fans can understand, Robert Downey Jr. was three.

Though this wasn’t the first comic convention (Stan Lee’s Yell-At-You-About-Spider-Man-In-The-Streets-Of-Brooklyn-Fest was a classic event), it was the largest one ever organised until the San Diego Comic-Con began two years later. Neal Adams was one of the first keynote speakers at that event. He described the early Comic-Cons as basically a Hail Mary for the concept of “comic books.”

“So you had this business that was about to go out of business, and on the outside you had these fans. And they were there, but because we didn’t have the internet, nobody really knew how you would contact other comic book fans.” Conventions basically did the job of the internet before the internet was around to make it clear that comic book fans collectively had billions of dollars to spend on their hobby. Neal’s first Comic-Con was the second one ever, in 1971.

“There was me, Jack Kirby, and two other people. And they had a kind of luncheon in the El Cortez hotel, and there were four tables, and there were ten people around the tables, and they essentially paid for the artists’ meal.” Jack Kirby helped create Captain America. And the Hulk. And the Fantastic Four. And the Avengers. But back then, he was such small potatoes that anyone who enjoyed comics and wandered into San Diego could have lunch with him and the dude who drew Superman, provided they picked up the check.

DC Comics
“Sure, you can sit here … as long as you’re faster than a speeding bullet with your wallet.”

“… they got to hang out with the artists and bullshit and talk. Jack was at one table, I was at another, and these other two were at another table. And that became one of the featured events at the later conventions. Phil did similar things, and because he was in a hotel, he could rent two rooms one year, then eight rooms the next. And sometimes they were on different floors, but the fans didn’t care, they could go on different floors and listen to Harlan Ellison talk or me talk, whoever was around. The conventions became more and more popular. You would have as many as ten guest artists.” For reference, it’ll take you around 20 minutes to read through all the guests for the 2017 Comic-Con.

Later, Seuling would strike a deal with the major comic publishers (including DC and Marvel) to buy a ton of comic books off of them and sell them in his shop without returning them. This created what would become known as the “direct market” for comic books, and began the era of comic shops, allowing comics to sell for better prices and comic nerds to get their fix without doing it next to someone else buying the latest issue of Newsweek.

So in the beginning, Comic-Con was helping to keep the industry alive, or at least on life support, until Hollywood started to care about Captain America and the sundry Men of Bats/Iron/etc. But despite it seeming like a no-brainer now, they didn’t always have it nailed down …

The Studios Didn’t Get It At First

At this year’s Comic-Con, fans can expect to see footage from Marvel’s Infinity War and Thor: Ragnarok. On the DC front, we’ll probably get our first look at Aquaman and hear the official announcement for Wonder-Woman 2: Sword On Her Back Boogaloo.

So Hollywood suits are very experienced at making comic conventions work for them. But we only got to this current state of affairs through tremendous trial and error. When Warner Bros. released the first footage of their Superman movie at the 1978 Comic-Con, it was a complete disaster. Brian Lowry was there:

“There was a presentation for Superman, with Christopher Reeve, before the movie opened. And they didn’t have any footage to show, but everything they said sort of irritated the fans. They talked about the character in a way which created an impression that [the movie] was sort of a comedic, non-serious approach to Superman. It had people in the room groaning and hissing. Of course the movie ended up doing great, and I’m sure everybody in the room saw it, but at the time it was kind of a symbol that [the studios] didn’t know how to talk to [the fans].”

Not every movie had the same troubles. Alien was a huge hit at its Comic-Con presentation, according to Lowry, but the people running it were smart enough to bring along H.R. Giger’s artwork instead of just giggling about space penises on stage for an hour. So what did it take to yank the studios into working with Comic-Con’s audience? Somewhat unsurprisingly, it was the success of Demigod George Lucas, and actually listening to creators of comic books.

“Within a few years of [the Superman incident], you saw these companies basically hiring guys or developing guys who could really talk to the fans in a language they would understand and who really knew this stuff. That was a big threshold they had to cross, where they started presenting in a way that would actually build anticipation for them.”

According to Neal, a big part of the problem Hollywood had with translating early comics was the frequent onomatopoeia used in fights scenes, like “wham” and “blap.” Today we just see that stuff as what it is: a way to describe sounds in visual storytelling. But for some reason, generations of directors thought “biff” and “pow” were somehow critical to fans’ love of the genre. Here’s Neal:

“The problem is that Hollywood had to get over that Batman thing — biff, bam, pow, the silly, satirical approach. And it took them a long time to get past it, because it seemed to be what it was all about to people who weren’t comic fans. You would have to sit down with producers and directors and say, ‘OK, where it says bam? That’s a sound effect, like when Errol Flynn punches somebody and you hear a sound. That’s what that is, it’s just another form. We don’t want it to say BAM, that’s stupid. If you want to do stupid comic books, then keep doing the junk you’re doing, but if you want to do realistic comic books, then treat them like a storyboard for a movie.’ And it’s taken quite a bit of time, and the people who have become the most successful are the people who get it.”

And in the long, long years between the first Comic-Con and the birth of comic book movies as a respectable genre …

The Comic Book And Toy Dealers Were The Main Draw

For those of you reading this while waiting in line to get Chris Evans to autograph your homemade tights, the most shocking thing about the old Comic-Con is that it was about selling comics.


People bought the things they were interested in? Sounds fishy.

Brian reveals the shocking truth:

“Originally, this was a convention where you had comic dealers who would schlep down or across the country ostensibly to sell. There just weren’t that many things outside of [comics] to keep you occupied. Now there are panels all day long and events that go into the evening. You could easily go to Comic-Con and basically never venture into the dealers’ area. I have gone to the dealers’ floor a few times over the years and heard people grousing that [the organizers] aren’t doing enough to get people to come out and actually buy. And when all the emphasis is on panels and movie presentations — things that keep people out of the dealer areas — it doesn’t help them in terms of selling their stuff.”

It’s entirely possible that most modern Comic-Con attendees will leave San Diego without ever buying a comic. But Adams argues that the current state of the convention has still been good for them:

“Let’s say in New York you have a comic book convention in the Penta hotel [the Hotel Pennsylvania]. Well, you’re maybe going to get 3,000-5,000 people, and that’s a crowd. Well, right now we have a convention in the Javits [Center] that has 90,000 people. You certainly have enough people there to buy comic books from the guys who bring the long white boxes. You also have enough people who will buy signatures from actors and enough people who will go there and do cosplay.”

“You’ve got a much larger population of people who go to conventions, and if the people who are selling comic books want to sit and cry into their beers that every one of the cosplayers aren’t coming and buying comic books, they should be ashamed of themselves, because that’s ridiculous. They get enough people in. I’ve had conversations with guys as little as two weeks ago who will tell me, ‘Hey, we had a good weekend, we did $50,000.’ Well, you didn’t do $50,000 back in 1977, believe me. You did $1,000 if you were lucky, maybe $800. So people do tend to complain, but it just falls on deaf ears if you have any experience and a little bit of history.”

The other group of people who did big business then, as Adams recalls, were the toy vendors. A lot of their business was actually helped along by Adams, but the whole comics industry was so primitive that he didn’t make a dime:

“What the comic book fans would buy at the conventions would be toys, Batmobile toys from Mego and the various companies. The toy market was essentially licensing of toys, and DC Comics for the most part, when I started working for them, they would ‘borrow’ my drawings and send them to these licensors, and the licensors, seeing an upgrade of their favorite characters, would buy more licenses, and they would have toys, games, T-shirts, pajamas, and pillowcases. The licensing grew very quickly in the ’60s and ’70s, and my art appeared everywhere. And once in awhile I would go to them and go, ‘Shouldn’t I get a little money from this?’ [And they said], ‘Don’t you feel privileged that they’re using it on all their toys and stuff?’ [I said], ‘Yeah, but I gotta feed my family.’”

Yes, aside from the eternal problem of going broke due to various collectible-buying-related issues, it was truly a different era. And that’s especially true because …

Cosplay Was Not A Thing

Comic-Con 2017 will spawn the creation of enough pictures and videos to fill several Libraries of Alexandria. But it’s actually pretty hard to find good photos of some of the older cons. This collage from 1975 features a Stan Lee who is either about to sing in a seedy lounge or shout into a microphone beside Hulk Hogan:

You’ll notice absolutely no evidence of costumes. Check out that banquet on the bottom left. People are wearing suits. It turns out Comic-Con didn’t even add a costume competition until 1974, and Adams for one didn’t see a lot of cosplayers in the early days:

“It didn’t exist, who would do such a thing? You wouldn’t put on a Halloween mask to go to a comic convention; you go there to buy comic books. It kind of snuck in under the radar. You’d get somebody who’d come to a convention dressed as Dick Tracy, and you’d go ‘Huh, Dick Tracy, cool.’ Then you’d see somebody else as Betty Boop. It was kind of a by-the-way entertainment, but suddenly it just evolved.”

Even when you look at pictures from that first costume competition, it barely seems like people are dressed up compared to the crowds at a modern Comic-Con. Half of these people look like they’re about to stop you in a Los Angeles coffee shop to explain their new script:

Ten years after the competition began, a Japanese journalist gave cosplaying its name, and it took off into the hobby it is today. So when you see multiple people drop from heat stroke while waiting to get Stan Lee’s autograph, just know that it took a long time to get to such a grand place.

For more, check out 4 Miserable Experiences You Can’t Avoid at Comic-Con and 6 Problems At Every Convention That Nobody Prepares You For.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2516-i-drew-superman-heres-what-comic-con-was-like-in-my-day.html

For those of you reading this in the UK, Birmingham Comic-Con is coming up soon


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