Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
This weekend (Friday, October 20th through Sunday, October 22nd), DreamHack is hosting its inaugural DreamHack Denver festival. Taking place at the National Western Complex, the sprawling event is home to a number of experiences, including eSports competitions, tabletop gaming, panels, a 24-hour LAN party, cosplay competitions, and much more. The stacked schedule is sure to provide a little something for everyone.
For me, it’ll be my first time attending anything like it. I’ve attended Denver Comic Con, but I’ve never been to an event where the emphasis is on gaming. So, before I go to DreamHack Denver 2017, I think it’s only fair that I put all my preconceived notions on the table for the sake of honesty. I’m a newcomer to eSports and I have to admit that there is a size-able disconnect there for me…
Two interests have run the course of my entire life: sports and video games. I’ve been watching and attending games for every sport imaginable for as long as I can remember. I’ve been playing video games for just as long. While I absolutely love the two, I also have to admit that sports are much more of an area of expertise for me, with my gaming knowledge (and skill) lagging behind quite a bit. Interacting with each separately in my own life, I never thought I’d see those worlds collide in the way that they currently are. Sponsorships, massive crowds, a billion-dollar valuation on the horizon, arenas being built specifically for eSports…it all makes complete sense, but it’s still very foreign to me.
In recent years, the amount of eSports coverage by major sports networks has obviously gone up. With that, there has been pushback. Internet commenters (because, of course…) respond to every article with ‘video games aren’t a sport’, ‘these people aren’t athletes’, any number of nerd jokes, and a bevy of other insults. While I don’t share a disdain for eSports, I would be lying if I said that eSports’ presence on ESPN and Sports Illustrated didn’t catch me off guard or that I haven’t had some similar thoughts about whether video games qualify as a sport.
All that being said, I’m working on it. I’m holding off on knocking something before I experience it. I mean, I’ve spent countless hours watching other people play sports. Who’s to say it’s any different when the games being played are virtual? There is undoubtedly a market for it. Even pro sports teams are beginning to see that, investing in the establishment of their own eSports teams. I’m also trying to understand the athleticism that it requires. I know it doesn’t come easy. If it did, maybe I’d be better at video games. It takes superb hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and - like anything else - hours and hours of practice honing your skills.
I’m clueless when it comes to the appeal of watching eSports competitions, as I’ve never had the opportunity to do so. But I’m heading into DreamHack with an open mind. I am excited to sit in the crowd for the event’s Grand Finals and feel the energy that you get at any live sporting event. I hope to chat with people and see where they are coming from, what drives their passion for the sport. ESports are an ever growing hobby; let’s see if DreamHack Denver can make it one of mine!
Follow along with my adventure on Twitter (@NerdsThatZeke) and check back on NerdsThatGeek.com for follow up articles after the event.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
You never quite forget the experience of your first convention and with good reason. After all, you had no clue what to expect from that con, which means that your stomach was filled with butterflies as you stepped through those doors before relief washed over you when you realized you were in the right place once you laid eyes upon costumes and elements from your favorite fandom. Such a spectacular moment truly meant that you belonged and the awe and wonder that comes with such a realization…is near impossible to ever experience a second time around.
Because the familiarity that comes with conventions settles in when you attend your second, or third one. You know what to seek out and what to expect when you walk through those doors, and you simply settle in to a routine and go about your personalized experience. Which is why it is so supremely important to talk about conventions that manage to find a way to leave us breathless and surprise us and believe it or not, I managed to attend a con this past weekend that not only stunned me with its sheer awesomeness, but it did the impossible and replicated that sense of awe and wonder I remember from so many years ago, and the con in question that accomplished such a feat, is Fort Collins Comic Con.
Now how FCCC pulled off such a feat is equally as impressive in that, there we no gimmicks to be found at this con, nor did it reinvent the proverbial convention wheel. Simply put, Fort Collins Comic Con took its fans back to basics, by providing an absolutely fun experience for the ages. Now, this was my first time attending FCCC and walking up the Aztlan Center and seeing how intimate a setting it was going to provide evoked something within, that sense of awe of wonder that I made mention of. Because I had no idea what to expect, and the memories and emotions of that first con I ever attended washed over me in an instant and that was only further enhanced when I walked through the doors.
Because within the walls of the Aztlan Center, was a sight to behold. There were people everywhere. The main lobby was packed to the brim with attendees, all of them smiling wide as they headed toward the main floor and the joy painted on their faces didn’t stop once they crossed that threshold. Because in addition to the wall to wall crowds present in the main room, smiles were to be found on everyone’s faces. Vendors, attendees, cosplayers and myself for that matter seemingly had a grin plastered on our mugs over the fact that this convention only wanted everyone to have a good time and indulge their nerdy side to the fullest and we were certainly more than happy to accomplish that.
Not to mention the fact that I cannot recall the last time I’ve been to a convention where I saw every single booth be as busy as can be, and if by chance the folks at that booth weren’t busy, they only needed to wait a minute before fans of all ages stopped by to chat with the artist or the vendor and make a purchase at their table or booth. That was, in fact, another thing that struck me by surprise…the sheer accessibility of everyone at their tables. It became obvious early on for me that FCCC wanted to give the fans the opportunity to really take the time to talk with the people at these tables and by encouraging that in the first place, fans were able to discuss anything and everything with the artists, and I even had the opportunity to do that myself and it was refreshing to not feel rushed in my conversation and really be able to take the time to get to know the folks showcasing their creations.
But really, what impressed me most about this convention, was the sense of family that it exuded. Not only did I see families in cosplay everywhere, enjoying this con with glee…I also felt like I belonged there and that’s what matters most, that we feel like we aren’t just among friends, but our own nerdy extended family and it is for that reason, along with the many others that I have made mention of today, that I will definitely attend this convention next year. Fort Collins Comic Con truly understands the core elements of what makes a con worthwhile and I cannot wait to experience that sense of awe once again, all while taking in the other wonders that this convention has in store for us.
Denver Comic Con 2017 Panel Spotlight - The Colorado Symphony Presents: Wonder Women - Symphonic Music’s Pop Culture Heroines
Written by Tim Girard
The Colorado Symphony Presents: Wonder Women - Symphonic Music’s Pop Culture Heroines
Saturday 10:30AM - 11:20AM Gotham City Room - Mile High Ballroom DCCP5
Catherine Beeson, Shari Myers, Matt Krupa, Danielle Guideri, Carolyn Kunicki, Tristan Rennie.
Join members of the Colorado Symphony as they explore and discuss how strong female characters in film are represented in both story and music.
Catherine Beeson, who led the panel, wanted to show the progression of musical themes written for strong female characters, and how they evolved into the current Wonder Woman theme in the DC Cinematic Universe. It began with Wagner’s Ring (not Tolkien’s Ring, Precious), and his character Brunhilde, a Valkyrie (not to be confused with the Marvel character...then again, it’s all the same basic mythology) from his opera cycle ‘The Ring of the Nibelung.’ Probably the most familiar music associated with her is the ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’ (which was used in the film Apocalypse Now), which Tristan performed on bassoon for us. Another musical signature for Brunhilde is her battle cry ‘Ho-yo-to-ho!,’ which, though it sounds very different, connects to another strong female character: Xena, the Warrior Princess. Xena’s battle cry (demonstrated by audience members who were familiar with it, for those of us who weren’t), is meant to strike fear in the hearts of her enemies.
One of the biggest contributions of Wagner (seen here, holding a dragon), is the use of a theme or motive called a leitmotif, which usually references a specific character, item, idea, place, etc. and helps to musically guide us through the story. This was originally used in opera, but is also very common in film scores. Probably the best-known film composer to use leitmotifs is John Williams. An example, performed on cello by Danielle Guideri, is Leia’s Theme, which has a ‘searching’ quality, that doesn’t really find a resolution. Rey’s Theme, performed beautifully by Catherine on viola, has a very different ‘musical grammar’ which captures the qualities of her character. She is alone almost all of the time and she is not heroic, but we have empathy for her. She isn’t searching the way Leia is; instead, Rey is surer of herself and accepting of what her situation is. It starts off jaunty, but becomes very expansive, just like her journey. One of the advantages of using leitmotifs is that the composer can layer the different melodies associated with a specific character on top of each other in counterpoint, so that different aspects of their personality can be expressed simultaneously. This was demonstrated when Catherine, Danielle, and Tristan performed a later part of Rey’s Theme on viola, cello, and bassoon.
It was pointed out that one big distinction with the music for Marvel’s movies is that the studio allows the scores to be genre driven, meaning, Captain America: The First Avenger is a World War II film, so it is scored similarly to other WWII films, Thor is a space/alien/Norse/fantasy (?) so it is scored like other films in that genre, etc. This is opposed to the DC Cinematic Universe where all of the music seems to match and be very much part of the same world. Jessica Jones is a private detective, so her show is scored in a typical Film Noir Jazz style, but as we learn more about her dry humor, wit, and hard edge, the music moves to heavy rock with the addition of guitar.
Moving to another strong, female lead, we next discussed the main theme of Game of Thrones with its driving 3-beat rhythm (Dee Daa Dada, Dee Daa Dada, ...). The composer, Ramin Djawadi ‘quotes himself’ by taking material to make other themes (even the melody is based on the opening rhythmic figure). The music often used for Daenerys (or as Matt reminded us: ‘Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons’) is based on the opening theme music, but it is slower and broader, and builds over time to seem unstoppable. Combined with a slow version of the melody over it, it creates a sense of, as it was said during the panel, ‘She’s comin’ for ya’.
Finally, we arrived at the core of the panel: the music for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. We first hear her new theme in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, during the battle with Doomsday. Hans Zimmer wanted a more feminine theme for Wonder Woman, but one that was also a warrior’s battle cry. Zimmer worked with electric cellist Tina Guo to come up with a theme that sounded like a ‘banshee wail.’ Catherine drew the connection from Brunhilde’s ‘Ho-yo-to-ho!’, and Xena’s battle cry, to Wonder Woman’s electric cello theme. This melody is accompanied by drums that are reminiscent of a 7-beat rhythm that you might hear in Balkan folk music. The drums are playing on all seven beats, but accenting beats 1, 3, 5, and 7 (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 etc., which Catherine had us clap so that we could really experience the rhythm). While Hans Zimmer composed that memorable theme for Wonder Woman, it was actually Rupert Gregson-Williams who composed the score for Wonder Woman’s solo film. Since the film told her origin story, and how she became the warrior we know, he composed another theme that expressed the hope, peace, and kindness of her character at the beginning of the film. This theme ‘reaches upward’ to show Diana’s optimism about the world and how good it could be. He does eventually use the theme from BvS, once Wonder Woman is in full ass-kicking mode, but then quickly drops the electric cello, continues with the drums, and adds the rest of the orchestra to arrive at a more full, ‘cinematic action’ treatment.
Oh, and the presentation ended with a picture of Bugs Bunny Brunhilde.
Next: Colorado Film School.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
It’s truly quite incredible how big the convention scene has become over the past few years. Everywhere you look, there seems to be a con that caters to just about any fandom you can think of and the real beauty of seeing convention after convention pop up is the sheer fact that it gives us all more opportunities to hang out with our fellow nerds and geeks and bask in all the wonderful fandoms that bring us joy.
However, with so many cons at our fingertips, fans tend to be a touch more selective as to which ones they would like to attend and often times, that means picking up a ticket to the big-name cons for the sake of sheer convenience, but that can have it drawbacks. Sometimes it’s simply too busy, or the con is 100% concerned with being a business over anything else and when you don’t feel as though your dollars matter, or you can’t find a good personal tie to said con, it makes for a mediocre or poor experience.
Thankfully, there are still cons that believe in interaction and community and that family feel and one such con that has my attention when it comes to this, is Fort Collins Comic Con. Now, I will fully admit that I have yet to attend this con, something I’ll be changing this weekend, but people love to discuss their experiences at a particular convention and what has me piqued about attending this one, is all the feedback I’ve received about how inclusive this con is and how much fun it is every single year.
In fact, everything I’ve seen when it comes to this con, screams ‘geeks are family’. Take the activities scheduled for example. Between live music and a cosplay catwalk, to a Ghostbusters Training Camp for the kids and a Nerd Prom for teens, it truly seems as though Fort Collins Comic Con has something to offer everyone and it doesn’t end there, because their guest list is pretty impressive as well. You’ll find a bevy of comic book artists at this con, such as Peter Krause, Jolyon Yates, Zach Howard, Ron Fortier, Lee Oaks and Mike Baron. Plus, you’ll be able to interact with some folks from the animation business such as, Victor Cook, Greg Guler and Michael Toth and there’s even a television writer in attendance this year since Kevin Hopps will be at the con.
As an added bonus, the show will also have a doctor in the house since Erica Macdonald, Phd, who has traveled the world to educate people on space science in popular culture and science fiction will also be in attendance. It’s a wonderfully diverse group of guests and it reinforces inclusivity for geeks from all fandoms and in the end, the impression that I’m getting when it comes to this con, is that it is all about a relaxed experience. Between the layout and everything we’ve talked about today, it really feels as though Fort Collins Comic Con is the kind of event where you can chat it up with the artists and the guests in a comfortable environment, giving us everything we love about conventions…all while making us feel like we matter. FCCC kicks off Saturday, 10 a.m. at the Aztlan Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.
Written by Tim Girard
Shakespearean Wars in the Stars
Friday 7:00PM - 7:50PM Room 505 - Reel Heroes Film Series
Ernie Quiroz, Stacy Quiroz, Neil Truglio, Derek Nason, Andy Ray, Nicolas Horn, Dan O’Neil, Parker Jenkins, Chantelle Frazier.
With a beginning like “A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away”, it feels like our favorite film franchise could have been written by The Bard. Join the Denver Film Society as we see what ‘Star Wars’ could have looked like on a stage with actors taking inspiration from arguably the world’s greatest playwright.
On the Friday night of Denver Comic Con weekend, members of the Denver Film Society performed a reading of the book 'William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope' by Ian Doescher (which is a retelling of ‘A New Hope’ as if Shakespeare had written it). They began by recruiting some audience members for a few key roles, including Greedo (which I was NOT selected for, unfortunately), and the audience as a whole was instructed to be the voice of Chewbacca. They also explained that, in keeping with the tradition of the times, there were only male actors...which meant that Princess Leia was going to be played by a man. With only a handful of actors, that meant that each one would play multiple roles. There was also a soundtrack provided in the form of the original score being played on vinyl.
Shortly after the show began, they revealed an added layer to their performance: their use of props. They had toy laser guns for the sounds of blasters, and when Darth Vader first spoke, his deep robotic voice was enhanced by a megaphone with voice modulating effects. Similar effects were also used when any of the Stormtroopers spoke and also when anyone use a communicator, Luke calling C-3PO when he was in the trash compactor, X-Wing pilots, etc..
All of the voice acting was top-notch. The (male) actor voicing Princess Leia used a beautiful, yet authoritative falsetto, while the actor playing R2-D2 whistled all of his lines (and at one point stood up exasperated and made a comic outburst about being a trained actor who was only getting to whistle). Luke was appropriately whiney, and the actor who played C-3PO captured his soft-spoken, articulate voice perfectly. Obi-Wan Kenobi announced his appearance when the actor playing him comically tossed his hood up over his head… and half of his face.
In the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, we met Han Solo, and the audience had our collective-voice-acting debut as Chewbacca. After Luke and Obi-Wan left, the chosen audience member came up to a mic to deliver all of Greedo’s alien dialogue. When Han shot Greedo (first), it signaled the end of the Cantina scene. This ‘should’ have been followed by the deleted-then-re-inserted scene with Jabba the Hutt talking to Han outside the Millennium Falcon, but as the actor playing Jabba the Hutt began to walk on stage, delivering his first line, the cast ‘booed’ him off. The audience laughed, realizing that this was the cast’s way of showing their disapproval of that scene.
The next memorable moment was the confrontation between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The two characters stood up and incorporated a makeshift lightsaber fight across the other seated actors while still delivering Shakespearean dialogue. After Obi-Wan’s death (spoiler alert…), the full cast revealed the mightiest, most impressive of their performance-enhancing props when they performed ‘The Force Theme’…with an orchestra of kazoos.
After Obi-Wan’s death scene and the buzzing majesty that followed, it was about 7:45, meaning they technically only had five minutes before the end of the panel. I thought that they were going to end there, but instead, they decided to push through and try to finish in a hurry. It was like watching the rest of Star Wars on fast-forward (or as performed by the Micro Machines Man). They were all still in character, but they were spitting the dialogue as fast as they could. Luke squeezed in one more monologue before heading into the trenches in his X-Wing and destroying the Death Star. Their performance concluded with a return of the kazoo orchestra to perform the ‘Throne Room Them’ for the award ceremony, and the audience giving one final howl as Chewbacca.
Next: The Music of Wonder Woman (and some other bad-ass women).
Photographs by Scott Murray
Photographs by Scott Murray
Written by Joel T. Lewis
The soundscape of my childhood was a wild cacophony of cartoon voices, whacky sounds, and 90’s theme songs. From Freakazoid to Goof Troop and everything in between, the impact of voice actors on my childhood cannot be understated as my Saturday mornings (and let's face it, all of my afternoons) were symphonies of talented voices behind colorful animated characters. But there is no cartoon voice, no voice actor whose work has impacted my life so dramatically as to permeate all the media I’ve consumed since the way Kevin Conroy has as the voice of Batman. Batman fans will argue themselves blue over Bale vs Keaton vs West about who wore the cowl best in the movies, but there is no such argument over the voice of Batman. Kevin is the King.
All the comic books I pick up that feature the Dark Knight (and if you’ve read any of my content here you know that’s a large majority of what I read) are read in the voice of Kevin Conroy. It's not conscious, I don’t do it deliberately, that’s just how Batman sounds in my head. So naturally, I leapt at the chance get to see the man behind the voice this year at Denver Comic Con, and this year marks the 2nd time I was lucky enough to be in the same room as him. Now, when you’ve been to the multitude of Cons that a pop culture icon like Kevin has, there’s bound to be some overlap in the stories you tell, the questions you receive, and even the songs you sing (Yes Kevin sang ‘Am I Blue,’ and yes it was amazing). That being the case, the reason performers like Kevin draw such consistent crowds is that being in the same room with them makes the fact that you’ve heard the stories before inconsequential. For instance, I’ve watched about a hundred videos of Mark Hamill describing how he landed the part of the Joker in the Batman animated series, but would I sit in the back row of a crowded theater to hear him tell it again live? Absolutely. I felt the same way about Batman.
Hearing firsthand about how Kevin discovered Batman for the first time through the artwork and the tone of The Animated Series and how he found the voice of the Dark Knight and his Billionaire alter ego made me feel like a little kid sitting a little too close to the TV back in the house I grew up in. I kept thinking ‘It’s Batman! It’s Batman!’ Remember this was my second time seeing him. I’ve heard the stories before, I even heard him sing the first time, but I can’t really explain how happy it made to get to see him again.
Kevin was everything you’d hope for in an icon from your childhood; charming, humble, witty, and playful. After describing how he ended up with the role that would define his career, the first question from the audience was about Kevin’s experience working with the recently deceased Adam West on the ‘Gray Ghost’ episode of the animated series (a question I was hoping would be asked). Adam described his fellow caped crusader as a gentlemen and a tragic loss. He was also asked whether voice for television or voice for video game gigs were more difficult, which led Kevin to demonstrate the endless range and patience required for video game voice over work. Kevin's subtle variations of his signature Bat-Voice ranging from whimsical to smug to pained were a great showcase for his wonderful acting ability and it was a lot of fun to see.
You always hope your childhood heroes are fun-loving kind people and Kevin Conroy certainly fits the bill. If you ever get the chance to see the man in action you will not be disappointed with his generous spirit and his immense talent. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman.
Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
As early as I can remember, I would plop down in front of the TV on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series. Then on Sunday afternoons, I would plop down again and watch the Denver Broncos play. I collected bobbleheads and I collected HeroClix. I read comics and I read the sports page. You get the idea.
Every now and then, you find a sense of instant belonging. While I was prepping my schedule for Denver Comic Con 2017, staring me back in the face while I scrolled through the app was a panel titled ‘From the Stadium to the Convention Hall: Being a Nerd and a Sports Fan’. A chorus sounded as the story of my life emanated from my phone screen. I grew up a fan of both sports and nerdy things, and I was excited to hear from sports nerds just like me.
In a conference room coincidentally just a few hundred feet from a booth where the Colorado Rockies were promoting their Marvel Superhero Night and Star Wars Night, the panel on the intersection of sports and nerd culture took place. However, as panelists Shane Mares, Sarah Spaulding, Ali Woll, and David Johnson brought to light, the convergence of the two has not always been so common. Sports and nerd culture are sometimes kept apart as two different worlds, often by the people who inhabit those groups.
This insensitivity cuts both ways, too. Cliques and gatekeeping lead to the classic jocks vs. geeks battle that discourages people from being a fan of, let’s say, football and Magic: The Gathering at the same time. Growing up in school, we may have known individuals who were shunned from a certain group for their interests – or even been those individuals ourselves. Jocks looked down on nerds and nerds looked down on jocks. For many, it was tough to find a home within the two.
Yet for all the division that exists, the gap is being bridged. Right now may be the dawn of a golden age for the nerdy sports fan. Pro and minor league sports teams increasingly incorporate nights devoted to fandoms in their schedules. Sports video games do a lot to connect the two as well. It’s not at all uncommon for sports fans to view Madden, NBA 2K, or FIFA as an acceptable level of nerdiness. And fantasy sports are really just sporty versions of D&D.
It was wonderful to hear from a panel full of people who hope to see more unity between the groups. They were all eager to see the day when kids don’t have to choose between their interests in fear of bullying. There’s no need for one group to hate or discourage another because of their interests. Sports fans and nerds are intensely passionate about celebrating what they love, and that’s really all that should matter.
At Denver Comic Con, I saw an orange-and-blue Peyton Manning Stormtrooper walking around. If that’s not a sign of good things to come, I don’t know what is.
Denver Comic Con 2017 Panel Spotlight: 'Redface, Spirit Animals, and the Noble Savage: How to Tackle Native American and Indigenous Stereotypes'
Written by Joel T. Lewis
With the wide variety of panels available at Denver Comic Con it's rare that I attend a discussion similar to one I might have seen the year before. However, over the last couple of years Dr. Lee Francis IV of Native Realities Press has brought together some important figures from the Native American and Indigenous creative communities to discuss the role and representation of Native peoples in popular culture and I try to attend at least one of their panels every year.
Dr. Francis started by leading the panel through a brief history of Native representation in pop culture. Francis’ presentation defined each Native archetype throughout history while also examining the motivation for (and if not motivation for, the effect of) portraying Natives this way. Francis began with the Noble Savage and Earth Mother archetypes. Both products of exotic ideals of masculine and feminine energy, the Noble Savage and Earth Mother inform a lot of lazy representations of Native Americans in fiction, as the men are always shirtless, adorned with feathers, accompanied by an animal companion, and toting a bow and arrow, and the women are fertile, flowing-haired, guardians of the natural world. These figures are often used as counterpoints to Anglo Colonist villains with no respect for the natural world.
These figures, while still present in modern fiction, dominated the popular portrayal of Native Americans until the mid-1700’s when the 'Vanishing Indian' came into existence. This spurred a multitude of 'The Last of the <Insert Tribe Here>' narratives, which served to placate the colonial audience by insisting that the atrocities enacted on the native people while inhumane, were irreversible as those tribes were nearly extinct. These narratives often include an Anglo Hero whose compassion and respect for the vanishing culture enables them to absorb some aspect of the native’s magic or power. Francis referred to Avatar as the most recent example of this trope.
Following the Vanishing Indian, fiction saw the rise of the 'Red Devil' villain character whose early appearance in Twain’s 'Tom Sawyer' informed the characterization of countless Native American villains in the western film genre. 'Injun Joe,' Twain’s Half-Breed terror and Tom Sawyer’s loveable roguishness established a dichotomy crucial to understanding the popular portrayal of Native Americans. The treachery and terror associated with the Red Devil figure set against the fun-loving resourceful cleverness of Tom Sawyer, the all-American hero, help to ease the guilt of American colonialism. If an audience can see the people they’ve marginalized and systematically slaughtered as blood-thirsty and treacherous those atrocities slowly become justifiable in the public consciousness.
Francis then moved to discuss the Drunken or Lazy Indian trope where a native character is only included as a novelty used for comedic effect and finally the Neo-Noble Savage. This traditionally tragic figure is typically caught between cultural identities and the philosophies that come along with them, often choosing to abandon their native culture to adapt and assimilate into western society in order to prosper.
The panel was then opened up to the panelists to discuss the projects they’ve contributed to and are working on and how they’ve worked to counteract the stereotypical representation of Native people in their own work.
One of the panelists, Renee Nejo is the developer and lead artist of the Blood Quantum video game, a turn-based, real-time strategy game meant to encapsulate the frustration and mechanics of imposed cultural identity definitions. Nejo described her unique position as a white-passing native woman and spoke about her desire to accurately represent the strong older native women in her life with her work. Popular culture’s representation of women is far from ideal in in general, but representation of older Native American women is nonexistent and Renee is working to craft figures that accurately represent those women in her own life.
Panelist, Author, Actor, and Director Jon Proudstar explained the motivation for his 1996 comic Tribal Force. Disgusted by the lack of accountability within the Native community with regard to child molestation and the lack of Native Heroes with substance or identity, Proudstar became the very first Native American author to write an all Native Comic Book. Tribal Force’s female protagonist is a survivor of sexual abuse and is an example of strength for a community whose members experience an alarming number of abuse of this kind. Proudstar is an outspoken Native creator whose passionate words on the history of the racial slur xxx-skins and the importance of never forgetting the true history of Native subjugation in America were poignant and inspiring.
Native American figures are embedded within Popular Culture, but it is important to remember that, as is the case with all minority groups, those who write, direct, or portray these people in print on screen are seldom representatives of the culture portrayed. It is our responsibility as creators and consumers of pop culture to seek out and strive for positive and accurate representations of all cultures especially with regards to Native and Indigenous Americans. The power of storytelling is vital to reshaping how we honor the Native American people in the public consciousness and every year the panels organized by Dr. Lee Francis IV at Denver Comic Con do an outstanding job of showcasing important figures working to bring about this change.