Saturday, September 14, 2013


Historically...Comics fans, science fiction fans, Star Trek fans
and other fans of fantastic and horrific entertainment haven’t been
looked on kindly or accurately by the mass media.  For every movie
like The Good Humor Man (1950), whose hero reads the comic-book
adventures of Captain Marvel and is inspired to heroism by them, we
have many more movies like Artists and Models (1955), which treats
working in comics books as the dredges of employment and portrays
comics readers as mentally deficient and prone to delinquency and
worse.  You probably won’t have to stretch your memories to recall
other examples of fans being treated with disrespect.

The first time I watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory, now one
of my favorite shows, I had an immediate negative reaction to it.
I no longer remember what episode it was, but I didn’t give the TV
series another chance until numerous friends whose opinions mean a
lot to me convinced me to try it again.  The second time around, the
show worked for me. Yes, the four male leaders were obsessive fans,
but that wasn’t the extent of their characterization.  They might
have their quirks and shortcomings, but they have achieved success
in their fields and, with the exception of poor Raj Koothrappali,
their personal lives.  I might not want to be part of the extended
family they’ve created for themselves, but I’d be quite amenable to
hanging out with them at the occasional convention.

One of the several things I like about the Syfy Channel’s Heroes of
is that, however fleetingly, we do get see great numbers of
fans enjoying themselves at the show’s featured conventions.  One
of the several things I love most about the conventions I attend is
seeing fans having a great time.  Fandom might not be a way of life
for me, but it’s definitely a part of my life.

This brings us to Fangasm, a new “reality show” scheduled to make
its debut Tuesday, September 24 at 10 pm on the Syfy Channel.  The
network has been running Fangasm promotional spots excessively and
seemingly incessantly...and they are hideous to view.

From Syfy’s website:

From the producer of Jersey Shore comes Fangasm – a six-part docu-
series that celebrates the incredibly unique, often misunderstood,
and infinitely fascinating fan girl and fan boy culture. The show
follows seven pop culture-obsessed fans (whose passions range from
comic books and collectibles to science fiction and fantasy) living
together in an LA apartment complex and working together at Stan
Lee's Comikaze Expo. The seven contend with each others’ oversized
personalities and conflicting fandom as they vie for an opportunity
to work within Lee's organization. Because when different passions
come together, you get a real big bang.

Each of the Fangasm promotionals focuses on one of the show’s seven
fans.  All have been pretty repellant, none more so that those with
Andrew Duvall.  This guy is the worst geeky fan caricature you can
imagine.  It’s hard to picture him functioning in society at large.
In one of his spots, there appears to be actual snot on his upper
lip.  Duvall also appears in a spot where another fan talks about
telling his girlfriend that they have to wait to get romantic until
he’s done watching a Star Wars movie he has already watched dozens
of times. I have a bruise where my jaw hit the floor.

I won’t completely write off Fangasm until I see an episode or two.
Reality show producers generally being scum, it’s possible they ran
ads designed to show the cast members at their worst.  But I can’t
say I’m optimistic.

Movies and TV aren’t the only media that disrespect fans.  You can
find it in the comics world as well.  I recently bought and read a
comic book every bit as repellant as the Fangasm ads.  Making this
worse, I bought two copies of the comic by mistake.

Two bloggers whose recommendations have generally paid off for me
praised The Adventures of a Comic Con Girl by writers Dana Braziel-
Solovy and Matthew Spradlin with art by David Beauchene [Antarctic
Press; $9.99].  The back cover blurb reads:

Follow Dana on her misadventures in and around the comic convention
scene.  It’s a fast and furious look at the quirky characters of
the comic community and their rivalries, where the battles are so
bitter because the stakes are so small.  Dramatic license has been
taken with the con goings-ons, but the content will still have you
nodding in ruthless agreement.

Or not. In my case.

I found Dana to be an unpleasant protagonist.  Even when she tries
to make amends for her bad behavior, I felt she was far more sorry
that her bad behavior didn’t get her what she wanted.  And when she
interrupts a convention panel to make what I suppose was meant to
be an uplifting speech, she still came off as an arrogant and self-
absorbed dick.  Nor did I find any solace in the supporting cast.
None of them were as remotely as interesting as Dana and, as noted,
I didn’t like her. The writing and the art of this graphic novel
were adequate, but “adequate” didn’t save if for me.

The only elements that made me smile were a cameo appearance by my
pal Justin Chung, whose World Famous Comics website used to host my
“Tony’s Online Tips” and my old message board, and the two pin-ups
Justin contributed to this collection.  On the negative size, the
center pages detached from the copy of the book as I read.  When I
sell the copy in my garage sale, I’ll bag with a notation to that
effect.  At my usual $2 for trades, maybe these copies will find a
home with someone who will enjoy the book more than I did.

One last note. If any of my bloggy thing readers can offer examples
of movies or TV shows that have treated comics fans and other fans
in a positive manner, please send them my way.

I’ll be back tomorrow with movie reviews on account of I’ve watched
a whole lot of movies since I last reviewed movies.  I’m sure you
will be amazed and astonished by my capacity for cheesy cinema and
cantankerous creatures.    
© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I thought that Chuck treated fans in a positive manner for the most part. Two of the main characters (Chuck and Morgan) are big fans.

  2. I can think of two immediately:

    - One of the main characters in the short-lived SF/mystery series Alcatraz, Diego Soto, is a comics shop owner (and writer and artist) with a criminology PhD. While he's definitely written and played as more than a bit of a genius geek, the social awkwardness is minor and never overdone (and they didn't go for the insulting cliche - given the actor's size and weight - of dressing him as an unwashed fanboy. He's big and heavy, but not a slob and not outre'.)

    - The US version of the British series Queer as Folk made one of its leads a major comics fan (replacing the original version's Doctor Who geekery.) Over the course of the series, this progressed into owning a comic shop and creating a gay-themed superhero comic (based on one of the other leads and drawn by still another.) And several other characters in the show turned out to be fans as well.

    (The original version actually had a nightmare scenario similar to what you described: the DW geek hooks up, takes his date home...and his date spots his tape collection and IMMEDIATELY wants to watch all six hours of "Genesis of the Daleks" rather than (or at least prior to) doing the nasty. I believe the producer, Russell T. Davies, actually based this on something that had happened to him.

    (There's also a cute followup: the same main character, an episode or two later, is staggering in a clinch towards his bedroom with the guy he's getting fond of, and they accidentally knock over the pile of Doctor Who VHSs.

    ("Whoah, your tapes!

    ("Sod the tapes!"...beat..."WHICH tapes?!")

    ---yanked back into the bedroom---

    Don Hilliard

  3. Niatpac Levram!