Friday, October 18, 2013


This is the second of three bloggy things discussing Fangasm, the
Syfy Channel show in which seven fans are interning at Stan Lee’s
Comikaze with the hope of winning an ongoing job with the company.
If you’ve been wondering why I’m writing about every episode of the
series - as I did with Heroes of Cosplay - it’s because I find the
show fascinating.  Though Fangasm is of my “comics world,” it’s far
removed from the “comics world” of my youth.

I don’t know any of the Fangasm interns.  My comments are based on
what’s been included in the show and, like all reality shows, it’s
a safe bet that we only see the characters as the producers of the
show want us to see them.  I suspect I’d like these young people if
I met them.  I’m not as sure they’d be thrilled with Grumpy Old Man
Isabella, but it is what it is.  I present my views as honestly as
possible.  I do my work with clean hands and heart.

The Fangasm “character” I do know is Stan Lee.  I worked with him
at Marvel Comics while I was on staff there and we exchange e-mails
a few times a year.  I love the guy and I loved working with him.
Is there an age limit on Comikaze interns?

“Take Me to Your Lee-Der” aired on October 8.  It gets my vote for
best episode of the show so far because the main story features the
interns pitching super-hero concepts to Stan.  Having created a few
super-heroes myself, it’s a process I understand and it gave me a
chance to look at the interns from a somewhat shared perspective.
How did they do?

Molly’s “Supervillain Is The New Black” concept was one of three
pitches I thought had potential. An admitted fan of villainy, Molly
apparently had already been working on a comic book about two young
villains.  Though she exaggerated Stan’s positive reaction to the
concept, her series was one I would check out if it were published.

Dani’s “Cicada” was a young scientist with physical handicaps who
survives an attack from a villain and, because of her work, gains
super-powers.  But she only has these powers for a 17-day cycle and
then reverts back to her normal self for 17 days.  The cycles would
make for interesting story challenges while the heroine would fit
comfortably into the “super-hero with human problems” bit that has
served Marvel so well since the 1960s.

With his presentation, Mike finally showed me something other than
his tedious “I’m a player” routine.  His character was a teen mom
with super-powers.  While nothing else in his presentation clicked
with me, the “teen mom” concept is something worth exploring in an
ongoing series.

Kristin’s magical girl character left me on the fence.  It might’ve
been worth consideration, but the pitch scene focused mostly on
how nervous Kristin was meeting Stan Lee.

Paul’s character had a solid visual, but the concept and back story
struck me as complicated and convoluted.

Andrew and Sal’s characters came up woefully short.  I didn’t find
anything interesting in either of them.

Getting back to Stan Lee...

I got a kick out of the interns being so awe of my former boss.  I
remembered how excited I was to meet and work with him during those
early years of my comics career.  I pretty much kept my cool in his
presence, but, if a camera had been filming me outside the office,
the result would have been similar to what the interns expressed in
this episode.

Moving on to the secondary stories...

Andrew showed something very special in this episode.  In addition
to his regular job and his internship, he’s a stand-up comedian and
he’s got chops.  I wished the episode had included all of his set
because I enjoyed what I saw. 

Digression.  Hey, Syfy, how about a “Comedians of Fandom” special
featuring Andrew and other comedians doing sets about comic books,
sci-fi, fantasy, horror, cosplay, gaming, and other fan delights?
I’d watch that. End digression.

Sal takes Dani out for gelato, which is a safe “first date.”  He’s
more into her than vice versa, but they seem to enjoy hanging out
with each other.  Sal sees sparks where I don’t, but I understand
dating is much different from the days of my youth when courting a
lady meant killing a sabertooth tiger and presenting her with the
carcass.  Good times.

After three weeks, here’s how I rate the interns and their chance
of landing a steady job with Comikaze:

1. Dani
2. Paul
3. Molly
4. Kristin
5. Andrew
6. Mike
7. Sal

These ratings will change after I discuss the fourth episode of the
series, but you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see those changes.


In other items...

Whenever there’s a Cleveland area comics convention, I get a bunch
of e-mails asking me if I’ll be there.  The answer is almost always
going to be “No, they didn’t invite me.” 

Not being invited to these conventions isn’t a concern for me.  It
puzzles me because my proximity to the events makes me a relatively
inexpensive guest and because I’m well received by the conventions
that do invite me.  But it doesn’t concern me. 

I only attend a handful of conventions a year.  That isn’t going to
change in the immediate future.  However, when a convention invites
me...and if I’m interested in attending...and if my schedule allows
me to attend...I let the promoter know what I need to be a guest at
the convention.  If he can accommodate my needs, I’m in.

My “needs” are fairly basic.  Travel expenses. Hotel expenses.  A
table for selling and signing comics and books.  These expenses can
add up, so I don’t take offense if a promoter can’t manage them on
his budget. I understand budgets.

If you’re a promoter and would like me to be a guest at your event,
just e-mail me.  That’s all it takes to get started.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I had wondered how it was when you worked with Stan with the awe and all. It's fun to see that it never really fades.
    When I finally met Stan at the Ohio Comic Con last month, I felt like I would explode with excitement. He is a living "power battery." (Sorry to mix company metaphors.) His powers of entertainment and inspiration are outstanding.

    "Fangasm" does more harm than good to "geek/fan" stereotypes and validation of same. Being really enthusiastic about something is not an excuse for being socially awkward or socially retarded, but perhaps more a side-effect or symptom. This show seems to reinforce the idea that people are geeks or nerds because they are fans rather than the idea that perhaps certain types of people find their interests, and a level of acceptance in this type of fandom (as opposed to other types, like extreme sports fans.).

  2. The Stan Lee episode was the last one I've seen up to now, so I think we're pretty much on the same page. I don't think my list would differ all that much from yours but I'd put Paul as the #1 choice. Of course, later episodes could make me change my mind.

    I haven't read the Fangasm web site, so I don't know how these particular fans were chosen. I'm guessing they probably submitted a video or some sort, as that appears to be what many contestants on reality shows do. Assuming the producers had thousands of choices, I assume they tried to pick a range of fans from the more 'geeky' to someone who could pass as a 'mundane' (if that term is still used in fannish circles).

    I think a show/special along the lines of "Last Geek Comedian Standing" would be a must to DVR for me.