October Shows

We just returned from the NACA Central conference and are now getting ready for our October Cons.

We will be at Con On The Cob in Dayton Ohio from Oct 11-14th and Geek Media Expo in Nashville Tennesee from Oct 25-27th.   We are bringing our show to both events, and when not on stage will be at our table or running around causeing hijinks and such.

We hope to see everyone there!

For more details, videos, and such keep up with us at:

facebook.com/straightouttacomicon and/or youtube.com/straightouttacomicon

See you in Dayton/Nashville

Mid Tour Check In

If you’ve been following the road videos, the facebook page or the events we’ve hit, then you know we’ve been all over the grid the past two months.

From Wythville VA, to Spokane WA, Gencon to Dragon*Con we’ve been taking geek comedy to new levels and are still on the move.  We have a couple weeks to ourselves before pushing on to Texas, Ohio and Tennesee but that time is going to be used to develop and to get some more fun stuff on the web as well as grow up a few more projects.  

We also are doing more home shows and getting into a few other stand up events, which will be promoted here as well, such as Joke-A-Mania II this month!

So, as always thanks for checking in.  Keep up with us on youtube.com/straightouttacomicon or facebook.com/straightouttacomicon.

We have more videos, an upcomming CD, more shows, more cons, more travels and big things into 2013 so get in and be part of the strength of geek knowledge.

There and Back Again: 2012/2013 Tour

This week don’t have a traditional blog installment.  As much fun as it is to fantisize about fictional battles and talk about movies, we are getting closer to our new season of shows and have made tremendous growth since our last batch of shows.  Keep an eye on the bar to the right to see where we are currently, and where we are going.  More shows are being constantly added with the goal of getting 2012-2014 in seamless motion.

We’ve been writing new sketches, new songs and new bits for the show and, have been recording a new comedy CD which we will have details on soon.  Additionally, our local fans have unfortunatly been the ones with the fewest opportunities to see us due to the traveling nature of the show.  We have been in talks with a nerd-friendly venue to have a stage to do local shows at monthly or bi monthly intervals.  This lets us test run new sketches, do bigger shows, and even have our own live events too big to take to cons here at home just foryou guys.  Look for more on those in August to September.

As we get the chaos settled, youll see more of our routine blogs and road journals from the trips and all sorts of other stuff.  At the moment though, I’ve got to go write some stuff for Gencon.

The Spider and The Bat

    Two of the most iconic characters of two of the most iconic comic book companions have movies right over the horizon (one of which actually just released.)  Now that the dust is settled from The Avengers, the next big comic movies to fight it out at the box office will be The Amazing Spider-man and The Dark Knight Rises.  In light of that, I decided to take this weeks blog and analyze these very similar yet very different mainstays of super heroism.
   
    I have yet to see the new Spider-man movie, but I have high hopes for it.  Spider-Man is one of those characters I really wish that Marvel had their own movie rights to so that we could see it made with the same treatment Iron Man, The Avengers and the other in house products saw.  In all honesty Marvel has spent the past 3 years weaving gold out of  their formerly B-list characters because the movie rights to their real headliners are all bought up for now.  Those movies have been so well made though, that it now seems weird to think of Thor and Iron Man as only semi popular characters.  Spidey has long been one of my favorite titles and was my “gateway character” into comics in general, and while I didn’t hate the first round of Spider-Man movies (though #2 was solid), I’ve always wanted a higher calibur Spider-Man movie.  The tone of this paragraph suggests I don’t expect The Amazing Spider-Man to deliver that which isn’t untrue.  My current hope is that it will be better than the previous installments.

    The Dark Knight Rises faces a different obstacle.  Whereas Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot to a series that sits on mixed reviews, DKR is following up what many fans consider one of the best comic book movies made to date.  The attention it gained from Heath Ledger’s untimely death and memorable performance put this movie in a corner.  Nolan is unable to make a true sequel without Heath and the writing of Dark Knight doesn’t give any real wiggle room for resurrecting Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face (who generally doesn’t receive credit for how vital his performance was to the film).  After The Dark Knight, I personally felt that making a sequel at all would be a bad choice.  To me, the movie was too good and the story seemed complete, other than killing off Batman or passing the torch there isn’t something that needs to be told in a movie format. So, much like Amazing Spider-Man; I don’t have low expectations but I fear that its current run isn’t going to provide enough leap to get to the very high bar set for either of them by themselves, fans and The Avengers last month.

    Regardless of circumstances these two movies are going head to head this summer.  Spidey gets early July and Batman will joining as it wraps up late July.  My original intent with this entry wasn’t to discuss the movies so much as to dissect characters.a little. The stories, movies and comics for these characters have very different and distinct flavors but the heroes themselves carry a few very interesting similarities and of course very drastic  differences.

    Shared Origin

    In The Killing Joke, The Joker makes the case that anyone can be driven to insanity simply by having “One bad day.”  Both Batman and Spider-Man are the birthed from one such day.  Both characters lose their parents and/or parent figure in one brutal random chance.   (Granted Peter Parker’s parents are a different story, Uncle Ben’s death serves as similar enough parallel. This also makes Aunt May his “Alfred”.)  From this loss we see two very different paths stem.  Bruce Wayne’s story becomes one of vengence.  Batman defends Gotham out of a vendetta against crime.  He walks a fine line and often blurred line of fighting criminals to prevent others from suffering as he has and simply lashing out at criminals for hurting him.  In some ways, it could be said he proves the aforementioned Joker-ism true.  Sure he might be one of the good guys, but we don’t always know if he is a good guy for the right reasons.  The painting is a dark, grim and gritty setting.  

Spider-Man on the other hand has an added factor.  His uncle was killed by a criminal he could have stopped earlier and opted not to. This difference changes the course from a vengeance and fear driven character like Batman.  Peter Parker certainly loses his cool, but at the end of the episode he makes himself responsible for what happened rather than the criminal himself.  Spider-Man is born out of penance and duty.  He doesn’t fight bad guys simply because bad guys hit him first.  The moral lesson taught in his story is “With great power comes great responsibility.”  The lesson cost Peter greatly, but as a result he goes out not to avenge his Uncle, but instead because he has the power to make a difference and sees it an obligation. Spider-Man’s true origin isn’t a radioactive spider bite, it’s learning that his inaction has reactions.  The flip side to that personal responsibility angle is that Spider-Man also tends to take EVERY failing to heart, like he has some sort of super martyr power.  Despite that, Spider-Man’s tragic beginnings set the stage for a more hopeful setting with more silver linings.

 

The One Rule

 

Given how drastically different these two heroes personalities and styles manifested its interesting that both of them have the same one rule.  Neither intentionally kill their foes.  With Spider-Man this is a bit more simplified and self explained.  Its a lighter setting with a hero that is generally a nice guy driven through personal responsibility and atonement.  With Batman its a much more interesting dynamic.  Given everything else about Batman, it wouldn’t seem like a major hangup for the guy.  It speaks to his character, but what does it say?  I like to think that it means that under all the darkness, the fear, the vengeance, and the grim life he leads some part of him really believes that the criminals of Gotham aren’t beyond help or redemption.  It would mean he goes out not only to defend Gotham, but to also try to save the villains themselves. Rather, its often said that he doesn’t kill because it would make him no better than those he fights, and to me that simply goes back to the “Joker might be right” comment a few paragraphs above.  If the urge to kill is there, and he stifles simply out of semantics, then he’s still just as crazy.  He’s just also crazy enough to rationalize beating gangs of bank robbers into custard vigilante style with countless illegal weapons out of vengeance for a murder that happened 30 years earlier while dressed as a bat, as different than say, using a freeze ray on innocent targets in an attempt to cure an incapacitated wife.  I don’t say this to detract from Batman’s character, I enjoy this dynamic of him.  The constant threat of being what he fights is a strong motif.  It takes the struggle away from hero vs crime and really makes it about Bruce vs himself.

Connectability

 

    I find that the primary difference in these characters when approaching them as a reader is the ability to identify on a more persona level with Spider-Man.  We all have been Peter Parker at some point.  We’ve all felt outcast, bumbled, shot ourself in the foot and made decisions we regret and still have to make rent every month.  Juggling duty against personal life isn’t exclusive to anyone and it makes the story of what Spider-Man does to get through his adventures often more the focal point than the adventures themselves.  Spidey has an awful roster of villains, partially because of the era he comes from and partially because most of his early villains are classically just set pieces more so than character foils. Thats not to say he doesnt have his Goblin/Osborn and Venom stories to make for personal stories, but many of his enemies are simply walking super powers that rob banks to make him be in two places at once.

    Batman on the other hand is harder to connect to personally for the reader.  In contrast to the everyman quality of Spider-Man, far fewer of us know what its like to be a borderline insane playboy billionaire orphan with casual access to some of the highest grade technology on the planet. Sure some of the themes are universal but at a character we don’t empathize as much.  This opens Batman’s stories to be more about wild colorful villains and impossibly spectacular schemes.  Batman’s cast of villains are memorable and most dont actually have any powers.  The enemies of Gotham are just as bold and defined as the hero.  This is also why for me Batman makes for stellar movies more easily than Spider-Man.

 

I’ve rambled a bit and could go on longer, the bottom line is Im eager for both these movies as these characters are the fabric of modern mythology. It was suggested I use the Batman and Spider-Man concept as the second installment of Fictional Deadliest Warrior, and I still might so stay tuned maybe.

My Favorite Midget

There is a vast history of little people being used in a fantasy setting, whether they be dwarves, gnomes, hobbits, munchkins, or whatever else you’d like to call the wee half men. I’m not sure what it is that makes our fantasy want to have tiny versions of people in them. Perhaps the fascination that a little person instills in a child feels like it would naturally fit in with the fantasy realms we create as we grow older. Maybe instead it is really quite opposite, and fantasy worlds give us the opportunity to place folks of all stature on even if not even higher ground.

Whatever the true case is that causes our fantastical obsession with smaller version of people, I’m am going to now list the five best little people in fantasy of sci-fi, according to my opinion.

5. Jawas

Though technically not people, they are a high enough life form to create and maintain their own society, so they count. A band of nomads roaming the deserts of the Skywalker home planet of Tatooine collecting spare parts and stolen items and selling them on an underground market that is maintained by them as well.

Jawas are the shady used car dealers of the Star Wars universe, and without them we wouldn’t have such a colorful society in the deserts of Tatooine. I personally feel that much more could have or still could be done with a Jawa character, and if you Star Wars fans are going to come at me with species limitations or whatever, just remember that Lucas has already done far “worse” things that have completely changes things in the universe.

4. The Lollipop Guild

Though the actual importance of The Lollipop Guild isn’t much in the overall story of Oz, they are one of the first things that people think of when thinking of little people in epic worlds. The song they sing is nearly as iconic as Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow.” Though they simply fit in to the overall scene on Dorothy falling in munchkin land, they are the munchkins that become most memorable.

3.The Seven Dwarves

Sure, you can look at them as simply cartoon characters taking care of a cartoon princess, but in many versions of the classic Snow White story that have been done since the original, the dwarves become much more than that, often thrust into the roles of thieves in the vein of Robin Hood, or often even fighting alongside Snow White against the queen.

I personally still love the classic cartoon versions of the dwarves however. There is just something about Disney songs that make you forget what the characters look like, and just sing along.

Some people might be saying that this isn’t fair, using groups of little people in the fashion I am, so if I have to choose one, I choose Dopey. Deal with that shit right there.

2. Frodo and Bilbo Baggins

I realize that these are two completely individual characters, but if I gave each of them their own spot, this would be a fairly lame list of five, don’t you think?

Frodo and Bilbo are obvious choices, being the first of the little folk to be the main focus of an epic fantasy, and be the heroes that took it upon themselves to vanquish evil and all that. Hobbits are an interesting character class as well since it is rarely seen, if at all, outside of Middle Earth.

If I were to rank between the two of them I think I’d choose Bilbo, mostly do to his overall willingness and excitement about his journey, while Frodo always seemed less adventurous and more like he was attached to a sense of duty, which is respectable in its own right.

I would say, “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but Frodo actually did exactly that. He and Sam walked right in and dropped the ring.

By the way, Samwise deserves an honorable mention here, as he literally carries Frodo across the finish line on his back.

1. Tyrion Lannister (don’t worry I think I have left out any spoilers)

Some may cry bandwagon hopping do to the recent surge in popularity for George R.R. Martin’s characters thanks to HBO making the series Game of Thrones base off of the Song of Ice and Fire books, and perhaps there is some merit to the claim. However let me defend.

Of all the little person characters, Tyrion is the first that is not a member of a separate race of people that are by nature smaller that humans. Tyrion isn’t a dwarf, hobbit, or gnome, he is a human, and not just any human, but a member of one of the most recognized families in the Seven Kingdoms, seeing as his sister starts as the Queen, and his nephew starts as heir to the throne.

Tyrion must deal with the knowledge that his father love him less because of his “deformity,” and must live with the fact that his family are a group of powerful and attractive people. Yet everything that Tyrion lacks in the physical department, he more than makes up for in smarts and wit.

Tyrion quickly becomes one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever read as he is thrust in the middle of family drama that has no direct link to him, and still manages to play all sides against each other for his own end game. Which initially seems to be living a happy life, and at times, just living all together.

Tyrion is given a rich back story and complicated relationships with those that are and are not his family. He is the first little person who doesn’t just follow the role that he is forced into, but rather makes his own destiny. He embraces the mocking terms of the Imp and halfman that others use to describe him, because he knows who and what he is, and feels it foolish not to face your own shortcomings, no pun intended.

It doesn’t hurt that Peter Dinklage has brought the character of Tyrion to life in a beautifully acted way in the series.

 

That’s it, that’s the top five. Who would you add or remove? Are pissed that Willow didn’t make the cut? Leave a comment below.