Monday, July 27, 2015

Geek on the Street: Reporting Back from Garden State Comic Fest 2015

Official GSCF Posters
 As an official “Geek on the Street,” I decided to put my nerd powers to good use and head out to support one of those regional conventions that we talked about in my earlier blog post (see “Geek on the Street: Five Tips for Regional/Local Conventions” dated July 20, 2015).  This time, I landed at the Garden State Comic Fest, a two-day event in the Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ.  For first-time convention-goers, this may be the sort of event to seek out; it may not have the scale or celebrity presence of New York Comic Con, but it allows you to get the flavor of the larger conventions without the price, hassle, or crowds.

Conventions, much like geeks, come in all shapes and sizes.  Therefore, a convention site might be anywhere.  Garden State Comic Fest was able to turn the gymnasium portion of an arena into the geek Promised Land: filling it with Artists’ Alley and the always awesome Show Floor.  In general, when hitting up a con of this size, it makes sense to keep an open mind about venue; not every convention demands a Javits Center-sized convention center.  Often a cool smaller space can be transformed into the nerd mecca we all hope for when attending a show.
The view from above of the Show Floor at GSCF

Garden State Comic Fest, or GSCF for short, really had all of the elements that you look for at a regional show: a bustling show floor full of vendors; a full schedule of panels, including Arlen Schumer’s always popular “Presentation on the Silver Age of Comic Book Art”; a costume contest and a healthy showing of original and unique cosplay creations; and, my favorite at small shows, an Artist’s Alley that features once-in-a-lifetime up-close-and-personal interactions with at least one major art icon.  In this regard, GSCF really did not disappoint: they offered comic book legends Neal Adams, Adam Kubert, Walt Simonson, as well as Greg Hildebrandt, who along with his brother, Tim, had created the original Star Wars movie posters.[1]

The view from above of the Show Floor at GSCF
This convention was a great experience.  We scored some reasonably priced merch, including items that had been exclusives at San Diego Comic Con earlier this month, interacted with some pretty cool fellow nerds, and got to enjoy the full convention experience without the convention headache. For those of you about to set off from your hobbitholes for your first Geek on the Street experience at a con, I strongly urge you to see what similar events are in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find there—we sure had an epic geek experience at Garden State Comic Fest!
This Greg Hildebrandt print was part of our VIP package.
He signed it for free!

Until next time, this is your official Geek on the Street Dr. Kelly wishing you a Glorious Geek Day!

Article by Kelly I. Aliano, PhD

[1] For more on the Hildebrandt brothers, visit:

Book Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks

In an era when representation in nearly all strata of geek culture—from convention demographics, to video game playing, to comic book reading—is at least approaching the fifty-fifty mark in terms of male-female consumption, it only makes sense for there to be a source out there to make entering this potentially unfamiliar female terrain more accessible.  Welcome Sam Maggs’s A Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks (Quirk Books, 2015), a useful and cleverly written handy helper for all female-identified individuals who are interested in learning how they, too, can join the geek conversation.

Cover of Fangirl's Guide...
The book is a quick read and includes many useful tips (the chapter on conventions is particularly useful for all of you fledgling Geeks on the Street!).  The illustrations, by Kelly Bastow, add character to the how-to guide instructional manual feel of the overall work.  Sam Maggs, an associate editor for the excellent website, has a friendly and conversational tone throughout, which I think will help new “Geek Girls” feel welcome to the awesome party that Geekdom is.

As a lifelong geek girl, and one who has brought her geeky interests into her academic and professional careers, I think this book is an important first step toward finally eliminating the distinction that “nerds are boys” and “girls should be girly.”  I particularly agree with the comic book recommendations at the end of the book; I read almost all of these titles and can say with some authority that they are worth picking up.

Photo from Jacket of Fangirl's Guide...

To all my geeky lady friends out there: if you are looking to join geek culture or to up your geek game, make sure to peruse Maggs’s book.  We fangirls have got to stick together and this book reminds us of the useful tools we can implement in order to do so.  So, as Maggs suggests, let’s get out there into geekdom and let’s all be friends and support one another’s awesome geekiness. 

Until then, geeky girls, Dr. Kelly is wishing you a Glorious Geek Day!

Review by Kelly I. Aliano, PhD

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Comic Book Day tomorrow!

Happy New Comic Book Day Eve, Geektified Fans! What New Releases are you looking forward to picking up? Here are some titles that I am really looking forward to.

From DC Comics:
L to R: Cyborg #1; We Are Robin #2; Justice League: Gods & Monsters--Batman #1

From Marvel Comics:

From Dark Horse Comics:
Fight Club 2 #3

Monday, July 20, 2015

Geek on the Street: Tips for Attending Regional & Local Conventions

Epic-scale conventions like New York Comic Con and Dragoncon are certainly key events on any nerd calendar.  Yet, what are we geeks meant to do the rest of the long months, when these events seem eons away?  Well, we are in luck: this is probably the best time in history to be a convention-goer!  There are actually many smaller conventions throughout the United States for us to attend during the downtime between the larger-sized events.

Perks of these events?  They are often much cheaper to attend, with lower costs for badges and, because they are in our own local areas, we may not need hotel rooms or lots of meals eaten out.  Additionally, because they don’t accommodate or attract hundreds of thousands of fans, they give convention-goers a much greater chance of meeting that favorite comic book artist and snagging some autographs.

As a Long Island-native, I do my best to check out as many local and regional conventions as I can in the greater-metropolitan area of New York City.  Because this is such a culturally rich locale, I get to attend around a dozen conventions every year.  If you want to get in to attending these smaller events, here are my five top tips for making the most of the experience:

(1)  BRING CASH!  This is probably my top tip for ALL convention-going, but it particularly applies to these smaller shows.  There may not be ATMs on-site (or they may have massive service fees) & many vendors do not take credit cards.  It is far more likely that you will get your hands on that must-have collectible at a show of this size; make sure you have the capital so that you can bring it on home and add it to your collection.
(2)  Be patient with convention organizers: Smaller conventions are often organized by local individuals who share your love of geek culture or of a particular pop culture product (I attend an excellent Doctor Who convention on LI every year).  These people probably also have full-time jobs and lives beyond running this convention, unlike those who are able to make a career of working for the corporations who bring you the larger national events.  Be patient when schedule changes happen or panels begin late and so on.  Believe me, these people are working very hard to give you the best experience possible.
(3)  Check in with the event on social media.  This is a big one.  Make sure you know what celebrities are appearing which days and keep yourself in the loop regarding the schedule of events.  Often, Facebook and Twitter are better sources for this information than a convention’s homepage; in many cases, they may be more regularly monitored and updated.  Feel free to tweet at or message convention accounts; I have found this an easy and stress-free way to get my questions about an event answered.
(4)  For Comic Book fans: Know who is appearing and prepare what you want them to sign.  Have books ready for each creator you want to meet and remove them from their bag and board before you reach the front of the line.  Be fair to others who are also waiting in line; if you have lots and lots of things to be signed, after you get five or ten done, go back to the end of the line and give someone else a turn.
(5)  HAVE FUN!  Remember, these smaller events may not be able to bring you the awesome announcements and A-level stars of San Diego Comic Con.  But they can provide you an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with comic creators and up-and-coming artists alike.  Embrace the experience; you can learn a lot about new geeky things that you may want to get into just from spending some time hanging out a con.

Hope these tips help you navigate your next convention experience.  Looking forward to meeting my fellow Geeks on the Street at the next local convention!

Staff Pick: "Ant-Man"

When it comes to Marvel movies, just about any new release seems to be a must-see.  All the movies interconnect in ways that make seeing only one or a couple feel like holding a piece of the puzzle as opposed to seeing the completed design.  Yet, the best Marvel films not only function as part of this complex web of storytelling but also stand on their own as entertaining introductions to characters we might not have known much about in the past.  Consider this for a moment: one year ago today, were you aware of what a Groot was?  I bet many of us were not, yet now “I am Groot” is as familiar a movieline as any other cinematic notable quotable.  Now, Marvel is asking us to meet Ant-Man, a character who may be familiar to Avengers comics fans but perhaps unknown to the public at large.[1]

So, should you spend time on this insect-sized hero and get to know him as you did an anthropomorphized tree and genetically enhanced raccoon last summer?  Despite perhaps seeming as odd a choice for a film adaptation as last summer’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” in my estimation, ”Ant-Man” is not only a pick for this summer, but one of the most fun movies that I have seen all year!
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym

What makes “Ant-Man” a must-see?  The tone of the film is just delightful, effortlessly blending laugh-out-loud humor with real heart as well as the high-energy action sequences that we have come to expect from Marvel films.  The end result is two hours of sheer entertainment that are enhanced by some moments of real emotion and performances that will endear these characters to you for years to come.

The film is an interesting chapter in the ever-growing “Marvel Cinematic Universe.”  Yet, perhaps the best thing about it is you really don’t have to be an expert on the films that have come before to enjoy this film.  There are fun easter eggs throughout for the mega-fan amongst us, but watching the movie really doesn’t demand any previous knowledge.  The depiction of the character of “Ant-Man” is so complete that you will feel you know him, even if this is your first encounter with the character.  Marvel is the master of bringing characters, no matter their familiarity to audiences, into our homes in meaningful ways.  This film is no exception.  Go see it: you won’t regret it!

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man

Ohh & make sure to stay until the end of the credits.  Trust me, Mighty Marvel fans, it is all connected.  

[1] For more on Ant-Man’s origins, visit: