Con Talk: Denver ComicCon 2016 Day 1- Kyle

Denver ComicCon 2016 Day 1


PHEW! That was an awesome first day! Denver Comic Con’s first day was today and boy are my arms tired….That doesn’t make any sense. Lets get straight into it! So this year the con is very focused on comics, books and television. This is an effort put forth by Pop Culture Classroom. While it does not give me as much of the board game exposure that I like, it does a great job at giving us a ton of authors and artists to talk to. Good job Pop Culture Classroom! Their mission is clear and easy to understand:

Ignite a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

And wow did they deliver!

I spent most of the day getting my bearing around the convention center and scheduled out my weekend, then headed into main events, where I had the pleasure of seeing Terry Brooks, John Rhys-Davies, and Manu Bennett discuss their involvement with the newly renewed show The Shannara Chronicles.

The first of the two hours of panels featured Terry Brooks talking about the trials and tribulation of being an author. He has to be the most pragmatic wonderfully funny author I have ever seen. Many of the question centered around how to face the challenges of writing as most panels with authors do. However Terry’s answers filled the conversation with new life. Where most authors tend to treat writing as a thing driven by inspiration, hitting blocks when the muse has left them high and dry, Terry looks at it as a craft and something to be practiced and honed.

“I cannot afford to have writers block”

Was probably my favorite thing he said. it really made me happy that there are practical artists out there that realize it is how they make their living.

Terry’s original drive for writing The Sword of Shannara Trilogy dealt with real world issues he was frustrated. It really seemed like he is taking issues we seem to ignore and making them more relevant by adding fantasy races. Seems like a strange way to do it but it also seems to resonate more. Strangely enough terry believes that:

“Fantasy must approximate reality and must be believable”

This resonated with me.

The second of the two hours of panels in this had two of the actors of the show join Terry on stage. Manu Bennett and John Rhys-Davies too the stage to talk about how The Shannara Chronicles is going to be the next Game of Thrones. Both Bennett and Rhys-Davies believe that this is one of the greatest stories never told and are excited to see it surpass other pesduo-fantasy shows that are currently popular. Davies went as far as saying that game of Thrones has run out of story and it is now piecing together small seemingly unrelated stories which makes the show seem very much like “garbage”. While a lot of the crowd reacted to this, I think he has a point. With over 20 books written in the canon compared to ASOFAI’s 6 (with possible no more coming) they should be able to keep the show going for a very long time. Finally Bennett and Rhys-Davies both agreed that Brooks’ enjoyment of the adaptation is something that isn’t seen often in the industry and if that was all you hear about the stories, take it to heart.

The end of the second panel ended with a message. Bennett discussed the journey of being a Māori actor,  its effects on his career, and the way we use villains in our stories. The discussion started with Rhys-Davies asking Brooks if there is any unforgivable sin with regard to writing character’s relationships in his canon. Before Brooks could really dive into the answer, Bennett rephrased the question about how we use villains in writing. He proposed that if we are not careful about how villains are used we can wrongly establish a pool of character archetypes that cannot ever be seen as anything but despicable. This was a very interesting discussion and seemed very applicable with regard to the Pop Culture Classroom mission. I am not one to cow to the overly sensitive but there is something to be said about trying to see the world through someone else’s eyes. This was a very big take away from this panel. The guests all made it understood that media in any form is mean to help us empathize as humans and that is a good thing.

Let’s hope for just as interesting a day 2!


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