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Fan Culture Panels at WonderCon 2016!

WonderCon 2016 Programming Preview

Both WonderCon and Comic-Con added “Fan Culture” programming tracks to their schedules last year and they were a huge hit! WonderCon is once again offering a special track dealing with all things fan, from fashion to cosplay, from Star Wars psychiatry to science, from sidekicks to comic book courtroom drama (and that’s just some of Friday’s panels!) Here’s a preliminary rundown of all of these panels, which will be featured in Room 502, on Level Two of the Los Angeles Convention Center, all 3 days of the big WonderCon weekend. Exact times will be posted next week when the official 2016 Program Schedule debuts.

Friday, March 25

Finding Your Inner Superhero: How Pop Culture Media Brings Justice and Healing—Can caped crusaders inspire you to find your inner courage? The Pop Culture Hero Coalition presents a powerful discussion about real-life heroism with a spotlight on Paul Dini and his powerful, soon to be released autobiographical graphic novel Dark Night: A True Batman Story (Vertigo, June 2016). Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond) will be joined by experts in psychology, education, and human rights activism. The panel will explore topics such as bullying, online harassment, hate crimes, and other interpersonal adversities. For the first time, Amnesty International USA will attend a pop culture convention, with Ann Burroughs (Amnesty chairman of the board, former apartheid prisoner of conscience) joining United Nations Association president Bettina Hausmann, Global Ted Fellow Suleiman Bahkit (founder, Aranim Comics, Hero Factor), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (host, The Arkham Sessions, Under the Mask), and coalition founder Chase Masterson (Star Trek, The Flash). Join this riveting discussion on how fictional characters in comics, film, and TV can teach us to overcome bullying and become heroes in our everyday lives!

TeeFury: Pop Fandom as Artistic Inspiration—Tom Hodges (comic artist and illustrator), "Artist Abe" Lopez (artist and illustrator), Joey "Joebot" Spiotto (Alien Next Door, Storytime Gallery 1988), Danny Haas (designer and illustrator), John "Captain Ribman" Sprengelmeyer (award-winning illustrator, syndicated cartoonist), Pauline Acalin (pixel artist, 72 Pins), and Jason "JangoSnow" Wong (graphic designer and illustrator) discuss tapping into your favorite fandoms for inspiration, how pop culture has influenced the course of their work, and the rise of pop-parody apparel culture. Moderated by Tom Kurzanski (art director for TeeFury). Room 502B

The Her Universe Fashion Show Update—For the last two years, Her Universe and Hot Topic have produced The Her Universe "Geek Couture" Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con. Each year two winners were chosen and given the unique professional opportunity to design a fashion collection to be sold in Hot Topic stores. Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein, Cat Carson (SVP of Her Universe), Ed Labay (divisional merchandise manager of music and licensing), and Andrea Lewis (senior brand marketing manager) from Hot Topic and 2015 fashion show winners Kelly Cercone and Leetal Platt  take you behind the scenes of the making of their all-new Star Wars: The Force Awakens line for Hot Topic. Learn how these designers went from runway to retail! Plus, get an exclusive sneak peek at this new Star Wars collection and hear details about how to submit your designs for the 2016 Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con!

Cosplay Makeup 101—This panel covers what it takes to perfect your cosplay by having great makeup to go with it. It will cover beauty makeup, appliance application, special fx makeup, sculpting, molding, casting, and wig styling. The panelists include Dawnielle Banks (Makeup By Siryn, Batgirl Spoiled lead makeup designer), Ashley Troub (Ghost Hunters, winning look SDCC Her Universe Fashion Show), Kelton Ching (SDCC 2014 Apocalypse makeup demo, Blizzcon 2015 4th place winner), and Chrissy Lynn (Super Power Beat Down’s Darth Maul, League of Steam’s White Wolf), who have honed their craft in the makeup, film, television, and cosplay photography worlds. They will answer your questions about makeup to match your costuming and cosplay, as well as offer tips and tools of the trade to use. Moderated by cosplayer Mac Beauvais (Monstrous Makeup Manuals 1&2 model, actress in The Gloaming).

Like Father Like Son? Star Wars and Psychiatry in a Galaxy Far, Far Away—In the Star Wars cinematic universe, traditional father and son dynamics become twisted and turned. Is this a result of nature or nurture? Why does Ben Solo turn to the Dark Side of the Force, becoming Kylo Ren, while Luke Skywalker chooses to remain with the Jedi? Does Kylo Ren have any chance at redemption like his grandfather before him? What does the style of killing and torturing others say about Darth Vader and Kylo Ren? Would they, or even Han Solo, have any psychiatric diagnoses if they existed in our world? Forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., and H. Eric Bender, M.D. tackle these questions and explore psychopathy, personality disorders, adolescent development, unhealthy relationships, and more in a galaxy far, far away.

5:00–6:00 Hollyweird Science—For science fiction productions, there is an implied bargain between the screenwriter and the audience: "Suspend your disbelief on one or two fantastic notions, and other parts of the story will be grounded in the believable." The genre is predicated on the expectation of one or two key inaccuracies per story. In recent years, however, both experts and fans have been nitpicking even the fundamental story conceits of films such as Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian. From the "anything goes" storytelling approach of 1950s and 1960s sci-fi, these panelists will explore whether or not the science accuracy pendulum of audience expectation has swung too far in the other direction. Panelists are Jaime Paglia (showrunner EurekaScream), Zack Stentz (screenwriter Thor, X-Men: First Class), Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D. (science advisor, Gravity, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Jessica Cail, Ph.D. (science advisor, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Zootopia), and Andrea Letamendi, Ph.D. (clinical psychologist The Arkham Sessions, Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics). Moderated by Aaron Sagers (Syfy Blastr).

6:00–7:00 The Psychology of the Marvel TV Universe—They’re heroes from different eras. They operate in different parts of the world, not to mention occasionally different dimensions! And they fight different villains, sometimes reluctantly. Yet, they’re all very much connected through the same universe and many of the same experiences, including trauma, adversity, and self-discovery. Writers D. J. Doyle (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jose Molina and Lindsey Allen (Agent Carter), and Christos Gage (Daredevil) join Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions) to explore the dramatic psychology of the Marvel TV Universe. Moderated by Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions).

7:00–8:00 Not Your Sidekick: Heroes of Color Take Center Stage—From Marvel’s Kamala Khan to Star Wars’s Finn, characters of color are finally taking on the pilot’s seat/captain’s chair/chosen one’s mantle and being positioned front and center in entertainment. But how far has it come and how far does it still have to go? A dynamic group of creators and expert commentators who have all had a hand in crafting powerful protagonists of color will discuss issues of representation and authenticity, writing from their experiences, the unique pressure put on diverse characters, and how audiences can best support these characters to usher in a whole new era of POC heroes. With Marc Bernardin (Genius), Shalisha Francis (Minority Report), Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100The Middleman), and Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions).

8:00–9:00 WonderCourt: The Trial of Ben Grimm—It’s prosecutin’ time! The Thing will be put on trial by two funny comics fans, Alex Firer (Onion News Network) and Mike Levine (The Onion). Is his character dumb as rocks or the most fantastic? Honorable judges Jon Schnepp (The Death of Superman Lives), Jeff Loveness (Groot), and Natalie Palamides (The Powerpuff Girls) preside over WonderCourt. Which characters will appear as surprise witnesses? WonderCon’s geek comedy courtroom is now in session. Presented by comedy press The Devastator.

Saturday, March 26

LARP 101: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse—Ted Minette (10-year LARPer, writer/actor) will cover plot writing and character development. David Pulcifer (22-year LARPer) will discuss game design and plot writing. Kya Harris (avid LARPer, actress/artist) will speak to the art in LARP. Ben Jurek (11-year LARPer) will discuss weapon construction and foam combat. Lori Dansie (first-year LARPer, medical professional) will review the therapeutic aspects of LARP. Q&A session moderated by Tony Estrada (LARP enthusiast).

Tolkien Fandom Beyond Jackson: TheOneRing Staff—Tolkien fandom existed before Peter Jackson's LOTR and Hobbit films, and will remain long after; but what now? Are they still vital in the digital age, or will they fall to the fringes? A brief (and exciting) look at its history and what is next for fans of the man who laid the foundation for so much else in popular culture, including most everything at WonderCon. After $6 billion in box office revenue, is Hollywood done with Middle-earth? Audio, visuals, facts, and opinions from the staff of TORn, followed by a Q&A.

You Do What, Again!? Women Working in Film Production—Ashly Burch (writer/director), Cherish Chen (creative producer), Lauren Haroutunian (cinematographer), and Kaitlyn Yang (VFX supervisor) discuss breaking into the traditionally male-dominated fields of film production. The panel will include a Q&A session moderated by entertainment publicist Brittany Sandler. Room 502B

Geek Wars: The Star Wars Edition—Fans love to geek out, but they also like engaging in important culture topics. In this Star Wars edition of Geek Wars, professional nerds battle it out over Star Wars trivia while also discussing relevant social topics like stereotyping, feminism, body shaming, and much more. Plus, the panel will speculate about Episode VIII! This will be a lively and enlightening conversation that might challenge your view on the pop culture world. Panelists include Chris Gore (comedian, personality), Amy Ratcliffe (writer), Ivy Doom Kitty (professional cosplayer), and Jennifer Landa (YouTube personality). Hosted by Tony B Kim (blogger).

Batman and Superman: Cultural Imagery and Myth—This interactive discussion examines the cultural themes contained within the Batman and Superman universes, explores how both Metropolis and Gotham City are reflective of these superheroes, and how these cities have shaped each hero respectively. The panelists will also explore how environment influences individual identity, individual morality, and overall culture change driven by the individual. What messages do Batman or Superman narratives hold for humanity? How do these narratives affect both young and old alike? Explore the role myth plays in culture and how the myths of Batman and Superman continue to be important in our world today.

I’m in the Nerd Business—How do you create and sustain a business that caters to the geek lifestyle without exploiting the very people to whom you provide services? Join this panel of entrepreneurs, whose traditional businesses cater to a predominantly nerdy or geeky clientele. Panelists Matthew Arevalo (Loot Crate), Donna Ricci (Geeky Teas, formerly Clockwork Couture), Janelle Badali (Badali Jewelry), and David Nett (Nerdstrong Gym) discuss how these businesses started, and how they sustain their service to their clientele in the face of mass-market exploitation of geekdom. How do you compete with the giant corporate conglomerates that have suddenly discovered the geek marketplace? How do you sell goods and market services to a community seeking authenticity, without falling into the trap of pandering or gimmicks? Moderated by Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions, Shout! Factory).

Over30Cosplay: Cosplay for Every Age—John D. Callison (cosplayer and founder of Over30Cosplay), Bill Waters (national geek culture reporter/photographer at Examiner, editor/photographer at ComicsOnline), Patrica Tallman (actress, Lyta on Babylon 5 and Barbara from Night of the Living Dead), Joyce McCarthy (Over30Cosplay founding member, expert crafter), Kevin Williams (BSG Cosplayer, Over30cosplay founding member), Teri Pope (Over30cosplay founding member, crafter, epic nerd), Ian Whyte (501st cosplayer, founding member over30cosplay, member SoCal Garrison 501st, father to an excellent cosplayer), Barbara Roth (Over30Cosplay admin and co-founder), and Cindy Nelson (Over30Cosplay member, model, pirate and renaissance expert level cosplayer) discuss multiple topics appealing to the older cosplay crowd. Topics include costume choice, dating, marriage, and couples/family cosplay, societal mores/impact, marketing to the older cosplayer, social media and older cosplayers, bullying of older cosplayers, and the age of Hollywood characters and the impact on cosplay choices.

The Asian American Superhero—Jim Lee (DC Entertainment), writer/producer Maurissa Tancharoen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), actor Yoshi Sudarso (Power Rangers Dino Charge), and graphic novelists Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Amy Chu (Poison Ivy), and Christine Dinh (brand manager, BOOM! Studios) discuss the origin stories of iconic Asian American superheroes on screen, on the page, and behind the scenes. Moderated by’s Dariane Nabor.

Marvel Goes Steampunk—Crossing over into every genre, Steampunk has transformed many Marvel characters into some of the steamiest superheroes and villains in the galaxy. Enjoy a walk on the wild side with everyone from Ant-Man and Deadpool to Spider-Man and Doctor Strange as they are reimagined in the Steampunk style! Panelists include Dina Kampmeyer (Lady Steam), Crystal Rose Schaefer (cosplayer), Mac Beauvais (Strange Like That Cosplay), Anastasia Hunter (chair of Gaslight Gathering), and Oakley Boren (cosplayer).

Headlocked: Wrestling and Comics Collide—Discover the groundbreaking comic book drama that's taken the wrestling world by storm! Headlocked is out to change the way you look at professional wrestling by using actual wrestlers as the artists. And by building their series completely outside of the direct market, they're changing the game for self-publishers as well! Ryan Satin (Pro Wrestling Sheet) leads a discussion with series creators Michael Kingston and Michel Mulipola, artist Ramon Villalobos (E Is for Extinction), and wrestlers/series contributors Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian (Ring of Honor) as they discuss their contributions to wrestling, and comics and how they've been influenced by them.

Jet Set Nerds—Jet Set Nerd Anastasia Washington (Anastationtv, Jet Set Nerds) and jet setters Stephanie Pressman (Fashionably Nerdy), Angelique Toschi (Nerds in La La Land), Stacy Renfroe (Nerds in La La Land), Michelle Chubby Bunny (Geek & Sundry), Yume Lee (Lootcrate), Marlon (Nerd Coolture), and Curious Joi (Curious Joi) chat about packing up your bags and finding Nerd Mecca wherever you go! Moderated by Jennifer Kretchmer (producer).

Super Geeked Up Live—The Super Geeked Up crew discuss your favorite sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero topics, as well as play super fun geeky games like Character Cage Match, Geeky Musical, and Smitten Superheroes! Plus, a ton of audience participation and awesome prizes! Hosted by Jeff Burns with special co-host Kristen Nedopak (creator of The Geekie Awards) and special guests Christina Wren (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of JusticeMan of Steel) and Joanna Sotomura (Emma Approved, Video Game High School). Don't miss this super-interactive award-winning show!

Sunday, March 27

Fandom in the 21st Century—Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Carina Adly MacKenzie (The Originals), Shawna Benson (The 100), Susan Kresnicka (anthropologist, Troika), Eric Goldman (writer, IGN), and Jo Garfein (executive director, Cancer Gets LOST) will discuss the evolution of fandom and how social media have been both a blessing and a curse to fans, content creators and entertainment journalists. This panel seeks to bring this debate out into the open, to discuss how the rules of fandom have changed and what creators and fans can do to make the fan/creator interaction positive and enriching.

Intro to Halo Costuming and Props with 405th Infantry Division—Fiberglass? Foam? 3D-Printing? Lasers? Looking to build your own Halo armor and props but don't know where to start? The members of the 405th Pacific Regiment are here to help! They will be discussing many of the methods used to create props and armor from the Halo universe, followed by a Q&A to help you get started on your armor-building journey. Panelists include J.P. Pollio and Cary Gunnar Lee (pepakura and painting), Ian Milward (3D-printing), Alec Richter (vacuform), and Kenneth Miller (foam and rigging). Moderated by Benedict Choy (405th Pacific CO).

Event and Cosplay Photography—Photographers and photojournalists Bill Watters (Bleeding Cool), Dave Luchessi (Disney), Geri Kramer, Jon York (York in a Box Photography), Mike Tuffley (Disney), and Deborah Kountz (DebShots Photography) discuss tips and tricks on getting the most out of photography at conventions. The conversation will cover tricks of the trade, changes in technology, how to get great shots at conventions, working with cosplayers and groups, and the ever-evolving legal aspects that surround photography. Experienced photographers as well as those shooting with their smartphones will all find something new to take away from the panel.

Star Wars Awakens Fans and Fan Art For All Ages—Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens’s huge success has brought out fans of all ages to the theaters to see the first live action Star Wars film in 10 years. Hear the fans speak about what they loved, what they were surprised about, and what failed to live up to their expectations—all while the next wave of Star Wars fans explore advances made in the Star Wars Universe 39 years after its original release. Plus enjoy a special review of the incredible fan art inspired by The Force Awakens that has added a new layer and depth to your favorite characters. Panelists include Shawn Crosby (Rebel Legion), Kevin Pere (501st Legion), Jessica Woods (501st Legion), Ralph RJ Perez (Star Wars fan), and moderator Anastasia Hunter.

Geeklings & Parental UnitsExplore what it's like be a geek, working in a geek culture vocation, while raising a geekling. Join panelists for a rousing discussion of modern-day parenting, attending conventions, using devices, cosplaying, online privacy, and using tech to make you a better parent, as well as when is best to introduce kids to the Star Wars movies (and in what order?), and more! Bring your kids and your questions! The panel will have some coloring books to keep kids occupied so you can try to focus! Panelists include Melody Mooney (writer,, Kendra Moras (Photography by Kendra Jean), Heather Pritchett (technical director, Disney Animation), and Cris Moras (lighter, Disney Feature Animation). Moderated by Theresa Wollenstein (organizer, Geeklings & Parental Units playdate group).

SPARK Your Creativity: A Call to Action—Ladies unite to create more female-driven content. Accomplished female creators will discuss how to cultivate your ideas and bring them to life. Leave with inspiration, confidence, a solid plan of action, and tons of new ideas. All genders and ages welcome! Panelists include Patty Robinson (Pike & Trident), Jenny Lorenzo (Buzzfeed, Geekgasm), Heidi Cox (Stalking LeVar), Stephanie Thorpe (Elf Quest, Ladies & The Gents), and Kristen Nedopak (The Geekie Awards, The Skyrim Parodies).

Psychology of Cult TV Shows: Episode 3—Back by popular request, this panel focuses on the psychology behind the most recent seasons of your favorite TV shows, including Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Castle, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and others. Join psychologists, Dr. Janina Scarlet (Superhero Therapy; Star Wars Psychology), Dr. Travis Langley (Doctor Who Psychology; Star Trek Psychology), actors Maurice La Marche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama), and Chase Masterson (Star Trek, The Flash) and host Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia, Star Wars Psychology) in geeking out and discussing your favorite TV shows. Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History; Walking Dead Psychology) moderates.