Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

WonderCon Psych 2013: Comics and Zombies and Sith! Oh, My!

At WonderCon Anaheim, psychologists and psychiatrists explore fantastic worlds.


http://www.comic-con.org/wca/comics-arts-conference

 

At the end of this month (March 29-31), WonderCon convenes in Anaheim, California, for the second spring in a row, before it will head back home next time to San Francisco with its newly renovated convention center. WonderCon has now released its full schedule of programming, and its panels have plenty to offer for fans of explorations into the human psyche. A trio of psychiatrists help lawyers discuss undead legal dilemmas, and a pair of psychologists show up all over the schedule to look at Star Trek, Star Wars, women's issues, journalism, the process of getting your first book published, and how, through the filter of fiction, superheroes' tragic origin stories can help students, clients, and anyone else gain a better understanding of real life trauma

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Friday, March 29, 2013

1:30—2:30 p.m. The Psychology of Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Boldly go where no one has gone before and explore a galaxy far, far away! Psychologists Dr. Andrea Letamendi (UCLA) and Dr. Ali Mattu (NYU) are joined by writers Hugh Sterbakov (Robot ChickenCity Under the Moon) and Larry "Dr. Trek" Nemecek (The Con of WrathTrekland: On Speaker) for an epic sci-fi battle as they throw down the science behind the heroes, villains, galactic governments, and even the fandom of Star Trek and Star Wars. Join a side and cast your vote as we crown one the winner of WonderCon Anaheim! Refereed by Brian Ward (Shout! Factory).

1:30—2:30 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #2: Comics & Journalism. Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) explores the history of journalist characters in comic book stories and why so many news folk date, harangue, or are themselves superheroes. Dr. Sarah Boslaugh (Kennesaw State University) describes a history of comics journalism in the real world and offers a prediction for its future. Joining them are comics journalists Alan Kistler (Comic Book Resources), Tony Kim (Crazy4ComicCon.com), Molly Mahan (Geekscape.net), and Michael Worthan (Comic Book Therapy) to set these professors straight on the reality of it all. 

2:30—3:30 p.m. The Most Dangerous Women at WonderCon Anaheim! Actresses, stuntwomen, storytellers, outspoken bloggers, creative cosplayers -- which women are the movers and shakers on the convention scene? Who are the innovators and game changers breaking barriers in the world of fandom? Is the convention experience really different for women? To discuss these issues, Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill (Fanhattan and MTV Geek) brings together some women dangerous in their own right:Jenna Busch (Cocktails with Stan), Emma Caulfield (Essnemma on My Damn Channel), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (Batgirl's therapist)Jessica Merizan (BioWare), Luci Romberg (Ninja Warrior), Dana Braziel-Solovy (Adventures of a Comic Con Girl), and America Young (Geek TherapyStan Lee's World of Heroes).

5:30—8:00 p.m. Not Guilty by Reason of Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry after the Zombie ApocalypseDuring a “zombie apocalypse,” humans play by a new set of rules - or no rules at all. Zombies kill humans, humans hunt zombies, and humans murder other humans - with no legal repercussions. But suppose the zombie apocalypse ended after eradication of the zombies or the discovery of a cure that rejoined the dead with the living. When society's laws are restored, what would happen if humans, zombies, and former zombies alike stood trial for their actions? Would any of them be found guilty, or would the circumstances of the apocalypse excuse crimes like theft, breaking and entering, misuse of a corpse, murder, and cannibalism? What legal defenses might apply? Join the forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast ThoughtH. Eric Bender, M.D.Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., and the lawyers of Law and the Multiverse, James Daily, J.D. and Ryan Davidson, J.D. (The Law of Superheroes) as they examine the legal issues faced by a post-zombie-apocalyptic world. In a mock trial, the lawyers will be the prosecution and defense, the doctors will be the expert witnesses, and you will be the jury. Will the walking dead be found guilty, or will they walk free?

Photo donated by Scott Stacher. Wizard World Austin Comic Con 2012.

Saturday, March 30

1:30—3:00 p.m. Comics Arts Conference #6: Focus on Matt Kindt. Harvey Award-winning independent voice and CAC special guest Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) discusses his approach to making comics with CAC co-chair Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). They will discuss Kindt's use of sequential artistry in his works and the creative process in formulating elements like character and plot as well as the way he draws on his background in book production to design the physical books.

6:30—7:30 p.m. Geeks Get Published—and Paid! Trouble finding a book publisher? How about a literary agent? Do you really need your own publicist? Is getting into print different when your book's topic is particularly geeky? Hear how these bookworms got their works into print, how they made money at it, and how you might, too:S. G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie's Lament), Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History), Alex Langley (The Geek Handbook), and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). Moderated by Jenna Busch (Fanhattan). 

What can we learn about real psychology from these fictional masked heroes?
Batman & Spider-Man (1997, October).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

11:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #7. The Filter of Fiction: Batman, Spider-Man, and Real Life Trauma. What's the point in examining fictional characters, especially fantastic superheroes unlike any people we encounter in real life? Psychologists Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) and Andrea Letamendi (Barbara Gordon's therapist in Batgirl #16), comics scholar Kathleen McClancy (Wake Forest University), and comic book writers Marv Wolfman (Batman: Year Three) and Bryan Q. Miller (Batgirl) explore how the filter of fiction can allow people to face some of the worst events that happen in real life without turning away and how that, in turn, helps us learn more about the way actual crises affect living human beings. 

Added bonus: Disneyland's just around the corner.

Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.

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