Beyond Heroes and Villains

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

WonderCon: Batman vs. Jason! Kirk vs. Vader! Who vs. Holmes!

Psychologists and psychiatrists explore strange new worlds at WonderCon Anaheim.

 

WonderCon returns to Anaheim, California, this upcoming weekend (April 18-20). From Comic-Con International, the organization best known for San Diego Comic-Con International, WonderCon offers a sampling of the kinds of events and programming convention goers might enjoy at San Diego in July but on a scale possibly less intimidating to newcomers. A number of psychologists and psychiatrists this year explore science fiction franchises, multicultural heroes, horror movie slashers, superheroes' sex lives, and more.

FRIDAY

12:30-1:30 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #1: Introduction to Graphic Medicine
"Graphic Medicine" is a term coined in 2009 by UK physician and artist Ian Williams to refer to the intersection between the medium of comics and the discourse on health care. Since then, a diverse group of scholars, comic artists, patients, and health-care providers have been engaged in dialogue about how comics might further our understanding of the health-care system and those who interact with it.Dr. Michael Green (Penn State Hershey College and Medicine) and M. K. Czerwiec (Northwestern Feinberg Medical School), two of the pioneers of the field and the organizers of five international conferences on graphic medicine, will describe and share some of the rich body of work that now exists at the intersection of comics and medicine, exploring the rationale for the use of comics in medicine, ways comics have been integrated into medical education, and how that intersection might benefit health-care providers and patients alike. Room 210BCD

2:00-300 p.m. The Men Who Made Batman
2014 marks the 100th birthday of Batman's uncredited co-creator Bill Finger, the 75th anniversary of Batman's first appearance, the 50th anniversary of the "New Look" Batman, and the 25th anniversary of the Tim Burton motion picture that proved the world would welcome a serious Dark Knight. Celebrate by looking back at how Bob Kane and Bill Finger created the character and how ghost creators Jerry Robinson and Gardner Fox helped them shape the Caped Crusader's first year in print. Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), Mark Evanier (Bill Finger Award), Alan Kistler (The Ultimate Batman Trivia Challenge), Robert O'Nale (The Cape Creator documentary), Jens Robinson (son of Jerry Robinson), and the rest of their super team of bat-experts unite to answer the question, "Who built the bat?" Room 210A

2:30-3:30 p.m. CBLDF: The History of the Comics Code
60 years ago this month, comics were put on trial in a nationally televised Senate subcommittee hearing that had shattering repercussions for this great American art form. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund presents the shocking history of moral panic that led to this historic hearing and the birth of the Comics Code Authority, which regulated the medium's content for more than 50 years. CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein tells the tale at this CBLDF presentation. [The relevance here in that a psychiatrist, Dr. Fredric Wertham, and his sensationalistic book Seduction of the Innocent played a powerful role in leading to the Code's creation.] Room 208

SATURDAY 

10:30-11:30 a.m. The Battle For Multicultural Heroes
The pop culture explosion through gaming, comics, TV, and film has opened up new opportunities for cultural diversity; however, many obstacles still exist. In this humorous but poignant discussion, diverse geek experts discuss breaking ethnic stereotypes, current casting controversies, and what changes need to happen for us to boldly go into the future. Panelists include Tony Kim (founder of Crazy4ComicCon.com), comedian Andre MeadowsEmily Ong (founder of TheStylishGeek.com), and clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea LetamendiRoom 208 

10:30 a.m.-noon Comics Arts Conference Session #4: Spotlight on Gail Simone
From her early work on the "Women In Refrigerators" website to her present work for DC, WonderCon Anaheim special guest Gail Simone (Batgirl) has been and continues to be one of the most influential comics writers in the industry. She has also been one of the most influential commentators on gender and sexuality in the medium. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) moderates a discussion of Simone's past, present, and future career, writing characters from Wonder Woman to Red Sonja to Wolverine. Room 210BCD 

1:00-2:00 p.m. Psychology of Cult TV Shows
Join a panel of therapists and scientists (mad or otherwise), Dr. Janina Scarlet (The Superhero Manual), Josué Cardona (Geek Therapy), Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), and Elizabeth Ann (NerdLush), as well as some surprise guests in discussing the psychology behind TV shows such as Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Arrow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and others. Find out how TV shows might help us cope with painful experiences and geek out in discussing such fundamental questions as: With all the regenerations, what is the Doctor’s true identity? What makes Sherlock a better detective than London’s finest? What does psychology tell us about the demons that live inside us? With these questions and more, this panel is a must for loyal fans of these shows. Room 210A 

6:30-7:30 p.m. Science in Science Fiction
Kyle Kurpinski and Terry Johnson (How to Defeat Your Own Clone: And Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution) discuss the scientific breakthroughs that inspire science fiction and the ways that science is depicted in popular media, books, movies, and more. After a brief presentation, these UC Berkeley bi oengineers will be available to answer questions about your favorite science and science fiction. Room 213 

7:30-8:30 p.m. Flashback to the Slash Pack! Inside the Minds of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees
This terrible trio has terrified audiences worldwide...but what makes each one tick? Is Michael simply a sociopathic stalker, Freddy merely a manipulative monster, and Jason just a killing machine? Or is there more to these slashers if we slice below the surface? The forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought, H. Eric Bender, M.D.,Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D. and special guest Mark Swift (writer of Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th [2009]) analyze these villains' murderous motivations. Can we make sense of a vengeful boogeyman's sister obsession? Could fire turn a violent predator into a sadistic serial killer? Did "mommy issues" and bullying birth a brutish butcher? Who is the most dangerous killer, and which, if any, would be considered insane? Discover the answers to these and other questions, and take a stab at these iconic slashers!  Room 208 

7:30-8:30 p.m. The Psychology of Star Trek vs. Star Wars: Episode III
Psychologists Dr. Andrea Letamendi (UnderTheMaskOnline.com) and Dr. Ali Mattu (BrainKnowsBetter.com) bring their popular, intergalactic sci-fi battle back to WonderCon Anaheim for round 3! These geeky psychologists step into the pop culture ring, this time with a focus on the character relationships from these two legendary franchises. Special panelists include actors Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Catherine Taber (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Join a side and cast your vote as they crown one as the winner! Impartially moderated by Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions)Room 213 

SUNDAY 

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #7: The Cognition of Comics

What happens in people's minds and brains when they read and create comics? Neil Cohn (University of California, San Diego) will present an overview of his new book,The Visual Language of Comics: An Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Comics, which provides an extensive introduction to the cognitive science of comics comprehension. This discussion will cover the systematic components that make up unique and different panels, the grammar of sequential images and page layouts, cross-cultural differences in structure, and the newest neuroscience research on what the brain is doing while comprehending comics. Room 210BCD 

12:30-1:30 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #8: Sex, Love, & Superheroes
Intimate relationships have figured prominently in superhero stories from the beginning, when Superman slammed a wife beater into the wall and then Clark asked Lois out on a date in 1938's Action Comics #1. Even the proto-superheroes, those larger-than-life heroes whose adventures preceded the dawn of the costumed crusaders, frequently found themselves motivated by their relationships, from "Me Tarzan, You Jane" to "Oh, Popeye!" changes in depictions of relationships not only reflect the defining qualities of each major era of comic book history but often figure prominently in the issues that end one era and begin the next. Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), Molly Mahan (Dynamite Entertainment), Alan Kistler (Wired), Abby Dark-star (KeAbtium), and Jenna Busch (Fan Voice) trace the evolution of sex and love through the history of superhero comics. Room 210BCD 

1:30-2:30 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Batgirl Begins Again
Barbara Gordon ranks among the world's most famous superheroines, first as Batgirl (1967-1988) until rendered paraplegic in The Killing Joke, and then as Oracle, supreme computer hacker and Birds of Prey leader (1989-2011) until DC Comics's New 52 relaunch made her ambulatory and Batgirl once again. Renowned Birds of Prey/Batgirl writer and WonderCon Anaheim special guest Gail Simone discusses this character's real-world popularity and fictional trauma recovery with psychologists Dr. Andrea Letamendi (Under the Mask Online), the model for Barbara Gordon's therapist, and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). Room 210BCD  

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-heroes-and-villains/201303/wondercon-psych-2013-comics-and-zombies-and-sith-oh-my

RELATED POSTS:

* Star Trek: The Mental Frontier

* A Dark and Stormy Knight: Why Batman?

* Batman at 75: The Psychology of Why the Dark Knight Endures

* The Bat of the Shadow: Batman's Role Models

* The Arkham Sessions: Batman, Man-Bat, and that Killer Clown

* Superheroine Recovery: An Interview with Batgirl's Therapist

* Legends of the Knight Documentary Explores the Power of Stories

* Doctor Who: The Man Who Regrets and the Man Who Forgets

* Doctor Who: Fear the Angels and Don't Blink

* Does Iron Man 3's Hero Suffer Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

* Necessary Evil Documentary: Exploring Super-Villainy

* Cortex Crusaders Put Comic-Con on the Convention Couch

* Comics Arts Conference Brings Psychology to Comic-Con 2013

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

* Wedding, Funerals, Reboots - Capes and Cognitive Dissonance

* Legends of the Knight Video Chat on Batman and Psychology

* The Avengers Teach Psychology: Class Assemble!

* Who Are Your Heroes?

And Disneyland is still just around the corner.
 

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

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