Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Overstreet: The Geeky Secret of My Hometown!

Last week I wrote about the show I am helping to put on in my home town. This week I want to talk a little bit about the geeky secret of Cleveland, TN.

I live in a town called Cleveland, TN.  Its small and quaint, but it has a strange connection to geek culture that most people don’t know.  Cleveland, TN is the birthplace of the Overstreet Comic Book Price guide.  That's right, Robert Overstreet created the standard price guide for comic books right here in my home town.  Its one of those odd little facts that older men tell you when they hear you like comic books. “Oh well you probably know about Bob Overstreet” they say. They would tell me stories about how he used to ship the the price guide out from the company he worked at and get a laugh out of it.  That is when I get to tell them the story that I am going to tell you, dear reader, right now.

Back in 92, the comic book boom was in full force.  This is the era when comic companies were printing things like “Instant collector item” right on their books, and putting things in poly bags to entice people who thought they could make a buck.  My 12 year old self was into the comic boom deep.  My dad, my uncle, my brother, and myself would each get our pull folders and drive all over the place looking for back issues.  If we heard there was place that had comics, we went.

It was during this time that I suspect an old man said to my day, “Oh you like comics huh, well you probably know about Bob Overstreet”  I don’t think he did, I mean We had the guides but I don’t think he knew he lived here.  My dad is never one to be afraid of a phone call so he did what my dad does, he looked Robert Overstreet up in the phone book. . .and he was listed!  There he was in the white pages, the creator of the Overstreet price guide.  His number was just there.
Mr Overstreet was happy to sign our book!

Let me break in here to put things in perspective, For me Robert Overstreet had his name on a book.  This was fame to me.  I had never been to a convention, I didn't know this was normal.  Someone like this seemed like they were above humanity. . . (I was a very sheltered child).  

My dad called him.  Had a nice conversation with him, and we were invited over to his house.  Just like that.  We set a time, It was a Tuesday if I recall.  When the day approached my dad, my uncle, my brother, and myself loaded into the car to go to the Overstreet house.  It was a big house, I can’t remember where it was in town now, but I remember it was in a nicer part of town.  The house looked like a castle, It had a spiral staircase and everything.  

As we got there we were greeted by him and his wife, they were incredibly nice, they brought us in and took us to the living room, where we got to ask him questions.  We talked about Comics, and artists and the history of comics.  It was a great time.  Then he did something amazing, he started pulling out his collection.  Amazing Fantasy 15, Fantastic Four 1, He just kept showing us these comics that we would probably never see again (at least I thought so).  

After he showed us these books he took us upstairs (yes up the spiral staircase) and up stairs there was a long hall with odd paintings of the Salem witch trials.  To this day this still confuses me.  But then he opened a door and let us see a huge room that was just filled with long boxes.  This was a man where comics were his business.  He knew about them, he lived with them, and he loved them.
After this he signed our price guides and we left and it was a great experience.  A few months later we went back to the house for Halloween, because he told us he gave out comics for Halloween (the publishers send so many of them to him).  I think my brother and I both got archie books, but it was ok, it was from Robert Overstreet.

I think more recently Robert Overstreet, has moved out of Cleveland, from what I gather, he does still work on the guide (though he has long since sold it off).  During the 80's and even early 90's Cleveland was a hotbed for collectors, there were shows going on all the time.  We had a regional distributor near by, and there were a really hoping comic book shops all over the region.  Then it just kind of fizzed out, but I think a lot of that energy can be given credited with The Overstreet price guide.

So that is Cleveland Tennessee’s connection with geek culture.  Does your city have a secret connection to geek culture?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Is the Doctor a good man? Taking a look at morality in the Doctor Who Universe

In the latest episode of Doctor Who, the Doctor asked Clara a simple question.  He asked “Am I a good man?” He asked the question in a way that was almost challenging the audience to answer the question as well as Clara.  He asked us to reach back over the last 50 years and judge the character of the Doctor.  Well. . .maybe I am reading a little too much into that, but I did begin to think about it.  The morality of the Doctor is something that has always intrigued me.

On the Surface the Doctor is a hero, and of course we relate heroes to good people.  People who fight for truth, justice . . .and the way of the people they are fighting for.  A hero is judged in the context of their own society.  Thus I may think of a hero or a good man differently than say someone from England.  We all have a different cultural definition of morality, and thus so should the Doctor and the universe he lives in.

The question of morality and the Doctor is not a new one.  Back in the 70s when the Doctor as traveling with Sarah Jane Smith, he reminded her that he was different.  He didn’t percive things the same way she did. . .He walks in eternity  and is NOT human.   So should we judge if he is a good man on the scale of human morality.  In the same episode (Pyramids of Mars, 1975) the doctor is faced with Sutekh the Destroyer, who for all intents and purposes is an evil entity that is above humanity and even above Timelords (or so he believes).  Sutekh tells the Doctor that “Your [the doctor] evil is my [sutekh’s] good.” This sets a landscape of the lack of a single moral code within the universe, and also tells us a little more about the doctor, because as he feels he is above humanity he is still willing to fight for it.

And Check out this out at about 4:48

The Doctor wants to be good.  He wants to do the right thing, but he is torn.  He finds himself with knowledge that does not always allow his let him follow the moral code that many of his companions have, but he does try to give the appearance of holding to that code.  Many times that is by surrounding himself with companions who have no problem being morally gray.  The best
Ace isn't afraid to use a weapon! 
example of this is Ace.  At first the Doctor and Ace seem to have a typical companion/ doctor relationship, but while the doctor objects to her more violent ways he rarely does anything about it.  Even to the point where he begins to anticipate that she is carrying explosives.  She become useful to him, a means to an end to do the things he can’t.  this continues on into the virgin new adventure novels.  At this point he is becoming something more than a hero.  He no longer believes a human moral code is any code to live a life.  This is where it becomes apparent that the doctor is really only interested in the greater good.  He has to be the champion of time he finds himself on a different level battling beings that have different scales by which they weigh morality.  These are Beings like Cthulu, or the Celestial toy maker, and the eternals. He begins to place himself on their scale of morality.

The cause of the greater good is something that  has resonated throughout the series.  Often

times the doctor is fighting against monsters who for all intents and purposes know no better or who are doing what they feel is right.  The cybermen are a great example.  They felt (well not feel so much) they thought that they were doing a service to humanity by coming to convert them.  They would make them better, stronger.  Of course the Doctor saw it as a violation of humanities rights.  The doctor chose a side that most resembled his moral code.  He had spent time with humans at this point and decided that they were worth fighting for.

These concepts lead me to think about the other side. in season 5 of the new series we see the fight against the doctor at the pandorica, where all of the monsters ganged up on the doctor because he was their monster.  He was charged with crimes against the daleks the cybermen and any number of other races.  This, of course, is because he broke their moral code.  So if you asked a dalek if the Doctor was a good man it may first say “WHAT IS GOOD” but in the end it would communicate the doctor is the opposite of what it stands for, because they have a code that they relate to . . . and that code is Evil.  Or at least it is to us.

There may be a chance to ask an interesting question here though.  Why does the doctor try so hard to meet the human moral code.  Why does he want clara to answer this question?  For this, we can take a several lines of thinking.  First, he is with humans quite a bit, so perhaps it has just been easy to adapt to that for him.  Next we could look at time lord society and I think it would be safe to imagine that the their society isn’t COMPLETELY dissimilar to ours.  Perhaps there is a prevailing moral code that goes around the universe that mirrors ours.  Or maybe it can be answered by the TV movie. . . perhaps the Doctor really is half human - and so he battles between this high flying universal code of morality and the deep humanity that he has running through his blood.

Regardless of what we think I have a feeling that question is going to strive to be answered over the coming season, and I think it will be fun to see how it plays out.  In the end the thing to remember is that the Doctor is an alien!  While he looks like us, and sometimes acts like us, he is not human (unless of course you think he is) and therefore it is hard to judge him against our idea of what a “good man” is or what a hero is.  Does he usually make the choice that we would make, yeah usually, but not always.  Sometimes he comes from the side and chooses the greater good, because he is on a higher level.  He believes at his core that sacrifice a few for the many is probably OK.  He has made himself an equal of osirens, and old gods, and guardians, and eternals.  He can’t be expected to share our morality!

What do you think?  Is the doctor a good man, am I over thinking morality in a fictional universe.  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cleveland Geekster and doing things!

I’ve been putting this post off for long enough.  I have been quiet for a while on this blog, but rest assured I have not been idle!  On October 4th exactly one month from today some friends and I are trying something new.  We are putting on a toy and comic show in Cleveland TN.  I have been vending at shows since 2011, and this has been something I have wanted to bring to my town since then.

The town I live in, Cleveland TN, is smallish. there is, however, a huge environment of collectors, pop culture addicts and comic shops but there are no local events for these people go to.  We have to go the surrounding bigger cities for even small shows.  I find this sad for the city that brought us the Overstreet Comic book price guide, and used to have such a vibrant community of collectors.  To my knowledge there hasn’t been a collectors show here in at least 10 years. It has probably been even longer.

In the last few years that I have been vending at shows I have watched carefully, asked questions, and made friends.  This has always been something I have wanted to do and here it is.  We are a month out from the (hopefully) FIRST ANNUAL CLEVELAND GEEKSTER toy and comic show!  While we have been planning this for the last several months, we still have a lot to do, but to this point it has been a great journey.  There is a lot that goes into an event like this. We have gotten some great vendors from the region and we should have a great set of stuff to look through.

This event that is something that is important to me for several reasons. As I have said I wanted to be involved with bringing an event like this in Cleveland because I love this town and I love this stuff.  But more importantly it is something I am doing.  At the end of the day I will be able to say I was involved with that event.  I was with it from its infancy as an idea and saw it through to fruition.  I'm excited to do that.  This is something I have thought a lot about lately.  most of my life I have had ideas, but I never acted on them.  This year I have had the opportunity to act on these ideas in a way I never have had the chance to do before.  That is the other reason I am excited!

I hope to add some updated information as we continue through the process, as well as get some images up during the event.  Until then, I would encourage everyone who is interested to check out our facebook page at facebook.com/ClevelandGeekster and also our website at clevelandgeekster.com, there you can find information about the show, and the vendors who have signed on.

In the comments let me know about something you have planned and saw it through, and how that made you feel. . . Or just tell me a great story about going to a toy and comic show!