Pop Culture

Comicpalooza 2013 Day 3: Fear of a Black Dalek

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Flashback Comicpalooza Day 3: Werewolves, Roller Derby, and the Fear of a Christian Texas

But more than anything else, what McNeice said was how unbelievable Doctor Who had become. It had utterly engulfed all of England, and now the crème de la crème of British acting fought tooth and nail to be on the show. He and Hines talked lovingly about the convention circuit, the kindness and enthusiasm of fans, and how in America we were so quick to extol our love of their work.

Even after we left the forum, we were still surrounded on all sides by the most energetic and enthusiastic of Who fans. There was a First Doctor, an Eighth, several Tens, several more Elevens (Most of them female or children) and tucked away in the back was an incredible recreation of a black Dalek available for pictures.

While the Wife took some shots, I interviewed the creator of the Dalek, Joshua Polman. Polman had grown up with Tom Baker in the '80s, and when the new series debuted became a huge fan. After getting a birthday cake in the shape of a Dalek one year, he decided to craft a life-sized model that could be piloted. Now he tours conventions allowing it to be used for photo booths and entertaining fans.

"It's amazing," said Polman. "It makes kids cry and adults weep with joy. I've seen an 80-yar-old man just throw his hands up and squeal with delight. Kids want to hug it. It always gets this enormous reaction."According to Polman creating a Dalek generally costs around $1,000 in materials and several thousand more in man hours and expertise. It can't be too terribly hard, because over in the autograph section another Dalek silently glided across the floor until it would yell, "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" startling conventiongoers.

Just steps behind the Dalek photos was another booth run by a man named Alex. He was selling comic book-themed lamps, but the centerpieces of his table was a Tardis lamp (The detail when viewed up close was masterful) and another of Gallifreyan script. When I asked Alex what sold the best, he just nodded towards the Who lamps. Either Doctor Who has become the de facto neutral zone of all geekdom, or Houston needs to get its own convention just for The Doctor.

There was other stuff, though. A walk through the vending area ran me into two Robins, one a grown woman and the other a small child of nine named Destiny. While my wife and the other Robin chatted, I interviewed my first child subject.

I've noticed that kids have a very different approach to comics and comic lore than adults do. A grown person may read the entire run of Sandman from back to front and be able to have an organized impression of it as a whole. For the geeks of the next generation it's a very different type of knowledge. They absorb it from the world around them, a cartoon here, a Wikipedia entry there, trading cards, single issues, whatever may happen to be handy.

Destiny's father is one of the guys at the Pop Culture Company, so for her, the worlds of Marvel and DC were all around her just like language was. She told me she goes to conventions all the time, feels wonderful wearing a costume, and corrects people who get their comic facts wrong.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner