Monday, April 29, 2019

Stargate News Update: April 29, 2019

It was a very exciting weekend for Stargate fans around the world. Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping appeared on stage together at Wales Comic Con at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. There are several fan-filmed versions of the panel up on YouTube and tons of photos appearing on every gate-related website.
In other news, Gaters quickly spread the word via Twitter that Joe Mallozzi is continuing to tease us with pages from the unfilmed Atlantis movie script on his blog.
 I can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

What Happened at Wondercon? -- Part 3 (Saturday)

Saturday is usually the busiest day of any convention. It is the day the most people attend and the day the major panels of the event are held. That meant that all of the things I was most looking forward to were scheduled to happen on Saturday at Wondercon. I was eagerly anticipating the two Stargate panels. I wanted to get the best possible seats for both, which is why I got up extra early despite having stayed up rather late playing D&D.

My nefarious plan for the day was this: 
1. Get up extra early to be at the front of the line when the doors opened.
2. Grab portable caffeine on my way to said line and eat granola bars while waiting to get in.
3. Photograph everything.

While it may not be a stupid enough plan to catch a replicator, my plan did prove to be effective. Yes, this did mean I arrived in the room the Stargate Superfan Panel would take place in two whole panels ahead of time. But I got a seat in the center of the front row and this is very important if you want to get pics without the backs of people's heads in them. Photographers are not allowed to leave their seats to take pictures during panels at either Wondercon or Comic-Con. You need to be a member of the Press or hired to cover the panel if you want to be able to walk around in the aisles with your camera.

I used the first two panels to figure out the best camera settings given the lighting and my distance from the stage. Both panels were really interesting. The first was about Dungeons & Dragons, which I have been playing since I was eleven. (FYI: I'm currently a Tabaxi Sorcerer named Fluffy Shadow.) The second panel was about the animated feature Missing Link. The speakers had brought models of the main characters to show off and talked about the production process.

At last it was time for the Stargate Superfan Panel! The Superfans were meant to be sitting in alphabetical order by first name, but they were a chair short as the Superfans began to file on stage. An additional chair was fetched and everyone was seated with Taylor Underwood on the far end instead of between Sommer Roy and William Murphy. And then it was time for... SELFIES!!!

Bra Zat 
Nicole Rodriguez Galdo and Nicole Saelzle

William Murphy, Yvonne Cahill and Taylor Underwood

The panel then began and Jenny Seelman Stiven (MGM) introduced Kieran Dickson (Stargate Command) and Stephen Iwanyk (Tongal) and the Superfans. The pros took a few minutes to explain how the contest had been run on Tongal and the winners announced on Stargate Command. The Superfans duties are intended to include attending conventions, and possibly other fan events, and talking to MGM about the fandom and the future of the Stargate franchise. As I understand it, they will basically be a focus group that does outreach in the fandom to help celebrate the anniversary year.

Each person who entered the contest on Tongal had to send in a short video of themselves explaining what makes her or him a Stargate Superfan. The same montage of clips from the winners' videos that was released on Stargate Command was played for the audience. You can watch it here. The video says there were 9 fans chosen, but as I mentioned previously, there are actually 10 Superfans. Sommer Roy was named a Superfan just before Wondercon.

Then the Superfans were finally introduced to the audience and did a bit of Q&A with the moderator. I asked most of them some follow-up questions later in the day. What I'm sharing here is a combination of what they said on the panel and what they told me.

Bra Zat is from France. He leads Les Stargate Troopers, a costume group started in 2006. He showed me the Costume Reference Library they maintain online. It has both French and English versions. If you want to put together screen-accurate cosplay, this is definitely a brilliant resource. Les Stargate Troopers have also appeared in the Stargate SG-17 fan films which can be found on YouTube. Here is their Facebook page. Bra Zat told me that he would love to see more interaction between the fan groups in different areas on the world in the future. Think of it as a United Nations of Stargate fandom. I believe Daniel Jackson would very much approve.

Marcia Middleton, from the United States, is the fan who first suggested, and was later asked to run, the Stargate track at DragonCon. DragonCon is held annually in Atlanta, Georgia. The convention's Press page states that they have over 35 different fan-based tracks and over 3500 hours of panels, workshops, gaming and more! I have been to track-based conventions in past. They generally have multiple panels a day for each track/area of interest. This basically makes it 35+ conventions happening simultaneously in the same venue. Pierre Bernard, who acted in two Stargate SG-1 episodes, has been a guest at DragonCon in past. He was in the audience and was introduced at this point. Marcia showed off a program he designed a few years ago for the Stargate track. See more about Pierre at the bottom of this post.

Noah Miller, also from the United States, told a highly amusing story about sneaking downstairs after his parents had gone to sleep so he could secretly watch Stargate. The series helped inspire him to become a professional videographer.

Nicole Rodriguez Galdo is from England. She has been a Stargate fan since she was five, having been introduced to SG-1 by her father. I did not get to speak to Nicole for very long during Wondercon and will give you more details about her at a future date.

Nicole Saelzle, from Germany, is an editor on Fans frequenting the site know her as Shadow-of-Atlantis. I had a wonderful chat with Nicole about conventions, Bavaria and the various flavors of Stargate. Nicole feels it is important to respect everyone's choice of a favorite series and make everyone feel welcome in the fandom. I really like this about Nicole.

Sonia Melinkoff was up next. Sonia is from the United States and she runs a fannish business called Nerdy Novelty Design. Sonia was wearing her Jaffa cosplay at Wondercon and had the coolest bag made with Stargate-print-fabric. You can see the staff weapon she made in the winners' video clips on Stargate Command.

Sommer Roy (AKA: The 10th Superfan) is also from the United States. She may be the only person ever to have a doctor literally write her a prescription for a daily dose of Stargate. While in the hospital recovering from surgery, Sommer's medical team noticed that her vitals improved when she was watching her favorite series. The rest is history. Sommer likes good Mexican food as much as I do.

William Murphy, another fan from the United States, is a nuclear engineer who is attending Grad school in pursuit of an additional
degree in aerospace engineering. He was sporting his green off-world cosplay all weekend, complete with zat'nik'tel.

Yvonne Cahill, of Australia, wrote a poem for her video submission. You can hear part of it on the video on Stargate Command. Besides writing, Yvonne likes to crochet. You can catch a glimpse of her Jack in the video. I have been knitting SG-1, myself, and really enjoyed chatting with her about yarn crafts.

Taylor Underwood, United States, may be more familiar to you as "The Stargate Guy". He has a YouTube channel on  which he posts videos that feature everything from interviews with Stargate cast members to analysis of the various series. As of this writing The Stargate Guy has 6,936 subscribers.

With the introductions to the Superfans finished, the panel wrapped up. I followed the group out to the lobby to see if I could get better closeups of some of them. Everyone was grinning and seemed really happy with how the panel went. I got my pictures and was going to head off to the Stargate cosplay panel on my own, but Jenny invited me to walk over with the group. This resulted in my getting even more great pictures. Thank you Jenny!

As you can see, all of the Superfans are incredibly talented people who have been making a huge contribution to Stargate fandom. I am very glad I got the chance to meet the whole group on their debut outing as Superfans. I will leave you for now with the write-up I promised on Pierre Bernard.

I had noticed during the Missing Link panel that Pierre Bernard had also scored a front row seat. He kindly let me swap into the seat next to him to get a better camera angle at one point. Pierre was a graphic artist for The Conan O'Brien Show. He did a sketch on the show called Recliner of Rage and after raging about Stargate SG-1 he was invited to be a zombie in the 200th episode. Click here for a YouTube link to the Conan footage. Pierre later did a cameo as Sargent O'Brien in the SG-1 episode Zero Hour. Here is the YouTube link to the Conan piece on Pierre's second SG-1 appearance. As you can see from the photograph, Pierre has a great sense of humor.
Marcia Middleton shows off a DragonCon program that Pierre Bernard did the cover art for.

Marcia Middleton and Pierre Bernard.

I will give you the scoop on the cosplay panel in my next post, and introduce you to the SG-Command cosplay group. I have been running onto one of them at conventions since the year 2000!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What Happened at Wondercon? -- Part 2 (Friday)

It was Friday morning, the first day of Wondercon, 2019, and I was on a mission to find the nearest Stargate.

My first sight of the MGM/Stargate Command booth on Friday morning.
Nothing looks more beautiful to a harde-core Stargate fan!

I had done my homework and already had my plan of attack formed. I was able to make a beeline straight to the Stargate Command/MGM booth to find the Stargate and get the scoop on anything Gate-related that I didn't already know about.

I immediately lucked out. The promised gate was standing proudly in the center of the booth and there was absolutely no line yet. Also, all ten of the Stargate Superfans had assembled for a morning briefing. I lost no time finding out who could give me permission to take photos during the briefing for my blog. I was introduced to Jenny Seelman Stiven (MGM) and David Read (Stargate Command) who cheerfully gave me the go ahead. I had met Jenny once before and was amazed that she remembered me. As a photographer, I am usually trying to blend into the background. David surprised me further by asking to interview me about my involvement in the fandom for Stargate Command.

I got some great candid shots of the Superfans and confirmed the times for the two Stargate panels that were held the next day (Saturday). I also posed with the gate, spun the wheel and won myself a pin and a mini-poster and purchased one of the exclusive Stargate Command pins. I will post a photo of it at a later date. For those wanting a look at it, there is a great picture of the pin included in Stargate Command's post that announced their presence at Wondercon. I was also able to confirm that Saturday would be "Stargate-day" at Wondercon.

Being interviewed by David Read was really fun. I got to talk a little about falling in love with Stargate, my death glider and knitting my own SG-1. I don't know if any of it will get used on Stargate Command, but it was definitely a highlight of my convention. On the whole, I had an awesome morning!

Here is a photo gallery of my Friday at Wondercon, 2019.

Stargate Superfans Assemble!

From left to right: Jenny Seelman Stiven (MGM) and Superfans Marcia Middleton (USA), Bra'zat (France), Nicole Rodriguez Galdo (UK) and Yvonne Cahill (Australia)

Superfans Sommer Roy (USA) and William Murphy (USA)
Superfans William Murphy (USA) and Nicole Saelzle (Germany)

Superfans Sonia Melinkoff (USA) and Taylor Underwood (USA)
Superfans Yvonne Cahill (UK) and Noah Miller (USA)

Superfan William Murphy wearing his official Superfan Panel 2019 patch

Note that the Stargate was double-sided. Fans could pose on both sides at the same time to have their pictures taken.

Spin the wheel and win something cool.
I took this picture at the booth of the sticker and pins fans could win. Lucky me, I went home with a complete set!

A member of the SGC team with the mini-poster that was one of the prizes.

Con-going Tip:
I have been attending Wondercon for some years now, and Comic-Con since the late 1990s. Like most fans of these two events, I have developed a strategy. Attending either of these mega-conventions can be made much more fun by doing a bit of homework in advance. Prior to Wondercon, I downloaded the latest update of the Comic-Con App on my phone. I then marked all of the panels, booths and games I wanted to go to as "favorites". This meant I had a map and timetable well in advance. I also packed a charging cord in my camera bag, to keep my phone working. A charged phone is my number one friend at one of Comic-Con International's events, and not just so I can access the App. Finding friends in a HUGE venue can be... well "difficult" is an understatement. Wondercon is not as large as Comic-Con, but it is still spread over multiple floors of several buildings. For me, being able to text and go online are as important as having my favorite camera lens handy.

Name Change:
I have decided that I need a new moniker to go with this blog. GraphicNovelGirl was great for chatting about graphic novels for children in Library circles. From here forward I wish to be known as...


Sunday, April 7, 2019

What Happened at Wondercon, 2019? -- Part One

For the past few weeks, the buzz in Stargate fandom has all centered around the Stargate Superfan Project and whether this means a new series might be in the works. Gate fans from around the world were asked to submit short films on Tongal's site telling what makes her/him a Superfan. Nine fans were originally chosen and announced on Stargate Command on March 5, 2019. An additional Superfan was added to the group just prior to Wondercon, bringing the total to ten.

Everyone has been asking me whether or not MGM will be making a new series. All I can tell you is this: no official announcement was made at Wondercon. But that does not mean we should give up hope on that score. By assembling a Superfan group, MGM certainly appears to be feeling us out. Seeing if the audience size and level of interest are large enough to support... something new. I asked Jenny Seelman Stiven of MGM and David Read of Stargate Command whether they could comment on what the future might hold. They told me they can not officially say anything about possible plans at this time. I asked how optimistic they were and they agreed that I could use the phrase, "guardedly optimistic." They also said that we the fans can best help by showing our interest in all things Stargate. I take that to mean fans showing up for conventions, visiting and posting on Stargate-related websites, even writing to MGM to tell them that we hope this big anniversary year brings something new. I encourage all of you to add a daily visit to the Stargate Command website to your normal fannish activities. Increased numbers there are guaranteed to be noticed. I'm really enjoying the content on the site too, but that's a blog for another day.

Did I apply to be a Superfan? Yes, but alas, I was not amongst those chosen. When I met the Superfans, it was easy to see why. The Superfans are all amazingly talented and have had a visible presence in our fandom for quite some time. Having just spent the weekend getting to know and photograph them all, I can also vouch for the fact that they are incredibly nice people as well.

Here is the list of Superfans as published on Stargate Command,with a couple of minor corrections, and the tenth fan added on:

The Official Stargate Superfan Panel:

Yvonne Cahill, Australia
Nicole Rodrigues Galdo, United Kingdom
Sonia Melinkoff, USA
Marcia Middleton, USA
Noah Miller, USA
William Murphy, USA
Nicole Saelzle, Germany
Bra'zat, France
Taylor Underwood, USA
Sommer Roy, USA

The Superfans were seated on the panel in more or less alphabetical order by first name. The three professionals Jenny Seelman Stiven, from MGM,  Kieran Dickson, from Stargate Command and Stephen Iwanyk, from Tongal, were seated closest to the podium. The pros spoke briefly about the selection process and showed clips from the Superfans' videos. Each of the Superfans was then introduced and and given a few minutes to talk about their contributions to Stargate fandom.

Over the next few posts, I will be introducing you to each of the Superfans. I am currently in the process of copyrighting my 700+ photographs from Wondercon and will begin posting those as soon as possible. I plan to come back to these first few posts and add pictures the second I'm able.

More very soon,

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

3...2...1... Blast off!

The enthusiasm with which fans of the Stargate franchise welcomed last year's Stargate: Origins appears to have given MGM big ideas. Leading up to Wondercon, 2019 there was a wave of excitement building in Stargate fandom and rumors flying that something new might just be in the works. MGM held a contest on Tongal, to select 10 Stargate Superfans and rumors began to circulate that there might be 'news' soon. This has me very hopeful and very excited.

I have been a fan since 1994, when Stargate the motion picture was first released in theaters. Right around the time it came out, I saw an article on the film in a magazine -- a big double-page spread of photographs -- and that was what did it for me. The Ancient Egyptian influence on the costumes and sets intrigued me. I made a point of going to see the film as soon as I could. Then I made a point of going to see it again.

I LOVE all things Ancient Egyptian and have since the first time I saw the collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I was about age three. That's about how old I was when my parents began taking my brother and I to museums. It was the jewelry that caught my attention at that young age. The mythology and the romance and wonder of discovery captured me once I could read for myself. Stargate has all of that plus alien spaceships. It really is my perfect movie.

Stargate: SG-1 turned out to be my perfect television series when it arrived on the scene. Honestly, all they had to say was Richard Dean Anderson was in. I was even ready to forgive them for messing with my favorite film. I'd watch RDA read the phone book. I know. That's very, very shallow of me. The thing is, I didn't find anything about SG-1 that I needed to forgive. Obviously they changed a few things. But the changes made sense to me. For the entire 10 year run, I never missed an episode. I hung in for all of the spinoffs and am still hoping there's more to this story.

I haven't been a particularly loud fan in the past. My 'thing' in fandom has always been photography. Really, it's my thing outside of fandom as well. It occured to me right before Wondercon that I could do something with that. I could bring all of the fans who wanted to be there but couldn't, along to the Con, if I captured it to share. I might just also help make some noise-- get the word out that I want more Stargate and so do a lot of other people from all over the world. So here goes...

Over the coming months, I will be sharing my photos from Wondercon, 2019 and those I took on visit to the SG-1 sets in 2001. I'll be delving into the history of the franchise and talking to people about where it might be going. I hope you will come along and explore this incredible universe with me.

Yours truly,