2020 was a year that upended all expectations. Though the threats that 2020 brought affected people in a variety of ways, for most it became a year of simple survival. For nerds, of course, we turn to the things that occupy our attention, inspire our imagination, or generate conversation. This year, we are looking at the things that helped us survive 2020. Today, Kyrun Silva––creator at Taurus Comics and co-host of the Con Artists podcast on this very website––shares what kept his spirits up this year.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: 2020 sucked for most of us. For me it sucked a lot. No comic book conventions, no family gatherings, no martial arts training (which also meant I didn’t get my black belt this year, maybe next year; who knows?), and so many other things. 2020 will be a year that remembered forever, but even through all this turmoil Some things still brought joy to my life. A few of those joys were geeky things. While my family’s love (and the sheer variety) of anime––a mainstay of my 2019––allowed us to explore all of the feelings that came with the pandemic, there was one thing in particular that––aside from annoying my wife for half the year––really hit me hard.
I have to admit, ever since July happened my family hasn’t been the same.
July 3rd, 2020 was the exact day. It was a warm evening. Dinner had been consumed, and we sat down to relax. Instead of watching more anime, I suggested we watch Hamilton, which had just been released on Disney+.
I heard about Hamilton over the years. I even watched a couple of YouTube videos showing clips of the original cast performing on stage, off stage, and in the White House. For years, my wife and I tried to get tickets to see it live. When news got out that Disney had bought the rights to stream it, I knew I had to watch it. From the opening couple of notes I was hooked. The music, the voices, the pageantry, the dances, I loved every minute of Hamilton. Maybe a little too much.
The entire musical is three hours long with an intermission in the middle. For my wife it probably felt like an eternity. The problem is, after my first viewing, my love for Hamilton didn’t end. One viewing turned into two, then three, and soon became double digits.
I quickly found the soundtrack and lyrics online and soon began singing the entire musical all day every day. My enthusiasm for this phenomenon spread to my oldest son, who quickly joined me in my madness. He and I started taking different parts of the show––he, as Alexander Hamilton; me, as Aaron Burr. Then my two youngest joined us.
My wife was not amused. She said I was a grifter1 of sorts, tricking them into liking the show. I say they just have good taste.
I became a Hamilton zealot, searching from anything I could get my hands on about the musical. My browser history became filled with searches of the cast and crew. Even to the point where I started watching the show Station 19 because Okieriete Onaodowan, an actor from the musical, was now on the show. Side note: I already watched all the episodes of Black-ish that featured another Hamilton cast member in Daveed Diggs.
Hamilton is still played at least once a week in my household. Yes, the enthusiasm may have died off a little, but the love is there.
2020 was a crazy year. Though I wasn’t able to consume my geekdom in ways I had been accustomed to in the past, I found alternatives that filled that void and helped bring my family together. We’ve created new memories together that will strengthen my family’s ties and give us something to look back on years down the line.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew enthusiastically plays the 2nd edition of Pathfinder, despite not fully enjoying the first edition, while D. Bethel gets really excited to play an adventure game based on one of his favorite comics, Blacksad, but gets horribly disappointed by Blacksad: Under the Skin.
DC DECONSTRUCTED: News of a major restructuring of DC Comics by WarnerMedia last week set the comics world ablaze with speculation and worry. D. Bethel and Andrew try to parse the information and speculate on what it could mean not only for DC Comics but for comics in general.
LOWER THE SHIELD: Over seven seasons, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comes to a close. Our hosts’ appreciation for the show––especially this final season––has not been a secret. Now that is has ended, they finally––finally––talk about the final season and the show it brought to a close. SPOILERS ABOUND for the final season, especially the two-part finale.
WEEK IN GEEK: As is often the case with our hosts: everything old is new again. Andrew plans to take on the psychological strangeness ofAtlus’ Catherine in the recently released “definitive” version of the 2011 game called Catherine: Full Body. D. Bethel actually steps outside the realm of Xavier’s School for the Gifted to try out a different Marvel hero, The Silver Surfer, in the 2019 limited series, Silver Surfer: Black, by Donny Cates, Tradd Moore, and Dave Stewart.
#RELEASETHETAYLORCUT: With a bunch of DC Comics-related news dropping this week, we had to light the Taylor signal to bring in our resident DC expert and Senior Optimist Reporter, Taylor Katcher, to talk about the release of the infamous “Snyder Cut” of 2017’s Justice League on the forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max. Also discussed is the shocking news that Ruby Rose would be stepping down from the lead role on Batwoman after the first season (and had already been renewed for a second).
NEWS BLAST (COVID-19 EDITION): A lot of stuff is going on amid the global pandemic, and Andrew and D. Bethel are here to talk about it (if Dan actually was able to record his audio this time). They talk about the AMC theater chain shunning Universal Pictures amid Trolls World Tour‘s success, Civilization VI‘s bold new plan for a year’s worth of DLC and expansions, Marvel and DC Comics are shipping books again, The Flash has an abbreviated season (ending on somewhat of a downbeat), and New Mutants gets a theatrical release date…again.
SHELTER AT HOME: With both hosts hometowns under a “shelter at home” quarantine, they discuss how they’ve had to adjust their behavior to continue their normal nerdy procedures. To that end, Andrew discusses playing tabletop RPGs online using the Roll20 website and the teleconferencing program, Zoom. D. Bethel, on the other hand, talks about comic book distribution and how the major (only?) comics distributor, Diamond Comics, decreed that it will cease ordering (and shipping) new comics immediately; Dan talks about how this affects him and, more importantly, how it affects local comic shops.
Here is a look at the virtual tabletop Andrew created for his game of Spectaculars:
Also, here is the video made by Sacramento comic shop proprietor, Ben Schwartz––owner of Empire’s Comics Vault––laying out the dilemma of comic shop owners in the time of the quarantine (especially before Diamond stopped shipping):
CRISIS ON INFINITE TAYLORS: With another, even bigger crossover of the DC/CW shows, we had to have friend-of-the-show and Senior Optimist Reporter, Taylor Katcher, come onto the show to talk with Andrew and D. Bethel about the glorious mess that was “Crisis on Infinite Earths” that saw Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fight to save the multiverse.
Katcher, Taylor and Taylor Cassell. “2019: Nerd Endings.” A Website [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes. 13 January 2020.
Where the Taylors wrote about watching all of the nerd stuff during 2019.
“Episode 152 – My Own Finger” (05 January 2018): Where D. Bethel and Andrew brought Taylor on to bring them up to speed on all things DC Comics with his first “State of the DCE-Union.” It is also Dan’s favorite custom show image that he ever made:
“Guestcast 03 – Muted Police Action” (07 December 2018): Where D. Bethel took the week off so Andrew and Taylor could talk about another DCCW crossover event, “Elseworlds.”
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew talks about becoming enraptured by the first episode of the new CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Picard while D. Bethel enjoys the poignant but strange end to a creative team’s long run on Batman with the DC Comics’ Black Label series, Batman: Last Knight on Earth by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.