Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this




By Nadin Abbott 

Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott   

July 23, 2013 (San Diego) – There is more to Comic-Con than Game of Thrones or cool costumes. Yes, there are plenty of incredible costumes. We promise to show you that aspect of the Convention later in the article with the Steam Punk reunion that happened on Saturday. That said, Comic-Con also has a strong educational aspect to it.

You may sit with Maxwell Alexander Drake, author of the Genesis of Oblivion Saga, winner of the Moonbean Fantasy Award Winner for Excellence in Literature. This year he taught in depth how-to writing panels. Then there is Meryl Jaffe, PhD of the Center for Talented Youth at John Hopkins University, who uses graphic novels in education. 

First we will cover Meryl Jafffe’s comments on comics during a forum run by the Comic Legal Defense Fund. The forum started with the history of comics and kids. She admitted to the forum that, “I was one of those parents who said to my kids, ‘Don’t think you are taking those books out of the library.’”

She added that when she was growing up, the popular comics were Archie and a few detectives, but those books were “not what I wanted my kids to read.” She added that her children ran an intervention on her and proved to her that these books had value to them, educational value.

Her children sat down with her and said, “If you are interested in literacy, you must look at graphic novels,” she recalled. Jaffe told them to prove it. They did. These days Jaffe emphasizes that these graphic novels can be used to teach Core Curriculum starting as early as grade school.

As ECM covered during the convention, March, which recounts the life of Congressman John Lewis, can effectively be used to teach the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Now on to Drake and his contribution to the show.

Drake started the how-to panels. These are instructional panels intended to teach prospective writers how to write. How did he get into this at Comic-Con? As Drake told ECM, it was "the right time, right place, trying to meet the right people."   

These programs are relatively new. "The first time I talked at Comic-Con was three years ago, and I wasn't coming that year," he recalled.  Following a last minute cancellation, Maxwell had to plan a trip to Comic-Con three weeks before the convention. He stayed at a hotel at Tijuana. For the next year he was invited almost after the convention was over, almost a full year in advance.

"The how-to sessions are more in-depth in specifics. For example the ‘anatomy of a fight scene’ today, I went into the tricks that I use, the tools that I use," he noted. 

You can find more about his novels at

Visit his site at   

We also had a chance to talk the very creative experts who have created incredible costumes, among them Grady Keeton from East County.

ECM asked Keeton, who is an engineer by trade, what is Steampunk?

He described it as “Victorian Era science fiction, where things developed a little differently than they did” in our timeline.

Some elements include the development of ray guns, or lasers in the 19th century. There is also time travel. Keeton was wearing a field jacket in the British style, made famous by movies, and carried a Pith helmet.

As far as costume and character creation, he said that this allows for a lot of variation. “You might see a Victorian dress with something that looks far more modern.”

He added, “You could see the work of Jules Verne as one of the earliest representations of the genre.” It is very elaborate, and in his hobby group, members hail from all over the county. 

We also had a chance to speak with Jimmy Diggs, who is best known for his work in Star Trek. Diggs is currently developing a series.

Diggs told ECM that he was attracted to Steampunk because “I love good science fiction. Science fiction that fires up the imagination.”

Diggs added that this genre “is very collaborative.” This is not studio based, but rather fan based. This is also the future, and it is as if George Lucas started Star Wars after fans created Wookies, Storm Troopers, and the rest of it, he suggested.

He said about fans of the genre, “The people who are involved in Steampunk are highly imaginative, creative people.”

Diggs also raised another important aspect to the genre. “Fifty percent of the fan base for Steampunk is female; it is the most female driven genre of science fiction out there. And I love that!”

The project itself is going to be on Kickstarter, and the motto is ”The Future Is in Your Hands.” They will literally let fans decide how episode ends, and how plot arcs will develop.

The reason for this is that the universe created by Diggs subscribes to the multiverse theory of quantum mechanics. This means that every decision you make will affect the time line. In this universe, H.G Wells wrote novels to warn of the future. The first was War of the Worlds, later made famous by Orson Welles’ radio broadcast on October 30, 1938 that panicked audiences mistook for an actual news broadcast.

In this universe he also co-invented all his technology with Nikola Tesla. Time travel and parallel universes are real, fans believe. The novels are a place where Wells hides the clues of many futures, and the Martians will come back.

In the series, actual historical figures will be part of it. For example two episodes will feature Sigmund Freud. Another will feature Mark Twain. The series is called “The Crypto Historians.”

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.