We watched THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 premiere like millions of others. So…that happened. But in this special episode, world-renowned zombie scholar Arnold T. Blumberg (the Doctor himself), as well as producer/co-host and fellow horror aficionado Scott Woodard, explain why they are now done with that series. If you care to hear their informed opinions about why TWD has now gone too far for even a zombie expert, listen on! The guys also cover the latest two episodes of the must-watch series Z NATION, which remains an entertaining balance of horror, humor, and human nature!
It was back to the Walker Stalker convention for the first weekend in October, this time held outside Philadelphia, PA! We arrived on the 1st of the month – the 48th anniversary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – and had a wonderful time meeting new friends and reuniting with a few old ones. And best of all, it was time for me to meet up with the folks from Z NATION!
Brace yourself, because this is a huge photo-essay with over 40 pictures (including a few animated GIFs)…or is that 50?…and every one of them has a caption that tells part of the story! And that was pared down from over 700! On we go…
Oh, one last thing. My father, Marvin Blumberg, is as big a Z NATION fan as DOCTOR OF THE DEAD co-host and producer Scott Woodard and I are, and since his birthday was just days earlier on September 29th, I asked the cast if they wouldn’t mind recording a brief greeting…
And that’s all from Walker Stalker Philly 2016! Until next time!
I’ve been appearing at Walker Stalker Conventions since 2014 (even though I was introduced as a newcomer at the start of this one, but what can ya do), but never before have I had as much fun or been as delighted to be involved in programming as I was this July 9-10 at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey for the 2016 Walker Stalker Con New Jersey! Let me tell you all about it…
In past years, I’ve only been able to appear for one day, but fortunately this time I had the chance to work both days of this sprawling show. Having moved the New Jersey event to this location for the first time, the convention clearly benefitted from the increased space, and they had no trouble packing in crowds on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the number one draw was none other than Daryl Dixon himself, Norman Reedus, but there were many other fellow THE WALKING DEAD cast members in attendance as well as FEAR THE WALKING DEAD cast, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD‘s Russ Streiner, other actors, artists, vendors, and even a certain world-renowned zombie expert known as the “Doctor of the Dead!”
DAY ONE: Saturday kicked off at 10:45am with a roundtable panel in which several of us, including a random fan chosen from the audience, discussed the TWD Season 6 finale and what might lay ahead for our heroes in Season 7. When asked to sum up the series in one word, I mused about it for a moment then realized what it had to be: “humanity.”
That was supposed to be my one and only panel for Saturday, but I was asked to step in and handle some on-stage interviews when original moderator Jason Cabassi was unable to make it to the show until Sunday. First up, a delightful chat with IronE “T-Dog” Singleton and Scott “Hershel” Wilson at 11:30am. Probably the best part of this panel was discovering what a strong bond these two actors had forged in their short time together on the show.
My next panel wasn’t until 4pm, so until then G2V’s newest contributor Natalie Litofsky and I did a turn or two around the floor, checking out some vendors and discovering just what a huge crowd Norman Reedus had drawn; no shock there. I caught a glimpse of Elvira herself, Cassandra Peterson, and I also had time to say hi to DOCTOR OF THE DEAD guest Roger Ma, author of THE ZOMBIE COMBAT MANUAL.
By the time we returned to the stage area, we caught the end of a phenomenal live art presentation by Rob Prior, who dazzled the audience with a dynamic two-handed painting style as he crafted a deadly accurate rendition of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.
Then at 4pm, it was time to head back on stage to interview Deanna Monroe herself, the incredibly energetic Tovah Feldshuh. From anecdotes about wearing zombie make-up in her final TWD appearance to stories of family and famous career highlights, she kept the audience in rapt attention and even gave them a rendition of “Neverland” from PETER PAN. And then it was time to head out and rest up for Sunday!
DAY TWO: Although shorter, my Sunday schedule was a perfect capper for a great weekend. At 2pm I took the stage with Jason Cabassi for my very own panel on the “State of the Zombie” in 2016. Talking about ZOMBIEMANIA, my University of Baltimore zombie college course, DOCTOR OF THE DEAD, and my opinions on the current state of zombie film, TV, and beyond, we had a great time chatting about all kinds of zombies living and dead, as well as fielding questions from the audience.
For my final panel of Walker Stalker New Jersey 2016, I couldn’t have picked a better interview subject than Tyreese himself, Chad L. Coleman. It was an all-too-short hour of discussion about the craft of acting, the deeper meaning of a show about zombies and post-apocalyptic survival, and even conversation about how artists provide meaningful reflection on our culture in troubled times like these.
It’s also worth noting that Michael “Abraham” Cudlitz and the Walker Stalker team have turned a growing social media fan reference to Abraham’s “Bisquick” quip on the show into an impressive charity drive that encourages fans to bring Bisquick and other non-perishable food items, which are then distributed to local food banks at convention’s end. And as Cudlitz himself tweeted, the drive is doing very well indeed:
Having spent many years in the comics industry working conventions like the San Diego and New York Comic-Cons, and appearing as a guest at DOCTOR WHO shows since 2001, I can definitely say that in such a short time the Walker Stalker team has distinguished itself as capable of putting on events that are a delight for everyone involved. I look forward to the next time I get to slip on the ol’ skull shirt and see everyone again…perhaps Philadelphia in October? Until then!
E3 2016 is now in the history books! From new consoles and intellectual property announcements to a huge push for virtual reality, this year has arguably been one of the strongest in recent memory.
To those unfamiliar with E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is an annual conference held to celebrate and sell upcoming visual entertainment. First and third party companies such as Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Bethesda use the conference to advertise their upcoming products to consumers and retailers. Normally the conference is only open to industry insiders, but don’t worry; below I have your inside scoop to the Top 10 Announcements from E3 2016!
10) Xbox Announces Two New Consoles
Only Microsoft can unveil a brand new console at the start of their press conference and then announce that it’s outdated by the end of said conference.
The opening moments of the Microsoft press event began with a trailer revealing an entirely new console. August will see the release of the Xbox One S – a 4K-enabled, 40% slimmer system. Starting at $299, the Xbox One S was going to be a great jumping-in point for anybody who has yet to purchase an Xbox One.
Then, as the conference came to a close, a second trailer was shown. Microsoft revealed that the 2017 holiday season would see the release of the Xbox Scorpio, with over 4x the power of the current Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles, leaving audiences with little reason to buy the newly revealed Xbox One S system!
Xbox One S Announcement:
Xbox Scorpio Announcement:
9) After 10 Years, Prey Makes a Return
PREY 2 was originally announced in March 2011; the proposed sequel to the 2006 cult classic PREY was then never heard from again. Fans waited with bated breath for any word on the sequel, but were met with only silence from developer Bethesda.
Over five years passed until E3 2016, when Bethesda treated their fans to a mysterious and jaw-dropping trailer introduced with little fanfare, confusing audiences for its entire run…that is, until in its final moments, a logo appeared: PREY.
The sequel has been reworked from the ground up as a reboot to the 10-year-old original title. However, only time will tell if fans of the cult classic will embrace this series restart.
Watch the Prey Trailer Here:
8) Bound Proves Games are Art
The late Roger Ebert published an infamous article in April 2010 titled “Video Games Can Never Be Art.” The renowned film critic wrote “Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.”
Although I have long believed Ebert was proven wrong in 2012 with the release of JOURNEY (the first Grammy-nominated video game soundtrack in history), I would also posit the upcoming release of BOUND, an experimental game which utilizes a modern art visual style and balletic character movements to tell a deep and mature story. View the trailer below, and ask yourself if Ebert may have been mistaken!
7) Star Trek and Star Wars Race to Virtual Reality
Earlier this year, both the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and the Valve/HTC-owned Vive released virtual reality headsets. On October 13th, Sony PlayStation will release its own VR headset; at this point, it’s safe to say virtual reality is here to stay.
This was further proven over the past week with the announcement of two upcoming VR experiences, the Ubisoft-produced STAR TREK: BRIDGE CREW and the EA-led STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT: X-WING VR MISSION. These titles will arrive this fall, and with their release the dreams of millions of geeks everywhere will finally be achieved!
View the Star Trek: Bridge Crew Trailer Here:
View the Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission Trailer Here:
6) Enjoy a Nice Grog with Sea of Thieves
Have you ever wanted to share some grog with a few friends and then drunkenly board and pillage a peaceful passing ship? Look no further than SEA OF THIEVES!
Shown during the Microsoft press event, this was easily the highlight of the show. The online game places you and a group of friends at the helm of your very own pirate ship. Each player has a job, from captain to crew, and it’s up to you to sail and pillage your way across the high seas. If you encounter another ship of live players, then let out your best “Arrr!” and prepare to attack; when the cannon fire subsides, only one ship will remain afloat!
Watch the Reveal Gameplay Here:
5) We Happy Few Just Wants You to be Happy
The E3 2016 trailer alone earns WE HAPPY FEW a place at #5 on this list. The Orwellian nightmare presented in Compulsion Games’ upcoming release is simultaneously intriguing and terrifying.
The premise? A fresh take on the oft-used dystopian world, where pills of “Joy” are used to blind the populace from the horrors around them. The trailer, linked below, is a must see.
We Happy Few Trailer:
4) Zelda Gets a Title
ZELDA WII U was announced back at E3 2014. Since then, we have seen only bits and pieces of the new release in the genre-defining series. That ended this year, as we not only got a title but hours of in-game footage!
ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD takes the next logical steps for the franchise. The player once again controls protagonist Link as he enters a large formidable world filled with dungeons, dangers, and pots that need breaking.
In a change for the series, the world has become as much of a character as the people and monsters that inhabit it. Survival is a key aspect of BREATH OF THE WILD, and players will need to hunt, cook, and eat to stay alive.
Watch the Trailer Here:
3) Son of the God of War
What journey could possibly surpass a six-game series which culminates in the brutal deaths of the entire Greek pantheon of Mount Olympus? This is the question Sony had to entertain, as one of their leading franchises began to grow stale; the answer, we found out this past week, was fatherhood.
Taking the franchise away from its ultra-violent solo killing roots, the new GOD OF WAR places you from start to finish with your AI-controlled son. Its intention is to show a vulnerability to the god-killing Kratos as well as a present the anti-hero with a challenge he cannot simply tackle with his weapons.
Watch the Reveal Gameplay Here:
2) Resident Evil 7 Reinvents the Series
RESIDENT EVIL 6 was not a good game; in fact, it was almost universally despised by both fans and critics. This year, to mark the 20th anniversary of the original RESIDENT EVIL, something needed to change…and change it did!
During Sony’s E3 press conference, a trailer began for an unknown virtual reality game. Told from a first person VR perspective, the trailer was as deeply horrifying as it was fascinating. Just as the trailer brought the audience to the edge of their seats, it dropped a metaphorical hydrogen bomb: the game was RESIDENT EVIL 7!
No single part of the video looked remotely like the previous six games in the series. Capcom has taken critical feedback to heart, and has entirely reinvented the franchise from the ground up. This culminated in a grand reveal, and a demo was quickly online for the world to try. Having played the demo, I can personally say that I am both thrilled and terrified to dive into this VR experience in January!
Watch the Trailer Here:
1) Death Stranding and the Return of Kojima
For fans of Hideo Kojima, E3 2016’s greatest moment was when one of gaming’s foremost creators spoke the words, “I’m back.”
This past year saw Kojima separated from parent company Konami after 30 years of creative development on their flagship series METAL GEAR. It was a long and bitter breakup which saw the creator forcibly removed from the franchise he had birthed on the original Nintendo. This story came to a positive conclusion though, when Sony PlayStation offered to produce Hideo Kojima’s next solo project, now unveiled as DEATH STRANDING.
Built using in-game assets and a stark naked Norman Reedus of THE WALKING DEAD fame, DEATH STRANDING tells the visually striking tale of Kojima’s next project. Many fans also believe the video acts as a parallel for Kojima’s own life and the loss of his creation, METAL GEAR.
Watch the Trailer Here:
Do you agree or disagree with the list? If so, we would love to hear from you! What other moments from this year’s E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo caught your attention? Feel free to reach out on Facebook and Twitter, or comment right here to let us know your thoughts!
Arnold and Scott take the plunge and dive into the first two episodes of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Season 2, but they’re soon treading water and change course to chat about another water-logged zombie classic called SHOCK WAVES! Try not to drift too far off shore as this episode washes over you with wave after wave of disappointing storytelling, bland characterization, and a few Nazi zombies with goggles!