Indiana Comic Con

Join Us at the Indiana Comic Con!


We at GonnaGeek enjoy sharing our experiences about podcasting with others. During the Indiana Comic Con, GonnaGeek Vice President of Network Development Stargate Pioneer, whose podcasting credits include the Show, Better Podcasting, Legends of S.H.I.E.L.D., LoS Long Box Edition, and The Starling Tribune, and co-host of The Starling Tribune Michelle Ealey will host three panels about finding co-hosts, podcasting productively with others, and general podcasting tips.

The 2017 Indiana Comic Con is in Indianapolis and runs April 14 – 16.

On Friday, their panel, “FILLING THE EMPTY PODCAST CHAIR,” will be in Room 131 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.

On Saturday, their panel, “FINDING CO-HOSTS FOR YOUR PODCAST,” will be in Room 131 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

On Sunday, their panel, “HOW TO PRODUCTIVELY PODCAST WITH OTHERS,” will be in Room 131 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

The three panels have the following description:

Do you want to start a podcast, but need help finding co-hosts? Have you started a podcast, but need help finding a new co-host because someone left? Join veteran podcaster and GonnaGeek Vice President of Network Development Stargate Pioneer along with fan turned Starling Tribune co-host Michelle Ealey for a discussion on finding co-hosts for your podcast and tips for becoming a co-host on an established show.

If you are at the Indiana Comic Con, Stargate Pioneer and Michelle Ealey would like to meet you!

Information about Indiana Comic Con can be found here:

Schedule of events can change. To keep up to date about panels and other events, check here:

Highlight from Indiana Comic Con: Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park


During the recent Indiana Comic Con, I attended the “A Long Time Ago in a Q & A Far, Far Away” panel featuring two stars from the Star Wars universe, Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) and Ray Park (Darth Maul). There were no empty seats in the hall. Over the course of forty minutes, the duo answered questions from a moderator and fans.

Before he answered any questions, Ian, as Palpatine, growled, “Welcome to the Dark Side.”

The crowd roared. After the crowd settled, he recounted how the part of Palpatine came his way. He was working in theater when his agent called. The part came out of the blue. He went to a meeting with the director of Return of the Jedi, Richard Marquand, and George Lucas. On his way out, George said, “Nice nose,” to Ian. When he got back to his flat, his agent called and told him that he got the part. He accepted it after his agent told him that he would be playing “the Emperor of the Universe.”

Ray grew up loving action; his idols were Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Lee. He started studying martial arts around the age of seven. When Ray got called in for Phantom Menace, he hoped it was for a Jedi, but the Star Wars fan was stoked to be Darth Maul. For the look of Darth Maul, the makeup team tried a bald cap first, but it took over thirty minutes to get it on and glued. He figured he would be bald one day, so wanting to see if he had any scars on his head, Ray shaved his head. He ended up finding his shaved head liberating.

Makeup was a big part in creating the role of Palpatine for Ian. He confessed to not seeing The Empire Strikes Back before he got the role, so he didn’t know what the Emperor looked like. The first time Ian went in for makeup, the person suggested he go to sleep in the chair. Four hours later, Ian woke up, looked in the mirror, and screamed. He had found the Emperor. After Return of the Jedi, Ian thought he would never play Palpatine again, considering George Lucas told him that Palpatine was dead in all forms.

Thanks to technology, we got more Star Wars, and Ian was given a chance to explore more aspects of the role. As he read the script for The Phantom Menace, the character of Darth Sidious was more appealing than the ordinary politician, Senator Palpatine, the man playing a long, subtle game. He didn’t know they were the same man until the first day of filming with Ray. According to Ian, many of the actors didn’t realize he was both until the film was released.

Ray Park and Ian McDiarmid. Photo by Michelle Ealey

Ray Park and Ian McDiarmid. Photo by Michelle Ealey

To prepare himself for the role, Ray regularly trained with the stunt crew for about twelve hours a day, living the dream of playing with lightsabers. The stunts set the foundation for Darth Maul, but working with Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson helped him find the character because his fellow actors brought their characters to the fights.

Darth Maul pacing up and down during the last battle was George’s idea. Liam sitting and meditating wasn’t in the script; it was done during rehearsal, so he wasn’t sure of what to do. Ray tried to get a little Jean-Claude Van Damme in there somewhere, so he did the splits. George called cut, not liking the splits. Ray admitted that he was showing off, not knowing if he would ever get to work in another movie again. George told him he wanted Maul to be more like a caged animal, like a tiger.

The duo took questions from the audience.

A young fan asked if they liked playing the bad guy. Ray confessed that he had to learn to like playing the villain. Ian said that playing someone who is just bad can be dull. With the Emperor, he tried finding some redeeming features, but he could only find one – Palpatine enjoyed the opera, so he had to be a patron of the arts.

Ian got asked which character, Rey or Kylo Ren, would the Emperor want to train. He decided to answer as diplomatically as possible. The Emperor would want a young, lively mind, with an innocence that he can work on to convert to the dark side.

Another fan asked Ian what the inspiration was for the voice of the Emperor. Ian was surprised that he had to work on the voice to make sure his voice wasn’t replaced, something George Lucas has done before. He was told that if he could get his voice close to Clive Revill, the original voice of the Emperor, then he could keep it. After he had seen the face of the Emperor, Ian thought he looked like a repellent toad, which became the starting point for finding the voice. Seeing a performance by a Japanese actor whose voice seemed to come from the stomach motivated Ian to try to do the same. He practiced getting his voice as deep as possible. During rerecording of the dialogue in postproduction, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were there, encouraging him. Spielberg said at one point, “Oh my God, you’re so evil.” Ian was please that his hard work got to stay in the film

And then I got to ask my question.

Me: I’m curious, what do you, my Emperor, think of the fan theory that Jar Jar Binks is some sort of Sith Lord?

Ian: I like Jar Jar. I really loved the actor who played him, Ahmed Best, a wonderful actor and a great original talent. I wish George had concentrated on Ahmed instead of making him the first digitized creature, but there was a whole section in Clones where the Emperor had reason to be grateful to the creature and George cut it, I think because he felt the fans had had enough of him, but I have affection for him, and I think George still does. But as to whether he engineered any plot or had any sort of interesting plan hatched for the Emperor is a little farfetched. But we shouldn’t be too cruel on him.


The Emperor has spoken. Jar Jar is just Jar Jar.

Highlight from the 2016 Indiana Comic Con: Brent Spiner


During the 2016 Indiana Comic Con, I attended a panel featuring Brent Spiner, best known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spiner has also worked on other sci-fi projects; he’s the voice of Gall Trayvis on Star Wars Rebels, and he is reprising his role from Independence Day – Dr. Brakish Okun lives again in Independence Day: Resurgence.

Mr. Spiner has quite the sense of humor. He started the panel by saying, “Welcome to the Indiana Comic Con, I’m Brent Spiner, your moderator for today. The buses are right outside. Please do not be unruly when getting on the buses. We’re going to take you to St. Elmo’s for lunch.” [St. Elmo Steak House has been in Indianapolis since 1902.]

And the jokes continued throughout the entire panel.

The moderator hasn’t asked a question yet, but Mr. Spiner is a pro at attending cons, so he knows how to handle himself.

“This is a really nice town. I’m serious. A lot of people, when I come to their town to do a convention, they say to me, ‘How do you like our city?’ And I usually say, ‘Not so much.’ Isn’t that the most leading question? What are you supposed to say? ‘Oh, it’s just great. I love it.’ But Indianapolis really is nice. What’s the deal? I live in L.A. It’s not so nice.”

The moderator chimed in, “We have water.”

Brent replied, “You have water. Yeah, that’s true. We do not have water. We have vodka.”

He then explained why he felt his voice wasn’t 100%. “A couple of weeks ago I was doing looping. Do you know what looping is? It’s when you make a movie, after the movie has been shot, while they’re editing it, sometimes they bring the actors in later because an airplane was going over while we were saying something or they just thought you were lousy, and they have you redo dialogue to picture. They watch you listen, they give you three counts, you then come in on the fourth one and try to match your lips. And I had to scream because I was doing Independence Day 2.

The crowd cheered. He continued, “That’s right, I’m alive. And no one can be happier about it than I. Well, perhaps you. I am the happiest. And I had to scream, and I remember later that when I actually did it on the set, I sorta prepared for it and did it properly and supported my diaphragm and did it correctly. For some reason, in the looping stage, I threw caution to the wind and just screamed. And I haven’t been able to talk for two weeks, not properly. I hope one day my voice will come back.”

Brent Spiner enters his Indiana Comic Con panel. Photo by Michelle Ealey

Brent Spiner enters his Indiana Comic Con panel. Photo by Michelle Ealey

When asked if he thought Star Trek: The Next Generation would last as long as it did, he replied, “No. I had no idea. I thought basically I’m going to pay my rent, which I owed at that point, and it would be on for a year, and hasta la vista. That was almost thirty years ago. And it’s still going on. I’m still here, talking to you about it. People still shout the character’s name in my face. Who knew I could have that joy?”

He is happy that there will be a new Star Trek series. “But I am excited the series continuing, the show continuing, because I think Star Trek is the great American epic. It really it is. I am a Star Wars fan, I love Star Wars, it is a wonderful thing they’re doing more of it, but there have been 800 and something hours of Star Trek. They’ll never catch up at this point. I think there’s Doctor Who, there’s James Bond, there’s Star Trek, there’s Star Wars, but Star Trek is the great American epic. I hope it goes forever. It very well might. I mean fifty years this year. You know once something goes fifty years, you sorta have to take it seriously.’”

The moderator mentions that he has worked with Patrick Stewart, and he immediately goes into a perfect imitation of Sir Patrick. “You know I can still do his voice even better that I’ve lost mine. You know, perhaps that’s what I’ll do, I’ll become Patrick.” He briefly discussed how funny Patrick is on Blunt Talk, which Brent has appeared on.

Before he got the role on TNG, Brent was doing theater in New York. He auditioned for a part in Little Shop of Horrors, and he got offered a role in the show, but not in New York; he got offered a part in the L.A. show. On the last night of the L.A. run, a casting director helped him get work. He worked on various projects including Night Court as Bob Wheeler and on Hill Street Blues as Larry Stein. Eventually he got a call from his agent about a new Star Trek series. After he read the script, he auditioned for the casting director. He couldn’t tell from the script if they wanted Data to be more machine or more human, so he made a choice to go more human than machine. Six auditions later, the part was his.

At first, he watched TNG when they aired, but soon quit. “In truth, I’ve only seen about twenty of the ones we did. I started watching it when it was first on to see what we were doing, and then it occurred to me this was sort of redundant because I had read them, I had acted on them, I really didn’t need to watch them. And I was also spending so much time. We shot for sixteen hours a day, almost every day, so ten months out of the year we did over twenty episodes a year, so I figured out I was Data more than I was myself. Then to watch them, literally there was almost none of me left, so I decided to watch other things and act on the show.”

Although days were long on set, they had a lot of fun. “We really pretty much all enjoyed each other. I enjoyed working with everybody on the show, except for Dorn.” The crowd laughed. “We had a good time, we laughed all day long, every day. And we laughed most when we were doing serious scenes. The more serious the scene, the more trouble we had getting through them.”

Brent Spiner at the 2016 Indiana Comic Con. Photo by Michelle Ealey

Brent Spiner at the 2016 Indiana Comic Con. Photo by Michelle Ealey

During the last part of the panel, Brent took questions from the fans. Fortunately, I was able to ask a question.

Me: I was raised on the films with the original cast, and that’s what got me interested in science. I’m actually a science teacher, so I feel like I’ve earned this color [I was wearing my science officer blue Star Trek hoodie]. Have you had any fans come up to you and say it’s because of Data, it’s because of Next Generation that got them into science?

Brent Spiner: We did this series and it was just, our idea was to entertain people, that was our work, we’re actors, that’s it, nothing more important. We just wanted to do the best we could with the material, that’s our job, you illuminate the material as best you can, the author’s intent, and entertain people, and I was perfectly satisfied doing that. That’s what I wanted to be doing. But subsequently, in the last few years in particularly, so many people have come up to me and said, “I’m a doctor, I’m a scientist, or I do research, or I do physics or whatever, and it’s because I was so dedicated to Next Generation and it inspired me to do these things.” It’s kind of overwhelming if you think of this. It’s really just an ancillary thing, it’s nothing we planned on. But the impact, it just landed in such a profound way that we had nothing to with really. I’ll tell you what though, there’s one thing that even more that means more to me than anything and that is, I’ve had a lot of young people come up to my table when I’m signing autographs or whatever, and say, “I have Asperger’s or I am autistic or in that spectrum, and when I was a kid, the only character I could relate to on television was Data.” For obvious reasons, because of his struggle to understand emotion and humanity and so on. I actually met Dr. Oliver Sacks, who wrote Awakenings and an expert on autism, and he came to my trailer while I was shooting and said, “You’re the poster child for autism.” And I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time, but now I do, and it really is so overwhelming and moving to think that we had that sort of impact. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time because I think I would have pushed to the writers further to do more about that, and I probably would have ruined everything. But it’s been a very rewarding thing to see the ancillary impact the show had.

I was not expecting such a beautiful and heartfelt answer, and I appreciate the time he took to answer my question and go beyond it as well.

September 8, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Like Mr. Spiner, I hope Star Trek continues far into the future.