Val Staples is not only a highly-talented comic creator and colorist -- he's also a massive Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats fan! Now the editor of He-Man.org is working with a group of dedicated fans to bring their love for these beloved 1980s cartoons and toy lines to the world of fan conventions as one of the organizers of Power-Con / Thundercon 2011 -- being held September 24 – 25 in Los Angeles! We chatted with Staples about the conventions and being a fan:
MTV Geek: How long have you been a Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats fan?
Val Staples: I've been a Masters of the Universe fan all my life. The world of He-Man fueled my imagination growing up. That love never died even when the original vintage toy line ended in the late 80s. I've been an active member of the online fan community since the mid 90s. For over 10 years I've helped operate He-Man.org, the largest He-Man and She-Ra fan site in the world. I've also worked on multiple projects for He-Man over the past 10 years, including toy packaging art, DVD art and our MVCreations comic that came out in 2002. A big chunk of my life has been about He-Man and She-Ra.
While I give most of my attention to He-Man, ThunderCats is a property I've always admired. I get my ThunderCats fix from cool fan sites like thundercatsnow.com and thundercatslair.org. I always wanted to do more with ThunderCats and we were SO close to working a deal back in 2003 to do a ThunderCats/He-Man comic book crossover with WildStorm. I'm not much for crossovers but that was one that was a dream of mine. It would have been a ton of fun and I wish it could have happened.
Geek: How did you get the idea for Power-Con and ThunderCon?
VS: Fans have been wanting a convention for He-Man and ThunderCats for as long as I can remember. And I'm a firm believer that the best conventions are started by fans with a passion. I had been pondering how to start one. Then ironically around the same time, some other fans with convention experience came to me to help put it all together. Since then, we've all been working on the show.
We were originally going to start with two separate shows. But as we began searching for the Power-Con location at the start of 2011, the excitement for the new ThunderCats toy line and cartoon really picked up. So given the kinship ThunderCats and He-Man/She-Ra fans have had online for the past decade, we thought, "Why not go ahead and have a duel event for the first year?" This way ThunderCats fans get to sample He-Man and She-Ra and vice versa. Afterwards we can really gear up for 2012 once we discover first hand what more fans want from the show.
Geek: What can we expect from Power-Con and ThunderCon?
A great sampling of almost everything from these properties. We're looking at all the different elements and eras and putting together a buffet of entertainment.
I know a lot of other fans are like me in that they love more intimate shows. Massive conventions are great but you never can see everything and you can sometimes be overwhelmed. With Power-Con and ThunderCon you're not only in a place with fans like yourself, but you can also spend some time chatting with your favorite creators. The goal is to make fans feel like part of the event as opposed to being a spectator.
Geek: Who are the special guests will be attending?
VS: Fans can come out to chat with original He-Man toy designers Mark Taylor and Ted Mayer. They can shake hands with the great painter and illustrator Earl Norem who did some of the most iconic paintings from the vintage He-Man era. They can share a laugh with Dean Stefan, lead story editor on the 2002 Mike Young Productions He-Man cartoon. They can get their vintage mini-comics signed by Don Glut, the original writer of those stories. And, they can meet the great Larry Kenney, the voice of Lion-O from the original cartoon and the voice of Claudius, Lion-O's and Tygra's Father in the new ThunderCats cartoon. Plus there are many other incredible guests confirmed for the show that we will be revealing week to week over the course of the next month and a half. It's going to be great.
Geek: Can you tell me something about how big, and active, the He-Man and ThunderCats fan communities are?
VS: The He-Man and She-Ra community is very active and very large. For many years they've only had their love for the properties to maintain their passion and swell their ranks. He-Man.org's patronage rivals a number of the pop culture news and toy/cartoon nostalgia sites, even some where recent big-budget animated and live-action projects helped bring in new interest. He-Man is also big in Germany where there are several large communities. All of these fans are loyal, numerous and hungry for more things He-Man and She-Ra.
ThunderCats is the same way. For a property that hasn't had anything major to invigorate it since the 80s, there are several active communities with many dedicated fans. And, it makes sense. He-Man, ThunderCats, Transformers and GI Joe made up the "big four" of the 80s boys toys brands. It's only natural there are still many fans today.
Geek: Would you like to see a new animated He-Man revamp...or even a new major motion picture?
That's a no-brainer. :-D
The answer is: YES! I want both.
ThunderCats fans are already seeing their dreams fulfilled. Just take a look at the trailers for the new ThunderCats cartoon. Both that and the toys look outstanding! I was blown away when I got to see the toys at this year's New York Toy Fair.
For He-Man, it's been 7 years since the Mike Young Productions cartoon ended. And, She-Ra fans haven't had anything new since the 80s. Fortunately, Mattel has this amazing new toyline that's been going strong for a couple of years called Masters of the Universe Classics. Both Mattel and toy sculptors The Four Horsemen are doing a fantastic job with that line and fans are really happy. So with ThunderCats getting ready to roll out what looks to be a really cool cartoon, I say the time is right for new He-Man and She-Ra entertainment.
Geek: What projects are you currently working on now, besides Power-Con and ThunderCon, that you're really excited about?
VS: I spend most of my time working on comics and I'm best known for my coloring. I'm helping to produce and am coloring Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock from Rob Zombie which will be picking back up here very soon. I also just started on a New Mutants story at Marvel which I'm having a lot of fun coloring and I have a top secret DC Comics project coming this summer that has yet to be revealed.
Power-Con / Thundercon 2011 will be held September 24 – 25, 2011:
Saturday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Four Points By Sheraton Los Angeles International Airport
9750 Airport Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Ticket prices and more info at www.thepower-con.com