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BangPop! It's back, baby!

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BANGOR BangPOP! Bangor's original pop-culture and comic book convention is returning to Bangor on Sept. 20 and 21 with panels, vendors and some pretty epic guests.

According to con-organize Gibran Vogue Graham, there will be panels on creating comics in Maine, getting started in comics, Kickstart your comic, panels specific to 'MST3K,' 'Walking Dead,' Transformers, a cosplay contest and masquerade, all-day tabletop gaming in the SnowCon room, all-day anime panels and screenings in the Animaine room and more.

'BangPop! is further proof that the coolest events and people come to Bangor. Don't just hear about it later. Experience it for yourself," said Graham. "I'm pretty sure that if I can get zombies to come to Bangor, then I can send them after you if I don't see you at BangPop! Comic Con."

We were able to chat with some of the headliners, including Nicki Clyne, who played Cally Henderson Tyrol on the popular 'Battlestar Galactica' reboot that aired on the Sci-Fi (now Sy-Fy) Channel; Theodus Crane who played Big Tiny in AMC's 'The Walking Dead;' Gregory Birch, who has played countless walkers on 'The Walking Dead;' and Trace Beaulieu and Frank Coniff from 'Mystery Science Theatre 3000.'

For the record, the order of the interviews is based solely on the order in which they happened chronologically.

SUBHEAD: Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff

Both Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff were featured in the first eight seasons of 'Mystery Science Theatre 3000' (MST3K) as the unhinged Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank (Beaulieu and Conniff respectively). Beaulieu was also the puppeteer and original voice of Crow T. Robot in the cult classic. Conniff was one of the writers and has gone on to write for 'Invader Zim.' Both have reunited with Joel Hodgson on his work for 'Cinematic Titanic,' but both also have new projects that fans will be excited about.

Beaulieu has a musical production starring Conniff called 'The Frank,' who is of course Frankenstein's monster. And with a bit of turnabout being fairplay, Conniff enlisted Beaulieu's talents in his Podhouse 90 radio-play, 'Dracula Rises in the Polls.'

'When I was a kid, I really loved all of those universal monster movies, Frankenstein,' Wolfman,' The Creature from the Black Lagoon.' They were all on TV when we were kids, usually late at night, and it was very much the origin of MST3K,'' said Beaulieu.

He notes that 'The Frank' is actually a family-friendly take on the classic monster movie.

''The Frank' is very kid-friendly. I wanted to make something that was fun Halloween scary, and not gory-scary,' he said.

Beaulieu also has a book for young readers called 'Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children,' which also has a darker side.

'It's all very dark humor for children. I find a great enjoyment in the darker side,' he said. 'I don't feel like it talks down to kids, much like the humor on Mystery Science Theater, there were always kids watching. I like to think I give kids more credit. We remember what it was like we're all still kids.'

Conniff agree that comedy and horror walk hand-in-hand.

'I feel that the genres of comedy and horror mingle together very well. Frankenstein and Dracula they're the kind of characters you can look at as scary and comical,' said Conniff. 'Trace and I both love the horror genre, but we approach everything with a comedic standpoint. Monsters and ghoulish creatures it's very easy to put them in funny situations.'

Both Beaulieu and Conniff are looking forward to meeting fans and chatting about 'MST3K' and their new projects on Podhouse 90 and 'The Frank' this weekend.

You can find out more at frankconniff.com, tracebeaulieu.com or cinematictitanic.com.

SUBHEAD: Walkers, living and dead

Theodus Crane played one of the surviving prisoners in season two of AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' and Gregory French not only played a walker, he's played many. Both will be on hand to meet with fans and discuss the show and other projects they're working on.

'The Walking Dead was amazing. It was one of the first big gigs I got. Starting off on a high note was really a blessing,' said Crane in a phone interview. 'Going forward, I'm looking forward to things that are challenging and pushing myself.'

Crane has a background in standup and sketch comedy and is a trained martial artist, recently winning a championship in July. He has also performed in live theatre productions, which he said really helps prepare you for screen work.

'Live work always prepares you for any kind of acting. It's really just projecting yourself. The camera is concentrating that into your face and body. But getting it out is the hardest part. Once you have it out, you can work on controlling it,' he said. 'I've been really fortunate throughout my career. I feel like this is what I was supposed to be doing. Everything I set my mind to came to pass really quickly.'

Crane enjoys attending conventions and interacting with fans, even though the notion of having a fan base is a new experience for him.

'It's weird as hell, but it's something you get used to. The key to everything is not getting a big head,' he said. 'I'm here to have fun. If you can't have fun while you're doing it, why do it?'

While at the convention, Crane hopes to be able to sample some of the state's fine seafood and maybe sit down and play a few games with convention goers. He's even bringing his Wii, and notes that he has 'Wii Dance Party.'

'I'm kind of good,' he said. 'There's a projector, and we can also play Wii Bowling.''

Gregory French has played various different walkers (zombies) on the show - sometimes as many as six in one episode. He's prepared to answer questions about the make-up process and what it's like to become a walker.

'I love doing the show. It's a lot of fun. And it's fun to watch the finished product,' he said during a phone interview.

The process for applying the makeup is daunting. French noted that you don't see any part of the 'real' him, outside of his tongue: his eyes are covered in contacts, skin in makeup or prosthetics, teeth and lips in makeup and prosthetics.

'First thing, they put a dental covering over your teeth and lips from that moment on you can't swallow or close your mouth,' he said, noting that it's like a device used at a dentist's office for a particularly intense cleaning session. 'But the dentist only lasts 15 to 20 minutes. We're in it for a full nine to 10 hours. And the dentist has the sucky thing we don't have that, and we drool all over ourselves.'

Walkers not only start out gory; they tend to meet their end in various gruesome ways.

'I've been shot in the head twice, cut in half by a machine gun, sliced open by Michonne, face ripped off by a gas mask, stabbed by a bayonet, rebar in the eye socket,' he recalled. 'The most I was in was six [different walkers] in one 10-minute period. In one screen, I'm actually watching myself die.'

He explained that they show one angle where he played a walker which was being dealt with by the characters. Then, appearing as a walker in another shot from another angle, he could see the characters finish off killing his previous character, now a mannequin.

French said he really likes watching how the entire show comes together, from seeing it acted in pre-production to all the post-production work - though he now feels like he knows most of the major spoilers for the show.

Though not an avid comic book fan, French is a huge pop-culture fantatic, enjoying shows like 'Doctor Who' and 'Firefly.' He has recently been sucked into 'Arrow,' a gritty retelling of 'The Green Arrow.' For previous conventions he's built a Cyberman suit with his costuming background.

In addition to 'The Walking Dead,' French has appeared in movies, including 'Ironman 3,' 'The Legend of Seven Toed Maggie,' 'Under the Dome' and many, many more. You can check out his extensive bio at IMDB.

You can follow Theodus Crane on Twitter, find him on Facebook and check out his IMDB profile. French can be found at ZList GregoryFrench on Facebook, as well as IMDB.

SUBHEAD: So say we all, Nicki Clyne

Part of the last of humanity on a mission to find Earth, Nicki Clyne played Cally Henderson Tyrol on the gritty reboot of 'Battlestar Galactica.'

Though BSG was her first foray into the world of science fiction, she has embraced it and her fans and enjoys attending conventions and talking about the show.

'I feel like I have the best fans. Of course, I'm biased. Battlestar fans in general tend to be thoughtful and smart, interested in big philosophical questions that the show brings up. I love that. And getting to go to conventions and share in the mutual love of this this is very cool,' she said in a phone interview.

Currently, she is a host on 'Blastr.TV,' going over some hot trends in the geek universe.

'I've been incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful introduction [to geek culture]. It's such an incredibly important way to question what our world could be like. I have really fallen in love with the genre and the culture and getting to go to conventions and come together over something we love,' she said.

She is looking forward to fans coming over and cashing in on some free high-fives while she's at the con.

'I want to meet all the fans and sign as many autographs as I can and provide insight about the show or myself,' she said.

For more information about BangPop!, including an updated list of events and panels, visit www.BangPopMaine.com.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 21:38

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