By Loryn Stone
When another pop culture website knocks at your door, you can do one of two things. Declare them your competition, turn them away, and set up the paint-filled balloons because we’re in for war, damn it. Or second, you can check out what they’re up to, appreciate their work, record a podcast together, and declare yourselves best friends.
Fortunately in this situation, the latter was performed.
When Temple of Geek began following PopLurker on social media, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this other website. Their aesthetic was great. Their material was solid. And most importantly, their podcast was quality. I needed to know more. Who was behind this creation? Who was the leader behind this Temple of Geek?
And most important, would they let PopLurker interview them?
The answer was indeed a yes! So today on PopLurker, we’re getting to know the amazing Danniel Slade, Editor-in-Chief of Temple of Geek!
Hi Danniel! Thank you for giving PopLurker this interview today. We’re so excited to get a chance to feature you here! Can you tell our readers about Temple of Geek and what inspired you to start this brand?
Absolutely! Temple of Geek is a website that is created for geeks by geeks. On the website itself, you will find interviews with cosplayers, artists, and other creative types. We feature reviews of different conventions with a focus on California and Texas. We also cover geek fashion with our Temple of Geek Chic posts. Of course, you will also find movie/television/game reviews and trailers sprinkled in.
We also have three podcasts. The Temple of Geek Podcast is a show about all things geek. We have episodes that range from reviews to movies to why Hogwarts was not brought up on charges for child endangerment. Retro Rebel Podcast is a show dedicated to gaming. This show is hosted by Stacy Bishop and Amanda Fox Rosowski. Finally, we have 5 Points of Articulation and this is a new show about toys.
To explain how this all started, let me take you back to 2012. My friend and I would hang out in the garage to drink beer and just talk geek into the late hours of the night. I finally suggested to him that we should attempt to record our conversations into a podcast. We did and now, six years later, we are here.
You mentioned to us that the podcast came first. What made you decide to supplement it with a website featuring articles?
Our first episode was a review of Batman Under the Red Hood. It was bad. No matter how bad I thought it was, it excited me to do more. After about a year, we completed 6 whole episodes!! We were having a hard time lining up schedules to record. The following year, I pulled the trigger and got the domain name, so I can host podcast episode myself instead of paying for a hosting site.
During one of our hiatuses from recording the podcast I started to realize that I own a website and that I needed to do something with it. I thought I would start small and push out movie reviews and content on comics. Then I started to do more. I started to find that people wanted to have an outlet for their writing and thus I began to take on staff.
What was you guys’ very first convention and what made you decide to start doing convention reviews? Do you find it helps increase your visibility?
Our very first convention was in 2014 at the Dallas Fan Expo (Dallas Comic Con at the time). We didn’t know what the hell we were doing but for the most part, we were having a good time. It wasn’t until the following year we developed a plan and felt that we should start reviewing conventions.
After doing the convention scene for 4 years now, we have developed good relationships with various vendors, cosplayers, and the show promoters themselves. I feel that it helps increase our visibility. People are starting to recognize us more and more.
What is your personal relationship with fandom? When did you start collecting? Can you tell our readers about your top fandoms and collections?
I learned that I was a “geek” early on in my life. I never liked sports or doing the things that adolescents do. I was into entertainment. I could tell you all sorts of things like what director was on a film, who composed the music, and more. And this was before I was even in high school.
I started collecting at an early age. My first real collection was with the original Kenner action figures. My parents would bring me and my brother each of the same figures. I had a decent size collection until it was all tossed away because we were moving away. I was pretty upset about loosing these figures. In 1984, my father brought me home a new toy. It was a gun that could change into a robot and back again. It was the coolest thing ever and my life was changed ever since.
As you can tell, I love Star Wars and Transformers. To this day, I collect the Star Wars Black Series 6 inch line of action figures. I hope to one day, maybe start collecting the original Kenner figures again but I am okay with what I have now. Most of my collection though are Transformers. I collect the original figures, Masterpiece figures and the new stuff that is out now like Power of the Primes. I don’t think I will ever stop collecting them. I also am an avid collector of classic video games. I really love the older Nintendo and Sega products.
What piece in your collection is your holy grail?
I can’t just choose one so I will break it up by collection. For Transformers that would be my Megatron 16 Special from the Transformers rereleases from 2001. My original Megatron was well played with and I really wanted one that was pristine. It was also the very first toy that I ever ordered from BigBadToy Store.
In Star Wars Black, I acquired the SDCC exclusive Boba Fett without breaking the bank. I was so happy to get my hands on this figure as Boba Fett is one of my favorite characters from the series.
Finally for video games, I have Earthbound and Musha. Both games have label damage but just the fact that I can say that I own these two titles makes me happy.
Do you have any secret fandoms or niche interests that your readers (or even your writers/staff) wouldn’t expect? Do you watch any unexpected TV shows or play any genre of video game that’s a surprise?
I feel that I am pretty much an open book when it comes to my fandoms. I really cannot think of anything that I like that isn’t known to everyone. I have something that may shock readers though. I do not like the Office. I do not understand why everyone is so crazy over that show. Now I need to prepare to be bombarded with hate mail.
Let’s talk about video games. Do you have a favorite system or game you’re really good at, new or old?
As I mentioned earlier, I love classic video games. I have a ton of classic game systems and games in my collection. If I had to choose a favorite system, it would be the Super Nintendo. That system had some of the greatest Role-Playing Games ever made.
With the current Gen consoles, I really love what Nintendo has done with the Switch. It is possibly the most versatile system ever made in that you can play on your big screen or take it on the go. I fell in love with Super Mario Odyssey when it was released last year and I am still playing it to this day trying to obtain all 999 moons.
PopLurker readers want to know all about your love of the Star Wars prequels. Go on, our ears are open. And which is your favorite Star Wars movie overall? Do you collect any Star Wars merchandise?
I pride myself in being one of the only older generation Star Wars fans that actually enjoyed the prequels. Now don’t get me wrong, the movies have their issues, but they also have their charm. The films introduced the fandom to all new force powers, fancier lightsaber battles, and new Jedi to enjoy. Of the three, Attack of the Clones is probably the weakest as it does not really progress the story any further then when the movie started.
Of the entire Star Wars saga, Empire Strikes Back is my favorite film. It was the first time that I can remember seeing a movie that the good guys did not win. I remember being upset because I thought for sure that Han Solo was gone forever. The sad thing was that I never got to see Return of the Jedi until I got back to the United States in 1987. All I knew about the story was from A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and some Christmas special my parents taped.
My top five is probably going to freak a lot of your readers out but it goes like this Empire, Revenge of the Sith, Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Force Awakens, and A New Hope. I can hear it now “A prequel and two Disney Era films, you are no fan….” I would kindly disagree and move along.
What were some of your proudest moments as the Editor-in-Chief of a pop culture website? What milestones have you hit that made you stop, smile, and say “We’re doing the right thing”?
Some of the proudest moments I have had as the Editor-in-Chief is working with the staff I have now. My team loves pop culture and truly believe in the site and are working hard to make it what it is now. I believe in my heart of hearts that we would not be where we are at today without the team that I have working for me.
We hit new milestones quite regularly but when you see your numbers double from the previous year, that is something that makes me know we are doing the right thing!
What are your current visions for Temple of Geek? Can you talk a little about your top successes versus where you want the company to be in the next five years?
My current vision is still the same vision that I had when I originally started, make something that is all inclusive. We don’t care about your size, your color, your sex, or your fandom. If you love the geek culture, you will find yourself represented here.
We are currently hitting our goals that we set for ourselves. It is important to set smaller goals so that you have something that you can achieve in the short term. Our long-term goal is all about becoming bigger and making Temple of Geek a recognizable name. Who knows, maybe one day you will see us on the red carpet interviewing the cast from that year’s Star Wars film.
Where can our readers find you on social media?
If you want Temple of Geek, we are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our handle is templeofgeek across all platforms. If you want to hit me up personally, I can be found on Instagram or Twitter by using the handle dannielslade.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? Anything coming up that you want PopLurker or Temple of Geek readers to know?
If you want to check out some great interviews and features on some of the artists and vendors at San Diego Comic Con this year, head on over to Temple of Geek. We are running stories and features from now until the big weekend!
You can follow Loryn on Twitter.