I went to Dragon*Con earlier this month as a speaker and as a fan of many aspects of geekdom. The great thing about the conference is that you can meet people of from every sort of fandom possible. It’s a huge convention in Atlanta, spanning across 5 hotels.

One panel I wanted to make sure to see was one on Ghost in the Shell. I arrived early only to find a line already waiting. Luckily I was able to get in and listen to the panel.

One of the moderators was Dennis, aka “DragonKhan”. He also started and moderates the LaughingMan Squad Yahoo! group. What was interesting is that Dennis didn’t fit the stereotype of a “cyberpunk fan”. For one thing, he’s older than Bruce Sterling. But, he was obviously a true fan and I enjoyed the discussion on the panel and wanted to talk to him more.

I asked Dennis to answer some questions about himself and the group. Do check out the Yahoo! group and perhaps contribute. After all, it’s always nice to talk to other enthusiastic fans!

1. Share your vital data with us: Who are you? What have you done? Why should we adore you?

My name is Dennis, I’m 58 years young, and I’ve been a part of fandom my whole life. I’ve attended conventions for over 30 years and Dragon*Con for over 20. Why should you adore me? That’s your choice. lol

2. What got you into cyberpunk, specifically Ghost in the Shell (GitS)?

Fandom got me into cyberpunk and anime put me in touch with GiTS.

3. What elements of GitS really appeal to you?

Everything! First of all GiTS is the first adult thinking persons ANIME. Most animes don’t really make you think .But GiTS makes you think about what makes us Human and about the Art of Being Human. Also, it makes you curious about just where the future is taking us and who’s taking us there. It also makes us ask, do we really want to go there?

4. Has your interest in GitS lead you to enjoy other cyberpunk works?

Big OH, YES! Appleseed, Akira, Big O, Ergo Proxy, Code Geass, Eurika 7, DeathNote, Tank Police and thats just a few from Anime. Thats not even going into Movies, Books (there are a whole lot of great authors out there), or TV series.

5. What are your biggest non-cyberpunk interests?

Anime, Life, the Universe, Space Exploration, Existence, Expanding the Realms of Human Consciousness, Shamanism, Survival (not just surviving but learning to THRIVE!), getting back in touch with Nature …you know the whole ball of wax.

6. Tell us a bit more about the Laughing Man Squad group and what you do.

Well, first of all I’m the Founder and head Moderator which is not all that important but somebody’s got to do it…. lol

We are a pro-active GiTS Anime Fan Group that I hope embraces the Laughingman Philosophy. It attempts to answer the question that the “Laughingman” posed after the Catcher in the Rye quote … “I thought what I’d do is pretend to be one of those deaf-mutes…Or should I?” Or, should I…WHAT??? The character Togusa dared to try answer that question. Are we, as a society and freedom loving individuals, going to roll over and become Deaf-Mutes hiding in our own self made comfort zones? Become slaves of the powers that be? You know they are in the business of trying to Control US and our future! Or, are we going to meet the challenges of OUR Times…

Global Section-9 the Laughingman Squad’s motto answers that question. By, stating that everyone that is an Individual should …”Dare to Stand Alone (if necessary) and Never Give Up the GHOST!” For if you give up your GHOST you given up on yourself and your individuality! As an individual to the right to CHOOSE for yourself! And, that’s saying a lot for an anime.

7.What prompted you to start the Laughing Man Squad group?

I wanted to approach GiTS fans with something different and after seeing all the GiTS sites on the Web. I decided that no one had approached GiTS from the Laughingman’s Philosophy…

Our goals are to 1) Enjoy and promote GiTS/Cyberpunk and Anime in general as a Art form. 2) Run GiTS panels at conventions and promote all things GiTS. 3) To help promote and possibly help host the ultimate GiTS Anime Panel ever! You can find us on Yahoo groups and on Facebook. Hope to see more fans there!

8. What has been the biggest surprise in running the group?

That there are People all over the World and in the US that are not only enjoying GiTS as an Anime but identify with GiTS and the Laughingman!

9. What do you think is the future of GitS (and perhaps cyberpunk in general)?

I’m hoping that Dreamworks will succeed with its 3-D Live-action GiTS adaptation and that it will bring more and new fans out into the open. Also, that it will convince the folks at Production I.G. its time for a third season of GiTS: SAC!

10. Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes, like i said before we are a pro-active anime fan group that meets at conventions as well as on the web. We’re always looking for new fans to join us.

I’d also like to recommend a couple of books: 1) Almost any book by Michio Kaku, PhD (non-fiction science), what Carl Saigon was to Astronomy Kaku is to Theortical Physics and String Theory; 2)Dr. Bart Kosko’s Nanotime (Science Fiction I hope…); 3) Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged 4) and a book called Polymorph by Scott Westerfeld.

Thanks for your time, Dennis!