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Hal C. F. Astell

Michael Flanders

Jim Miller

Alyssa Provan

Britt Rhuart

Who We Are

The Awesomelys are a group of pop culture fans who host panels at conventions to re-introduce audience members to the guilty pleasures and underrated gems of their childhood. We're talking movies and TV shows, the ones you know suck but love anyway and the ones that you know absolutely rock and show to your friends so they can share the magic.


The concept was conjured up by the Brass Bells, a pair of twins who hosted our first Awesomely Awful panel at Phoenix Comicon 2013 with Hal C. F. Astell, Jim Miller and Heather Rice.


When the Brass Bells moved to Portland, Hal took the lead and doubled the panels at Phoenix Comicon 2014. Jim and Heather continued on and we added Michael Flanders to make four.


We expected to roll straight into 2015, but Heather Rice passed away suddenly and we struggled to find a replacement for Heather after her untimely death. Nick Perillo kindly joined the other regulars that year and we bulked up to three panels, introducing an Awesomely Bitchin' for the first time, dedicating them all to her, still in shock that she was gone.


We kept the three panels for Phoenix Comicon 2016 and introduced two new faces. Liz Manning took over from Nick as our regular fourth and Britt Rhuart acted as a super-sub, ably filling in for Jim on two occasions, doing a great job with zero notice.


We held our now traditional three panels at Phoenix Comicon 2017, with the same line-up sans Liz who was busy with school.

What made 2017 extra special though was the addition of a further panel at Westercon 70, a fresh event, with a different time span for our material. Finally we got the opportunity to step outside the nostalgia point of the '80s and '90s, covering instead every decade from the '30s to the 00's.


We expanded again in 2018 with four panels at the renamed Phoenix Comic Fest, the new one containing our selections from recommendations made by the audience in 2017. Because Jim and Liz were both busy, we also debuted a new Awesomely, Alyssa Provan. Sadly, a fire alarm incident meant that two of these panels didn't happen, except in impromptu form outside, as we waited to get back in.

We expanded to other events in 2018 too, firstly with another 'through the decades' panel at the inaugural CoKoCon and secondly with a couple of panels on specific anniversary years, 1988 and 1998, at Tucson Comic-Con. The idea here is to select films that were released in those years and TV shows that were still on the air during their original runs.


2019 was our busiest year yet, as we worked four events: LepreCon 45, Phoenix Fan Fusion and CoKoCon 2019, plus a new one for us: Phoenix FearCon, at which we presented an all '80s, all horror, all the time set.

FearCon is also where we introduced a new Awesomely: Sarah Anne Stubbs.

What We Do

Our format has remained similar from the beginning, at Phoenix Comicon 2013. Each Awesomely selects two titles for each panel from the decade in scope. For Awesomely Awful panels, that's usually one movie and one TV show; for Awesomely Bitchin' and Through the Decades panels, it's usually two films.

We don't tell the audience what they are; instead we play the movie's trailer or TV show's opening credits first and let the crowd react! Then we talk about that choice, bouncing our opinions off each other and bringing in the audience for their thoughts too.

What Else We Do

We generally tend to keep busy. Here's where you can find us (in order of ascension to the Awesomelys):

The Brass Bells moved to Portland after Phoenix Comicon 2013. You can find them doing panels at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle.

Hal C. F. Astell runs the Apocalypse Later Empire. He publishes his books through Apocalypse Later Press. He writes film reviews at Apocalypse Later Reviews. He runs the Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival (ALIFFF) in Phoenix every October. He curates short film sets at conventions across the southwest through the Apocalypse Later Roadshow. He works many conventions and co-chaired CoKoCon in Phoenix over the Labor Day weekend in 2018. He also documents the past, present and future of Arizona fandom at AZFandom.org.

Jim Miller runs the Crit Hit! gaming retreat and other gaming events throughout the year.

Heather Rice passed away suddenly in 2014. We miss her. RIP.

Michael Flanders is a blogger, podcaster and event runner who runs Bloody Ramblings, Inc.

Nick Perillo moved to California in 2016.

Liz Manning is an actress, comedian and podcaster. She performs with the [sic] Sense Comedy Troupe.

Britt Rhuart is a graduate teaching assistant at Bowling Green State University, which means he lives in Ohio but he still comes back for Phoenix Comicon Comic Fest Fan Fusion each year.

Alyssa Provan doesn't like Labyrinth but we like her anyway.

Sarah Anne Stubbs co-founded and co-runs Geeks Who Eat and runs the Spooky Sarah Says website.

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Last update: 4th February, 2020