(Scroll down for video interview.)
The human mind is a magnificent, yet extraordinarily complicated organ. Great minds like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are evidence of just how brilliant grey matter can be. On the other end of the spectrum, one only need look inside the head of Geek Outlaw to see how the same structure in another body can veer so far off the tracks. Trust me when I say it’s not a pretty sight and that watching reruns of Jersey Shore would be a far more rewarding educational experience.
Fittingly, it’s one of the reasons I’ve taken such a keen interest of late in the field of psychology and the thing which sets homo-sapiens apart from all other things in our self-known universe: the human brain. Combining this interest with my oft unhealthy love for science-fiction pop culture led me directly to Dr. Travis Langley. And when I say directly, I’m not kidding. My growing intrigue about the neuroscience found me attending a WonderCon psychology panel a few years ago with a lineup of experts answering questions and speaking to the reasons why people bond so intimately with their entertainment.
After the panel wrapped, I was introduced to Dr. Langley via nerdBFF Hot Nerd Girl, as she had her own connection to the mind doctor through a social media connection (there are not enough characters available within this post to explain). He was gracious enough to have a fairly lengthy conversation with the Outlaw and from that point on, it was psych made in heaven. I continued attending Dr. Langley’s panels and chewing his ear off whenever he was in town, I also had the opportunity to attend his traveling comic-con lectures. I truly appreciated that he remembered me each time, though this was most likely due to the Outlaw getup. In relation to the wardrobe, I probably also seemed like a good case study for geek-based dissociative identity disorder. But enough about me and more about the interviewee.
Professor of Psychology at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Dr. Langley has merged his expertise of the human mind with his passion for pop culture by creating an ongoing series of books which delve into the psyche of society’s most beloved fictitious franchises. If you needed further convincing, his twitter handle is @Superherologist for crying out loud. His first release, Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, takes readers on a tour through the cranium of the caped crusader we all know and love. Well, maybe not love, but if you don’t know who Batman is, please see Professor Langley immediately after this blog class.
The good doctor’s follow-up piece – and the focus of my interview with him – goes the way of undead flesh-eaters with The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead (available now in paperback). As much as I like Batman, I love me some Walking Dead, so this release is one I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard it was on the doctor’s docket. The book features a forward by Night of the Living Dead co-creator John Russo and part of the research for this release involved speaking directly with Robert Kirkman and stars from the show, including everyone’s favorite crossbow wielding motorcycle connoisseur: Norman Reedus.
When I received the email press notification that Dr. Langley would be conducting interviews at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, I emailed my request back quicker than FOX cancels its sci-fi shows and made sure to keep my calendar clear for the chance to speak on the record with the mind master.
In addition to finding out some details about his new The Walking Dead Psychology book, I asked the psychology professor about what motivated him to take this career path and what initially sparked his interest in applying his degree to the pop culture scene. We even wade into chat about some of his future projects which include psych books for Star Wars, Star Trek and Game of Thrones. The mind-bending 20+ minute interview can be viewed here:
The interview, the whole interview, and nothing but the interview.
The always-gracious Dr. Langley also provided me with an autographed review copy of The Walking Dead Psychology, and I’ve just gotten underway with it while I writing this post. Once done, I will provide a more thorough review of the book, but so far it’s shaping up to be everything I expected it to be and more (minus the flesh-eating undead human carcasses).