This year’s New York Comic Con was held October 8-11 in the Javits Center, New York City. It is the largest pop culture convention on the East Coast, and similar to last year, it contained a wealth of programming and exhibits relevant to all your queer lady nerd interests. Let’s take a look!
Tuesday, October 6
sHeroes: An Exhibition of Women Comic Book Artists Gallery Opening
Kicking off New York Super week (the broader festival that NYCC falls within), La Casa Azul hosted sHeroes: An Exhibition of Women Comic Book Artists on Tuesday.
“We started doing these panel discussions when we realized how important they are for the community, the marginalized community, who aren’t used to seeing us,” explained panel moderator Regine L. Sawyer. “When I say ‘us,’ we’re talking women, and particularly women of color. They didn’t know their children could make a living [making comics]. Whether it was a small living or a large living, that’s debatable, but it was a living. … We won’t stop. We’re not going anywhere.”
Micheline Hess: “I’m seeing more artists of color do work for the larger and more mainstream comic companies. I hate using that as kind of a gage, but it is interesting. Ultimately, I mean, it’s hard to say whether they’re doing it because it’s a decision based on really needing that voice, or something to kind of mollify the comic book buying community that feels underrepresented. I think time will kind of tell with that.”
Alice Meichi Li: “It’s kind of become my mission to put my life experiences, my unique experiences and my unique view of the world, out there. That Storm piece was for Muddy Colors, which is an illustration blog. The art director asked a bunch of women illustrators to take a famous female character in comics or sci fi or fantasy and redesign it from a less objectified, more feminist stance. And you know, Storm wasn’t particularly objectified or anything, but I always had a problem with how her hair was always so long and straight. And her features, most people drew them pretty Caucasian. She was like a Caucasian woman with brown skin, for the most part. So I thought, I really wanted to see Storm in a fro hawk!”
Sara Woolley: “I wouldn’t have had the bravery [to enter the comics industry] if I didn’t have the support network I do. I have the amazing people of NYC Drink n’ Draw, some of whom are in the room. I have the amazing people of Women in Comics, all of whom are supporting each other and furthering each other’s artistic vision. I mean, I don’t know another community where I walked in and everyone is like: yes. Make your work. Do better. Make more. How can I help support you? That has been my experience in comics, and that’s made me want to keep making comics.”
Following the panel discussion, a reception was held upstairs in the bookstore. sHeroes will be on display at La Casa Azul through November 22.
Wednesday, October 7
New York Super Week Food
For a limited time on Wednesday, Barcade Chelsea was serving NYCC’s official beer: Brooklyn Brewery’s first West Coast IPA, Defender Beer. I had a pint and it was caramel-y and delicious.
I also went to Eataly to check out their Comic Con special. It was… just regular gelato, really. But it helped tide me over.
Thursday, October 8
Javits Center / Cosplayers / New York TimesOUT Presents LGBT in Comics
First day of the Con! I missed most of it because I had work, but I could see the convention center from my window.
When I ran over after work, the costumes were amazing, as always.
The first panel I attended this year was New York TimesOUT Presents LGBT in Comics. I was most excited to see Babs Tarr, the artist currently on Batgirl.
Speaking on community feedback following Batgirl‘s incident with transmisogynistic tropes, Babs said, “It was really positive. I think people really responded to our apology, especially when we had a chance to change the dialogue [in later print and digital editions of the comic] to make it more clear on what we wanted that character to be. It was really well received, and we’re really thankful for everyone being understanding and giving us that chance to grow and listen and do better.
Jennie Wood: “Flutter is actually a very personal story, minus the bells and whistles of shapeshifting, because I obviously can’t do that, those sci-fi elements. I grew up in a small Southern town and I wasn’t even out to myself yet. After school I would work in a movie theater, and all my male cousins would bring their girlfriends to the movies. And while they were in the movie theater making out, I was making popcorn and imagining what it would be like to be a guy so that I could bring a girl to the movies. Because if I was a girl — in that world, in that small town — a girl bringing her girlfriend to the movies didn’t exist. And that’s how Flutter was born.”
Friday, October 9
Push Boundaries Forward: Gender, Diversity and Representation in Comic Books / Cosplayers / Camp Out with Lumberjanes!
I was at work again most of Friday, but I did get to the convention center for two pretty great panels at the end of the day.
Jeremy Whitley: “I think people tend to misunderstand the advice of ‘write what you know.’ People tend to interpret that as ‘work only from your own experience and your perspective.’ And that’s stupid. What ‘write what you know’ means is don’t write things uninformed. Don’t go into a story and just shoot from the hip. Like, you wouldn’t do that if you were writing a story about World War II. If it is more difficult for you to talk to a person of color than it is to research World War II, then you’re doing something wrong. … Honestly, diversity isn’t hard. You just can’t be lazy about it.”
Marjorie Liu: “Speaking as a person of color… when we write ourselves — if I write Asian American characters — I bear the burden of somehow having to write perfect Asian American characters. Because there are so few representations out there already, and so many of them malign us in really horrible ways. There is this added pressure to create, like, the perfect Chinese American girl, instead of just telling a story. It’s a really difficult burden to process, because in a way, being authentic means being imperfect.”
Shannon Watters: “That’s the dirty little secret, guys. You know, we focus a lot on the direct market. We focus a lot on superheroes, etc. But YA comics in the mass market — that’s bookstores — the amount of people that have bought, say, our very talented moderator’s book is four times the amount of basically the entire direct market’s readership. Hmm. So guess what, like, these [girls and women] are already the majority of comics readers. It’s true! This illusion that we’ve just showed up is a fallacy. We have to change the narrative in a big way.”
Also, there was a marriage proposal on stage at the Lumberjanes panel, and it was just the most adorable thing:
Saturday, October 10
Cosplayers / Artist’s Alley / Women in Geek Media – The Sequel! / Secret Identities – Creating Transgender Characters in Comic Books
Saturday was my first full day of the Con. My friend Christine and I spent several hours loitering in the main entrance, people watching. We were not disappointed.
Jamie Broadnax: “I was the minority: I liked Fantastic Four. It was a decent film to me. You know, it really wasn’t as bad as everyone was making it out to be. But anyway, I got a lot of guys on Twitter that said “Oh, you liked it?” People assumed that I liked it because of Johnny Storm being Black. And it’s just like, really? Really dude? So I channeled my frustration, rather than just going back and forth on Twitter, by writing an article on it. … I really thought that it was a great way to, again, channel your frustration in a way that’s positive and that helps build you either as a writer or as a content creator. I think that that’s really important, rather than to go down that rabbit hole and just get frustrated and let someone steal your joy.”
Tara Madison Avery on what mainstream publishers can do to improve trans representation: “If we’re specifically talking about superhero books, give [trans characters] something to do. I mean, you’ve got to have something better than Batgirl’s roommate. Have them get involved in important parts of the story. If it’s about fighting crime, have them fight crime. If it’s about saving the world, have them out there staring down whoever it is this month that’s ready to blow the earth up. You know? Give them something important to do, rather than, ‘oh, I’m here, and I’m a character that checks off the social consciousness box this month.’ That’s the only way they’ll get popular. Superhero readership respects characters that kick butt. That’s one of the great pleasures of superhero comics, watching these impossibly powered people kick butt. So that’s what we need, I would suppose, if we’re talking about the big three.”
Sunday, October 11
The Block & Show Floor / Cosplayers / Culturally Queer: The Explosion of LGBTQ Representation in Mainstream Comics & Pop Culture
Jennifer Camper: “I think what’s interesting is that the mainstream is catching up, and they’re still a little bit behind. But when I show some of my old cartoons that to most queers are kind of dated, to a straight audience, they’re fresh and new and exciting because they haven’t really thought of these ideas as much as the queer community has. For diversity to happen in any culture, you need three things. You need creatives who are diverse. You need an audience who is willing to accept diverse stories and demand diverse stories. And you need people in power to promote diverse stories. And that’s only really started happening in the last, say, 20 years — and in the last five years in greater and greater degrees. We still have a long way to go, but when we look back, we’ve come a long way.”
Anne Ishii: “I think what’s happening now, which kind of blows my mind, is that I come from a generation that believes, for better or worse, that sex was the crux of all of this. Like, you identified by your sexual orientation. You identified by what turned you on, or didn’t turn you on, what was appropriate or inappropriate. And now I feel like that’s completely out of the equation when we talk about identity, whether it’s gender identity, or how we live, our lifestyle. I’m astonished to discover, even with our products, it’s not necessarily about the sexual content. It’s about the lifestyle. So like, for a lot of streetwear marketers, I know this is already sort of a passé concept, lifestyle marketing, lifestyle brands. But that’s where queer identity I feel is going. Where it’s no longer about what you do in bed that’s important, but what you do in the kitchen. … This also expands the age, because if we’re talking about true sexual minorities who don’t have intercourse in that way, it’s really young people and really old people. You know, you mentioned queer content in Steven’s Universe. I think that’s really the next frontier, is how do we expand it so that we’re talking about it from a non-sexual point of view.”
Phil Jimenez: “I knew that I was different from the people around me from the time that I was very young. And what that meant was that I made choices based on that understanding of difference. I interacted with people, I pursued a career, I had exchanges with family and friends — it completely transformed my set of aspirations. And so I’m just so happy to hear that validated. So many of my choices were shaped by that notion of otherness. I suspect that many of us in this room made choices based on that sense. I’m very interested in telling stories about what it’s like to navigate the world as an other. That’s what ‘queer’ means to me.”