The Highs, Lows and Queer Cosplays of New York Comic Con

Comic Con is always overwhelming, the good and the bad. I don’t have a ton of experience with it; I’ve only been to NYCC twice (last year and this year), but the vibe was so drastically different this year that it was hard not to notice. At first, I thought it might just be me; I’m going through sort of a rough time in my life right now. But then I saw these two tweets from Kate Leth:

Now maybe I had the rose-colored glasses on last year, that’s totally possible, it was my first NYCC. But y’all. I do not remember shit like this last year. So I spent the last day of NYCC asking around at the queer booths to see if they were noticing anything out of the ordinary.

At Geeks Out‘s booth, one of the lovely volunteers showed me a new shirt of theirs: it reads “Alan Turing Fought Nazis With His Big Gay Brain.” Specifically, he pointed to the word Nazis. “They’re out in force this year,” he said.

I went over the LGBTQ HQ booth and talked to Jay Justice, a badass queer Black disabled cosplayer who you should definitely follow on Twitter. She said she was so used to oppression that she hadn’t noticed anything different than cons past. But then she started listing stuff: how one person tried to put anti-choice literature on their table. Or how one white dude tried to hijack “Heroes of Diversity” by standing up at the mic and asserting that women of color are stealing comics from white dudes (Justice and the audience just shut that right down). Or how a trans woman came to LGBTQ HQ after someone had lifted her skirt in front of everyone while playing a shooting game (and y’all, NYCC did not kick the offender out as far as we knew). [UPDATE: Justice just messaged me on Twitter with some corrections. Apparently she wasn’t playing a shooting game…she was shooting cosplayers. Like with her camera. And I don’t understand slang, apparently. Also! She didn’t head to LGBQ HQ after—Justice met her elsewhere.] As Justice completed her list, she looked thoughtful. “I guess it is worse this year,” she said.

This is Jay Justice lowkey cosplaying America Chavez

I noticed a difference in the cosplay, too; so much less queer. I couldn’t find a single set of lady Ghostbusters until the last day (the one set I did find was amazing). Even with two queer booths on the show floor this year. Even with all the strides made. Those who followed or covered GamerGate won’t be surprised at any of this — GamerGate enabled the rise of the internet-savvy Nazi. Nerds are a massive part of modern white nationalism. It’s not surprising that the show felt weird this year.

At the same time, tons of queer stuff happened at Comic Con and it was glorious. Like I said, not just one gay booth on the floor this year; we got 100% more gay booths (two, but still). Panels! Cosplay! Comics! I could pee! I don’t remember gender-neutral restrooms from last year, but that certainly doesn’t mean they weren’t there? Regardless, I’ve been having an increasing amount of trouble peeing since Trump has emboldened people to harass folks in public bathrooms. The gender-neutral restrooms were a safe place for me to go. I even hid out there for a hot minute when the crowds got overwhelming.

I don’t want to erase the massively amazing gay stuff I found just because I heard slurs on the floor (oh yes you bet I did). The gay nerds are doing the work out here and it would be awful not to cover that. And yeah, I do mean doing the work. I know it’s just nerd stuff, I know it’s just comics. But if the pipeline to White Nationalism includes nerd culture and the nerds who hang out in these spaces, it is more important than ever before to be visible in these spaces, to be making art and engaging in discourse that reflects the world around us.

So without further ado, here are the very queerest things I happened upon at Comic Con this year.


Bingo Love

Tee Franklin at her booth. She’s badass, y’all.

Creator Tee Franklin wins for best new title I saw in Artist’s Alley. From the Bingo Love website:

Bingo Love is a LGBTQ romance story that spans over 60 years. A chance meeting at church bingo in 1963 brings Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray together. Through their formative years, these two women develop feelings for each other and finally profess their love for one another.[…] Decades later, now in their mid 60’s, Hazel and Mari are reunited, again at a bingo hall, and their love for each other is still alive. Together again, the sexagenarians decide to divorce their husbands and live the rest of their lives together as wife and wife… despite the objections of their children and grandchildren.


The Lumberjanes Panel

The panel participants hamming it up with two awesome cosplayers.

It truly was friendship to the max at this panel — despite some technical difficulties, the audience remained in high spirits by telling jokes and reciting the Lumberjanes pledge. Our very own Gabby Rivera was up there talking about her experience writing the Lumberjanes 2017 special, Faire and Square and had some really amazing, smart things to say about what inclusive writing means. It’s not just characters that mirror the diverse readership — it’s what sorts of culture (pop or otherwise) those characters are referencing as they speak. For those who haven’t yet read Faire and Square, there’s some serious telenovela love going on in there.

The panel also featured Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen, the co-conspirators creating the first ever Lumberjanes illustrated prose novel, Unicorn Power. So. In case you wanted more Lumberjanes, here’s a way to ingest some more Lumberjanes.


Queer Pop Culture, Featuring Heather Hogan!

This is perfect human Heather Hogan. Likely she is talking about Carol.

This panel on the state of queer pop culture was very… eclectic? That might be the word. At times it seemed strange and disjointed, trying to bring so many aspects of pop culture together at once. But despite its broad scope, the panel included bright shining constellation Heather Hogan who was a perfect human, as usual. Hogan brought levity to the panel and also made sure we all went home and watched The Bold Type, as is her custom.


The Cosplay! Oh, The Cosplay

Presented without additional fanfare:


Look At All These Queer Creators!

Top: Molly Ostertag signing a fan’s book. Left: Brooklyn Allen and Mariko Tamaki showing off Unicorn Power. Right: Whitney Leopard and Gabby Rivera, who’s showing off her Gal Pal tee shirt because she knows this photo is going on Autostraddle

And I didn’t hit even half of them! Mallory Ortberg apparently spoke and I missed it? Rebecca Sugar was there and I missed it. Hell, Kate Leth was tweeting so I know she was there and y’all, I missed her too! Ugh. Guess I’m gonna have to go back next year and photograph their amazing selves I GUESS TWIST MY ARM I GUESS.


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Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 532 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Bingo Love. How do I buy it? I looked it up on the website and didn’t find a link. My loca comic book store isn’t showing it and neither is Amazon.
    How do I obtain several copies of that? cause that is what my lesbian friends are getting for the holidays.

  2. Not sure if you are aware of this but at the NYcomic con Marvel got beat up by retailers in a closed door session due to disappointing comic book sales. I guess the main gripe is the inability to attract new readers. Even though they make millions off of the new marvel movies that doesn’t translate to comic sales because they changed all the characters around and the new readers aren’t interested in buying them. If they see Thor as well Thor with his hammer they don’t want to read a comic with a female earth woman as Thor. Maybe a one off comic book but not a complete change with no going back. Plus as comic book girl on youtube stated you get tired of a million crossover events and every four months a new first edition comic book.

    • As far as I know they “got beat up” by a handful of retailers who were asking for the “good old times” of non-diversity during a closed-door event. This was probably connected to the systematic crackdown on Marvel by alt righters inc. during 2017. It’s pretty time-honored strategy to send in your goons to declare “public anger” (Volkszorn) and make people believe that a majority is unhappy with what you do.
      I.e. the milkshake shit storm against female Marvel employees, the weird “comic readers don’t want diversity” comments by Marvel sales official, and the fact that Marvel tried to cooperate with an arms producer recently- all of course not connected to the fact that a Marvel boss is sitting in Trump’s scommitee and is best buds with him.
      Mary Sue and some other venues covered this.
      And yes, it is connected to GG, you could/can see the same strategies during GG, and there was expressed strategic reasoning to go into comics next (after SciFi) at the usual GG dens.

  3. I’ve never been to NYCC but I experienced more homophobia than usual at DragonCon this year. I got shot down at an Arthurian adaptations/medieval literature panel when I was talking about Tennyson and homoeroticism in Idylls of the King. The main panelist totally dismissed it like I didn’t know what I was talking about (hello I have a degree in literature and wrote a bunch of papers on this, I just don’t have my bibliography on hand at all times) and then some old white dude in a utilikilt took the mic to bluster emotionally about how men in combat have a deep friendship connection that civilians just can’t understand and it’s NOT GAY YOU GUYS -_- I can’t decide if I’m never going back to the high fantasy track again, or if I’m going to go back on purpose and rub my little gay hands all over their stuff.

    Thanks for posting some of the good stuff from NYCC. I wish we had more exclusively queer programming at DCon, but they cut the LGBT track a few years ago so it’s all kind of haphazard now.

    Also, I want that Alan Turing t-shirt.

    • Heyo! As one of the people who volunteers for GeeksOut (including at this ComicCon) you can’t get our shirts and stuff online, but we are at most geeky conventions, though this was the last for this year. You should check for a GeeksOut booth at your next 2018 Con! We don’t always keep the same shirts in stock at every Con, or even more than once, but that shirt was super new and super popular, so I’m confident it’ll be at the next GeeksOut booth you see!

  4. My wife & I took our kids on Sunday (this was also our second year going) and the one thing I noticed is that it felt SO much more crowded. I expected it to be crowded, but the main floor was so packed you could barely move. It’s like they knew they had less space at the Javits this year but still sold the same number of tickets. Thankfully we didn’t encounter any homophobes or rude people, but the extreme crowding was really unpleasant. They also didn’t have the kid’s rooms or family lounge like they did last year, which was a nice place to get away from the crowds for a bit with young kids. We still had a good time – my 8-year-old dressed as Coraline was pretty popular, which she loved – and will likely go again next year, but this year definitely wasn’t as fun as last year.

  5. PS – I’m excited about the Lumberjanes novel! My daughter loves Lumberjanes and has read all the graphic novels so far. She bought the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy book at NYCC and got a flyer & a cute patch advertising the new LJ book.

  6. @ Danielle- exactly what point are you trying to make here? That there is good reason for stopping diversity in comic book and poeple not buying them. As far as I know they “got beat up” by a handful of retailers who were asking for the “good old times” of non-diversity during a closed-door event. This was probably connected to the systematic crackdown on Marvel by alt righters inc. during 2017. It’s pretty time-honored strategy to send in your goons to declare “public anger” (Volkszorn) and make people believe that a majority is unhappy with what you do.
    I.e. the milkshake shit storm against female Marvel employees, the weird “comic readers don’t want diversity” comments by Marvel sales official, and the fact that Marvel tried to cooperate with an arms producer recently- all of course not connected to the fact that a Marvel boss is sitting in Trump’s scommitee and is best buds with him.
    Mary Sue and some other venues covered this.
    And yes, it is connected to GG, you could/can see the same strategies during GG.

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