Last year I did this really extensive 3-day coverage where I shared the experience of my first con with everyone. Unfortunately I didn’t do nearly as in-depth an overview of this year’s (nor did I go to nearly as many things as I did last year). Still, I will try to make you feel like I earned my press pass for this year’s New York Comic Con. Today is a
brief overview of my weekend. Sometime this week I should be doing one or two photo posts to make you feel like you were really there with me. Explanations out of the way, let’s begin…
The con started a day early this year for press, pros, and those dedicated enough to buy the special 4-day passes that were offered. I went to pick up my press pass and walked around for a bit to get a lay of the land, as it were. The floor didn’t open til 4pm on that day, and since it would be there all weekend I decided not to stick around too long.
Friday was the real start of the con. I started my day by meeting friends briefly before going to Felicia Day’s Spotlight. This was moderated by Chris Hardwick and almost felt like a scaled-down version of his podcast. I actually really hope one or more of the panels he moderated were recorded and are eventually shared. It’s not like this is a concept that is totally unheard of for Nerdist listeners…
Felicia was joined by fellow Guild cohort Sandeep Pariikh. For those who are not familiar with his work, Sandeep plays Zaboo on the web series “The Guild” and also is the creator of Legend of Neil. He and Felicia have great chemistry together, most likely because of their friendship outside of The Guild. This friendship was also cited during the panel as the reason it would be super awkward if Zaboo and Codex ever dated or had to kiss again, so don’t expect too much romantic happenings between their characters anytime soon. Other things discussed at their panel included Dragon Age and what it’s like creating your own web series. The panel ended with questions from the audience, my favorite of which was the very first one – essentially asking what shows past or present the participants wished they could work on. Felicia said Game of Thrones (even though she’s not British so it’s never going to happen), Fringe, and Big Bang Theory. Personally I would love to see one or both of the last two become a reality. I think she could be excellent in either show, but especially Big Bang Theory. Her awkward, nerdy, adorableness would fit right in with the rest of the cast. Chris Hardwick answered the question by saying “The Walking Dead,” which is another thing I would love to see happen. He has such a love for that show, I think he would make an excellent guest. Even if he’s just painted up as a zombie…
The other panel I went to on Friday was “Inner Light,” which was a behind-the-scenes look at the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode with writer Morgan Gendel. He told the story of what it was like pitching the story as an outsider of the ST team and eventually collaborating with everyone. The rest of the panel was clips from the episode with live commentary from Gendel as we went through everything. It was a very cool experience to get inside the head of the writer and see what the whole process was like.
I left the con early that day to get a double dose of Nerdist podcast live. I’ll probably write about that at some point either here or on my other blog, News on Shuffle. Moving on to Day 2…
Saturday for me was a lot of missed connections (trying to meet fellow Nerds in Babeland-ers and members of Ghost This) and one panel – Dark Shadows. For those unaware, Dark Shadows was a television series that ran from 1966-1971. It also had 2 films and spawned a comic series. There is a new movie due out May 11, 2012 that is directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp. This movie takes place in 1972, a year after the original series ended. The panel was mostly Q&A with Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott, two of the actors from the original series who also have cameos in the upcoming film. Lara could not make it to New York because of her schedule, but was able to Skype with the audience for her portion of the Q&A. They couldn’t share much, due to confidentiality clauses, but they were able to describe the sets in some detail and tell us that the movie will be a new interpretation of the old series and films. They added the new movie was still very well-done and they were both excited to be involved in the project.
Unfortunately I had to leave early on Saturday as well, so I didn’t make it to The Walking Dead or Avengers panels like I wanted to…
The final day of the con I spent mostly wandering the floor and trying to get as many pictures as possible of cosplay and such. I felt like there weren’t as many good costumes as last year, but still managed to get a few good shots. The highlight of the day for me was meeting Dave Marquez in Artist Alley and getting him to sign my copy of Days Missing. We also chatted a lot about the difference between NY and SD Comic Con, which was cool. He really is a genuinely nice guy, as well as an amazing artist. If you’re not familiar with his work, then please go pick up a copy of Days Missing. Not only is his artwork fantastic, but it’s also an interesting and unique story that I think will really get you thinking. Marquez won’t be doing the art for Days Missing 3, unfortunately, but he will be working on Fantastic Four next, so you can check that out as well.
That about wraps up my NYCC coverage for this year. To be honest, I think last year was overall a better experience for me because it was my first con and I spent most of it with a very good friend. I didn’t get to see as many people this year, which dampened my experience a bit. I still had a great time though and enjoyed the things I did manage to see. Plus it was all worth it just to be a fangirl for 5 minutes with one of my favorite artists. Seeing Chris Hardwick and Felicia Day in the same room didn’t hurt either…
*All photos taken by Christine Wagenheim.
From the website:
New York Comic Con is around the corner and GGN invites you to join us for the 2nd Annual GGN #NYCC Geek-Out!
Many of those that attended last year’s event remember what an amazing time we all had …finally having a place to sit and mingle with friends, meet some new ones, and win lots of great swag. This year is no different.
Join GGN on Saturday October 15th from 7pm to close for a night of nerds, tunes and prizes at the outstanding Stitch Bar & Lounge.
Tickets are on sale now!!! http://geekoutnyc.eventbrite.com/
And this year’s party has a theme – ZOMBIES!! That’s right folks, come dressed or not, enjoy discussions and debates on the best weapons, or just hang out among other nerds away from the craziness of the convention. And GGN is doing our part to make sure you all survive with Zombie Preparedness Swag Bags! These one of a kind bag contain necessary survival geer and awesome geek prizes.
We are excited to announce that ThinkGeek & Wicked Skatewear are once again sponsoring our event! Seriously, we heart these shops so much and so should you! And adding to the party are these fantastic sponsors: Insert Geek Here, Adult Swim Central, Spandexless, The Atomic Geeks, andPaper Keg.
So how do you make sure you don’t miss the biggest party of the year? First, RSVP on our Facebook page to let GGN know you want to come and to keep up with all the latest news on the event. Then, we will have ticket sales online (a mere $5) on a first-come first-serve basis. Since we can’t fit everyone we love in the same room on the same night *sad panda* make sure to get your tickets as soon as they’re released!
I used to go to WonderCon every year when I was younger. Anyone who goes to Cons regularly, knows you have your “Con Posse” (not to be confused with “clown posse” like Harley Quinn will now have with her new ICP-esqu costume… but I digress). When I was younger I was the one girl in a group of many dudes. After I had my son I stopped going, in the past year I have been back to attending. And have added more cons to my list of must see. In the time that I was away a major change happened. The con posse I’ve joined is 99% GIRLS! This is pretty phenomenal for a gal who has grown up getting the stink eye from the dudes (and gals) behind the counters at comic shops.
It’s not too surprising that we now have our own convention. GeekGirlCon –located at the Seattle Center and EMP– was a slightly bittersweet event for me. I was on the staff, one of the original members, first person to buy a pass, etc. I was the Vice President and Operations Director, filed the incorporation paperwork opened the bank account, yada yada. No one ever really cares about “Operations,” it’s the department that does all the behind the scenes work that allows the more creative types to do the shiny stuff. I had to leave the organization because of the huge amount of time it required. Since the staff is 100% unpaid volunteers I was essentially working a second full time job for no pay; and I have a husband and child. So it finally got to the point of having to choose, GGC or child. Obviously my child had to win. So the sweet part was how AWESOME of a time I had, and how amazing it was to see that both days sold out. The bitter part was that I was seeing it from the outside.
I do have to say it was a bit nice to not have to be working this weekend and was able to just enjoy the convention as a panelist/attendee. I got to romp around with a posse of amazingly talented and fun folks. I stayed out too late, drank too much (though oddly didn’t once get drunk) and was introduced to the most amazing alcohol I have ever tasted by the lovely Stephanie Thorpe.
I drove up Friday night with my “fake niece”, who is the 16 year old anime obsessed, blue haired daughter of a friend. Stopped by the airport to pick up a few friends then checked into our AH-MAY-ZING hotel the Marqueen, on Queen Ann St in Seattle. After that I met up with friends for drinks, a walk up a monstrosity of a hill and dinner with more friends.
Saturday morning I got up, had breakfast at Mecca Café, if you go to Seattle you MUST try this place. They have awesome bacon, great waffles; you get a mini pitcher when you order iced tea and the receipt showed that our server’s name was “BAT GIRL”. I attended the very fun “token dudes” panel. That night I attended the unofficial CheeseCon at The Melting Pot – go to twitter, look up the hashtag #CheeseCon to see the hilarity—which was one of the most fun dinners I have ever been to.
Every panel I attended had one common theme; Women need to support one another and act as the “elders of the internet” to support the younger generation. The vendor room, while small was diversely filled thanks to the hard work of Dixie Cochran. I only peeked my head into the gaming room but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
It was nice to see so many little girls dressed in cosplay. There was one family who had I think 3 daughters, all dressed up as different versions of Princess Leia. Most people I saw were smiling and having a good time. Sunday I was the assistant for Miss Bonnie Burton’s craft panel. The creativity of the attendees was awesome. We had Yoda, Tardis, Doctor Who and even… GASP… Star Trek puppets made.
Really the only negative thing I can think of was the fact that it was spread out between the Northwest rooms and the EMP. This would have been fine if panelists weren’t scheduled for back-to-back panels on opposite sides of each other. It is about a 10 minute walk between The NW Rooms and the EMP so if your panel ends at 4 and the next one starts at 4 there is no way to make it on time. But being a first year con I am sure they will keep that in mind for next year. There are some doubts as to whether the NW rooms will be available for 2012 but I am sure they will announce the location when it is secured.
All in all I am happy with the changes to convention culture that have occurred since I first started attending them. Girls are having more and more panels aimed at them, and hopefully, sometime soon, we won’t NEED to have a GeekGirlCon because all cons will be equally targeted for all audiences. And I look forward to seeing my Con Posse as soon as I possibly can. They are a group of individuals who inspire me to push myself and go for my dreams and I love them all in special and different ways.
Official Press Release
MILWAUKIE, OR, OCTOBER 5—Last year’s New York Comic Con saw the announcement of Dark Horse’s digital store. This year, we’re celebrating that anniversary in style with special-edition comics, in-booth events, and giveaways, as well as prizes for attendees of New York’s premier convention.
First of all, leading into the convention, Dark Horse will release a special three-part digital preview comic, showcasing eight pages of each of our new fall titles! Check out Tom Morello’s Orchid, P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast’s House of Night, and of course, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain! This special preview comic will be available at Digital.DarkHorse.com on October 12.
That same day, Dark Horse will also release a special sixteen-page Mass Effect digital comic, featuring the previously released “Incursion” story from MySpace Dark Horse Presents as well as the “Inquisition” story originally featured on USAToday.com for 99 cents. Visit Digital.DarkHorse.com TODAY for an exclusive eight-page preview of the highly anticipated Mass Effect: Invasion series!
Spin the Dark Horse Digital prize wheel and win free digital comics! That’s right, show attendees can step up, spin our wheel, and win a fortune in credit in the Dark Horse Digital Store. One chance per customer per day, with the opportunity to win more than once throughout the show!
If that’s not enough, we will be giving away t-shirts all weekend long “tagged” with additional chances to win Dark Horse digital store credit!
Stay tuned for more news on Dark Horse’s New York Comic Con announcements and events daily!
Official Press Release
October 5, 2011 – One of the fastest growing demographics in the Science Fiction world today is the female audience, sometimes referred to as “Geek Girls.” They will be in full force at this year’s New York Comic Con October 13th-16th at the Javits Center.
Recognizing and embracing this incredibly important and increasing segment of the sci-fi audience, Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on the television series, Star WarsTM : The Clone Wars, is bringing to New York Comic Con her new line of sci-fi fashion apparel and merchandise, titled Her UniverseTM (www.heruniverse.com), designed exclusively for women who want to show their geeky pride and love of Science Fiction. Ashley has now become one of the leading voices for Geek Girls.
Married to former Major League Baseball player, two-time World Series Champion and World Series MVP, David Eckstein, Ashley has made a career of fighting for the underdog, of leading the charge to create a place for female fans in a pop culture community typically dominated by men. In addition to fighting alongside the male heroes in The Clone Wars, Ashley aims to help her fellow female fans find their rightful place in the pop culture community. Her Universe is a “geek chic” line featuring fashionable, female–focused apparel and accessories based on such high-profile entertainment properties as the beloved Star Wars franchise and Syfy’s most popular shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13 and more.
“Most people do not realize that close to half of all sci-fi fans are women,” said Ashley. “This all started when, selfishly, I wanted more Star Wars merchandise made for fangirls. I love sci-fi and I quickly found out that I wasn’t alone. I found scores of other fangirls online and at conventions who just wanted to be recognized and accepted in this unique genre. I felt that someone had to step up and give a voice to all of these passionate women, and that’s when I founded Her Universe.”
Fans attending New York Comic Con will find two convention-exclusive items from Her Universe – a Star Wars Naboo charm for the new Star Wars Charm Bracelet and a 100% sterling silver Battlestar Galactica Cylon Toaster Necklace. Plus, just in time for Halloween and available this year only at New York Comic Con, Ashley will be offering 100 Star Wars Halloween-themed earth friendly tote bags featuring the art of popular Star Wars illustrator Katie Cook – the perfect trick or treating bag for fans of all ages.
SEPTEMBER 28, MILWAUKIE, OR—As anticipation grows for what has become the fastest-growing comic show in the country, Dark Horse gives fans the first taste of what to expect at this year’s New York Comic Con!
The full schedule of Dark Horse programming can be found below:
Friday, October 14
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS: 25 YEARS OF PUBLISHING AND BEYOND
Join Dark Horse’s senior managing editor, Scott Allie, and director of public relations, Jeremy Atkins, for a look at all that the publisher has on tap for the coming year. In addition to news about all of the hot new fall titles, like Orchid, The Strain, and House of Night, we look to 2012 for a sneak peek at what fans can expect in not only the company’s flagship anthology Dark Horse Presents, but also Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and more! Guests include Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Orchid), Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders, The Massive), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Uncanny X-Force, The Punisher), Jerome Opeña (Fear Agent, The Punisher), Tony Moore (Fear Agent, The Walking Dead), and more!
Saturday, October 15
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
BUFFY AND ANGEL PRESENT: DARK HORSE DOES VAMPIRES RIGHT!
Dark Horse Comics invites you to attend a special panel highlighting the growing number of comics featuring vampires! In addition to the highly successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, we introduce you to other titles, like Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Baltimore, P. C. and Kristin Cast’s House of Night, and Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain! Join Dark Horse’s managing editor, Scott Allie, director of public relations, Jeremy Atkins, and Angel & Faith’s writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs, as well as a few surprise guests, for a panel you can really sink your teeth into. If that’s not enough, every attendee will receive a free copy of Angel & Faith #1!
4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
DARK HORSE AND BIOWARE PRESENT: MAPPING THE MASS EFFECT UNIVERSE
With comics, novels, movies, and a third game on the horizon, Mass Effect has become one of the largest science-fiction franchises in the world. Join Mass Effect lead writer Mac Walters, along with Dark Horse’s director of public relations, Jeremy Atkins, and director of custom programs, Nick McWhorter, for an exploration of what makes Mass Effect so special! Fans will get a firsthand look at the upcoming comics series Invasion and the art book The Art of the Mass Effect Universe, as well as a taste of Mass Effect 3! With announcements to be made, surprise guests, prizes, and giveaways, we couldn’t give you more reasons to attend!
5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
DARK HORSE SPOTLIGHT: MIKE MIGNOLA
With Hellboy dead, and the B.P.R.D. and the world at large in shambles, what’s next for this elite team of paranormal investigators? Enter the mind of creator Mike Mignola for a spirited discussion of the future of Hellboy, the B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson, Edward Grey, and a world that has spawned television, novels, video games, and more. Attendees will be rewarded with exclusive insight, announcements, and even a special giveaway!
6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
CREEPY AND EERIE: ALL HALLOW’S EVE EDITION
Discuss the new Dark Horse Creepy series, the classic age of the Warren Creepy and Eerie magazines, and all the exciting things coming up in the Creepy universe with a bone-chilling panel including Louise Simonson, Joe Harris (“The Curse” from Creepy #1–#3), and a number of other special guests. Moderated by New Comic Company’s twin engines Dan Braun (Creepy) and Josh Braun (A History of Violence). Plus, there will be Creepy trivia questions with swag and prizes!
Watch the Dark Horse blog for further announcements on signings, in-booth events, green-screen photo ops, and so much more!
Official Press Release
Kick off your GeekGirlCon weekend at the GeekGirlCONcert starring nerd-chanteuse Marian Call! Also on the bill are the Seattle ukulele prodigy, Molly Lewis, and nerd-folk singers from Portland, The Doubleclicks. Plus special performances by a few GeekGirlCon ladies.
So join us at The Great Hall at Green Lake (7220 Woodlawn Avenue NE in Seattle) on Friday, October 7th at 7:30 p.m.
General admission tickets are $15 at the door or $10 with student ID or proof of purchase of a GeekGirlCon pass. General admission tickets are limited seating available, first come, first serve. Otherwise, standing room ONLY. If you need special assistance and/or a reserved chair, please contact Kelly at email@example.com.
$25 for VIP tickets. This show is all ages, but VIP tickets are for 21 and older only. VIP tickets guarantee seating close to stage and access to VIP area with a wine and beer cash bar.
Buy tickets online here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/198810
GeekGirlCon passes, student ID’s, and ID’s will be checked at the door.
Marian Call marked her place in the geek pantheon when she released the Firefly and Battlestar Galactica themed CD, Got to Fly, for geek purveyors Quantum Mechanix. Marian will also be at GeekGirlCon on October 8th and 9th. Stay tuned to geekgirlcon.com for details.
Molly Lewis plays the ukulele and sings, and then she posts videos of herself playing the ukulele and singing to YouTube. Her songs about Stephen Fry and Abe Lincoln are instant classics.
The Doubleclicks are two sisters, Aubrey and Angela, who sing and beatbox their way to nerd fame. Their new EP Blatant Pandering has songs about D&D, superpowers, Jurassic Park, Cthulu, and cosplay–all things Geek Girls love.
Don’t rely on mp3s and the youtubes, here’s your opportunity to see these performers live and in-person at the GeekGirlCONcert!
Direct link to this post: www.geekgirlcon.com/geekgirlconcert
Francis Ford Coppola is a living legend, and this year he is taking a leap into the unknown with his latest film, Twixt, starring Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Bruce Dern and Ben Chaplin.
The premise of the film is intriguing. A burned-out writer stumbles upon a murdery mystery in a small town, led by (maybe) the ghost of Poe and a girl on the cusp of puberty who may or may not be a vampire or ghost.
The initial footage gives a sense of the film as quirky-verging-on-weird. There were moments of humor; Bruce Dern is genuinely creepy and Val Kilmer plays dissipated talent all too well. What surprised me, even in the early moments of the teaser, is that Coppola has chosen to use 3D, but in an effective and restrained way. We usually see 3D attached to over-the-top films that are already visual spectacles. Here, we have a quiet little film that uses it to ratchet up the claustrophobic tension of a dusty and socially insular town that may be a haven for the supernatural or simply for human beings who are obsessed with causing death.
Coppola is going out on a limb both creatively and in how he’s presenting the work. Rather than attempt a wide, or even art-house release, he’s planning on a roadshow presentation in 30 cities. (Kevin Smith did this very effectively with Red State, which will be going into wide release in October.) Taking it a step further, Francis Ford Coppola is reaching back to the origins of cinema and is bringing live elements to the showings. Composer Dan Deacon will be creating the score live for every screening. During the panel, Deacon and Coppola demonstrated that not only the score, but the film itself, can be edited on the fly. 30 screenings could result in 30 different versions of the film and score. There was even an indication that if cast members like Kilmer participate in the screenings, dialogue may be performed live. There’s no denying that Twixt is an incredibly risky venture, both creatively and fiscally, but with the rash of reboots, remakes, and reimaginings on the horizon, these are risks that ought to be taken.
Glee. Glee in 3D. Glee the Concert Movie in 3D with a lot of fan footage. Hardcore Gleeks may be overjoyed by the prospect, but I was left cold. A concert film should be a concert film, and making it half performance-half fandom documentary seems like the producers were trying to do too much. Add in the exploitative use of 3D, which felt like a money grab more than a way to bring the audience into the experience, and I’m forced to say this should be direct-to-video. The performances were energetic and professional, and the members of the production team and cast on the panel were lively and engaging, but I don’t see this translating well to the big screen.
Tarsem Singh is a visual filmmaker. This seems obvious, given that film is a visual medium. We’ve all seen talky films, some of which work, and some don’t. Those are not the films Singh makes. The Cell and The Fall utilize the technical craft and creative eye of the filmmaker in ways that make dialogue superfluous. (Yes, many of us who love The Cell wish there hadn’t been any dialogue at all.) Immortals, in telling the myth of Theseus, has the potential to be just as visually arresting as The Cell, and to make us wish there were no dialogue. The use of 3D is justified, and seems to be used to enhance rather than cover the flaws of the film. It’s difficult to tell how flawed the film may be. The panel, moderated by Geoff Boucher, did not leave me with the impression that the cast was 100% on board with Immortals. While Singh, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans and Frida Pinto all spoke eloquently, (Dorff and Evans in particular seem to relish alternating between small films and blockbusters,) Henry Cavill seemed uncomfortable and reticent, and Kellan Lutz came off as either snarky or flat-out dumb. Lutz repetitively referred to Poseidon as, “The god of wetness. . . and saltiness.” The teaser was shown in both 3- and 2D, and in my opinion, the 3D is unnecessary.
I think we’ve reached a tipping point with mass use of 3D when it’s being used in a concert film. That we’re seeing a move away from conversion 3D is encouraging. Perhaps, moving forward, we’ll see more filmmakers using the technology in creative ways. Twixt represents an experiment on many levels, while Immortals is a big-budget film with a director that understands that what the audience sees can have more impact than what’s said. The next step in 3D will be Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, beginning in 2013. Jackson is shooting at 48fps, which may alleviate the eye-brain lag for audiences who experience headaches and nausea when watching 3D. If so, perhaps there’s hope for the technology. In the meantime, we’re still watching studios put out films in 3D when it’s not merited and doesn’t add anything to the experience. As for me, I’m mostly sticking with 2D.
Before last month I had never been to San Diego Comic-Con. I have been to WonderCon many times over the years but never made the trek down south. That has all changed. No longer am I a SDCC virgin. I had a general idea of what to expect from it, having attended WonderCon, only not really. The crowds are bigger, the panels more surprising and the after-parties more insane.
I had a general plan of which panels I HAD to see and those I would like to. I didn’t realize that Ballroom 20 meant a line outside, down the stairs “you better get there at 5am” kind of situation. I didn’t do that, but did find a friend who had so, yes, I got into the Game of Thrones panel. AWESOME! I was far far faaaar in the back but that doesn’t matter I got to hear the answers and dialogue before those of you who saw it online. SWEET!
I wanted to make sure I supported my friends who were on panels more so than see celebrities, because I am of the opinion that Friends are better than celebrities. In waiting for the Archaia Immortals panel I saw on the schedule that Dark Horse had something going on in the same room, and the door guards were letting people in mid-session. So I popped in with my friend Dina and, oh look, Guillermo Del Torro was on the panel; in a room with maybe 60 people in it. I was blown away; I didn’t see his name on the schedule he was just… there. He was, by the way, cracking jokes and cursing up a storm. That was probably my biggest, “HOLY CRAP” moment; mostly because it was so unexpected.
As anyone who knows me is aware I’m a huge Star Wars fan so of course I attended the Star Wars Lego panel. Where they showed clips from the new Lego Star Wars cartoon that aired that night (thank you Xfinity iPhone app! I was able to set my DVR to record it at home, from the panel; WE ARE IN THE FUTURE!). They also revealed a few new toys and a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar. This is probably the coolest thing ever. Every year I get Seth an advent calendar, and every year it has crappy old chocolate. This year we will have the Star Wars Lego one for sure. They go on sale in October if you were unable to purchase it at the Con.
I also attended Bonnie Burton’s Star Wars craft panel on Sunday instead of waiting in the crazy person line for the Doctor Who panel (see again Friends are better than Celebrities, but I still love you crazy people I call friends who stood in that line!). She was hilarious as usual and entertained the crowd with stories about condiment googly eye murder scenes in the fridge and sparkly doggie poop with eyes. We made felt Yoda puppets from her Star Wars Craft Book. I own the book and it was on my list of projects so getting to make it with a bunch of other people was a lot of fun!
On Thursday morning I attended the much talked about “Oh, You Sexy Geek” panel. Kristen McHugh goes into the panel in detail here, so I will only touch on a few of my own personal observations and thoughts.
The fact that I am friends with and/or know ½ of the panelists and where they stand on the issue of sexy cosplay I was expecting a good back-and-forth. I was a little disappointed that the self-described “humorless feminists” did not make a larger effort to speak and get their points across. And I was even more disappointed when one panelist said to another “Well would you wear a Slave Leia costume?” This was said to someone who has never been seen in a Slave Leia costume, so from an audience member’s point-of-view it appeared to be an attack on her personally and not a legitimate attempt at furthering the conversation. On the specific topic of “Slave Leia” there is a post over at FanGirlBlog that makes the points I would love to, in a much more eloquent way than I ever could.
I have never identified as a “feminist” mostly because the feminists I had been exposed to were very much of the “This penis party’s got to go hey-HEY ho-HO” ilk and that is not a world view I agree with or wish to spread. I am also not one who enjoys looking at the world though one very specifically colored pair of glasses, always looking for a reason to get angry about things. However, recently I have been exposed to a much different flavor of feminism that falls more in line with my personal beliefs and view on things.
Which, in a much condensed and quickie version, are this: We are responsible for our actions and how we react to and feel about ourselves and the world we live in. We have no right to dictate what another individual does, says, wears, etc. unless that person is causing direct harm to us or another individual whose care is our responsibility. I do not believe that a girl walking around in a metal bikini is causing anyone any harm, so let her have her fun and who gives a damn if she is doing it to be “empowered” or just to be “sexy” or “cute” what matters is if she is having fun while doing it. And if she isn’t having fun doing it, then it is on her to make the necessary change.
One more thing I would like to talk about before we resume our regularly scheduled programming is the Chris Gore comment and subsequent fall out. Yes, Chris was late to the panel, bad on him; yes he made a bad joke, some of us speak before thinking perhaps he should look into that. I personally was not offended by it, mostly because it was not directed AT me, but also because I tend to have the sense of humor of a teenage boy (farts are HILARIOUS, so are poop jokes). The only individuals who truly have a right to be offended are the ladies on the panel; the comment was directed AT THEM and no one else. If they have a problem with it, it is their responsibility to address it with Chris. People seem to be forgetting that Kat asked him immediately after he said it if he was trying to get kicked off the panel, the moderator DID address it immediately. I was horrified when I saw this post online. It is one thing to be upset by a comment someone makes on a panel, to blog about it and discuss it with the person who said it if possible; it is another thing entirely to try and negatively impact their livelihood because of your upset feelings. That is taking your personal beliefs and feelings too far. It wasn’t as if he said he was GOING TO, or would do so against their will. He simply said he would be willing to. It was in poor taste, especially considering the content of the panel, but it certainly wasn’t a punishable offense to the extent of his livelihood being threatened.
I had an excellent time all around, my cosplays were well received, and I got to see friends old and new. Met some of my twitter friends in person for the first time and got some awesome graphic novels from the Archaia booth. Wednesday night I went on a Haunted Tour of San Diego with my friends Matt & AJ and had a BLAST! We didn’t see any ghosts but that’s ok, it was still fun and I found the “haunted” hotel where I hope to be able to stay next year. All in all it was an awesome 5 day vacation. It had its ups and downs, I had a few moments where my anxiety kicked into high gear and I needed time to myself. But the good far outweighed the bad and I cannot wait till next time!
Presented by trauma psychologist, Dr. Andrea Letamendi, author of The Psychology of Superheroes, Dr. Robin Rosenberg, Dr. Travis Langley and comics writer Len Wein, the panel was a discussion of how trauma is portrayed in comics and how superheroes deal with trauma. This is a topic that I find fascinating for a number of reasons. I went into the panel not quite knowing what to expect beyond the fact that trauma or tragedy is very often presented as the catalyst for a character’s development in comics. Trauma is something the audience hasn’t necessarily experienced, but can empathize with. Unfortunately, there are people who deal with trauma on a daily basis: Soldiers and other service-members, police officers, fire fighters and EMS personnel. There are questions about how trauma affects characters. Why does one character become a superhero and one a supervillain? (The answer is fairly simple: every villain is the hero of his or her story.) Watching footage of IED (improvised explosive device) explosions, it’s not hard to imagine that days, weeks, months and years of exposure to those circumstances can and does alter both military and civilians exposed to it, in profound ways.
One of the characters in comics with a backstory that many of us can relate to is Batman. Sure, Bruce Wayne is incredibly rich, but he’s also witnessed his parents’ violent murder. Trauma to a child is something most of us feel sympathetic towards, and the desire to both avenge his parents and protect others from experiencing the same or similar loss is one most of us would hope we’d have. Heroism isn’t about the trauma, but about empathy and how that trauma is synthesized into the victim’s experience. Peter Parker/Spiderman is another good example of how plausible trauma is used in comics to give a character the imperative to use their powers for good. “With great power comes great responsibility,” is the echo throughout his early days as the web-slinger, and they make all the difference in the world.
I’m very glad that there was a distinction made between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the experience of trauma. Not everyone who experiences trauma will experience PTSD. (Additionally, there are distinct phases to PTSD, and not everyone experiences it the same way.) This was not a panel that was glossing over aspects of trauma, but presenting it in a way that can be understood by laymen. Every comic fan has seen numerous depictions of trauma, even if they didn’t name it trauma. I’m also very glad to note that this wasn’t a glossy pep talk about the effects of trauma and how to buck up under pressure. This was a very serious look at trauma through the lens of comics.
One thing I found lacking was the discussion of women as trauma survivors and the reliance in comics on using sexual violence against women. While statistically speaking, sexual and domestic violence are the most common forms of violence women will experience, we have plenty of women in the military. Many of those women have not only experienced the trauma of war, but sexual violence as well. Comics rarely show the arc of how a woman like Barbara Gordon transitions from Batgirl to trauma survivor to Oracle. Harley Quinn, at the other end of the spectrum, is psychologically abused over time by the Joker, and provides a prime example of how trauma doesn’t have to be particularly violent. I think there’s a need to go beyond accepting that fridging and sexual assault/murder of women provides the impetus for Hal Jordan or Frank Castle to go to some very dark places. (Although, as noted by the panel, Frank Castle was already on the anti-social personality disorder spectrum, before he became The Punisher.) Many of the questions asked by the audience also focused far more on male characters than on the spectrum of characters in comics that have been brutalized in any number of ways, from heroes and villains to innocent bystanders.
This may seem like a strange topic for a panel at a comic convention. I found it a refreshing way of looking at not only a medium that has become an intrinsic part of our collective consciousness, but at a mental health issue that has been placed front and center by current events.
In the last decade, the US has joined much of the rest of the world in experiencing the trauma of terrorism, while the suicide rates for veterans is shockingly high. One in five women (based on current reported incidents) are expected to experience sexual violence in their lifetime. As I type this, rape is being used as a tactic of war in the Congo and Sudan. Trauma is something that happens every day. It happens to people we know, it happens to our families, it happens to us. Comics as a medium are in a unique position to not only present trauma as something that can be survived, but to show how that happens. In my opinion, comics have potential as a treatment tool, giving survivors a connection to characters they recognize and admire. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee helped to have a comic about Martin Luther King and nonviolent social change printed in Arabic and Farsi for distribution in the Middle East. Why couldn’t a comic about trauma be used in a similar way wherever it was needed?
As each person or character is a unique individual, responses to trauma will vary. Specifics of why one individual will survive, and another won’t aren’t set in stone. Why one individual becomes Batman, one The Punisher, one the Joker, and one Two-Face is more complex than examining the trauma or the person experiencing it.
These are questions that will continued to be asked by the psychiatric, psychology, and neuropsych fields for a long time. They’re questions human beings face every day, and they are questions that anyone who reads comics has seen posed for a long time. Will comics continue to evolve in how they portray the narratives of the trauma inflicted on protagonists and villains alike? I don’t know the answer to that, yet. I hope they do and I hope that more fans and mainstream media will look at the parallels between comic narratives and real life. Perhaps if we think about those narratives, we can act with more empathy towards those people we encounter every day, who have survived or may struggle with the aftermath of trauma.
I left the panel thinking that there is a lot more discussion to be had and that I would love to see comic creators talk to trauma specialists and survivors a little more, as the subject is so integral to so much of their work.