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Friday, October 7, 2016
I got an early start again for the second day of New York Comic Con 2016, and spent some time walking the con floor. I picked up some goodies and got my first cosplay pic of the day. It’s a good one!
Rey and Lando! They’re both great, but I am living for Lando.
But before too long it was time for my first panel of the day, “How to Succeed in Self Publishing!”
From left to right, the panelists were Justin Jordan, Jimmy Palmiotti, Morgan Rosenblum, Anthony Del Col, and Kelly Phillips. (I’m afraid I don’t know who the fellow on the end is.) (Not pictured is moderator Nat Towsen.)
I didn’t look too closely at the description of this panel before I attended, which resulted in some disappointment on my part. I thought it was the same panel on self-publishing I had attended last year, so I was expecting some participation by self-published prose authors (like me!). But it was all about comics, and mostly about how to self-publish for those with an eye on getting in with one of the major publishers. So, not particularly useful to me, but interesting enough for what it was.
I had to rush a bit to get to my next panel. NYCC has gotten so big that they’ve spread the panels out to other locations. All of the literary panels – the ones I would be most interested in – moved two blocks away, to Hudson Mercantile. Unfortunately, the added time involved in getting there and back meant I only made it to one purely literary panel over my entire three days. It was a good one, though – “Let’s Get Lost: Worldbuilding with YA and Middle Grade Authors.” I got a good seat for this one!
From left to right, that’s Jeff Giles, Danielle Page, James Dashner, Scott Westerfield, and Delia Sherman. (Not pictured is moderator Cristina Arreola.) I confess James Dashner is the only author I had read (he wrote The Maze Runner), but the entire panel was terrific. All five were interesting and engaging, and I got a lot of useful information out of it. I knew I’d have a hard time getting to these off-site panels, but I made an extra effort to get to this one and I’m so glad I did. The topic might be of particular use to me for a project I’m considering for late 2017, after the third Multiverse Mashup book comes out. (Hint, hint…)
I headed down to Artist Alley next, and, as if I didn’t already know, I got a good sense of how big this con has gotten.
So. Many. People. I did some browsing, spent some money, and photographed some cosplayers.
Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel! I only just noticed the severed turtle heads at the feet of Shredder in the background. Genius.
I love a good group costume theme. Here are the Netflix heroes: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Elektra and Daredevil.
I still had a good chunk of time until my next panel, so I went back up to the show floor for more browsing and spending. And cosplayers!
This sexy Bloodshot was at the Valiant table, as is appropriate.
Every time I went up to the show floor I cruised by the Geeks Out booth, to see who was signing, or if anybody I knew was there. This time around I found artist Max Wittert, who I don’t know but whose webcomic, Jean & Scott, I adore. In fact I adore it so much I bought the collection, and got him to pose for a picture with it.
I knew I would love the book, but I didn’t know it would become my absolute favorite out of everything I bought at the con. Max asked if I’d like a sketch of me in the book, and I said of course because I’m not an idiot. And this was the result.
I think this sketch is the best photo of me that’s ever been taken. I love it so much it hurts. I want to use it as my Tindr profile pic.
No time for swooning over pictures of myself. I had to get to my next panel! It was “Queer Representation in All-Ages and Youth Media.”
From left to right is moderator Jude Biersdorfer, followed by panelists Kat Leyh, Blue Delliquanti, James Tynion IV, and Jeremy Sorese. It was a great panel, and it’s a topic I’m always interested in. I particularly liked hearing from Tynion, his comic The Backstagers, about queer kids finding a community in their high school stage crew (in a magical backstage labyrinth), is fantastic. And as a former queer theater kid myself, it really strikes a chord.
No break before I went right into my next panel, another gay one. I like the gay ones! “Queer Culture: LGBT Presence in Pop Culture.”
Left to right, that’s moderator Jude Biersdorfer (again), David Yost, Dan Avery, Joe Glass, Chun Rosenkranz, and Graham Nolan. This was a lot of fun as well. All the panelists were great but I was mostly there for Yost, the original Blue Power Ranger. He was always my favorite.
After this panel I went to the LGBT meet-up, which was just as excruciating as it was last year. Standing in a room full of strangers and being expected to just go up and talk to them? With no alcohol? Not in my wheelhouse. I left after a few minutes and went back to Artist Alley.
Doctor Fate! Gotta get the Justice Society whenever I find a member – they’re my favorite.
Here’s one I had never seen anyone do before: The Creeper! I love it! I like to credit cosplayers when I can, although that’s made difficult by me always forgetting to ask their names. (It’s always such a rush, you’re already taking up their time with a photo, I’m socially awkward – pick an excuse.) But I got a card from this guy – he’s JB, of JB Entertainingness. Check him out!
There was a lot of love for the new Ghostbusters flick, which made me happy (I really liked it). So I had to grab at least one pic of my favorite, Holtzman. She has Pringles in her pocket.
It had been a very, very, very long day, but I had one last panel: “Your Opinion Sucks! – Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans.”
At the far left is moderator Matt Atchity, and then I fail you, because I did not get the names of the panelists and none of them are on the NYCC website. I can’t find them online either. Sorry, you will have to go to your grave wondering who these people are. But the panel was a riot, and it was a good way to end a tiring day – with something entertaining and not remotely mentally challenging.
Audience members would come up to the mic, name a movie or TV show, say whether and why they thought it was rotten or fresh, and then a panelist would tell them why they were wrong. The host, Grae Drake, was hysterical, the panelists were quick, and the audience was raucous. I had a great time, even if I had only seen maybe two or three of the movies that were discussed. (I don’t see a lot of movies. I’m a book person.) (And a TV person. But nobody wanted to talk about any TV shows.)
And that was it! I was out and home quite late. Here’s my day two loot!
Good stuff! You can see the aforementioned Jean & Scott collection. I also bought a sonic screwdriver, because I don’t know how I have called myself a Doctor Who fanatic for so long without owning one. (I went with the classic Fourth Doctor’s version.) I picked up a Strong Female Character t-shirt from the Geeks Out booth, and down in Artist Alley I got two books I can’t wait to dive into. One is The Complete Our Valued Customers by Tim Chamberlain. Our Valued Customers is a single-panel webcomic about things people say in comic book shops. You should really read it. You will certainly recognize someone (and maybe yourself). And finally I got How Not to Date by Alexa Cassaro, who does comics for Geeks Out, and whose style is one that really appeals to me, and whose site you should most certainly visit! I was happy to take home a book (and a button!).
Then bed, and up again in the morning for day three! Coming soon…
Horror News Network, a site devoted to all things ghoulish in entertainment, just published an interview with me about my new ghost story novelette, The Unnatural Haunting of Mrs. Beverly Snow. It was a great interview, and we talked a bit about LGBT representation in horror.
And if you haven’t seen the new story yet, you can pick it up exclusively at Amazon!
Thursday, October 6, 2016
It’s that time of year again! New York Comic Con is back! I look forward to it all year, taking a long weekend off from work so I can go on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
I applied for a pro pass again this year, which is an amazing deal if you can manage it. They toughened up the application process, so I was very happy to be granted mine. The best part is it lets you enter through a different entrance from everyone else, skipping the line, which this year was wrapping around the block. I’m not the kind of guy to get up at the crap of dawn to wait in line for hours for almost anything, so I was able to get there around 9:30 in the morning and slide right inside.
Right off the bat I saw my first cosplayer, and I took it as a good sign that she was my favorite Star Trek character.
I usually avoid the mainstage panels, since you often have to wait ages in line to get into them, but I arrived a little early this time around because there was one I just couldn’t bring myself to pass by. ReedPOP, the organizers, handle these brilliantly, though – since the badges have little RFID chips in them, you just go to the line, tap in to register, then go away. You come back when it’s time for your panel and are guaranteed entry. How long you wait in line is up to you, depending on how good a seat you want. So I tapped in and then went on to explore the show floor for a while. I spotted this amazing Lego Supergirl.
And a few more cosplayers.
Carol Danvers, in her second Ms. Marvel/Warbird costume. Love that sash!
Raven and Beast Boy!
Pretty soon it was time for the first panel I had planned on attending, “Body of Evidence: How We See Ourselves in Comics.” I’m what they call a social justice warrior, so I try to go to as many panels on diversity as I can. This one was pretty good.
From left to right, the panelists were Birgit Pols, Leeanna Ladouceur, Tim Ferrara, Annit Stoll, Jessica Chautin, David Baxter, and moderator Valeria Acklin. There were a lot of interesting comments about body issues and how different body types are portrayed in media, but I was particularly struck by a comment Pols made about the feedback loop of us being fed a certain ideal by pop culture, our attractions being shaped by what we’re fed, and then pop culture giving back to us body types we’re attracted to.
I had a bit of a break before my next panel. First I got lunch in the massively crowded food court, where I spotted this lovely family.
Doctor, TARDIS, and Dalek! You know what they say, the family that Who’s together, glues together.
I went down to Artist Alley, my absolute favorite part of the con. While there I had a rather excruciatingly embarrassing moment with Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics and current writer of one of my favorite comics, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I told him how much I liked his work, bought a copy of his choose-your-own-adventure Hamlet, To Be or Not To Be, waited for him to sign it, complimented him again, and walked away. Whereupon he said, quite politely, “Uh, that’s twenty bucks.” So, yeah. My social awkwardness made me steal a book from a creator I really admire. I stammered an apology, paid, and walked away. I spent the rest of the con hiding my face whenever I walked by his table, dying slowly of mortification. I’m dying again just thinking about it. Let’s look at more cosplayers, quick.
Green Arrow! I am living for this guy’s facial hair. I mean the whole costume is great, but that goatee is perfect Oliver Queen.
Aquaman! This guy’s ready for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade with those props.
Dazzler, in her classic disco ensemble! Love the hair.
And then it was time for the highlight of my day: “Tales from the TARDIS with Matt Smith, Alex Kingston and Jenna Coleman.” Oh, yeah. This was the panel I had arrived early for. I got back in line a full hour before the panel started to try for a good seat, and I was already pretty far back in line. Whovians are a devoted bunch. But I got in, and being on my own meant I was still able to score a great seat, just a few rows back from the front.
Things started on a bit of a sour note for me – two pre-show hosts came out to warm up the crowd, and one of them made a bit of a transphobic/homophobic joke to a Missy cosplayer. “You’re cute for someone who used to be a man.” Blergh. People laughed. I booed, but nobody heard me. It’s the kind of comment that so many people would think nothing of, which makes it all the worse.
But I let it go once the stars came out. I was too enraptured for my mood to be befouled by thoughtless prejudice.
There they are! So close I could touch them!
I can’t remember the moderator’s name, and Google is no help, but he did a great job of keeping the Q&A moving along. It was an hour of fun stories from some of my favorite people from my favorite show, so I was very, very happy.
Next up was another panel, “Body Confidence and Positivity in Cosplay.”
Left to right are panelists David Baxter, Bernadette Bentley, Robert Franseze and moderator Ivy Doomkitty. This was a really fun panel. I’m not a cosplayer myself, but I really appreciate the talent and dedication cosplayers put into their craft. Combined with my interest in diversity issues, it was fascinating to listen to these four talk with such enthusiasm and positivity about what cosplay has added to their lives. I dug it.
Speaking of cosplay…
That’s black-suit Spider-man, classic Spider-man, and Venom ganging up on the Black Panther. Personally, I think T’Challa could take them all.
Luke Cage, Power Man! Love it.
I was torn for my next panel. One option was “X-traordinary: The LGBT Characters of the X-Men.” I didn’t go to that, and kind of regretted it later when I heard that Peter David went on a bizarre racist tirade about the Romani people. I mean, I know it was ugly and uncomfortable, but it also feels like a real “you should have been there” moment. I watched video later, and yeah, it was pretty nasty. His apology on his blog didn’t cut it for me, either – felt like a deflection, and then in the comments section a doubling-down on his original statements. Really sad, as I like David’s work and he’s so progressive in other ways.
While I try to hit as many LGBT panels as I can, at the same time was “Using Tumbl to Sell Your Idea (From Marketing to Webcomics).” As much fun as NYCC is, I’m there primarily for business purposes, so anything that might be useful to my writing career has to take priority. I love Tumblr but have never found it of much use to me as a writer, and I was hoping to pick up some tips.
From left to right, that’s Zack Rosenberg, Marlene Bonnelly and Amanda Brennan, all from Tumblr, and then some creative Tumblr users, Nick Tapalansky, Kendra Wells, and C.B. Cebulski. The panel was interesting, but focused very much on Tumblr as a visual medium – most of the tips pertained more to artists than to writers. I’m not sure I got a whole lot of useful information that I didn’t already know, but it was entertaining and I’m glad I went.
I had a little time to kill, and found one ominous cosplayer…at least, I hope she was a cosplayer…
Death! Eep! I’m too young!
My last panel didn’t start until 8pm, but it was worth waiting for: “Race & Sexuality: A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tee “Vixen” Franklin & Steve Orlando.” I’m a big fan of both Coates and Orlando, and an admirer of Franklin’s work on furthering the conversation about diversity in comics, so there was no way I’d miss this.
From left to right that’s moderator Jonathan W. Gray, Orlando, Coates, and Franklin. It was a great panel, with a lot of illuminating info on Coate’s Black Panther and Orlando’s Midnighter and Virgil. Some tension arose when Franklin called Marvel out for going outside the comics industry to find their first black woman writer, a situation that Coates pointed out applied to him as well (Black Panther is his first comics work), but the awkwardness got smoothed over. (Mostly.)
And that was it! I headed out for dinner with some friends before making the trek home. Here’s my loot from day one:
Looking back now this was a fairly light day. The top row is all freebies. A couple of paperbacks from the Penguin Random House table that I will probably never read. They look fine, it’s just that I still haven’t read the free books I picked up last year. Why did I take them, then? What, and pass up free books? I also got some free comics from Dynamite, which I will read, and a postcard from someone that I haven’t looked at yet. I bought the first trade of Midnighter from Steve Orlando and got it signed, and there’s To Be or Not To Be, the horrifying story of my purchase of which from Ryan North I told earlier. And then there’s the convention program, with Wonder Woman looking very martial.
Then it was to bed, to get some rest so I could do it all over again the next day!
Day two coming soon…
I’ve got a new article up over at Geeks Out! It’s a snarky but loving look at Extraño, mainstream comics’ first gay superhero. (Yup, he beat Northstar’s coming out by almost five years.) Extraño has taken a lot of guff over the years from those who think he’s too much of a stereotype, but I adore him. This is the first of two parts, covering his initial appearances in the DC Comics limited series Millennium. Take a look!
I’ve got a new article up at Geeks Out! Selling Yourself at Flame Con: An Insider’s Guide covers my experiences as a vendor at the queer comic convention, and offers some tips for anyone who might consider getting a table next year. Take a look, leave a comment, show your love!