Comic Con 2010: Day Four
There were only three main goals for the Con on Day 4 – the Women of Marvel Panel and to secure Robert Kirkman and Peter David’s signature (and nerdily gush to them about how much I love their work).
We arose at a reasonable Comic Con hour of 8am, stuffed our crap into bags, checked out and grabbed our last poorly organized shuttle to the Convention Center (screw you National City Holiday Inn, screw you!).
We lugged our bags immediately to Bag Check, marveling at the eerily empty Hall H line. Once checked, we scuttled over to a 2/3s empty room for the Women of Marvel panel. I wanted this to be one of the highlights of the convention.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t.
THE WOMEN OF MARVEL PANEL
It started out on a pretty good note, and the questions were mostly all supportive, engaging and informative. The featured guests (from left to right in the photo below) are Kathryn Immonen, Judy Stephens, Marjorie Liu, Laura Martin and Christina Strain.
However, it started to unravel towards the end when Strain (who up to that point had been my favorite panelist) uttered the fateful words “primarily men read superhero comics.” It was in the last five or so minutes of the panel, and I desperately wanted to know why the panelists (aka MARVEL) think that is the case. These are women in the superhero industry, working inside of the major publishing companies. They have an opportunity to explore that assumption, turn it on it’s head and invite more women back into the superhero world.
Yes, I say BACK. I think there was a time when superhero books were for women, but I think we’ve been shoved out in the last decade by publishing companies that fail (like so many other entertainment venues) to recognize the female audience as existing.
It’s fucking offensive to purchase a Comic Con ticket, spend four days walking around with an equal mix of male and female nerds and then be told by a woman who works for Marvel that as far as their concerned, I am not a relevant factor in their mainstream books. WTF!?!?
Perhaps it was my exhaustion, frustration with the Avengers movie cast and general disposition towards the unfair and untrue assumption that superhero books are for boys, but I found myself seething in anger by the end of the panel. Especially since the last two questions were essentially “why does there need to be a woman of marvel panel?”
It’s a totally valid question, which none of the women addressed. They were simply shilling how “good times” and “equal opportunity” the Marvel world is…when that’s absolutely not the perception by the fanbase. The studs that get trotted out of the stable and posted all over the Top 10 Famous Comic Book Creators are primarily men.
OK, so maybe they weren’t there to address the under-representation of female characters in comic books. I can understand that. I was completely fine with learning more about them as artists and perhaps finding myself compelled to pick up some of their work.
But the can of worms was opened (interestingly enough, by two male questioners) and it was not handled well or honestly.
The Women of Marvel panel exists because there are very few women artists in the spotlight in the comic book industry, and there are lots of women reading comic books who want to know more about women creating comic books.
It doesn’t matter at this point. I feel quite defeated. By the time I had worked up the nerve and frustration – I didn’t get to ask my question and the panel ended 10 minutes early and tons of families and children were entering for the Hot Wheels panel immediately following.
Basically, the last 10 minutes erased a lot of the progress and interesting points being raised by the women (especially about how creepy some comic book shops can be). There was even an awesome moment where a comic book shop proprietor asked how he could be more inclusive of women. I thought the panelists did a great job of answering that question.
But fuck. I mean…I spent a lot of money, time and energy to attend this event and make myself known as a fan (and a Marvel fan) to the industry, but it’s clear to me at this point that women (minorities as well) are still so back of the bus in mainstream comic books it’s enough to make me want to give up on mainstream books completely.
So yeah…that kinda put a damper on the next 20 minutes or so, but then things turned around when I spotted Jo Chen and Andy Owens signing at the Dark Horse booth. We got Andy Owens signature on our Buffy #1 (it’s my goal to get the signatures of everyone featured on that issue) and Jo Chen signed our Dark Horse autograph book. I wanted to chat with her a bit, but the line was long and we needed to rush over to Peter David.
But Dan had been stopped by a dude with a video camera, and Erin informed me he was being video-taped for a documentary about Joss Whedon (he was sporting his Jayne shirt at the time). We stood off to the side until he was done, and then the dude noticed the Buffy #1 comic, so we started chatting about Joss and he videotaped me waxing effusive about the Whedonverse. So potentially Dan and I could be in a Joss-umentary. Hmph.
We didn’t have much time to ponder because the Peter David signing was calling our name. Ugh. Could major booths like Marvel and WB be any less informative about where and when lines are forming? We got into a line with some other PAD enthusiasts…only to realize that the signing was happening on the other side of the booth. And the Marvel booth is freaking huge!
The line was ugly and jutted out into one of the main thoroughfares and at some point we were standing right in front of the Captain America shield (one of the movie props) so I thought fangirls and boys were going to murder me if I didn’t get out of the way of their cameras. But the line eventually started moving and it was a pleasure to chat with the dude in line ahead of us who was also wanting to get his MadroX book signed. He even handed off his Futurama Fulfillment ticket to us (ah, the joys of the fulfillment room).
Right before the PAD signing, the lady behind me in line introduced herself to one of the artists as STORM from FREAKING AMERICAN GLADIATORS (1990-95). I almost peed myself with surprise and excitement. I used to LOVE that show as a kid, and couldn’t believe I was in line front of her. Well yeah, got to shake her hand. Awesome.
Then it was Peter David time. I made sure to be calm and semi-coherent in thanking him for bringing me back into the superhero comic fold and writing one of my favorite X-Series. He was cool enough to let me snap a pic with him and then it was over like that.
Hmmm. I wish we could have met under a different circumstance. And that I had asked him about the potential for more Fallen Angel stories. Perhaps another time, another con? Comic Con is so massive, there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for the kind of connection I’ve experienced with artists at other events. Boo to that.
Then – we hightailed it over to the Image booth for the Robert Kirkman signing. Earlier we’d snagged a ticket with a # and the idea was to return to the booth to check in on what number they were servicing…therefore eliminating a need for a line. Well, people were so used to queuing by Day 4 that a line formed anyway, and I sort of felt like a heathen when we cut in front of it (because we had the appropriate number!!)…and we would have been cutting in front of a little boy. We let him go first, and Kirkman was super cool to the kid, even giving him a free comic book.
Then it was my turn. Dan was there this time, so we both ended up chatting with Kirkman. He signed our Marvels Zombies #1, the Walking Dead TPB #1 and a Walking Dead T-Shirt I hurriedly purchased.
I thanked him for writing one of my favorite series, congratulated him on the success and asked if he was planning on writing any future episodes…he responded with “there’s the potential.” Charlie Adlard, the artist, joked that he should stop writing the comic book for TV and of course we said he definitely could not do that. Another pic was snapped…and that was the tail end of my Comic Con wish-list being fulfilled.
It was around 2pm by the time we checked off the last items on our agenda. So the final business was all logistics, such as getting our swag at the fulfillment room (Captain America, Thor and Cowboys & Aliens T-Shirts), unchecking our bags, flagging a Taxi and getting to the airport.
The madness didn’t stop there…our flight on Alaska from San Diego to Portland had been changed to a commuter plane with a lay-over at LAX. If you’ve never ridden a commuter plane before…it’s incredibly tiny, about half the size of a regular Boeing 737. You actually go out onto the tarmac and climb up a flight of stairs to board.
We finally departed LAX around 9:15pm, and ended up seated next to a comic book artist who lives in Portland and works for BOOM Studios! (which is a Disney property). She draws Muppet comics. We chatted about the convention (she drunkenly met Joss Whedon at 2am in an elevator). She’s originally from England (but spent time in Australia) so she had a delightful accent.
We chatted until about 15 minutes after the plane took off, then I passed out on Dan’s sun-burned shoulder and didn’t wake up until 15 minutes before the final descent.
It’s always such a pleasure to fly back into Portland. I never know how much I love and miss this city (and everyone in it, including my furry bastard children) until I’m hovering above it, preparing to land.
Comic Con – you were a wild, strange, frustrating, exciting, joyful, sometimes scary, oftentimes exhilirating, enormous moment in my life. Thanks for taking my mind off of everything that’s been happening lately. Even though I didn’t get to lounge by a pool or play in the ocean…you gave me perspective. You were a decided break from the real world, just when I needed it.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more pictures and videos that didn’t make the blog yet – including amazing costumes, The Walking Dead panel and more!