Tagged: Emerald City Comicon

Martha Thomases: Well, We Do Need Those Stinkin’ Badges, So…

The DisciplineReedPOP has done it again. They messed up the Emerald City Comicon. It’s not permanent damage (at least, I hope not), and they’ve taken steps to fix things, but I suspect that they still don’t entirely understand what happened.

I don’t know anyone at ReedPOP, nor do I have a source who clues me in on their inner workings. Everything I say is speculation, nothing more.

Last week saw the release of the first issue of The Discipline from Image Comics by writer Peter Milligan and artist Leandro Fernandez. I have loved Peter Milligan for more than 20 years, and eagerly bought the issue. I’ve read it, don’t entirely understand what’s going on, and look forward to more story.

Image is holding its Expo, formerly a free-standing event, at Emerald City this year. As a result there will be a lot of Image creative talent at the show, and I imagine a fair amount of cross-promotion. One of the elements of this marketing concept is to put Image art on the badges for attendees.

And that’s where the problem began. The Sunday badge sports the cover image from The Discipline #1, a woman in shadow, her blouse being opened by a monster’s hand. If you read the actual comic, you’ll see that this is a complicated situation, unsettling but consensual. On the badge, with no other context, it just looks creepy and rape-y.

Social media blew up, and many women said they found the artwork offensive, even triggering. As a comic book cover, they have the option to walk away and read something else. As a badge to get into a convention they already paid for, the choice is to throw away the admission price or suck it up.

ReedPOP admitted they had a problem and offered a solution. To quote from the link, “We would like to extend the offer to all Fans who are concerned that they may exchange their Badge on Sunday at Will Call for a different Badge that does not feature that art.”

I’m not sure I like this solution. It means that, if I have on the replacement badge, I’ve identified myself as a person who was abused, or a feminist, or some other political position that I might not want to discuss on a day when I just want to look at comic books, meet creators and other fans, and maybe dress up like my favorite super heroine.

Who am I kidding? I’m always delighted to be identified as a feminist. Still, I would like it to be my choice, not ReedPOP’s.

This could be chalked up to a simple misstep if ReedPOP hadn’t made almost the exact same mistake two years ago. And they responded in almost exactly the same way.

It’s not as if ReedPOP isn’t trying. They have an excellent anti-harassment policy that demands respect and consideration for everyone. Even better, that sentiment is echoed in the convention’s general rules. Both of these documents demonstrate an understanding of what fans want and need in their convention experience.

And it’s also interesting to see how far ReedPOP goes to show their customers they get it. This article illustrates how they are bending over backwards to celebrate cosplay and cosplayers on their own terms.

So what can we do about the badge business?

I don’t think they do these things maliciously. To paraphrase Chris Rock, this isn’t Boko Haram sexism, it’s sorority sexism. It’s an attitude that is so entrenched in our society that, unless it affects you directly, you might not notice.

Therefore, the solution, it seems to me, is to collect people who will notice. Form a committee and, before finalizing these kinds of decisions, run it by them. I’m not saying that victims of sexism (and racism and ableism and homophobia and xenophobia and holy crap we have swallowed a lot of hate in our society) should have a veto over creative content. Instead, I’m suggesting that they might notice a message ReedPOP doesn’t intend to send before it is sent. The committee would not act as censors who ban things, but as copy editors who improve clarity.

Yeah, you heard me. I’m saying that Fowler and Strunk & White are important tools for radicals.

And marketing geniuses.

And allies.

Emerald City Comicon Reports 52% Female Attendance

Emerald City Comicon Reports 52% Female Attendance

Mike Gold: Of Mice and Cheese

Gold Art 140416Like most businesses, we here at ComicMix have regular senior staff meetings. By “regular” I mean “every week or two” and not “structured.” Last week while we were working on our convention schedule (Glenn to WonderCon, Adriane, Martha, Emily, Evelyn and me at Washington’s Awesome Con, me at C2E2, etc. etc. and endlessly etc.), I wondered out loud “when does the so-called convention season actually begin?”

Adriane voiced Emerald City, in Seattle. Everybody concurred. Well, everybody but me. I suggested “New Year’s Day.”

OK. I’ll admit it. When it comes to comics conventions that have little to do with comics, I’m a bit burnt out. My first big show was Phil Seuling’s hallowed 1969 program in New York, I helped organize the Chicago Comicon and helped run it for its first ten years, and I represented First Comics, DC Comics, arrogantMGMS and ComicMix at approximately one billion shows. It’s possible that Martha’s actually done more of them. So when I parse out my time and energy, I prefer to be at comic conventions that actually have something to do with… you know… comic books. Go figure.

My favorite shows are MoCCA in New York, the Baltimore Comic Con in (you guessed it) Baltimore, and Heroes in North Carolina. These shows are nearly 100% focused on comics. There are others, to be sure, and Emily’s been telling us Awesome Con is, ummm, awesome. I’ll probably know first-hand in a couple days.

My least favorite shows are the big clusterfucks that have little or virtually nothing to do with comic books. At the top of this list, most certainly, is the San Diego Comic-Con. Often, I feel those folks who are interested in comics just get in the way of the autograph buyers and media gawkers. I have no idea how the show continues to justify its tax-exempt status: it’s been years since they’ve bothered with their well-advertised mission statement. And now that the nearby hotels and restaurants caught on to the show, San Diego is a very expensive way to spend the better part of a week.

The people at Reed Pop (New York Comic-Con and C2E2 in Chicago) might have been somewhat interested in the comic book medium when they started out, but now they’re jut a gaggle of San Diego wannabes. I get that: Reed is a business and the best way to make big money at a comic book convention is to load it up with media has-beens and almost-wases and treat the fans and comics dealers like afterthoughts at best. I live in New York and I’m from Chicago and I have a lot of work to do at both shows. But there’s this “diminishing rewards” thing going on, and I no longer attend either show on Sundays. Next week’s C2E2 is up against the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, and for those of us who are fans of old paper – including comic books – this is a far more entertaining affair. I’ve done a lot of business there as well, and I have a lot of friends that go there and not to C2E2. That’s where I’ll be a week from Sunday.

I will have been to about a dozen shows this calendar year, so forgive me if I act like my sphincter muscle seems like it’s set to 1000 pounds per inch. I’m a fan of many media, but first and foremost I’m a comics fan. I prefer comic book shows to autograph shows, and I prefer not wasting three hours standing in line to get into a desired panel.

I’m looking forward to Washington’s Awesome Con  this weekend, and ComicMix will be set up and in force. Drop by and say hello. Feel free to tell me I’m full of it and/or that you haven’t been to the San Diego Comicon but you’re dying to do so.

I know how you feel. I used to feel that way, myself.

Martha Thomases: A Call to Alarms

Thomases Art 140207This is the time of year when the ComicMix crew starts to firm up our attendance at various comic conventions in the year ahead. It’s a frustrating process because there are a lot of shows and we can’t go to all the ones we’d like to attend.

It also makes me really angry.

Last year was the first in a long time that I went to a bunch of cons. It was fascinating and fun most of the time, but annoying at others. Twenty years after we started Friends of Lulu, there are still remarkably few women invited to be guests at the shows.

This is odd, because there are a lot of women working in the industry, and (capitalists take note) even more buying comics and tickets to cons. Wouldn’t show organizers like to demonstrate to this market segment that they are welcome and valued?

I, for one, am sick of complaining about it. I’ve decided to do something.

I want to use my position as a busy body on this website to point out conventions that don’t have many women on their guest list. For example, Emerald City Con, which I’ve always wanted to go to and sounds amazing has, on their website, a list of 235 guests, of which 20, I think, are women (I qualify that because there are some names that could be appropriate for any gender).

Here’s another example. Heroes Con, which is one of my favorites, has 48 announced guests, and only four are women.

The Asbury Park Con has announced 54 guests, and three are women. No women listed on any panels currently scheduled.

A press release I received today from Baltimore Comic-Con said, “This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Greg Capullo (Batman); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men: Battle of the Atom); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Tommy Lee Edwards (Suicide Risk); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); David Finch (Forever Evil); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Barry Kitson (Empire); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Eric Powell (The Goon); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); John K. Snyder III (Zorro Rides Again); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe: A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Matt Wagner (Grendel); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).”

As you can see, that is two women.

There can be a lot of reasons for this. Sometimes, publishers promote their “hot” talent for guest spots. Sometimes, the people planning the show want a particular kind of fan to attend, and that kind of fan has testicles.

However, when there are no women on the guest list, not only does it send the false message that women haven’t achieved prominence in our corner of the entertainment industry, it also reduces the number of women on panels, taking part in our public conversations.

So I’d like to keep track of who is being welcoming to women, and who isn’t. I would also be delighted to report on who is being welcome to other groups who are under-represented, such as people of color and LGBTQ folks. It would be my honor to be your ally.

I’m not asking for a quota at shows. I want to see more women, but I don’t have a number in mind. I’m not making any demands. I’m simply reporting facts, gathered from promotional material (including websites) created by the shows’ promoters.

It is my opinion that if there are more women welcomed as guests at these shows, there will be fewer incidents such as this. As I said in a previous column, “It would be easier for women to be taken seriously by convention goers if they were taken seriously by convention planners. I don’t think we should sit back and wait for others to fix the problem. I think we need to fix it ourselves. Every time we see bad behavior, we should say something, loudly. Every time a convention or industry event ignores women, we should ridicule them for their lack of knowledge about our industry and its future.”

So while I’m trying to keep track of how many women are treated as professionals at shows, I’d also like to also offer my mailbox (martha@comicmix.com) as a place where women can share their unpleasant experiences with disrespectful men and boys at the same shows. With their permission, I’d like to ask show promoters to explain how such things can happen under their auspices. If my editor and I think there is a story, we’ll run it.

All e-mails sent to me will be considered to be “on the record” unless there is a compelling reason to keep it confidential. This means that if, instead of keeping to the spirit of this conversation, you hurl gratuitous insults or threat me, I’ll make it public (including taking it to the authorities if I feel threatened).

Let’s stand up for ourselves and let our voices be heard. The people, united, can never be defeated.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

A WEEK FROM THIS AFTERNOON: Oh, that would be telling…


Dennis O’Neil: A Comic Book Convention… About Comic Books?

O'Neil Art 130307…wind down through the labyrinthine passage to the farthest depth of the cavern and there find a wire, and from the wire will come a spark, and from the spark a flame and from the flame a light that will illuminate the truth…

Well, sometime, maybe. But not today. Today is for blobbing – or, if you prefer a slightly classier and more contemporary work that I learned just this afternoon, chillaxing. Yesterday was the ordeal of being pulled for hours through a tube that’s a teeny bit narrower than I am while breathing sulfur or, as some would call it, airline travel.

I’ve been doing it pretty regularly for almost half-a-century and so you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Okay, I’m resigned to it, but that’s not exactly the same as being used to it.

The occasion, this brisk and, in some areas, snowy March, was a visit to a comics convention in a city I have fond memories of, Seattle. Now, some of you who are my age and have retained the ability to read and thus are reading this, may recall the early fanzines: generally produced on mimeograph machines on cheapish paper; these were not slick and often not very professional, but they had the charm of work done for the love of it, with no hope of gain other than the satisfaction of indulging in a cherished hobby. These publications often featured “convention reports,” accounts of visits to science fiction or comic book gatherings, written by the zine’s publisher or one of that person’s friends. About those conventions: some fans, a professional or two, maybe a movie, maybe – a real treat! – a reel of outtakes from film or television. And maybe…even the appearance of an actor from film or tv. (The first con I attended featured Buster Crabbe.)

Them days is gone forever, Clem. Any convention report would have to be quite lengthy to do justice to its subject. There were, give or take, 75,000 attendees in Seattle and a whole roster of show biz celebrities topped by Patrick Stewart or, as those of you adverse to reading credits might know him, Jean Luc Picard, captain of the starship Enterprise. This mammoth gathering is not the biggest convention – the ones held in New York City and San Diego are bigger – but its still pretty awesome and, I was told, has doubled in size since last year, so…watch your backs, New York and San Diego!

What can I bitch about? Not much. The accommodations bordered on luxurious and everyone we encountered – I’m talking everyone – was friendly and courteous.

What did I like? Well, let’s skip the women – hordes of lovely human beings in costumes, many with interesting tattoos and didn’t my dirty old man merit badge almost burn a hole through my vest! Let’s skip them and remark on how the idea of a convocation devoted to good ol’ comic books didn’t seem to be lost among all the show biz glitter and bling.

Yeah, I’d go back, even if I had to be pulled through a tube while breathing sulfur.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Emerald City Comicon site hacked

Emerald City ComiCon

As someone who’s had to deal with a lot of hacked websites recently, I can’t help but sympathize with the Emerald City Comicon, whose site has been hacked and backups deleted, all with less than a month to go to this year’s con in Seattle.

Although the Emerald City Comicon site is down, you can still buy tickets: http://ow.ly/hgGe2 March 1-3 #eccc

You can get also updates at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/emeraldcitycomicon March 1-3 #eccc

Media interested in badges/celebrity interviews at Emerald City Comicon write Joe Parrington directly at joep(@ symbol) emeraldcitycomicon.com.

Go help them out, and know that the show is still scheduled to go on.

Convention reports collected

Convention reports collected

Seek and ye shall find!  Yesterday we talked about Heidi Meeley’s efforts at consolidating links to reports about the recent Emerald City Con.  Today we find two more comprehensive ECC link posts, from Laura Gjovaag and Tom Spurgeon, Tom calling his contribution "Collective Memory" which was just what we were hoping someone would start.  We’re sure somewhere on CR Tom has gathered all his Collective Memory posts, but we can’t find them in a cursory glance at his resources page.  Then again, we couldn’t find ComicMix listed either.


Emerald City Con reports

Emerald City Con reports

Heidi Meeley at Comics Fairplay, which had a booth at this year’s Emerald City Con, is collecting everyone’s ECC reports to put all in one place.  If you wrote about the con and your report isn’t included in her listing, please let her know.

A link post like Heidi’s is one of the best ways to record for posterity everyone’s memories of their participation in the yearly comicon circuit, and it’s hoped that other con-goers can put something like this in place for other upcoming gatherings.  Although we suspect a San Diego report link post would be a near impossibility…

Anime on the move

Anime on the move

Anime conventions are running hot and cold this year.

IVC2 reports that Anime Expo, currently the nation’s largest anime convention with over 40,000 in attendance last year, will be moving back to its original home at the Long Beach (CA) Sports Arena on June 29 through July 2.  A highlight of the show is sure to be the return engagement of "AX Singing Idol" — details can be found at the AX website.  Be sure to pack the sunscreen!

We used the word "currently" up there because Reed Exhibitions, the people who brought you the New York Comic Con, have been busy organizing the first New York Anime Festival, to be held at the Javits Center on December 7 through 9.

According to Reed’s press release, the con will "span the complete breadth of anime pop culture including exclusive and extensive screenings, a gala cosplay masquerade, and sessions with the biggest names in anime from Japan, Asia, and America. The event will also explore the Japanese cultural experience with a showcase of both traditional and cutting-edge Japanese cuisine, apparel, and lifestyles." Dress warmly for the late fall!

And if you simply can’t wait until then, particularly if you live in the Northwest US and aren’t all tired out from the Emerald City Con, don’t forget that Sakura-Con 2007 ("the oldest and most well-attended Anime Convention in the Pacific Northwest — non-profit, all ages, all volunteer and ‘for the fans by the fans’") starts tomorrow, April 6, through Sunday the 8th at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

Logos for each of these three conventions are pictured at right.  That’s a lot of anime, but really just a small cross-section of the actual anime con circuit, which is easily as impressive as the mainstream comicon circuit…

Trolling Emerald City Con

Trolling Emerald City Con

When you go to a comic con, it’s always a good idea to have a gimmick or two – some unique stamp that distinguishes you from other fans, makes you easy to remember, etc.  For Laura Gjovaag, one of her best hallmarks (aside from her sparkling personality) is Torvald the Troll.  You can read about Torvald’s origin here.

Laura was very busy taking Torvald around to, and snapping photos of him with, various comic pros and movie stars attending the Emerald City Comicon this past weekend.  The great thing about these photos is how posing with Torvald often brings out the personality of the person in the shot.  At right is Laura’s photo of Torvald and Margot Kidder.

You can read Part 1 of Laura’s Emerald City con report here.