Tagged: Mags Visaggio

Joe Corallo: Diversity, Comics, and the Culture War

There are so many things that have happened in the past week that I’d love to talk about. I’d love to talk about our successful Kickstarter campaign for Mine! which raised $9,360 over our goal. I’d love to talk about what I thought of Runaways #1. Unfortunately, what I need to talk about is Aubrey Sitterson and Diversity and Comics.

Aubrey Sitterson is currently writing one of the G.I. Joe comics over at IDW. He has a reputation for poking the bear when it comes to those on the right who are upset about decisions he’s made in changing characters and the roles of said characters in order to create a more diverse book that will appeal to new audiences; something that properties like G.I. Joe could always use. Last week on September 11th, Aubrey sent off a couple of tweets regarding 9/11. He talked about who has a right to be upset about what happened on that day and questioned the sincerity of some people expressing anger and grief over what happened.

While I agree with Aubrey’s politics in terms of pushing for wider diversity in comics, in comments regarding 9/11 were very inappropriate. They were not comments made to friends in private, or even on a private Facebook page; they were public statements made on his public Twitter account. I have every right to be offended by what he said as do many other people.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. I’ve been disappointed to see some reporting on the left side of comics politics that make it out as if Aubrey Sitterson’s comments didn’t mean what he said they mean, and that by being upset with his words that we are somehow allowing those on the right side of comics politics to score some sort of victory. While I don’t feel that he needs to be fired or anything like that, we don’t have to act like what he said was great and unworthy of criticism either. No one wants to hear your hot edgy take about 9/11 on 9/11. No one.

That being said, if the reason you’re calling for the firing of Aubrey Sitterson is because of Diversity and Comics, then we need to talk about that.

Diversity and Comics is the equivalent of a right-wing pundit for the comics industry; think Alex Jones’ Info Wars. He came to the scene earlier this year and his following has been growing massively on Twitter and YouTube. I hadn’t been paying too much attention to what he was doing, but over time he began to make very personal attacks towards writers I admire like Kwanza Osajyefo as well as personal friends and Mine! contributors Sina Grace, Gabby Rivera, and Mags Visaggio. He has stated that he wants a Comics Culture War. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

What Diversity and Comics does, similar to what Trump and the far right often do, is to take a universally recognized problem and spin things to find a scapegoat they can rally around using bigotry and guttural emotions. Many people would agree that the comic industry could be doing better, or at least we would like to see it do better. Diversity and Comics takes those who are looking for an answer to why comics aren’t doing better and offers up a solution; it’s SJWs, the far left, women, queer and minority creators. This results in targeting specific creators and vile, personal attacks fueled by bigotry and hate being thrown around in an effort to try to force people out of comics that they don’t like. I don’t care to share any of those attacks in this piece.

People often talk about leaving trolls alone and they’ll just disappear. In this instance, Diversity and Comics has been growing his following this whole year. He has more Twitter followers than ComicMix, a Patreon where he brings in several hundred dollars a month, YouTube channel with over 37k subscribers and over 9 million video views, with many videos over 10k views a piece with hundreds of comments. I don’t see him going away anytime soon, and his followers and subscribers have grown between this past weekend and me writing this. Many people were wrong about how much support a candidate like Trump would have, and you may be wrong about how much support Diversity and Comics has too.

This is a sizeable group of people that exist. They want comics for them; them being cishet white guys and some outliers. In their effort to do so despite having the majority of mainstream comics already catering to them, they have made many creators at best feel unwelcome and at worst feel unsafe. It’s not a sustainable way to operate in a fandom the size of comics.

Some of the people involved will never change the way they feel or operate, and that’s how it is. Some of them got caught up in the rhetoric and maybe don’t truly believe the horribly sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and Islamophobic words used to promote the ideals of Diversity and Comics, but rather found his answers about the industry to be plausible on the surface. Those people may come back around one day as they see he does not have the real answers to the woes of the comics industry, but rather an agenda to craft a comics fan base in his own image.

Targeted creators do not want you to look at what Diversity and Comics is saying about them and reporting back. Don’t do that. It just hurts people. What you can do is if you see inappropriate behavior, nasty personal attacks, or threats to report them to Twitter or whichever platform you are using and see it on. The comics community is small, but we need to step up and help creators to feel safe and welcome.

Please help all of us to have a safer, more welcoming community for creators now and well into the future.

Joe Corallo: Still Mine!ing


This column going up marks the first full week of our Kickstarter campaign for Mine!, our comics anthology to benefit Planned Parenthood. As of this typing, we’re 44% funded. Not bad for one week.

And a busy week at that. It’s been all hands on deck over at ComicMix and Molly Jackson and I have spent time together than we’d care to discuss. It’s a wild ride, and we still have a few weeks to go.

One of our stops on said wild ride was Flame Con. I’ve been going since the first one in 2015 and have tabled at the past two. This year Molly printed out a lot of fliers, brought recording equipment, signs, and coffee. That last part may have been the most important.

Pat and Amy Shand

We had quite a few of our Mine! contributors at the con including Sina Grace, Justin Hall, Marc Andreyko, Pat Shand, Amy Shand, Mags Visaggio, Aria Baci, Alexa Cassaro, Stevie Wilson, Robby Barrett, Rosalarian, Tee Franklin and Fabian Lelay. Molly took some great pictures with everyone, got fliers to their tables, talked us up at panels, and more. We were also approached by people about potential venues for book release parties and signings. One of the people that approached us about that was our contributor Andrea Shockling, who is illustrating ComicMix own Mindy Newell’s story. It was wonderful to get to see so many friends and meet contributors that I hadn’t previously gotten the honor of doing so.

Flame Con, as always, is a positive experience for me. I’ve tabled both years with Robby Barrett and he always does well with his prints. Steven Universe and Pokémon are both still real popular at this convention.

I realized that one of the things about Flame Con I like so much is they don’t have a lot in terms of people looking to flip comics, or those guys with the short boxes on a cart that try to get creators to sign entire long runs or comics they’ve done. Part of that is because they don’t have a lot of people selling back issues and another part is because they don’t have too many legacy creators you could do that with, but it’s still nice. I hope it stays that way as long as it can.

Okay, I know this is short and I didn’t really get into much, but working on this Kickstarter is time-consuming and I have to get right back to that. Thank you so much to everyone that’s pledged and spread the word so far. Keep spreading the word about the Mine! Kickstarter and I’ll be back next week to complain more about how tired I am.

Joe Corallo: Mine! MINE!

The past few weeks I’ve been talking a lot about other people’s Kickstarter campaigns. This week, here at ComicMix, I’m here to talk about our Kickstarter campaign that is active right now. That’s right; ComicMix LLC is working on a new project – a major comics collection to benefit Planned Parenthood.

I’m going to get into that in a minute.

This project has been in the works for nearly two years now. It started back in December of 2015. Fellow ComicMix columnist and my co-editor Molly Jackson and I were at Mia Pizza in Astoria NY. I was a mere two months into my tenure as a columnist here and we were discussing something we could do. We immediately thought of doing a comics anthology. We had a lot of ideas we were throwing around, including a throwback Crime Does Not Pay style anthology.

Eventually, Molly and I went on to bug our EIC Mike Gold about it. We thought of different things we could do, and different strategies we could take. I had a connection to Planned Parenthood and after discussing it with the ComicMix team we moved forward on that. After many, many months of moving up the chain, discussions, conference calls, and an election that shook us all deeply and put the idea on the back burner, we have finally come to a point where we can move forward with Mine!, A Comics Collection To Benefit Planned Parenthood. It was a lot of work from everyone to put this together, and I’m so excited I get to be a part of th15is.

Both Molly and I are editing this collection. We’ve been working with a wide variety of people in comics and beyond in lining up contributors for this. We’ve been provided incredible stories and gorgeous artwork for this book that has been inspiring to the whole ComicMix team. It swells our hearts to see so many people in comics coming together for such an important cause. It’s this coming together and working together that gives us all hope that things can and will get better.

Below is the press release. As I stated earlier, the Kickstarter is live. Please share this around and please consider pledging so ComicMix can put out a high-quality comics collection with incredible talent for one of the worthiest causes that I think of.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND COMICMIX L.L.C. TEAM-UP FOR MINE!,

A COMICS ANTHOLOGY FUNDRAISER

ComicMix Editor-in-Chief Mike Gold today announced the forthcoming publication of a graphic novel of original short stories to celebrate the important work of Planned Parenthood. The volume, to be edited by Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson, will be published this fall in celebration of over 100 years of Planned Parenthood.

Mine! will feature the work of Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Sandman), Gail Simone (Wonder Woman), Yona Harvey (Black Panther), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance, Umbrella Academy), Gabby Rivera (America), Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Witches of Echo Park), Mara Wilson (Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame), Mags Visaggio (Kim & Kim), Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat!), John Ostrander (Suicide Squad), and Jill Thompson (Wonder Woman), among many other top comics creators.

Project Co-Editor Molly Jackson said, “Planned Parenthood is a vital resource for women and men from all walks of life, providing needed health care and support to millions of people all over the world.  We are proud to do whatever we can to bring attention to their amazing work.”

Co-Editor Joe Corallo said, “The comics community is built on freelance labor that relies on the kind of access to healthcare that Planned Parenthood provides. We’re thrilled to see such a diverse group of people in the comics community coming together to support this essential cause.”

A Kickstarter campaign to help finance printing and distribution costs launches August 15th at 8:00 am EST. Mine! will be available in bookstores, comic book shops, and electronically all over the world.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

ComicMix, LLC publishes a line of graphic novels by some of the best new and established talent in the industry.  ComicMix Pro Services works with creators to produce, publish and market their work in a highly competitive marketplace. In addition, ComicMix runs one of the Internet’s most popular comics-oriented pop culture opinion and news sites.

Press inquiries and interview requests can be sent to mine@comicmix.com

Joe Corallo: Share Our Pride

I had other ideas of things I’d write about this week. I’ve been reading a lot of Jon Sable lately, so I was thinking of writing about that. That might be next week’s column. It was also Pride this past weekend, so I decided on a light piece on Pride with some comic and graphic novel recommendations. I’m still gonna recommend some stuff to you, but this piece isn’t going to be as light as I originally attended.

This year was the first year that the New York City Pride Parade here would be televised nationally since the first march nearly forty-eight years ago, a direct reaction to the Stonewall Riots. That is an incredibly big deal.

I attended as a spectator down Christopher Street across the street from the Stonewall Inn. The streets were packed and everyone seemed to be in the right mindset. One of the first groups to walk was the Pulse Nightclub remembrance from G.A.G., Gays Against Guns. They all dressed in white representing one of the forty-nine who were killed by that senseless shooting. This was very powerful both last year and this weekend and I’m sure will be a fixture of Pride for many years to come if not ‘til the very end.

As the parade continued I was able to work my way to a better view. Many floats went by packed with people from all sorts of groups. From pro-LGBT religious groups to Target and Citibank. I did quite enjoy that when the Citibank float was passing by my view that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was blasting from said float. The humor was not lost on me. And yes, Citibank, It is too late to say sorry for those Thank You Points I got screwed out of when you changed your policy.

Something happened during the parade that I should have expected, but didn’t.

There was a protest. And it happened just about right in front of me with a few people in the way to somewhat obscure it. At first we all had no idea what the protest was for. No one around me knew if this was an anti-LGBT protest, which was what many of us thought at first, or if it was a far-left protest… which is what it ended up being.

There were twelve protesters. They had an anti-police brutality/anti-corporation banner. Something about no justice, no pride. They intentionally stopped the parade in front of Stonewall and in front of the NYPD band.

The crowd was all over the place. Someone close by was chanting black lives matter, which is important but was confusing while we were still figuring out what the protesters were there for, which was not Black Lives Matter. Most of the protesters seemed to white men or at least white passing. Some of the crowd started chanting for the police to remove the protesters after ten or so minutes. Eventually the police did so to some cheers and some confusion. It was a peaceful process.

Despite this, it still left me feeling odd and conflicted. On the one hand a lot of people were standing around waiting and not quite understanding what was happening, many of the protesters appeared to be on the more privileged end of queer spectrum, and the parade itself is already an act of defiance with a lot of messages regarding resistance and proper representation of the entire queer spectrum. On the other hand, protest is a fundamental right. Telling anyone where and when protest is appropriate is antithetical to the entire process. It is a slippery slope and far too important a right to risk restriction, whether you agree with the protest or not. It was also handled so peacefully that having any criticism of it just seems a bit out of place.

Despite the fact that this was a nationally televised event, I was still nervous at what the police may do and wonder what could have been if it wasn’t nationally televised. And it was all the more troubling that this was right by Stonewall.

I don’t know how I feel about everything that happened there other than conflicted. I don’t have the answers, but it’s the kind of incident we should be discussing together.

I stayed and watched the parade for another a couple of hours before heading out. Afterwards, I swung past Carmine Street Comics, which had some queer comics creators promoting their work. It was a pretty queer day all around.

This year was an important year for Pride, just as every year before it and every year after that it happens. Some places across the world didn’t have as successful a Pride as we had this year and it’s important to know and remember that.

LGBT acknowledgement and respect doesn’t end here though; it’s year round even if Facebook doesn’t keep the Pride react. You can help support queer comics with queer creators by picking up comics like Iceman, America, and Detective Comics. You can pick up new graphic novels like Nothing Lasts Forever and Bingo Love. You can pick up comics and graphic novels from queer women of color like Mariko Tamaki, Gabby Rivera, Tee Franklin, and Vita Ayala or trans creators like Mags Visaggio, Fyodor Pavlov, Rachel Pollack and Lilah Sturges.

There are so many more creators like them out there too. Queer comics is a whole world in among itself and they produce some of the most thought provoking and forward-thinking comics you will ever read.

I hope you had a chance to celebrate Pride this month, and I hope you keep celebrating by reading the works of those creators and a whole lot more.

 

Joe Corallo: Brave No World

This past week was quite busy. President Trump pushed back against a “so-called” judge, Melissa McCarthy nailed Sean Spicer on SNL, the Patriots pulled off a record-breaking upset that would have never happened if they were playing the Giants, and it was announced that Aspen Comics would be creating new comic with Scott Lobdell writing a black trans woman titled No World. As much as I’d like to hit on all of these topics, I’m going to focus on No World.

So let’s get into it. Aspen’s new comic is a team book. It will have characters from Soulfire, Executive Assistant, Dellec, as well as some new characters. Lobdell described one of the new characters as “Former NFL. 6’5. 250lbs. She’s here. She’s trans. She’s gonna kick evil’s ass!” You can see that Tweet here. We still don’t have a name or much of a background to this character outside of her being a former NFL player, but we have some information we can start examining.

Let’s start with former NFL player bit. When we’re dealing with a trans character and one of the only bits of information we get on them is about something from before they came out, that raises a few red flags. There’s a concern that when cis writers tackle trans characters, that there is an unnecessary focus on transitioning. Take a look at Alters where the character of Chalice is in the process of transitioning and we see her as her Charlie persona about as much as we see her as Chalice. If you look at trans writers like Rachel Pollack and Mags Visaggio, we see kick ass trans women without ever having to see them prior to their transition, hearing them go by their dead name or even knowing about it, and so forth. Unfortunately with her being a former NFL player we are likely here this character’s dead name multiple times. Sometimes cis writers do a good job with this like when Gail Simone had Alysia Yeoh come out as trans, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t approach this with some caution.

Moving on to her being 6’5 and 250 lbs, Scott follows that up using the hashtags #gnc, short for gender nonconforming, and #nonbinary. There is also an image of her that Scott shared with the line “passing is for footballs.” These elements are a bit more interesting. Trans characters in comics are mostly white and mostly attempt to pass. Trans characters of color, particularly black trans women, have been very rarely seen in comics and are also easily of the most victimized members of the queer community. This type of representation is sorely needed.

It’s also important to note that some people who consider themselves gender nonconforming or nonbinary may be okay with she/her/herself as well as they/them/theirself, so that could end up being just fine.

Scott Lobdell is no stranger to creating a trans character. He created Suzie Su for Red Hood and the Outlaws. This particular trans character was a very unflattering portrayal, a villain, and someone who was more than willing to murder children to get what she wants. It’s worth noting this was his only other portrayal of a trans character in comics that has made it into print and should at very least cause many to wait and see how No World plays out before praising or condemning this representation.

Unlike comics like Alters, No World has no trans representation in its creative team, which seems to be mostly straight cis white men. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but when tackling a character like this one it’s not necessarily comforting either.

Scott has at least stated on February 3rd that he’s consulting with some members of the trans community. You can see that Tweet here. He talks of a few trans friends that helped him as well, including Shakina who plays Lola on Difficult People. One thing you may notice following that link, at least at the time I wrote this, is that Scott Lobdell has yet to responded to Mags Visaggio’s questions and offering to consult with Scott on this character.

For the most part, I’m concerned about how this comic will play out. While there is evidence of talking with some trans women, there isn’t any evidence of Scott Lobdell consulting with people who are gender nonconforming or nonbinary. It seems this will also be a story that involves dealing with the characters life pre-transition. It’s also very possible that this character will not even be featured heavily in this series; it’s a team book.

I do hope that Scott will use his position in comics to help trans creators here on out. For example, Neil Gaiman wrote a trans character in The Sandman which helped get Rachel Pollack and Caitlin R. Kiernan noticed by DC Comics, which in turn lead to them working for thay company for years. While the character has been reexamined and there is valid criticism, by helping trans creators get noticed it shows that Neil genuinely cares about the trans community. Paul Jenkins on Alters got Tamra Bonvillain work on that title.

No matter how this particular title develops, I hope Scott Lobdell’s interest in the trans community goes beyond No World and that we’ll see him help lift up this group of comics creators that are too often overlooked.

Joe Corallo: Babes In Trumpland

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babesintrumpland1As many of you may know, this week is Thanksgiving. That magical time of year where you slave away on a big meal for family and friends or bum around watching The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Toyland on TV while everyone else works. At least those used to be on TV. Or you’re in retail and I apologize.

By now you may have started getting your place ready for guests, packing for a trip, or maybe you’ve already reached your destination. You may be really excited for the holiday. You may also be really stressed out.

After a grueling year-and-one-half the 2016 Presidential election has come and gone, and the outcome was shocking to many. Now many of us, particularly white people and those with white relatives, have to face conservative or Trump supporting relatives face to face for the first time at the dinner table since he won the election.

babesintrumpland2This will be the first time since 2004 that they’ll have Presidential election bragging rights. Let’s face it, twelve years is a long time and you’re probably out of practice. Maybe you laughed at them last Thanksgiving when you said Trump might surprise us all. Maybe you chimed in on Facebook to rain on their parade. You might have even gleefully gave them a call after the debates to let them know how woefully unprepared Trump was. Now you’re having to get ready to eat some bird on Thursday, and this year it’s crow.

babesintrumpland4What can be done to make this experience even slightly less miserable, you ask? Well, maybe steering away from politics would be a good call this year for your own well being. Plenty of fun and interesting things have been going on in comics and nerd culture, so let’s talk about that instead.

Doctor Strange is still in theaters. Myself and fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson saw it back when the world was still young and innocent. You still have time to go see it before Thanksgiving and make conversation out of it. Personally, I thought it was middle of the road for Marvel movies. Not the best, and far from the worst. You could also talk about the dated and problematic nature of white man turns to the east to find enlightenment and be a better Asian than actual Asians story if you’re up for it. You could also mention how they couldn’t have the Ancient One be from Tibet because it could have affected the revenue in the Chinese market. Maybe you and your Trump friends and relatives at Thanksgiving can agree that’s nonsense.

babesintrumpland3Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out as well, but I’m not really a Harry Potter guy so you’re on your own there. I’ve seen the first three movies (yes, I know they’re books), and I only saw them because of a guy I was interested in back in college who I imagine probably doesn’t read these. If he does though, sorry John, but I wasn’t that into Harry Potter.

When it comes to comics, you may have to reiterate that yes you’re still into comics and no they aren’t just for kids. You could talk about some of the great moves in comics over the last year. Maybe talk about Tom King, the man with comic writing aspirations who put them all aside for over a decade when joining the CIA after the 9/11 attacks, who’s been knocking it out of the park lately on series like The Vision and Batman.

See? You like patriots too.

You could talk about rising star Mags Visaggio and how she’s gone from little known comic writer to creator of Black Mask Studios’ Kim and Kim and getting to write a backup for DC Young Animal’s Shade The Changing Girl #4. To my knowledge she will be the first trans writer to work on a DC comic since Caitlin R. Kiernan’s last issue of The Dreaming back in May of 2001. This is a positive step not only for diversity in the writers freelancing at DC, but also a victory for anyone that wants to see good writers being given a chance. It could also be an opportunity to discuss with relatives how the LGBTQ community and in particular the trans community are more than what conservative outlets might lead one to believe. They’re actually people, just like them.

We’re at a point now where openly queer writers, Steve Orlando and James Tynion IV, are tackling Supergirl in her new ongoing series and Batman in Detective Comics, respectively. And despite all that happening this year, hell has not opened up and engulfed the world.

Actually… scratch that last sentence.

Also talk to your family about Ta-Nehisi Coates, the national correspondent for The Atlantic and well respected social and political commentator turned comic book writer whose debut issue of Black Panther this year was one of the highest selling comics in over a decade. He perfectly blends politics into a superhero story. Maybe you can impress some of your relatives talking about the intricate, intelligent political thriller Ta-Nehisi Coates is telling in his comics. Maybe some of them, even the Trump supporters, will appreciate Coates’ musings on how corporations take advantage of people and how leaders need to put the needs of their citizens over their own needs. If those Trump supporters do agree with you on that, try to restrain yourself.

You could also talk about Demolition Man coming out as gay in Marvel Comics, but why would you? I can only care so much about retconning obscure characters as queer for some backdoor representation.

And we can all come together to complain about how Star Trek: Discovery got pushed back.

It might be stressful and it might be tough, but we can get through this. Try to open up some of their minds with what’s going on in comics and nerd culture. Try to humanize the world around them. It’s too late to change their votes, but it might not be too late to put their values in perspective.

Joe Corallo: Caitlin R. Kiernan and the Rising Stars

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img_0085Last week I interviewed Rachel Pollack in this space. In my introduction I mentioned that only two trans women have written for DC before. That’s somewhat true, and somewhat not true. It would be true to say that only one trans woman had written for DC, and it would also be true to say that number is three. Rachel Pollack is the only one who has written for DC proper. The late Maddie Blaustein wrote for Milestone Comics, for which DC had (and has) the publishing and distribution rights. Rachel had created a trans character for comics. Today, I’d like to talk about Caitlin R. Kiernan.

In 1996, prior to becoming an accomplished and award-winning author, Caitlin R. Kiernan was an award-nominated author of short stories shopping around a novel. She was fronting a band called Death’s Little Sister, in reference to the character Delirium from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. In that year of 1996 she would be approached by the very same Neil Gaiman to write for The Dreaming, a Sandman spinoff, for DC’s Vertigo imprint. Caitlin R. Kiernan would go on to say yes, becoming the second and last trans woman to write for the Vertigo imprint.

For those of you keeping track at home, that means Neil Gaiman has played a crucial role in hiring 100% of the trans writing talent that has freelanced at Vertigo. If we add Maddie Blaustein to the mix, that’s still a sizeable 66.6%. Either way, not too shabby.

caitlin_r-_kiernan_by_kyle_cassidy2I don’t mean any of that to sound like a knock against Neil either. Quite the opposite. It’s great knowing that trans and queer representation was important to Neil at a time where the majority of Americans felt that it wasn’t even okay that we exist at all. It makes me more sympathetic towards his handling of the character of Wanda in Sandman as well considering the time that story had come out. You can see some of what Neil has to say on Wanda towards the end of this fairly recent article here.

Now back to Caitlin R. Kiernan, she would go on to write thirty-five issues, over half of The Dreaming. Working with people at Vertigo including Neil himself, she crafted stories in the dreaming with many characters we already know, like the Corinthian, as well as her own creations like Echo.

On earth Echo had been a male transvestite, but upon entering the dreaming she became a woman. Unlike Rachel Pollack’s Coagula and Maddie Blaustein’s Marisa Rahm, Echo isn’t trans in the same way. It’s through a sort of magic that Echo goes from being a male transvestite to becoming a woman in The Dreaming. That’s not to diminish the importance of Caitlin R. Kiernan’s contributions to comics or to imply that it makes Echo’s stories inherently less important than Coagula’s or Marisa Rahm’s, but Echo’s story and her journey as a character is certainly different, and it’s a story that does fit well into The Dreaming.

img_0084After The Dreaming ended with issue #60, Caitlin R. Kiernan would leave comics for the next decade before returning to the medium at Dark Horse, most notably with Alabaster: Wolves. Unlike Kiernan’s peers at DC Comics, she’s had six of her issues of The Dreaming collected in The Dreaming: Through The Gates of Horn & Ivory. This of course is just a fraction of her work on the title, and three of the issues in the collection are written by other writers. Any readers getting a chance to meet Echo in this collection will be disappointed to find that the rest of her journey remains uncollected.

While yes, many other comics at DC have not been collected (I’m still waiting for volume three of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s The Spectre) the fact that the only three trans women that have written at one DC imprint or another have had nearly zero success at getting their comics collected and in print beyond their initial release is troubling.

If DC Comics is going to talk about the importance of diversity, push characters like Supergirl, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Midnighter, and the new Superman, then I see no reason why they wouldn’t want to celebrate how they were ahead of the curve decades ago. They’ve solely been working up to this by reprinting Tony Isabella’s Black Lightning, but reprinting the works of Rachel Pollack, Maddie Blaustein, and Caitlin R. Kiernan is an important part of that. Reprinting Milestone Comics instead of sitting on them is important.

img_008320That’s not to say this is just a DC Comics problem. Trans representation at other comics publishers is lacking as well. We’ve seen Sophie Campbell and Tamra Bonvillain getting more recognition for their contributions to comics, and that’s a step in the right direction. We’re seeing Mags Visaggio becoming a rising star with her comic Kim and Kim over at Black Mask Studios. However, we are not seeing enough trans and queer representation overall.

Hopefully we’ll see more trans writers telling their stories in comics. Not only people like Caitlin R. Kiernan or Rachel Pollack, but people like Sophie Campbell who have gotten greater name recognition as of late, rising stars like Mags Visaggio, Lawrence Gullo and Fyodor Pavlov, and the countless others out there around the world. Some of whom I’ve heard of and some I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing their work yet.

And maybe Marvel could hire one of them to write a story… as they’ve yet to do.

Joe Corallo: Flame Con Burns Bright

Flamecon 5atc
flamecon 2This past weekend I tabled Flame Con 2 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott Hotel with my friend and collaborator Robby Barrett. We premiered our new comic, Saturn’s Call. It’s about a group of witchy queer kids who are trying to come together to protect each other, so obviously Flame Con was the perfect venue to debut this comic.

For those of you unfamiliar, Flame Con is New York City’s first LGBTQ comic convention organized by Geeks OUT. The show premiered back in spring of 2015 at the Grand Prospect Hall for one day only after a successful Kickstarter campaign helped spread the word and launch the show. Flame Con was such an immediate hit that not only was quickly confirmed that they would be back in 2016, but that the show would go from one day to two and move to a larger venue. That’s a very impressive feat.

Although an integral part of Flame Con’s success comes from Geeks OUT’s own planning and organizing, there is no doubt in mind that the LGBTQ community is an underserved community and often neglected part of mainstream comics and pop culture.

For people outside the queer community, it may seem like the queer community is being properly catered to in comics. I bet some people may even feel like the community is over represented with the press hits some queer-led comics get. I’m here to tell you that is absolutely not the case. We may be getting the press coverage when it comes to some mainstream comics and a few indies, but a disproportionate amount of the majority of comics are still very straight, very cis, very male, and very white.

Flamecon 3Flame Con is very much a different experience. Gone are the very straight, very cis, and very male aspects of many comic conventions. And while the show and its guests are certainly pretty white, there were also efforts put in place to be inclusive in every way and there was racial and ethnic diversity both in the people exhibiting and the attendees on the floor. They even had an AFK lounge at the hotel as a quiet space for people to unwind and collect themselves if they felt overwhelmed.

Robby and I spent the vast majority of the convention behind our table, outside of a few quick bathroom breaks. Those bathrooms were designated as all-gender, something everyone seemed very pleased with. I overheard one person who seemed a little confused at first when the convention was just opening, but after that I didn’t hear any confusion at all. It’s pretty simple. It’s arguably simpler than the standard gender designated bathrooms we see in public that are becoming less standard. And, oddly enough, we were not swallowed up into the bowels of hell, much to some people’s disappointment I’m sure.

Flame Con also provided preferred pronoun stickers for people to wear, and many people took advantage of that. Male, female, gender neutral, and “ask me” stickers adorned many fans and exhibitors. This is the only comic convention I’ve seen do something like this despite people of all gender identities attending all different comic conventions all over.

From my view at my table I saw all sorts of people in all sorts of cosplay. Cosplaying was encouraged throughout the con and people got really creative. People of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, abilities, and gender identities dressed up as whoever they wanted and everyone I saw seemed supportive of everyone’s decisions and openly complimented each other appropriately.

I saw a lot of Steven Universe fans, Pokémon fans, as well as fans of older and more obscure comics. One guy was in an Ultra Boy t-shirt on Saturday and a Timber Wolf t-shirt on Sunday.

Everyone myself and Robby interacted with were friendly and supportive. We even sold dozens of comics, and Robby sold a ton of prints. It was honestly the best experience either of us had tabling a convention. I had my friend Nate get me a signed comic, Emma got me coffee, and fellow ComicMix contributor Molly Jackson got me a Princess Leia sketch from the incredibly talented Sophie Campbell while I was stuck at my table. Thanks, friends!

Streaky the Super-CatMany other vendors I know had similar experiences. Mags Visaggio, writer of Kim and Kim for Black Mask Studios, told me that she not only had a great time but she exceeded her expected sales. Magdalena Fox, the owner of the booty shorts shop Booty and the Geek, gushed about how Flame Con was such a positive experience that she wishes there were more queer centric conventions to vend at. Fyodor Pavlov premiered a printed copy of his webcomic, Bash Back, that he’s collaborated on with Lawrence Gullo and Kelsey Hercs, and he offered new prints as well. This was his second year tabling Flame Con. To quote Fyodor, “Long live Flame Con.”

I cannot recommend Flame Con enough. It’s a wonderful, inclusive time with a welcoming group of staff and volunteers and a great mix of both mainstream and indie comic offerings. It was already announced that Flame Con 3 is definitely happening in the summer of 2017. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces in comics, a lot of people you didn’t know you love yet, and you’ll feel safe and included.

I even got to end the show by running into Steve Orlando and jokingly complaining about how Streaky and Comet were not featured in Supergirl #1. I can’t think of a better way to leave any comic convention than to complain about why elements of the Silver Age of comics aren’t in the comics the kids are reading these days.

Really, though. What about Streaky and Comet?