“Mindy Newell (veteran of Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and just about everything else) noted that she originally thought ‘SJW’ stood for ‘Single Jewish Woman.’” • Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood at the New York Comic Con • John Odum • Bleeding Cool, October 7, 2017
At my family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah – Food! Lotsand lots of food! And much imbibing of the alcohol of your choice! – shortly after 9/11, the conversation that we all had been avoiding finally arrived with the dessert and coffee. A lot of anger, a lot of sadness, a lot of fear, but no historical context until I opened my big mouth:
“This is what happens after nearly 100 years of the West treating the Middle East like pieces on a chessboard.”
Silence. My father is shaking his head.
“Hello,” I said. “The break-up of the Ottoman Empire? The Sykes-Picot agreement? Ignoring, discounting, millions of people with their own history, their own ethnic and religious and tribal identities?”
“You’re not excusing what they did, are you?” someone said in astonishment and horror.
“No fucking way! But, and I’m sorry, guys, we are not innocent in any of this, either.”
A fight was about to start, but someone, I think it was my cousin, quickly changed the subject.
Later on, driving home in the car, everybody else fast asleep in the back seat, my dad said, “When are you going to learn to keep your mouth shut?”
“You don’t think I’m right?”
“You were absolutely right.
“Just don’t say it at work or anywhere else. People don’t want to hear it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know.”
I’d like to say that I listened to my dad, who was a very smart man, but *sigh* I guess it’s still a work in progress. I have a very hard time “keeping my mouth shut,” even at work, especially when I get fired up.
And, oh, boy, was I fired up on Saturday at the NYCC, where I was part of the Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood panel to inform and also celebrate the coming publication of the Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom and Liberty anthology put into production through fellow ComicMixers Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson to benefit the Planned Parenthood organization, which is now being attacked more brutally than I can ever remember, and is in very serious danger of being defunded by “you-know-who” and “you-know-who”’s administration and the Repugnanticans. (Just a week ago today, Tuesday, Oct 3, the Repugnantican-controlled Senate passed this, ignoring the law of the land that Roe vs. Wade has become.
Nobody counted, but my use of F-bombs might have set a record at this NYCC, and quite possibly every other comics convention on record. John Odum of Bleeding Cool even made note of it here. First time I’ve ever made it into Bleeding Cool… as far as I know.
I’m not apologizing. I meant every single one of those F-bombs. I meant every single thing I said.
My dad must be spinning in his grave. But I also know that he’s also proudly thinking:
We were humbled by over two hundred people that showed up for the panel, including at least half a dozen more Mine! contributors including Adam McGovern, Alice Meichi Li, Dave Kelly, Keith DeCandido and Tom Daly. Mindy spoke passionately about health care as both a comics writer and a nurse, Gabby addressed the importance of sex education and queer youth outreach, Sheilah talked about her and many other freelancers’ experiences having difficulty accessing affordable health care, Mike talked the current need for political activism, and Sean did an impression of me that was so spot on that someone assumed I had said something that he in fact said.
There was a question asked at the panel about discussing the different stories we’re contributing. I didn’t get a chance to answer that question at the time, so I’d like to use my column to talk about that now. Hey, it is my column after all.
One night some months ago a friend and I were talking over drinks. Mine! had come up in conversation, which lead to her sharing a story with me. Years ago she had been out at a club with a guy and that guy had given her something so strong the next thing she knew she was waking up in his bedroom. The next thing she did was go to a Planned Parenthood.
We talked about it further and decided that this was an important story to tell for the anthology. Unfortunately, it’s not important because it’s such a rare and unusual story, but rather that it is far too common. For many people in that situation, Planned Parenthood is their only option. I’m collaborating with artist Kristina Stipetic on this and made sure my friend approved the script before handing it off. I filled in some details and took some liberties, but the core of the story is all there. It was honestly one of the more emotionally draining things I’ve written. I can’t say that I hope you enjoy it exactly, but I hope all of you that pick up Mine! will come to this story and have a better understanding of how these situations often play out.
There are so many other great stories in Mine! too! Mindy is talking about a time before abortion was legal, Gabby about her Catholic upbringing, Mike about a couple that desperately needs health care but you don’t find out which one of them needs it until the end, and Keith came up from the audience to talk about how he and Tom Daly are doing a story about learning self-defense. Sean even made Keith show demonstrate a karate move!
You can preorder Mine! now on Backerkit, and you can preorder our t-shirts as well, if you so desire. Please go check it out if you haven’t reserved your copy yet, and spread the word!
This past week or so has been about getting ready for NYCC. ComicMix has a panel for our successfully funded comics collection, Mine!, which benefits Planned Parenthood. I’ll be there with fellow ComicMix team members Molly Jackson, Mike Gold and Mindy Newell as well as Mine! contributors Tee Franklin, Gabby Rivera and moderator Sheilah Villari. We’ll be at room 1A02 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Saturday, October 8 at the Javits Center on Manhattan’s mid-town west side. If you’re at NYCC, please come on by – we’ll have a sneak peek at some new art from the book!
This past week or so, there has also been more than a little turmoil in the comics community.
Since I wrote my piece about the Aubrey Sitterson incident a couple of weeks ago, events surrounding #ComicsGate have escalated. From blocking and doxxing to accusations and deplatforming, things are really intensifying in the lead-up to NYCC as followers and subscribers keep going up after these conservative comics critics involved. Because of everything that’s been going on I feel that it’s important to discuss this further.
As I stated last time, part of what’s been going on has been that comics critics on YouTube and social media who lean conservative (or libertarian, in this instance) are calling out specific creators for their content; being Social Justice Warriors (SJWs); and are, in some cases using direct and targeting language that attacks a creator for their minority status. Often in cases like this, and #ComicsGate is no exception, some followers end up taking things to the next level and using even more divisive and hurtful language and carrying out acts of targeted harassment and doxxing.
A video one comics critic released last week specifically targeted one comics journalist. The video ended up being flagged, then deleted by the uploader. Not long after, more videos were flagged on this comics critic’s YouTube account, leading to the account in question being suspended. Tensions have risen as accusations of attempted deplatforming of comics critics by comics journalists are being raised. As in #GamerGate, we are seeing similar arguments of “It’s about ethics in journalism,” whether or not that’s the actual issue.
Whenever issues like these come up or any other divisive politically driven issues arise you often hear the same things. You hear people talk about how the other side is horrible, how we shouldn’t even attempt to understand them and how we need to focus on beating them back and diminishing them. But in my case, I usually like to at least understand how things have come to be how they are.
Many of these conservative-leaning comics critics do more than provoke harassment of comics professionals to whom they are opposed: They’ve built a community. Like-minded comics fans who have similar issues with the direction that mainstream comics are going in get together for online hangouts, talk about the comics and creators they like, and more. Some of what they talk about I can even get behind, like how Black Bolt is one of my favorite books that Marvel is putting out right now. It’s easy to paint everyone involved as a troll, and that’s not to say there aren’t any trolls involved, but there are a lot of others who are fans of comics that want to see changes made and get riled up and moved to action when they can rally against perceived hypocrisy and calls to violence from the left.
Look, I’m an unapologetic liberal and political activist — I’m working on a Planned Parenthood benefit anthology, after all. That said, comics is not an exclusively liberal or conservative space and we have to exist without this level of conflict. There are plenty of conservative voices in comics who have put out quality work over the years including Chuck Dixon, Mike Baron, and Frank Miller. I (and others) am not advocating for an eradication of conservative thought from the comics medium.
With that in mind, there are things that cannot be tolerated. Transphobic language and personal attacks targeted at comics professionals and journalists cannot be tolerated. Using a creator’s’ background and minority status to attack them and their work cannot be tolerated. Allowing followers to go unchecked in their further attacks on comics professionals cannot be tolerated. Creators are getting death threats. We need comics professionals to feel safe.
Conservative voices in comics aren’t ever going to go away. If these comics critics, or anyone for that matter, want to be taken seriously by the comics industry that they’re criticizing then they need to drop the bigoted language and personal targeted attacks, and lead by example and call out the increasingly abusive behaviors of some their followers.
Did you hear all those panicked screams yesterday? The cold yells of people feeling their hopes dashed before their very eyes?
Yes, yesterday New York Comic Con announced that they were once again altering their ticket sales process. This changes nearly every year (just like DC’s logo!), so every time it happens it shouldn’t be a surprise… but it always is. The big steps are always taken to help the ever-growing hordes to buy tickets and make sure that they don’t game the system.
The newest hoop is the addition of fan verification for anyone who could potentially buy a NYCC ticket. What it really boils down to is this is just NYCC having everyone register on the NYCC website in advance. So if I and my three friends want to go, we need to pre-register. The other change is there will no longer be any VIP tickets or tickets sold at retailers. Everything will be online and announced to members through their email that they verified with. San Diego Comic Con has done the same thing for years, so this isn’t news to serious con goers.
Yet, this small step has built up a lot of discourse amongst fans. Now there are cries of despair and confusion about the system. Now people are convinced that they will never get tickets again and, therefore, the world will end. OK, I might be exaggerating a bit but you get my point. Truth is, this is going to fix things with attendance. Yes, you can’t sit on a line outside Midtown Comics for 10 hours to get a ticket, but that also means the 30 ticket scalpers ahead of you can’t do the same. Will some scalpers still find a way? Yes, of course they will. But NYCC has gone pretty far to make it harder for them.
The big problem with this is that it doesn’t go far enough. As of their announcement, all tickets are non-returnable, non-transferable, non-resalable and non-upgradable. I understand the need to keep tickets non-resalable and non-upgradable. Making tickets resalable flies directly in the face of stopping scalpers, so that is pointless to have. I doubt anyone (except scalpers) would disagree. I can also understand the non-upgradable. There are a limited amount of each ticket to appease the great fire marshal! If you anger the fire marshal, his wrath will rain down upon us all! Oh, and the con will be closed down. Let’s not piss him off.
Now, on to non-returnable and non-transferable. The same scalper warning could be put onto non-transferable. This could be abused by the exact people they are trying to stop. But, if you limited how many tickets could be transferred, like 1-2 by the original credit card holder, it could help fans manage the planning in advance. One argument I saw was for disabled persons that need someone to assist them. If the pass could be easily transferable if the assist person changes last minute, which would be a big help for the disabled fans in attendance. Most likely though, this would not be a change NYCC would make.
NYCC needs to make tickets returnable. If you want me and my party of four to commit almost five months out, give me a small safety net. As NYCC likes to tell us repeatedly, they are as big as or bigger than SDCC. Well, SDCC lets tickets be returned. If I can return my tickets, then why not let me? Put it on me to pay shipping if I already received it and then do a last minute sale online in September. Give fans a chance to go if they couldn’t get through the slog of people trying to buy tickets in June. Look at the fear and panic already. There will be no danger in not selling out.
At the rate all of the conventions are growing, soon a lot of fans will be locked out of conventions. That is a truth we can’t ignore. Geekdom has grown out of the basement and I don’t think it will ever be going back. How conventions react to this growth boom is a different story. They need to remember that their fans are still everyday people, who are incredibly passionate about their fandoms. Giving those loud, excited and social media savvy fans some wiggle room can only help conventions grow more.
This new season of ARROW promises a major thrill ride for characters on the show and fans as well. We talk to the creators and cast who reveal a few secrets on what’s to come (i.e. Black Canary dead or ??). Plus comedian Adam Ferrara is in the driver’s seat for another season of TOP GEAR and he shares with us just how deep his passion for cars really runs.
For six years, the town of Jasper, Alabama has been struggling to complete an independent zombie film. Now SyFy is shining a light on their plight with the docu-series, TOWN OF LIVING DEAD and we talk with resident Tina Teeter on how her life has been eaten up by they project. Plus BAR RESCUE star, Jon Taffer, is back with checkbook in hand but is there anyone who deserves his help?
We are back with the cast of AGENTS OF SHIELD to talk about how they planned ahead for the events which unfolded in CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER and what it is like to live, eat and breathe all things Marvel. Plus we start our coverage of New York Comic Con with a preview of some treats you’ll find at the show.
We will be back early this week (Wednesday) with another podcast right before we hit the show floor. And if you can’t make the show, we are carrying LIVE video feeds from NYCC at our website, GetThePointRadio.Com starting on Thursday. Don’t miss a minute.
Convention season is upon us, y’all! Well actually, convention season is sort of year round these days. As Jim Zub observed recently, “There are now so many conventions that you can’t even attend the ‘best’ ones. Too many great shows.” Too true. And technically for me, convention season started with Awesome Con DC, for which I was on the ConCom. But convention reporting season for me really starts with San Diego Comic Con and wraps up with New York Comic Con (because yes, I love HeroesCon, and I know I totally have to try one year, and C2E2 would undoubtedly be great, and OMG ECCC always has so many good voice actor guests so why haven’t I gone yet – but I just can’t do it all, you know? Much as I’d like to).
So for me, it’s now time to Get Serious about prepping for conventions because SDCC is about a month away (eep!). And when I prep for cons, I ain’t kidding around – I arm myself for cons like a general going into battle, because no matter how much you plan for a con, when you get there things are not going to go as planned (kind of like how “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy,” y’know?). And since I’m not the only one who might feel overwhelmed by the wonderful chaos of a con if unprepared, I thought I’d share some of my methods (and madness? and complete OCD?) with you. So here’s how I do things. It may not be how you decide to do things, but at least it might give you a jumping off point.
Step 1: The Spreadsheet
Okay, so depending on how many cons you attend (and how OCD you are) you may not need a spreadsheet. But if you go to several cons a year, like me, a spreadsheet can help you keep track of all of the important stuff for each con. Like, for instance, the dates of the con, when badges go on sale, what you still need to do well beforehand (like booking your travel and hotel), and particular events or plans you want to ensure you don’t miss (like dinner with friends, or, for reporters, interviews you’ve set). Also which friends might be going to the same con (because if I don’t note this somewhere I will forget who’s at which cons), or what costumes you want to wear (and if they still need work before they’re con-ready), your expenses or budget, and anything important that you really don’t want to forget to pack.
So if you want an easy way to keep track of all this stuff, be a spreadsheet nerrrrrd like me. Trust me, it really can help. And you can use other tabs to keep track of other handy stuff you need to prep for.
Step 2: The Schedule
So once you get your badge and travel and hotel figured out (try to get those nailed down first and as soon as you can to ensure you get a badge and hotel, since some sell out quickly; and to get better travel prices), you’re going to want to start thinking about allllll of the amazing things you can see and do at a con. The con’s website should have everything you need to start planning all that out, with guests you might want to meet (and get photos with, or autographs from, or commissions from, or even just tell them how awesome you think they are); and panels you might want to see; and all that jazz. Explore the whole website because hey, it’s fun to look forward to stuff by learning about it, and also you might discover some things you didn’t realize they had (like how Dragon Con lists each fan track they have, what each entails, and what they have featured on each track in the past).
Once you decide what’s going on your con Wish List of Excitement, you might want to keep track of some of it on your spreadsheet. Also for scheduling, you might want to download and use the con’s scheduling app if they have one and once it’s available (many of them use apps now, including at least Awesome Con, San Diego, Dragon Con, and NYCC). It will take some time, but it’s worth going through the whole app and adding things to your schedule or favoriting guests you want to see; and you can generally even set reminders to go off prior to panels. Note that inevitably if you’re going to a good con, you’ll end up with like, five conflicting things in the same slots on your schedule much of the time. That’s okay! You can decide later which (if any) you actually want to attend. Just throw ‘em all on there and see what sticks.
And now that you’ve got your potential schedule figured out, you can also think about:
Step 3: Costumes
(Note that this step can run concurrent with the first two, because it can take a while to get a good costume together.) If you are a costumer like me (sometimes), you may want up to three or more costumes for one con. These may require gathering of pieces, sewing, crafting, and more. I’ve talked before about how I make a convention costume so check that piece out if you want some tips on the finer points of how I do it (which is not to say there aren’t folks out there who do it with a lot more complexity and expertise than me). But generally, you may want to decide on a few costume goals, get your photo references or inspirations together, decide on your wardrobe pieces, and then (if you’re me and you just love making lists) list out all of the moving parts so you don’t forget to pack or wear any of them for the con. Again: add it to the spreadsheet! It’s good for so many things.
Step 4: Packing
Along with your costumes, there are some other things you don’t want to forget to pack for cons. Obviously this is going to depend in part on your own needs, but here are some things I recommend you wear or carry with you at the con:
• A decent-sized shoulder bag or small backpack with many pockets. The pockets are great for keeping your stuff in separate, easy to find places for if you need quick access to something.
• One of those lightweight cloth shopping bags that folds up into another tiny bag, which can later be used to carry whatever you end up buying (because if you are me, you will totally end up buying things.) I found one in the checkout line at an Office Max. You can probably also get one at The Container Store or similar.
• Comfortable socks and shooooes!!!!! And clothes, generally. But especially socks and shoes. You will be walking and standing around a lot.
• A hoodie or light sweater if you tend to get cold. If you are a gal like me, and you want something lightweight that rolls up fairly small and doesn’t wrinkle, I recommend the SeV Ladies Cardigan from ThinkGeek. I love that thing.
• Deodorant? No, seriously. Some of y’all may smell like springtime roses all day and all night long, but if you are at a con for 8+ hours, bustling through warm crowds, rushing to panels, and generally hanging out with a million other people, you might consider taking along a little travel stick of deodorant to use, because you might in fact find yourself being a gradual contributor to the dreaded con funk. And nobody wants to be that person.
• Snax! Ranging from bottled water to granola bars, trail mix, or whatever else your little snacky heart desires. It’s very important to stay hydrated and keep that blood sugar up during the go-go-go of a con. I tend to like chewy granola bars and those little applesauce pouches that look kind of like Capri Suns (which are also handy, by the way) because they aren’t crinkly or messy and are super-easy to eat while trying to be quiet in a panel or while in a hurry and barreling through a crowd on the way to your next fun event. I recommend keeping gum or mints on hand as well. Also, of course, it’s good to have some cash on hand for food and shopping.
• Your badge or badge confirmation, and ID. Seriously, don’t go all the way to the con and then realize you don’t have these. Also any medications you might need.
• Your camera, smartphone, charger, extra battery or on-the-go charging device, or any other tech you may need to communicate and memorialize your fun. Also consider an iPod if you are going to be waiting in line by yourself a lot and don’t always feel like talking to strangers.
• A small notepad, a couple of pens, and a Sharpie or two. They just come in handy, you know? Also anything you might want to get signed.
• Business cards, if you intend to make connections with folks for any reason.
• Aaaaand… anything else you can’t live without. Having all of these things, and having done the other steps prior to the con, will prepare you for the ultimate end game of…
Step 5: Having A Great Time, Even If Nothing Turns Out As Planned
Like I said, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and no con plan actually works out the way you expect. You will miss panels you want to see or people you want to meet, you may discover that your costume is way less easy to navigate through a crowd than you would have hoped (oops!), and other things will turn topsy-turvy. But being prepared will minimize any panic, stress, or issues that you might have with all of that.
And after all, things not going as planned may turn out to be the best thing that could happen. Because cons are magical and wonderful things full of fun and excitement, and missing that first panel may mean you run into your favorite actor in an elevator, or step into a less-full panel that turns out to be epically awesome, or decide to roam Artists Alley or the con floor and discover a new favorite artist or an exciting piece of con merch. So if you want to have a good time, it’s great to be prepared; but also, to be flexible – be both and I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
Got some other prep tips that help you out at a con? Feel free to share them in the comments!