NEW YORK COMIC CON: GOING SOLO SUCKS
AMBER LOVE 15-OCT-2014 There’s no shame in doing anything alone whether it’s going to the movies, out to dinner because you like the food, or attending comic conventions. If it’s a quiet activity, I’m actually good about being solo and in fact, sometimes I prefer it. The problem is with big events like New York Comic Con. It’s overwhelming and quite simply, sometimes I need help with things like taking pictures and covering the show as press. My plans for NYCC evolved from not thinking I would go at all, to hopping in only for after parties, to being approved as Press which I hadn’t been for a couple years since I had been attending as a Pro creator. Being approved as Press when other people were rejected put some pressure on me to cover the show as best as I could. I only had one badge otherwise I would’ve given one or two out for contributors to help.
I had eight panels marked down that I wanted to ideally attend. Of that, I managed to cover four which really isn’t that bad considering how, during the four-day show, I still managed to miss so many people I wanted to visit. The four panels included: Breaking Female Stereotypes, the Dynamite Comics Anniversary Panel, Oni Press, and Comixology Submit. As a bonus, I managed to get a fairly decent recording of our Queercopia readings which were not officially part of NYCC and held off-site at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division. All those show notes give the basics about the content and the quality of the panels. I ran into some buggy tech issues, as I always seem to do.
In the show notes for the Dynamite panel, I made a point to mention that Gail Simone was again the token female on a panel. The Comixology Submit panel had one woman also who happened to be part of a husband/wife creative team. The only panel that had balanced representation in terms of gender and race was the “Marry, Do, Kill – Breaking Female Stereotypes in Comics” panel moderated by Enrica Jang. It’s not that Gail Simone isn’t a wonderful speaker – SHE IS – but it’s that I’ve seen her a dozen times and have heard the same content from her whether it’s a Dynamite panel or a nauseating “women in comics” panel. There are more women than Gail Simone (and Kelly Sue DeConnick), is all I’m saying. I heard buzz that the “Women of Marvel” panel was a huge success and that’s fine, but I’m personally more interested in women not being included in the “regular” conversations. It’s still an Us vs. Them composition in discussion panel organization for the vast majority of topics and that’s partially because women and minorities are still fighting to get into the creative roles that would get them invitations to speaking engagements.
There was nothing I didn’t expect from the sardine packing traffic on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the show. Thursday was only turned into a regular convention day this year instead of being an unpopular premiere night. If you have crowd anxiety, I recommend you do whatever you can to attend the Thursday or Friday of a convention this size because it’s likely going to be the only chance you’ll have at enjoying it. You can see my notes about my Friday evening panic attack that lasted for several hours and ended in my sitting on the wall of Madison Square Garden alone and crying. I managed to pull myself together for exactly one hour to go to the Queercopia event where I was reading a scene from a new short story I’m writing.
I also hate New York City. It’s exhausting and filthy. Everything smells and there are random mystery puddles on the sidewalks. I took the train for three days then the ferry for the final day. The train added an extra hour to the trip but saved me from some driving in the middle of the night but it meant I was traveling 2.5 – 3 hours one way. I chose the train because I was able to rest before getting behind the wheel. There was no way I was going to attempt the subway alone. I had to walk everywhere or take cabs which meant walking up the blocks for a mile just to catch one.
After attending NYCC for so many years in a row, I don’t know that there is a solution to the crowd congestion inside the hall on the busy days. They have to move the show to a bigger building or sell less tickets – neither are options. If they get a bigger venue, they’ll only be driven to fill it to capacity. I can honestly say that if there had been an emergency such as a fire, people would have died. Without question, the hall was dangerous. I was also told that kids were getting lost, grabbing the hands of the wrong adults, and being separated. I sound crotchedy saying this but NYCC is no place for children. They are only getting views of asses and crotches. The buggies are an issue going down packed aisles. Not to mention crying babies are annoying inside panel rooms. Panel rooms are one of the places people go to rest whether or not they care about what’s being presented. Regardless, no one but you wants to hear your crying screaming offspring.
I avoided the con plague but managed to acquire enough physical battery to make up for it. It was like being thrown into a roller derby bout without any protection. I also suffered from raw painful skin on my shoulders from my backpack straps. I took a smaller bag the third day and stashed my bag for a couple hours at Erica Schultz’s booth on Sunday when I cosplayed and needed to pack a change of clothes. My arms, shoulders and legs were overworked. People at booths looked even worse off at times because the availability of having chairs didn’t mean they could actually sit in them.
I described the Friday night after party in my previous notes since it was held right after the Queercopia event.
Originally, I had signed up to be part of a large Spiderverse group for Saturday. Marvel ended up having their Spiderverse panel scheduled for Sunday so the group rescheduled. I wasn’t even sure I would have the strength to be there on Sunday. I managed to get there but I took my time and arrived pretty late. I missed all the fun stuff the group got to do like taking pictures at the Marvel booth and outside. Every time I went to the Marvel booth, there wasn’t anything interesting going on. There were constant long lines that could’ve been for signings or game demos. I’m not sure. It was just a bunch of people in line though and no cosplayers to be seen.
It was the second time I wore my new Madame Web costume and about a dozen people knew who I was or so I gathered from the faceless shouts in the crowd. I think I was only stopped for photos four or five times and most were because I was standing next to a gorgeous Kitty Pryde.
The panel was 4:00 on Sunday. I got there over an hour early and like most people, decided to sit through the terrible 3:00 Twitch TV panel in order to have a seat for the Spiderverse panel. My group showed up and a couple of the guys were even brought up front to preview comic issues that aren’t out yet. But then the con staff and the talent wranglers wouldn’t let us have the time for the photoshoot that was pre-arranged. We kept getting yelled at to clear the room at 4:45 because the convention was officially over at 5:00. Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos were the only creators that were able to pose with us in the two minutes of time we managed to get in front of the dais. Nick Lowe managed to get one of the only photos of us.
RAPE THREATS AND JOKES AT NYCC:
Speaking of the 3:00 Twitch TV panel, that was uncomfortable to sit through. The company provides a way to broadcast your video game play and build a social network. If people like your videos, you gain followers and it becomes some kind of gamer cred. It was a panel of three white men, of course because #gaming. The Gamer Gate scandal is still in full force. Just last night, Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a speaking engagement a university when the college was threatened by an alleged student stating that he would shoot up the school in a massacre if they allowed her to speak there. I know a ton of people have weighed in on the GG subject but my opinion is simple: people are allowed to have opinions and are allowed to speak them.
I’ve been trolled on Twitter for GG and I’m not even a gamer. All I say is that it’s unspeakable to threaten people over something as fucking stupid as video games or comic book covers. Threats of shooting and rape should be taken seriously and people who do this or allow the platform for it should go to jail.
There was no mention of GG at the Twitch panel but the white dudebro sitting in the middle, alias Swifter or Swiffer or something, made a fucking rape joke. He went on for a couple minutes about how someone on a team needs to be “the asshole” and bark orders and that if people don’t listen, “tell them you’ll bang their mom.” He continued to command that if you can’t be the asshole, you should have another person you trust as the designated asshole. I’m not even paraphrasing here! He used the word “asshole” to describe the role of a team member as a badge of honor! What fans need right now when 40% of convention goers are female, is a directive to go rape someone’s mother. If you think this is exaggerating than you have not been paying attention to GG or Cosplay =/= Consent or countless other threats against women like the stupid Teen Titans or Spider-Woman cover debates.
Just before NYCC kicked off, cosplayer Belle Chere posted on her Facebook that she would not be attending the show because of financial reasons and because she was too shaken up by a serious threat against her. She had been messaged that if she showed up to NYCC, she would be “knocked out and raped.” Belle is recently single. Anytime I saw her it was always with her ex-husband. I don’t know if she’d ever travel to a convention alone but after such threats, why would anyone? The ReedPop staff did nothing, nor did NYPD. That is until social media went wild and ReedPop said they didn’t receive her email which had been sent through their site’s Contact form.
So if the dudebros of Twitch think this sort of behavior is an achievement and something they should encourage, I don’t want to ever want to see them at NYCC or any other con. It was hilarious that they actually thought the packed room was there for them. At a glance, I’d say 80% of people stayed in their seats at 3:45 waiting for the Marvel Spiderverse.