This past weekend I attended New York Comic Con. I was there to conduct interviews (to come in a week or so from Luna Luna) and do general press stuff (in order to justify my *free* press passes), and to promote/beg people to help me publish my graphic novel, Tracy Queen. (Click the link! CLICK THE LINK!)
It was exciting and exhausting and uplifting and horrifying all at once. Here are some quick and dirty observations! (More in-depth, less-exhausted thoughts to come later this week. And maybe some pictures.)
- I am terrible at documenting things. I went on two different days, in two different outfits, and I didn’t take any pictures. (Except for one, of four cops standing outside with machien guns. Because. You know. Nerds in costumes at a comics convention are clearly grounds for riot gear. For god’s sake.) Not of myself, my outfits, or the con itself. I am terrible at photojournalism. And also at fashion blogging, apparently. I didn’t do any costumes–just didn’t have the time to put anything together, honestly–but the outfits I wore were pretty badass. And I definitely didn’t make the best use of them.
- But some weird dude totally did. At least one weird dude, anyway–perhaps there were others whom I didn’t catch in the act. But here’s what happened: My co-creator/partner and I were at a booth, talking a guy who creates his own comics and publishes them himself, about how to get our ideas out to the world. My partner was listening intently, while I sort of dawdled around, looking at the art. There was somebody standing next to me who kept edging closer and closer.
Thinking maybe I was in this person’s way, I looked over to see that it was a young man, standing now so close that his shoulder was pressed up against mine. He was holding up his camera as if he were taking a selfie, but he had it turned so that it was taking a photo of me. I saw my own face go slack with surprise as he snapped it. I turned to look at him full in the face with a, “Hi. Um…” and a quizzical expression. For a moment I thought it was someone I knew just being weird to get my attention–he looked like an artist I met a few years ago. But as I looked closer I realized it was definitely not someone I knew.
He just stared at me for a minute, then mumbled, “Sorry, I had to,” pulled his hood down over his forehead, and slunk off into the crowd.
Freaking weird, man. Super-duper-mega creepy. I’ll admit, I looked pretty damn good that day (I had a moment of narcissistic joy when, in his phone, I saw myself and realized I was holding up well under the Javits Center lighting). But I wasn’t dressed up at all. Not in costume. Not even in anything revealing or particularly interesting. Just a sequin-studded hoodie, a Tracy Queen T-shirt, jeans, and boots.
I’d like to think this guy recognized me from my feminist blogging online persona, but something about his behavior makes me think he was just too much of a creep to enjoy taking permission-granted photos of cosplayers. I think he got a thrill out of taking unwitting, non-consensual photos of con attendees who weren’t in costume. Because that’s more of a thrill. I think I was one of them. I think I am creeped out.
- All that said, I have to hand it to Comic Con for honestly trying to keep that kind of thing from happening. In the show booklet, on the website, and all over the convention floor itself, there were big signs that read “Cosplay Is Not Consent,” and which specifically prohibited groping, non-consensual photography or touching, or harassment of any kind, committed by anybody toward anybody, in any kind of garb. That was very, very nice to see.
- What was also really nice to see were all the nerds (myself included) mixing and mingling happily. There were men and women and plenty of gender nonconforming folks there, of all shapes, colors, sizes, and persuasions, dressed in all sorts of finery, getting along beautifully. There were tons of female and queer and nonconforming creators at booths, promoting their wares, and it tickled my feminist little heart to see so many of them working their adorable little (and big!) butts off. Feminism is hitting the comics world, and it looks and feels so good.
- Now, all that being said… being a creator in this environment is tough. Being a female creator, even with a male artist attached to my hip, is tough. And being the creator of a sex-positive, nudity-friendly-but-not-erotic-per-se, smart but sexy, mold-breaking graphic novel… in a venue in which boobs are welcome as long as they are covered in extremely tight spandex… It’s hard. I almost broke down crying a few times after being given the “OK-I’ll-take-your-sample-now-please-go-away-you-pervert” treatment by numerous publishers.
- And yet! And yet. There were a bunch of indie comics companies and creators who were not terrified of the boobs. Who welcomed the quirkiness of Tracy Queen. Who might get back to me soon. Indie, feminist, fearless, badass publishers. All male. There is hope in this world, folks.