Racialicious attends New York Comic Con 2013

by Kendra James

Let’s keep this short, sweet, and blunt: I’m disappointed at the lack of panels dealing exclusively –or even mentioned in summary– with issues of diversity, gender, sexuality, and other marginalized views at New York Comic Con 2013.

I can’t recommend and won’t be attending too many panels this year. Of 334 panels and screenings I was able to find 3 focusing exclusively on marginalised voices in fandom. 3 panels in 4 days of con-going. (Gosh, how will I ever will I have the time make it to all of them?) I’m thrilled to be attending what I am, but the lack of diverse content is concerning, to say the least.

On Thursday night there’s the LGBT and Allies in Comics panel presented by the New York Times and Geeks Out. X-Men writers Marjorie Liu and and Greg Pak will be featured along with Dan Parent and Rich Bernatovech.

While there are panels that have at least one person of color featured, there’s no focused panel on any marginalised issues in comics, fandom, or media to be found on all of Friday.

Saturday appears to be The Day for diversity at NYCC this year, and by that I mean a grand total of 2 panels will be hosted. The Mary Sue will present Representations in Geek Media at 2:45 where panelists, including Phil Jimenez, will discuss their favorite minority, disabled, LGBTQ and female genre characters. Later that evening at 6:30 I’ll be attending Geeks of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom, a full PoC panel discussing the question of what challenges in media remain that minorities still have to overcome.

On Sunday Marvel hosts their Women of Marvel panel which will once again feature Marjorie Liu, but given that it’s a company sponsored panel one has to wonder how much critique and open discussion will actually take place.

If we’re willing to count Sunday’s panel, that brings the grand total of panels focusing on representation in media to 4 out of 334. Attendance and interest have never seemed to be a problem; the NYCC hip-hop and comics panel was incredibly well attended last year and each focused panel I attended at San Diego Comic Con this summer was filled with people at rapt attention. Nor is it an issue of panels not being submitted*. I try to look on the bright side, reminding myself that cons are exhausting and doing too much tends to ensure that I end up sick on the Monday after, but this is just ridiculous.This may have been the year of Pacific Rim, but this lack of representation at one of the largest cons in the country shows geekdom still has quite a way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field.

As usual, please feel free to say hello if you see me on the floor (between not being in panels all day, and likely being one of the few, if not the only, Black Margaery Tyrell in attendance, I should not be hard to spot), and follow @racialicious and @wriglied for live tweets of the panels I attend and excited reports of any Nicole Beharie sightings.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, Racialicious submitted a panel for consideration on the challenges of growing up as and raising geeks of color. It was not accepted.

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  • ignoranceisyournewbestfriend

    I am a third year attendee of NYCC and I understand exactly how you feel. Since your post last year as I sat through the panels. I thought about what you said.

  • surrogatekey

    The footnote to this is especially striking to me for some reason. Racialicious proposed a panel and it wasn’t accepted? Why? I mean I don’t know what the proposal looked like, so I’m totally making a lot of assumptions about how valuable that panel would be to NYCC (very valuable!), but I think my assumptions are reasonable given Racialicious’ track record. I would be interested in knowing what their reasoning was for turning it down.

  • aboynamedart

    Thank you for letting us know about this event!

  • Jeanine Schaefer

    Hi, Kendra! My name is Jeanine Schaefer, I’m an editor at Marvel and I’m moderating the Women of Marvel panel on Sunday. Unfortunately, Marjorie Liu won’t be able to attend after all, but I still hope you’ll consider attending, we’ve got a great line up of women. We’ve been doing this panel at SDCC and NYCC for the past six years or so, and it’s only grown bigger in both support and panelists attending.

    I totally understand that you would be skeptical of any actual open discussion, and yes, we do use some of the time to talk about the books we’re working on and encouraging people to check it out. But I hope it helps to hear that the panel content is entirely put together by a group of women who work here and feel passionate about the issue at hand. The Q&A takes up most of the panel time, and we encourage honest questions and answers from the audience and panelists, and there’s no agenda beyond talking about women in comics.

    Honestly, it’s also just super fun.

    Anyway, I hope you do consider attending, but no matter what you do, I hope the show is fantastic and successful for you!


    • aboynamedart

      So, ma’am, are you confirming that without Liu, you’ll have an all-white panel? Any plans on discussing how your company created that situation?

      • Jeanine Schaefer

        Editors Sana Amanat (who has been doing this panel for years) and Emily Shaw will both be panelists, as well.