It’s NYCC weekend, and as in past years I’ll be attending on behalf of Racialicious. It’s been a long week leading up to the con, and it still feels like I’m recovering from SDCC, but we still need to highlight some Friends of the Blog doing great stuff at this year’s con. Below you’ll find a quick and dirty of the diverse panel offerings Friday through Sunday. There’s not much more offered this year than in the past, but Diana Pho is participating in two great discussions this year!
Tonight (Thursday) Diana moderates Geeks of Colour Go Pro where she and other professionals in the comics, gaming, and publishing industries will offer advice and tips for POCs who want to become successful in their desired fields. On Saturday at 3pm in room 1A21 she’ll moderate #YesAllGeeks: Let’s Talk About Harassment in Fandom. This massively important panel comes on the heels of several instances of harassment at conventions and very public attacks against women via social media outlets like Twitter. Joining Pho on the panel to discuss how we can make fandom and online spaces safer are Mikki Kendal (@Karnythia), Marlene Bonnelly (@ilikecomicstoo), Kaye M (Writer & Founder of #YesAllWomen), Emily Asher-Perrin, and Robert Anders.
Diana also hosted last year’s wildly successful Geeks of Colour panel (which we covered here). I’ll be at her Friday panel and will otherwise be wandering around the Javits Center for the next 72 hours, so please don’t hesitate to say hello!
The rest of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are under the cut.
You thought you were having fun last month at New York Comic Con when you and your film crew gained access to the convention using your job credentials at SiriusXM Radio. You thought this would be a great opportunity to provide footage for your YouTube show (now defunct, thankfully). You thought it would make great television to pull me aside, to put your mic in my face, to drive your camera’s light in my eyes and to ask if you could buy me.
You thought it was just a joke when you said you wanted to buy an umbrella with an Asian girl — because I was holding a parasol.
You thought you were being clever by mistaking me for a geisha girl, like the many submissive, diminutive women you’ve seen on TV or on the Internet or in movies.
You thought that because I was small and female and Asian, it gave you the right to ridicule my existence.
The Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom panel featured friends of the R activist, academic, and steampunk blogger Diana Pho (who acted as moderator) and fantasy author N.K Jemisin, a friend of mine, cosplayer Jay Justice, cosplayer and prop maker Ger Tysk, writers Jeffrey Wilson, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, and Emmanuel Ortiz, and writer, blogger and classical music student Muse En Lystrala. As we’ve already covered it was one of the few panels to feature an all POC lineup and subjects of discussion. It also proved to be popular enough that several people waiting in line were unable to attend in the end. Hopefully this roundup helps ease the pain for some of those who were unable to get into this excellent discussion.
Before we dive into the questions and answers presented, it’s important to take a moment to emphasise a point Pho made towards the end of the evening.
If you attended the panel and you liked what you heard, if you wanted to attend the panel but couldn’t, if you wanted to attend but were turned away, or if you simply like what you read of the discussion in this post: Please let those who run New York Comic Con know that you want to see more varied and diverse content at future events. You can rate the panel on the NYCC phone app, you can tweet at them @NY_Comic_Con, or you can write an email to Lance Fensterman and his staff at email@example.com as I plan to. Anything you can do to make your voice heard is a positive step toward bringing in some change next year.
With that said, let’s get to the panel under the cut:
2013: The year when, at 130,000 attendees, New York Comic Con officially outgrew the Jacob Javits Center. And unfortunately, because of its awkward location, I’m not exactly sure how they’re going to solve this one.
The lack of space affected several aspects of the overall experience this year from the floor feeling more claustrophobic than it ever has in the past, to lines for panels being capped up to 40 minutes in advance of the actual start time. It’s genuinely hard to believe that last year I only had to wait in line for a half hour to get into the Teen Wolf panel and was able to save a seat (a good seat!) for my friend who rushed in at the last minute. This year I avoided that room –1-E, the New York version of Hall H– entirely only to be treated later to horror stories about waiting in line for two hours only to be told later that there was no way you were getting in.
It wasn’t only the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Walking Dead types of panels where line waiting and lack of space turned ugly. Those panels were lucky to have the space they did. Smaller panels, including the five (we found one more; last year’s Hip Hop and Comics panel made a return on Sunday at 2:30) on race, diversity, representation, and generally marginalised voices, weren’t always given that space luxury and when the lines were capped well in advance of their start times it meant that a significant amount of people were locked out. I arrived about an 50-60 minutes in advance of the Minorities in Fandom panel after learning the hard way for The Mary Sue panel earlier that day that 20-30 minutes wasn’t going to cut it. Captain Marvel writer and Marvel panelist Kelly Sue DeConnick tweeted out about 30 minutes before the Women of Marvel panel was due to start that the line was about to cap. Since these were the only four options available for discussions in this vein it’s all the more disappointing that this was an ongoing theme.
Last year’s NYCC Hip-Hop panel was incredibly well attended, and The Black Panel at San Diego Comic Con this summer was one of the events to make. Combined with the lines and space issues this year, the draw and presence of an audience for these panels is clear, no matter what NYCC might think as they’re selecting what to feature. I heard several people muse and infer that the NYCC staff made a conscious decision this year to not be known as a convention with a heavy emphasis on “issues”. The few reports I heard of late commers (and by late, I mean people who were standing in line for up to 40 minutes) to the Mary Sue Panel being addressed as “hopeless idiots” by NYCC staffers aligns nicely with that mindset.
We needed more panels, yes, but if there were going to be so few selections those selections needed to be held in rooms large enough to accommodate the women, POCs, LGBTQ, and ally fans who just wanted to spend one hour hearing about something that directly concerned them. There are more of us than those organising the con thought.
One suggestion tossed around in conversation was the idea of satellite locations– using a variety of locations throughout the city to host off site events and panels. SDCC and Dragon*Con both do this by utilising several hotels in San Diego and Atlanta respectively while NYCC sticks solely to the Javits Center. Of course, the Javits Center basically being located in the middle of the West Side Highway, and across multiple expansive construction sites (the walk from 8th avenue to the Javits was murder this year) makes it difficult to imagine how satellite locations would work. The closest and largest hotels that might have the space for off site events are blocks away (New York City blocks; they’re longer than you might think) and it would be difficult to get back and forth without some sort of provided transportation. It could all be done, but I suspect we’d be looking at higher badge prices for future cons.
It’s a lot for Lance Fensterman and the rest of the NYCC team to consider, but it’s at least worth talking about if the ‘issues’ panels aren’t going to be automatically given the space they need.
Between the space and panel issues, the lack of wifi, coming home one afternoon to see several suspect tweets under my account, and the fact that this harassing camera crew got press passes when several legitimate media outlets didn’t, there wasn’t much to be impressed about with the way the con was run this year. With apologies issues concerning the tweet-jacking and the harassment, two of the four issues have been addressed. I’m very curious to see what –if anything– they’ll have to say about panels and space.
Aside from the above, I took away a few other stray observations from this year’s Con as well:
Before we get to criticisms, let’s start on a positive note: Overall, I loved attending New York Comic Con this past weekend. Entrenched in one giant convention center with my fellow geeks, I was mostly able to ignore the fact that most of us had no way to contact the outside world…or the friends we got separated from in the massive crowds.
Waiting in line for panels was actually the best way to escape the crowds at NYCC which seemed to take over all of midtown Manhattan (I was nearly hit by a van on 10th Ave driven by what looked like Daenerys and Spider-Man) and, as suspected, Saturday’s panels proved most exciting. Here’s a brief wrap up of two major panels and some general NYCC news and observations for those who weren’t able to attend:
Okay, so there’s not going to be anything Avengers-sized at this year’s New York Comic Con. That said, I’m still thrilled to be spending the weekend down at the Javits Center on behalf of The R. I’ll be on site Thursday through Sunday covering panels, celebrity sightings, and other general Con-ness. There aren’t as many panels as we had back at this summer’s SDCC, but the way I see it that just makes it easier to hit up more great stuff!