Tag Archives: New York Comic Con

An Open Letter to Mike Babchik: I Am Not For Sale

By Guest Contributor Diana Pho, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

TRIGGER WARNING FOR THIS POST

Photo of Mike Babchik and ‘Man Banter’ crew at NY Comic Con. Credit: Bethany Maddock

Dear Mr. Mike Babchik of Man Banter,

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.

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Help 18 Million Rising Stop Sirius XM’s Con Creeper

By Arturo R. García

Sirius FM “producer” Mike Babchik. Image via 18 Million Rising.

Michael Babchik seems to be content to represent the dregs of the Internet. And Sirius XM seems to be content not to discuss that. But the 18 Million Rising campaign isn’t going to let them get away with it.

Babchik first brought attention to himself at this year’s New York Comic-Con, during which he and the crew of one of his projects, “Man Banter” — one of those programs for the highly-coveted Nice Guys of OkCupid demographic — were accredited as press for the event and used that access to conduct “interviews” with women on the con floor. Including Friend of The R Diana M. Pho (aka Ay-leen The Peacemaker).

Here’s an excerpt of that encounter, as shared by Dianaon Tumblr, with Babchik at that point only identified as The Creepy Interviewer

TCI: Are you a geisha?
Me: No.
TCI: Can I be a geisha?
(Warning bell two)
Me. No, you can’t.
TCI: Why not?
Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace—
TCI: Ah, but do I smell?
Me: Well, I dunno, I’e only stood next to you for about 20 seconds, so I can’t tell if you do or not. But however—
TCI: Well in my experience, girls who stand next to me longer than 20 seconds get a cream pie.
(silence)
Me: I would give you a slap in the face.

Diana reported the incident, and in a welcome show of solidarity, many other attendees boosted the signal, so much so that Banchik was identified, removed from the event and banned forever. According to con leadership, Babchik and his crew were “very careful to stress to all involved the Sirius was not involved in any way.”

But as it turns out, while Sirius XM did not send “Man Banter” to the convention, Babchik still works for the company, for something called Mad Dog Sports Radio. However, when 18 Million Rising members have attempted to ask about this on Sirius’ Facebook page, the company has seen fit to delete their comments.

The message is clear: Sirius would rather not draw attention to the fact that one of its employees likes to go to public events and harass women, despite that person seemingly using his association with the company to scam his way into press accreditation. 18 Million Rising has an online petition calling for Babchik’s ouster from his position, which as of Monday morning has reached 81 percent of its goal of 2,000 signatures. Activities like his are a smear on broadcasting on top of a safety hazard for women in public spaces, and Sirius should find a modicum of shame in recognizing that.

NYCC Panel Recap; Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom

by Kendra James

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 lance@email-reedexpo.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:

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Wrapped: New York Comic Con May Need To Move Out

New York Comic Con: Bringing together Rainbow Dashes of all ages.

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:

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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.

The Racialicious Review Of New York Comic-Con

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

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:

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The Racialicious Preview For New York Comic Con 2012

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

Entrance to New York Comic Con. Via Collider.com

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!

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The Tits Have It: Sexism, Character Design, and the Role of Women in Created Worlds

Lightning, drawn by Jonathan

This panel is all about titties and I feel like its my fault!  – Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete

There are many things I expect to see in a panel called “East Meets West, Art Direction for a Worldwide Audience.” I expected to hear Isamu Kamikokuryo, the art director for Final Fantasy XIII-2 discuss how Japanese artists focus on creating new worlds, Norse mythology and its influence on the game, and drawing inspiration from Cuba for some of the beautifully rendered backgrounds. I expected to hear Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete, the art director of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, talk about influences like Andrew Loomis and Metal Gear Solid. I had hoped for an interesting back and forth between the two designers on how technology influences artistic development as well as what happens to geographic differences in artistic influences in our increasingly connected worlds.

I did hear all of these things, but also something that pinged my feminist gamer radar.

In describing his influences, Jacques-Bellêtete mentioned he was heavily influenced by Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. Then he went into a two minute riff about “always trying to have very beautiful female characters,” noting that these were characters he would want to sleep with. After making a semi-disparaging remark about female characters drawn in a North American style, he concludes “I’d rather have female characters from Final Fantasy or Soul Caliber to sleep with.” This draws chuckles from the crowd.

And there it was, the truth about character design that so many players know but most designers wouldn’t usually articulate: most of the egregiously sexist character designs are based on fuckability, rather than playability. Continue reading