Guest Blogger: Dani Looney
With all the talk in the mystery world about Boucher-con, Marilyn thought it would be a good idea (which she may later regret) to let me be a guest blogger and write about my experiences at New York Comic Con.
In the beginning, comic conventions were pretty much just for comics. Buying and selling them, sharing the art, and premiering new story arcs. Over time though, these conventions have become something much bigger. Not only are they celebrating comics, but now they include a wide range of media. Movies, television, books, and video games are all included under the umbrella of a comic convention. Since it is now cool to be a “geek” and with the growing number of superhero movies, the explosion of gaming culture and the popularity of shows like “The Big Bang Theory”, Comic Con has become a 4 day extravaganza of all things “nerd”. There are plenty of panels, screenings, games, vendors, and celebrities to draw even the most introverted of us out into public. Those running the show very quickly figured out that the quickest way to our hearts was to offer us a chance to buy merchandise from our favorite shows, and also offer us a chance to discuss and find out more about the things we loved.
As an avid reader and as a fan of things including, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Marvel, etc., Comic Con allows me 3 days of non-stop fun. Not only do I get a chance to meet some of the actors portraying my favorite characters, like Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch last year, but I am also surrounded by other who enjoy these things and who are just as enthusiastic as I am. Most of us have created cosplays, costumes, of our favorite characters, and quite a few attendees put some serious time and effort into these costumes. The creativity that attendees put into their cosplays can be seen in what they can come up with. Just this year, I saw a man dressed as the many characters Johnny Depp has played, as well as quite a few gender bends of male characters. We all praise each other’s creativity, take pictures, and discuss our loves without fear or worry of others thinking we are “obsessive” or “crazy” or “too involved” (and those are some of the kinder things said). It is easy to find friends while waiting in line for a panel and begin sharing theories over what the next series of Sherlock will be like, or how we are enjoying the newest regeneration of the Doctor. Overall con going is a very enjoyable experience and the people in charge are continually trying to make things better. This year there was even a new harassment policy about how cosplay is not consent. This was a very welcome reminder that just because someone is dressed up, no matter how scantily, that it is not okay to just touch and take pictures of them. As a woman, I was very appreciative of this new policy, and how it was a reminder to people that asking before touching is a good thing.
Now to get to the best part of Comic Con for me: the books. Since attendance this year topped 150,000+ people a day, publishers were ready with new releases and lots of new authors. I found myself circling the few book aisles and chatting with the people working the booths. Many times I was friendly and polite enough to snag some free ARCs. There were also buttons, stickers, book samplers, and tote bags just being given away as you walked past a booth. In total, I think I walked away with eight to ten books and around six of those were free. Some of the free books being given away were part of a signing that was going on. I was able to meet fantasy writing veteran Robin Hobb, who was happy to hear about the independent book store I worked in and that they were still around. Many new authors were also in attendance and were encouraged to see how busy the publishing booths could get and how many readers were out there and wanting to take a chance on a new author. The best part of these booths was the people working them. Their enthusiasm for books and authors was contagious and I really loved being able to share my own love of books with them. Many of them were very encouraged at seeing how many people stopped at their booths to ask about new releases and their favorite authors. I garnered quite a few compliments on my own female Percy Jackson cosplay, which then of course led to discussions of what we all thought of the last book in the Heroes of Olympus series, as well as a few cries of, “No spoilers! I haven’t finished yet.”
Books were not only just available on the main floor, but this year there were quite a few literary panels that were incredibly interesting to go to. There were panels for young adult readers, Doctor Who fans, ones for fantasy fans, and ones for fans of any kind of books. Some of my favorites were, “Damsels in Distress Need Not Apply” and “How Game of Thrones Changed Fantasy, or Did It?” . All of these panels featured authors talking and discussing different subjects. A big topic of many of the panels was the representation of female characters. It was very refreshing to see authors really looking at how women are presented in books, especially these genres where it’s easy to make them damsels who do nothing but be rescued. Many authors are noticing that a good portion of their fan base is female and is craving unique strong female characters, and they are actively trying to give us these characters. Marvel is really trying to show that comics are not just for boys anymore and have been trying to really incorporate more female heroes, including a new incarnation of Thor where a woman is worthy of the Mjolnir as well as separate arcs for characters like Black Widow and Captain Marvel. No longer are they in skimpy costumes and armor that only covers the “important” bits, but they are taking charge and showing everyone that they are just as capable as any of the male superheroes out there.
Sadly, Comic Con is now over. I had a blast and would not change a thing. After some great panels, a few autographs, numerous lines, a few hugs for a fallen Castiel, and one very damp day as Han Solo, you would think I’d be bone tired and very sore, and truthfully I very much am. Carrying around multiple tote bags, early mornings, and lots of walking have left me very exhausted. There are two things I know for sure though; I don't regret a single bit of it, and I cannot wait for next year.