My first impression of my second year at London Super Comic Con was that the programming seemed, for a lack of a better word, very dudely. A lot of time was given to Avatar Press and Max Brooks, and not much time to more obviously inclusive publishers or creators. Even the brief moderated portion of the Garth Ennis Q&A panel consisted mainly of Avatar’s editor-in-chief asking Ennis about Crossed and his other Avatar work — I know you have to plug your product, but this man is a veteran of the industry! And the audience members who asked questions were mostly men; I was one of two women who had questions for Ennis. (Okay, I had a lot of questions. This was Garth Ennis! I had to.)
This isn’t to say that I felt unwelcome as a woman. Like last year, there were many vendors selling purses, jewelry, hair accessories and similar, and the con’s harassment policy was displayed very close to the entrance. There were also a large number of female attendees wandering the floor and a fair amount of female artists and writers in the exhibitors’ area.
Additionally, there were lots of families around, many of them cosplaying. My favorites included a black father and son who dressed as Blade and Miles Morales respectively and an entire family of Transformers:
There was also a group I called the Super-Princesses, who may not have been trying for “family-friendly,” but I talked to a bunch of kids outside the con who seemed pretty okay with the whole thing.
On the other hand, a lot of the exhibitor tables featured displays of female characters with pneumatic boobs which were held up by futuristic space technology, for all I know. One artist — I can’t recall who — even had a portfolio of Maxim-style illustrations of superheroines. Wonder Woman doesn’t have time for that type of unfortunate men’s magazine nonsense. That’s just insulting.
In fairness, these weren’t spotlight guests, but I do wonder about the consistency of insisting on costumes that are sufficiently family-friendly (good) and then permitting banners where women have almost no clothes, or having Zenescope present at all (not good).
This being London, however, the diversity of the attendees helped to make the con experience better. There were fans, staff members, and cosplayers from a wide variety of ethnic and national backgrounds, including a multiracial-Asian-American family of Jedi. Unlike some other comics gatherings I’ve attended — whether academic or fan-oriented — I didn’t feel like The Lone Asian, or even worse, The Lone Ethnic. I was one of many fans who could be from anywhere, and that was fine, because we were all there to be giant nerds together.
Plus, I cosplayed. In honor of Garth Ennis’s appearance at the con, I did Hitman the first day and Preacher the next:
Another LSCC perk: as a press attendee, I got to hang out in the Daily Planet press room, a room-like structure on the con floor exclusively for members of the press. Although I didn’t spend much time in there, I did get to pretend to yell at Daily Planet staffers, which was an extremely fulfilling experience.
One of the biggest highlights of my con experience was being able to spend Day 2 with my friend Morwan, who is a) someone I’ve known since our freshman years of college, b) second-generation Sudanese, and c) the person with whom I can most easily talk about issues of race, nationality, intersectionality, and all of that profound stuff. Cons are always better with a friend.
The other biggest highlight of my con experience was getting interviewed for a BBC Radio 1 Xtra documentary (!!!) on diversity in comics. I will probably not stop mentioning this until I am dead, and will be forever grateful to artist Christian Ward for putting me in touch with the documentary makers. The documentary airs in May/June; I’ll provide further info and links once these are available. It was a totally unexpected but wonderful opportunity that left me with the feeling that anything really is possible.
And to emphasize that point, here’s an adorable baby girl to demonstrate that you, too, can be super: