NYCC: Escape the World

an assortment of items from Janet Lee's table at NYCC 2018

On the Friday of New York Comic Con (NYCC), as I descended into the depths of the Javits Center in search of Artist Alley, I had one thing on my mind: how could I balance having fun at this con with my justified worry about American politics?

With that in mind, I toured Level 1, Hall 1B, asking creators throughout:

Of all the things you’re selling, which offers the most satisfying escape from the current political situation?

I was extremely gratified to learn about so many great books and so much great art, and also to hear so many different approaches to what makes for satisfying escapism!

Amy Chu

Chu notes, “everything I write is kind of political,” and thus it provides “escapism and fantasy rooted in a certain reality.” She points to characters who offer readers “satisfaction for justice,” like her work on Red Sonja, generally, and also particularly when Poison Ivy “kills a serial workplace harasser.” She says it’s cathartic to write a character like that, and that she is “happy to deliver that moment” to her reader.

Amy Chu holds up two of her books
Amy Chu at NYCC 2018

Agnes Garbowska

When asked about which of her many works might offer the most satisfying escapism, Garbowska gestures toward the My Little Pony art and the DC Superhero Girls art that surrounds her and points out that she works on children’s properties, which are excellent escapism. She invites adults to experience these worlds, and try “drifting off into a far off land of cuteness.”

Garbowska smiles, surrounded by her art
Agnes Garbowska at NYCC 2018

I’ll also note that Garbowska was deep into creating custom art for some fans when I stopped by her booth, and it was really enjoyable to just watch that small, square work come together under her hand. Watching an artist at work: it’s calming.

Janet Lee

Thinking about which of her products—everything from books to fabric designs—might count as escapism, Lee says, “most of my stuff is, honestly.” She particularly notes Return of the Dapper Men, which she says is “ostensibly an all-ages fairy tale,” but is actually a cautionary tale “against inertia.”

Janet Lee poses with her prints and books
Janet Lee at NYCC 2018

Alice Meichi Li

Li’s beautiful swirling art has a dream-like quality. She thinks the book of hers most likely to offer a satisfying escapism from the current political situation is 1001 Knights, a three-volume art anthology. Li says the book is “people positive and inclusive ideas about what knighthood entails” and her own contribution to the book is an interpretation of the rabbit in the moon from Chinese tradition.

Li displays her page of 1001 Knights at her booth
Alice Meichi Li at NYCC 2018

Kel McDonald

McDonald has a wide range of comics, including Misfits of Avalon from Dark Horse and the series The City Between, which McDonald feels would offer extremely satisfying escapism because it is “urban fantasy set in the future.” The first volume, Fame and Misfortune, is complete and the second is currently updating.

McDonald with books and banner
Kel McDonald at NYCC 2018

Keyla Valerio

Valerio is an artist currently working on a series of 1970s horror science fiction prints called Dirty Disco Devil which connect short stories. She speculates that they might provide escapism because they let people avoid current politics by “delving into a different kind of darkness.”

a man climbs through a window above a woman lying down
A Dirty Disco Devil print by Keyla Valerio

All of these recommendations could well fortify a fan to meet the political situation head-on, as a group of fans did after NYCC concluded. On Sunday afternoon, as con attendees streamed out the of Javits center, they were met with a “Love is our Superpower” rally, where the Pop Culture Hero Coalition and other organizations spoke and registered voters. May they fortify you as well!

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Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter and dog. She teaches writing and literature at Suffolk County Community College where she studies comics, kids' books, adaptations and visual culture. She is a former Pubwatch Editor for WWAC, and frankly, there is a lot more gray in her hair than there was when this profile picture was taken.