Posted by: 紺月明 | October 29, 2011

NYCC and NYAF Report

What a crazy weekend it was. I had never been to a convention of this scale. I think there were over 100,000 people in attendance and I’m sure there had to be plenty of coverage about it but, since I averaged about 12 hours at the Javits Center each day on Friday and Saturday, I didn’t hear or see anything about it since I didn’t tune in to the news or read anything in the paper.

At first, just getting in on Friday was a huge fiasco and not handled well at all by the staff. I had bought my ticket and was mailed my badge before the con itself. There was much confusion as far as which line to make to get in since the people who had to pick up badges were looping around the convention center. I was irritated as all hell since there was a panel starting right at 11 am that I wanted to see. I made it there about 15 minutes in so I missed a little but managed to catch most of it.

This first panel was titled It Gets Better (With Comics!). If you haven’t seen or read about it, the It Gets Better Project is an Internet project founded by Dan Savage in the U.S. last year in response to teenage suicides that occur over bullying because they are or were suspected to be LGBT. It basically consists of videos of adults (LGBT or allies), now including many celebrities, conveying the message to teens that their lives will improve.

Basically, this panel revolved around the topic of how comics could help at-risk LGBT teens and what has been done and still needs to be done from now on. Increasing the visibility of queer characters in comics was addressed as well as the importance of local libraries in reaching out to LGBT youth, the growth of manga that has started to pull in young adults into the libraries and getting involved by contacting organizations and independent pulishers so that they can get comics with LBGT themes in the libraries. The overall feeling was that things were getting better and that the days of equality lay ahead. You can read a write-up for more details on the panel here.

Another panel I went to later that day was titled Food and Comics Panel with Wylie Dufresne. Here, C.B. Cebulski, Marvel’s SVP of Creator and Content Development (as well as writer of food blog Eataku.com) and Wylie Dufresne, molecular gastronomic chef and owner of restaurant wd~50, talked about foodie culture and comics culture and where they intersect. It was a good panel where panelists spoke about their appreciation for comics and food and where the creative processes were similar or dissimilar. There was quite the audience and several other guests served as panelists.

One of the panels I really looked forward to went on later that night, XX: The Women of Queer Comics. JD Glass was the moderator and among the panelists were Paige Braddock, Jennifer Camper, Joan Hilty, Kris Dresen, Abby Densen and Erica Friedman of Yuricon & ALC Publishing. It was such an awesome panel with all the ladies offering stories of their formative years, what got them into comics and where they see things going. The great news is that an audio recording of the panel is available.

On Saturday, I had signed up for the first Speed Dating round close to the afternoon. I had never participated in one of them and now I can mark it off the list of things I have yet to try. It took so long to set up and find girls who wanted to participate. Not that it was unexpected, lots more guys than girls who have probably had to deal with the designation of loser fanboy would be eager at the chance to meet girls. However, when initially registering, you could pick who you were interested in: guys, girls or both. I had picked both and was the only one to do so. Two other girls joined that were only interested in girls so first, we shuffled around until all three of us had a chance to speak to one another, then I joined the rest of the girls and went through the same motion with the guys but not all since they outnumbered the girls and time was limited. I’m not sure how things went in any of the sessions that followed but I personally feel having just an LGBT Speed Dating separate from a regular one would’ve pulled more people in perhaps. Goes against the progressive ideal that there shouldn’t be any segregation but meh. Either way, I don’t think speed dating is for me; people choose those who they just find the most physically attractive when I kind of did the opposite and just focused on the conversation/interests. I’ve never dated a stranger or been compelled to want to, so it makes sense given my personality.

The panel I attended later that afternoon was an academic one, Understanding Comics and the Self. Neil Cohn discussed several psychological experiments measuring reaction times and brainwaves that contribute to our understanding of what goes on in the brain when a person reads a comic and revealed that the understanding of comics involves a complex negotiation between a hierarchic system of narrative and the construction of meaning. Unlike other scholars who have claimed a linear path in reading comics, he showed that this wasn’t the case. The next panelist, CJ Suzuki, focused on the ways female mangaka employ shoujo manga to critique, contest and/or negotiate the hegemonic narratives and ideologies of nation, gender/sexual normativity and patriarchal social structure. He utilized the example of With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child in his presentation. Finally, Jeff Barbanell traced and deconstructed the transformation of Native American stereotypes and tropes in comics to demonstrate how to work wih elementary and secondary Native American students using the sequential, visual medium. He brought up a few good ideas about ESL acquisition through comics for those learning English as a second language.

The last panel I attended Saturday night was Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Defending Manga panel. This was another panel high on my priority list involving the controversial case of a manga fan who is currently possibly facing a minimum sentence of one year in prison and registering as a sex offender because a Canadian Customs agent alleged the horror and fantasy manga on his laptop were child pornography. There has been a threat to manga growing in recent years and in order to fight this case and maybe set a precedent, they need to raise $150,000 to defend him. Executive Director of CBLDF Charles Brownstein, About.com’s Guide to Manga and cartoonist Deb Aoki as well as Erica Friedman of Yuricon & ALC Publishing were running the panel. There was a decent turnout and discussion of the fact that it doesn’t matter what the content of the fan’s manga was, manga and comics are an artistic medium and a drawing doesn’t represent a real person or thing. What is really being targeted are people’s thoughts and it is a scary thing when things like thoughts are designated to be a crime. CBLDF posted an entry about it here which has a link to a write-up Anime News Network did about it.

Lastly, on Sunday I had a chance to wander around the Show Room to see most of the vendors and exhibitors but ended up not really buying anything. I didn’t find anything worth it other than a One Piece T-shirt they didn’t have in my size. I basically picked up a few free things. After a bit of that, I decided to check out a panel about Classic Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Going Blu-Ray where old favorites like Tom & Jerry and Looney Toons cartoons were re-mastered and will be released in higher quality blu-ray discs. Some guests were people working for Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera and they were asked some questions about what made they want to work in the industry, who their favorite classic director was, among other things. I left this panel early before it finished in order to stand in line for the next, and final, panel.

The last panel I attended on Sunday afternoon was another CBDLF panel. This time, it concerned Censorship Then & Now. Earlier this year, the Comics Code Authority closed its doors forever, ending an era of self-censorship where comics were stigmatized in general culture. Although the threats brought about by the Authority are a thing of the past, real threats to comics are still present in the courts of the United States and abroad. Once again, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein led this presentation in which he talked about the history of comic censorship from the 50s to today and talked about what life is like after the Code. You can see some of the cases the CBLDF has been involved with in their Case Files. I donated via PayPal to them before going to the convention and participated in their manga giveaway raffle at NYCC, too. What will you do about it? Time is ticking for the end of October deadline and all the incentives in order to raise the funds. If you are reading my blog and are a manga fan, it can be you. I’m sure there might be a few things in your collection that a Customs agent would find objectionable. For these reasons, I decided to volunteer at the CBLDF booth in the Artist Alley of the Anime Festival when I wasn’t attending any panels or wandering around the Show Room and the rest of the convention center. You should do something to get involved, too, because united we stand and divided we fall.

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Responses

  1. Just wanted you to know that the links to the LGBT teens article and the CBLDF entry about the panel are a bit messed up (has an extra http://).

  2. Thank you for pointing that out! They are now fixed. WordPress seems to have the bad habit of already including an http:// when you want to link to content and I forgot to double check.

  3. Wow, that’s a very detailed report and good reference if I ever go to that con.
    The panels you went to are very different than the usual activities than the one I would go to, but it is interesting to read them.

    >people choose those who they just find the most physically attractive when I kind of did the opposite and just focused on the conversation/interests.

    Finding people on discussion board/internet groups may be better for your purpose…

  4. Yeah, I’m definitely not a typical con-goer and I definitely scout out things that fall away from the mainstream. I’m sure people typically went to industry panels, for example Funimation, Viz and whatnot, but all these panels held some sort of deep significance to me. I’m glad you got something out of this.

    That may be true but then my qualm with that is that I like and actually would prefer personal interaction with people. People can easily hide things online and I can’t bring myself to trust anything said beyond a shared mutual interest. Not that I ever experienced anything serious or traumatic but it happened all too often when I was younger.

  5. wow that was very detailed and good! i’ve never been to a convetion before but i’ve always wanted to go… now i want to go even more!!! thank you very much

  6. How do I get my WordPress blog posts to get views in the days after I first post them?


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