Last weekend saw the debut of New York’s latest comic book convention Special Edition. There’s something to be said for being in on the ground floor of something, particularly a comic book convention, with their ability to grow exponentially in size.
So I’m proud to say that I was there for the first Special Edition: NYC. I bumped into a couple friends at the show and we all had the same opinion; we were going to enjoy this Special Edition because it was almost surely going to grow and become unmanageable in the near future. That’s just the nature of things.
Special Edition was a really fun affair. It was just the right size; it wasn’t sprawling and impossible to navigate. It wasn’t packed with people, so you could easily dig for deals in a longbox if that’s your preferred Con behavior. You could walk on the Con floor without it having to be an endless parade of “excuse me” and “pardon me.”
While there weren’t really any major bombshells dropped, the panels were informative and felt pretty intimate in nature, and not just due to the lack of microphones for questions.
One of the best panels of the weekend was the Secret Identities: Transgender Themes in Comics panel on Saturday.
Secret Identities: Transgender Themes in Comics had a good mix of a variety of different writers from different mediums. Playwright Charles Battersby, webcomic creator Morgan Boecher, prose author P. Kristen Enos and comic and animation writer Joe Kelly and addressed the representation and themes of transgender in comics and beyond.
Some of the characters and comics they touched on were Madame Fatal, Camelot 3000, Ranma ½ , Wanda from Sandman and Adventure Time. Battersby made it a point to mention Doom Patrol’s Coagula was the first trans character created by an openly trans writer, Rachel Pollack.
Camelot 3000 was a really important book for Enos, as it was released as she was embracing her sexuality. At the time she found it inspiring. Looking back on the book now, she’s not really a fan of the portrayal of Tristan and Isolde’s relationship, but for nostalgica’s sake the book holds a special place for her.
Boecher’s popular strip “Where Does Transsexuality come from?” is based in part on his journey. He was constantly having to explain being trans to people and decided to approach it with humor as a strip.
Boecher also mentioned that he’s not really a fan of gender-flipped characters for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s a very safe way to broach the topic because it’s really just surface level and doesn’t dig any deeper. But more importantly, those stories tend to reinforce the default gender and character and make the notion of transgender seem foreign.
Joe Kelly talked about his book Bang! Tango, which prominently features a transgender character and how it was his take on the “macho gangster” story.
An the topic of portrayals of trans characters in any medium, every panelists agreed that it’s best to avoid clichés and make sure the characters are three dimensional. Kelly relayed a story about how, when he was on X-Men, an editor at Marvel decided that Magneto couldn’t be Jewish anymore, because he didn’t like the idea of a Jewish villain. Despite Magneto’s heritage being a crucial part of his character, he was changed from Jewish to the much more acceptable gypsy. There was fan outrage and Magneto later went back to being Jewish.
That was by far my favorite panel.
As a regular person attending the a comic book convention I had fun. I spent way too much time at the Updog Comics booth. As someone who was reading comics in the late 1980’s, I was in heaven. They had so many issues of Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold that I was tempted to try to cobble together a complete run. I know used to have a complete run of Booster Gold, but I’d always wanted to try out Blue Beetle and Captain Atom.
They also had so many issues of Legion of Super-Heroes and L.E.G.I.O.N. that I was salivating. Despite having the full 5YG Legion, I genuinely had to fight the urge to pick up those issues again. Though, I will say that I’ve completed by run of Green Lantern vol. 3, finally got the Hawkworld mini and started collecting Guy Gardner.
All in all, it was a good weekend that wasn’t nearly as exhausting as NYCC. Don’t get me wrong, NYCC is fun, but it takes a lot out of you when you attend. Special Edition: NYC is just much easier to take in. For now.
Well, it’s Wednesday so go out and get some fresh new comics from your local comic shop.
Tags: Joe Kelly, Special Edition: NYC, Wednesday Comments