Comic-Con International, the annual gathering of fan boys and geek girls, returns this weekend to San Diego. Originally limited to showcasing comic books, science fiction/fantasy and related films and television shows, it has grown into a pop culture extravaganza that also incorporates horror, animation, anime, manga, collectible toys, new TV shows, and video games. And it's not just fans who migrate to the event; it draws some of the world's most notable actors, artists, authors, producers, and directors.
As evidenced by the convention's longest running panel, Gays in Comics (now making its 26th appearance; see last year's 25th anniversary below), there has long been a place for LGBT folks at Comic-Con. But this year may just be the queerest yet, with LGBT offerings every day of the convention.
To help you sort through it all, on the following pages is our guide to the best of queer Comic-Con.
Bizarre? Queer? Perfect: Taming the Wild Webcomics Frontier This panel is moderated by Prism Comics (the nonprofit organization dedicated to LGBT comic creators) and Nina Kester (of tapastic.com, an online platform and community for indie web comics) and explores the frontier of webcomics, which promise instantaneous connections, low costs, and no editorial interference. Addressing the potential for LGBT works in this environment are panelists Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads), Beth Dean (blackforestdraws.com), Kane Lynch (The Relics) and Alex Woolfson (Artifice). Thursday, 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Celebrating 10 Years of Prism Comics The nonprofit organization Prism Comics provides a network for LGBT comics professionals and fans through its website, events, and convention appearances. Over the past decade, Prism has seen LGBT comics and characters step farther into the mainstream spotlight. Panelists Ted Abenheim (president, Prism Comics), Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Prism board), Andy Mangels (co-founder, Prism Comics) Paige Braddock (Jane's World, Prism advisory board), Charles "Zan" Christensen (co-founder, Prism Comics; Northwest Press), Roger Klorese (Prism board), Jon Macy (Teleny and Camille, Prism Queer Press Grant chairperson) offer a look back at where Prism Comics started, celebrate how far they've come, and gaze into the future of queer comics. Moderated by Justin Hall (whose Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, is a fabulous collection and represents the work of dozens of LGBT artists/authors.) Saturday, 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Gays in Comics XXVI Whether it's in the high-flying world of capes, spandex, and gravity-defying breasts or wondrously down-to-earth slices-of-life, the LGBT presence in comics has evolved beyond simple inclusion and visibility. Moderators Roger Klorese (Prism Comics Board) and Paige Braddock (Jane's World) explore the next level of authentic LGBT storytelling with panelists Shannon Walters (Kaboom), Justin Hall (No Straight Lines), Leia Weathington (The Legend of Bold Riley), Shena Wolf (Uclick/Universal Press Syndicate), Sina Grace (Li'l Depressed Boy; Not My Bag), and others. Saturday, 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight While lesbian and gay people have made great strides toward inclusive representation in pop culture, things haven't gone as well for those who are bisexual, have fluid sexuality and gender, or otherwise fall outside the binary of gay and straight. Charles "Zan" Christensen (publisher of Northwest Press, which produces LGBT comics and graphic novels) moderates a panel featuring contributors to the new comics anthology, Anything That Loves: Ellen Forney (Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me), Lena H. Chandhok (Pony Tale), Josh Trujillo (The Provider), Kevin Boze (The Virgin Project), Randall Kirby (BOP! Comics), and Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads). Thursday, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Spotlight on Ellen Forney Bisexual cartoonist Ellen Forney presents her New York Times bestselling graphic memoir, Marbles: Depression, Michaelangelo, and Me, a brilliant and darkly hilarious evaluation of her struggle with bipolar disorder, which draws examines the connection between artists and mental illness throughout history. Friday, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Masculinities/Femininities Academic panels are an underappreciated element of Comic-Con. Don't miss these students' queer papers: Sheila Malone's examination of how Batwoman and Batgirl displace the male hero in a contemporary non- hetero world where queer, disabled, and renegade motorcycling are super/powerful; Jaclyn Hymes's application of Sedgwick's theories of homosociality to Maggie and Hopey's fluid sexualities in Jamie Hernandez's Locas stories; and Eric Schlegel using the lens of queer theory, to explore how superhero experiences of identity can help LGBT individuals understand our own identities. Friday. 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m
A Look at Kevin Keller Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie universe, was introduced in 2010. The issue (Veronica #202) immediately sold out, prompting the very first reprint of an Archie comic in the imprint's 74-year history. This panel, moderated by Prism Comics President Ted Abenheim, discusses the impact of the character on the comic industry. Panelists include Kevin Keller writer/artist Dan Parent, President, Archie Comics, Mike Pellerito, Taptastic.com's Nina Kester and Jeff Krell author/artist of Jayson, the light-hearted comic strip (which debuted in Philadelphia Gay News in 1983 and has since spun off into book length collections) about Jayson Callowhill, a skinny farm boy who moves to Philadelphia searching for a job and a man. Krell's inclusion on this panel is poetic as Jayson has long been dubbed the "gay Archie." Friday, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Celebrating Strangers in Paradise's 20th Anniversary with Terry Moore Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, ECHO, Rachel Rising) talks about 20 years of living and writing with his female protagonists Francine and her best friend Katchoo, who is in love with her. Friday, 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Husbands: The New Marriage The only sitcom about marriage equality, acclaimed web series Husbands has just completed filming for a new relationship with the CW. Earlier this year, the creators Jane Espenson and Brad Bell spoke with The Advocate about the project and the Husbands graphic novel. In a panel moderated by Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly, Bell and Espenson discuss the future of Husbands (especially in light of recent Supreme Court rulings) with Husbands' co-stars Alessandra Torresani and Sean Hemeon, director Jeff Greenstein, and the upcoming guest star Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse). Friday, 8 p.m. - 9 p.m.
A Tribute to Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics Books
This year Fantagraphics Books -- which publishes queer titles including the wonderful trans youth graphic novel series from Japan, Wandering Son -- lost its long-time publisher, Kim Thompson. Among those celebrating his life and career is Love and Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez, whose Julio's Day is probably the best gay-themed graphic novel out this year.Friday, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Gays Comic Fan Mixer and Silent Auction The annual Prism Comics Gays Comic Fan Mixer and Silent Auction, benefits the nonprofit organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered comics, creators, and readers. Mingle with comic books fans and creators and stay for the special drawing of "Comics Gift Basket" and a silent auction of items like original art. Saturday, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture It may not be exclusively the domain of LGBT folks, but, unfortunately, any talk of bullying has to address the unequal targeting of queer, trans, and gender-variant kids. This panel discussion hopes to offer ways to overcome bullying, including strategies to create witnesses and allies out of bystanders. NoH8 founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley join Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time), Brad Bell (Husbands), Chase Masterson (Doctor Who: Big Finish), Bonnie Burton (Girls Against Girls: Why We are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change), Jenna Busch (entertainment editor, Fan TV), and Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Topics include geek bullying, LGBT bullying, and cyberbullying; and how media affects attitudes toward bullying and aggression. Moderated by author Carrie Goldman (Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear). Sunday, 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Futurama We're dooooooooomed! Celebrate/bemoan Futurama's latest and greatest final season with most of Futurama's legendary voice cast, (Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Phil LaMarr, and Lauren Tom). The panel (which also includes executive producer David X. Cohen, creator Matt Groening) will also perform scenes from the upcoming "Last Episode Ever." Missed the "Proposition Infinity" episode and wondering how queer Futurama is? Check out editor at large Diane Anderson-Minshall's interview with Billy West. Saturday, 12 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Although they may not be featured guests of Comic-Con 2013, it's likely you'll find your other favorite artists and comic books somewhere in the enormous San Diego Convention Center. Keep your eyes open for these Advocate recommended:
- Darren Davis, the gay founder and publisher of Bluewater Productions (and author of HIV-plus comic book Lost Raven).
- Dylan Edwards, the trans guy whose Transposes separates gender from sexuality, illustrating six true stories of transgender men who also happen to be queer.
- Jennie Wood, transgender author of Flutter, Volume One: Hell Can Wait a graphic novel that utilizes a supernatural protagonist to explore transgender and queer experiences.