Guest Post: “Some of My Best Friends are Straight”: Boston Comic Con’s Queer Comics Panel


Note: One of my favorite guest posters (and fellow Bostonian) Jon E. Christianson is back with a look at the Queer Comics panel from this past weekend’s BCC.

The (convention) halls were alive with the sights of lines this past weekend in Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. Comic book creators had winding lines. Celebrity panel lines were an ouroboric nightmare.

Boston Comic Con had all the right lines in all the expected places, except for one panel. BCC’s first annual Queer Comics panel, tucked away in a room for maybe one hundred people, boasted a line the convention was not prepared for. It snaked through hallways, around corners, and eventually doubled upon itself.

People were turned away at the door. Hosted by journalist Brigid Alverson, the panel featured four panelists: writer/artist Tana Ford (Duck, New Warriors), writer Jennie Wood (Flutter, A Boy Like Me), podcaster and writer Amber Love  (podcast Vodka O’Clock, Holyoak), and Geeks OUT! president and co-founder Joey Stern.


From left to right, Tana Ford, Jennie Wood, Amber Love, Joey Stern. Photo by Ashley Hansberry

Alverson offered a brief overview of queer comics history, noting that societal changes and self-publishing have contributed to the genre’s success.

“What queer works have resonated with you?” Alverson asked the panel.

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It's really disappointing to see you co-sign that Holly Black post as if the majority of YA authors don't write about very whitewashed worlds where queer/trans/poc people may as well not exist. Telling people to change that reality with their purchasing power is a tad hypocritical when you all write a certain way because you know that's what sells. I'd be more sympathetic to your point if you weren't directly contributing to the problem.




The point of Holly’s post is that buying works by PoC/LGBTQ/trans writers will literally change the landscape of what’s out there and what’s a bestseller and what’s mainstream. I do sign on to that.

As for the need for more diversity in all books being written, yes to that too. Though, I wish you wouldn’t say I am doing something because “you know that’s what sells.” People think writers do EVERYTHING because “that’s what sells.” People are always reading our minds/explaining our motives—people from every standpoint. Most book banners use the “you do this because this is what sells” in order to denigrate work. My goal for myself is to try harder and do better and make good stories.

But the point remains that diverse writers of diverse books are out there, and by buying their books, the playing field changes. It sounds like maybe you aren’t aware of all these writers. That’s a problem. But it’s something that so many good people are working on now, to bring these writers up to the front of the store/the reading list.

I’m not sure where emayosi is getting that meaning from Holly’s response, because it seemed to me that Holly was encouraging folks to seek out books by authors of color, queer authors, etc., rather than sticking to what “the majority of YA authors” are writing.

I will certainly grant that yes, it’s true that “the majority of YA authors” write books that feature white, straight, abled characters. It’s also true that this is what the majority of entertainment media presents to us every day. THIS IS THE WORLD TODAY.

The point is: THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS. Even though “the majority” writes about white, straight, abled characters, there are others — aka the minority — who do not. I also grant that it can be hard to find these other options, especially when the mainstream media is busy stuffing our faces with ads, promotions, and the like about white straight abled people saving the world or having romances or just sitting around in ennui having deep thoughts.

HOWEVER. There’s this great thing now called THE INTERNET where you can search outside the mainstream for books (and other media too) about people of color, LGBT people, and disabled people. I have spent a lot of time creating and maintaining websites that make finding these stories easier, and right now I spend a lot of time on one of them, Diversity in YA, and you might want to look at the book lists there to find something you might enjoy.

By buying those books or asking your library to buy them, you can make a change in “what sells.” It is the basic truth of capitalism: vote with your wallet. That is everyone’s responsibility.

The opportunity to connect with readers is a valuable part of the process. It’s not an afterthought; it’s not gravy. It’s what we’re all here for. I’m not asking you to design posters and put them up in the subway—I’m asking you to connect with individual people who you genuinely think will be interested in your work. And no matter how introverted you are, writers care about talking about their work and their ideas and connecting with the audience. It’s really an essential part of what we’re here to do.

Scratch: ‘The Scratch Roundtable: Marketing and PR’, from the Q3 2014 issue “Security”

I talked to Scratch Mag and a bunch of smart people about author marketing. I said exactly what you’d expect me to say.

(via rachelfershleiser)

(via rachelfershleiser)