C2E2, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, happened again this past weekend. I’ve attended each C2E2 since its first year in 2009, but this year marked my first cosplay! I dressed as the teenaged bandit/thief/mostly-hero Bandette, a character by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin. My outfit was nice and practical, though the mask was a little tight. Apparently not many people have read “Bandette,” since everyone thought I was Hit Girl from “Kick-Ass” (she’s not even the same colors!!). But four people correctly identified me, and our mutual excitement each time made my efforts totally worth it. I even ended up on the Comixology blog.
Panel: Tattoo Panel
My husband John and I needed to kill some time before the cosplay after-party at Reggie’s, so we decided to check out this panel. It was composed of contestants from a tattooing competition reality show that I’d never heard of, Ink Master on Spike TV. The panelists didn’t cover many nitty gritty details about tattooing, but they provided some fun facts about their time on reality tv and trends in tattooing. Clint Cummings said producers would tell the contestants to look down during parts of filming, and then edit it to look like sad head-hanging after judges’ critiques. Panelist Sarah Miller’s most in-demand tattoo right now is inexplicably the Celtic Cross.
Cosplay Chicago Presents: Skeletor’s Evil Plan- A C2E2 After Hours Event at Reggie’s
I wanted another excuse to wear my costume, so we went to this after hours event at Reggie’s. Former Gorilla Tango Burlesquer Hazel Hellbender put on a pretty great Carmen Sandiego performance, and there was a spectacular, super-smooth “boy-lesque” number by Bazuka Joe of the three-man troupe the Stagedoor Johnnies. He was Lion-O from ThunderCats. There was a dick-pasty involved. And butts.
The rest of the party was meh. There was a nerdcore rapper and some rather confusing and uncomfortable Skeletor & She-ra cosplay/bondage performances — I … I don’t want to talk about it.
Panel: CBLDF Presents A History of Censorship in Comics
Alex Cox, Deputy Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) gave a fascinating presentation on the history of censorship in comics. He led the audience through misguided social advocate Fred Wertham’s book “Seduction of the Innocent,” which used psuedo-science and faulty research to damn comics as a leading cause of social delinquency. Wertham’s findings “caused a shitstorm,” Cox said, leading to the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1954 and the introduction of the strict Comics Code Authority regulations that stunted the industry and kept adult-friendly comics away for decades. Similar moral panic in the 1980s led to the formation of CBLDF, which raises funds to protect comics artists, readers and vendors. I was shocked by how busy the CBLDF still is today– just in 2010, an innocent manga book with chibi imagery got 27-year-old Ryan Matheson wrongfully arrested for possession of child pornography and severely mistreated by Canadian authorities (with the assistance of the CBLDF, Matheson won his case).
Panel: Comics and Pop Music
I was tired and admittedly zoned in and out of this panel a bit. The panelists (Charles Soule, Dirk Wood, Kieron Gillen, Matt Pizzolo, Patrick A. Reed, Renee Witterstaetter, S. Steven Struble and Vivek Tiwary) discussed graphic storytelling’s connection to music and various albums they associate with comics. The highlight was when Tiwary revealed pages from “The Fifth Beatle,” the new graphic novel he authored about the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, whose tragic death at age 32 shook the band beyond repair.
Panel: Chicago Comics from the Chicago Scene
Local artists Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, Jeffery Brown and Paul Hornschemeier discussed why Chicago is a great comics city, the separate yet linked mainstream and indie comics scenes and how the groups support each other. Jeffrey Brown shared that his favorite Chicago pizza is the pie his wife makes from scratch. It was heartwarming.
Comedy Mutant with Brian Posehn, Myq Kaplan and Mike Drucker
Brian Posehn headlined. He talked about farting a lot. It was hilarious.
Panel: Derf Backderf on My Friend Dahmer
In the 1970s, John “Derf” Backderf made an eccentric high school friend. He had a “blank mask of a face” and liked to twitch and bleat like a sheep to disturb the school faculty. His name was Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf, now a journalist and cartoonist, spent over 20 years after Dahmer’s death planning and compiling information from personal interviews, official public memories and his own memories to create “My Friend Dahmer,” a graphic novel documenting his time with a troubled young man slowly overtaken by alcoholism and his brutal, burgeoning desires.
Fascinated by their oddball classmate, a teen-aged Backderf and his friends formed the “Dahmer Fan Club”– their prankster antics included adopting Dahmer’s silly mannerisms (they called them “Dahmerisms”), and sneaking Dahmer into all of the student organization yearbook photos. Backderf shared cartoons of Dahmer from his high school sketchbook and photographs of a young Dahmer-about-town. The eeriest of all was the smiling graduate in his cap and gown, taken just two weeks before he would kill his first victim.
Later my husband John bought a copy of “My Friend Dahmer,” and Backderf drew this creepy Dahmer in it!
Panel: Exorcising the Spectre of the Fake Geek Girl: Discussing Geek Culture, Gate-Keeping, and Sexism
This all-female panel panel (Carlye Frank , Dawn Xiana Moon, Erin Tipton, Karlyn Meyer, Laura Koroski and Michi Trota– all self-proclaimed geeks), discussed why the myth of the “fake geek girl” is false, and how no one should be alienated from the comics and gaming community for looking a certain way or having the incorrect genitalia. Both men and women participate in geek culture gatekeeping, but women are nearly always the ones labeled disingenuous. A few panelists attributed the phenomenon to geeks’ pent-up memories of pain and alienation over their offbeat interests— and a feeling that others should earn their stripes.
There have been plenty of yucky articles trying to pinpoint the “right” way for women to engage in these activities and conventions. The sexist undertones of the mainstream comics and the gaming industries don’t help– in fact, we recently published an F article on sexism in game development by Ian Ostrowski.
Panel: Meet R.L. Stine, Who Has Been Giving Us Goosebumps for 20 Years!
After being turned away for Saturday’s Patton Oswalt Q&A, which was filled beyond capacity in the largest panel room, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get into this R.L. Stine panel, what with Goosebumps being the bestselling series of all time and all. But I got there 20 minutes early and got a seat!
At his panel, R.L. Stine exhibited a refreshing balance of love of his work, pride, and joking self-deprecation. He’s a really funny guy– he intended on writing adult humor books before falling fatefully into youth horror. At the peak of his Goosebumps and Fear Street series, he was writing a book every two weeks. Stine discussed his meticulous planning processes and said that he doesn’t “have time for writer’s block,” He earnestly shared how he’d wept upon being praised by his own literary hero Ray Bradbury. He kidded about stealing from Stephen King, and that despite Goosebumps being in its 21st year, “there are only six plots.” Nothing really scares Stine anymore– “Horror always makes me laugh,” he said.
For the audience Q & A portion, one teary fan read a letter aloud that she had written to Stine at 15. Another audience member mentioned tagging Stine in a tweet and asked if he’d follow her back. He smiled and said simply, “No.” The audience laughed and cheered.
My new friend Kyle and his wife Natanya released this book about Dwarves last year, funded by a successful Kickstarter project. I’ve been meaning to pick it up, so I finally did!
So that’s that. Can’t wait for next year!