It’s pride month everyone! Which means lots of gays, lots of partying, lots of cultural events, and lots of LGBT blog posts. It just so happens that there’s been lots of awesome geeky queer things going on lately that I’ve been meaning to write about, so pride month here we come! (Even if it is almost over…)
June 8th I had the experience of volunteering at the first annual Queer Comics Expo at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It was held as a part of the Queer Cultural Center’s National Queer Arts Festival. That’s a lot of queerness.
The event included appearances by artists such as Tyler Cohen, Alex Woolfson, Jon Macy, Agnes Czaja, and was headlined by Ed Luce (who’s book, Wuvable Oaf was just picked up by publisher Fantagraphics). Prism Comics, Northwest Press and Geeks OUT also all had booths with lots of queer friendly merchandise. It was a small event but definitely a good start for its first year, and it pulled a larger crowd than originally expected, with definite room for growth.
The expo also included some programming including one panel moderated by Northwest Press’ Zan Christensen which discussed where queer comics are headed, two life drawing sessions with models dressed as Cyclops and Mystique from X-Men, and a screening of DATING SUCKS: A Genderqueer Misadventure by Sam Berliner.
For the size of the event, I feel like it was the right amount of programming and offered unique experiences. Most conventions I’ve been to haven’t offered models for life drawing, how about you?
I had the chance to talk to the organizers, Nina Kester and Heather Plunkett. Both seemed excited about the number of attendees and the overall vibe of the event. Plunkett, who runs the Cartoon Art Museum’s bookstore said that everyone seemed happy to be there and so appreciative that someone would put on an event like this.
I have my own feelings about what makes inclusive events like this important, but I wanted to ask the organizers why they wanted to create a queer friendly comics event. Kester told me, “Look around. All of these people feel comfortable being who they are. Someone can ask a male model to do a pin up pose usually reserved for female models and no one judges. In fact the male model enjoyed the pin up pose better. We can just be us.”
Being able to feel safe in being who you are is important for mental health. Because of this, having a space where you can be queer and like comics is double important, due to being looked down upon from both sides. That being said, the number of people in this community are more than I would have guessed, which is awesome! More queer comic creators and more queer comic readers means more people to connect with each other and feel as if they aren’t alone. And connectedness is also another key to mental health.
From what I could tell everyone was happy with the event, attendees, exhibitors, volunteers and organizers alike. The event went off without a hitch with only 2 months of planning and 3 volunteers on site for the day. With a year to plan, and more creators asking about tables in the future, just imagine what they can do next year.
And they are definitely planning on a next year.