It was a beautiful day in Boston, Ma. as thousands lined up bright and early to attend Boston Comic Con at the Seaport World Trade Center on Saturday, August 3, 2013. After being postponed by the Boston Marathon bombing in April, the show went on with gusto at the new location. It had been previously scheduled to be at the Hynes Center. Spirits were high even after an exceptionally long wait in line and the convention center was swarmed with pop culture enthusiasts of all ages eager to meet their favorite creators, see their favorite TV and movie stars, and attend some fascinating panels.
I’ve attended several comic conventions in Boston over the years and this was the biggest yet, with the line to purchase tickets wrapping its way down Seaport Boulevard well into the afternoon. For all the waiting, however, the fans were relatively even keeled and people were processed in an orderly fashion. It was pretty impressive to watch, though there could have been more volunteers or attendants to smooth things along. Additionally, this year’s event did not have a helpful little map to guide attendees to the panels or to find their favorite artists in Artist Alley. Since my agenda consisted of finding Amy Reeder to sign my copy of Batwoman #6, I had to track her down armed with only the directory and my ability to count and, since I was an English major, numbers aren’t exactly my strong suit.
Amy Reeder wasn’t my only draw for the event. Other artists I was eager to see included Howard Chaykin, who drew Avengers 1954 and is now working with Matt Fraction on Satellite Sam, Sara Richard of Kitty and Dino and My Little Pony fame, and Tyler James, writer of The Red Ten from Comix Tribe. I was also taken in by just how crafty some of the vendors were, with Mjolnir plushies, tiny plastic replicas of Han Solo’s head, and even an opportunity to get a 3D printing of yourself.
Rows upon rows of comic slingers lined the front of the convention center with special deals and earnest attempts to help anyone find back issues, collectibles, variant covers, and more. One of the most exciting things about the entire experience was to see so many young fans flipping through long boxes with their family members, proving that the family that geeks together, keeps together.
You can’t talk about any comic convention without talking about the cosplayers. Hundreds of fans in colorful capes, Doctor Who trench coats, and incredible prosthetics wandered the Seaport convention center and nearly every single one was more than gracious when stopped to be photographed. I saw half a dozen Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy duos, ten Batman and Joker sets, and maybe twenty-five incarnations of the Doctor. But aside from the big names like those, there was April O’Neil (from the 80s cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Rita Repulsa (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers), and a gender-bent Comedian (Watchmen) to fill out a wild roster of costumed fans.
Finally, and this is what I had been waiting for all day, I got to attend some fantastic panels.
Writing Comics featured Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Frank Tieri (Wolverine), and Tom Sniegoski (prequel to Bone) discussing what being a writer in the comic book industry is like, from breaking in (their suggestion: self-publish and don’t be afraid to show your work to the creators you admire), collaboration (communicate, communicate, communicate), and working in other media (novels, video games, TV, and movies). They were very entertaining, helpful, and most of all encouraging. Niles got his start as a publisher, Tieri started as an intern for Marvel, and Sniegoski wrote short stories and they all agreed that the best way to be a writer is to write. Write stories, write comics, write blogs, write anything you can and get it out there. It was an extremely informative panel and, while I wish there had been at least one female writer on the panel, by the end I was very motivated to keep on keeping on.
My day ended with the Female Creators panel, which presented Amy Reeder and Sara Richards, referenced earlier, and Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil). What surprised me most was how much this artist panel echoed the writers panel. Reeder and Richards set up booths at cons, submitted their work to contests, and worked as fill-in artists as they worked their way to the place where they are now. Aside from Doran’s account of being a female artist in the 80s (where, ironically, she was instructed on how to write to a male audience because females weren’t into comics), there was little discussion on what it’s like to be a female in the industry. I think it might have been interesting to maybe hear what Reeder’s experiences had been like, as she has more current experience doing similar work that Doran had done (Reeder’s short-runs on Supergirl or Batwoman compared to Doran’s filler art work, for instance). Ultimatelly, they were possibly more entertaining, more helpful, and more encouraging than their male writer counterparts, from Reeder’s astonishment at Richards’ love for hang-gliding to Doran’s description of the level of detail and research that goes into a project such as Gone to Amerikay. Doran, whose work I was unfamiliar with before this panel, was especially poignant as she recounted the stumbles and setbacks she’s encountered in her many years in the business. I didn’t know her beforehand but, especially with all the struggles she’s had in restoring A Distant Soil, I intend to buy pretty much anything she’s ever had her hands on. She is a cool, strong, talented woman.
And that was Boston Comic Con for me. I left the Female Creators panel to find that the convention center had largely emptied out and went home with visions of comic book creation dancing in my head. As a fan, as an up-and-coming writer, and as a commentator, I can only hope that next year’s event is just as big and amazing as this year’s. But, you know, maybe I also hope for a map.