Half of comic book readers are female, and yet, as with most forms of media, women are radically underrepresented, both as protagonists and creators. But metro Detroit lady geeks are in for a treat: The second annual ComiqueCon, a one-day celebration of female comic creators co-sponsored by Green Brain Comics and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, will take place Oct. 22 at the Arab American National Museum, and it promises to be a super good time.
"We really wanted to bring creators on board that exemplify feminist ideals in their work and beyond," ComiqueCon chair Chelsea Liddy says. "If they exemplify feminist ideals, and want to encourage young girls to love comics, then they are behind the mission of ComiqueCon."
Panelists for the event include Nneka Myers (artist, Powerpuff Girls), Carolyn Nowak (artist, Lumberjanes), Jennifer Camper (editor of the influential Juicy Mother anthology of queer comics), Arielle Jovellanos (orchestrator of the Hamilton-themed Ham4Pamphlet), and Megan Rose Gedris (artist on Food Porn Anthology), along with others.
"There have always been female creators — several books and documentaries will confirm that," Liddy says. "But men, both creators and characters, are more visible because they get more exposure through the major publishers — and we have the data to back that up. Female creators and characters rarely top 30 percent of the makeup at DC and Marvel."
The recent breakout of some high-profile comic book creators, including Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet), and mainstream fare centered around female characters (such as the wildly popular Jessica Jones Netflix series) has been proving to the mass market that women bring much to the table, in terms of both content and readership.
"It's worth noting that when publishers adjust to the desires of their readership, they reap the financial benefits — and it's not just women that are interested in these stories," Liddy says. "People from all kinds of backgrounds want to see these things happen. Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel is a huge testimony to this."
"Also Saga," she adds, referring to an Image Comics book created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. "All the Saga," she enthuses, in the parlance of a true comic book fan.
The day's events include a series of panels seemingly designed to encourage and cultivate a new cohort of comics creators, including A Day in the Life of a Villain: Alternative Perspectives in Comics (Making Comics #1). This is a creative writing workshop in which attendees will explore alternative perspectives and give the villains a chance to tell their tale. Plus, Now Let's Draw It: All-Ages Mini-Comic Workshop (Making Comics #2), which is a pretty self-explanatory event. Both workshops will be facilitated by 826Michigan, which just celebrated the official opening of its new Detroit Robot Factory location at the Eastern Market.
Aside from the practical skills of writing and drawing, women in the business need a super-set of professional skills, and these will be bolstered by panels such as Making Diversity Mainstream: Stop Talking, Start Doing with Natasha Alterici (creator, HEATHEN), Sarah Kuhn (author, Heroine Complex), and Mariko Tamaki (writer, This One Summer; The Hulk; Supergirl: Being Super), and Breaking into Comics: Strategies to Survive and/or Avoid Working for the Man, with Janelle Asselin (publisher, Rosy Press), Emmy Award-winning Megan Rose Gedris (creator, Meaty Yogurt), and Arielle Jovellanos (artist, Fresh Romance).
"It really warms my heart to hear from several of last year's ComiqueCon attendees that their daughters had a plethora of role models to look up to in our featured guests and exhibitors," Liddy says. "If a 10-year-old girl walks away from ComiqueCon thinking that she can create comics for a living, then I've done my job."
Other events of the day include a cosplay contest with prizes for the best costumes and an exhibitor area featuring up-and-coming comic creators. Cosplay (short for "costume play") is a thriving collective practice of all-ages dress-up, wherein cosplayers re-create and interpret their favorite characters.
"Cosplay is so popular right now, and I think there is still a lot of work to be done to make it an inclusive activity for everyone," Liddy says. "A duo that cosplayed Halo Kitty won last year! I would really love to see more young cosplayers because of the adorable factor, and I definitely expect to see more Star Wars characters and Ghostbusters."
This year's ComiqueCon is making an all-ages push, with all-ages activities including a photo booth, children's comic workshops, Etch a Sketch portraits, and more — and children ages 12 and younger can attend for free.
Whether you're a female or female-friendly comic book fan, a cosplayer or just eager to test run your Halloween look, a parent looking for a day of family-inclusive fun, or a creator hoping to get a handle on how to succeed in the business, ComiqueCon 2016 has something to offer.
ComiqueCon will take place Oct. 22 at the Arab American National Museum. Tickets for ComiqueCon are $12 in advance and can be purchased at comiquecon.com. Tickets at the door are $15.
Comic fans 21 and older can attend an exclusive Drink & Draw event at 8 p.m. on Oct. 21 at Green Brain Comics, to meet and mingle with ComiqueCon's featured guests in an intimate setting while enjoying local music, casual sketching and coloring, and hors d'oeuvres. Tickets for Drink & Draw are $25 in advance.