Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Two weeks ago I went to the 2016 Rose City Comi-Con, being a two day event I took my niece and nephew on the first day. As is stated in the traditions of my family, the first thing we did was visit the 501st booth. For those of you who are not aware of them, the 501st are people who dress up in Star Wars costumes to do conventions and charity work. The 501st is named after Darth Vader’s personal storm trooper legion. If you ask anyone of them they will say that the best part of 501st membership is visiting sick children in the hospital. Normally when you get you picture taken with them they ask to make a donation to Make A Wish Foundation, but this year they donated all profits to the Peter Mayhew foundation, In honor of the man who played Chewbacca and attended the con.
Speaking of Star Wars we were taken back by Cos-player Samazon’s Harley Quinn Mandalorian Armor. Her impressive costume had the Joker’s girlfriend wearing Boba Fett type bounty hunter armor. Not only was her armor superb, she took time to talk to my niece and nephew about it. It looked like real armor and was very detailed, eight up with 51-50 painted on her shoulder.
The first day I picked up a Copy of Valliant’s Faith. I had not heard of this new comic but I was apparently the only one, who missed this boat of awesomeness. This amazing comic is already on its third printing of its first issue. Faith is a plus sized heroine who uses her telekinetic power to fly. Originally appearing in The Harbingers a 90’s Valliant title, she was mainly comic relief and the butt of fat jokes. But the twenty-first century reboot is all hero with not a fat joke in sight. The portrayal of the human body, especially the female body is a legitimate complaint. Here is a heroine in a real world body and she doesn’t let it hold her back.
I told a friend on Facebook the week before the con that I was going there primarily to meet Jennie Breeden. Since 2001 she has been doing a daily on line comic strip called the Devil’s Panties. Despite the name it is not demon porn. It is about Jen (Breeden’s author avatar), who irreverently deals with things like family, life after graduating college, being a nerd in a normal world, and relationships. And the real world Jennie was just as cool as her comic counterpart. I got the feeling that I was talking to someone who understood my lifestyle, and was willing to share some of the most humorous parts of it with eh world. TDP’s Daily strips always bring a smile to my face, and on occasion has me rolling on the floor.
Though there were thousands of people at the con there were not a lot of lines (once the doors opened). My niece and nephew were a bit upset that I made them wait in line to meet Greg Rucka. (The only line we waited in that was longer was the line to get over priced sodas.) He is one of my favorite independent comic authors, he has done, Whiteout, Queen and Country and Lazarus as well as more mainstream fair like Wonder Woman, Cyclopes and Gotham Central. But he started out as a novel writer with the the Atticus Kodiak Bodyguard series, he has also done three Queen and Country novels and the recent Before the Awakening, a Star Wars novel.
My father read the first two Rucka Q&C spy novels at my insistence (He passed on before the third came out) and in his life only read one comic book Q&C Sons and Daughter, about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I gave my niece a copy of his Star Wars book, so he has been entertaining three generations of my family. I told him this and he seemed really moved by it and agreed to sign my copy of S & D, to my father. He wrote
It is the obligation of the parents
To teach the importance of responsivity to the new generation.
Not only that but he made some recommendations of Star wars books, for to my niece. He took time to speak to everyone who waited in line despite their age. I had to take a moment and compose myself. It times like this when the geek lifestyle is more than just movies and books, it is about real people who have real experiences.
My niece and nephew really don’t like setting through panels. But they did want to see Peter Mayhew the actor wh o p l a y e d Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies. We got pretty lucky and landed seats towards the middle in the third row. Peter has been doing this for decades and is very comfortable with the audience and their questions. He told stories about his friend Kenny Baker, who played R2D2 and recently passed away and about the teacher who said he would never become anything and then said. “How do you like me now?” and then flipped him off.
I went the next day by myself to check out more things that I was interested in.
One of the first people I looked for is Aubrey Aise who was the pecniler for the awesome independent comic, The Lumber Janes. This comic has won the Eisner award (The comic’s version of the Oscar.) It is about five girls in a mystical summer camp. When Uncle Dave’s got to teach his nephew and niece at home schooling he let her do a book report on LJ #1.
Aise who as far as I am concerned has the brightest smile in comics, signed a copy of the special Portland cover of LJ #6, I thanked her and congratulated her on winning the Eisner, and she was taken back for a moment. She was so in the moment of what she is working on right now, she had to think about it because it was an over a year ago. She gushed appreciation. She is cute as a button, but also such a real down to earth human. In ways she embodies the traits I love about the Janes. (BTW they just picked a director for the LJ movie).
One thing that caught my eye the day before, and was the artists of Red One. I love Red One, it is written by one of France’s top comic book writers, Xavier Dorison, and is beautifully drawn and colored by Oregon’s own Terry and Rachel Dodson. The story is much deeper than a comic book has a right to, and in this short burb where I tell you about it isn’t going to do itjustice. Vera Yelniko is Russia’s top Spetnaz special op solider in the 1970’s. Russia sends her to America, to battle an ultra-conservative vigilante called the Carpenter, who is killing people he sees as sexual deviants. The commies hope that in doing so they can sway the hearts and minds of the American people, and she’ll become the USA’s only real superhero.
If I had any complaint about the series it would be that it they are a third of a way through the story and it has been a long time since they put out an issue. I thought that the publisher had given up on it and there would be no ending. But there it was in the Dobson’s booth, the long awaited issue 4. Terry signed the copy I purchased and said if I brought my hard copy TPB the next day he would sign it and do a sketch in it too.
When I came back the next day he kept his word. While he sketched Vera in my book, I told Terry and Rachel why this story means so much to me. I have a transgendered daughter, who a year ago was attacked and none of the witness tried to help her, in fact many people just filmed the attack with their cell phone. She was not seriously hurt but this is any parent’s worst nightmare. When I re-read Red One and thought about my daughter, it was the first time I really wished that superheroes where real. I wish someone like Vera would watch over and protect my daughter.
I love cons because this is an opportunity to share stories like this with the people who worked so hard to create art which became more than art to me. The Dobson’s thanked me for sharing my personal experience and promised to share it with the writer Dorison.
Zombies Vs. Cheerleader is a guilty pleasure. It is an anthology story about well cheerleaders fighting zombies. Heather Finley has done several stories for it, and signed a copy of their Halloween issue for me. She was dressed as Archers Cheryl Tunt, including Cheryl’s ID Badge and neck bruises. When I asked her why she picked Cheryl? Her reply was, why would she want to be anyone else, Cheryl is so much fun.
I was also able to catch up with friend of DCotU Miss Miniver. She was dressed up as Gwen-Pool on of her most beloved cos-plays. She told me that the second issue of her comic book, is still in the works but has taken a back seat to a new children’s book she is working on. The day before she had hosted a panel on making your own geek themed brand. Since then she was also selected for the girls of cos-play 2016 colander.
Leaving I had to get a picture of a Cos-player dressed up as Tank Girl in front of a real National Guard Armored personnel carrier. I had just finished the TG arch Two Girls, One Tank, and the ending was one of the most emotional books (graphic or not) that I had ever read. Tanky is normally thought of as being about punk chic getting drunk blowing stuff and maybe having sex with a mutant kangaroo, but this was amazingly deep and I felt real empathy with the main characters as she had to choose which of her friends lived or died.
It was a good con, I meet almost everyone I wanted to and got a whole bunch of reading material, looking forward of RCCC 2017.
Here are some links to some of the people I mentioned.
Devil Panties – http://thedevilspanties.com/
Terry Dodson’s Bomb Shelter http://www.terrydodsonart.com/
Mis Miniver’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MissMiniver/
Samazons Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SAMazon93/
More info on the Lumbejanes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumberjanes
Cloud City Garrison Portland’s 501st http://www.cloudcitygarrison.com/
Greg Rucka’s biography. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Rucka
MTV’s write up on Faith. http://www.mtv.com/news/2423809/faith-valiant-plus-size-superhero/
Heather Finley explaining Cheerleaders Vs Zombies
Ms Miniver’s Gwen Pool video