Before I get too far on this particular post, I’m just going to caveat it with, I wish I didn’t feel the need to write it. But after yesterday’s debacle, I feel it’s better served by getting it out there rather than letting it fester like a boil.
Indianapolis, the city I’ve lived in for pretty much my entire adult life, has two debut comic conventions this year: Indiana Comic Con (March 14-16) and Indy Pop Con (May 30-June 1). Seems strange we get not one but two major shows debuting in 2014, but there you go.
Thursday night, Indiana Comic Con announced on their Facebook they were holding their “Official After-Party” at a place in downtown, called Bartini’s, which, to put it mildly, isn’t really my scene, but that’s beside the point. A party I was taken to during GenCon was at a place that wasn’t really my scene either, yet I attended regardless. Anyway.
As part of the announcement, they included a picture of Mystique from the X-Men movie franchise, with the text that there would be “dancers painted as superheroes!” I’m guessing bodypainted, possibly topless. The text of the announcement called them “shot girls,” meaning, to me, the Indiana Comic Con nor Bartini’s really knew what the Hell they were dealing with. I’d show you the exact ad, except… well, I get ahead of myself.
Be that as it may, as an official Indiana Comic Con event, this says to me that their opinions of the female attendees (and sparse invited guests) came down to “We got LIVE DANCING NUDE GIRLS.”
Naturally, people objected. And, when the notion of being able to see naked breasts is at stake, people objected to the objections. I personally was on the side saying this was ridiculous:
As an actual member of the comic creation community (you know, the people who make the produkt geek culture is all about celebrating) who also lives in the city of Indianapolis, allow me to also voice my dismay at this. There is no need for this, and it does give the comic community a bad image. There are events like this that happen all the time at other cons around the country, sure, burlesque shows and the like; the difference is, they are not the official con-branded after party. This says, to me, that what we (yes, WE) are all about is painted up dancing naked ladies, and that’s Indiana Comic Con for ya. Well, horsehockey. Comics people, especially comic makers, already have a bad enough rep of being overgrown manchildren obsessed with superheroine boooooobies, and this does nothing to stop that. Especially in contrast to a growing number of sexual harrassment stories from women finally brave enough to step forward, in this environment. The response from this con is “Look, Supergirl’s tits, officially endorsed!” If this is how this show, that I was looking forward to as being in my backyard with a chance to catch up with friends, is presenting itself, count me out.
Which is still my stance, honestly. I could give a shit if a con-related event happened with naked superheroines (or superHEROES, let’s get equal here; I agreed, let’s have mostly naked men at the event too for equal time) because it happens all the time. The main difference here being, this was the Official After-Party. The Indiana Comic Con’s branding was on the ad, and they announced it on their own Facebook page.
Well, some time later, the post (and the shares of it) suddenly disappeared, and Indiana Comic Con announced the cancellation of the event entirely. Which is NOT what anyone had wanted, merely the removal of the Painted Naked Ladies, OR an equal chance for Women/Non-Heterosexual Men to get something to gawk at too.
And thus opened the floodgates of hate speech towards anyone who objected.
And yes, hate speech. It’s all a LGBTQ conspiracy. Political correctness at it’s worst. We’re all just trying to ruin this con. Women being groped at cons is a myth. Sexual harrassment at shows doesn’t happen. Women are trying to ruin OUR fun activities. We’re all the same as those who are in favor of HJR-3 (while others are claiming a Gay Conspiracy. Really. You can’t make this up.) You’re not a REAL professional was something lobbed at me more than once. Which, hilarious, but… hardly the worst that was being said.
And as is usual when something happens, and Boobs are terkin erwray, absolutely nobody wanted to listen to reason. Why if this was an official convention of your field of work, maybe it might not be such a good thing to advertise a pseudo-stripshow under the official trade dressing of your show.
Instead, hate speech, threats, and the like, were the majority. With Indiana comic Con’s FB moderators seemingly doing fuck all about the threats towards anyone.
So, at that point, rather than belabor any further, I’ve decided that instead of dropping $150 for a table at Artist Alley (when, really, I have nothing to sell ready), or even the ticket price to attend (and my kids can get in FREE all days too), I really have absolutely nothing in common with the show, or the people attending if the people hurling abuse at anyone who, heaven forbid, wanted to feel welcome at the show, or it’s Official After-Party, are anything to go by, then they can have their show.
And I’m not the only one who is a creator in this city who’s abstaining. I’ve already been reached out to by several other comickers in Indianapolis who are pulling out of the show, or reconsidering doing it.
It’s a shame. There were a few people I would have loved to reconnect with at Indiana Comic Con, and who knows, there’s always the Hilton bars right nearby. But that will be done after-hours, or away from the show entirely.
Feel free to spread this around if you want. I’m not going to advocate a boycott of Indiana Comic Con. But I also don’t think the show has done anything very impressive in proving they are willing to provide a safe, welcome environment for ALL who want to attend, professional or otherwise. And again, it’s another black mark against the fan culture that goes part and parcel with the artistic profession I’ve chosen to be a part of.
If anyone from Indiana Comic Con happens to read this, and wishes to reply, be my guest, I will run it here. But frankly, from what little I’ve seen, your show doesn’t impress me much.
(And yes, I am still due to exhibit in Artist Alley at Indy Pop Con)
Thanks for your time.