San Diego Comic Con & Diversity: Actions Speaks Louder than Words
San Diego Comic Con International is both the mother and father of all Comic Book Conventions. If anyone tells you not to believe the hype, don’t feed into it, the convention is beyond overwhelming and then some. I have been attending the show for 8 years straight and look forward to the next one every time. There is a buzz in the air there that is unlike any other show I’ve attended. Be it the Cosplayers, the Professional Panels, the Educational Workshops, the Hollywood Movie and TV Showcases, the Outside events, the Gaslamp District; whatever it is, makes this show extremely special and I’m not sure if it would maintain that if it moved to another city…but that conversation is for another time; probably in 2018.
This year was the first time that our organization hosted an event during the show. It was a panel discussion called ‘Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium’. The panel is one that we have done in various incarnations at other shows: i.e., ‘Latinas in Comics’ at the Latinos in Comics Exhibition at the Poe Park Visitors Center, ‘Black Women in Comics’ at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and ‘Women of Color in Comics’ at New York Comic Con 2014. Originally it was our intention for the event to be held on site at Comic Con, however, it was rejected by the Programming Department. Nevertheless, we decided to still hold it during the convention, and shopped the idea to the San Diego Library System, who was more than happy to host our event. As I wrote in the previous blog, our programs are geared for everyone; especially communities that often feel underserved yet are just as much fans of the comic book medium as anyone else. The panel took place at the San Diego Logan Heights Library in El Barrio Logan. It’s only a mile or so away from the convention center, yet the community is often neglected during SDCC festivities every year. Because of this they have their own comic book convention during this time called ‘Chicano Con’. We were proud to serve as a bridge to both events by bringing both SDCC Badge holders and the General Public together to talk comics, race and gender.
With the presence of WinC members from across the country on panel, the conversation was vast and thoughtful. The discussion was covered via live tweets by Racialicious’ own Arturo R. Garcia which can be read here: https://storify.com/aboynamedart/the-sdcc-files. In his own words, the panel was one of the most important events during the show that did not actually take place at San Diego Comic Con itself. Ironically, there was a panel that did discuss Race and Gender at SDCC, whose program description strangely mirrored ours almost verbatim, however, it didn’t receive much or any coverage on a topic that is gaining more and more momentum in the industry. With that said, we had a larger audience than anticipated that was determined to attend our event on a sleepy, early Comic-Con Sunday afternoon. We had a swag table that was filled with items donated by awesome comic book creators and pop media professionals such as Robert Roach, Greg Pak, Vanessa Verduga, Jamie Broadnax, Brent Beltran and a host of others. We were welcomed to El Barrio Logan with open arms. The audience was warm, gracious and we were humbled as they shared their gratitude in regard to our presence in their community. We are more than happy to bring this panel back to El Barrio Logan next year, yet with unrelenting determination to also host it at SDCC next year; it’s time that the gap between communities and conventions be fully bridged.
Panelists From Left to Right: Delia Gable, Regine Sawyer, Leen Isabel, Vanee Smith-Matsalia, Jamie Broadnax and Vanessa Verduga.
San Diego Public Libray Logan Heights Branch