LadiesCon 2017: Recap and Revelry

I once had a teacher in grade school who told me that she loved to read my essays because she could tell that I was enthusiastic about learning and the subjects I would choose to write about. There was just one problem though. If everything I wrote about was “the absolute worst” or the “absolute best” that wasn’t going to give me a lot of space or freedom to really make careful and thoughtful comparisons. So why is this little anecdote important to my recap of LadiesCon 2017? Because I’m about to throw that advice out the window and use superlatives like crazy. Wanna know why? Because LadiesCon 2017 was THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST.

For those of you familiar with our event last year, the first LadiesCon was essentially a testing ground to see if our vision of an inclusive Con would even be something that the community wanted to see. In a donated office space, we managed to catch lightning in a bottle and learned just how dedicated the Boston comics community was to making an event that was for everyone.

This year, we took that to a whole new level. We tripled the number of panels and doubled our space, guests, and vendors. We reached out to artists and creators who were making things that were original, beautiful, and even a little terrifying. The response from the community was once again warm and enthusiastic, and together we created a colorful and vibrant Con.

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And again this year we were able to focus on what sets LadiesCon apart from other cons – creating an environment of inclusion and having a great time while at it. Thanks to our sponsors and fundraising over the last year, LadiesCon remained free to the public ensuring the event was affordable for everyone.

I could spend this entire post going on and on about what a fun day this was. And how happy-tired we all were by the end of the night. But I have this feeling that some of you are here for the pics. So here we go!

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If you want to see more about the Con and programming we offered, feel free to check out the LadiesCon website. This is also where we’re going to start posting info for next year’s event.

If you want to continue to support any of our vendors or artists, check out our Vendors page. Many have online shops and schedules of other events they attend throughout the year.

Lastly and certainly not least I want to just thank everyone who was involved this year. There would be no LadiesCon without you and we are thankful every day to know you and have your support.

 

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Let’s Get Ready for LadiesCon 2017!

 

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LadiesCon 2017 is just days away and we hope you’re as excited as we are for our second ever convention celebrating women of kinds in comics and pop culture. Although you can just walk on in on Saturday and start looking around, there are a few things you can do to prepare for LadiesCon to help make you experience even better. Continue reading

Netflix Review: Marvel’s Defenders

Warning: Possible spoilers

Welp, it’s been a long time coming. Back from when we all were like “Whoa” when the first Daredevil series came out, to when we were like “Ugh” at what went down with Danny Rand, the Defenders is now on Netflix.

Coming down off Iron Fist, I feel like Defenders could only go up. And it did, starting with the open credits, which remind us that the city is actually the main character here. And it’s more than Cap just calling back to being from Brooklyn every chance he gets, the boroughs of NY are more than a setting, they are the uniting factor for the team. As metaphors go it has the subtlety of a jack hammer, but that’s ok, I’m not really watching this for subtlety.

Defenders isn’t perfect, and I did wish there was more, but for the most part what Marvel does well is bringing together the huge cast of characters they have been building towards. It’s not just about the title characters, but also all those supporting folks. Almost all of them are there (though I do wish there was more Marci), even if some character appearances feel like checking a box. That said I’m not going to complain about one moment of Sigourney Weaver’s (and her outfits) screen time, so yes, sacrifices need to be made.

The main storyline focuses on The Hand, immortal clan leaders, and dragon skeletons, so this gives Matt Murdock and Danny Rand an easier entry into the main story line, while Luke and Jessica remain a bit more street level chasing down tendrils that show how larger schemes affect everyday people. This is really the heart of Defenders and having Jessica remain a 5-star general of snark gives you a touchstone back to what the regular folk might be thinking.

Some additional thoughts:

Claire Temple. She is the voice of reason and a pragmatist in a world with super strength, glowing fists, and bullet proof skin. She’s also the catalyst, the center spoke who brings everyone together. While her appearances in earlier episodes start strong, as the series continues she and Colleen are marginalized to emotional back-up for Luke and Danny.  NOT COOL.

Luke Cage has the patience of a saint. He finally calls Danny out on his privilege, asking him what he did before he became the Iron Fist, has he really earned what he thinks he’s owed? And maybe that’s what will salvage this version of Iron Fist, giving him counterbalance. And remarkably, Danny seems to welcome this. Sometimes boundaries are good, so let’s hope Luke continues to play that role because when the series starts one of the biggest disappointments is that Danny Rand hasn’t grown at all. He still thinks everything is about him, and for some reason, Colleen is still with him. WHY??? And she even makes excuses for him when he finally does turn inward to examine what Luke says. WHAT???

By episode 3 we see the 4 heroes come together in what is now a ubiquitous hallway fight scene. I love this and I don’t care if they do one in every series. There are also some nice Power Man and Iron Fist feels.

Black Sky (or as I called it, Dark Afternoon) made Elektra more palatable for me. Previously I didn’t find her overly interesting, but this incarnation of her seemed to have more dimension.

Unlike Claire and Colleen, Misty Knight’s story progressed in some really big and important ways. She has a new look and will soon have a new arm. Will we see Control? God, I hope so.

Despite my earlier griping, this story is still about Danny Rand. He’s like the Key Master or something, and while the character is better in this series, he’s still the least compelling. Except for one moment…..that dumpling scene in the restaurant. Danny finally abandons all his super hero drama and just wants to stuff his face the instant some dumplings show up. I have never felt closer to the character than in that moment.

In this moment Danny Rand is my spirit animal. Photo Credit: Netflix

The next Netflix series is The Punisher, and while it’s in this universe, it’s not super closely tied to the Defenders. I think what I am looking the most forward to is right now is the next Jessica Jones season. David Tennant is still involved so what’s not to look forward to?

3 Manga Titles The Red Menace Recommends

In my last post, I mentioned that there were some manga I was excited to share with you all. Since nothing else took my attention this time around, let’s talk about them.

I should note that I haven’t yet read a lot of manga – I really enjoyed Ranma 1/2 when I was just getting into comics, but that was nearly 25 years ago, when the selection of good translations in America weren’t as plentiful as they are now. Additionally, there are SO many manga, in every genre you can imagine. Separating the wheat from the chaff, or even just what stories might be interesting to you in particular, can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are folks out there who can help. Comicazi has a manga book club – I learned about one of these titles from their list. Another I learned about from my pal Morgana, who is the manga maven at Comicopia, a store with a great selection of manga. The last was given to me by my husband, who thought it just looked up my alley. So here are my three picks – don’t be afraid to ask your local shop for other suggestions!
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Review: The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Guys, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing us say this over and over again, but LadiesCon is getting closer by the moment. While I can’t speak for the other Ladies, I can say without a doubt that I’m feeling both VERY excited and VERY tired. Putting together this event is a constant adventure so I’ve been making a point to find time to relax, recharge my batteries, and seek out other lady-led geeky projects for both motivation and inspiration.

My latest attempt at “Chicken Soup for the Geek Girl Soul” was getting my hands on The Secret Lives of Geek Girls. Kick-starter funded and featuring over 50 writers and artists, this non-fiction anthology contains short stories and comics about love, being a girl, and being a geek. So um yeah, pretty much what the title promised.

 

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Image: Dark Horse

 

The Good

Just one look at the list of writers and contributors and I knew I needed to own this book. Not only does it include LadiesCon guest Kristen Gudsnuk, but it pretty much goes on to read as a dream guest list for future Cons..or maybe as a list of guests for the world’s greatest cocktail party.

Many of the stories are well-written, relatable, and at times powerful. My favorites included Marjorie Liu’s haunting story about lost memories and dreams and Katie West’s story that cleverly compares the end of a marriage to surviving the apocalypse.

At its best, you can see yourself reflected in the pages of this compilation. While reading, I found myself feeling odd nostalgic pangs for when I first discovered some of my favorite fandoms and swooned over their adventures. Of when I would stay up late watching Red Dwarf on PBS and dream about meeting someone who would think my ability to quote Invader Zim on command was one of my best qualities. Corny, yes, but that’s the point. These stories run the gamut and cover not only the process of love, but how our own love of “geekdom” can make us who we are and help find who we want to be. To me, that’s the good stuff.

The Bad

The trouble with all anthologies is that they can be uneven. Not every story is a home-run and not every story spoke to me. There were times when I just didn’t love the style or tone. There were even times when I wasn’t sure what the point was, especially if there were a lot of references to fandoms that I’m not familiar with. At worst, there were certain stories that felt too cute or trite, just another meet-cute starring characters who happen to be geeks. Meh. Time to move on to the next one.

The Verdict

Back in July another Kickstarter was launched for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Redux – a more compact follow-up to the original book. If history repeats itself, there is a good chance the book will be picked up by Dark Horse for another wider release. Assuming that’s the case, I will be there throwing my money in its direction.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a fun book with a great message. It’s also a great way to support female and feminist creators who are producing some very high-quality work. Who knows, your new favorite might be waiting to be discovered among these pages. At the very least, it might be nice to know that you’re not the only who fell in love while gaming or used stories to help you made sense of the complexities of growing up. Really, many of us have been there, so why not spend some time with your kindred spirits?

 

 

 

The Panels of LadiesCon 2017

As you saw in last week’s post, we’re all super excited about everything we have planned for you at LadiesCon 2017. Our panels at the last LadiesCon were very popular and this year’s panels promise to be bigger and better than ever. And thanks to our new location at the Armory, you can check them out in the very same building as the vendor floor.

Want a preview of a few of the panels we’re presenting? Read on!

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LadiesCon 2017 guests Spotlight: Part 1

LadiesCon is just over a month away and we thought it was be a good time to start sharing some information about our awesome guests. As you will soon see, our guest list ended up being a bit of a blog wish list come to life. Many of these folks we have already written about so we want to be sure to direct you back to those posts first.

The Cirque arrives!

 

First off, we have repeat LadiesCon guest Ming Doyle. This is Ming’s second year with us and we could not be more delighted to have such a talented and kind person to showcase. Her beautiful, flowing art style is always such a joy. Seriously, try to look at Ming’s work and not smile. Check out our previous write-up on Ming, and her Marvel Quickdraw episode featuring America Chavez.

 

 

 

Next, for the first time at LadiesCon we have Gwenda Bond! The Red Menace has shared her love for Gwenda’s Lois Lane: Fallout novels before. So when it came time to reach out to potential LadiesCon guests, of course Gwenda was on the list, and you know what? She said yes! Our hearts! Even more exciting, Gwenda will be doing a panel at LadiesCon too. Wanna talk more about shipping, OTPs, and romance comics? Come to LadiesCon.

 

 

 

Mildred Louis, creator of the webcomic Agents of the Realm has the distinction of being the guest on the first Ladies Of Comicazi Podcast and she was a total delight! If you aren’t familiar with Mildred’s work you can also read The Red Menace’s review and then, come to LadiesCon and talk with Mildred about magical girls, being an independent creator (Mildred both writes and illustrates Agents of the Realm), and diversity.

 

 

America, Marvel Comics

Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics

And now, here’s a guest that was haven’t written about yet….Artist Joe Quinones! Maybe you are thinking, but Joe is not a lady, what’s he’s doing at LadiesCon? Well that’s easy enough to answer, LadiesCon is called that because we are the Ladies, and because we have a strong focus on women and other folks who’ve been traditionally marginalized in the industry. But LadiesCon is not limited in who we feature as guests or who is welcome at the Con. It’s for everyone regardless of gender identity, and we are excited and proud to have such a mega talented local artist joining us.

As you can see Joe has done amazing work for Marvel, working on America, Captain Marvel, and Howard the Duck. He also recently did a cover for Sex Criminals, but that’s NSFW, so if you want to see it you’ll have to buy it. I am super excited to have Joe at LadiesCon. His Captain Marvel covers are some of my absolute favorites, capturing Carol’s strength and power. In fact that’s one of the things I love the most about Joe’s work, he draws women with substance. They have muscles and curves, and gravitas. And that hair! Gorgeous! Joe art straddles photo realism and an almost deco style. Seriously, come to LadiesCon and check out more of his work.

For more information on LadiesCon and our guest, check out our website!

Howard the Duck, Marvel

Poe Dameron, Star Wars

 

 

 

Milkshake Madness: Have Women Changed the Comic Book Industry?

The selfie that started it all. All rights: Heather Antos

Friends, I’m going to be honest – this isn’t the post I want to write this week. I was planning to tell you all about the delightful manga series I’ve been reading lately, but it will have to wait, because once again, Twitter went insane over women in the comics industry, and it feels necessary to unpack that a bit.

If you haven’t been following the story, you can read all about it here, but the gist is that Marvel editor Heather Antos posted a selfie with a bunch of her fellow Marvel lady friends, holding milkshakes. The caption was “The Marvel Milkshake Crew #fabulousflo.” (More on that hashtag in a minute.) What she got in return were a bunch of nasty tweets and direct messages, complaining that the women were fake geek girls (yawn), who are responsible for Marvel’s flagging sales because of their “SJW agenda.”

Now, there were plenty of folks who jumped to Antos’s defense, creating the #makeminemilkshake tag to show solidarity with Antos and women in comics in general. I think the supporters vastly outnumber the haters, and that’s a wonderful thing. What troubles me with this whole foolish business is that it keeps happening, and I can’t help but ponder the series of bizarre conclusions the haters need to have drawn in order to make the comments they did; the crazy leaps of logic that lead someone to speak with abject cruelty to strangers. It does no good to attempt to understand internet trolls, but I can’t help it – I strive for understanding.

What it seems like is that there are three major issues at play here:
1. These people believe that women making comics is a recent phenomenon.
2. They equate these “new” women with story lines that promote a social justice agenda at the expense of storytelling, art, and the beliefs of the readers.
3. They believe that Marvel as a company is complicit in actively promoting said agenda.

The Fabulous Flo as Invisible Girl. All rights: Marvel Comics

So let’s break these down in order.
1. Women in comics is a new thing: Remember that hashtag, #fabulousflo? It’s a reference to Flo Steinberg, who passed away at the end of July from an aneurysm. Flo was one of the earliest members of the Marvel bullpen, hired by Stan Lee as a secretary, but taking on so much more in running the Marvel fan club, wrangling temperamental artists, and sending artwork to be approved by the Comics Code authority. After she left Marvel, she published Big Apple Comix, one of the earliest examples of “indie comics” – a bridge between the underground work that preceded it and the glossy mainstream work. She returned to Marvel in the 1990s, and worked as a proofreader until this year. Flo was truly a comics industry legend – and she was there from the beginning of the publisher that these trolls are lamenting is being ruined by women. And she’s just one example – women at Marvel and DC are not a new thing, even if they’ve been more behind the scenes than they are today.

Which leads us to:
2. The trolls believe women (and pretty much everyone who isn’t a white man) are promoting a liberal agenda. Spiderman’s a black kid sometimes! Iceman is gay! They made Thor a lady! What’s weird about these accusations is that writers on all of the stories are white men. Perhaps the women in the milkshake picture are manipulating everything behind the scenes! Hmm, that doesn’t seem super likely, does it? What makes more sense is the fact that you have characters who are, on average, 50-100 years old, with whom you’ve been telling stories continuously for most of that time. It seems inevitable that changing up who wears the mantle will happen sometimes, and if that change is a dud, they’ll either change back or into something entirely different yet again. Yes, you can make NEW characters who are women or Muslim or gay or trans, but that doesn’t entirely give you a new direction for your old characters. So it goes.

And here we come to:
3. They think Marvel will ruin the company in order to promote a liberal agenda.
Publishing is a business. The trolls point to these character changes, and point to Marvel’s dropping direct market sales, and then lament that if only the publisher saw the error of its terrible liberal ways, they could FIX this! But because Marvel is so dedicated to this SJW message, they say, the company just won’t do it.

There are two main problems with this thought-train. One simple one is that it doesn’t really take into account how comic sales have changed. While direct market sales are still really important, they don’t track digital sales on things like Comixology. So a book might not be doing well physically, but we don’t really know its total reach.

But the part that puzzles me even more than that is the idea that people believe that a corporation would ever put beliefs over profit. For me, a liberal who IS invested in social justice, that’s a really nice thought. It’s also utter horseshit. Marvel cancels books with flagging sales all the time, without ceremony. They don’t exist to promote an agenda, they’re here to sell you comics, and if the troll-dollars matter as much as they seem to think they do, then the stories will change again in due time. We shall see.

In the meantime, this makes me feel that projects like LadiesCon are more important than ever, not because women, non-binary folks, people of color, and LGBT folks are a new thing, but because we’ve all always been here. We make comics. We read comics. We buy comics. And we drink milkshakes and take selfies, and we don’t need to apologize for it.

Food and Fandom: Henchgirl’s Cthulu Burger

We are less than 2 months away from LadiesCon and things are getting crazy. Crazy in the best ways possible, but still quite a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. It’s during these times that we need to make sure we’re taking the opportunity to take a deep breath, brush up on your R’lyehian, and praise the Elder Gods.

If you haven’t read Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl, you should really do one of the following: a) buy it now so you have a copy for Kristen to sign at LadiesCon or b) buy it at LadiesCon and so you have a copy for Kristen to sign. Ok ok, I know I’m really driving the point a bit hard here, but there’s a reason we reached out to Kristen as a guest.

Without turning this post into a review, I will tell you this much. Henchgirl is such a charming and funny story. It’s filled with such great visual gags and puns that when I found myself faced with these panels…I knew immediately what I had to do.

 

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Image: Dark Horse Press

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Image: Dark Horse Press

 

Yes, I needed my very own Cthulu Burger!

Normally when I do these Food and Fandom posts, I like to post a recipe. I’m not going to do that this time for a few reasons. The main reason is that there are times when (due to the either the complications of your project or the limits of your own culinary skills) you know that you’re going to have to choose between something that tastes great but is visually plain or something that looks amazing but will NEVER WANT TO EAT AGAIN.  I chose and well, um…you’ll see.

When making a burger based on Cthulu, octopus was the most obvious choice. I was able to find frozen cleaned octopus in my regular supermarket quite easily, as well as a recipe that would allow me to cook it in my sous vide. I had never cooked octopus before and using such a controlled temperature was a pretty surefire way to ensure that the octopus would be soft and tender rather than horrible and chewy.

So I started with something that looked like this:

 

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I may or may not have performed a puppet show for my dog with these.

Did some stuff to it:

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Dead Cthulu waits dreaming.

 

And hours later, I found myself with this:

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Tentacles like butta…

The recipe also informed me that I should clean, then either grill or fry up the octopus to get the legs and tentacles nice and crispy before serving. So I did that too.

Next, I laid out my ingredients on my sacrificial altar/cutting board and got to work assembling what might very well be my most horrifying creation yet.

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Photo contains: garlic mayo, romaine lettuce, toasted brioche bun, vine-ripened tomatoes, octopus, and the last shreds of my sanity

BEHOLD AND TREMBLE WITH FEAR YOU FOOLS! *warning: prolonged exposure to this slideshow may result in madness

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I’m really proud of how I was able to get his worshipers to bleed from the eyes just right!

I delayed as long as I could taking these pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I would like octopus. I’ve had it before and liked it a lot. It was the idea of eating it with bread and the other burger fixings that made me start to back away towards the door.

I mean, does this cross section look appetizing to you?

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It kinda looks like a Hell Mouth.

Since I wasn’t about to go at this alone, The Boy and I each took a half, bit in, and well…

Do I get points for accuracy if it tastes like it’s been asleep under a lost city in the Pacific ocean for thousands of years?

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. But dang, it tasted fishy. And the soft octopus with even softer bread was not something I found enjoyable in any way. No, it was not good. Nope. Nope. Nope.

In the case that you’re wondering what went wrong, I chatted with Tiny Doom and she believes it was a problem with the octopus recipe that I used. My recipe said that marinating the octopus before cooking was optional, so I skipped that step to save myself a little time. Tiny Doom has cooked octopus with great success but has always let it braise in red wine first. Perhaps that’s the key to removing the fishy taste? Maybe my frozen octopus wasn’t all that great? I’ll probably give cooking octopus a shot again, but will use a very different recipe.

Still, Lord Cthulu makes quite the dashing figure as a burger.

 

Selections from the Geek Dictionary

There are all sorts of words and phrases from pop culture that have crossed over into the wider vernacular. Some are extremely well known. Others are less so, but still incredibly fun and useful once you know them. These are a few of my favorites.

Watsonian and Doylist

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“Elementary, my dear Watson…Doyle…whichever one you are.” (Source: Wikipedia)

(Adjectives)

Definition: From the perspective of a person in a fictional world (Watsonian) or from the perspective of an author or reader (Doylist). Useful in discussion of a fiction to clarify if you are talking about “in universe” explanations for something that happened or the “behind the scenes” version of events.

Etymology: The terms have their origins in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and refer to the two different people who could be said to have authored those works. Dr. John Watson is a fictional character in the same world as Holmes. To him, Holmes is a real person capable of acting and thinking on his own. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a real author who sees Holmes as a fictional character whose actions are dictated by a writer and the outside pressures that influence the writer.

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