Panel at Long Beach Comic Con features LGBTQ Creators
On Sunday, at the sixth annual Long Beach Comic Con, a panel was held which featured creators who are LGBTQ. Tara Madison Avery moderated the “It’s a Queer, Queer World” panel, which featured Josh Trujillo, Shannon Watters, Jeff Krell, Gillian Cameron, Sam Saturday, David Quantic. Avery went up and down through the panelists asking them pertinent questions concerning their work and how their sexual identity relates to it.
I had expected the panel to cover a great many issues pertaining to LGBTQ matters, especially with regard to publishers, writers, readers, and the broader comics publishing industry, since it had been described in the program booklet as “What new responsibilities do comics creators have to themselves and their readers in presenting LGBTQ characters and stories?” As an outsider – both someone who is not greatly familiar with the world of comic books, nor someone who is LGBTQ – I was curious to hear about these creators struggles with getting their work out there, about attitudes concerning LBGTQ issues being discussed, or about broader trends going on in the industry. However, these matters were barely touched.
Yes, Krell did provide a little historical perspective in his 30+ years of writing comics and how things have changed for him and for his character, and that people are more accepting (one example concerned his primary character, Jayson, who had gotten married decades ago in his writing, which – at that time – meant marrying a woman, although now his character can get married to another guy) and Watters pointed out that everybody on her team (“Lumberjanes”) are queer, so it’s going to inform the way that they were writing – “it flavors everything.” However, I don’t fault the panelists for not delving into these larger issues of concern.
I had never previously considered the role of the moderator to be that significant. Yes, the person who is moderating needs to keep the conversation going and keep it on-topic, but, in other panels at comic conventions I have attended (as well as the other panels at this convention), the moderator has allowed for a robust conversation.
While Avery did do a good job of starting off the panel by going through the panelists and asking them pertinent questions related to them and to their work, which is a good start, she then continued doing this for another couple of rounds. While she had clearly done her research on these creators and their works, the conversation, unfortunately, remained largely focussed on them and their work. While this approach can certainly be great for those wanting a more intimate connection with the creators and getting a better sense of their work, it, however, did not permit for a conversation on broader issues facing them and the industry, or even what advantages and challenges the medium of comics offer those who are LGBTQ, which was unfortunate, I believe for a fuller and more robust conversation.
Despite my disappointment on the macro level regarding the discourse of broader issues (which, could have simply been a result of my expecting a broader conversation), it was nevertheless, on the micro level, a great opportunity for those in the audience to have, as I mentioned, a more intimate experience with the creators, to hear their stories, and to get a sense of their work, which is what these conventions feature as a strength.