Although I only made it to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) for one day, Sunday, it was well worth the trip. While my travel roomie was busy selling out by going to a question and answer session with John Cusack (the nerve!), I went to the lively and fun panel for Chicks Dig Comics, which was centered on the book of the same name that was released this week.
The panel included four comic professionals: Jen Van Meter of Hopeless Savages, Amanda Conner of DC’s Power Girl, Gail Simone, current writer of DC’s Batgirl and Jill Thompson, the creator of Scary Godmother.
Other writers from the book included Tara O’Shea, editor of Chicks Dig Timelords; Jennifer Smith and Caroline Pruett of Fantastic Fangirls; Lynne Thomas, co-editor of the book; and the panel was moderated by Sigrid Ellis, a co-editor of the book.
During the panel, the ladies celebrated their love of comics that, for most of them, went far back to their childhoods. And they expressed a little bit of frustration that they even have to point out that women read comics and always have.
Conner talked about writing and drawing Star Wars comics in the back of her high school classroom with her best friend. Her friend was Luke Skywalker’s girlfriend. She was Han Solo’s girlfriend. At that, the audience at the panel called for a tumblr account set up so everyone can see those long ago pages but Conner said they were in the possession of her friend and might have been lost. For anyone familiar with Conner’s work, this would be very sad news.
Thompson expressed her love of Archie Comics, particularly for one surprising character. “I had a crush on Jughead. He was the loner, cool, thin, drummer outsider. If I were writing Archie, he would be dating Sabrina and all my worlds will collide…”
I would love to see the creator of Scary Godmother write this comic. Now.
Pruett said she’s an expert on the Summers family tree (X-Men, not Buffy), and there was much agreement that Dick Grayson (Nightwing) is quite possibly the most attractive male character in mainstream superhero comics.
Thompson cracked the audience up twice, once with her comments about Jughead and the second time during a discussion about how comics should appeal more to women. She said that having voices inside to read sexy words would definitely work for her. She then nominated Kevin Conroy for the job.
Simone said it’s ironic that she’s known for comics as when she was growing up, it was a hidden hobby and not well accepted. She wouldn’t even admit it to her school principal when he asked her if she read “any junk.” Conner blamed the tooth fairy who left her a nickel and a Mad magazine for her entry into comics, while Smith noted that she has the best job ever because, as a graduate student studying comics, reading them is homework.
Van Meter said while many women may get frustrated with various aspects of the comics industry, it is possible for change to happen; it just happens much slower in the two mainstream superhero comic companies. She said it’s much easier when working for a small press, like Oni, than with larger companies who have to consult marketing and perhaps even focus groups before making a change, even if the individuals in charge of editorial are behind them.
In the meantime, she said it’s annoying to continue to hear that girls don’t read comics or that boys aren’t interested in female leads, especially when her own kids are busy watching the new Avatar series featuring Korra as the lead.
Reporting on a panel can be difficult because reporting on the words and the audience doesn’t quite give the atmosphere of the room, which was so positive and lively.
The only thing comparable to this panel would be reading the book itself, which is not only a celebration of girls who love and adore comics but of comics themselves. If you love comics, go buy.