Way back when, I used to manage a comic book store. I remember my time at Comic Relief in the Loop very fondly. The early 90’s were a great time for retail comics and games. I met all sorts of interesting people, including author Peter David and film critic Gene Siskel. And I got put on “The List.”

I never knew who maintained The List or how my name got on there. People on The List got invited to a number of industry specific events, including a rather wonderful retailer dinner in advance of the Marvel Expo in 1994. I really enjoyed sitting down to eat at Dick’s Last Resort with comic creators.

I was a bit surprised when, after being out of the comic book biz for more than 15 years, Reed Exhibitions contacted me in 2010 to join their focus group for a new comic convention they wanted to host in Chicago.

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I never could find that one issue I was looking for.

I’m not a huge fan of comic conventions. I see them as a marketplace; somewhere to track down some obscure issue needed to fill a gap. With the rise of the Internet, I didn’t need conventions to find those missing books. Any number of pop culture sites would publish company news or announcements moments after they happened. I’m not a fan of autographs or standing in line. Compared to gaming conventions, comic cons seem almost anti-social. At GenCon (my favorite convention), I sit down with strangers then spend time with them in four hour blocks to try to save the world, escape madness, or conquer all. We have to interact as part of the game. Comic cons just don’t have that need to really interact with anybody.

After plying me with much food and alcohol, I fear I didn’t have anything helpful to say to Reed Exibitions. When they launched C2E2 later that year, I wasn’t really impressed.

Six years later, I have seen the error of my ways, not early enough to actually go this year, unfortunately.

Cosplay is a great way to connect with others.

Cosplay is a great way to connect with others.

Going to Anime Midwest a few years changed my mind. I learned hanging out with other cosplayers, Steampunks, and fans of X band is inherently social. There is something to be said for letting your geek flag fly while surrounded by the tribe. There is a connection created by fandom; that ability to talk with one of your people and have them understand while  one’s significant other or real world friends might just glaze over.  I am attracted to the idea of a participating in a panel discussion about a topic that speaks directly to a hobby I love.

The Racebending.com panel from 2015.

The Racebending.com panel from 2015.

I can’t make it this year, but I’m already making plans for next. If I were to go, this year I would hit these panels.

Marry, Do, or Kill? What Will It Take to Shatter Female Stereotypes in Comics?

Time: March 18, 2016, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

Description: Female characters in comics have historically been limited to sexy good girls or sexy bad girls, with little between. Readers are ready for change! A Panel of Writers, Artists and Editors weigh in on “strong female characters,” “fridged women,” the Bechdel test and troubleshooting storytelling stereotypes. With Sandy King (Writer/Film Producer, Storm King Productions), Cat Staggs (Writer/Artist, Orphan Black), Jennie Wood (Writer, FLUTTER), Enrica Jang (Writer, House of Montresor, and moderated by Brigid Alverson (CBR).

As a male writer fond of portraying female characters, this sounds like a great session. I’ve read too much amateur fiction that reduces women to objects or overused tropes. That’s not a trap I want to fall into.

You fight like a girl! and Other Awesome Ideas involving Women and Comics

March 19, 2016, 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

Description: Female readership can be attributed to a recent spur in the sales of comics and graphic novels in the United States: all major publishers are increasing character roles available to girls and women. In this panel, industry professionals and educators will explore the shifting nature of the field of comics with a focus on how creators are (and should be) focusing on strong roles for girls and women, and why it’s important for female readers to find themselves fairly represented on the page.

I feel representation is so important in comics, and the industry has only begun to make the slightest of inroads. I want to hear the argument and plan for continuing the trend.

Professional Geek: How to Turn Your Passion into A Career

March 20, 2016, 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

Description: A panel of professional geeks from various industries, including video games, music composers, producers, podcasters, and journalists offer the audience sage advice for how to break into your chosen industry, and tell some funny stories of how they got into the jobs they’re in now. Includes a discussion on the different ways that being a geek can help you become a better professional, and advice on everything from copyright law to networking and turning your favorite thing into your career.

Actually, writing and publishing a comic is something on my bucket list.

The COMIC BOOK CREATOR AS CLIENT: An Overview of Representing the Comic Book Creator and Comic Book Properties

Description: Comic books are the new hot properties; movies, television, and the publishing industry are all scrambling to acquire the latest graphic novels. Are you ready to represent the creator of the next superhero smash hit? This CLE will help introduce lawyers to the business and legal landscape of the comic book industry with an emphasis on practical skills.

In my day job, I work with a host of lawyers. I am very interested in understanding how the legal and comic worlds overlap.

Anyone going to C2E2 this year? What do you plan to do? What should a first timer experience?