This past year, Marvel had teenage Bobby Drake/Iceman (boy?) from the past, come out, in present day, with the “assistance” of past teen Jean Grey. The internet reacted, and, in general, the fans weren’t happy. This seemed like a move designed to garner gay money without actually having a gay character/storyline, especially since it could be easily changed back. Not too long ago, DC got into some hot water with fans due to not allowing Batwoman (who is a lesbian) to have a wedding, though DC has issued their own reaction to that. There’s been a rise in mainstream gay comic characters, and an explosion in the indie and online market. So, with New York Comic Con here, it seemed a great place and time to talk to some of the creators about where we stand with queer representation in the comic industry. [Read more…] about We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We’re Going to NYCC 2015!!
new york comic con
A Honest Guys Take On New York’s Comic Con
Half Naked Wolverines, Rubber Duckies, and Amber Benson. A Good Formula For Comic Con 2014
I for one can admit I am not the biggest fan of Comics. I grew up more on video games and when that faded out my love for music kind of stuck and I kind of turned a blind eye and deaf ear to any other influences that my friends could’ve brought on me. So cue to this past weekend where for the 2nd time (first time I stayed briefly) I went to the New York City Comic Con, taking place at the Jacob Javitz Center over on 33rd and 11th, conveniently right by Penn Station. This is Halloween for Professionals, and what I mean by that it the people who actually show up in costume put an incredible amount of effort into what they are portraying more than the slutty nurse or sexy Cat Woman that you see on a drunken Halloween night. For all things Comic Con, this was something completely out of bounds for me yet after a short period of time I started to warm up to and whereas it is something I wouldn’t necessarily die to go to each year it is something that I would browse around for a good amount of time to see what the convention brought on.
Something that I personally enjoyed was the throwback’s to games and relatable comics when I was growing up. Comic Con brought on anything from Capcom to Charlie Brown, and had something there for everyone regardless of age, background and likability for a particular thing you are a quote unquote fanboy of. The Willy Wonka aspect of Comic Con was that it really seemed endless and the focus was a sharp as a laser beam when it came to see what was next. Comic Con was split up into multiple sections such as the show room floor, artist alleys and panel rooms for each fan to divulge and enjoy. My personal favorite was actually the artist alley as you got to meet each artist individually and see what they brought to the plate, which was a bevy of colors, designs and intricate drawings that really enticed the eye. My personal favorite was meeting Darryl McDaniels of the legendary Run DMC who on top of being a rap legend and pioneer is also a budding artist who came to Comic Con to display his goods. Mixing art and music? Good shit.
Being press has its advantages, in this particular case it was a big thing at Comic Con as you really got to meet a lot of the big time game designers, authors and more in a minimally claustrophobic environment. The highlight for me was when my fellow writers David Baxter interview author and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” actress Amber Benson, who has taken the sci-fi badass chick thing and elevated it into so many different facets of the industry, most recently her book she just published. See the interview here if you haven’t already. She turned me on to how much effort she put into this book and got me to understand the level and depths of the character she created. That was another positive thing I got out of Comic Con, was the level of expertise many different types of people took on there. Whether it was creating a costume like the one’s you see above, the art in a recent comic book or the words on a page discussing any numerous types of subject that is Comic Con related, you can undeniably doubt the passion these people have. It was quite the feat they accomplished and for me was very refreshing to see.
Overall I would give Comic Con an 8 out of 10. Not my forte, never will be, but had quite a lot of fun while there. Heck, I even got my nephew a rubber ducky as they actually had one of those vendors at Comic Con. So at least I made one person happy with this article :). For more information on New York City’s Comic Con, log on to their official site.
Amber Benson on “The Witches of Echo Park”
Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…
When Lyse MacAllister’s Great Aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she’s back in Echo Park, Lyse discovers her aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.
Lyse is heir not only to Eleanora’s home, she is also expected to take her great aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…
At this year’s New York Comic Con, I got to sit down with an incredible actress, writer, director, and all around awesome person Amber Benson. For those of you not religiously following her, she has a new book coming out, and we got to talk about it, and other things.
Can you tell me a bit about the story?
So, in a nutshell, it’s about a young woman named “Lyse” who lives in Georgia and one evening she gets a phone call from her great aunt who’s dying and wants Lyse to come home, but when she shows up in Echo Park, CA, she finds out that not only is her great aunt dying, but that her great aunt is the coven master of a coven of witches, and they want her to join the coven, which is sort of the jumping off point, really. More importantly, what I wanted to talk about is women’s relationships with each other. Growing up, I was a tomboy and I had all these dude friends, well one or two girl-friends but it was always me and the dudes. And as I got older, and hit my 30’s, I finally found my crew of ladies and the book is a bit of a mash note to them.
What inspired you to write the story? You mentioned growing up and having to find your women friends, was there more to that?
Well, I set it in Echo Park because I’m a little obsessed with that neighborhood. It’s super magical, you walk around Sunset Blvd and Echo Park and there are botanicas on the sides of the street that you can go into and there are saints candles you can buy and magic spells and then there are houses that are built on the hill and there are no ways to access them except for these crazy winding stairways. So, there’s just something magical. And then there’s Angelino Heights right there in Echo Park and there are all these Victorian houses and its super creepy and they have these hitching posts where people used to tie up their horses! You know, before they would go in to go visiting, and I don’t know, I just love that neighborhood and I wanted to combine that magical realism with these relationships that these women in the coven have together. And also, I wanted to work with my editor at Ace/Roc which is a part of Penguin, and continue to write urban fantasy and I thought, well, what better way to talk about these things that I want to talk about, deal with this magical world, then to put it under this auspice of these magical witches.
For my edification, because I might be having a total dumb moment, Echo Park is in…?
It’s near downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of the many myriad neighborhoods that make up L.A. It’s super hipster central right now, so we’re getting a lot of flak.
I feel like I should know this, but I haven’t been in LA since 1990-something. My grandparents lived in Fountain Valley and so I remember that area but I don’t remember the rest of L.A.
A really interesting movie to watch if you want to see the neighborhood is Allison Anders’ Mi Vida Loca. It’s set in Echo Park and it’s a great film!
So, you’ve done some acting in the past…
Just a little bit!
And there’s still some going on, I believe! Has that influenced this at all, or any of your writing, or this, since we’re talking about this?
I think anything you do creatively expands your horizon and opens your mind. You know, working on Buffy, obviously, I played a witch and it was kinda fun to go back to that world. It’s always interesting to me when we would shoot stuff, and people would come up and be like “I saw that episode and you floated a rose! How did you do that?!!” Do you really think that we were using magic to… You really think we were using magic to float the rose. Yeah, if guy with a pole and an invisible string is magic then sure. Well, the whole “string is magic” thing is real.
There’s lots of theater magic out there.
How did you get into writing?
You know, I always wrote growing up. I wrote a lot of really bad poetry.
[here is where I start cackling wildly] Sorry!! I did, too!
You have to! You have to!
Yeah, I think there’s a diary somewhere that I don’t wanna open.
Well, it’s funny, I just did a show called Mortified on Thursday at the Bell House in Brooklyn and it’s all about people get up and read from their journals from when they were teenagers. The thing I did was, my friend, he wrote a fan-fic for Less Than Zero when he was 14, and Adam Busch and I READ it, and it was super hysterical, but I do not have the balls to read my own stuff.
I don’t even want to be reminded that mine exists, so that’s scaring me right now!!!
So yeah! I always wrote and then when Chris Golden approached me about doing some Buffy Comics while I was in the show, that’s sorta how the writing professionally started.
Speaking of Buffy, you played Tara, who has become a queer icon, has that gone into your writing at all, or is that Tara and not Amber?
No! Like I said, I think that everything you do informs how you create. Like in “The Witches of Echo Park,” I have a lesbian character, Danielle, she’s an empath. She’s like Rogue, in that she wears gloves because she can’t touch people. But yeah, I think playing Tara and becoming an ally of the LGBT community really impacted my life. Both Allie and I feel very blessed to play those characters and to tell that story, but the fact is that in 2014, we’re still fighting for equality!
[Editor] Buffy was when the WB kinda started, and the CCW is a different feel rom them. What’s your take on those shows?
I think they’re a lot glossier, the shows. A little more that you look cute and adorable, and you look at shows like Dawson’s Creek or Buffy and everyone was attractive, but there was a quirkiness to Joey on Dawson’s Creek. She wasn’t all slick and glossed out. And I think there were better female driven shows. I think there’s a lack of it… It’s very “The Same.” And I would like some more female driven stuff.
I remember there were a lot of talk while Buffy was on the air about “Oh, Amber Benson, she’s a big girl!!” and, no! you’re small!! And do you have any thoughts on that, especially with everything being so glossy?
Oh yeah!! I mean, I know, I got castigated online for having breasts and hips! It’s insane!
[Editor] You mean cause Sarah Michelle Gellar is shorter then you?
They’re all shorter than me! They’re all petite girls! And I’m 5’4 ½, and back then I was, 120lb, and I was super curvy and looked like a girl and I’m not going to change who I look and I’m not going to be anorexic. I just felt it entirely too much. I do feel it’s gotten better. I don’t know if you got to see My Mad Fat Diary, a BBC show? HIGHLY recommend. You wanna talk about … just watch it. The protagonist, she’s amazing! I feel like it’s gotten to that extreme where you have to look anorexic to be on a television show, and I feel that it’s sad!
[Editor] Or you get praised for being normal!
It’s like Lena Dunham!! She gets praised for being so brave, she’s a normal girl!
So, as a female writer, writing about women, have you encountered any difficulties in promoting?
I’m very lucky. The urban fantasy world is very female driven. There are plenty of women writers and women protagonist and on that part its wonderful to be out there with a whole bunch of ladies, shilling their wares. But, in the mainstream, there is definitely, a lack of female stuff. But we’re working on it, and it’s getting better. And I feel that’s happening with the LGBTQ stuff. That’s sort of on the forefront of things now, and I’m teaching writing classes and 70% of my students are young queer women who are tired of not having something out there for themselves and are wanting to write it! I think I should start the Amber Benson LGBTQ imprint! You bring me your tired, your unwashed and your awesome stories, and I will put them out for you!!!
“The Witches of Echo Park” comes out January 6th, 2015, and is available for preorder on Amazon, Murder by the Book, Mysterious Galaxy, and IndieBound.
Amber Benson is what we call ‘a maker of things’. A prolific writer, she is the author of the five-book Calliope Reaper-Jones urban fantasy series for Penguin and the middle grade book Among The Ghosts for Simon and Schuster. Behind the camera, she co-directed the Slamdance feature film Drones and (co-wrote) and directed the BBC animated series The Ghosts of Albion. In her previous incarnation as an actor, she spent three years as ‘Tara Maclay’ on the cult television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and later this year she will appear as head vamp ‘Amelie’ in Morganville: The Series for Geek & Sundry. Her new book The Witches of Echo Park comes out in early January 2015. Amber does not own a television.
Photos, bio, and synopsis used with permission by M4PR.
A Newbie at Comic Con Part 2
Comic Con. Day 2. Slight back story. Last year, my Halloween costume was Destiny, from Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman.” The robe was made by an incredible costumer friend of mine, and I personally made the giant book. I think it still needs work, but that’s just me. Anyway, my dream to wander around as a monk with a giant book was cut short by Hurricane Sandy and the fact that the city came to a stand-still. What this means, is that I on day 2, I had a Destiny costume, and a pass to Comic Con, and need to feel a part of something. [Read more…] about A Newbie at Comic Con Part 2
A Newbie At Comic Con Part 1
New York Comic Con. Not affiliated with San Diego Comic Con, for those of you keeping score. Now, I’ve never been to ANY cons, since 1) I’m lazy and 2) have been broke for a long, long time. Basically, that meant that, back in Texas, I was constantly telling myself that I was totally going to go to A-Kon in Dallas, but never getting my stuff together to actually GO to A-Kon. Well, this year, all that changed and I was able to make my way to NY Comic Con. Pretty big way to start, right? [Read more…] about A Newbie At Comic Con Part 1