Boston Comic Con, or “Fan Expo Boston”, just wrapped up its first year in its new home at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport neighborhood of Boston. Having the convention in this particular neighborhood of Boston makes sense. It’s accessible enough by public transportation and there’s enough bars and restaurants around for when you get tired of convention food. As not only a first time Boston Comic Con goer, but specifically a first time con goer, I had no real expectations for the venue, all I could speculate about was anticipated crowd size and food prices.
[title type=”h2″]Day 1:[/title]
This was an easy day, especially for a newcomer, kicking off on Friday at 4pm, and with the last panel beginning at 8, it was an easy few hours. A simple introduction to the con and the venue. The convention center itself is large, the main hall accommodated the Artist Alley and all non-food vendors.
The main event on Friday was almost certainly the Stan Lee panel, with fans paying $128 for a photo with him — the room for the panel filled quickly. Stan Lee’s panel was nothing short of a display of his genuine love for his work and for his fans. He both uplifted us and broke our hearts. To listen to Stan Lee tell of his decision to kill off Captain Stacy, and hear his voice tremble as he described Captain Stacy and Peter Parker’s relationship was heartbreaking … but we were then immediately uplifted with an on brand, Stan Lee anecdote. Stan Lee also excited the crowd with talk of his upcoming cameo in Kevin Smith’s, Mall Rats 2.
I spent a good amount of day one in the Artist Alley. In the Artist’s Alley, I found that there was no artist who didn’t want to talk to me. This felt like the heart of Comic Con. These are the hustlers. Whether I was buying a print or not, their story was ready to be shared. While exploring the Artist Alley I had the pleasure of talking with Steven Harris, a friendly creator, who chatted with me about his overall art. Harris was excited to tell me about his current project, a re-vamped version of DC’s Deathblow (Michael Cray) as a Black man. And from the panels he gave me a sneak preview of, all I can say is: Oh hell yeah, this is exactly what I am here for. The lack of diversity at Comic Con is no secret. Which is to say: Every marginalized person who brought their work, their cosplay, who pushed business cards into hands, is important.
[title type=”h2″]Day 2:[/title]
I kicked day two off with the DC Rebirth Panel. With much of the panel focusing on The Flash, Josh Williamson, who is currently writing The Flash, talked extensively about the emotional and mental struggles that Barry is currently facing in the series and will continue to face. This panel was exciting for everyone in the room as Williamson showed us slides of new Flash panels as well as introducing a NEW Flash villain: “Bloodwork”. If there’s anything that excites me more than a new hero it’s a new super villain. What’s better than knowing your hero is going to be facing new challenges? I’ll admit, I fell off The Flash comics but I have now definitely been pulled back in. I would say that this was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Another fantastic panel, was the Creator’s Spotlight panel. With a less than half-filled room, but participants consisting of plenty of comic veterans, Mike Zeck, Pat Broderick, Joe Rubenstein, and Bob Wiacek, the host of the panel made the decision to move the panel on to the floor. I will say that while I enjoyed the “no mic, let’s sit down and chat” approach, I can’t imagine that it didn’t create some accessibility issues. I think we can have intimate panels without potentially excluding folks.
Another highlight of the second day, was definitely the Body Positivity panel. Hosted by cosplay regulars, the panel focused on promoting body positivity, self love, and allyship to marginalized groups as well as safety in a convention setting. My one complaint regarding the panel is that it happened at the same time as the Charlie Cox (Daredevil) Q & A. If we’re going to have panels promoting diversity, it feels strange and honestly, careless, to have them at the same time as a “headlining” panel. I hope to see them do better in coming years.
[title type=”h2″]Day 3:[/title]
Day three might have been my favorite day of the con. I started the day by checking out the Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo’s (MICE) panel. This panel was another instance where I felt like I was seeing the heart of Comic Con. Through out, the participants of the panel consistently gave advice and talked about their own experiences as independent comic creators, while repeatedly encouraging the audience to focus on growth and creating the art they want to create. Joel Christian Gill, one of the panelists and author of the Strange Fruit Comics, said “I make comics about Black people.” While it was a simple statement, but I felt that it really served as a note on both identity and honesty throughout the creative process.
I feel that having a Black comic creator on this panel gave me something I would not have gotten otherwise. It’s hard when you feel like some panels just aren’t “for” you. I didn’t feel that way with the MICE panel. It felt inclusive and all around necessary. I felt that myself, and hopefully everyone else in the room got a lot out of it.
A nice surprise of the day, was the Comics vs. Comics stand-up show. With three local comedians performing, it was comedy focused on nerd culture. I’ve never laughed harder at a Spider-man joke. It was nice to break up panels with that kind of show.
The second-to-last session I attended was a Q and A with Anthony Daniels. Anthony Daniels did not sit during his Q & A, nor did he have people lining up to ask questions. With a mic attached to his collar he popped around the room taking questions from, and making jokes with, various excited audience members. Anthony Daniels’ panel felt like an hour long, one man show.
The last panel I attended, was the Image Comics 25 year anniversary panel. This panel was good but condensed, with seven Image comic creators, squeezed into about 40 minutes; the host fired off question and the panelists answered quickly, but thoroughly. It was interesting to hear these creators speak about the ways in which they find Image to be more liberal than other Comic publications.
After the Image 25 panel, I headed back to the main hall. One thing that surprised me was the sheer number of both vendors and artists. It felt a little cramped, as they had the “main theater” in the same hall. I couldn’t believe some of the art I saw; I found myself just wandering through the Artist’s Alley. I feel like in a lot of ways, I gained as much from the Artist’s Alley as I did the panels. I felt most represented looking at all of these artists, especially artist’s of color work.
I would do Boston Comic Con again, without question. I’m looking forward to next year’s event, seeing more artist’s work, more exciting panels, and hopefully, in the year of Black Panther, more diversity.