Once a year since 2006, it seems a portal from another dimension magically appears in Winnipeg. It happens about the end of October and the first days of November. A strange gate opens wide to a place where many worlds collide: sci-fi, anime and, of course, the wide world of comics. This is the universe of C-4, also known as Central Canada Comic Con 2014.
From Oct. 31 until Nov. 2, the C-4 will be welcoming people of all ages to the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. Like many other comic conventions around the world, it provides the opportunity for pop culture fans, artists and celebrities to get together and geek out. Among the fun activities at Comic Con are competitive costume contests, opportunities to chill with TV personalities and chances to get to know great artists of the medium.
This year, special guests at the Convention Centre include “Lost Girl” cast members Rick Howland and Paul Amos; former “Star Trek” actors John de Lancie, Nicole de Boer and Denise Crosby; Kris Holden- Ried of “The Tudors”; and Peter Hambleton, Graham McTavish, Jed Brophy and Adam Brown of “The Hobbit.” As for artists, you will have the possibility to get closer to the likes of legendary Jose Delbo (Transformers), Lovern Kindzierski (The X-Men and Sarah Wilkinson (Lucasfilm).
Above all, maybe the coolest part about the C-4 or any Comic Con, is the amazing atmosphere teeming with diversity, where everyone can express their passion for whatever they like without feeling judged.
The comic genre wasn’t quite as tolerant decades ago. In fact, GLBT*-related topics and characters were non-existent due to post-war paranoid prejudices fuelled by works like the book Seduction of the Innocent, which stated that there was an immoral factor in superhero comics that supposedly led teenagers to be gay and, therefore, criminals. The backwards mentality gave birth to the 1954 Comics Code, responsible for the omission of everything GLBT*-related from mainstream comics until 1989.
Aside from Japanese Yaoi and Yuri (manga focused on gay and lesbian relationships), the only place to find GLBT* content during the ‘70s was in underground independent comics, also known as comix. In the underground context, artists had the freedom to explore topics such as sexuality and gender identity, often under progressive political ideals. They moved towards projects that were actually aimed at the GLBT* community with publications like Gay Comix (1980), where gay, lesbian and trans artists shared their works.
Thanks to the bravery of artists and publishers who didn’t give up the fight, GLBT* themes started to find a place within mainstream comics since the 1990s. Today, a broader spectrum of publications offer something appropriate for everyone, be they superhero fans, journalism enthusiasts or people looking for advice through stories. Even big companies like DC Comics and Marvel have finally realized something many comic lovers knew long ago: the world should be a big convention to which we’re all invited.
GLBT* comic culture must-reads
Before you go to Comic Con, make sure you check out GLBT* comics!
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
Before Bechdel became a best-selling comic artist, she grew up a curious girl whose family business was set in a small-town funeral home, ruled by her passionate, yet distant, father. While she struggled to express her true identity and come out as a lesbian, the chaos in Bechdel’s life reached a whole new level when her father passed away and it’s revealed that he was secretly gay. This very detailed and intimate autobiography will not leave you indifferent.
by J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
This modern version of Gotham’s crime-fighter Kathy Kane—who was originally created in 1956 to help dispel rumours that Batman and Robin were in a relationship—had an important makeover. Kane now offers readers much more interesting features; she hangs out with an all-female super hero team, she’s Jewish and she’s a lesbian.
by Jane Espenson and Brad Bell
Set in a world of fantastic adventures, this comic version of the sitcom of the same name follows newly married couple Cheeks and Brady. After dealing with a difficult conjugal life, the men now have to face equally tough challenges while crime fighting, mystery solving and learning to trust each other. Originally a web comic, the new hard-cover comic features an introduction from legendary author and ally Neil Gaiman.
by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
The epic series about a team of young superheroes has been given the distinctive Marvel treatment: it’s packed with exciting action scenes, suspense and a sexy, stylish look. Plus, the comic has a straightforward GLBT*-friendly attitude; the young heroes portrayed explore their sexuality and are open to talking about the subject. This is one of the first publications in the superhero vein to introduce openly bisexual characters.
– Gina Dascal is a Winnipeg-based writer with a background in aesthetics and cultural studies.
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