It was my sincere pleasure to be able to attend FLAMECON 2015, the inaugural year for another queer Comics-focused event in New York City, after Queer & Comics last month. (West Coast folks, you’re not being left out – The Queer Comics Expo is being held on June 20 in San Francisco! Let me know how that goes.)
FLAMECON was the brain child of Geeks OUT! an LGBTQ comics group based in New York City, which has been expanding it scope and reach since it’s early days as a group of folks banding together to get a table at New York Comic-Con. ^_^
I met this delightful woman upon coming out of the subway. She said to someone else that it wasn’t really cosplay.
The event was held in the Grand Prospect Hall, which was amazing in its own right.
When I came in, the ballroom was to my left, and the greenhouse to the right. Flamey, the con mascot greeted us as we entered.
The greenhouse held some of the larger press companies, including sponsor Northwest Press, Riptide Publishing, which was recommended to me, and I hope to take a look at their work in the future. Right from the first, I could see this con was going to be special. Everyone’s energy was high, and the level of social skills was, also. Most vendors were quite chatty and I was able to have actual conversations with most folks, rather than just the “hi, howya doing?” vendor speak or the no-looking-up-artist-non-speak.
There were corporate vendors, among the tables.
Philadelphia’s LGBTQ anime/manga con, Nijicon, had a booth. I’m hoping I can help with adding some Yuri to their programming. ^_^ October, 24-25, 2015, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center – Oaks,PA.
And Bara manga was represented by Tagame Gengoroh’s Massive! Collection.
Then, back into the hallway, where they had set up a cafe.
But it was when I entered the ballroom that I realized how *amazing* the building was.
Once I recovered from the gilded-lily-ness of it all, I finally started walking around. First up, the stunning Jennifer Camper (co-founder of Queer & Comics) and Texta Queen, one of the folks on my “Wet and Sticky” panel at Queer & Comics. Jennifer is upbeat about the success of Q&C and hopes to do another in 2017 in San Francisco. I managed to incorporate some of the utterly fab watercolors on the wall behind them.
Next up, it was my pleasure to meet Jill Pantozzi, editor-in-chief of The Mary Sue.
We had a terrific conversation. When speaking of TMS’s decision to not promote HBO’s Game of Thrones anymore, Jill said something like, it suddenly came to them that they could do that thing. And I was completely understanding, because when you work in a niche, you want to be comprehensive for that niche, but sometimes it’s just not worth the emotional toll. (Not unlike my reasoning for not buying or reviewing hentai Yuri collections. They aren’t good and no one cares, and it makes me sad to have to read them at all.) Jill and the rest of the crew at TMS are heroes of mine. I’m hoping to have an interview with them in days to come. ^_^
My first purchase was this one-shot side story from ongoing series Node, by David Rondellini. It was excellent, and I’ll be looking for more.
I spent a lot of time talking to the creators – everyone was, as I say, extremely friendly – and there weren’t that many folks I knew already, which was amazing. Lots of new faces. I did run into old friends like Hiroki Otsuka and Carlo Quispe, and was able to meet the artist for my friend Alex Woolfson’s series The Young Protectors, Adam DeKraker – who was fantastic, and delightful. Molly Ostertag and I kvelled about Feral from Strong Female Protagonist, and I bought a totally NSFW lesbian short from her, based in the same historical period as her Khutulun, the Wrestler Princess called Queens of the Steppe.
And then I got to meet an old friend for the first time! Elizabeth F. is a long-time Okazu commenter, YNN Correspondent and, I like to think, a friend. ^_^ I got hugs! I love meeting you folks in person.
Then it was about time to do something that for me is unheard of…talk to a gaming company. I had an invitation from Atari to see a prototype of their upcoming release Pridefest. Like everyone my age, I grew up with Atari, so was very interested in what they had to say. I carefully disclaimed that I don’t game (although even I played Pong back in the day,) but the guys at the Atari booth were incredibly cheerful and upbeat as they talked about Pridefest. Since it hasn’t released yet, I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about it, except I will say this – it’s a “social game” (like Farmville) and it’ll be as diverse and inclusive in as many ways as possible. The actual game is a sim world situation, which allows you to launch pride parades in your city as you build it. The game itself is charming and I’m hoping to have more for you as it gets closer to launch. After the demo, they asked me a bunch of questions on camera and I pulled out the stops with advice about diversity, and social gaming, the market, community management, virality and sustainability. I don’t game, but I know gamers and community management. ^_^ Thanks to Atari and I’m glad to see you back in the game…as it were. ^_^
The room we were in was hosting GaymerX2, the second LGBTQ gaming convention. GX3 is being held in San Jose in December.
Another game designer I spoke with was Choice of Games, which are customizable text stories where your choices will actually alter the narrative. I’m thinking some of you VN fans might find this interesting.
Here is more ballroom porn. Because it was lovely and crazy.
I loved this room.
Last, but in no way least, I was able to meet up with another old friend, Niki Smith, whose story Your Hair, is still one of my favorite piece in any of our Yuri Monogatari series (and which is now available on Comixology!) Niki’s been moving from success to success and I’m so pleased for her.
I walked around once more, picked up a few things, spoke to a lot of folks and suddenly realized the one thing that was missing – lesbian comics. There were a fair number of female attendees and sellers, but it seemed that the majority of the female comic artists were drawing queer-gender-fluid or just gay guy stuff. There was a post-Yaoi anthology, (a surprisingly clever concept, worth a look!) and girls dressing as guys and having sex, comics on transfolks, drag and crossplay. So there was quite a variety overall. But when I got home and emptied my bag, I had bought 1 lesbian comic. Next Flamecon, we need more lesbian comics, ‘kay? On the plus side there was almost all original work, very little parody and most of that erred on the smart side. ^_^
Overall, FLAMECON was a lot of fun and is a great initial event. I think there is a lot of room to grow the LGBTQ comics market and you’ll excuse me for playing favorites, but I can’t think of a better city on earth to do that in than New York City. Here’s to FLAMECON 2 and more lesbian comics. ^_^