Archive for the Events Category


Yurithon in Montreal Day 1

August 4th, 2017

It is said that first impressions are important. In that regard, both Montreal and Yurithon have been excellent.

I really hope to meet a lot of Okazu friends here at Yurithon, but we’ve already made two new friend, Yuthon’s chair Meggie and her partner Kim. Wonderfully fun people.

Today my first presentation will be at 5PM, where I’ll be talking about the “Secret” History of Yaoi and Yuri…by which I mean, we’ll be talking the literary and historical references that inform the two genres.

But first, we’re doing something that is the most important thing you can do for yourself in a new city…see it. Yesterday we wandered around, ate in Montreal’s Gay Village, walked through Old Montreal and this morning, as thousands of people head to the Palais de Congres for Otakuthon, we’re going to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s not that I don’t love conventions, but where else can I see Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art other than Montreal?

Write a note to yourself next time you’re at a con, rather than wander the Dealer’s Room for the 87th time not seeing anything new, consider leaving the convention center and seeing the city you’re in.

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Yuricon at Yurithon!

August 1st, 2017

Please join us August 4-6 in Montreal, Canada for Yurithon, part of the Otakuthon event. I’ll be joined by some of my senior staff and dearest friends (but not all, and we’re really going to miss those of you not there!) and we’re doing a bunch of panels. I’m bringing a bunch of stuff to give out as prizes, so come with your best questions ready!

Here’s where you can definitely find us!

Friday: 5:00pm-6:00pm: The Secret History of Yaoi and Yuri
In this presentation, I trace the artistic and literary roots of some of the common tropes of Yuri and BL.

Saturday: 1:00pm-3:00pm: Must Read/Must Watch Yuri
This is our “flagship” panel – 90 minutes of Yuri anime and manga. We’ve brought animation clips and and tons of stuff to watch and read. Prizes are primarilyy for this panel. Bring it on!

Saturday: 7:00pm-8:00pm: A Yuri Otaku in Japan
We’re going to give you the Yuri-focused downlow on getting to Japan, staying there, shopping there and going to events there. Want to know where to get Yuri? Join us and find out.

Sunday: 1:00pm-2:00pmYuri Court”
This is a silly game I made up on the spot for a con Sunday. ^_^ Participants will “present a case” for a Yuri being Guilty (of being crappy) or Innocent (by being good) and a panel of judges (not just me, so don’t worry that I’m gonna slam your decision. There’s three of us, I can be outvoted. ^_^) will decide on a verdict. I hope to have some prizes left to offer folks for this game.

If you’re an Okazu reader or a member of the Yuricon community, please introduce yourself. I want to meet you all and thank you in person. ^_^

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TCAF 2017 Roundup, Part 3: Books and Food

May 18th, 2017

Today I’m just gonna list everything I bought at TCAF, because it was all so awesome. ^_^ In no particular order, just as I pull them off the pile. On Sunday, I finally had a chance to walk around the Toronto Public Library and see the exhibitors and their wares. The bottom floor includes the larger publishers, like Fantagraphics, Koyama Press and First Second. The second floor is where you’ll find smaller publishers like Northwest Press and Chromatic Press and scattered around both floors are sections given over to self-publishers and makers of mini-comics and doujinshi.

We’re starting with RAMCOM, a Ramen Yuri minicomic by Emily Forster.

As I was passing the table, they called my name and said, “Its Ramen Yuri!” and I handed them money and just kept right on going, because who doesn’t want ramen-themed Yuri? ^_^ And you know how I’m always looking for fun, original work, so this was all the wins. 

When I came home and read it, I handed it over to the wife and she loved it too. It’s a smile-maker.

 

Stéphanie Leduc‘s book Godless World caught my eye because of the art, but when she told me there was a Soundcloud soundtrack available that can be listened to as one reads, I threw money at her immediately.

Think about it – a multimedia, fantasy with a female lead. Yes, please.

 

 

I picked up Hannah Fisher’s Cosmo Knights because the postcards featured butchy women boxers that said “Fight Like A Girl” and I am a sucker for women who kick ass. 

And because the summary reads like this: The popular sport of cosmic jousting is alive and well, with tournaments in which Cosmoknights armed with spacesuits, medieval weaponry and jetpacks compete for the hands of princesses across the galaxy. Unfortunately for potential suitors, the princesses are over it.

Oh, okay. ^_^ I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to convince me to get cool-looking self-published comics, but this looks great!

 

 

I’ve reviewed two books by Barry Deutsch here, from his Hereville series. But even more in our wheelhouse he and Becky Dawkins are currently drawing a series called Superbutch that you should all be reading. “Someone is protecting the lesbian bar scene of 1940s Turtle City” reads the page metadata.

Lillian is a woman who has an amazing story about a woman of color passing as white during the day, lesbian superhero. It’s a great webcomic and I am now pleased to have a print volume of the first couple of issues. The book itself has a back cover that lists  More Comics With Queer Women of Color – several of which I have reviewed here on Okazu!

This list is not just an “oh good” it’s a “Yeah Baby!” so I’m sharing it with you all in hopes that you will run out and throw money at these. They deserve support and as much promotion as they can get!

Also from Barry and Becky, I picked up First Glance: A Young Girl’s Thrilling Quest for Lesbian Smut. This is not a smutty comic at all, but very much about the quest LGBTQ people have to go on to find themselves. This book is particularly wonderful for having front and back covers reminiscent of a mid-century lesbian pulp novel.

 

I mentioned yesterday that I had read Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward in preparation for the panel with her and Cecil Castelluccci so while I had a chance, I picked up her new book, Brave

This book, as I pointed out yesterday, is about the kind of microagressions one gets from people who position themselves as friends. And, to that point, Svetlana noted how mean I am to her. She’s not wrong, it’s a long-established habit of mine to be mean to people I love best. But I did apologize. It’s probably a really destructive habit, but it’s pervasive in my close circle where we’re all pretty brutal (but funny and supportive and loving, so I’m not about cutting a person down.) I’m not sure how this book is going to hit me – I may end up be the bad guy and not in a good way. Hrm. ^_^;

I was able to pick up a copy of Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband, which I am literally holding on to for a day where I can sit and savor it.

Although I mention this book last, it was actually my first purchase. So Pretty, Very Rotten is a book of “Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture” by Jane Mai and An Nguyen. They launched their book at the Japan Foundation as part of Koyama Press’s 10th anniversary. The book includes an essay by the creator of Kamikaze Girls/Shimotsuma Monogatari, Novala Takemoto.

The launch was accompanied by a party with very cute food – sushi rolls and Pocky and cute girl cookies and items of Lolita fashion displayed as if they were at a museum. Both An and Jane appeared in Lolita clothing – as did a number of reception attendees! I always assumed Lolita would die out, but to my (pleasant) surprise, it’s growing and changing and continuing as a living thing. Jane and An gave us a quick overview of  Lolita culture and the story behind their book. I’m really looking forward to reading this. Congrats to An and Jane! I stopped by their table in the library and they thanked me for the support with a copy of their mini-comic,  don’t talk to me or I’ll set myself on fire, which, as my wife points out, is a great title.

One last note about Toronto – the food is spectacular. I was able to enjoy Cafe Bouloud Toronto with my roommates, where we had fabulous French food and the best seat in the house. This is one of those meals that you just go all in or you don’t do it. Duck confit, pork belly, quenelles and steak frites, wine and profiteroles kind of all in.

On Saturday, I had the extraordinary experience of sharing an Indonesian Rijstaffel at Noorden, a Dutch Restaurant, with 10 lovely people. (We discuss this on the third Four Ladies in a Hotel Room podcast.)

I enjoyed the wares at the Museum Tavern with Alan and Giselle and with the 4 Ladies and friends we shared cocktails in the rooftop bar at the Park Hyatt and had exceptional duck (again) at Firkin on Bloor

And with that, as I rolled my stuffed body and bags away from Toronto, I am once again reminded of the old TCAF chestnut, “this year’s TCAF was the best year ever.” (At TCAF, everyone is nice and it’s always the best year ever.)

Thank you TCAF and Library staff and volunteers, publishers, comic creators, panelists, moderators, guests, attendees and my fabulous roommates and friends!

2017 was definitely the best TCAF ever. ^_^

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TCAF 2017 Roundup, Part 2: Panels and People

May 17th, 2017

Because I had not been back to TCAF in some years (for the first Queers & Comics Conference in NYC and last year for Tokyo Rainbow Pride, the 20th anniversary Sailor Moon exhibition and Comitia, I wanted to show my love for the event in the way that best suits me – I volunteered. I strongly recommend doing this. In fact, my advice for getting the most out of any convention is “Don’t just attend the show, be part of it as a volunteer.” The show is SO much better that way. You won’t see the same show as the attendees, but your chances of meeting and spending quality time with amazing people quadruples.

So, as I said yesterday, I was staying with four extraordinary comics journalists. Heidi MacDonald has reshaped comics journalism pretty much single-handedly at The Comics Beat. Brigid Alverson  is a well-respected comics writer, whose work regularly appears on Publisher’s Weekly,. and who ran the Comics AM column over at CBR. She is now working on Smashpages, where she has just launched the Comics Lowdown, where you can get your daily dose of comics industry news. Deb Aoki was the lead for About.com’s massively successful Manga page for years, has her own blog about manga and comics. Deb has written for many of the major comics press, including Publisher’s Weekly – and is a talented professional artist in her own right.

These women are consummate professionals and being in their presence made me up my game considerably. I’m not kidding when I tell you that they made me better at everything I did in four days. Thanks to them all for being so inspiring.

My first panel experience of the con was on Librarians and Educators Day, on the LGBTQ Comics for Kids and Teens panel moderated by Brigid, and featuring Scott Robbins from the Toronto Public Library, comic artists Justin Hall and Andrew Wheeler (Another Castle) and myself. Luckily for all of us, the entire panel was recorded for posterity by Jamie Coville. Luckily for me, I had *just* that very day posted a review for Princess Princess Ever After. Phew, I was relevant. Justin Hall and I floated the absurd and fabulous idea of creating a kid’s queer comic together. ^_^ (It’ll have centaurs. That’s about as far as I got.)

 

 

 

On Saturday I moderated two panels, both of which had me nervous as heck going in. The first was Teamwork: Comics and Collaboration. This featured Nate Powell (John Lewis’ March), John Jennings (Octavia Butler’s Kindred), Molly Ostertag (Strong Female Protagonist) and Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, the team known as Metaphrog (The Little Mermaid).  What a fantastic panel. I mean…breathtaking. Listening to Nate Powell discuss the weight of illustrating civil right’s leader John Lewis’ tale or how John Jennings broke down drawing a page of Octavia Butler’s novel was amazing. Molly Ostertag talked about the passion needed to be in comics and Metaphrog spoke of all of one’s passion being in service to the work. It was just…amazing. It was such an honor to meet these talented and dedicated folks.  Jamie Coville has also recorded this panel so you too can enjoy it!

 

 

I went from there to my second “hold, me, I’m scared” panel, where I was moderating Cecil Castellucci (Soupy Leaves Home, The Year of the Beasts with Nate Powell!) and Svetlana Chmakova (Awkward, Brave). I’ve known Svet for years, but this was my first time meeting Cecil, and man, she’s a powerhouse! I had just read Soupy and Awkward, and to be honest, both books resonated with me on a similar level, but Svetlana and Cecil could not have been more different in the way they approached the story. Cecil spoke of heading off to find one’s self and Svetlana insisted, “No one does that. You poke here, then there until you sort of find the path.” I learned a lot about process and about their experiences. (To be honest, that’s why I moderate…so I can learn from these folks.) Loads of fun and an audience full of readers holding their books (and reading them before the panel! Squee!) I’ll be reviewing their books in days ahead, but don’t wait for me, do go get them and read some stellar writing and see great art.

On Sunday I was locked in the Pilot, which is a bar, doing two panels back to back. These were my “easy” panels, which was good, but I still had to work my butt off to be worthy of the panelists!

Sweaty Pages: Comics and Erotica, featured Colleen Coover (Small Favors), Dechanique (La Machina Bellica), Francois Vigneault  (Titan, which has just been collected in a French language volume) and Kou Chen. It was a varied audience and a varied panel which made for some interesting and amusing conversation about porn. I kind of lost my mind when asking “How hard….how difficult…is it to draw…?” and “What’s a good length?” I finally said, “No, this lesbian will not make these jokes” and we agreed that about half of what we said as just going to sound dirty, so we stopped trying to avoid it. ^_^

And last I ended up moderating youth librarians Scott Robbins and Robin Brenner on Challenged Books. The audience was interested more in collections policies and how to select for representation, which I found kind of fascinating. Both Robin and Scott explained that strong collection policies  (and intimidating forms to fill out) kill a lot of the initial screaming and we briefly discussed how much harder it is for school libraries, as well as the trend of administrators walking into libraries and removing a book without a formal challenge. If you’re interested in the topic, I strongly recommend the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website and hope you’ll consider helping them out. They are instrumental in defending against book and comic book challenges.  They track challenges and publicize cases that might otherwise go under the radar. We are our own protection against censorship.

There are a few other people I want to shout out to the team from Massive: Tagame Gengoroh-sensei, Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbiens all of whom are doing amazing work with Tagame-senei’s My Brother’s Husband and the Queer Japan movie.

I also want to very much thank Sana Takeda (Monstress) and my dear friend Mari Morimoto for taking time to chat with me. Sana-san was absolutely delightful to meet her and so was her Monstress co-creator, Marjorie Liu

Many thanks to Mark Siegel of First Second Books, author Scott Westerfeld, artist Zach ClementeCalvin Reid and Jody Culkin of Publisher’s Weekly, and Bill Campbell from Rosarium Publishing, it was lovely to meet you all.  It was fantastic to catch up, however briefly, with translator Jocelyne Allen. Thank you Lissa Patillo of Seven Seas and Sean Gaffney of A Case Suitable For Treatment for being marvelous meal companions and good friends. And hugs and much love to Alan,Giselle and Merc for making my time in Toronto a pleasure every time. 

One more part to go…Books and Food, the best part of TCAF! Tune in tomorrow.

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TCAF 2017 Roundup, Part 1: Everyone is Queer at TCAF

May 16th, 2017

Well hello again, Okazu readers! It has been a whirlwind week for me. As you all have been relaxing, reading reviews of great comics, I’ve been running around Toronto, moderating amazing panels, meeting extraordinary people, eating and drinking unspeakably well and, of course, talking about comics until I was hoarse. TCAF is always great and this year was sublime. You must join me there.

I’m going to do my round-up in pieces, so you can savor some of the individual parts that made it an incredible whole.

The first thing that I must tell you is about three must-have manga. The first was not a TCAF-related item, but with the animation clip-slash-teaser having gone up and Shinsokan being really enthusiastic and Seven Seas having done such a good job to get it to us, you really must have Kase-san and Morning Glories. This manga has likable and relatable characters.

If you are looking for a nice Yuri manga, and are kind of flailing right now – Kase-san and Morning Glories by Hiromi Takashima is absolutely a must-get. (I reviewed it here on Okazu in April.)

 

Now, on to TCAF. There were two manga that were the highlight of the show. EVERYONE was talking about them. 

The first and probably most anticipated, is Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband. This incredibly touching tale of a man who has traveled to Japan to discover his late husband’s life and meet his family, was the star of the show.

Tagame-sensei’s work is beautiful, the story is beautiful and, as I commented several times, is really about the passive homophobia of nice people, good people. Tagame-sensei was a Guest at TCAF and it was really lovely to see so many people lining up to get his book and his signature.

This will be a two-book series put out by Pantheon, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. It’s a game changer type book. It’s teachable, it’s teen-friendly and just extraordinarily good.

 

The other manga that was on everyone’s mind – and is sure to be a breakout hit – is Kabi Nagata’s comic essay My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness. It goes on sale in June, and everyone in the manga world was scrambling for a pre-release copy. I read it on the plane home and I think it’s going to be another game changer. It’s hard and honest but touches issues at the core of a lot of people’s lives – their detachment from their own needs and desires. 

It actually was a much better read than I remembered, which I’ll talk about when I review it. It’s is *currently* #1 on Amazon in the “Yaoi, Gay and Lesbian Manga” category and it hasn’t even been released! 

 

Secondly, I had the almost surreal pleasure of sharing a room with comic journalists Heidi MacDonald, Brigid Alverson and Deb Aoki. Heidi had a brilliant idea to do a podcast in our room at the end of the day. Here are the four episodes, you should totally listen to them, if only to learn about more comics per second than you can imagine, but also to see how often we ended up talking about queer content in our only 1/4 queer room. As Brigid pointed out, “Everyone is queer” these days and we’re just getting queerer.

Four Women in a Hotel Room At TCAF Episode 1 – In which we eat some potato chips

Four Women in a Hotel Room at TCAF Episode 2: Libraries, Croissants, Manga, Sana Takeda and Dave McKean

Enjoy some books and conversation about books, I’ll be back tomorrow to talk panels and people. ^_^

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