This week, more than 100,000 people will take over downtown San Diego for Comic-Con.
The massive annual convention was started specifically for comic book fans and creators, but it’s become a venue for Hollywood marketing machines to promote superhero and genre movies and TV shows and to trot out celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Sandra Bullock. Still, the Con has plenty of events and merchandise that cater to the core comic book geek.
To get a gist of how Comic-Con has changed throughout the years, The Frame talks with comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. She's a writer responsible for Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” and the creator of the indie comic “Bitch Planet” for Image Comics. She'll attend this year’s convention as a panelist.
So you're about to head down to Comic-Con, what does that mean for you in terms of getting ready? What do you take, what do you want to accomplish when you come down to San Diego?
You know at this point it's kind of gone full circle. I used to go for fun, then there was a period where there was a lot of hustle and bustle for work and now we've circled back to I'm not looking for work anymore. It's not quite as fun as it used to be but oddly enough it's still something I still look forward to and I still think it's a good time.
What is the best part of it? What do you look forward to the most?
There's people that I work with that I only see once or twice a year in person. So that is a part of it. That's probably the biggest part of it. But then there's also things you will not see anywhere else besides Comic-Con like Chewbacca in a petty cab. You can't pass up an opportunity to see Chewbacca in a petty cab!
Do you dress up yourself? Do you do cosplay?
I don't. You know what it's considered sort of uncool for creators to participate in that and I think we should change that. I think it would be a good time.
You've been coming to Comic-Con for over 10 years and over those 10 years Comic-Con has really transformed in some ways that a lot of people like, a lot of people don't like. Particularly it has transformed into a convention that is focused on Hall H, where thousands of people go in to see presentations from Warner Brothers, Marvel, big studios who are showing clips from upcoming films. Big panels that have a little bit, but not always, something to do with comics themselves. Whereas the comic sellers have been squeezed into the further reaches of the San Diego Convention Center. What does that evolution mean to you?
I have sort of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, how can you be negative about something that people are so enthusiastic about that they'll camp out the night before for? In the Hall H lines, those people are having the time of their lives. They'll tell those stories to their children. It used to be more casual and it used to be a lot more about the books, and now there's a lot more emphasis on other media and the industry hustle.
Let's talk a little bit more about the books themselves because over the 10 years you've been coming to Comic-Con, the books they have evolved too — specifically in terms of how women are represented as authors and as characters in those books. So what have you seen that encourages you in terms of how women have become part of the comic book community?
Well, you know, you brought up cosplay earlier. I think cosplay has been one of the driving forces behind that. There are so many more women participating in not just the comic book fandom but the Con culture as well, at San Diego and other cons and that allows us to support a wider diversity of books.
And what about what is actually happening in the books themselves and the role that women creators like yourself are playing in the creation and depiction of not just male characters, but women characters as well?
Well, this is not a done deal yet. It used to be a common rule of thumb that female-led books wouldn't sell, and we've finally gotten over that. But there's a bit of a struggle that remains so nobody sit down. But progress has definitely been made. Years ago, there would be one or two of us from the creative side on the 'Women in Comics' panels. Last year at New York Comic-Con, just the 'Women in Marvel' panel, there were so many women on stage I literally had no place to sit. I sat on the floor.
That is a sign of progress, there are not enough chairs.
It absolutely is!
Kelly Sue DeConnick will be conducting a workshop at San Diego Comic-Con this Thursday, July 9.