Thursday October 8th through Sunday October 11th were days filled with awesome geek-filled inspiring moments that made me proud to be a part of this space and a voice in nerd subculture. New York Comic Con, held in Javitz Center in Manhattan contains tons of content for every geek from events like #Afrofuturefest for creators of color to huge panels like the X-Files event and Mr. Robot! There was certainly something for everyone at this con and if you didn’t get the chance to attend; allow me to give you a brief recap of my experience at NYCC, which was my first time attending!
I’m a VA native, and I elected to fly into NYC for the event. Per usual, US Airways had a delayed flight and the traffic getting into the city from the airport was horrendous. After getting my luggage dropped off and getting myself together, I made it into Javitz five minutes before my panel started.
It was intense!
My first evening at NYCC was being a panelist on She Made Me Do It: Fan Girls Lead The Way. This is a panel moderated by Ed Catto who also invited me on back in July at San Diego Comic Con for this same panel which was so much fun to revisit again. As women in comics and several other fandoms increase and evolve; the medium should take note that their consumers are becoming more diverse than their content. The other panelists included Sam Maggs, Rose Del Vecchio, and Jenny Cheng. It was a fantastic and spirited discussion and I was grateful to have the opportunity to chat about this topic and even more thrilled that I made it to the event on time! Shew!
I met with the #BGNNYCC press team shortly after! Connie Gibbs and Cynthia Francillon who are podcasters and contributors of BGN were on board to help with press coverage for our fans and followers. I met with both Connie and Cynthia last year at New York Super Week, so meeting them again felt like family reunion!
The next day was far more productive! I decided to make it an early day and get there as soon as the doors of Javitz Center opened. I walked the show floor and ran into Cerece Rennie Murphy who was a guest of the #BGNPodcast and also is the author of the book trilogy we reviewed called Order of The Seers. Cerece had her own panel as well at NYCC and it was a blast to finally meet her in person. I’m always thrilled to meet people who I have had long time relationships online in real life.
After running into Cerece I made my way to the Afrofuturefest table. Karama Horne is a BGN contributor and huge advocate for people of color in comics. She informed me about Afrofuturefest several weeks before NYCC launched and I was ready to see how everything turned out on Day 2 of NYCC. The table was embossed with great images of indie comics from creators like Tony Puryear of Concrete Park to Chuck Collins of Bounce. I also met great folks like Tim Fielder who were so kind and he illustrated a digital image of me which was amazing.
Karama took the time to introduce me to a lot of great artists down over in Artist Alley. I’m so thankful to have her around, because I didn’t know all of the booth info of every artist in attendance and she miraculously did! I had the opportunity to meet artists who I admire and fangirled over like Valentine De Landro of Bitch Planet and #BGNPodcast guest Alitha E. Martinez who has been working for Marvel and DC for the last 16 years.
I had to scurry over the other side of the convention hall for my next panel which was From Blackface To Black Panther: The Evolution of the Depiction of People of Color in Comic Books, Graphic Novels and Film. The panel made a lot of media waves and was featured on Ebony.com. I was honored to be invited by moderator Shayna Watson as the voice for women of color on an all male panel to discuss the history of race in comic books.
Among the panelists were #BGNPodcast guest Eric Dean Seaton, Avery Thompson, Chris Eden, Joe Miller, Dumas Thompson and Todd Spidle. Speaking on panels is still a new experience for me. Although NYCC would now be the third convention I have appeared on as a panelist, my nerves always creep up on me and my negative Nancy (who incessantly whispers in my ear that I’m not that interesting to listen to) tend to get the best of me. However, when someone tweets this to you and gives confirmation that you’ve done a pretty good job, then I realize why I am stepping out on faith and taking the risk of public speaking in the first place.
By the way @BlackGirlNerds was the most intriguing panelists at the NY Comic Con “From Black Face to Black Panther” panel.
— Dr. Miranda BAEly (@luvthispayne) October 17, 2015
At this point, you’re probably wondering what is that image on my T-shirt? If you don’t know by now, then let me tell you, I am a huge stalker fan of the USA hit series Mr. Robot. I’ve written various articles here and on The Mary Sue about the TV show and you could say that I am little obsessed. When I found out that there would be a Mr. Robot panel at New York Comic Con, I will be 100% honest with you, it was my top priority above everything. I’m glad that I didn’t have a panel scheduled opposite of this one, because I’m pretty sure I would skip my own panel to attend.
Yes I’m that obsessed.
I wore my Mr. Robot shirt and was lucky enough to find a front seat inside of the Hammerstein Ballroom where the event took place. I Periscoped most of the panel, because of my close proximity and I knew followers of the Twitter account would appreciate it. I managed to get some really great shots of the cast too! It’s pretty clear that everyone gets along well and the cast enjoy what they are doing. Rami Malek is funny, charming, and witty and Christian Slater is great storyteller.
After the Mr. Robot panel ended, I headed back to the Javitz Center to check out the Geeks Of Color panel. I wanted to see some awesome people who I admire and have worked with online have a much needed discussion surrounding diversity in nerd culture. The panel moderated by Diana Pho, included Camilla Zhang, Eric Dean Seaton, Melissa Grey, N Steven Harris, Shelley Diaz, Tatiana G. King-Jones and Tracey John. After the panel ended; I rushed to meet two women who have been large voices for women of color in geek media. Tatiana King-Jones of FanBros and Jamila Rowser of Girl Gone Geek.
Friday evening ended with a private dinner held by Regine Sawyer of Women In Comics which was a fabulous way to end the day. The next morning I paid a visit to the Women In Comics booth who had tons of comic books and pastries available to anyone interested in stopping by. I purchased a few comics from their table to show my support and to get into some new reads!
There were so many great cosplayers at NYCC and I was impressed by everyone’s work. I ran into a Black cosplayer as Thor and another who was dressed as Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain from Excalibur and it blew my mind! It’s rare to see Excalibur cosplay and being that this particular X team is so obscure, when I saw a Black cosplayer doing it; my spirit did so many backflips! It was cool that the cosplayer recognized me too. Haha! It’s likely because of the fact that I always talk about my love for Excalibur comics. I also caught a Saga cosplayer, and I must stress—if you are not reading Saga right now—you are missing out!
I happen to stumble upon the Niobe booth and was thrilled to see some familiar faces there and meet everyone for the first time! This included Sebastian Jones of Stranger Comics, illustrator Ashley A. Woods of Niobe; and writer and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg. For me this was a very proud moment since Niobe is a comic written by a Black woman, illustrated by a Black woman, and features a Black woman protagonist. If you are not reading Niobe, you should get on that ASAP! You can check out our review here of The Untamed part of a series featuring Niobe.
I had the pleasure of appearing on my third panel about Women In Geek Media: The Sequel! Moderated by Alisha Garuso and featuring panelists Catrina Dennis, Jody Houser, Sam Maggs and Deb Aoki; we discussed having a platform and the pros and cons of having one in the digital age. I’ve embedded a video at the top of the panel for you to check it out for yourself!
You never know who you’ll run into going to these large conventions. As I was making my way into the press room, I met B. Brown and E. Angel of Heed Magazine. The three of us have had a long time partnership in each of our respective spaces. Many gaming editorials on BGN written by B. Brown has been from his work from GeekSwagg. E. Angel has shared many of her series of comic con adventures on our site as well. I was honored to finally meet them and tell them how grateful I was for allowing their voice to be a part of this online community.
While heading back to the showroom floor, there were tons of blerds hanging out and celebrating our collective. I met with so many great folks and again was just happy and humbled to be a part of this space. The BGN press team took a photo and this image embodies the spirit of everyone who participated in this convention. Happy geeks of color finding a fandoms that speak to them.
As I mentioned I met so many other great folks and tried to take as many photos as I could. If you would like to check out the photo album for NYCC go to our Facebook page for all photos.
Saturday evening ended with the Black Girl Nerds Meetup over at Pioneers Bar in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. It was awesome to take a few moments to relax, play games, drink, and socialize with so many great fans and supporters of the BGN online community. I was so thrilled to see so many guests pop in to say hi including our very special guest Orlando Jones who hung out for awhile to play Jenga with us!
After a night of hard partying (well not that hard) I woke up in the wee hours of Sunday morning. However, I didn’t head out to Javitz. Instead I was taken to Rockefeller Center; the house of NBC studios to make a guest appearance on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show! As a long time of her show and Ms. Harris-Perry herself, this was not only an honor, but a full-circle moment for me and BGN. When BGN first started in 2012, Melissa was first celebrity to follow us on Twitter. Yes, this was before Shonda Rhimes—Melissa found out about BGN and tweeted to us!
Here is the historic tweet:
The first time I felt Black Girl Nerds as an online space was validated, was the moment Melissa Harris-Perry said she loved my blog. Of course I was a nervous wreck and praying the whole time. The prayer was mainly due to the fact that there was a miscommunication between the driver and the car company and driver failed to contact me that he was sitting in front of where I was staying for the last 30 minutes. I was running late en route to the show and was afraid I wouldn’t get there in time. I tweeted and did Facebook updates letting everyone know what was going on just in case I didn’t make it to air.
By the grace of God I made it on time, literally minutes before the my segment went to air.
The topic was about diversity at New York Comic Con and how people of color are changing the landscape of fandoms and culture at this event. I mentioned the work that is happening with Regine Sawyer’s Women’s In Comics Collective and also stated how bloggers and podcasters are giving indie comic creators a voice they haven’t had quite before. You can check out the interview by going to the MSNBC site here.
Special thanks goes out to Keith Chow of Nerds of Color who made the connection happen! It’s always great to have nerdy friends in high places! I’m also happy to finally get a chance to meet Melissa and chat with her and tell her how much of a fan I am of not only her show, but of her book Sister Citizen which has had a major impact on how I see women of color depicted in media.
New York Comic Con was a success! I look forward to attending next year’s event and hope to see you there too! Happy conning!