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Queering Comic-Con

Queering Comic-Con


A guide to four days of comics, cosplay, and superheroes

Photos: Getty

For the 44th year in a row, the geek masses of the world will convene at the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con International. A four-day tour de force of superheroes, cosplayers, anime fans, and even the occasional Trekkie, the Con of Cons can be overwhelming, especially if you're looking for LGBT content. Fear not, weary queer nerd! We've found dozens of panels with queer celebrities and experts, offering you everything from a history of anti-LGBT censorship to discussions on the current landscape of diversity in pop culture.

A few pro-tips before you go:

  • Be Patient: Some panels are more popular than others, and it's not unheard of to wait an hour or more in line before certain rooms open up. Hall H, which is usually packed and features exclusive looks at some of the most popular upcoming movies and television shows, has now instituted a wristband policy. Plan ahead and be patient, and always check social media accounts and the Comic-Con website for any last minute changes.
  • Check Social Media: Also, be sure to follow your favorite shows and celebrities on their respective social media channels. A number of them offer exclusive meet-ups and get-togethers outside of the Convention center throughout the weekend, giving you even more opportunities to mix and mingle with like-minded queer geeks.
  • Explore the Convention Floor: Finally, when you have some free time in between panels, be sure to check out the convention floor. Organizations like Prism Comics and publishers such as Northwest Press offer Con-goers the opportunity to browse the latest in LGBT comics, as well as a chance to meet their favorite queer creators.

Whether you visit for just one day or spend the entire weekend camped in Hall H, there's tons of entertainment for everyone. Comic-Con International only comes once a year, and it's a marvelous opportunity to find original and engaging material, regardless of where it falls on the queer spectrum.

Day 1>>>

Day 1: Thursday, July 24

10:30 am: Legends of TV Land, Indigo Ballroom

Television icon Betty White joins other classic celebrities to answer your questions about your favorite programming. Because really, we're all dying to know if she kept in touch with George Clooney after his guest appearance on The Golden Girls.

1 pm: CBLDF: The History of the Comics Code, Room 30CDE

For decades, comic books were published under the watchful eye of the Comics Code Authority. In addition to limiting violence and instituting morality in the medium, the Code had strict regulations against LGBT people. Learn more about the Authority's history with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein.

2 pm: Pop Culture Happy Hour Live Podcast, Room 32AB

In this live recording of NPR's delightful discussion group on all things pop culture, panelists Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon chat with Maggie Thompson about current topics in television, film, books, and whatnot. Give the wide range of topics, something queer is bound to come up.

3:30 pm: Teen Wolf, Ballroom 20

Cast members from the delectable MTV horror show returns to Comic-Con, led by Buzzfeed's Jarett Wieselman. Maybe we'll see Tyler Posey and Dylan O'Brien make out or, at the very least, take off their shirts.

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Posey with co-star Tyler Hoechlin in 2013

4:20 pm: Ranma 1/2, Marriott Hall 5

The class gender-bending anime returned to bookshelves and blu-ray this year. Catch up on a classic episode!

4:40 pm: Sailor Moon, Marriott Hall 5

Queer fan favoriteSailor Moon is now being released unedited and uncut, which means that all those same-sex relationships you missed out on in the '90s have been restored for your viewing pleasure. Watch an episode and see what the buzz is about.

5:00 pm: Breaking Barriers: Transgender Trends in Pop Culture, Room 28DE

With all of the mighty gains over the past few years for the transgender community, how has that progress been reflected in comics and popular culture, if at all? A panel of experts featuring Tara Madison Avery, Dylan Edwards, Melanie Gillman, J.D. Saxon, Elizabeth Lain, Ashley Love, and Michelle Nolan discuss this new frontier.

6:00 pm: Batman '66, Hall H

After years of waiting, the campy Batman television series from the Swinging Sixities is finally coming to home video. To celebrate, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reflect on their experiences with the show, as well as how it turned into a cultural touchstone for geeks of a certain age. Thanks for everything!

6:00 pm: LGBT Geek Year in Review, Room 28DE

It's been a busy year for queer geeks, ranging from characters coming out to same-sex weddings to boycotts. A panel of experts including P. Kristen Enos, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Trish Bendix, Matt Kane, and Sean Z. Maker discuss the latest trends in LGBT pop culture and what's in store for the future.

6:00 pm: Showtime: Penny Dreadful, Ballroom 20

Gays went gaga seeing cast members Josh Hartnett and Reeve Carney make out in this season's gothic horror hit Penny Dreadful. Nevertheless, I'm sure moderator Aisha Tyler will have more questions for them besides "Did you like it?" and "Did either of you bother with chap stick beforehand?"

8:00 pm: Tournament of Nerds, Room 5AB

Batwoman scribe Marc Andreyko joins Justin Donaldson, Hal Rudnick, Maddox, Jesse Snider, Roger Barr, Mike Carlson, and Aaron Sparrow on a quest to determine the answer to such geeky riddles as "Would Batman or Wolverine win in a fight?" and "Could Superman overpower Gandalf?"

Day 2>>>

Day 2: Friday, July 25

12:15 pm: Venture Bros., Indigo Ballroom

Venture Bros. co-creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer dish on the upcoming season of their often gay, never simple Adult Swim cartoon.

1:00 pm: Archie Forever: Life, Afterlife, and Beyond, Room 4

In the wake of Archie's heroic efforts to save his friend Kevin Keller, find out what's in store for the gang from Riverdale throughout the coming months. Panelists include Dan Parent, writer and creator of Kevin Keller.
1:00 pm: CBLDF: Dr. Wertham's War on Comics, 30CDE

Professor Carol Tilley leads a discussion on the man who manipulated his own research in the 1950s to scapegoat the comics industry for a number of social ills, including the ridiculous claim that reading Batman and Robin could turn children queer. Not with those outfits, Mary.

1:40 pm: Game of Thrones Panel Q&A, Hall H

The stars of everyone's favorite hack & screw drama sit down with producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to tease next year's season of Game of Thrones. Panelists include Pedro Pascal, who stole many a heart as the very tragic and very bisexual Oberyn Martell.

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Cosplay at Comic-Con International

2:00 pm: LGBT Comics for Young Readers, Room 28DE

A panel will discuss how to engage LGBT youth through comics, as well as how adults can make their bookshelves more queer-inclusive. Speakers include moderator P. Kristen Enos, Brian Anderson, Charles "Zan" Christensen, Dusty Jack, Grace Ellis, Dan Parent, Robert Paul, and Elizabeth Watasin.

5:00 pm: Archer Screening and Q&A, Indigo Ballroom

Show me a man who doesn't think that cartoon spy Sterling Archer isn't hot and I'll show you a liar. Season six of the sleek and sometimes ridiculous covert ops animated program will return on FX, and voice stars H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, and Lucky Yates gab about behind the scenes buffoonery.

5:00pm: We Are Husbands and You Can Too!, Room 23ABC

The creative team behind Husbands, the hit web series and graphic novel adaptation, discuss what's in store for gay lovebirds Cheeks and Brady. Join Brad Bell, Jane Espenson, Sean Hemeon, and Eli Gonda as they discuss the future of the fan-favorite CW Seed program.

6:30 pm: Making X-Men: Days of Future Past, Room 5AB

Frequently seen as an allegory for anti-LGBT hate, the X-Men have regularly tackled themes of discrimination and justice on screen. Journalist Jeff Goldsmith talks with screenwriter Simon Kinberg about the latest film installment, Days of Future Past, and what's in store for the franchise.

7:00 pm: Queer Horror, Room 28DE

With horror permeating numerous aspects of pop culture, what does that mean for LGBT characters and themes? Panelists Sean Abley, Jeffrey Reddick, J. T. Seaton, Tim Sullivan, Guinevere Turner, and Michael Varrati take a bite out of the queer side of horror.

7:30 pm: Your Opinion Sucks: Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans, Room 8

Out pop culture journalist Alonso Duralde chats with writers Scott Mantz, Tiffany Smith, and editors Matt Atchity and Grae Drake about the best and worst that cinema has to offer. Be ready to defend your favorite movie against the infamous Tomatometer!

8:00 pm: Sixty Years of Seduction: Right, Wrong, and Wertham, Room 9

A panel will discuss the effects of Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, a flawed book that sparked national fear and outrage against the comic book industry. Bradford W. Wright, Carol Tilley, Vasilis K. Pozios, Praveen R. Kambam, Robert A. Emmons, Jr., and Jeff Trexler challenge Wertham's research and refute some of his more outrageous claims, including the link between comics and sexual deviancy.

10:00 pm: Heroes vs. Villains Superhero Dance Party, Rich's Nightclub, 1051 University Ave.

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of this Comic-Con mainstay with DJ Marcel and DJ QooLee Kid.

Day 3>>>

Day 3: Saturday, July 26

10:30 am: Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Queering Comics, Room 26AB

Leading researchers discuss queer interpretations of comics, ranging from the Golden Age to Hawkeye. Panelists include Ayanna Dozier, Cameron C. McKee, Shane Duncan, and Benjamin Varosky.

12:30 pm: Sailor Moon Official Panel, Room 5AB

All together now: Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight! The original 1990s Sailor Moon anime returns to the small screen this year, with all of the same-sex relationships intact. Join the VIZ Media team to hear about the upcoming blu ray and streaming releases, and take a behind the scenes look at what went into bringing the legendary series back to the U.S.

1:00 pm: CBLDF: Banned Comics!, Room 30CDE

Believe it or not, queer comics like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home are still banned in some municipalities. Jeff Smith, Gene Yang, Carol Tilley, and Charles Brownstein talk about why this still happens in 2014, and what you can do to fight back against censorship.

1:00 pm: Saga, Room 7AB

The critically acclaimed series from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples has explored just about every type of relationship and sexual position you can imagine, and last year was mired in some unnecessary controversy over its depiction of a man on the receiving end of a pearl necklace. Hear from the creators themselves about what's in store for your favorite couple on the run.

3:30 pm: Inside the Making of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-Ray, Room 5AB

David Lynch revolutionized serial narrative on television with Twin Peaks, and the upcoming blu-ray release is sure to be a treasure trove for fans. Actress Kimmy Robertson, producers Charles de Lauzirika, Brian Kursar, and executive project managers David Grant and Ryan Adams talk about the creation of the commemorative box set, and who knows, maybe they'll even have some bonus footage of David Duchovney as transvestite DEA agent Denise Bryson.

4:00 pm: Anything Goes with John Barrowman, Indigo Ballroom

The rambunctious star of Torchwood and Arrow gives you the opportunity to chat with him about his career in geek film and television. Be sure to congratulate him on his one-year anniversary with husband Scott Gill!

5:00 pm: True Blood Panel Q&A, Ballroom 20

As the final season of the HBO horror series comes to a bloody conclusion, fans were finally treated to an intense man-on-man sex scene with Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). Join Kwanten and co-stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Nelsan Ellis (the flamboyant Lafayette) and more as they discuss the final moments of the cult hit.

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Skarsgard with co-star Christopher Meloni in 2012

5:15 pm: Constantine Pilot Screening and Q&A, Room 6BCF

Sure, he may no longer be bisexual in the television adaptation of the Vertigo comic series, but I'm sure demonologist John Constantine is into some kinky, queer stuff. Actors Matt Ryan, Harold Perrineau, and Charles Halford present the pilot episode of the upcoming NBC series, and answer your questions about the infamous anti-hero.

5:30 pm: Gays in Comics XXVII: It's a Queer, Queer World!, Room 6A

The eternally popular Gays in Comics panel series continues, bringing you insight from some of comicdom's most popular LGBT creators. Queer comic visibility non-profit Prism Comics leads a discussion featuring Shannon Watters, Elisha Lim, Noelle Stevenson, Graham Kolbeins, and James Tynion IV on their experiences as writers and artists in the industry, and what's in store for the community in the world of graphic storytelling.

7:00 pm: American Horror Story: Coven, Room 6DE

Ryan Murphy's unique take on scary stories recently wrapped its third iteration, and has repeatedly been one of FX's most popular shows. Join cast members Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Michael Chiklis, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Emma Roberts, and producer Tim Minear as they reflect on the witchiest moments of the season, as well as discuss the upcoming American Horror Story: Freak Show.

7:00 pm: Gays in Comics XXVII: Prism Comics Mixer and Auction, Room 6A

Meet other LGBT fans and allies after the Gays in Comics panel, and help support the great work of non-profit Prism Comics by bidding on fabulous comics memorabilia.

10:00 pm: Bourbon Street Comic-Con Night, Featuring Prism Comics, Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, 4612 Park Blvd.

Located in San Diego's University Heights neighborhood, Bourbon's Comic-Con party turns on the fun with a costume contest, drink specials, and more.

Day 4>>>

Day 4: Sunday, July 27

10:00 am: The Fifth Beatle: The Beatles, the Big Screen, and Beyond, Room 24ABC

Frequently cited as the catalyst for Paul, John, George, and Ringo's unprecedented success in the music and entertainment industry, Brian Epstein propelled the Beatles to international fame and fortune while battling personal demons, including his sexuality. Author Vivek J. Tiwary recently published a graphic novel focusing on Epstein's life, and will soon be bringing this story to the silver screen. Join Tiwary and a host of special guests to learn more about Epstein's legacy.

1:30 pm: Superheroines! Power, Responsibility, and Representation, Room 23ABC

It seems like every day another female super-hero is joining the ranks of the super powered, but what more can be done to ensure that authentic representations of women are present in entertainment? Join Marjorie Liu (writer of Astonishing X-Men's same-sex wedding), Joanna Estep (illustrator for the lesbian-centric Bold Riley), and other women in a discussion on female empowerment in the industry.

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Bell with Husbands co-star Sean Hemeon and creator Espenson in 2013

3:00 pm: End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in our Culture, 24ABC

While great strides have been made in ending bullying, it still remains a problem for many young adults. How can pop culture help empower witnesses and bystanders to become part of the solution? Join Chase Masterson, Carrie Goldman, Jane Espenson, Brad Bell, Anthony Breznican, Ashely Eckstein, and Dr. Andrea Letamendi in discussing strategies to end the cycle of cruelty.

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