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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Bent-Con: Event explores gay sci-fi, horror
AJ Epstein
2012-12-26

This article shared 2239 times since Wed Dec 26, 2012
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I ask myself, "Who are these people running around a Mormon Mariott hotel in Burbank?"

Next to me, a woman,dressed as Madam Hawlkwomen is checking in. Her costume—a work of art, with a lot of sweat, wire, and glue went into making those wings—got to love it.

Queer, dyke, transgender, fairies, pagans and mega-demons, all were the norm at this new comix (that's comix with a "X"). An new group of artists have joined all their networking, FaceBooking and tweeting into the collective weekend known as Bent-Con (which recently took place in Burbank, Calif.) to celebrate their art, fantasies and their slightly "bent" twisted views of this and many more worlds in the universe.

There is a long history to erotic art and graphic illustrated novels, from Aubrey Beardsley to Tom of Finland. Now, there are everyday dyke dramas and sexually possessed demons that are both terrifying and wonderful to gaze upon.

Bent-Con was started by seven guys who live on their own compulsive, inked sketchbooks, and caffeinated power drinks and cupcakes. They started out as queer artists sharing information with each other about printers, distribution, and carving out a hidden niche of a very real world of queer comix.

A few years ago they had an idea for they're very own Comic-con, but with a decidedly different edge.

This year they finally pulled it off. More than 25 artists showed their work for three days at Bent-Con with classes like "Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same," "Race and Class in Comics" "Women Warriors Breaking the Mold: Smashing Gender Binaries in Genre Media" and "YAOI 101 and Its Impact on Japanese Pop Culture," to name a few.

Anyone who has something to say can find a way to produce it now. Networking the room was an important part of the weekend.

Who are they by day?

Maybe the coffee lady sketching while brewing your latte, or it's the tattooed guy who is writing and sketching sitting on the subway or bus. They are teachers, art directors, students and professional masseurs. Some are just lesbian moms and power derby dykes. Now they have a new network and event for all those stories in their heads.

Sean Holman did a great job as this year's president of Bent-Con, as he promoted, answered questions and ran around while still being charming, introducing all the artists to each other and keeping the buzz-on all weekend.

Among those on hand were Dave Davenport (AKA dogspunk) a terrific tattoo artist; Steve Macisaac aka Mr. Humpy Bear guy; and Sean Z.

Attendee Justin Hall won a Xeric Award grant for his first comic book, A Sacred Text, which is a fantastical retelling of the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After that he began self-publishing his True Travel Tales series, which is a collection of autobiographical and biographical stories from the road, featuring everything from anonymous sex in Egyptian temples to blood sacrifices in Bolivia to smuggling cocaine from Peru. The third True Travel Tales, subtitled La Rubia Loca, is featured in the Houghton Miflin Best of American Comics 2006.

They're not really your old Mickey Mouse or Archie comics you use to read.

The Huffington Post stated, "To mark the end of Queer History Month, Comics Alliance No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall, a cartoonist whose personal works include True Travel Tales and Glamazonia, to learn what inspired the collection, how he put it together, and what he thinks readers and cartoonists alike can learn from it.

Earlier this year Fantagraphics published an extraordinary collection of LGBT comics from the past four decades. No Straight Lines brings together comics from the early days of the alternative and underground press, stories from the era of the AIDS crisis, contemporary web comics dealing with identity and gender issues and much more in one volume. The result is a fascinating examination of post-Stonewall queer culture."

One of the most successful of the this group is Brad Rader, who won a Emmy for his works of the Catwoman TV show and who just released Fog Town, a comic noir with a gay detective in 1950s San Francisco.

Here they all are showing off their own imaginations—always a powerful take of the unknown, unseen, and unexpected. All these people have found their long-winding road to creation.

Jim Higgins has been a writer and editor in the comics business since 1993. For six years he worked in the Paradox Press division of DC Comics, where he edited five books. In 2008, Higgins began a successful program of classes on comic book writing and drawing at Meltdown Comics.

He is presently teaching the class Graphic Novel Development at The California Institute of Art and various comics classes at Otis College of Art and Design. He has written comics, short stories and articles on film and comics for many years. Of Hall, Higgins said that he "has put together a great anthology that fills a gap in what's been published about comics history. It's not just a cool anthology but a necessary one."

Websites of note:

www.bentcomix.com .

Sean Z: rated-z.com .

Dave Davenport: (aka dog spunk, tattoo artist) www.dogspunk.com .

Justin Hall: www.allthumbspress.com/home.html .

Class Comics (Patrick Fillion & Robert Fraser) www.classcomics.com .

Stever Macisaac:www.stevemacissac.con .

Tom of Finland Foundation: tomoffinlandfoundation.org .

Butch Mclogic: www.classcomics.com .

Lynia Johannsen: ellejohara.com .

Prism comics: prismcomics.org/profile.php .

Brad Rader: www.raderofthelostart.com .

Sean Platter: www.studiosplatter.com .

Renee Keyes: www.naeru.net .

Awkward conversations radio: www.skidrowstudios.com .

Artifice: artificecomic.com .


This article shared 2239 times since Wed Dec 26, 2012
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