Denver Comic Con 2016 Day 2
For the second day of Denver Comic Con, I was able to catch some guest appearances and a panel on female representation in comics. While I hadn’t planned it to be so, Day 2 turned out to be a day of discussing both strong female characters (and exactly what that means) and storytelling.
I started off the day with the Spotlight On Lena Headey panel. Lena Headey has been in a number of films but she is most well known for her work as the semi-villainous Queen Cersei on the television show Game of Thrones. I say semi-villainous because as Headey brought up herself, the question of who is a villain on that show is entirely dependent on your viewpoint. And it isn’t the first time that Headey has played a complex character. Her role as more traditional villain Ma-Ma in the movie Dredd was brought up as another nuanced role in which Headey brought shades of grey to a strong female character. Headey discussed how she enjoys playing these types of characters because she sees them all as human and likes playing female characters who know their own minds and are determined to do things their own way. While I may not always like characters like Cersei and Ma-Ma, it was really interesting to see how Headey brought the human side to those characters and how much she enjoyed doing so as an actress.
My second panel of the day concerned female representation in comics. The panelists were Barbara Randall Kesel (a comic book writer and editor), Dr. Katie Monnin (a professor of literacy and author of several books on teaching graphic novels), Sara Ryan (a writer and librarian) and was moderated by Michael Gianfrancesco (a professor of English). It was an interesting panel largely because it wasn’t just arguing for women to have a greater role in comics. The panelists started out by discussing how the industry has started to shift towards female characters being more central in stories in order to appeal to a broader audience but quickly developed into a discussion about the challenges of encouraging good female representation without censoring things that they may not like. Kesel in particular was adamant that trigger warnings are a detriment to any real conversation and that people shouldn’t be protected or babied from things that might bother them. It was refreshing to hear someone else who wants great female representation but who has little patience for trigger warnings. As Kesel said, storytelling rather than the gender or race of the character should be dominating attempts to make comics a more diverse industry. It’s great to have more representation but only if they’re full-fledged characters and not just cardboard types.
My final panel of the day was the Spotlight On Cary Elwes and it was truly an amazing experience. I have been in love with the movie Princess Bride since I was a teenager and getting to hear from the star of such a classic movie would have been cool enough. Luckily for everyone in the room, however, Elwes is even more charismatic than the beloved character that he played thirty years ago. Elwes answered questions like he was having a conversation with you at a party. He was incredibly friendly (even hugging a few of the fans who were asking questions) and was a master storyteller. He told several hilarious stories about working on Princess Bride, Psych and Robin Hood: Men in Tights that made it even easier to love him. Living proof that some people are just inherently, ridiculously charismatic.
As a day of magical storytelling and a frank discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of pushing for strong female characters, Day 2 of Denver Comic Con was truly amazing. If you’re a comic book fan, this con is an incredible way to broaden your knowledge of the industry and have a great time in the process. Not to mention the great celebrity appearances! Check in tomorrow for updates on the final day of the con!