Impressions of the Vancouver Comics Art Festival

I want to love comics, though they don’t want to love me. I’ve written often enough about mainstream comics and their treatment of women, which pretty much ensures I will never be interested in them nor want to spend money on them.

Now’s a good time, however, to talk about the indie comics that I know and love. I got to see a few and find a few new ones today at the VanCAF.

Women As Warriors

After wandering around for a while, I went to a great discussion panel on female characters as warriors in comics. And it was great, really great, to see not only the panelists getting animated about the subject, but the fact that the little auditorium was almost completely full. There are lots of people interested in women in comics, and there are lots of women who want to read about women in comics! (I should know, I’m one of them.)

Steve LeCouilliard said a lot of great stuff, and here’s what sticks out in my mind: the mainstream forces of commerce are actually constrained by their being funded to the tune of millions of dollars. All that money effectively means that they will never be able to take the chances that culture really needs to progress and evolve. Too much money = too much risk of losing all that money. So, the best thing for independent creators to do is push the envelope, and make the works that are challenging and progressive, because no one can rely on the mainstream to do anything but play it safe (and playing it safe means ‘make stuff with straight white guys as the main characters’).

So what about the money?

It’s all about the money, isn’t it? I spent about $200 at VanCAF on different artists, and only from those who didn’t do the boobs and butt schtick of mainstream comics. Here’s a sample of them:

Una the Blade, a single-mom barbarian woman comic by Steve LeCouilliard
Una the Blade, a single-mom barbarian woman comic by Steve LeCouilliard
Battlekittens by Rebecca Dart
Battlekittens by Rebecca Dart
Delilah Dirk, 19th century adventurer, by Tony Cliff
Delilah Dirk, 19th century adventurer, by Tony Cliff

My taste is obvious. I like action and adventure, and I like women doing action and adventure. I’m easy to please, really – give me a female character who isn’t a cardboard cutout, who gets into the thick of the fight, and I am happy.

When mainstream comics make it clear that they don’t want my money, I’m happy to throw it at the indies instead. Why not, right? I like to support the artists who cater to my taste. It’s just something of a shame that it takes so little to suck the cash out of my wallet, and DC and Marvel haven’t even managed that much.

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