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Comic Con holds first-ever Transgender issues panel

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In addition to great costumes and hoards of enthusiastic fans, San Diego's iconic Comic Con convention is also known for pushing the boundaries of pop culture, and it continues that tradition with its first ever panel to focus exclusively on transgender themes and characters within popular media. "Breaking Barriers: Transgender Trends in Popular Culture", will be this Thursday, July 24 at 5 p.m. at room 28DE.

Organized by Prism Comic's Tara Madison Avery (@taramavery), the panelists will examine appearances of transgender characters in current and past media, talk about the personal insights and unique challenges that transgender characters bring, and how they can add depth and complexity to films, books, comics and other media.

"Prism Comics features panels at San Diego Comic-Con every year. The Prism board decides upon panel topics several months in advance of the show. The idea of a trans* panel came up as it seemed like a topic that has gained currency in recent years with trans people distinguishing themselves in literature, entertainment, and the arts" said Avery.

In addition to Ms. Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch, Prism Comics), the panel includes Dylan Edwards (Transposes), Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies), Elizabeth Lain (F*** the Limits!: The 30-Day Art Project, This Is Where), activist Ashley Love (Trans Forming Media, journalist, transsexual advocate), comics historian Michelle Nolan (Love on the Racks: A History of American Romance Comics) and J. D. Saxon (Mahou Shounen Fight!).

According to transsexual activist Ashley Love, "It’s great that Comic Con is finally having a trans* specific panel because our communities have so much to offer mainstream society in terms of talent, creativity and expertise. Though many challenging obstacles remain, I feel things are getting better."
In addition to the Breaking Barriers panel discussion, non-profit Prism Comics will be hosting a number of other panels and parties of interest to LGBTIQ folks:

LGBT Geek Year in Review
Thursday, July 24, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Room 28DE
In the past few years, the geek world has been filled with many moments of importance to the queer fan. Some were fabulous, some were unfortunate, some were misguided, and some were "blink and you missed it." LGBT activist and columnist P. Kristen Enos (Active Voice, Creatures of Grace) will lead a discussion with Diane Anderson-Minshall (The Advocate), Trish Bendix (, Matt Kane (GLAAD), and Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con) on the events of LGBT interest in the past year, why they think they were so important, and what they might mean for the future.

LGBT Comics for Young Readers
Friday, July 25, 2 p.m.-3 p.m., Room 28DE
Comics are a universal medium presenting us with an amazing range of stories and characters, including more LGBT stories and characters than ever before. Since comics appeal to young and old alike, how do creators use the medium to present LGBT content and characters for younger audiences? What comics are out there for teens and younger readers? How can parents, librarians, and educators introduce such books to young people? Join Prism Comics, moderator P. Kristen Enos (Active Voice, Creatures of Grace) and creators who produce comics for younger readers — Brian Andersen (So Super Duper), Charles “Zan” Christensen (Northwest Press, The Power Within), Dusty Jack (Scuttlebutt Ink, Mahou Shounen Fight!), Grace Ellis (Lumberjanes), Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), Robert Paul (Little Rainbow Comics), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School) — as they look at the world of LGBT and LGBT-friendly comics for younger readers.

Queer Horror
Friday, July 25, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Room 28DE
Horror films, TV shows, books, and comics are more popular than ever. Authors, filmmakers, and comics creators are always looking for new twists to the medium including presenting LGBT subtext, plot elements, and characters. But does a gay horror genre exist, and if so, what makes it different from mainstream horror? Do queer horror creators bring a different sensibility to the genre? Has the surge of LGBTQ acceptance and civil rights influenced the horror genre? Join Prism Comics and moderator–horror expert Sean Abley (Fangoria’s Gay of the Dead, Out in the Dark) and panelists Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination; Day of the Dead), JT Seaton (George: A Zombie Intervention, NOLA Horror Film Festival), Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs, Chillerama), and Michael Varrati (Tales of Poe, Sins of Dracula) as they explore these and other aspects of this popular genre from a queer perspective.

Heroes vs. Villains Superhero Dance Party
Friday, July 25, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
Rich's Nightclub, 1051 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
Rich’s Nightclub celebrates a geek milestone with the 10th Annual Heroes vs. Villains Superhero Dance Party. DJ Marcel will be spinning EDM, superhero themes, video game themes, and more in the Back Bar while DJ QooLee Kid will be driving the beats in the Front Bar. This event has become a gay geek tradition for many Comic-Con attendees.

Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Queering Comics
Saturday July 26, 2014 10:30am - 12:00pm Room 26AB
Ayanna Dozier (New York University Steinhardt) examines the transformative properties of the pornokitsch aesthetic featured in Golden Age comics, tracing the sociological-historical narratives that link pornokitsch to mainstream and erotic comics and questioning their use of gender, race, and sexuality. Cameron C. McKee (Northwestern University) and Shane Duncan (San Francisco State University) engage with various gay comics series to argue that the tongue-in-cheek humor of camp was (and remains) a central strategy for the construction of queer identity against the oppression of heteronormativity. And using psychological and sociological research, Benjamin Varosky (California State University, Fullerton) looks at Matt Fraction's run on Hawkeye, a single story told through the separate lenses of the masculine and feminine qualities that every superhero secretly-or not so secretly-embodies, to explore how the successes and failures of Clint and Kate individually pale in comparison to those that they share as the unified Hawkeye.

Gays in Comics XXVII: It's a Queer, Queer World!
Saturday July 26, 2014 5:30pm - 7:00pm Room 6A

The world spins on and gets ever queerer. And while society has miles to go, every day we see changes -from marriage being a reality in state after state to the Great NFL Draft Kiss-that show that in our society at large, as well as in the world of comics, LGBT people and their relationships are more and more mainstream. What are the responsibilities of creators to their and their audience's queerness as the radical becomes central? Prism Comics and co-moderators Roger Klorese (Prism Comics board member) and Shannon Watters (BOOM Studios) examine this and other questions with panelists Elisha Lim (100 Butches), Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes), Graham Kolbeins (Massive), James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods), and others.

Bourbon Street Comic-Con Night, Featuring Prism Comics
Saturday, July 26, 10 p.m-2 a.m.
Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, 4612 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92116
Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, a popular bar in San Diego's University Heights neighborhood, is putting on a Comic-Con night with a costume contest, special drinks and superhero (or villain) fun for all! Prism will be there to oversee the festivities.

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