Monday, 14 July 2014

Fangirl


This Saturday I attended London Film and Comic Con for 2 big reasons, Gail Simone, and the first ever UK YA Lit Con because loving things is awesome.



YALC is the first UK YA  Lit Con organised by Booktrust and curated by Malorie Blackman with amazing YA authors and creators in attendance such as Rainbow Rowell, Patrick Ness, and Emma Vicelli and Malorie Frikkin Blackman. With its own deciated area of the film and comic convention, YALC provided a super fun + super posi+ super welcoming space for YA fans of all ages to meet authors, listen to panel discussions, attend workshops,buy books, swap books, and read books for free in a reading zone with cushions and beanbags. LFCC was chaos this year, even more so than usual due to the number of crowds that Stan Lee managed to attract on his last ever UK visit, and so YALC was a great place to get away from the swarms and interact with other YA fans and creators.

Have a sit down and read a book. Sounds like my kinda party.
It was a great mix of YA fans in attendance specifically to meet their favourite authors and talk about the books they love so much, as well as passing comic con attendees in cosplay wanting to see what was going on. Usually at LFCC the book zone is completely dead, but YALC completely brought it to life and it was brilliant to see so many people of all ages passionate about reading YA. The publishing table with promo material for upcoming YA titles were giving away free books on the hour to the first people at their stalls and seeing a crowd of mostly young girls running up to the table excitedly for a free book made my heart burst. So posi it hurts.

Swap yr books!

I love YA and other than comics it's my other big reading love. I always felt embarassed to admit that I lost my passion for reading grown up books quite a few years ago. I read them slowly and out of duty and they don't grab me the way that comics and YA do and I was so excited to be around so many other people that were that passionate about YA. Librarians, parents, teachers adults that love reading, kids, teenagers, punks, and random Deadpool cosplayers who wanted to see what all the fuss was about, everyone was having an awesome time!

Malorie Blackman is the curator and director of the first ever UK YA Lit Con and is also the goddamn children's laureate, and it was awesome to see her kicking things off with a geektastic speech in klingon. The panels were a great chance for attendees to hear their favourite creators discuss things like the growth of dystopian YA, the challenges of adapting shakespeare for YA graphic novels, and the way that fandom can shape YA authors. The talks were completely packed out and those waiting in line for photographs for some of the convention's film and tv guests nearby also stood listening to the panels and came back to check out other aspects of the YALC area.

Tatty Devine Faingirl necklace to promote Rainbow's upcoming UK tour

I'm a huge Rainbow Rowell fangirl (OHMYGOD DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE!) and was so happy to have her on stage talking unashamedly about her love of Harry Potter and the way that she wrote X-Men fanfiction when she was younger in which all the blue X-Men fell in love with her. Her YA books Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl are INCREDIBLE. I haven't been moved by a book like Eleanor and Park in forever and I was super star struck at the thought of getting to meet Rainbow herself. The queue for Rainbow was bananas and looped round right into the main centre of the general film and comic con prompting a lot of people not attending YALC to ask us what on earth where we queuing for. 

Faced with two sprained ankles and just a 2 hour window, Rainbow made sure she saw everyone that had taken the time to queue to meet her. I chatted with her briefly about her upcoming collaboration with comic artist Faith Erin Hicks who I love like woah, and it was nice to her Rainbow be equally as geeky and as excited about Faith's work.

Rainbow Rowell being a superhero with ice-packs on her ankles

I thought I had missed my opportunity to meet Malorie Blackman due to spending all that time in the Rainbow Rowell queue but Malorie was just wandering around chatting with people and I got to meet her very briefly. She's incredible. Have I mentioned that? Incredible.

Next I skipped the film and tv part of the con and as much as I love gawping at everyone's cosplay, I couldn't move and couldn't breathe, it was the busiest I have EVER seen LFCC and I just wanted to find the comic creators to geek out there. All the comic creators were in a separate building where Stan Lee was also based. While the queue for him was bananas, the rest of the comic zone due to poor signage and complete segregation from the rest of the con was completely dead. I felt so bad that there were such awesome comics people siting in a half empty hall. The indie creators were further segregated, and in one section there was very little or no lighting. I know that Martin from Spandex comics was so frustrated with his experience at LFCC that he packed up his table and left halfway through the first day which is so disheartening to hear. With comics as part of its title, it's sad to think that LFCC hadn't included the comics zone into the rest of the main action as much as they could have done. While meanwhile outside, thousands of people struggled to get into the main hall as the con reached full capacity super quick. It's just such a shame that attendees weren't directed to the comics zone and that it felt like such a separate event.

That said, I was too excited for words. No not for Stan Lee, but for Gail Simone. I have missed nearly every single UK apperance she has made, as her other cons have always clashed with work commitments or other things and I've always been so gutted that I've never gotten to meet her. Gail Simone is one of those comic writers who got me into comics in a big way. She is a feminist hero, she wrote one of the first mainstream trans characters in a DC comic, she gives a shit about inclusivity and diversity, they aren't just buzzwords to her, she gets the importance of representation, and she loves comics just as much as the fans do.

Meeting her was a pretty big deal and I talked with her about how sad I am that she is leaving the Batgirl title and we both talked about our fears about what would happen to Alysia (the trans character who she introduced into the Batgirl series) now that Batgirl would have a new creative team and direction. We talked about how stinky Red Sonia is, how Dynamite are publishing some really great things, and how Gail was also writing a brand new title featuring a trans* superhero. It was amazing and yeah I'm not ashamed, I may have gotten a bit teary eyed.

Gail Frikkin Simone

Due to Operation: Sort Life Out, I was unable to attend the 2nd day of LFCC to hear Gail speak in a spotlight panel at the con, but the internet tells me that some pretty SECRET things were hinted at, like the possibility of Gail writing a new Secret Six series which makes me very happy indeed.

I love loving things, ok, and I when I love things I love them hard. I am a total fangirl. I get passionate and over excitable and obsessive and I give a shit about fiction and popular culture and art, and it's wonderful.

I so hope that YALC returns with another event in the future. While hosting it at LFCC meant there was such a crossover of attendees, hopefully in future there can be a larger more dedicated space as there are so many people who would love to come who maybe didn't want to attend a comic con. Everyone who helped organise YALC or helped out on the day were incredibly friendly and so enthusiastic and it was a real highlight of LFCC. Judging by Saturday, it was a super success and I have so many new books I need to read RIGHT NOW! 

Also I'm just really really looking forward to Thought Bubble later this year and being at a convention that is completely focused on comics, where creators aren't sidelined and segregated away from Game of Thrones actors. Because while I like looking at GoT actors I want comic creators to be the main attraction and things like Thought Bubble and Comic Art Festival and DICE and others are the absolute best for that. 

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