Yesterday’s kerfuffle concerned a convention that wouldn’t name a colorist as a guest. Although a smallish type kerfuffle, it did lead to a day of praising hard working colorists on Twitter, so good came of it.
Jordie Bellaire and Matt Wilson, the colorists in question, didn’t name the con that committed the deed. I corresponded with someone involved with the convention and I won’t either. Suffice to say it is a local show. The person I emailed with had reasons for not listing these colorists as guests — they didn’t seem like very germane reasons and I said so, but I got no response to that.
Why not name the show? I don’t think there’s a need to put it up on the internet (but catch me in person and I’ll tell you.) I was not impressed with the conversation I had with the organizer, and word will get around soon enough in the freelance community. The convention business is a competitive one, and people will go where they and their friends are treated better. The same goes for fans.
It does raise an issue I’ve long had with the way many shows are run where diversity is concerned. And yes this is the old “Why aren’t there more women/minority/indie guests?” thing. There is one show I go to that is constantly criticized for not having many female guests. While hanging in the lobby one year I ran into a friend, a woman creator who constantly travels to packed appearances and has been on the NY Times bestseller list for weeks at a time. She lived a few miles from the convention but wasn’t listed as a guest. Why? I guess it wouldn’t have been too…….expensive? Misleading?
When you look at the names of the attending professionals on a convention site, it doesn’t mean that the show had to pay for five nights at a four-star hotel to bring them there. A lot of people are local and pay parking or transit fare themselves. The comics industry is still so small of stature that most of us are just happy to get in somewhere for free where we can buy a $5 hot dog.
It doesn’t cost you, the convention organizer, anything more than a minute of time to add a name and a picture to a website. You just go to the guests page, type in a name, and bam! you’ve got diversity. You can have your featured guests that you paid to bring to the show who will draw hundreds of fans on a page and put big stars and dollar signs behind their pictures to show how special and expensive they are. And then you can have a special page for people who were just on the guest list—colorists and women and indie creators. And it makes you look like you have a vibrant, exciting show with lots of professional support. Maybe you will draw five extra people to see these guests. Maybe you will draw fifty. Either way, it’s a plus.
Maybe some day you will even pay for an indie creator or a female creator to come to your show and be a special, magical guest. It sounds crazy, but I’m sure it could happen.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.