by Amanda Steele
When it comes to conventions, large and small, my favorite part is almost always artist alley. While sometimes I come to cons for a guest or for an important panel, most of the time, the place I spend the most time is with the art. There are always so many talented artists, and this is one of the only times and places as a fan where you have so much fan art in front of you to buy. While it’s always possible to do that online, having so many options in front of you to look at and hold is exciting.
When going through the artwork at New York Comic Con today, I had my eye out for the same thing I usually do: art by queer artists or art of queer characters. While acceptance of LGBT people in fandom, and society at large, has come a long way, art that features LGBT characters is still not the most kosher type of product for bigger companies. While there are conventions like FlameCon that are specifically there for queer fans and queer characters and ships, bigger conventions don’t necessarily feature this side of fandom as often.
New York Comic Con will be hosting some panels about diversity, which is great, but I’m always interested in how diversity is portrayed and how accepted it is in other areas of cons.
While looking through the art this year, I’m pleased to say that there was a good selection of artists selling work that features LGBT characters and relationships. Now, some of these characters are canonically queer in their respective media, while others are not. There was quite a diverse selection of popular fandom ships from Korrasami (Korra and Asami from Avatar: Legend of Korra) to Stony (Steve Rogers and Tony Stark from Marvel). Of course, there were many anime couples featured as well such as characters from Yuri! On Ice.
There were also a few well-known fan artists/artists/creators in the Artist Alley. One of these notable artists is Jen Bartel, a comic artist for Marvel and Image. She has a great selection art and some amazing pins and patches that celebrate queerness.
I strongly believe it’s important to note and call attention to diverse artists and creators. Even as the world of comics and nerds has become more accepting and started to feature more diverse voices, it’s not always easy for minority creators in these fields.
I also look for art that portrays characters with a queer gaze or a female gaze. We are many of us aware of the male gaze and know that comics can be full of art and portrayals of women that are quite sexual. As a queer woman myself, I can enjoy some of these artworks, too, but I like to see art that shows male superheroes through an erotic lens as well. There is still a lot of scoffing and derision that other term fangirl is met with, but I will enjoy my fangirling and be proud of it all day long. It’s important to have artists out there in the world of comics and fandom who flip the script and celebrate different genders and sexualities.
At this year’s New York Comic Con, there is a great selection of pins, patches, stickers, and prints that celebrate being LGBT. It’s important to me to promote these works and buy merch from these vendors and creators.
As for myself, I found some great art of Captain America, definitely with a female gaze and as keychains of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Tony Stark in their Avengers Academy versions. If you’re looking for artwork and artists that celebrate LGBT characters and relationships, I’ve compiled a list of some that I found. Now, this definitely isn’t extensive, and the best way to find your artwork you’ll like is to spend some time in Artist Alley.
Get your fangirl, fanboy, or fan whatever-you-identify-as on and check out some of these amazing artists with booths in Artist Alley: