Written by Shawn Bourdo
This is always where attending the Con gets dicey. You have to have a Plan A, Plan B and a What "The Hell Is Happening" Plan. There are predictable panels that you will not get into if you don't plan on spending your day on just them - this year that being Firefly, Tarantino, The Walking Dead, and more. I was able to start my day by ignoring the throngs waiting in lines inside and out and just get some great coverage of the convention floor. I saw many signs that people are spending money (a good thing for many of these small businesses that count on this weekend to make their year) and the content was more diverse than it has been in years. I see more and more Fine Artists selling their DIY items - t-shirts, vinyl toys, prints, and more. This Con should be about walking away with something unique that you might never discover in years of trolling the Internet.
HISTORY OF COMIC CENSORSHIP - I thought this had the potential to be one of the best panels I attended this year. Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund presented a rather typical PowerPoint on the history of comic censorship. I'm sure this was helpful for some in the room but many of us needed the advanced course. His presentation covered much of the ground that was done in the great documentary Comic Book Confidential.
Comics were the largest shipments that went to the G.I.'s in WWII. By the time they came home, they had developed a habit of reading the pulp stories and their favorite characters. The first banning of comics occured out of a moral panic because of the sex and violence content. This sentiment is repeated through the history of comics. But it's also interesting to tie this to the panel on Women's Art and Censorship I attended on Thursday. These works are being banned by people who are morally outraged and feel they have to protect everyone else from something that they don't like. The famous book by Dr. Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, was used against the industry in the mid-1950s. Dr. Wertham had a good-natured cause for the book - mainly to stop criminal behavior in juveniles. It was his "junk science" or bad research methods that would lead to self-censorship by the comics industry. Claims that the morbid themes led to violence, that Batman and Robin were secretly gay, and that Wonder Woman's strength and independence made her a lesbian.