Hello, grand people of the internets!
HBIC reporting on our experience at the Wizard World Nashville Comic Con 2013. I have lots to say and show but the first point I must address is my complete and sincere thanks to AJ Scudiere for inviting me to join two literary panels and for showing us such a great time. More about AJ (and the fabulous Eli) in a moment.
I must comment on Nashville, the city. This place, if you’ve never visited, must find a spot on your bucket list. Something about the air, the people, the dreams being chased in this place gets your blood pumping as you breathe it all in. There is no option other than feeling fully alive. The mesh of modern and historic architecture is tasteful but elaborate. Each step you take feels like walking through a self-supporting art gallery.
Stretch limos, horse-drawn carriages, sidewalks crowded with people, bright lights, music blaring from every bar, police running through with lights and sirens just to keep the crowds in check, street vendors, peddle-driven bars set the background for what I consider the main act of this city- the street performers. There are so many of these people, it is easy to pass by knowing another is only a foot away at the most. But then you stop and realize, every single night each of these people are doing something most of us fear to the point of anxiety; They are chasing their wildest dreams. When you swallow that, you have to look at each and every one of them with this deep-rooted respect and admiration. I could ramble forever about this alone, but I will just mention one performer that provided extremely entertaining conversation and along with other songs, ended our encounter by playing a bluegrass version of Elton John’s “Your Song.” For me, that was feeling fully alive and prepping me well for Comic Con.
Yes, Comic Con. The reason for this Nashville trip. After we parked (this may end up being a rant on my personal blog-lol) and entered the Music City Hall, we entered what must be a sampling of Geek Heaven. Again, my blood pumped and I felt fully alive. Jokers, Batmen, Spidermen, Doctors in bow ties, Steampunkers, Ghostbusters, oh my. It was a million leagues above amazing. Then, we entered the front doors.
AJ Scudiere. Right there when we walk in we are greeted by the one booth we were hoping to find in this massive convention. It is easy to spot the AJ booth at any event. Not only is it one of the sharpest set-ups you will ever see, AJ’s book pull you in like magnetism. Then you see the lovely faces of AJ and Eli and you have to walk over. AJ’s booth continued to bump with readers so after quick hellos, we ventured around to see what Comic Con Nashville was all about.
Artists. Wow. The artists at this event come in every form. Statues, swords, cosplay, prints, paintings, photography, digital art, and pencil. It is easy to pass the day getting lost in their worlds. I don’t pull any punches so of course, some of them were, talented as they all may be, less enjoyable and one or two may have even been so self consumed and arrogant, it lessened the appeal of their art. And while I will say I did not get time to speak to each artist, more of them that I did speak to were the most wonderfully brilliant and kind folks you could ever hope to meet.
The celebrities were obviously a hot spot. Two words. Stan Lee. If you have ever been amazed by a line at Disney World, do not, I repeat, do not look directly at a line of people waiting to meet Stan Lee. This man is the champion of all lines. You know you are the man when the people in the very back of the line are just as happy as the people in the front because, come on, we are talking about STAN LEE! I admit, I did not stand in line to meet any celebs, but I was able to politely stalk from a distance and see that each of these people were real human beings and as the M&Ms and Santa commercial goes, “THEY DO EXIST!” Again, just to say it… Stan Lee.
Lots of other grand celebs were there, but if I don’t get to the literary panels soon, A.T. Is going to get me. LOL.
On that note, let me get there. The two Nashville Comic Con literary panels I was so kindly invited to join by AJ were on the list of my top literary experiences:
Crossing the Line: Is there a line that can be crossed? Does freedom of speech erase the line? If there is a line, what is the point of crossing it? AJ Scudiere was the brilliant moderator for this panel featuring Shane Berryhill, Steve Bradshaw, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mandi Lynch, and myself. We all agreed that this line is going to be different for everyone. Sex. Language. Violence. The response truly depends on the need for it in the story line, the age group and genre targeted, and it all comes down to the reader and their personal limits. It was very interesting to hear all different sorts of authors sharing reader responses on different topics of what some considered crossing the line.
It is easy to nod along with the right of free speech, but I had to question this right I normally support fully when it comes to such books as A Pedophiles Guide to Love & Pleasure by Phillip Greaves. Everyone in the panel shared opinions on this book and the line of freedom of speech. The audience was also wonderfully involved with thoughts on this huge YIELD sign on the right to say or print anything. Steve Bradshaw and Sherrilyn Kenyon were enlightening and endearing opinions and experiences in the literary world and beyond. I became an official fan of both during this panel.
Heroine Addicts: This was my second panel and was full on girl power. The Heroine is a now essential part of media. How do we get more of her and how to we keep her at her best? Even Disney is getting in on the Heroine trade! When does she become cliché? Is she just a man in a bustier? What’s the best Heroine for the situation? Is she a necessary ramification of girl power? AJ Scudiere moderated this panel as well and did a fantastic job of keeping us on track and fully expressing her opinions on the all female panel including, Rebecca Housel, Sarah Ashley Jones, Sherrilyn Kenyon and myself. We talked about crafting the new world of female characters and got a variety of takes on the best heroines of all times.
I was completely prepared to mark the discussion with the fact of leading female powerful roles through early works but Sherrilyn busted the seams on the topic with wonderful examples of historic literature based around the strong female. She and Sarah Ashley Jones listed numerous books, poems, and mythological tales centering around the sturdy female lead. I found it to be highly enlightening. AJ pointed out the natural flow of PINK in the world and how we market towards females differently than boys, even using the example of Scrabble for girls where the word on the game board featured on the box is, Fashion. (My chin hit the floor.) Housel worked on the platform of her professional studies of the genetics of men vs. women playing a viable role in the characteristics we portray of each role; how men and women are indeed, built differently. It was certainly an entertaining bounce around of opinions and the audience participation was dream worthy. The questions and comments were endless, from both male and female voices, which did surprise me a bit, in a very pleasant manner.
I was a bit sad when the panels were over. Sure, I was at Comic Con, so how sad can you actually become, but both topics were worthy of continuing well after time had expired and the people on these panels were certainly grabbing my attention and I wanted more time to speak with them on so many topics.
But it was okay. I was able to walk around some more and see R2D2, The Mystery Machine, The stinking epicness of the Delorian, and so many wild and elaborate costumed visitors. (I really must dress up next year.) I found Waldo. OH, and I got a good choke from Darth Vader. Yes. I am a dark sider. I know.
I cannot thank enough both AJ and Eli for the invite, the networking experience, and for the fantastic dinner before the voyage home.
What was that I said about next year? Oh yeah. Wizard World Nashville Comic Con 2014? You bet your sweet biscuits we’ll be there.
And a very special thanks to one of the 7DS Books, Twisted Core partners, Daniel- He took all the photos you see, drove most of the trip, helped set up and carry everything, and I have to share this photo that I was able to snap of him before we left the event.