Denver Comic Con, Part 1: The Panels

I’m home from Denver Comic Con!  And now it’s time to share with you what awesome things happened and what I learned.

Even though this post is about panels, here’s one of the awesome cosplay shots I got from the convention:

Credit to dashboardmessages.blogspot.com for taking this great photo!

So I got brave and I took business cards.  I only handed out three, but hey, it was more than I’ve done in the past so I’m counting it as a win.  I met some of my favorite creators and I cosplayed.  All in all it was just a great experience.

I attended quite a few panels this time:

– WOMEN IN COMICS NOW!

WITH ACTUAL WOMEN!! So this was a flash panel put together in 24hrs, and presented on Monday.  It was done in response to a panel done on Saturday that was called “Women in Comics” and only involved men, none of which were actual comic creators.  I’ve seen a few people go “Well, one of them was a professor and he was recounting comic history which he’s an expert in.” but TRINA ROBBINS was upstairs and literally she is a comics historian who is THE expert on women in comics and a comic creator.  All they had to do was walk upstairs and ask her to appear.

Instead, they apparently did a lot of mansplaining.

But the panel with the actual women was fantastic. It featured Trina, Amanda Conner, Joelle Jones, Marguerite Bennett, Hannah Means-Shannon of Bleeding Cool and two more women who sadly I did not write their names down, but were awesome!   Crystal Skillman put the whole thing together and I am so glad she did.

They talked about how “What’s it like being a woman in comics” is a level 101 question and how they wish people that interview them would dig deeper.  I can’t relate on a creator level, but I can relate to the fact that I am exhausted with being asked why I like geeky things, or treated like I must be new to them.  Nah, I’ve been here.  Even if I hadn’t been, you don’t get to gate keep me.  Marguerite was absolutely inspiring to me more than once.  I’m sort of new to her work, but she talked about how sometimes she writes from a place of revenge, or to give girls a role-model or a hero.

She also mentioned a time when she went to a writing summit and was the only woman among 29 men, and how that felt, and how she didn’t want her nieces and the little girls she knew to have to go through that.  It resonated with me so much, because it is very much in line with what I’ve felt about the work I want to do in this world.

Trina Robbins was amazing.  You could feel her fire and her fury and it was also very inspiring.

Amanda Conner has also convinced me to check out Harley Quinn again, because she spoke about how the new comic is about more than her being just “Joker’s Girlfriend.”  I’m a HUGE Harley fan, but in recent years, I got a bit frustrated about her being defined by the men in her life, and it was nice to hear that it sounds like she has gotten away from that.  I can’t wait to pick up the series.

– Women in the Geek Industry

I felt like though I had heard the message before “Don’t wait for permission.  Just do it.”  They also talked about dealing with hate on the internet and that you just have to put yourself out there, while being authentic and passionate.  They also re-iterated a sentiment I’ve seen from many female creators, which was find your girls and hold onto them.

– Kieron Gillen

I got to listen to Kieron talk about his work, both upcoming and in the past.  It was so great to here him talk about Phonogram, which has a dear place in my heart.  He was also asked about the diversity in his comics, and he talked about how he wanted comics to reflect what he saw in his life.  I thought that was such a good way to communicate how it is simple to include diversity and it shouldn’t just be seen as a checklist.  I also got my books signed by him the day before and he showed me his lunch, which just made me giggle up a storm.  I greatly admire his work and I’m so glad he was so kind.

– En Garde: Writing Action  

This was a very good panel that talked about how fights work, and Jim Butcher broke them down to the simplest formula: Stimuli-> Response.  Stimuli -> Response.  He also said something to the effect of writing an action scene is like lifting the engine block of a car, simple but simple should not be confused with easy.  AND one of the greatest things I got out of this was it’s easier to beef up something you’ve written lean, than it is to take away from something you’ve written thick.

– Indie Comic Creators

This panel was 3 creators that were local to Colorado, and they discussed their process and such.  Mostly I wished I lived closer to Denver to talk face to face with more artists, but they also recommended some places online to network.

– Beyond Bechdel: Queer Femmes and Women in Comics

They talked about the importance of representation and how we’re getting a lot more good representation of in comics of late.  They also talked about how sometimes a character gets coded as queer (like Black Widow) but there really isn’t any good indication that this is for a fact true, or in any way really represented in the comics.  I also liked when they touched on what is and isn’t objectifying and how we “know it when we see it.”

– Developing Systems of Magic

Jim Butcher was supposed to be on this panel, but he didn’t make it.  The other three authors were good, but since I wasn’t familiar with their work and they primarily used it as an example, it was somewhat hard to grasp some of what they were speaking off.  I did like this: “The ability to solve problems with magic should be proportional to the reader’s understanding of magic.”  The Q&A of the session also became “I’m writing a novel and I don’t know how to make this magic work” over and over again, which was a little frustrating, because I don’t feel like you should be asking published writers to do your footwork for you.

All in all, I was really pleased with all the programming I was able to attend.  We cosplayed in the mornings, and I still feel like I got so much out of the stuff I checked out.  I also liked that it had a definite comic and writing focus, which was sort of lacking at Salt Lake Comic Con.  SLCC does have writing panels, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve gone out of their way to get current creators of comics at their show.  I’m hopeful that 2015 might be different, but I’m definitely hoping we can make it out to Denver Comic Con next year.  Who knows, maybe at that point I’ll have enough created to have a table of my own.

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Teeth, Nails and Pain

This piece was originally published in the anthology “Strangely Ever After” by the Pacific Review.  It was filled with lovely stories and art about fairy tales that did not quite end happily ever after.


Teeth, Nails and Pain

By Aubrey Lyn Jeppson

I knew he was a wolf when I met him. The hunger in his eyes was evident, the gleam of his sharp teeth should have frightened me, but it did not. It drew me in, and even though I had heard a thousand times that those teeth would tear me to bits, I ignored it.

I wanted the adventure and the danger, and I thought I could teach him how to be a man. If I was kind enough, sweet enough, gentle enough, surely he would not simply want to devour me like he had all the other girls.

At first I thought I had been successful, that I had tamed the wolf. He was sweet, protective, and careful not to cut my delicate flesh with his sharp claws.

When other predators would vie for my attention he would stare them down, a low threatening growl coming from his throat. And they would run. Oh how they would run. I saw this as a testament of the wolf’s love for me, that he would keep me so safe from those that might take me away from him.

His true nature took months to reappear and even then it crept back like a slow crawling vine, starting at my ankles and then twisting upwards, winding around me. I loved him then, a foolish devotion. I tried to love him more, to be more obedient, to bend to his devious ways in a hope that I could again change his nature.

He no longer meant to protect me, but keep me as his territory, his possession. I did not realize that the wolf had succeeded in what he had intended all along, he had captured his prey, and caged me, by convincing me to walk willing into his trap.

I tried to escape, to claw my way free of the bars he had put around me. To slip between those bars and find my way out of them. There were times I nearly found my freedom and then I would hear his whispers. Pleas of love and devotion and dedication. Threats that no one would want a girl who had been caged, no one would want a girl who loved wolves. Words that would twist my insides until I locked myself inside again.

The color seeped from my cheeks, the light in my eyes began to dim. My cloak which had once been the fiercest red was now grey and tattered. At first I did not noticed my own transformation, just the loss of what I had once been. Though the cage he had coaxed me into took my vibrancy, it reminded me of what was left behind it. Teeth, nails and pain.

My teeth had grown sharp, and my nails looked more like claws, and the pain gave me reason to use them both. Though others had likely died in the cage, or lost their way…I had become a wolf. I had become like him, and I knew that was how I would escape this cage.

This time I did not slid between the bars, my escape was not some quiet, meek act. I held the lock of the cage in my hands, and crushed it between my palms. Even if his words swayed me, I could not again be held within that prison. And the words did come.

At first tender, loving words. Promises that we would be together forever, and face the world as wolves at each others side. And then the low growl of anger, of possession. The reminder that no one would love the wolf I had become, no one could care for the thing he had created.

He was mistaken about that. Not that no one could love what he had created, but that his hands hand been the ones to transform me into a wolf. I had been a wolf all along, somewhere deep inside. When I had required the strength, the teeth, the nails, and had the pain to feed that predator within, it was made manifest. Before he could continue his tirade, his pleading, I acted on instinct.

I gobbled him up.

Perhaps little girls should not fear the forest or the wolves at all, for pain can transform them into something just as deadly.


You can find “Strangely Ever After” available for purchase here:

http://www.amazon.com/Strangely-Ever-After-pacificREVIEW-2014/dp/1938537041

The Valkyrie

This piece was originally written and performed at the Burnal Equinox at Burn2 in Secondlife. It was something that I became inspired to write as I studied about my ancestry and where I came from.  I have Scandinavian ancestors on both sides of my family.


The Valkyrie

By Aubrey Lyn Jeppson

My grandmothers were Shield Maidens, Pioneers, and Suffragettes.

 

They were strong.

They were warriors.

 

But now, I am told the war is over.

The battle is won.

I am equal.  Women are equal…to men.  Girls equal to boys.

 

We have found our balance…But…

 

But I scream….

Like a girl.

But I throw…

Like a girl.

But I run…

Like a girl.

But I do battle…

Like a girl.

 

If I am equal, if my daughters will be equal, then why are they told that they are the lesser?

Why are girls synonymous with frail, feeble, fragile?

 

How can I be strong when I am born to be weak?

 

Strenght is not just swinging a sword.

 

Strength is endurance.  Strength is enduring…

“You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.”

“No, honey, let me explain this to you.”

“You’re pretty good at games, for a girl.”

“You’re getting angry, are you on your period?”

“Why do you serve your cousins some pie?  Or help out in the kitchen?”

 

So I endure…And I fight.

My hands are strong, but so is my mind

and I find my balance on the sharp edge of my grandmother’s sword.

 

And I will do as my grandmothers did.  As my mother did.

 

I will become the Valkyrie my ancestors believed in.

 

A beautiful, strong and wise maiden.

 

I will scream battle cries like a girl.

I will throw my spear like a girl.

I will run and face injustice like a girl.

I will do battle like a girl.

 

I will use my strength to guide the souls of the weary and wounded in this life,

to lift the spirits of those that stumble and become fallen.

 

The will not break me because I am strong, brave and courageous…

Like a girl.

Camp Nanowrimo 2015

It’s a official!  Camp NaNoWriMo has started and I am a camper, ready to put words to the page!  For those of you that don’t know, Camp Nanowrimo is an extention of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  NaNoWriMo takes place each November and each participant tries to write a novel during the month (50,000 words).  During Camp Nanowrimo, each person sets their own word count goal.

My goal is still 50,000 words, and I will be working on both writing a new novel and revising the novel I wrote last November.  This means I’m hoping for at least 25,000 new words and 25,000 revised words.  Secretly I’m sort of challenging myself to double that goal but we will see how this month goes!  I’m also working on the first draft of a serial story that I hope to publish on Wattpad.

Falling back in love with writing has been one of the greatest things I have experienced this year, and it makes story telling that much more enjoyable!

Fighting the Muse, keeping busy.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard from professional writers is to work on multiple projects.  It may seem like it would be best to focus on a single novel or piece of writing at a time, but having at least a few projects can be helpful for many reasons.  If you get stuck on one piece, you can easily set it aside and work on something else.  You may also find that if you keep your creative juices flowing as you transition back and forth between projections, it becomes more and more easy to keep the muse at your side.

I personally don’t wait for the muse.  She can be very fickle, so I tend to sit at my desk and work, and figure if she shows, fantastic. If she doesn’t?  That’s okay too, because I still got some work done.  Most of the time I find that my work is pretty comparable, whether or not the muse felt like joining me that day.  I enjoy that free flow, that feeling of inspiration as much as the next writer, but I’m not going to wait for it to strike.  I’ve got work to do, and I am betting that you do as well.

Strangely Ever After – My first published piece

I always wanted to be a writer, stories have sort of always been my life blood.  I used them to help me fall asleep at night, to escape to when things got hard and a way to express myself.  It was not until I attended a writing workshop in Casper last fall that I got serious about it though.  I attended a session and a workshop taught by Kelly Sue DeConnick, who had no qualms about telling us how hard we would have to work if we wanted to be writers.  We had to start publishing, keep doing what we loved and work at it like it was a job.  She also introduced me to “The War of Art” by Robert Pressfield, which along with his other book “Turning Pro”, changed my perspective on my writing.

 

I had done what most people starting out in this age did.  I wrote fanfiction, I roleplayed with other writers.  Both of those communities taught me things about my craft but it was not until I “Turned Pro” that I started to realize they would not get me anywhere (Okay, I kind of stopped fanfiction years ago, except for a dabble here or there), I realized that roleplay was just that, something to do for fun.  It wasn’t “real” writing.  It was words down the toilet.  Don’t get me wrong, those words generally taught me something or I picked up bad habits I would have to later correct, but all in all I regret none of it.

 

The other thing that I learned from that workshop was that I could submit to anthologies to start building my writing resume.  I did, and sure enough the piece I wrote got accepted.  It’s a little slice of my soul I’m now nervous to share with anyone who isn’t a stranger, but I’ve noticed that is sort of how it goes with writing at times.  So even though this journey began long ago, I think I am finally to the point I am ready to take it seriously and find my path with it.  Sure, it won’t be easy, but the good things rarely are.