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Nerd Love on the Fairgrounds

By Cristina Miller

Fantasia Comic Con, the city of Indio's first sci-fi and fantasy convention took place May 19th-21st. I attended on the first and on the last day of the event. I went in with an open mind and came away with a few observations.

The venue, Salon Fullenwinder, sits on the Riverside County Date Festival fairgrounds. An airy and cozy exhibit hall that during Date Fest would be filled with the sounds of kitchen appliance demonstrations. This time around, the air was filled with the synthesizer sounds of a Super Smash Brothers tournament! There was even an unmanned, stand-alone ticket booth that flashed green and gold lights at the entrance to the Con. A curious sight but also a beacon for those who ended up lost and looking for the official entrance.

This particular con also played host to panels, as do a majority of conventions. It took place in the Taj Mahal building adjacent to the main hall. I sat in on one of these panels on the first day, Hip Hop in Comics, which would have DMC of the pioneer rap group Run DMC on the dais. He ended up not attending the panel and only one person showed up. His name was Hannibal Tabu. A former writer for Rap Pages and The Source, Tabu was the winner of 2012's Top Cow Comics Talent Hunt which broke him into the comic book industry. He currently writes independent comics such as Menthu and the online comic book, Irrational Numbers. He regaled us with a few stories such as Master P threatening the publisher of Rap Pages and the time when he almost got in a late night fight alongside the Wu-Tang Clan in Jerry's Famous Deli. These stories were well and good but what I came away with during this panel was how Tabu laid out the reality of the lack of diversity in the comic book world. According to him, Marvel and D.C., the two largest comic book publishers, have only hired a tiny amount of full time writers that were not white males, four to be exact. It is only this year, 2017, that one of these companies had a full-time African-American female writer on the roster. I did not expect to be enlightened at a comic book convention but at that moment I was.

Afterwards, as I made my way back to the main hall, I thought about my choices in graphic novels and comic books, past and present. I must admit, it was the talent behind some of my favorite books is not diverse at all. I walked the convention floor and saw the different vendors and artists that were in attendance. It was a mixed bag from artists like Reuben Rojas and Vic Moya to famous faces like Peter "Navy" Tuiasosopo (E. Honda from the Street Fighter movie) and Lincoln Castellanos (Fear the Walking Dead). I have not attended many comic book conventions but I could tell that this one was quite unique as it appealed to a wide range of tastes for all ages. There was a lot of nerd love in that airy and cozy room.